No. 183 April 1998
LITERATURE OF LITERACY AND ILLITERACY Are you literate or illiterate? How do you know? The 1996 CIA World Fact book states that 97% of the people 15 years old (and over) in the United States are literate. Is that figure correct? What does literate mean? Can you read the highway signs? Read a newspaper? A mathematical thought problem? Comic books? A poem? A job application? Etc. In 1988 when Congress had the Department of Education conduct a national survey and examine the literacy of America's adult population. The question is: "how well do you read and what can you read? Reading skill is measured in one's ability to read prose, documents, or quantitative materials and how well you read is measured quantitatively in reading skill levels: 1st (225 or lower), 2nd (226 to 275), 3rd (276 to 325), 4th (326 to 376), 5th (376 or higher). With the appearance of Adult Literacy in America, A First Look at the Results of the National Adult Literacy Survey dated September 1993, we have the first (i.e. 1992) data and analysis of literacy and/or illiteracy of the American adult. The reading level skills are found, explained, and applied to all the adults whose reading abilities were surveyed. Our "Adult Literacy" tells us how well the American adults can read by identifying their skill levels, and tells us about the nation as a whole. There are 21 to 23 percent (or 40 to 44 million) of adult America is at Skill level one. A new offshoot companion volume issued by the National Institute for Literacy is The State of Literacy in America: Estimates at the local, state, and national levels (Y 3.L71:2 ST 2). The State of Literacy... graphically shows the geography of those Skill level one people in congressional districts, cities, counties, and states are at the Skill 1 (one) (225 or lower) literacy level. The lowest literacy rate identifies the people with the least literacy and those who cannot read. Based on the data of the 1992 survey, this is the first volume with local literacy data which showing the percentage of adults at literacy skill level 1 who live in our city, county, congressional district, and state. You can get a copy of "The State of Literacy" via 1-800-228-8813, fax at 202-632-1512 or at http://novel.nifl.gov/nifl/alphalist.htm. What I am now looking for is the similar geographical publication(s) showing the same data for the people in literacy skill levels 2 through 5.
SOYBEANS KEEP MERCEDES MOBILE A $40,000 Mercedes with a diesel engine can be immobilized by solidified diesel fuel in 5degree (F) temperatures. At that temperature, diesel fuel doesn't really freeze; it just solidifies enough not to flow easily to the engine. Would you believe that soybeans might eventually allow your Mercedes to start-up easily in freezing temperatures? "Better Cold-Weather Starts for Biodiesel Fuel" by Linda Cooke McGraw, in Agricultural Research v. 60, no. 4, April 1998, pages 10-13 (A 77.12:60/4) explains the beginnings of some U. S. Agricultural Research Service research projects on the development of new biodiesel fuels. Fuels that will make profits for the nation's 400,000 soybean growers who will keep your Mercedes starting in the coldest weather.
AN ELECTRIFYING TRAVEL TIP Jetting to London, Cairo, Berlin, Paris, Bombay, Canberra, Venice? If you want to look your best while you are on your vacation will you take a battery(ies) operated shaver and hair dryer? Or do you know if the plug(s) on your electric shaver(s) and hair dryer(s) will fit into the electrical outlets in the foreign city you will be visiting? Also does your foreign city use AC or DC electric current? What voltage is that electricity? It would be wise to consult the 1998 edition of Electric Current Abroad issued in November 1997 by the U. S. International Trade Administration (C 61.2:EL 2/4/998). This 30-page volume lists the voltage, type (ac or dc) frequency, and number of wires for each country's electric current and the type of attachment plugs and wall sockets that used in principal cities throughout the world. It would be shocking to not check the type of electricity found in London and visit the Queen with a less-than-perfect hairstyle.
NSF WEATHER REPORT The NSF (National Science Foundation) is issuing a weather report. The people who were surveyed were promised a summary report and it would interesting to see what the public's and meteorologists' thoughts and views were on weather (events) and climate issues, weather reporters, weather reporting, etc. The public's opinions and comments were to be sent to the NSF by April 20, 1998 as announced in "Data Collection: Meteorologists' and public's Views and Comments on Weather and Climate Issues" in the Federal Register, v. 63, no. 49, March 13, 1998 pages 12514-12517. These three pages also present the basic phone survey conducted by Yankelovich Partners, Inc. Readers had to submit written responses or comments to: Public Attitudes About Weather and Climate, c/o Office of Legislative and Public Affairs, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd. Room 1245, Arlington, VA 22230, or e-mail responses to email@example.com.
ODOR CONTROL...MEASURING A SMELLY DILEMMA Did you every drive through some hog, horse, or cattle farm country with your car window(s) open? Did you ever drive by a commercial bakery when their bread is baking? Speaking from experience, it is easy to say the former smell is memorable and the latter smell is enjoyable, it is hard to talk about the intensity or volume of the odors experienced. Whether you like or dislike either or both smells, or are allergic to perfume or some specific odor, we are all interested in odor control. You may want to keep the most pleasant smells and dissipate the unpleasant smells, but odor control is a new field of research. Odors must be analyzed scientifically to understand their makeup. The secret to defusing unpleasant odors is determining what makes them smelly. "Measuring Odors From Livestock Operations" by Dawn Lyons Johnson in Agricultural Research v. 46, no. 4, April 1998 page 24 (A 77.12:46/4) is a brief but interesting discussion of research about the measurement and control of nuisance odors. Did you know the human nose is the only measurable standard for nuisance odors? The nose quickly and objectively assesses odors. Ammonia may be a nuisance and objectionable to all noses, but some people don't like hog odors and some people do. Some people like some perfume(s) and other may not like that same perfume(s). Would everyone like the smell of fresh pastries? In time, odor research may enable us to relate something about the intensity and or volume of the pleasant or unpleasant odor we have just experienced. One more step forward in solving our smelly dilemma.
GOVERNMENT STATISTICS TO LOVE On February 13, 1998, the Gannett News Service carried a Census Bureau, Public Information Office article entitled: "Government Statistics to Love". Written in honor of St Valentine's Day, this "Facts for Features" article presents statistical information about marriage, divorce, singleness, and production and retail sales data for candy, chocolate, and flowers. A Facts for Feature article for Grandparent's Day tells us how many children live with their grandparent(s). These and the other 21 "Fact for Features" Factsheets cover such topics as: mother's day, father's day, national history month, 4th of July, Christmas holiday season facts, and state-run lotteries. Each "Fact for Features" at http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/factsheets.html is a statistical Factsheet with the URL link provided for each of the Census sources used. The list of 23 Factsheets dates back to March 20, 1995 with one or two Factsheets added monthly. One of the buried facts uncovered by our Valentine Factsheet is that Pennsylvania is the sweetest state with the most retail candy sales and outlets. Lest you didn't know the fact: the Hershey Chocolate Candy Company is in Hershey Penna. A most obvious fact for chocoholics.
GARDENING & THE NATURAL LANDSCAPE MOVEMENT Back in 1977, there were nine people who wanted native plants as alternatives to grass in their yard. How about creating a water garden, planting woodland, planting a prairie, surrounded by a wattle fence? You could have an Aldo Leopold Bench to relax and watch all the humming birds and/or songbirds come because of attractive landscaping. If the proper plants are used in the butterfly garden butterflies will be attracted. Birdbaths will attract birds, and there could easily be at least 20 species of birds who could inhabit the 20 different birdhouses built per the available bird house specifications. These birds will provide many moments for the bird lover during the daylight hours. Of course, when the sun goes down, and the birds to sleep, if you like bats and have built a bathouse (or two) in your yard, you can watch the bats catch bugs. To achieve this gardening utopia, one needs to know the native grasses, plants, vines, trees, and shrubs, and seeds. Also achieving this garden will be no easy task. The Wild Ones Handbook, A Voice for the Natural Landscaping Movement Second Edition  is needed. This 31 page publication is in some federal depository libraries with the SUDOC number EP 1.8:W 64. If you go to http://www.epa.gov/glnpo/greenacres/wildones/ the entire volume is on-line and has a table of contents web page with links to each topic/section that interests you. Work to realize this garden will require at least a computer, gloves, a hammer, and a hat (for protection against the birds rather than the sun).
ROCK COLLECTING FUN The U.S. Geological Survey just issued the 1998 edition of Collecting Rocks. This 11-page brochure sized foldout publication (I 19.2:R 59/6/998) is very informative about the basics of rock collecting. It identifies and explains the three rock groups (igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic) very simply and clearly and even threw in some of the basic geological terminology such as obsidian (volcanic glass). One learns how rocks reflect the earth's history, how to start a collection, how to house and enlarge a collection, what equipment one needs, where to find rocks, and "hints for rock collectors" which are really the guidelines as to what to do and what you should not do as a rock collector. There seems to be two aspects of "rock collecting" which are lacking. Diamonds, which fall under the category of metamorphic rocks, are pieces of carbon which have been changed by pressure and heat into diamonds. They were not included in the discussion of where one can find these kind of rocks. The other aspect of rock collecting was how to find gold. There is information about gold. Gold is 23-page foldout brochure publication (I 19.2:G 56/2/998) issued by the U.S. Geological Survey. It is very helpful and informative about the nature of gold and the types of rocks in which it is found and includes a picture of the stacks of gold bars in the Ft. Knox Bullion Depository. It that seems gold was one of the first metals to be mined because it is commonly found in its native form (i.e. not combined with other elements) and is beautiful and imperishable and can be made into objects. Knowing about gold and diamonds would be part of a geological education, but are beyond the basics of rock collecting and would be inappropriate for Collecting Rocks. Both of these publications are freebies available from the U.S. Geological Survey.
IS UNEMPLOYMENT A SAFER LIFESTYLE, NEW FATALITY CENSUS OF (1991) 1992 It is easy to assume that many of the workers building the Egyptian Pyramids lost their lives. Today, the truck drivers, press operators, many construction workers, and some farm workers are not in the safest occupations. Also, being a policeman, fireman, or middle management in the U.S. Postal Service are not among the safest occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses goes back to 1972, but the Bureau has redesigned its safety and health statistics program. In 1993 the BLS issued the First National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 1992 which carried national level 1992 data (L 2.71:870). The 1993 Census was issued in 1994, (L2.120: 94-384) as was the 1994 Census in 1995 (L2.120: 95-288), the 1995 Census in 1996 (L 2.120: 96-315), and the 1996 Census in 1997 (L2.120: 97-266). A related analytical series of Fatal Workplace Injuries in (YEAR): A Collection of Data and Analysis BLS Reports gives national, state, and MSA data as well as analysis and interpretation. This Fatality Census includes a 1991 issue carrying data for 32 States and New York City (L 2.71:845). Then beginning with the 1992 data, coverage was for all 50 States and Washington D.C. The SUDOC number for these analyses issued as BLS Reports are: 1992 is L 2.71:870; 1993 is L 271:891; 1994 is L 2.71:908; 1995 is L 2.71:913; and 1996 is not yet issued. If you want electronic access to this new census try http://www.bls.gov/oshfat1.htm. If unemployment insures one will not encounter the worker's pitfall, for some people the resulting boredom could be hazardous if not fatal.
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May 13, 1998