Archive: Jan 2016

  1. Do you have a bully on board? How to stop this behavior

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    How to stop this behavior…
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    Jurassic Parliament Newsletter
    January 2016   Vol. IX, No. 1

    Do you have a bully on board?

    Reader Lon Garrison from Alaska asks how to deal with a bully who intimidates other members of the school board, including the chair. There are several things a body can do to resolve this unfortunate situation. Points to consider:

    1. Bullying is never allowed at board or council meetings. It’s just common sense that when people are intimidated, angry or frightened, they can’t reach good decisions.
    2. If you have adopted Robert’s Rules of Order, you automatically have tools to deal with this situation.
    3. Even if your body has not adopted Robert’s Rules or another parliamentary authority, common parliamentary law supports the necessity for order and respect in meetings.
    4. The chair has the duty of stopping bad behavior by any member, interrupting the member if necessary.
    5. If the chair isn’t responding as she should, members can raise a “point of order” to request that the chair take action. The chair must issue a ruling as to whether the point is correct or not.
    6. Any ruling of the chair can be appealed by any two members of the board, in which case the board will decide the matter.
    7. If a member continues to offend, a majority of the members can pass a motion that will:
      1. Request that the member apologize, or
      2. Censure or reprimand the offender (a statement of displeasure by the body), or
      3. Direct the member to leave the current meeting, or
      4. Remove the member from committees to which he has been appointed
    8. It’s helpful to have a specific policy to deal with difficult behavior. The City of Kenmore, Washington invested a lot of effort into their “Council Rules and Procedures” some years ago, which can be found here. You will of course have an attorney review your policy to ensure that it conforms to the laws governing your board or council.

    If you want to go more deeply into the methods that parliamentary procedure offers, here are two resources:

    Share your war stories with us! Next month we’ll talk about what to do when the chair is the bully.

    Ann G. Macfarlane
    Professional Registered Parliamentarian

  2. Periodic table’s seventh row finally filled as four new elements are added

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    Discovery of four super-heavy chemical elements by scientists in Russia, America and Japan has been verified by experts and formally added to table

    Four new elements have been added to the periodic table, finally completing the table’s seventh row and rendering science textbooks around the world instantly out of date.

    The elements, discovered by scientists in Japan, Russia and America, are the first to be added to the table since 2011, when elements 114 and 116 were added.

    The four were verified on 30 December by the US-based International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, the global organisation that governs chemical nomenclature, terminology and measurement.

    IUPAC announced that a Russian-American team of scientists at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California had produced sufficient evidence to claim the discovery of elements 115, 117 and 118.

    Period drama: the story of the periodic table
    Read more
    The body awarded credit for the discovery of element 113, which had also been claimed by the Russians and Americans, to a team of scientists from the Riken institute in Japan.

    Kosuke Morita, who was leading the research at Riken, said his team now planned to “look to the unchartered territory of element 119 and beyond.”

    Ryoji Noyori, former Riken president and Nobel laureate in chemistry said: “To scientists, this is of greater value than an Olympic gold medal”.

    The elements, which currently bear placeholder names, will be officially named by the teams that discovered them in the coming months. Element 113 will be the first element to be named in Asia.

    “The chemistry community is eager to see its most cherished table finally being completed down to the seventh row,” said Professor Jan Reedijk, president of the Inorganic Chemistry Division of IUPAC.
    “IUPAC has now initiated the process of formalising names and symbols for these elements temporarily named as ununtrium, (Uut or element 113), ununpentium (Uup, element 115), ununseptium (Uus, element 117), and ununoctium (Uuo, element 118).”

    New elements can be named after a mythological concept, a mineral, a place or country, a property or a scientist.

    The four new elements, all of which are synthetic, were discovered by slamming lighter ­nuclei into each other and tracking the following decay of the radioactive superheavy elements.

    Like other superheavy elements that populate the end of the periodic table, they only exist for fractions of a second before decaying into other elements.

    • This article was amended on 4 January 2016. The reference to the new elements being “manmade” was changed to “synthetic” to follow Guardian style guidance on the use of gender-neutral terms.

  3. The World’s Most Musical Languages by John McWhorter

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    Why one syllable spoken at different pitches can have seven meanings
    NOV 13, 2015 GLOBAL

    People don’t generally speak in a monotone. Even someone who couldn’t carry a tune if it had a handle on it uses a different melody to ask a question than to make a statement, and in a sentence like “It was the first time I had even been there,” says “been” on a higher pitch than the rest of the words.

    Still, if someone speaks in a monotone in English, other English-speakers can easily understand. But in many languages, pitch is as important as consonants and vowels for distinguishing one word from another. In English, “pay” and “bay” are different because they have different starting sounds. But imagine if “pay” said on a high pitch meant “to give money,” while “pay” said on a low pitch meant “a broad inlet of the sea where the land curves inward.” That’s what it feels like to speak what linguists call a tonal language. At least a billion and a half people worldwide do it their entire lives and think nothing of it.

    Why ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ Sound So Similar in So Many Languages

    Mandarin Chinese, with its four tones, is a typical example. Take the word ma. If you say it the way an English-speaker would say it, just reading it sitting by itself on a page, then it means “scold.” Say ma as if you were looking for your mother—ma?—and it means “rough.” If you were just whining at her—“ma-a-a?!?”—with your voice swooping down a bit and then back up even higher, that would mean, believe it or not, “horse.” And if you say ma on a high pitch, as if you were singing the first syllable of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as ma instead of “oh” for some reason, that would actually mean mother. That’s the way almost every syllable works in Chinese.

    As tone languages go, Mandarin is by no means the most complicated. The Hmong language, spoken in China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand, can have seven or even eight tones. It’s dazzling, really. If you say paw like a statement, it means “female.” Say it like a question and it means “to throw.” Say it up high in an impatient way and you’re saying “ball.” Say it down low as if you ran into someone in a basement and didn’t want anyone upstairs to know you were down there, and it means “thorn.” Say it in a tone between the impatient high and the down-low and it means “pancreas.” If you say paw in a creaky way—kind of like the way one might imitate an elderly person’s voice—then it means “to see,” while if you say it in a breathy, amazed way as if you were seeing a horsey in the clouds, then it means “paternal grandmother.” (For what it’s worth, maternal grandmother is tai, said on the “basement” tone.)
    Tone languages are spoken all over the world, but they tend to cluster in three places: East and Southeast Asia; sub-Saharan Africa; and among the indigenous communities of Mexico. Why there and not elsewhere? One thing these regions might have in common is heat, though it’s hard to imagine how that would make people speak more melodically. Yet environment may not be entirely unrelated to the phenomenon—according to one hypothesis, tone languages are less likely to develop in dry environments because dry air deprives the vocal cords of the suppleness required to produce subtle differences in tone.

    In one dialect of Khmu, pok on a high tone means “bite,” while pok on a low tone means “to cut down a tree.”
    The jury is still out on that one, but even if it turns out to be true, it only gets us so far. The theory proposes that where the climate isn’t dry, there’s no predicting whether a language will take on tones or not. As such, it’s easy to suppose—and fun to imagine—that people decide to “sing” language out of some kind of cultural impulse. The reality is less groovy, but just as interesting.

    It’s ultimately a matter of one thing leading to another. Take the words “pay” and “bay.” It looks like the only difference between them is that they start with different letters, but there’s more to it up close. English-speakers tend to say the ay sound on a slightly lower pitch after a b than after a p, because of the different mechanics involved in saying those consonants. That is, one tends to say “pay” a little higher than one says “bay.” In daily life that’s so subtle as to be barely noticeable: What stands out is the good old difference between p and b. But p and b are very similar sounds, and sounds that are similar have a way of melting together—a Cockney English-speaker can say “bref” for breath and “fing” for thing because the f and th sounds are made close together at the front of the mouth. Suppose as time went by English-speakers started pronouncing b as p so that there was no more b sound at all?
    Imagine: “Brother” is “prother,” “bat” is “pat,” “big” is “pig.” Things like that happen in languages all the time, and if it happened to English, then instead of “pay” and “bay” there would just be “pay” and “pay”—except there would still be that difference in the tone. “Pay” with a neutral tone would mean “pay,” while “pay” with a low tone would mean “bay.” The tone alone would convey the difference in meaning. This is exactly how a tone language happens, and in some places you can even see the steps in the process. For example, there is a language called Khmu spoken in parts of Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, and China. In one dialect of Khmu, pok means “bite” and bok means “to cut down a tree.” In another dialect, though, b has become p, and all that’s left behind is the difference in the tone, as if the Cheshire Cat had left behind his smile. Thus in that dialect, pok on a high tone means “bite,” while pok on a low tone means “to cut down a tree.”

    In one experiment, Mandarin-speaking musicians were better at identifying musical pitches than English-speaking ones.
    There are certain advantages to speaking tone languages. Speakers of some African languages can communicate across long distances playing the tones on drums, and Mazatec-speakers in Mexico use whistling for the same purpose. You know those people who can hear a stray note and instantly identify its pitch, for instance recognizing that a certain car horn is an A flat? They have “absolute pitch,” and there is evidence that speakers of tone languages are more likely to have it. In one experiment, for instance, Mandarin-speaking musicians were better at identifying musical pitches than English-speaking ones. The same has been found for speakers of Cantonese—which has six or even nine tones, depending on how you count—relative to English- and French-speakers.

    Could a language rely completely on tones? As key as tones can be to conveying meaning, they aren’t fine-grained enough by themselves to communicate the full range of human expression—speaking only in tones would be akin to writing only in emojis. The tone-language counterpart to the new all-emoji translation of Moby-Dick, for example, would have been a language created by a Frenchman in the 1820s called Solresol, which was based solely on musical tones. Do-re-mi was “day,” do-re-fa was “week,” do-re-sol was “month,” and so on; mi-sol was “good,” and the reverse, sol-mi, was “bad.” Cute idea, but Solresol would have been no more able to equal the speed, nuance, and complexity of actual speech than Emoji-Dick can render the magnificence of Melville’s prose.

  4. MLB requiring every team to have full-time Spanish interpreters in 2016 By David Brown | Baseball Writer

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    In a joint effort with the players union, Major League Baseball will require every one of its 30 teams to have at least two full-time Spanish language interpreters in 2016. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick said Tuesday that a memo has been sent to all of the teams making it so.

    How teams have dealt with such issues in the past has varied from club to club, and has been dependent on which language needed interpreting. This move is designed, in part, to bring uniformity and peace of mind, and to ensure that native Spanish speakers have a chance to express themselves more completely in the media.

    Before, it had been customary, on an informal basis, for teams upon request to have a conversationally bilingual teammate or a coach step in to help native Spanish speakers conduct media interviews. For example in recent seasons, the Kansas City Royals would ask coach Pedro Grifol, or players Jeremy Guthrie or Christian Colon, to help during interviews and, at times, in discussions among teammates. More times than not, the club employee was not paid anything extra to do this service. And it can be a burden.

    In the case of players brought in from Asian countries such as Japan, Korea or China, a deal frequently was worked out between the team and the individual player. In the case of Nori Aoki of the Mariners, he has a specific clause in his contract that provides $50,000 to help pay for his interpreter, Kosuke Inaji.

    Most players, regardless of their country of origin, do their best on their own speaking English, with varying results.

    What MLB hadn’t ever addressed, until now: Why have the two groups of players — Asians and Latinos — been given different expectations? It has been a common accommodation for teams to give Asian players an English interpreter to those who request one. With the Latino players, it’s been more of an afterthought, begrudgingly and sometimes half-heartedly afforded. What MLB appears to be doing by requiring Spanish interpreters is erasing the distinction.

    The league does encourage players to learn English, and has programs that teach it at the various organizational levels. For most adults it takes a long time to become conversant in a foreign language. MLB also has to be concerned with ensuring that the 25-year-old player from the Dominican Republic or Cuba, who is uncomfortable conversing in English now, can communicate with his team’s fans using the help of an interpreter. It is a long-overdue move by MLB.

  5. Administrative Office of the US Courts is looking for a Program Specialist

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    Job Title:  Programs Specialist
    Department:  Judicial Branch
    Agency:  Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts

    Job Announcement Number:  16-DPS-1594804

    $77,490.00 to $145,219.00 / Per Year
    Thursday, January 14, 2016 to Thursday, February 4, 2016
    Full Time – Excepted Service Permanent
    1 vacancy in the following location:
    Washington DC, DC View Map
    United States Citizens
    Public Trust – Background Investigation


    The Administrative Office (AO), an agency of the Judicial Branch of the Federal government, is committed to serving and supporting the Federal court system of the United States.  The AO provides a broad range of legislative, legal, financial, technology, management, administrative and program support services to the Federal courts. 

    AO positions are classified and paid under a broad-banded system with the exception of positions in the AO Executive Service. Salary is commensurate with experience. Most AO employees are eligible for full Federal and Judiciary benefits. The AO is committed to attracting the best and brightest applicants in our support of the Third Branch of government. We take pride in serving the Judicial Branch and supporting its mission to provide equal justice under law.


    • Occasional Travel
    • Travel up to four times per year


    • No


    • More than one selection may be made from this announcement.
    • Selectees may be subject to a one-year trial period.
    • Selectee must favorably complete a background investigation.
    • All requirements must be met by the closing date of this announcement.


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    This position is located in the Department of Program Services (DPS), Court Services Office (CSO), Programs Division. The CSO is seeking a self-starting individual with experience in program management and policy development. The incumbent of this position will be responsible for providing support, along with other Programs Specialists, for the Federal Judiciary court interpreting program and will be primarily responsible for assisting in the development of court interpreter policies and procedures and analyzing and tracking federal court interpreting statistics, costs, and best practices in order to ensure continued excellence in the provision of court interpreting services in federal courts. The incumbent will also provide staff support for the Federal Judiciary court reporter program.
    Duties to be performed include, but are not limited to:

    1. Drafting policy requirements, seeking input from appropriate stakeholders, writing policy papers and agenda items for review by Judicial Conference committees, and developing manuals and other resource guides for use by judges and court staff, including maintaining the volume of the Guide to Judiciary Policy that pertains to court interpreting, the court interpreter orientation manual, interpreter rosters, and statistical reports on the court interpreting program;
    2. Responding to congressional, public, and court inquiries on the interpreter certification process and the federal court interpreting program;
    3. Providing guidance and recommendations to judges, AO and court leaders, and court staff on issues related to the court interpreting program and related policy;
    4. Writing a variety of high-level, court interpreting program-related reports, correspondence, and recommendations, and presenting such information to judiciary leadership, staff, and members of the public, as needed;
    5. Developing materials and recommendations for, and staffing meetings of, the Federal Court Interpreters Advisory Group, preparing reports of the group’s meetings, and carrying out its recommendations
    6. Developing materials and recommendations on court interpreting program policies for the Judicial Conference of the United States and its Committees;
    7. Assisting in developing recommendations for new staff court interpreter positions based on court requests, and analyzing court interpreter workload trends;
    8. Developing budget recommendations for the interpreting program and assisting in analyzing the centralized contract interpreter funding for the courts;
    9. Providing support for the Telephone Interpreting Program (TIP), including planning enhancements for, obtaining court user feedback on, and providing user support and training for the TIP scheduling application;
    10. Conducting reviews, upon court request, of interpreter management practices, and suggesting methods to help courts achieve greater efficiencies in interpreting program management.
    11. Assisting in coordinating and managing contracts relating to the court interpreter program, monitoring contractor performance, and serving as the Contracting Officer Representative;
    12. Developing, implementing and coordinating training programs for court interpreters and managers;
    13. Representing the AO in a variety of professional settings in matters relating to the federal court interpreting program; and
    14. Providing program support and backup coverage as needed for the federal court reporting program.


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    Applicants must have demonstrated experience as listed below. This requirement is according to the AO Classification, Compensation, and Recruitment Systems which include interpretive guidance and reference to the OPM Operating Manual for Qualification Standards for General Schedule Positions.

    Specialized Experience: In order to qualify for this position your resume must show one year of specialized experience which has provided the applicant experience with policy development and/or program management in a court or other complex organization.
    Preferred, but NOT Mandatory: The ideal candidate for this position will possess the following:

    • Knowledge of language testing methodologies or of the foreign language field;
    • Knowledge of project management techniques and quantitative analysis; and
    • A Master’s degree in the legal, public administration, public policy, or linguistics field. 



    1. All information is subject to verification. Applicants are advised that false answers or omissions of information on application materials or inability to meet the following conditions may be grounds for non-selection, withdrawal of an offer of employment, or dismissal after being employed.
    2. Selection for this position is contingent upon completion of OF-306, Declaration for Federal Employment during the pre-employment process and proof of U.S. citizenship or, for noncitizens, proof of authorization to work in the United States and proof of entitlement to receive compensation. Additional information on the employment of non-citizens can be found at: For a list of documents that may be used to provide proof of citizenship or authorization to work in the United States, please refer to
    3. A background security investigation is required for all selectees. Appointment will be subject to a selectee’s successful completion of a background security investigation and favorable adjudication. Failure to successfully meet these requirements may be grounds for appropriate personnel action. A background security reinvestigation or supplemental investigation may be required at a later time.
    4. All new AO employees must identify a financial institution for direct deposit of pay before appointment.
    5. If selected for first-time appointment to the Federal government, you may be required to serve a trial period. Failure to complete successfully the trial period may result in termination of employment.
    6. If selected for a supervisory position, you will be required to serve a supervisory probationary period. Failure to complete successfully the probationary period can result in return to a position comparable to the one held immediately before supervisory assignment, or if you were not a Federal employee, you may be moved to a position one level below the supervisory position. An employee serving a trial period may be removed from employment under provisions of the AO’s trial period policy.
    7. If appointed to a temporary position, management may have the discretion of converting the position to permanent depending upon funding and staffing allocation.
    8. Relocation expenses may be provided, but only if authorized by the Director of the AO.
    9. The selectee of this position may be assigned to an official duty station outside the advertised area.


    We will review your resume and supporting documentation and compare this information to your responses on the occupational questionnaire to determine if you meet the minimum qualifications for this job.  If you meet the minimum qualifications for this job, we will evaluate your application package, to assess the quality, depth, and complexity of your accomplishments, experience, and education as they relate to the requirements listed in this vacancy announcement.

    You should be aware that your ratings are subject to evaluation and verification.  If a determination is made that you have rated yourself higher than is supported by your resume and/or narrative responses, you will be assigned a rating commensurate to your described experience.  Failure to submit the mandatory narrative responses will result in not receiving full consideration and/or rating credit.  Deliberate attempts to falsify information may be grounds for not selecting you, withdrawing an offer of employment, or dismissal after being employed.


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    The AO offers a number of exceptional benefits to its employees. The Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building in Washington, DC has an on-site fitness center, health unit, credit union, day care center, and cafeteria. Located in the Capitol Hill area next to Union Station, the AO is accessible by public transportation, including Metro and the MARC and VRE commuter trains. As an AO employee, you may be eligible to participate in the following benefits programs:


    The AO is an Equal Opportunity Employer. 


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    To apply for this position, you must provide a complete application package, which includes:

    1. Your Resume
    2. A complete Occupational Questionnaire
    3. Additional Required Documents (see required documents section below)

    To apply for this position, you must complete the occupational questionnaire and submit the documentation specified in the Required Documents section below.

    The complete application package must be submitted by 11:59 PM (EST) on Thursday, February 04, 2016 to receive consideration.

    • Click the Submit My Answers button to submit your application package.
    • It is your responsibility to ensure your responses and appropriate documentation is submitted prior to the closing date.
    • To verify your application is complete, log into your USAJOBS account,, select the Application Status link and then select the more information link for this position. The Details page will display the status of your application, the documentation received and processed, and any correspondence the agency has sent related to this application.  Your uploaded documents may take several hours to clear the virus scan process.
    • To return to an incomplete application, log into your USAJOBS account and click Update Application in the vacancy announcement.  You must re-select your resume and/or other documents from your USAJOBS account or your application will be incomplete.


    For this job announcement the following documents and/or information are required: 

    • Resume – Any written format you choose to describe your job-related qualifications.
    • Citizenship – Include country of citizenship on resume.  
    • Veterans Preference documentation – Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD Form 214), if applicable Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference (SF-15) and an official statement, dated 1991 or later, from the Department of Veterans Affairs or from a branch of the Armed Forces, certifying to the veteran’s present receipt of compensation. 
    • Notification of Personnel Action (SF-50)All applicants outside of the AO must submit a copy of your latest SF-50 to verify current or former Federal employment status.  

    To submit the documents requested follow the instructions below: Your resume, curriculum vitae, or any other written format you choose to describe your job-related qualifications can be submitted electronically using the document upload process or fax.  Please ensure that your resume contains your full name, address, and phone number.  

    Faxing Applications or Supporting Documents:

    You are encouraged to apply online.  Applying online will allow you to review and track the status of your application.

    NOTE:  If you applied online and your application is complete, do not fax the paper application (1203FX) as this will overwrite your prior online responses and may result in you being found ineligible.

    If you completed the occupational questionnaire online and are unable to upload supporting document(s):

    1. 1. To fax your documents, you must use the following cover page and provide the required information.  The Vacancy ID is 1594804.
    2. Fax your documents to 1-478-757-3144.

    If you cannot complete the Application Package online, you may fax all of your materials.  The complete application package must be submitted by 11:59 PM (EST) on Thursday, February 04, 2016 to receive consideration.  Keep a copy of your fax confirmation in the event verification is needed.

    To complete the occupational questionnaire and submit via fax:

    1. Click the following link to view and print the occupational questionnaire View Occupational Questionnaire.
    2. Print the 1203FX form, follow the instructions and provide your responses to the occupational questionnaire items
    3. Fax the completed 1203FX form along with any supporting documents to 1-478-757-3144.  Your 1203FX will serve as a cover page for your fax transmission.


    Rachel Davis
    Phone: (202)502-3271
    Agency Information:
    Administrative Office of the US Courts
    AO Human Resources Division
    One Columbus Circle NE
    Suite G-200
    Washington, DC


    After a review of your complete application is made you will be notified of your eligibility and referral to the hiring official if determined qualified.  If further evaluation or interviews are required you will be contacted.