Google Flu Trends Map

January 26th, 2015

For much of the world, Google has mapped out the progress of the flu. There is also an opportunity to look at past years and to see the dengue (a tropical disease transmitted by mosquitoes) trends also. Check it out here.



More Talk About Obama’s ‘America’s College Promise’

January 26th, 2015

Since the State of the Union address, there has been a lot of talk if Obama would be able to make America’s College Promise a reality. Here are two great podcast from Inside Higher Education that expand more on the likelihood of proposal.

Below I’ve embedded two podcasts from Inside Higher Ed website. This Week (title of the program, which is slightly confusing I know) releases weekly podcasts focusing on two issues in higher education. About two weeks ago, they had a podcast called “Free Community College For All / Rebooting Academic Governance” (Program 31) with guests from  LaGuardia Community College, Gail Mellow, and Assistant Professor of Higher Education from Seton University, Robert Kelchen talking about how Obama’s plan might affect the middle class (and if it would indeed rebuild a struggling middle class) among other things.

Program 31: “Free Community College For All / Rebooting Academic Governance”


I’m also embedding a more recent podcast (just released Friday!) called “The Obama Higher Ed Agenda / Are graduates well-prepared?” (Program 32). So all you have to do is press play! Also be sure to check out the link to the podcasts since they contain more links to related articles, videos and podcasts as well as a little background information on their guest speakers.

Program 32: ”The Obama Higher Ed Agenda / Are graduates well-prepared?”



They’re almost here!

January 23rd, 2015

The IRS has emailed its forms’ providers that the shipment of many of its forms will begin on Friday, January 23, 2015. For those who like to prepare their returns early, this year’s delay of the forms has been a challenge. However, the IRS is scaling back its paper supply. More and more, tax payers will have to transition to electronic  solutions. Remember this web address: You will need this to locate forms, worksheets, and instructions that will no longer be provided to you in a paper format.

Now for the Illinois forms…   Here is the web address for the state: and here is the message from the state:  

TAX SEASON UPDATE:     The 2014 Illinois Income Tax forms are available on our website beginning Tuesday, January 20, 2015. We are not accepting electronically filed 2014 tax returns at this time as we continue to test new identity theft prevention measures. Check back here for the up-to-date information for these services.


Did you watch the State of the Union?

January 23rd, 2015

According to Time magazine, about 31.7 million people tuned in to watch the State of the Union. In case you missed it, there were some very life changing ideas addressed. Last week, there were a couple research posts about Obama’s plan to make community college education free to those who qualify. You can read those previous posts here and here.

In the State of the Union address, he touched a little more about how that might work. The plan would cost roughly $60 million dollars over the next 10 years. You can click here to read CNN’s take on the subject. Obama hopes to work with states to cover tuition costs for the first two years of college for those students who have earned good grades. In essence, the federal government would pay three quarters of the bill and then let the states cover the rest. It is important to note that students would still have to pay their living expenses, so it’s not completely free but who can argue with two years of free college tuition? While many experts and politicians would agree that this kind of change would be a good investment, there are many skeptics including, of course, the Tea Party. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens next!

Just as a little funny side note, you should think about watching Jon Stewart’s ‘Implodey’ Award For Worst State Of The Union Response. In it you can see some Tea Party responses.

In case you didn’t get a chance to watch the State of the Union address, I’ve embedded the video below.

Chicago’s Economic Recovery Lagging

January 22nd, 2015

According to this report by the Brookings Institute, Chicago’s economy is still recovering from the recession.  As reported in the Chicago Tribune,  ”Assessing annual growth in GDP per person and in employment levels from 2013 to 2014, the think tank ranked the 14-county Chicago region No. 203 among the world’s 300 largest economies….Unlike 60 percent of the metropolitan areas, this region still has not returned to pre-recession levels by those two measures, according to the report released Thursday.”

Here is a link to the article in our Chicago Tribune database. If you are off campus, you will need to use your MV Connect log in and password.  For those of you who don’t have MV Connect log ins, I’m including a link to the Chicago Tribune article via Businessweek since the Tribune requires a subscription to read the whole thing.


“Start-up” Cities

January 22nd, 2015

Just where is there a favorable environment to do a start-up business in the good old USA? In the February issue of Popular Mechanics, scope out the article beginning on page 62. There are 14 cities that are mentioned and number 11 is Urbana, Illinois, and specifically the University of Illinois. Did you know that the minds who created Netscape, PayPal, Tesla Motors, and YouTube got engineering degrees at the U of I? Help is available at the UIUC Research Park for free. They will even help you write grants.














































































































Spotting Fake Reviews & Bad Info on the Web

January 22nd, 2015

It’s easy to write online reviews. Real ones & fake ones. Write reviews of restaurants, films, books, no problem. But there are more series issues with reviews of services such as How about reviews of doctors or health services. Evaluating sources is part of information literacy (which is part of MVCC’s general education outcomes). Our librarians work with students and faculty in the classroom as part of their research.

I thought that this piece from the Newshour really hits on some interesting information literacy lessons. How do we decide whom to trust?

PBS Newshour: Spotting the fakes among the five-star reviews
Description: Online reviews of businesses, from your corner coffee shop to your airport cab ride, are now ubiquitous. But fraudulent consumer reviews are also on the rise. Special correspondent Jackie Judd meets a fake review writer, as well as the people who are working to crackdown on reviewers for hire.

Chinese Zodiac Signs and Meanings

January 21st, 2015

(Image source:

Happy New Year 2015! Chinese New Year is on Thursday, February 19, 2015. It marks the start of the Year of the Goat in Chinese zodiac. The Chinese animal zodiac, or Shengxiao has a repeating cycle of 12 years, with each year being represented by one of the animals and its reputed attributes. In chronic order, the 12 animals are: Rat (Zi), Ox (Chou), Tiger (Yin), Rabbit (Mao), Dragon (Chen), Snake (Si), Horse (Wu), Goat (Wei), Monkey (Shen), Rooster (You), Dog (Xu), and Pig (Hai).

Your representing sign in Chinese zodiacs is determined by the lunar year in which you were born. The Chinese believe the animal ruling one’s birth year has a profound influence on personality and destiny. For example, if you were born in 1991, your Chinese zodiac sign will be the Goat, and the personality of Goat is gentleness, calm, shyness, creativity, understanding, insecurity and pessimist. People born in the Goat year worry a lot and tend to complain, and appearance and material comfort are very important to them. They need lots of support, love, care, and reassurance.

You can know your animal sign by referring to the year you were born and find out the symbolic meanings of the 12 animal signs here. Besides, if you are a Goat, don’t forget to check out  “Goat” tips for the year of the Goat 2015!


Standing Up for Islam in the Face of the Paris Attacks

January 21st, 2015

This On the Media piece (below) caught my attention. It focuses on Ani Zonneveld who hits on some of the challenges in representing the meaning of Islam (in person, online, and in the media). I thought that Ms. Zonneveld was a voice who needed some attention, so I thought I’d share this piece here.

Countering Radical Islam
Description: In the aftermath of attacks wrought in the name of Islam, debate about how Muslims should respond tends to reignite. Ani Zonneveld, founder and president of Muslims for Progressive Values, talks with Brooke about the danger in dismissing the theological basis for extremism. Rather, she argues that to effectively counter radical Islam, Muslims must acknowledge and address its religious roots.

Civil Rights, John Lewis, and Comic Books

January 21st, 2015

photo from Wired by Eric Etheridge

Wired reports that civil rights leader and congressman, John Lewis, is working with Top Shelf Comics to produce comic books about the Civil Rights struggle. Book two of the series entitled March is out now.

–Purchase March from Top Shelf here
–Wired: The Civil Rights Legend Who’s Inspiring a New Generation With Comic Books