Intellectual, conservative activist, and media personality, William F. Buckely passed away on February 27th at age 82. This News Hour segment is a nice overview of this life and work, “Editor Reflects on Buckley’s Conservative Legacy”. Our library holds 12 books written by Buckely. You may want to check out these articles in Academic Search Premier to learn more (MVCC ID required).
Today is February 29th, which is my Great-Aunt Elane’s birthday. Despite the fact that she is my grandmother’s sister, today is only the 18th or 19th time she has actually celebrated her birthday on her birthday, because she was born on February 29th, which only comes around every 4 years.
Why do we do that? Well, according to the National Maritime Museum in the UK, the reason is because the year is not really 365 days long. It is actually 365.24219 days long, and over time, that .24219 of a day starts to add up. Actually, by 1582 this small difference had really thrown things out of whack, so that the months were not lining up with the same seasons any more. Thus, Pope Gregory the XIII implemented the Gregorian calendar that we use today.
For those of you out there who are into this sort of stuff and want to learn a bit more, I would recommend Duncan Steele’s book Marking time : the epic quest to invent the perfect calendar, which is here in the MVCC library.
Over the last year, I have had several students come to the information desk in the library asking me to help them find information that shows that story from the US government about the terrorist attack on 9/11/01 was untrue and that, in actuality, there was some other conspiracy that explains this attack. As a librarian, I always offer up some suggestions to these students, but I also am sure to let students guide their own research. But, I thought that it might be useful to post a couple of resources for future examples when students arrive with similar questions.
First, Popular Mechanics has a Web site, “Debunking the 9/11 Myths”, which is excellent. Here’s a quote from the site:
From the moment the first airplane crashed into the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001, the world has asked one simple and compelling question: How could it happen?
Healthy skepticism, it seems, has curdled into paranoia. Wild conspiracy tales are peddled daily on the Internet, talk radio and in other media. Blurry photos, quotes taken out of context and sketchy eyewitness accounts have inspired a slew of elaborate theories: The Pentagon was struck by a missile; the World Trade Center was razed by demolition-style bombs; Flight 93 was shot down by a mysterious white jet. As outlandish as these claims may sound, they are increasingly accepted abroad and among extremists here in the United States.
To investigate 16 of the most prevalent claims made by conspiracy theorists, POPULAR MECHANICS assembled a team of nine researchers and reporters who, together with PM editors, consulted more than 70 professionals in fields that form the core content of this magazine, including aviation, engineering and the military.
Second, Debunking 9/11 Conspiracy theories and Controlled Demolition Myths is a site entirely devoted to showing the poor logic, misuse of evidence, and general lies that conspiracy theorists use. There are even some useful back-and-forths here between the writers of this site and conspiracy theorists.
As a librarian, I find all of this to be a great learning opportunity for students who are entering the public debate as adults and now find themselves in a position to weigh evidence, consider differing viewpoints, and make a person decision about how they interpret the meaning of events.
During Black History Month, the library has shown Eyes on the Prize, which is one of the most ground breaking documentaries ever made. Using great news footage and interviews, this documentary follows the Civil Rights movement. This PBS interview with narrator Julian Bond, NAACP Chairman Recalls Work on Civil Rights Documentary, discusses the 20 year anniversary of Eyes on the Prize. If you are interested in watching this documentary, visit this link in the library catalog, Eyes on the Prize for call number and availability.
As President Bush is visiting Africa, I thought that this NPR story might be worth sending along, The Challenge of Africa. Yesterday, Mr. Bush visited a memorial to the genocide in Rwanda, and he and Secretary of State Rice have commented on the genocide in Darfur. This NPR story is a sort of review of some of the key issues rising out of Africa.
The library was happy to welcome human rights activist Simon Deng this past week who spoke about the crisis in Sudan. You can listen to the podcast of this event by clicking here. Here are a few resources that provide a larger context for Mr. Deng’s lecture.
The News Hour on PBS broadcast this update on the crisis in Sudan, U.N. Envoy: Darfur Faces New Dangers Amid Chad Unrest.
For a good summary and perspective, take a look at this CQ Researcher Report, Stopping Genocide: Should the UN or US take action in the Sudan? (MVCC ID and password required)
Merriam Webster has announced it’s 2007 Word of the Year: w00t. They define it as:
expressing joy (it could be after a triumph, or for no reason at all); similar in use to the word “yay”
Yesterday marked the 20th Anniversary of the death of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. Three resources to send along are
- “Harold” by Chicago Public Radio’s This American Life,
- the book Harold Washington and the neighborhoods: progressive city government in Chicago, 1983-1987 edited by Pierre Clavel and Wim Wiewel (available in the MVCC Library).
- the special November 23rd episode of Chicago Public Radio’s 484
Harold Washinton’s story is especially timely with the current discussions taking place around the library and bookstore’s One Book, One College program on Malcolm X.
Collection of features, views, and analysis about the political situation in Pakistan, which included General Musharraf’s declaration of emergency rule in November 2007. Includes a timeline about Pakistani politics back to 1988 when Benazir Bhutto was sworn in as prime minister, background about individuals involved (such as Musharraf, Bhutto, and former prime minister Nawaz Sarif), the militant threat, and the diplomatic options. From the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) [from LII.org]
The National Archives: Veterans and Their Families
Compilation of resources for locating archival material about U.S. military veterans. Provides brochures, FAQs, and other information about military service records and official military personnel files, covering enlistment, duty stations, awards and medals, separation, and other administrative details. Also includes material about obtaining medical records, what information is not available from the National Archives, information available from other agencies and organization concerned with veterans, and more. From the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). [citation from Lii.org]