Thursday, February 28, 2013

APOD 2/24/13 - Whirlpool Galaxy

M51: The Whirlpool Galaxy in Dust and Stars
Image Credit: N. Scoville (Caltech), T. Rector (U. Alaska, NOAO) et al., Hubble Heritage Team, NASA.
The classically beautiful spiral galaxy, M51, is famously known as the Whirlpool Galaxy. Makes you dizzy looking into
its vortex of stars, clouds, and dust!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Favorite Library Quotes

Library in Betliar
Library in Betliar (public domain)- Wikimedia Commons

Favorite Quotes About Libraries

"Books are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time."  --E.P. Whipple

"Libraries: The medicine chest of the soul."  --Library at Thebes, inscription over the door

"To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life." --W. Somerset Maugham

"If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." --Toni Morrison

"There is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and a tired man who wants a book to read." --G.K. Chesterton

"The Internet is the world's largest library. It's just that all the books are on the floor." --John Allen Paulos

"Libraries…house our dreams." --Nikki Giovanni

"Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life." --Mark Twain

"It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations." -- Winston Churchill

"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!" --Homer Simpson

"Books must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they are written." --Henry David Thoreau

"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind." --Rudyard Kipling

"If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research!" --Albert Einstein

"My alma mater was books, a good library. I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity." --Malcolm X

"The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go." --Dr. Seuss

"I am a part of everything that I have read." --John Kieran

"An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest." --Benjamin Franklin

"Literature is my utopia." --Helen Keller

"To read is to empower. To empower is to write. To write is to influence. To influence is to change. To change is to live." --Jane Evershed

"Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries." --Anne Herbert

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read." --Groucho Marx

"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." --Frederick Douglass

"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood." --Marie Curie

"Learning is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily." --Chinese proverb

"Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself." --Potter Stewart

"There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the free public library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration." --Andrew Carnegie

"Prefer knowledge to wealth, for the one is transitory, the other perpetual." --Socrates

"Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation." --Walter Cronkite

"Knowledge is power." --Francis Bacon

"A room without books is like a body without a soul." --Cicero

"We read to know we are not alone." --C. S. Lewis

"There is a wonder in reading braille that the sighted will never know. To touch the words and have
them touch you back."--Jim Fiebig

"A library is a hospital for the mind." --Anonymous

"Don’t join the book burners.  Do not think that you’re going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book." --Dwight D. Eisenhower

"There is no friend as loyal as a book." --Ernest Hemingway

"Information is the currency of democracy." --Thomas Jefferson

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." --Carl Sagan

"Read in order to live." --Gustave Flaubert

"A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life." --Henry Ward Beecher

"A library is thought in cold storage." --Herbert Samuel

"Librarians are almost always very helpful and often almost absurdly knowledgeable." --Charles Medawar

"A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone." --Jo Godwin

"To add a library to a house is to give that house a soul." --Cicero

"Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library.The only entrance requirement is interest." --Lady Bird Johnson

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." -- Mark Twain

"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it." -- Samuel Johnson

"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." --Jorge Luis Borges

"There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come. My idea? Love all." --Victor Hugo.

"Librarian is a service occupation. Gas station attendant of the mind." --Richard Powers

"A great library contains the diary of the human race." --George Mercer Dawson

"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." --Cicero

"We may sit in our library and yet be in all quarters of the earth." --John Lubbock

"Come, and take choice of all my library, and so beguile thy sorrow." --William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus

Monday, February 25, 2013

100th Birth Anniversary of Jim Backus

Forever Mr. Magoo and Thurston Howell III. He was a prolific actor and was married for 46 years before his death.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Faking It - Before Photoshop

cat and i
How did photographers manipulate images before computers? In many clever ways, sometimes by just cutting and pasting (literally). Sometimes they employed other methods such as exposure tricks or painting. The Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection of manipulated photos is being shown at the National Gallery of Art in DC this Spring. This show is being sponsored by (surprise!) Adobe. The photos are all mesmerizing and in some cases eerie and creepy. The WP has reviewed the show and the NGA has provided a catalog of the works on display.

Photo at left: Wanda Wulz, Io + gatto (Cat + I), 1932, [Multiple Exposure of Woman and Cat's Face] Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


First heard this one on the Volvo commercial.

And this one from the Citi commercial (and yes, they really did climb those rocks!).

Friday, February 22, 2013

"It will be very slow but noble television."

By Ryan Mahle from Sherman Oaks, CA, USA ( - image description page) [CC-BY-2.0
(], via Wikimedia Commons
Firewood TV (Reuters). I totally understand the appeal of this TV show (NYT) - I could sit and watch it all day long!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Black History Month

Recent Books of Note:

1. More Than Freedom : Fighting for Black Citizenship in a White Republic, 1829-1889
by Kantrowitz, Stephen David, 1965
Published 2012 by Penguin Press

2. Desert Rose : the Life and Legacy of Coretta Scott King
by Bagley, Edythe Scott
Published 2012 by University of Alabama Press

3. The Longest Fight : in the Ring with Joe Gans, Boxing's First African American Champion
by Gildea, William
Published 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

4. American Tapestry : the Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama
by Swarns, Rachel L.
Published 2012 by Amistad

5. The Grey Album : on the Blackness of Blackness
by Young, Kevin
Published 2012 by Graywolf Press

6. The Color of War : How One Battle Broke Japan and Another Changed America
by Campbell, James
Published 2012 by Crown Publishers

7. Guest of honor : Booker T. Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and the White House Dinner that Shocked a Nation
by Davis, Deborah, 1957-
Published 2011 by Atria Books

8. From Slave Ship to Harvard : Yarrow Mamout and the History of an African American Family
by Johnston, James H., 1944-
Published 2012 by Fordham University Press

9. Our Black Year : One Family's Quest to Buy Black in America's Racially Divided Economy
by Anderson, Maggie, 1971-
Published 2012 by Public Affairs

10. How to be Black
by Thurston, Baratunde
Published 2012 by Harper

11. Fraternity
by Brady, Diane
Published 2012 by Spiegel & Grau

12. Floyd Patterson : the Fighting Life of Boxing's Invisible Champion
by Stratton, W. K.
Published 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

For Children:

1. I Lay My Stitches Down : Poems of American Slavery
by Grady, Cynthia
Published 2012 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

2. Miles to Go for Freedom: Segregation & Civil Rights in the Jim Crow Years
by Osborne, Linda Barrett, 1949-
Published 2012 by Abrams Books for Young Readers

3. It Jes' Happened : When Bill Traylor Started to Draw
by Tate, Don
Published 2012 by Lee & Low Books

4. Jazz Age Josephine
by Winter, Jonah, 1962-
Published 2012 by Atheneum Books for Young

5. Touch the Sky : Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper
by Malaspina, Ann, 1957-
Published 2012 by Albert Whitman

6. Words Set Me Free : the Story of Young Frederick Douglass
by Cline-Ransome, Lesa
Published 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

7. Crow
by Wright, Barbara, 1951-
Published 2012 by Random House

8. Ellen's Broom
by Lyons, Kelly Starling
Published 2012 by G. P. Putnam's Sons

9. Just as Good : How Larry Doby Changed America's Game
by Crowe, Chris
Published 2012 by Candlewick Press

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Judging a Book by its Cover

book cover
Favorite Book Cover Designs of 2012 (NYT).  Have not read most of these books, (with the exception of the Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, plus all the Malcolm Gladwell titles), but all the covers are thought-provoking. At least they make you wonder what the books might be about.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

APOD - Asteroid 2012 DA14

Right in our backyard - the asteroid that just missed us - watch it whiz by us and disappear into the void. This amazing footage was filmed by Daniel Lopez at the Teide Observatory in the Canary Islands. It was selected as the APOD for Feb. 17, 2013. Scientists believe that this asteroid was not involved in the Great Russian Meteor of 2013, seen below.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy Presidents Day

Air Force One flying over Mount Rushmore
Air Force One flying over Mount Rushmore - photo by US Air Force - public domain Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Role of Beauty

Why We Love Beautiful Things (NYT) - this article probably explains why I am drawn to Bing every day even though I don't use the search very often. I just need to look at the beautiful images.

Field of Purple Flowers
Field with purple Flowers by Pál Szinyei Merse (1845 - 1920) - public domain Wikimedia Commons

Friday, February 15, 2013

449th Birth Anniversary of Galileo Galilei

Portrait of  Galileo Galilei
Portrait of  Galileo Galilei (public domain) Wikimedia
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Thought I'd jump ahead of the clamor as most of the world will celebrate Galileo Galilei's 450th in the coming year. Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker is also looking ahead and has some thoughts on Galileo's iconoclastic life and achievements. He also discusses some new books about him that are forthcoming.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Amazing Living Bridges

Living root bridges
The living bridges of Cherrapunji, India are made from the roots of the Ficus elastica tree.

These are made of tree roots that people have encouraged to grow and intertwine to form durable foot bridges! For a more extensive gallery of these, see the rootbridges blog which highlights the bridges in Cherrapunji, India. There are also root bridges in other parts of the world, notably in Iya Valley, Japan. These bridges call to mind certain Elven Kingdoms of lore :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Take Me to Your Leader!

take me to your leader
Image assembled by theLibraryLander

It's Extraterrestrial Culture Day - at least in New Mexico, where it is an unofficial holiday actually recognized by the State Legislature. How cool is that? How many places on earth can claim to recognize and appreciate Martians? The Roswell UFO incident has given NM a certain spaciness, hence, House Bill 766, which was passed in 2003 by the New Mexico State Legislature. It proclaims,


Section 1. EXTRATERRESTRIAL CULTURE DAY.--The second Thursday of February each year shall be designated "Extraterrestrial Culture Day" in recognition of the many visitations, sightings, unexplained mysteries, attributed technological advances, experimentations, expeditions, explorations, intrigues, provision of story lines for Hollywood epics and other accomplishments of alien beings from throughout the universe that have contributed to New Mexico's worldwide recognition as a unique and dynamic mosaic of cultural anomalies. The day should be observed to celebrate and honor all past, present and future extraterrestrial visitors in ways to enhance relationships among all the citizens of the cosmos, known and unknown."

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Happy Lunar New Year!

Better known as Chinese New Year, but it is celebrated across Asia so it's more accurate to say Asian Lunar New Year. It's the Year of the (water) Snake - here's hoping for good luck in 2013!

Happy Lunar New Year
Image composed by TheLibraryLander

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Blizzard Nemo

Feb 2013 New England Storm
The name refers not to the Clownfish, but the very tough Captain Nemo, who fought storms in Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It's interesting that the National Weather Service disavows any naming schemes for winter storms, which is primarily promoted by the media. But Nemo brings back memories of Snowmageddon - referred to as the 2010 North American blizzard by the NWS - which pounded the Mid-Atlantic just three years ago. Those memories are still fresh so we in the Mid-Atlantic states deeply sympathize with New Englanders currently dealing with Nemo.

(Left) Satellite image of the February 2013 Nor'easter - image by GOES, NASA

Friday, February 8, 2013

Jules Verne's 185th Birth Anniversary

Photograph of Jules Verne by Felix Nadar
Photograph of Jules Verne by Félix Nadar
 - public domain, Wikimedia Commons

“How many things have been denied one day, only to become realities the next!”  ~ Jules Verne, From the Earth to the Moon

Often referred to as the "Father of Science Fiction", Jules Verne was a remarkably prescient prognosticator of future technology. Many know him as the author of works such as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in 80 Days, and A Journey to the Center of the Earth among others; but he also described such inventions as the submarine, fax machines, and even the Taser. My own love of science fiction, like many others, was awakened when I read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as a child. This led to reading more books by Verne as well as other authors, notably Arthur C. Clarke, who was also another accurate technology forecaster. And today, Steampunk as a genre wouldn't exist without Verne's imaginings!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Prison Libraries

Prison libraries throughout the US
Prison libraries throughout the US - Library Journal
Top photo by Stephn M. Lilienthal; bottom left photos
by Darren Wagner

Library Journal recently published a feature on prison libraries and the services they provide to the incarcerated. It's an important service which helps a population that greatly benefits from access to information and reading materials. Prison libraries serve not only in an educational capacity, but also a rehabilitative one. Many inmates make use of the legal materials that prison libraries stock, as well as the computers which provide a variety of software but with limited or no internet access. If internet access is provided, it will be heavily filtered so as not to pose a security risk. Wikipedia has a good entry on prison libraries. Library services for inmates isn't a luxury, but is often seen as an essential tool for helping them turn their lives around after paying their debt to society.  NPR not long ago interviewed librarian Glennor Shirley who was in charge of Maryland prison libraries before she retired in 2011. The WP also profiled her extraordinary life and career as a prison librarian. Society owes a debt of gratitude to anyone willing to work behind bars serving a high-risk population - a humbling and gratifying mission! 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Today is National Weatherperson's Day!

John Jeffries flew across the English Channel NOAA
John Jeffries flew across
the English Channel - NOAA
Traditionally, weather forecasters have gotten a bad rap for less than accurate predictions, but today that reputation is completely unjustified. Technology has improved forecasting to such an extent that weather people predict almost to the minute when the first snowflake will fall for a snowstorm! Computer models show storm tracks using spaghetti plots which aid forecasters with possible weather events. Long range forecasting is still difficult (witness the inaccuracies found in the Farmer's Almanacs), but day-to-day and even weekly predictions are very reliable. Feb. 5 has been designated National Weatherperson's Day in honor of John Jeffries (American, Feb. 5, 1744 - Sep. 16,1819) who was among the very first people to keep daily weather records. He also conducted the first weather balloon observation over London in 1784. He took weather instruments to an altitude of 9,000 feet and recorded temperature and barometric pressure during the flight. Some people may find weather boring and only worthwhile as the subject of small talk, but for me, it can be a fulfilling pastime, especially as it can impact our lives quite dramatically. In particular, if one lives anywhere along the eastern seaboard, which sees more than its fair share of wild weather! And in honor of National Weatherperson's Day, I want to express my appreciation to one of our local weather persons, Sue Palka, who not only provides accurate weather information, but does so in a calm and reassuring manner. She provides the information without the hype, which is the way news should be delivered. Thanks, Sue!

Sue Palka, WTTG Weather Person

Monday, February 4, 2013

Rosa Parks' 100th Birth Anniversary

Rosa Parks received the Congressional Medal of  Freedom in Detroit in 1999
Rosa Parks received the Congressional Medal of
Freedom in Detroit in 1999 - AP photo.
Small acts of courage can have huge consequences. Rosa Parks' life exemplifies the idea that a seemingly ordinary person can perform heroic acts which can benefit society at large. But she was far from an ordinary person - she had been involved in efforts to improve the lives of Black people well before her arrest in 1955. A new biography of Parks, “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks,” by Jeanne Theoharis, paints a portrait of a citizen who didn't shirk her duty when confronted with wrongdoing. A fitting tribute on her 100th birthday. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Income Tax Celebrates its 100th

IRS 1040 form
IRS 1040 form (
Don't hear too many people cheering though!  Probably the best headline I've read so far on this anniversary is, "Many Unhappy Returns." But, however one feels about the whole idea, it's a power that Congress was given when the 16th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified a hundred years ago. Cornell University Law School has a great legal website which provides a lot of info on the law and government. Here's their page on Amendment XVI

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Ground Hog Day 2013

Snow lovers will lament; spring lovers rejoice. Apparently, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow today so we'll hold him to his prediction that spring is near! Though, we're still waiting word from his taxidermied relative, Potomac Phil, who should make a stoic appearance in Dupont Circle. And of course, there are a whole slew of other groundhog prognosticators that may have their own prediction. But it's undeniable that Punxsutawney Phil is the ultimate prognosticator among the Marmota monax crew.