EVPL Communities: lotech@evpl's Blog Postshttp://evpl.org/community/blogs/All of lotech@evpl's blog posts on the EVPL Communities site.en-USCommunityServer 2008 SP1 (Build: 30619.63) <![CDATA["Death from the Skies" by Philip Plait]]> http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/archive/2009/03/13/quot-death-from-the-skies-quot-by-philip-plait.aspx Fri, 13 Mar 2009 11:13:00 G3T 1367 lotech@evpl Posted to the <a href="http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/" target="_blank">Books Blog</a> on EVPL Communities. View the original post at http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/archive/2009/03/13/quot-death-from-the-skies-quot-by-philip-plait.aspx to post your comments!

Sun up close; ball of fireThe subtitle of this book is "These are the ways the world will end..."   The cover features a glowing ball of fire, the Sun,  headed right for our planet!  I assumed this book wold be a humorous criticsim of extreme and erroneous doomsday views.  By reading this I could be amused, feel superior, and relieved at the same time!  However, feelings of amusement and superiority were not achieved as the humor is very low-key and but a thin veil disguising an instructive work covering a number of astronomical subjects, especially the life cycle of stars which necessarily involves chemistry and physics on a grand scale.

Each chapter has an introductory section describing a horrific catastrophe caused by an astronomical event; the section is followed by a scientific explantaion and the odds, usually highly unlikely, that these would happen in any time frame in which humanity should be concerned with the exceptions of solar flares and asteroid impacts.  Solar flares have the power to cripple satellites and stronger ones could even destroy electrical power distribution grids on earth.  Plait feels we can protects ourselves from these effects.  Impacting asteroids he advises should be taken seriously although he admits we need to research effective ways to avoid them; he discusses possible futuristic solutions.

While a skeptic as to extraterrestial life invading us, he does see the possiblity of our eventually terrafroming other planets (that is, making them more like earth) by creating human- friendly atmospheres on their surfaces with asteroids we slam into them and by adjusting the orbits of Earth and the other planets though asteroid manipulation.  This would all come in handy when the Sun changes its diameter during its natural development some millions of years from now.  No need to be alarmed at the moment; just someting to think about.

Plain makes a number of interesting points and his scientific discussion of the universe is instructive.  However my impression is that this book isn't the greatest of popular scientific writing, but the subject matter (the universe!)  certainly is interesting , and the author does have intriguing insights scattered throughout .

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Astronomy
<![CDATA["A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World" by Tony Horwitz]]> http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/archive/2008/11/14/quot-a-voyage-long-and-strange-rediscovering-the-new-world-quot-by-tony-horwitz.aspx Fri, 14 Nov 2008 17:13:00 G11T 875 lotech@evpl Posted to the <a href="http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/" target="_blank">Books Blog</a> on EVPL Communities. View the original post at http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/archive/2008/11/14/quot-a-voyage-long-and-strange-rediscovering-the-new-world-quot-by-tony-horwitz.aspx to post your comments!

Explorers on ship being attacked by sea monsterMost of us base our understanding of early American history on what we learned in elementary school years ago.  The author, himself a history major in college and already the author of the successful book, "Confederates in the Attic," realized there was a gap in his knowledge of the details of American history from the Vikings' discovery through the Pilgrims' arrival in 1620. This book reveals the messy historic details of this period of American history, an accounting of what actually (probably) happened, sometimes gruesome and depressing, but always fascinating. The author alternates history with adventurous interviews with current residents/experts of the geographical areas covered.  At first I didn't think I would enjoy this approach, but the author manages to tie everything together. 

Horwitz tells us of the failed explorations and settlements before the Pilgrims.  He discusses the Vikings; the exploration and settlement efforts of Columbus; the explorations of Coronado,  Hernando De Soto, and others; the struggle between the French colony of La Caroline and the Spanish colony of St. Augustine and the story of the Fountain of Youth; the abandoned Roanoke Island colony; the Jamestown settlement with the history of John Smith, Pochanotas, and her English husband John Rolfe; and finally the Plymouth Colony with a more accurate description than we usually see in the Thanksgiving story.  Horwitz learns, however that mythic history is a powerful force as it is something we choose; it serves different purposes than true history.

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Native American History Explorers - America America - Discovery and exploration
<![CDATA[Indiana Memory]]> http://evpl.org/community/blogs/research/archive/2008/09/22/indiana-memory.aspx Mon, 22 Sep 2008 14:42:00 G9T 616 lotech@evpl Posted to the <a href="http://evpl.org/community/blogs/research/" target="_blank">Research Blog</a> on EVPL Communities. View the original post at http://evpl.org/community/blogs/research/archive/2008/09/22/indiana-memory.aspx to post your comments!

Many books, manuscripts, photographs, newspapers, and maps have and are being digitized to make them viewable online on the relatively new website, Indiana Memory, http://www.in.gov/memories.  You can search by broad topic or by keyword.  The Indiana State Library coordinates this project, but the items are from library collections all over the state.  This is Indiana's version of the on-going project of the Library of Congress, American Memory, http://memory.loc.gov

 

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evansville library of congress Online resources local history history Vanderburgh County maps Indiana Memory Indiana
<![CDATA[New Local Newspaper]]> http://evpl.org/community/blogs/research/archive/2008/08/19/new-local-newspaper.aspx Tue, 19 Aug 2008 14:31:00 G8T 234 lotech@evpl Posted to the <a href="http://evpl.org/community/blogs/research/" target="_blank">Research Blog</a> on EVPL Communities. View the original post at http://evpl.org/community/blogs/research/archive/2008/08/19/new-local-newspaper.aspx to post your comments!

Free copies of a new local newspaper have appeared in our libraries: "The City County Observer".  The paper describes itseilf as "A Non-Partisan Publication Dedicated to the Reporting of Your Local Government at Work".  This is the first issue, August, 2008, volume 1, issue 1; the paper appears to aim for a monthly publication.  Besides several articles about local government, this first issue has two pages of local candidates for the upcoming general election; the page includes thier photos and comments.  A calendar of some of this month's governmental meetings appears on another page.  The paper's website, http://www.citycountyobserver.com , also has a full copy of this month's paper, links to both city and county governement websites, and an archives which will apparently have past issues as new issues are published.

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politics elections local government calendars newspaper
<![CDATA["The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan]]> http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/archive/2008/08/07/quot-the-omnivore-s-dilemma-quot-by-michael-pollan.aspx Thu, 07 Aug 2008 13:54:00 G8T 183 lotech@evpl Posted to the <a href="http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/" target="_blank">Books Blog</a> on EVPL Communities. View the original post at http://evpl.org/community/blogs/books/archive/2008/08/07/quot-the-omnivore-s-dilemma-quot-by-michael-pollan.aspx to post your comments!

"The Omnivore's Dilemma" coverThis is a fascinating discussion of our relationship to the food we eat.  Mr. Pollan first discusses the familiar Industrial Agricultural system, a topic that's been covered by many other books in one way or another, but Pollan provides a good overview to the problems this system presents us.  I didn't care for what I felt a too extensive discussion of his coy conceit that corn has selected us to guarantee its existence, but that's a minor flaw in an otherwise overwhelmingly impressively persuasive book. Much has been written about the mass production of animals and plants for food, but Pollan may be more accessible to readers disliking shock prose and photos; no photos in this book, just very effective writing, reasoned, but passionate.   Pollan interestingly writes of "Big Organic" and notes the limitations of mass produced "organic" foods.  He's at his best however when he discusses the emotional issues of vegetarianism and the killing of animals for food both by raising/killing animals for food and by hunting.

The omnivores' dilemma turns out to be based on our emotional awareness of our intricate relationship and dependence on the "non-human" world. Mr. Pollan has lived and written a thoughful exploration of this relationship.  As his final effort, he attempts to cook a meal based only on plants harvested from a garden and animals he has himself hunted/killed for this meal.  His final pages powerfully mediatate on what our attitudes should be toward the food we often take for granted.

Earlier this summer this was a selection for two local book discusssion groups; Im sure those discussions were lively.  This book was published in 2006.

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reviews Food Hunting Agriculture Vegetarianism