Friday, July 31, 2009

Louisville. Conjures up horse racing, mint juleps and baseball bats, doesn't it? A mere six hour drive from Toledo puts you in the heart of the city. Main Street has a number of restaurants and museums. We visited three: Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft and Frazier International History Museum. The first offers a half hour factory tour as well as a museum filled with baseball memorabilia. A highly enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours even if you are like me and not a big baseball fan. The arts and crafts museum, to our surprise, was filled with antique motorcycles. This included a Yale made in Toledo. Lastly, the international history museum turned out to be quite an enjoyable experience. Third floor contains exhibits from the Royal Armouries dating back at least a thousand years to the late 19th century, second floor history of guns and gunmaking, first floor, um, well, we ran out of time. You easily could spend an entire day at the Frazier. While walking between the museums you can view bronze bats and bases describing famous baseball players. These are found at various intervals on Main Street. Also found throughout downtown are horse statues decorated by artists. These are reminiscent of the frog statues Toledo did a few years ago as well as the cow statues found in Chicago. Speaking of horses, the Kentucky Derby Museum is a must see for those traveling the city. Located south of downtown at Churchill Downs, the museum contains not only memorabilia but also exhibits on raising racing horses. A 30 minute tour of the track is included with longer tours available for an extra fee. There are a number of other attractions, such as the zoo and science museum, which we did not have the time to visit. Louisville definitely lived up to its slogan of doing something original. Contributed by Bowling Green, Ohio reader

It was a "beer summit" without apologies in Washington, D.C. on July 30, as Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley and Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates sat down for a beer at the White House with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. President Obama released a statement on Thursday night: "I have always believed that what brings us together is stronger than what pulls us apart. I am confident that has happened here tonight, and I am hopeful that all of us are able to draw this positive lesson from this episode." Gates and Crowley were planning future meetings, but did not tip anyone off as to where or when those would occur, saying that the next time the press would not be invited.

S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Factsheet
S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices Methodology
S&P/Case-Shiller® Home Price FAQ
May 26, 2009: S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Values
July 28, 2009: Historical Values

An Orwellian gaffe involving the Kindle e-book reader just won’t go down the memory hole for On Thursday, a Chicago-based law firm filed a suit in federal court in Seattle against Amazon on behalf of Justin D. Gawronski, a 17-year-old Michigan high school senior. The suit, which seeks class-action status, claims that when the company wirelessly deleted a copy of George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” from Gawronski’s Kindle earlier this month, it also deleted the notes he had taken.

The U.S. Newspaper Industry in Transition, July 8, 2009
"The U.S. newspaper industry is suffering through what could be its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Advertising revenues are plummeting due to the severe economic downturn, while readership habits are changing as consumers turn to the Internet for free news and information. Some major newspaper chains are burdened by heavy debt loads. In the past year, seven major newspaper chains have declared bankruptcy, several big city papers have shut down, and many have laid off reporters and editors, imposed pay reductions, cut the size of the physical newspaper, or turned to Web-only publication. As the problems intensify, there are growing concerns that the rapid decline of the newspaper industry will impact civic and social life. Already there are fewer newspaper reporters covering state capitols and city halls, while the number of states with newspapers covering Congress fulltime has dwindled to 23 from the most recent peak of 35 in 1985."

Economic Effects of Health Care Reform on Small Businesses and Their Employees
Council of Economic Advisors: The Economic Effects of Health Care Reform on Small Businesses and Their Employees, July 25, 2009

If the forthcoming movie Julie & Julia starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams has you curious about the real Julia Child, head to Washington. There you can see the famous chef's actual kitchen at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.
The display, called "Bon Appetit," first opened in 2002 but is receiving some new items this summer, including memorabilia from the movie and Child's copper pot collection, which was originally loaned to a museum in California. The 14-by-20-foot kitchen—small by the standards of many modern American homes—includes her cabinets, counters, cookbooks, Garland commercial range, and hundreds of well-worn utensils and gadgets.

Food in film Julie & Julia with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams
A good food stylist will take care of the actors, whether they are demanding or not. Ms. Spungen made huge bowls full of glossy, cooked Swiss meringue for Ms. Streep to whisk during a scene at Le Cordon Bleu. But she didn’t bother to flavor it with vanilla until she saw that the actress would be dipping a finger into the meringue and popping it into her mouth. “I wanted it to taste good,” Ms. Spungen said. (There was so much left that she turned it into tarts for the crew.) Chris Messina, who plays Julie Powell’s husband, had a great appetite and never complained, even on the day he had to enthusiastically eat bruschetta topped with tomatoes 36 times. But Ms. Spungen had mercy on him. In another scene, he has to dump salt into a bowl of navarin of lamb during a fight and then eat it. She made sure he was using an off-the-shelf salt substitute. There are a thousand little ways to make it easy on the actors.. Parsley needs to be used sparingly so it doesn’t get stuck in teeth. Toast can’t be so toasty that it crunches too loudly. Low-fat options like apple slices need to be tucked on top of a high-calorie dish that an actor has to nibble on repeatedly. Food stylists also need to know when they can get by with something from a store or a restaurant and when they can’t, and when they can veer off the script a bit and when they can’t.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

There is a lawsuit out of Cook County, Ill., in which a management company filed a $50,000 lawsuit over a tenant's “malicious and defamatory” Twitter tweet. Tweets have a maximum length of 140 characters. And yes, apparently they can lead to defamation lawsuits. The tweet was made by the tenant, Amanda Bonnen, in reference to the state of her apartment to her 20 followers. “You should just come anyway,” it read. “Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon Realty thinks it's OK.” Click here for the story, from Chicago Bar-Tender. The complaint notes that because Bonnen's account was public, “anybody in the world can view the account holder's tweets.” The complaint says that because the “statement damaged the plaintiff's reputation in its business, the statement is liable per se.” WSJ Law Blog July 28, 2009

Answers to your health reform questions by Anna Wilde Mathews

The Northeast Kingdom is a term used to describe the northeast corner of the U.S. state of Vermont, comprising—approximately—Essex, Orleans and Caledonia Counties. In Vermont, the written term "NEK" is often used. The term is attributed to the late George D. Aiken, former Governor of Vermont (1937-1941) and a U.S. Senator at the time of a 1949 speech, the first recorded use of the term. The area is often referred to by Vermonters simply as "The Kingdom."

Retronyms (neologism created for an existing object or concept because the exact meaning of the original term used for it has become ambiguous)
Landline phone, snail mail, cloth diapers, push lawnmower
Although the term is new, the practice is old. Before the invasion of Poland in 1939, the global war that took place between 1914 and 1918 was known as “The Great War,” or the “14/18 War.” There had to be a WWII before there could be a WWI. World War I is a retronym.

Although perhaps not as jolting as an alarm clock, a cat’s “soliciting purr” can still pry its owner from sleep. And, when sufficiently annoying, the sound may actually coerce them from bed to fill a food bowl. This particular meow mix—an embedding of her cat’s high-frequency natural cry within a more pleasant, low-frequency purr—often awakens Karen McComb, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Sussex in the U.K. and lead author of a paper about that sound published in Current Biology. “Solicitation purring is probably more acceptable to humans than overt meowing, which is likely to get cats ejected from the bedroom,” McComb said in a statement. To understand just how cats vocally manipulate owners, McComb and her team set up a series of experiments. First they recorded the purrs of 10 cats; some were recorded when a cat was actively soliciting food and others in a non-solicitation setting. Fifty people then listened to the sounds at the same volume. Individuals judged pleading purrs as more urgent and less pleasant than normal purrs. When the researchers played the purrs re-synthesized to exclude the hungry cries, leaving all else the same, the volunteers perceived the purrs as far less urgent.

Icon: overused but useful noun
An image, picture, or other representation
A religious painting, often done on wooden panels
A person or thing that is the best example of a certain profession or some doing
A small picture which represents something (such as an icon on a computer screen which when clicked performs some function)
(linguistics): A type of noun whereby the form reflects and is determined by the referent; onomatopoetic words are necessarily all icons
Etymology: From Latin, icon Ancient Greek (polytonic, á) (eikÅn) "likeness, image, portrait". Eastern Orthodox Church sense is attested from 1833. Computing sense first recorded in 1982.

This year's Librarian Book Cart Drill Championships were held recently in Chicago.
Five teams of librarians—dressed in costumes ranging from Vikings to Elvis Presley—competed for the coveted gold book cart. They marched in drill-team formation, equipped with metal book carts.
I always remember seeing a parade in Detroit when a great roar went up from the spectators. It was not a sports hero, but a drill team of men dressed in suits marching with their briefcases

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) Program Final Rule Released
"NHTSA has released the final rule for the Car Allowance Rebate System, the $1 billion Federal program that will help consumers purchase a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle when they trade in a less fuel-efficient vehicle. Consumers could receive a $3,500 or $4,500 discount from the car dealer when they trade in their old vehicle and purchase or lease a new one. CARS will run until Nov. 1, or until the funds are depleted."
"The CAR Allowance Rebate System (CARS) is a $1 billion government program that helps consumers buy or lease a more environmentally-friendly vehicle from a participating dealer when they trade in a less fuel-efficient car or truck. The program is designed to energize the economy; boost auto sales and put safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles on the nation's roadways. Consumers will be able to take advantage of this program and receive a $3,500 or $4,500 discount from the car dealer when they trade in their old vehicle and purchase or lease a new one. Consumers you do not need to register anywhere or at anytime for this program. However, to find out eligibility requirements click here."

The government rejiggered gas mileage figures on about 100 older vehicles last week in a way that changed whether they would be eligible for up to $4,500 in sales inducements. The Environmental Protection Agency says the changes resulted from a double-check of its fuel-efficiency ratings on more than 30,000 1984 and newer vehicles in advance of the official start of the clunkers program Monday. About half the 100 suddenly did not qualify because their combined mileage rating was revised upward; others unexpectedly got in. "As a result of the review, roughly an equal number of vehicles became eligible as those found to be not eligible," said the EPA in a statement. "Eligibility for about 100 vehicles was affected." FIND MORE STORIES IN: Car-shopping website said Monday that it discovered the switcheroo because potential buyers were complaining on its discussion boards. Some said it made them ineligible at the last minute for car deals they already had on deck. "We had everything lined up. We had a couple car dealers that had verified our car qualified, and we were ready to purchase a new car this weekend," wrote one potential buyer, identified on the site as John1152. "But it will not happen now because at the last second the EPA updated the information at their web page for a 1993 Toyota Camry wagon ... from 18 mpg to 19 mpg."

New York animal trainer Lyssa Rosenberg has taught her terrier to obey simple written commands. Willow plays dead when she sees the word 'bang', stretches a paw in the air when she sees 'wave' and gets up on her back feet to beg when she sees the words 'sit up'. "She's an unbelievably quick learner," said Ms Rosenberg, who has trained other dogs to appear in TV adverts and pose on photo shoots. "She can do 250 different things and I used to joke that I would teach her how to pour me a martini. Then for a bet I told a friend I would teach her to read.” She won the bet.

Featured artist: James Ensor
James Sidney Ensor, Baron Ensor (1860-1949), was a Belgian painter, whose unique portrayals of grotesque humanity made him a principal precursor of 20th-century expressionism and surrealism. Ensor was born April 13, 1860, in Ostend, Belgium, and, except for three years spent at the Brussels Academy, from 1877 to 1880, he lived in Ostend all his life. His early works were of traditional subject landscapes, still lifes, portraits, interiors painted in deep, rich colors and lighted by subdued but vibrant light. In the mid-1880s, influenced by the bright color of the impressionists and the grotesque imagery of earlier Flemish masters such as Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Ensor turned toward avant-garde themes and styles. His work had an important influence on 20th-century painting, his lurid subject matter paving the way for surrealism and Dada, and his techniques particularly his brushwork and his coloristic sense leading directly to expressionism. He died on November 19, 1949, in Ostend, where there is now a museum devoted to his work. In 1994 a new audience was introduced to James Ensor when They Might Be Giants released the song Meet James Ensor, which aptly describes him as "Belgium's famous painter".
The Museum of Modern Art in New York is exhibiting Ensor’s paintings through September 21.

The New York Times posted a story reporting that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) withheld more than 250 pages of research into the risks of driving while operating a cell phone. The 2003 government report was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit pursued by consumer advocacy groups Center for Auto Safety and Public Citizen. (The full report can be accessed here as a pdf.) The Times article exposes that the government learned then of the significant dangers associated with combining telephone use with driving, and it accuses the government of suppressing the findings for political reasons.

Carnivorous jumbo squid have been washing up on San Diego beaches and swarming in Southern California's coastal waters, freaking out scuba divers and bathers this month, but a biologist now says these beasts are not man-eaters, despite concerns expressed in the media. Reports started coming in earlier in July that dozens of the squid, also known as Humboldt squid , were washing ashore and interacting with divers. Jumbo squid can grow up to 7 feet long and usually prefer to live in deeper waters. Lately, off-shore divers have reported seeing large groups of the squid, which can swim as fast as 15 mph. University of Rhode Island biologist Brad Seibel, who has dived with jumbo squid several times, called the reports "alarmist."

Q. What is an azimuth?
A. angle of the horizon

Point Udall at the east end of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands is the easternmost point (by travel, not longitude) in the United States including territories and insular areas. It was named for Stewart Udall, United States Secretary of the Interior under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.
A sundial known as the Millennium Monument was built above Point Udall for the New Year's celebration in 2000—it marks the azimuth of the first U.S. sunrise of that year.

Point Udall is the westernmost point (by travel, not longitude) in the territorial United States, located on the Orote Peninsula of Guam. It lies at the mouth of Apra Harbor, on the end of Orote Peninsula, opposite the Glass Breakwater of Cabras Island which forms the northern coast of the harborThe point is named for former Arizona congressman Morris "Mo" Udall. It was called "Orote Point" until it was re-named "Point Udall" in May 1987. In 1987, H.R. 2434, proposed by Denny Smith of Oregon, proposed renaming the point to "to honor the service and accomplishments of Morris Udall."[1] It was referred to the House Subcommittee on Insular and International Affairs.[2] In May 1987 it was officially designed Point Udall by the governor of Guam.

Extreme points of the United States including interpretation of easternmost and westernmost and extremes of elevation are at:

expatiate (ek-SPAY-shee-ayt) verb intr.
1. To speak or write at length
2. To move about freely
From Latin exspatiatus, past participle of exspatiari (to wander or digress), from ex- (out) + spatiari (to walk about), from spatium (space) A.Word.A.Day

Monday, July 27, 2009

U.S. service sector employees who receive tips have been excluded from the latest hike in the federal minimum wage that kicked in on July 24, leaving the public to cover the cost of their healthcare, according to economists and advocates. The federal minimum wage on Friday rose to $7.25 from $6.55. But only seven states guarantee tipped workers the minimum wage, according to a report by the National Employment Law Project, a New York-based advocacy group for low-income workers. The minimum wage for so-called "tipped" workers has been frozen at $2.13 an hour since 1991, the report found. Waitresses and waiters, who comprise the majority of tip-receiving workers, have nearly three times the poverty rate of the nation's workforce, it said.

Lawyers for Fredrick Colting, who wrote a sort-of follow-up book to J.D. Salinger's seminal work “The Catcher in the Rye,” appealed a decision from earlier this month banning the publication of his book, “60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye.” The judge on the case, Manhattan federal judge Deborah Batts, found that the book impermissibly infringed on Salinger's copyright. Click here for that opinion; here for previous LB coverage of the case. She ruled that the novel, penned by Colting, an American living in Sweden under the pseudonym “J.D. California” did not fit into the fair use exception in copyright law. Specifically, Batts ruled that because the book did not constitute a critical parody that “transformed” the original. The book imagines a grown up Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of the original, wandering the streets of New York after having escaped from a retirement home. Not surprisingly, then, Colting's appeal to the Second Circuit (click here to read it), focuses to a large degree on this “transformation” idea, largely by highlighting the degree to which it allegedly comments on Salinger's relationship to the novel and the Holden Caulfield character itself.
“Google Books” project mostly involve copyright issues. Manhattan federal judge Denny Chin (he of the 150-year Bernie Madoff sentence) is currently reviewing a large and complex settlement agreement reached last year between Google and a handful of publishers. The publishers sued the search-engine giant in 2005, claiming the company's Google Books project--an effort to digitize huge volumes of books and ultimately make them publicly available--violated their copyrights. Judge Chin is slated to make a final determination on the proposed settlement, which allows Google ultimately to allow access to preview of books that are still under copyright but are out of print, and to sell access to them, later this year. Click here for a Washington Post article from last fall on the settlement. But regardless of what Judge Chin decides, Google is pushing ahead with the broader project. And according to a Boston Globe article out Friday, Google has already scanned some 10 million books, of which 1.5 million are now available online for free. A growing concern, according to the Globe, deals not with not copyright but antitrust: that Google will end up with monopolistic control of access to millions of scanned digital books. "Google is creating a mega bookstore the likes of which we have never seen,'' said Maura Marx, executive director of Open Knowledge Commons, a Boston nonprofit organization. WSJ Law Blog July 24, 2009

Reprint agreement will make U-M rare books widely available July 23rd, 2009
Source: University of Michigan from the news release:
The University of Michigan will make thousands of books that are no longer in copyright—including rare and one-of-a-kind titles—available as reprints on demand under a new agreement with BookSurge, part of the group of companies.
The agreement gives the public a unique opportunity to buy reprints of a wide range of titles in the U-M Library for as little as a few dollars. As individual copies are sold on, BookSurge will print and bind the books in soft-cover form.
Maria Bonn, director of the U-M Library’s scholarly publishing office, said the reprint program includes both books digitized by the U-M and those digitized through the U-M’s partnership with Google. The initial offering on Amazon will include more than 400,000 titles in more than 200 languages ranging from Acoli to Zulu.

Mick Jones, the Clash’s lead guitarist, has amassed an impressive collection of the paraphernalia of performance and marketing materials of the bands he has worked with.
The guitarist, who was a prominent figure in the punk rock movement of the seventies and eighties, opened his Rock-n-Roll Public Library in London on July 22. Based in an office near Portobello Road, west London, close to where Jones formed The Clash with Joe Stummer in 1976, the "guerrilla library" will include 10,000 items from the guitarist's private collection.

Spy Memoir Unsealed Twenty-Five Years After Author's Death July 24, 2009
The British Library made public yesterday a 30,000-word memoir in which Anthony Blunt, one of Britain’s most renowned 20th-century art historians, and curator of the Queen's art collection, described spying for the Soviet Union, beginning in the mid-1930s, as “the biggest mistake of my life.” The NY Times reports on the unsealing of the memoir after twenty five years. Blunt intended it as a testament to family and friends, and it was given to the British Library in 1984 by the executor of Blunt’s will, John Golding, on the condition that it be kept secret for 25 years.

The Sixth Borough
Hoboken, New Jersey is a city of about one square mile sandwiched between the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels. Once the butt of urban renewal jokes ("Hey, if it’s Hoboken, don’t fix it!"), the city has enjoyed a renaissance in the last quarter century as its proximity to Manhattan’s Financial District has attracted more affluent tenants, pumping money into the local economy and reviving what was once a depressed town. The town’s name, according to the Hoboken Historical Museum, is a corruption of the Dutch hoebuck, meaning "high bluff," or the Lenape Indian hopoghan hackigh, meaning, "Land of the Tobacco Pipe."

New Jersey is the most crowded state with 1,165 people per square mile, and Alaska is the least crowded with 1.1 persons per square mile.

Population density, from the 2000 census with 2007 estimates figured in:
New Jersey the highest at 1,171.1 and Alaska the lowest at 1.2 persons per square mile.

On July 27, 1940 Bugs Bunny made his official debut in an animated film short called A Wild Hare. Even though a slightly different version of the rabbit had been around in some earlier films, A Wild Hare is considered the first official Bugs Bunny film because it's the first one that used his trademark voice and the first time he asked Elmer Fudd, "What's up, Doc?" Bugs Bunny was modeled on Groucho Marx. The Writer’s Almanac

Friday, July 24, 2009

Newscasters on TV show animation, sometimes even enthusiasm, when introducing tragic stories. Rather than researching facts, they ask bystanders for their reaction. Newspaper columnists routinely introduce their stories, no matter how serious, with humor. When a reporter wrote up a story about a van that crashed through our front door, he said when we came downstairs we didn’t expect to find a van in the house. How lame—and we have a ranch house with bedrooms on the first floor. I didn’t finish reading the story.

On my recent European vacation, two local guides told mother-in-law jokes. When I returned home, a comedian on TV told a mother-in-law joke. They are in comics on a regular basis. Have you heard any father-in-law jokes? Women seem to be “safe” targets.

BLS County Employment and Wages Summary
News release: From December 2007 to December 2008, employment declined in 285 of the 334 largest U.S. counties, according to preliminary data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor. Elkhart County, Ind., located about 100 miles east of Chicago, posted the largest percentage decline, with a loss of 17.8 percent over the year, compared with a national job decrease of 2.3 percent. Manufacturing sustained the largest employment losses in Elkhart. Montgomery County, Texas, which is about 20 miles north of Houston, experienced the largest over-the-year percentage increase in employment among the largest counties in the U.S., with a gain of 2.7 percent.

Q. What is the difference between slander and libel?
A. Libel generally refers to statements or visual depictions in written or other permanent form, while slander refers to verbal statements and gestures.
Note a memory aid: slander refers to spoken word—libel to written word.

Q. What city’s motto is “Urbs in horto" or "city in a garden."
A. Chicago.

What’s up in New Jersey?
For answers, we checked in with a couple scholars who know lots about politics and ethics in the Garden State: Joseph Marbach, a dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Seton Hall University, and Brigid Harrison, a professor of politics and law at Montclair State. Marbach calls one of the most “persuasive and pervasive theories” that early immigrants to New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania viewed the role of government differently than did their contemporaries in New England or the southern colonies. “They--collections of Dutch and English settlers--tended to look at government as just another service provider,” he says. In New England, the Puritan belief advocated that government should be a force for good, says Marbach, and in the south, government initially was small and its role was to protect the status quo. “But in this area, people got involved in politics because it was a career option, not necessarily because it was a higher calling. People who couldn't become doctors or lawyers became politicians.”
Marbach says that such an attitude helped create a culture of corruption in two ways. For starters, because politics was a career option and not something one did at the tail end of a successful career in law or business, politicians weren't necessarily wealthy. “So a sense developed that a certain amount of graft was acceptable,” says Marbach. Secondly, the role of a politician simply became to distribute goods and services--not to build a better society or to protect the status quo--adds Marbach, and such goods and services became viewed as products to trade away.
Harrison adds that early attempts to rein in local corruption in other states never really took hold in New Jersey. “You had these counties where party bosses never really relinquished their power,” she says. “These modern corruption stories really have their grounding in those party machines.” Partly as a result of this reluctance to give up or consolidate power, says Marbach, New Jersey stayed incredibly fractured. Today, the state has 566 local municipalities, the second-most in the nation, behind Illinois. “We've got parkway commissions and special districts and each of these has an executive with authority and control over purse strings,” he says. “That's a lot of opportunities for corruption and patronage.” Harrison calls them “mini-fiefdoms.”
More on New Jersey following the unveiling of some 30 criminal complaints and a press release led by New Jersey's acting U.S. attorney, Ralph Mara. Click here for the WSJ story. The arrests and summonses made were made pursuant to a two-tracked investigation that had gone on for 10 years. One track: a public-corruption probe which led to the arrest and summons of 29 politicians and a money-laundering probe allegedly involving 15 others, including 5 rabbis. The list of those arrested (click here) include the 32 year-old Hoboken mayor, Peter Cammarano, a Democrat, Secaucus mayor Dennis Elwell, also a Democrat; state Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt, a Republican; and Democrat Leona Beldini, the deputy mayor of Jersey City. The money-laundering scheme allegedly involved Saul Kassin, the Coney Island-based U.S. head of a large Syrian-Jewish congregation. Politicians “willingly put themselves up for sale,” for “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Mara during the press conference, saying they took advantage of “huge loopholes” in the state's anticorruption laws. has reached into customers' Kindle e-readers and deleted some e-books written—ironically--by George Orwell. Amazon, which returned the cost of the e-books, said it made the move when it realized that the publisher didn't have the proper rights to sell the books in the U.S. The move annoyed some consumers. “I love my Kindle, but if they can take back a book after I buy it, that bothers me,” said one. Amazon later promised to change its system and “not remove books from customers' devices in these circumstances,” according to a spokesman.
“What this incident shows is that the law gives radically more control to the company than the system ought to,” says Harvard's Lawrence Lessig. Owning an e-book is more akin to licensing a piece of software than it is to owning a bound volume: access comes with fine-print terms of service, and often digital rights management software to ensure that you abide by the rules. The fine print in the company's terms of service gives consumers the “right to keep a permanent copy” of purchased titles, but also reserves Amazon's “right to modify, suspend, or discontinue the service at any time.” U.S. law generally supports the terms of service imposed by companies--so long as they're listed up-front. Real books can be shared with a friend or sold, but e-books with digital rights management software cannot. The number of devices that can play a single e-book license varies from one publisher to the next, and often confuses consumers. WSJ Law Blog July 23, 2009

The Car Allowance Rebate System, commonly known as Cash For Clunkers, takes less fuel efficient vehicles off the road and replaces them with more efficient ones. The National Highway Transportation Administration is expected to issue final rules by Friday that allow consumers to receive up to $4,500 in a voucher to lower the cost of purchasing a vehicle. The vehicle has to be less than 25 years old at time of trade in, with an estimated combined city and highway mileage of 18 miles per gallon or less.
A new $25,000 vehicle that meets the fuel standard would have a $4,500 government incentive. In some cases, new car manufacturers have an additional $4,000 rebate available. The result is the new car owner can purchase a vehicle for $17,500.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Census Bureau - Voter Turnout Increases by 5 Million in 2008 Presidential Election
News release: "About 131 million people reported voting in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, an increase of 5 million from 2004, according to a new table package released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. The increase included about 2 million more black voters, 2 million more Hispanic voters and about 600,000 more Asian voters, while the number of non-Hispanic white voters remained statistically unchanged. Additionally, voters 18 to 24 were the only age group to show a statistically significant increase in turnout, reaching 49 percent in 2008 compared with 47 percent in 2004. Blacks had the highest turnout rate among 18- to 24-year-old voters—55 percent, an 8 percent increase from 2004. The increased turnout among certain demographic groups was offset by stagnant or decreased turnout among other groups, causing overall 2008 voter turnout to remain statistically unchanged—at 64 percent—from 2004."
The table package, Voting and Registration in the Election of 2008, examines the levels of voting and registration in the November 2008 presidential election, the demographic characteristics of citizens who reported that they were registered for or voted in the election, and the reasons why registered voters did not vote."

Silent letters
Architect, archive, numb, honest

The grandfather of President Abraham Lincoln, also named Abraham Lincoln, was a captain of Virginia Militia in the Revolutionary War.

Characters from Greek and Roman mythology whose names live on in English

Recommended by Pennsylvania reader:
Miss Zukas mysteries—11 so far in the series about a librarian sleuth
Miss Julia mysteries—9 so far in the series about a proper lady of a certain age

Two major arbitration firms are backing away from the business of resolving disputes between customers and their credit-card and cellphone companies, throwing into disarray a controversial system that prevents unhappy consumers from filing lawsuits. Click here for the WSJ story. The American Arbitration Association said on July 21 it will stop participating in consumer-debt-collection disputes until new guidelines are established. Its decision came two days after another big group, the National Arbitration Forum, said it would stop accepting new cases as of Friday.
Although arbitration long has been controversial, the current situation developed rapidly starting last week when the Minnesota attorney general's office sued the National Arbitration Forum over the way it handled disputes. Among other things, the lawsuit contended that NAF didn't disclose that it has financial ties to the debt-collection industry, violating Minnesota laws against consumer fraud, deceptive trade practices and false advertising. Click here and here for earlier blog posts.
Opening this morning's LA Times, we were greeted with news of yet another Establishment Clause challenge, this one over congressional efforts to etch the words “In God We Trust” into a $621-million visitors center which opened last year at the U.S. Capitol. According to the story, when the center opened, a number of lawmakers were surprised not to see the four words on the walls of the complex. So Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA), introduced legislation to get the words, along with the Pledge of Allegiance, etched into the complex's walls. A lawsuit followed. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based group that describes itself as a national organization of atheists and agnostics, asserts that such an action would violate the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.
Jackson Browne/John McCain lawsuit: We figured the dustup--in which Browne sued the McCain campaign for using his 1977 hit “Running on Empty” in a campaign advertisement without first obtaining permission--would end with a secret settlement in which handshakes and an apology were made, along with an agreement never to make mention of the suit again. The lawsuit has indeed settled. And, courtesy of the Washington Post, we have some details. Under the terms of the settlement, McCain, the Republican National Committee and the Ohio Republican Party jointly settled the lawsuit. They paid an undisclosed sum, and issued a statement Tuesday saying: “We apologize that a portion of the Jackson Browne song 'Running On Empty' was used without permission. Although Senator McCain had no knowledge of, or involvement in, the creation or distribution of the Web campaign video, Senator McCain does not support or condone any actions taken by anyone involved in his 2008 presidential election campaign that were inconsistent with artists' rights or the various legal protections afforded to intellectual property.”
WSJ Law Blog July 22, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

LLRX Book Review by Heather A. Phillips: The Little Red Book of Wine Law: A Case of Legal Issues - Heather A. Phillips recommends this slim volume as it provides an engaging and accessible introduction to American wine law and history that will broaden the reader's appreciation of the wine industry.

Green Files: Green Resources and Sites on the Internet - Marcus P. Zillman provides a comprehensive, wide ranging listing of web based green resources and sites, inclusive of home and business related information.

The seals on the back of a dollar bill include 13 steps on the pyramid, 13 stars above the eagle's head, 13 war arrows in the eagle's claw and 13 leaves on the olive branch.

Tree Museum
About two years ago, Katie Holten was competing for an art commission to commemorate the centennial of the Concourse in the Bronx this year and racking her brain for a way to tell the story of the place and its people. “The light bulb came on: If this is about the whole street, well, then the trees have to be part of it,” she said. “The Concourse has always been tree-lined, even before it was paved.” She has marked out 100 trees along the Concourse, which is about four and a half miles long. Each one will have a sign that gives a phone number and a code to listen to short recordings of people speaking about the Bronx, their lives and their work.

Q. What is a basilisk?
A. A basilisk is described as "like a cock with dragon's wings, the beak of an eagle and the tail of a lizard."
Basel, Switzerland has 170 monumental fountains, some of which feature the 'Basilisk': a dragon with a cock's head that has been Basel's emblem since the 15th century. The basilisk about halfway down at the following link is the one we viewed on our recent trip to Europe.

Homage to herring
Herring are among the most important fish groups on the planet. They are the dominant converter of the enormous production of zooplankton, utilizing the biomass of copepods, mysids, and krill in the pelagic zone. Small herring also feed on phytoplankton, and large herrings feed on small fish and fish larvae. On the other side of the food chain, they are a central prey item for higher trophic levels, including seabirds, dolphins, pinnipeds, whales, sharks, swordfish, tuna, cod, salmon, and numerous other large fish. For humans, they also are very important, being harvested for their nutritious meat and eggs. They have been a known staple food source since 3000 B.C.E. In The Netherlands, herring have played a major role in historical and economic development dating back to the fourteenth century.
Annual herring festivals are held around the world. There are herring museums in Iceland and Sweden. Read about the herring feast held in midtown Manhattan recently at

Feedback to “sculpted by nature” words in A.Word.A.Day
From: Richard Jesse Watson (rjw
Subject: ventifact
My dad was a scientist, and taught geology at Pacific University in his early years. As a child I used to look at various rock samples that he had gathered. One beautiful, sculpted sample was a rock he found in the Mojave desert where I grew up until I was seven. He called it a ventifact. It was very hard and was shaped by the wind on all sides. This rock was the size of a small flat loaf of bread but had obviously flipped from the workings of the wind to have many angles of soft sandblasted angles and curves.
From: Mark Bennett (Mark_Bennett
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--yardang
Def: An elongated ridge formed by wind erosion, often resembling the keel of an upside down ship. Hoodoo or fairy chimney is another erosional feature due to wind. Why these features are not lumped together, under one name, regardless of shape, is unclear to me.

On July 21, 1855 Ralph Waldo Emerson sent Walt Whitman a letter to "greet" him "at the beginning of a great career." Whitman had just self-published the first edition of Leaves of Grass earlier in the year. The letter, which Emerson writes from Concord, Massachusetts, begins: "Dear Sir: — I am not blind to the worth of the wonderful gift of 'Leaves of Grass.' I find it the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed."
July 21 is the birthday of Ernest Hemingway, (books by this author) born in Oak Park, Illinois (1899), the Nobel- and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of such books as The Sun Also Rises (1926), A Farewell to Arms (1929), and The Old Man and the Sea (1952).
Both U.S. presidential candidates of 2008 cited Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) as one of their favorite books. The Writer’s Almanac

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cronkitiana, Cronkiter/Kronkiter and anchorman refer to Walter Leland Cronkite Jr. (1916-2009), the man behind the desk at CBS Evening News from 1962 to 1981.
In Sweden, TV news anchors are called "Kronkiters," in Holland, "Cronkiters."
The Beatles were on CBS News before the Ed Sullivan Show.
"On Nov. 22, 1963, the "CBS Morning News" aired a piece about the Beatles," Katie Couric explained. "Because President Kennedy died, it never made air that night. Later in December, Walter decided to run the piece because he thought this was the time when Americans needed to be uplifted."
"We were offered a piece from our London Bureau of this phenomenon," Cronkite said. "So we put it on the air one night." That night was December 10, 1963. The Beatles had already sold 2.5 million records. "What has occurred to you as why you've succeeded?" asked the reporter. "I don't know, really, you know, as you say, the haircuts," Paul McCartney responded.

UBS AG's (UBS) high-profile spat with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service has made some of Switzerland's other banks wary of looking after U.S.-based clients, prompting some to stop taking money from Americans altogether and menacing the country's image as a private banking center. UBS is currently locked in talks with the IRS which wants access to 52,000 client accounts in a moved aimed at rooting out possible tax fraud, possibly breaching Switzerland's own banking secrecy laws. Analysts expect UBS to pay a hefty settlement to resolve the matter before it goes to court, thereby protecting the identities of its clients. But no matter what the outcome, some Swiss private banks now regard U.S.-based clients as an expensive liability.

Bear Run is a creek in eastern Fayette County, Pa., in the Allegheny Mountains and a part of the southeastern Pittsburgh metro area. It flows from Laurel Hill, dropping almost 1,500 feet to the Youghiogheny River. In places it flows through the brown and grey horizontal strata of weathered sandstone and, at a certain location, falls more than 20 feet from an outcropping of cantilevered rock in a dramatic waterfall.
One of the best-known houses in the world was built to take advantage of this natural feature. Thanks, Paul.

The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere was renamed Willis Tower on July 16. Opened in 1973 as Sears Tower, the 110-story glass and steel structure soars to 1,450 feet (442 meters). Willis Tower will be one of Willis’ three largest office locations, alongside New York and London. The company will occupy more than 140,000 square feet (13,000 square meters) of space in the building when nearly 500 Associates move in this summer from five area offices. At the ceremony, Willis presented a check for $100,000 to Chicago Cares, the city’s premier volunteer organization. Willis’ Chicago-area Associates have pledged thousands of hours of their time to serving the community. The company is also making a $100,000 donation to Chicago 2016 to support the bid to bring the Olympic Games to the city. Willis Group Holdings Limited is a leading global insurance broker, developing and delivering professional insurance, reinsurance, risk management, financial and human resource consulting and actuarial services to corporations, public entities and institutions around the world. Willis has more than 400 offices in nearly 120 countries, with a global team of approximately 20,000 Associates serving clients in some 190 countries. Additional information on Willis may be found at Information about the building can be found at,894066.shtml

You know the word overjoyed—you may also use underjoyed and joyed. (People might laugh.)

New: Access Library of Congress Facebook Page
See Also: Library of Congress Twitter Page
See Also: Library of Congress on iTunes U
See Also: Library of Congress Flickr Page
See Also: Library of Congress on YouTube

July 20 is the birthday of Petrarch, (books by this author) born in Arezzo, Italy (1304). There's a sonnet form named after him, the Petrarchan sonnet, also called the Italian sonnet. Petrarch did not actually invent the form that bears his name: It was widely in use by the time he started composing these poems of 14 lines with a distinct rhyme scheme. The first sonnets on record were written about 75 years before Petrarch was born, by a Sicilian lawyer named Giacomo da Lentino, who was a royal notary and senior poet in the court of King Frederick II (the 13th-century king of Sicily, king of Germany, and emperor of the Holy Roman Empire). It was Giacomo da Lentino who first took the eight-line stanza of Sicilian peasant songs (which had a rhyme of abab abab) and fused an additional six-line stanza to the end. For the sestet*, he always used the rhyming cde cde pattern.
Soon others were imitating this new poetic form that Giacomo da Lentino had invented, including the Holy Roman Emperor himself. Writing sonnets became all the rage among the literati and intellectuals around the royal court, and the trend soon spread outside of this elite subculture. The octet of the Italian sonnet evolved into the abba abba scheme, called "the kissing rhyme" in Italian. Da Lentino's sestet remained the same. But it was Petrarch who really perfected the sonnet form that bears his name. He's most famous for his sonnets about Laura, a mysterious woman whom he adored. Chaucer translated some of Petrarch's sonnets into English, but in the translation he didn't preserve Petrarch's rhyme scheme or even the 14 line structure. In fact, he took 21 lines to translate Petrarch's Canzoniere 132, which Chaucer then embedded into own long epic poem, Troilus and Criseyde. Petrarch's sonnet appears as a love song that Troilus sings for his beloved. It misled the English for hundreds of years. "Sonnet" first entered English lexicon meaning "a short poem about love" and was interchangeable with the word "song," the meaning of which has also evolved. It wasn't until 1575 that "sonnet" took on the very specific meaning that it has today. Elizabethan critic George Gascoigne wrote a stern treatise entitled "Certayne Notes of Instruction Concerning the Making of Verse or Ryme in English" (1575), in which he professed: "Then have you Sonets, some thinke that all Poemes (being short) may be called Sonets, as in deede it is a diminutive worde derived of Sonare, but yet I can beste allowe to call those Sonets which are fouretene lynes, every line conteyning tenne syllables. The firse twelve do ryme in staves of four lines by crosse meetre, and the last twoo ryming togither do conclude the whole." The Writer’s Almanac
* A group of six lines of poetry, especially the last six lines ... refer to a stanza of six lines (also called a sexain, sextain, or sextet). Italian sestetto, from sesto, sixth, from Latin sextus.

Friday, July 17, 2009

BLS Consumer Price Index Summary, June 2009 News release:
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.9 percent in June before seasonal adjustment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor has reported. Over the last 12 months the index has fallen 1.4 percent, as a 25.5 percent decline in the energy index has more than offset increases of 2.1 percent in the food index and 1.7 percent in the index for all items less food and energy. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the CPI-U increased 0.7 percent in June after rising 0.1 percent in May. The acceleration was largely caused by the gasoline index, which rose 17.3 percent in June and accounted for over 80 percent of the increase in the all items index. The index for energy rose 7.4 percent in June, with a decline in the electricity index partly offsetting the sharp increase in gasoline. The food index, which had fallen each of the last four months, was unchanged in June.

The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, in Santa Fe, N.M. has tried its best since 2005 to stop Fisk University from selling half of its O’Keeffe collection. The museum, which controls the estate of the famous artist argues that while she willed the artwork collection to the school prior to her death, she didn't want her work sold. Because Fisk officials are looking to sell, museum executives say, the school should be barred from making such transactions. On July 15, the Tennessee Court of Appeals sided with the school, ruling that Fisk owns O'Keeffe's work at this point and therefore is free to do what it wants with its 101-piece, $60-million collection. Click here to read the Associated Press story and here to read the story in The Tennessean newspaper. WSJ Law Blog July 16, 2009

People with an Elliot Lake Public Library card can check out fishing rods, reels and a limited amount of tackle. Sue Morin, head librarian at the Elliot Lake library, said the program started in Elliot Lake, Ontario last month. The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunter (OFAH), with the encouragement of the Elliot Lake Rod and Gun Club (ELRAG), donated eight fishing combos including rods, reels and the required tackle. In addition, the federation replenishes the gear as needed. If the OFAH does not replace some of the items, Balfour said the ELRAG would take care of those, or repair reels, and provide additional equipment for brief periods, if needed. They're also planning to supply some ice-fishing gear in the winter. Some of the tackle was also donated by local stores and by John Carmichael of the All-Anglers Fishing Club in Elliot Lake. Morin had heard about the program offered to libraries by the OFAH while at a library conference in Sudbury in May. "The Powassan Public Library started with the program last year," said Morin. She learned that the OFAH supplies all the needed fishing gear to the library at no charge. There are about 16 libraries in the province that are involved in the OFAH's tackle-share program, she added.

Library graffiti at the University of Chicago

Normally, lines at the public library would be a good thing. But not when the lines are caused by problems with the New York Public Library’s new online catalog system.
The system, which integrates the catalogs for circulating and noncirculating materials and was designed to improve search functions, was introduced July 6. It handles all of the library’s data, both online and at the branches. The malfunctions caused delays for patrons waiting to check out or renew books at the branches, and impeded access to personal accounts that allow users to renew or hold books online. The problems continued on July 7. At 1:40 p.m. at the Mid-Manhattan Library on Fifth Avenue at 40th Street, a line of more than 50 people stretched past an escalator. Harried librarians scanned books while patrons tapped their feet, checked their watches and occasionally rolled their eyes.

Sculpted by nature
yardang (YAHR-dahng) noun
An elongated ridge formed by wind erosion, often resembling the keel of an upside down ship. From Turkic yar (steep bank).
pingo (PING-go) noun
A mound or hill of soil-covered ice in permafrost, pushed up by the pressure of water seeping in. From Inuit pinguq/pingu (small hill).
scree (skree) noun
Rock debris at the base or the side of a mountain. From Old Norse skritha (landslide).
inselberg (IN-suhl-burg, -zuhl-) noun
An isolated mountain or hill rising abruptly from its surrounding. In the US it's known as a monadnock. From German Insel (island) + Berg (mountain), ultimately from the Indo-European root bhergh- (high) which is also the source of iceberg, belfry, borough, burg, burglar, bourgeois, fortify, and force.
karst (karst) noun
An area of irregular limestone in which erosion has produced fissures, sinks, etc.
From German, after the Karst, a limestone plateau near Trieste, Slovenia.

To your health:
As a parent (or even a baby-sitting relative), it can be difficult to get a child to eat properly. Here are some quick rules to keep in mind when caring for a little one:
• Don't bribe or force the child to eat.
• Set a good example and eat nutritiously yourself.
• Ask the child, if old enough, to help prepare the food with you.
• Don't give up trying new foods with the child.
• Make mealtimes enjoyable by discussing interesting topics!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Briefing: The Dawn of the Location Enabled Web
A Briefing On Public Policy Issues Affecting Civil Liberties Online from The Center For Democracy and Technology - The Dawn of the Location Enabled Web
"The ubiquity of increasingly high-powered mobile devices has already spawned the Internet’s first generation of location-based services and applications. As the accuracy of location data improves and the expense of calculating and obtaining it declines, location may well come to pervade the online experience. While the increasing availability of location information paves the way for exciting new applications and services, the increasingly easy availability of location information raises several different kinds of privacy concerns.”

New Ratings for America's Hospitals Now Available on Hospital Compare Web Site
News release: Important new information has been added to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (CMS) Hospital Compare Web site that reports how frequently patients return to a hospital after being discharged, a possible indicator of how well the facility did the first time around. On average, 1 in 5 Medicare beneficiaries who are discharged from a hospital today will re-enter the hospital within a month. Reducing the rate of hospital readmissions to improve quality and achieve savings are key components of President Obama’s health care reform agenda...Research has shown that hospital readmissions are reducing the quality of health care while increasing hospital costs. Hospital Compare data show that for patients admitted to a hospital for heart attack treatment, 19.9 percent of them will return to the hospital within 30 days, 24.5 percent of patients admitted for heart failure will return to the hospital within 30 days, and 18.2 percent of patients admitted for pneumonia will return to the hospital within 30 days."

How The Average U.S. Consumer Spends Their Paycheck From Visual Economics, this graphical image: Where Does the Money Go? - U.S. Consumer Unit Expenditures - average annual expenditures and percentage of total, using data from Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Featured artist: Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), Dutch artist who produced about 35 paintings
Copies of his paintings are housed together in a museum in Delft.

Walden Pond has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is considered the birthplace of the conservation movement. The reservation covers 400 acres. Mostly undeveloped woods called Walden Woods surround the reservation. The area is popular for fishing, swimming, and walking. To protect the natural resources of the area the number of visitors is limited to no more than 1,000 people at a time. Visitors are encouraged to call the park in advance and check on parking availability. A replica of Henry David Thoreau’s house is available for viewing by the public. Year-round interpretive programs and guided walks are offered.

Search National Historic Landmarks by state at

Lithuania is one of three countries known as the Baltic States. The other Baltic State countries are Estonia and Latvia.
Lithuania celebrated its symbolic 1000th birthday on July 5, 2009. This year is the 1,000th anniversary of the first attested mention of Lithuania, in the Annals of Quedlinburg, an 11th century chronicle named after a German monastery.

On July 16, 1790, the District of Columbia was established as the permanent seat of the United States government by the Residence Act. Originally the district contained land on both sides of the Potomac, grants from Maryland and Virginia, but in the mid-19th century, when it was obvious that the major government buildings were being built on the Maryland side, Virginia asked for its land back and received it.

July 16 is the birthday of Larry Sanger, born in Bellevue, Washington (1968). He's the co-founder, along with Jimmy Wales, of Wikipedia. The collaborative user-edited Web site gets its name from blending the words "wiki" and “encyclopedia.” “Wiki” is a recent edition to the English lexicon, and made its way into the authoritative Oxford English Dictionary in 2007. “Wiki-wiki” is actually a Hawaiian word, meaning “quick” or “fast.” A wiki is a Web site that uses a certain type of software (the software is also called "wiki" software) that enables users to quickly and easily edit the Web site, create content, and interlink various Web pages. A wiki is easy to edit because it uses a standard mark-up language, which is a series of notes and tags that describe the layout format of the Web site.
On July 16, 1951, J.D. Salinger's (books by this author) first and only novel, The Catcher in the Rye, was published. It has gone on to sell more than 65 million copies.
The Writer’s Almanac

Note that Salinger wrote nine short stories:
• "A Perfect Day for Bananafish"
• "Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut"
• "Just Before the War with the Eskimos"
• "The Laughing Man"
• "Down at the Dinghy"
• "For Esmé – with Love and Squalor"
• "Pretty Mouth and Green My Eyes"
• "De Daumier-Smith's Blue Period"
• "Teddy"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Excerpts from “Jeff and Cyndi’s Excellent Adventure and History Trip” on Sunday, July 12, 2009
The village of Logstown (also Logg's Town, French: Chiningue pronounced Shenango)
was a significant Native American settlement in Western Pennsylvania in the years
leading up to the French and Indian War. The original village was settled by Shawnees,
possibly as early as 1725, on low-lying land on the north bank of the Ohio River, near
present-day Ambridge, Pennsylvania, Beaver County, Pennsylvania. As part of their effort to claim the Ohio Valley, around 1747, the French built about 30 log cabins, some with stone chimneys, on a plateau above the original Logstown village. The French turned over the cabins to the Native Americans. Only 18 miles downriver from present-day Pittsburgh, Logstown predated the French fort there, Fort Duquesne, by at least seven years. Logstown, therefore, became an important trade and council site for the French and Native Americans, as well as, ironically, the British.
Downstream (to the northwest) of Logstown, is Beaver, PA, which came to be located at
the site of Fort McIntosh. General Lachlan McIntosh built Fort McIntosh during the American Revolution in 1778 on a commanding plateau above the Ohio River at what would become the town of Beaver, Pennsylvania. He was assigned by General George Washington as Commander of the Western Department of the Continental Army.
Constructed in 1778, it was the first fort built by the Continental Army north of the Ohio
River, as a direct challenge to the British stronghold at Detroit. It was the headquarters of
the largest army to serve west of the Alleghenies. Its purpose was to protect the western
frontier from possible attacks by the British and from raids by their Native American
allies. The fort, large for a frontier setting, at one time had a garrison of about 1,500 men.
Point of Beginning [from “Measuring America,” by Andro Linklater, 2002 ]
“East Liverpool, Ohio, sits on the banks of the Ohio River just outside the PA border. On
the road above the Bell Company’s dock, PA Rt. 68 invisibly changes to Ohio Route 38.
The place could hardly be more anonymous–even for someone familiar with the
historical significance of the spot. A stone marker carries a plaque headed “The Point of Beginning” that reads, “1112 feet south of this spot was the point of beginning for surveying the public lands of the US. There on Sept 30, 1785, Thomas Hutchins, first Geographer of the US, began the Geographer’s Line of the Seven Ranges.”
from a Findlay, Ohio reader

Monthly Budget Review, July 2009 - Based on the Monthly Treasury Statement for May and the Daily Treasury Statements for June:
"The federal budget deficit was $1.1 trillion for the first nine months of fiscal year 2009, CBO estimates, more than $800 billion greater than the deficit recorded through June 2008. Outlays are 21 percent higher than they were in the first three quarters of 2008, but revenues have fallen by 18 percent. The estimated deficit reflects outlays of $147 billion for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), recorded on a net-present-value basis, and spending of $83 billion in support of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."

New GAO Reports: Clean Air Act, Water and Biofuels and Electricity Production, Formula Grants, TARP
Clean Air Act: Preliminary Observations on the Effectiveness and Costs of Mercury Control Technologies at Coal-Fired Power Plants, GAO-09-860T, July 09, 2009
Energy and Water: Preliminary Observations on the Links between Water and Biofuels and Electricity Production, GAO-09-862T, July 09, 2009
Formula Grants: Census Data Are among Several Factors That Can Affect Funding Allocations, GAO-09-832T, July 09, 2009
Military Base Realignments and Closures: DOD Needs to Update Savings Estimates and Continue to Address Challenges in Consolidating Supply-Related Functions at Depot Maintenance Locations, GAO-09-703, July 09, 2009
Troubled Asset Relief Program: Status of Participants' Dividend Payments and Repurchases of Preferred Stock and Warrants, GAO-09-889T, July 09, 2009

On November 16, 1776 the American Brig-of-War, the "Andrew Doria", sailed into the harbor of Statia firing its 13-gun salute indicating America's long sought independence. The 11-gun salute reply, roaring from the canons at Fort Oranje under the command of Governor Johannes de Graaff, established Statia as the first foreign nation to officially recognize the newly formed United States of America.

A possible derivation for Yankee is from the Dutch first names "Jan" and "Kees." "Jan" and "Kees" were and still are common Dutch first names, and also common Dutch given names or nicknames. In many instances both names (Jan-Kees) are also used as a single first name in the Netherlands. See other theories at:

Over 1000 beers are made in Belgium.
Apostrophes seen in Europe include sushi’s, pasta’s, pizza’s, sneaker’s, cookie’s.
The Netherlands is probably known as Holland because in the 17th century, the region of Holland was heavily populated and travelers called themselves Hollanders. Today, Holland is split into two regions (North Holland and South Holland). All twelve regions/provinces are listed at
Most early Europeans could not read, and statues and commercial signs were like “cartoons” or marketing tools to communicate stories or denote particular businesses.
The 40-mile stretch of the Rhine River between Koblenz and Mainz has 28 castles perched along its heights. The castles enabled feudal lords to protect their lands and control trade routes.
Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany was copied for the centerpiece of Disneyland.

July 14 is France's national holiday that commemorates the storming of the Bastille in 1789. The Bastille was a fortress in Paris that had been a place where political dissidents were sometimes held for arbitrary offenses at the command of the king. But on this day in 1789, the fortress-prison housed only seven prisoners and none of them were actually political dissidents. Still, for the French people, the Bastille had become a symbol of the royal tyranny they needed to overthrow. Revolutionaries gathered at the base of the fortress in the morning, and just after lunchtime they stormed the Bastille. After hours of bloody skirmishes inside the fortress, 98 of the revolutionary attackers had died and only one of the fort's defender guards had been killed. But the French government's commander, fearing an all-out massacre, had surrendered. It was a catalyst for other events of the French Revolution: Soon, feudalism was abolished, and then the "Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen" was proclaimed. One year after the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, the French established the holiday "Fête de la Fédération," or Feast of the Federation, to celebrate the successful end of the French Revolution, with a constitutional monarchy they'd just established. A few years later came the Reign of Terror, in which French citizens executed Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette and other fellow French citizens. And then in 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte seized power and declared himself emperor.
July 14 marks the 14th of July Revolution in Iraq, celebrating the day in 1958 in which the Iraqi military overthrew the King of Iraq. It was a military coup to replace the monarch, King Faisal II. King Faisal was largely propped up by the British government, making and upholding alliances with the British that Iraqis resented. The Writer’s Almanac

Monday, July 13, 2009

In April, we wrote about a man at a Yankee game last year who was ejected from the (old) stadium for trying to move around during the playing of “God Bless America” during the 7th-inning stretch. The man, annoyed at his ejection, took the matter to the courts. Along with a little help from the New York Civil Liberties Union, he sued the Yankees, two cops, and Ray Kelly, the NYPD's commissioner. (Click here for the lawsuit.) Well--and God Bless Compromise--the suit has been settled. Click here for the AP story. The city did not admit liability in the settlement, but it will pay the Queens resident $10,001 and will pay $12,000 in legal fees to the New York Civil Liberties Union. For its part, the Yankees will pay nothing but said in settlement papers that fans at the team's new stadium are allowed to move freely during the song and there are no plans to change that. “Policy remains as it always has been: Fans are free to move about during the playing of 'God Bless America,'” said Alice McGillion, spokeswoman for the Yankees. WSJ Law Blog July 8, 2009
Back in 2007, the Bureau of Prisons directed its chaplains to purge the prisons of all religious texts. That policy shift, which stemmed from a governmental fear that prisoners might read religious texts and become Islamic extremists after 9/11, sparked huge response. Many thought the move was unconstitutional, and a pair of inmates, citing the First Amendment's guarantee of the right to free religion, sued over the matter.
The latest prison veto, though, may even go a bit further. According to a story, prison officials told an inmate he couldn't read a pair of books authored by President Barack Obama, saying they were “potentially detrimental to national security.” Click here to read The Associated Press story on the incident. WSJ Law Blog July 10, 2009

Featured architect: Renzo Piano (born 14 September, 1937) is a world renowned Italian architect and recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, AIA Gold Medal, Kyoto Prize and the Sonning Prize. See picture of his Nemo Science Centre in Amsterdam at

New words added to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary include some words and expressions that have been around for years or even decades but have gained wider currency because of the Internet. They include "sock puppet," coined as early as 1959, and "flash mob," which can be traced to 1987. There is also the usual new crop of words, this time including entries like "vlog," a blog containing video. Other new additions include staycation, locavore (a person who eats locally grown foods) and frenemy (somebody who acts like a friend but is actually an enemy). The last word was used by British-American writer Jessica Mitford in a 1970s essay, in which she said it had been coined by one of her sisters decades earlier.

On July 11, 1960 To Kill a Mockingbird was published. It was written by Nelle Harper Lee, (books by this author) who dropped the "Nelle" because she didn't want anyone calling her "Nellie." She grew up in Monroeville, Alabama, which was the model for her fictional town of Maycomb. When she was a kindergartner, she made friends with her next-door-neighbor, a boy of the same age named Truman Capote. The character of Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird was based on him.
July 11 is the birthday of Thomas Bowdler, (books by this author) born in Ashley, Somerset, England (1754). He wrote a censored version of Shakespeare's plays, called The Family Shakespeare (1807), because he thought that the Bard's sexual humor was inappropriate for women and children. He said that he "endeavored to remove every thing that could give just offence to the religious and virtuous mind." And we remember him today in the verb bowdlerize, which was named for him. The Writer’s Almanac

On July 13, 1787, the Continental Congress, operating under the Articles of Confederation, passed the Northwest Ordinance. Considered to be the most important piece of legislation passed under the Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance created and organized the Northwest Territory, which would become that states of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and part of Minnesota.

Friday, July 10, 2009

CRS - Judge Sonia Sotomayor: Analysis of Selected Opinions, June 19, 2009: "In May 2009, Supreme Court Justice David Souter announced his intention to retire from the Supreme Court. Several weeks later, President Obama nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, to fill his seat. To fulfill its constitutional advice and consent function, the Senate will consider Judge Sotomayors extensive record compiled from years as a lawyer, prosecutor, district court judge, and appellate court judge to better understand her legal approaches and judicial philosophy. This report provides an analysis of selected opinions authored by Judge Sotomayor during her tenure as a judge on the Second Circuit. Discussions of the selected opinions are grouped according to various topics of legal significance. As a group, the opinions belie easy categorization along any ideological spectrum. However, it is possible to draw some conclusions regarding Judge Sotomayors judicial approach, both within some specific issue areas and in general. Perhaps the most consistent characteristic of Judge Sotomayors approach as an appellate judge has been an adherence to the doctrine of stare decisis, i.e., the upholding of past judicial precedents. Other characteristics appear to include what many would describe as a careful application of particular facts at issue in a case and a dislike for situations in which the court might be seen as oversteping its judicial role. It is difficult to determine the extent to which Judge Sotomayors style as a judge on the Second Circuit would predict her style should she become a Supreme Court justice. However, as has been the case historically with other nominees, some of her approaches may be enduring characteristics." See also:
American Bar Assocation Rating Released: Sonia Sotomayor, nominated to be Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court
Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On The ABA’s Rating Of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, July 7, 2009
Sotomayor Confirmation Hearing To Begin July 13, 2009
Confirmation Hearings: A Timeline That Is Fair To Senators, And Fair To The Nominee

Belgian pommes frites are popularly referred to as "French fries" in the U.S.

YESTER adjective
Last; last past; next before; of or pertaining to yesterday.
Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
"YESTER" was first used in popular English literature sometime before 1350. (references)
Yesternight and yestermorning are archaic words used as nouns or adverbs.

The First Starchitect by Arnold Berke | From Preservation | July/August 2009
Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) launched himself into history by designing for the landed gentry of the Veneto region near Venice. He reworked the architectural grammar of ancient Rome to suit their needs, and via his Four Books of Architecture showed the world how to do it. Palladio had already reworked his own name. He was born in Padua as Andrea di Pietro dalla Gondola, a miller's son, and apprenticed as a stone mason. Count Giangiorgio Trissino, his patron in nearby Vicenza, minted the new name, showed him the writings of Roman architect Vitruvius, then took him to Rome, where the budding designer studied the classical landmarks. Palladio lived mainly in Vicenza, in or near which stand most of his nearly 70 country villas, urban palaces and civic structures, and churches.

Great houses: Drayton Hall
Some of Andrea Palladio's dictates were ignored when Drayton Hall was built. Rather than have the ceiling heights diminish with each succeeding floor level, as Palladio recommended, Drayton Hall's spaces grow progressively taller from the raised basement to the first floor and on to the second floor. Where Palladio was concerned with structural strength, John Drayton may have been more concerned with comfort in a hot, humid climate and with the theatricality of a grand hall on the upper floor. Despite these variations, Drayton Hall is, nonetheless, a building that was heavily influenced by Palladio's body of work. In fact, Drayton Hall is likely one of the earliest Palladian buildings in America.

Walter Ernest Christopher James, 4th Baron Northbourne (1896- 1982), was a British peer, agriculturalist, Olympic medalist, and author. He studied agricultural science at Oxford University and later applied the theories of Rudolf Steiner to the family estate at Kent. James coined the term "organic farming"[1] from the concept of "the farm as organism" and has the best claim to being the "father" of organic agriculture[2]. He published the book Look to the Land in 1940, which raises many of the issues current to discussions of organic agriculture.,_4th_Baron_Northbourne

Many historical documents missing from National Archives
July 5th, 2009 From the Article:
National Archives visitors know they’ll find the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the main building’s magnificent rotunda in Washington. But they won’t find the patent file for the Wright Brothers’ Flying Machine or the maps for the first atomic bomb missions anywhere in the Archives inventory.
Many historical items the Archives once possessed are missing, including:
+ Civil War telegrams from Abraham Lincoln.
+ Original signatures of Andrew Jackson.
+ Presidential portraits of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
+ NASA photographs from space and on the moon.
+ Presidential pardons. Source: AP

Q. How can I convert Celsius to Fahrenheit?
A. Visit and go down to temperature.

To your health: Welsh rabbit (rarebit) on English muffins
Two recipes for easy-to-make English comfort food

July 10 is the birthday of Marcel Proust, (books by this author) born in Auteuil, France (1871). His entire reputation is built on one novel that is more than 3,000 pages long:
The Remembrance of Things Past, which is sometimes titled In Search of Lost Time, a more accurate translation of the French. In one of the most famous scenes in the novel, the narrator, Marcel, tastes some cake with tea: I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me . . . The Writer’s Almanac

Thursday, July 9, 2009

June 25-July 4: Heidelberg, Rudesheim (tour of Seigfried’s Mechanical Music Museum), cruise to Koblenz, Cochem, visit winery, walk in Cologne’s old town, sample beer,
arrive in Arnhem, visit Liberation Museum and Canadian Cemetery, canal cruise and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Utrecht, visit cheese farm, return to ship now docked in Schoonhoven, Dutch singers and dancers are evening entertainment, sail to Rotterdam,
walking tour and visit of porcelain factory in Delft, music quiz after dinner, arrive in Ghent (name comes from Celtic word for confluence of rivers) , full-day excursion to Brugges, movie after dinner, tour city of Antwerp and art museum, farewell cocktails with captain and crew, Captain’s Dinner. Wonderful weather, sights, people, music, food—a highly recommended cruise!

Global warming is dissolving the Alpine glaciers so rapidly that Italy and Switzerland have decided they must re-draw their national borders to take account of the new realities. The border has been fixed since 1861, when Italy became a unified state. But for the past century the surface area of the “cryosphere”, the zone of glaciers, permanent snow cover and permafrost, has been shrinking steadily, with dramatic acceleration in the past five years. This is the area over which the national frontier passes and the two countries have now agreed to have their experts sit down together and hash out where it ought to run now.\

Dole Food Co. has filed a defamation suit in Los Angeles against two Swedish filmmakers whose recently screened documentary chronicles a lawsuit alleging that workers in Nicaragua were rendered sterile after being exposed to the pesticide DBCP on Dole's banana farms. The documentary—called Bananas —tells the tale of the first U.S. trial involving the pesticide claims against Dole. In 2007, a jury in Los Angeles awarded $5.8 million in damages to six Nicaraguan workers in Tellez v. Dole, No. BC312852 (Los Angeles Co., Calif., Super. Ct.). But in April, Los Angeles County, Calif., Superior Court Judge Victoria Chaney threw out two similar cases against Dole in Los Angeles after finding that the plaintiffs and their lawyers—particularly lead plaintiffs' attorney Juan J. Dominguez of the Law Offices of Juan J. Dominguez in Los Angeles—committed fraud in bringing the claims. Specifically, the judge found that plaintiffs and their lawyers had falsified work documents and claims of sterility and that evidence revealed a "truly heinous and repulsive" scheme of pervasive fraud involving Dominguez that was "cemented together by human greed and avarice," according to the complaint, which was filed on July 8. The suit was filed one day after a panel of the California 2d District Court of Appeal ruled that the Tellez judgment, which Dole had appealed, should be reviewed in lower court to determine whether it was tainted by potential fraud.

The Museum of the City of New York celebrates the four-hundredth anniversary of the settlement of the original Dutch colonies in New York with an exhibition of works by twelve Dutch photographers, most residents of the city, who explore our shared history. The result: “Dutch Seen: New York Rediscovered.”

Manu Dibango was one of countless people whose lives were changed by Michael Jackson’s music, although in Dibango’s case the changing was mutual. He was born and reared in Cameroon, and was already a local favorite when he recorded a song for the Cameroon soccer team. The result was a 1972 single called “Mouvement Ewondo,” but it was the B side—“Soul Makossa,” a honking, galloping funk track—that was the real hit, in Africa, in Europe, and in America, where it came to be seen as one of the first disco records. A generation of disk jockeys learned to wield the power of the song’s famous introduction: a hard beat, a single guitar chord, and Dibango’s low growl. He named his song after the makossa, a Cameroonian dance, but he stretched the word out, played with it: “Ma-mako, ma-ma-ssa, mako-makossa.” About a decade later, Dibango was in Paris, listening to the radio at his apartment, when he heard something familiar: those same syllables, more or less, in a very different context. The d.j. was playing “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” the unconventional first song from “Thriller.” The galloping rhythm sounds a bit like “Soul Makossa,” and near the end Jackson acknowledges the debt by singing words that many listeners mistook for nonsense: “Ma ma se, ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa.” Soon, Dibango’s phone started ringing. Friends and relatives were calling to offer their congratulations: Michael Jackson was singing his song! But Dibango’s pride turned to puzzlement when he bought the album, only to find that the song was credited to Michael Jackson and no one else. Dibango eventually worked out a financial agreement with Jackson, and he made his peace with “Thriller,” which might be (depending on how you keep score) the most popular album of all time.

The term "second string" (or the phrase 'to have more than one string to your bow') derives from the fact that medieval archers would carry a second string, in the event that their "first string" snapped.

“Second wind” means that when you run very fast, you reach a point where you gasp for breath, slow down but keep on pushing and after a few seconds, you feel recovered and pick up the pace. Some people think that you just slow down and allow yourself enough time to recover from your oxygen debt, but research from the University of California in Berkeley may give another explanation. When you run fast, your muscles use large amounts of oxygen to burn carbohydrate, fat and protein for energy. If you run so fast that your lungs cannot supply all the oxygen that you need, you develop an oxygen debt that causes lactic acid to accumulate in your muscles to make them burn, and you gasp for air. The muscle burning and shortness of breath caused by the accumulation of lactic acid forces you to slow down. This recent research shows that the lactic acid that accumulates in muscles when you run very fast is actually the first choice of your muscles for fuel when you are running so fast that you can't get in all the oxygen that you need (American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, June 2006). So your muscles switch to burning more lactic acid for energy, you need less oxygen and then pick up the pace.

July 9 is the birthday of Ann Radcliffe, (books by this author) born in London (1764). Her most famous novel was The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), which is probably best remembered today because it is the book that Jane Austen satirized in Northanger Abbey (1818).
July 9 is the birthday of Matthew Lewis, (books by this author) born in London (1775). He wrote to his mother: "What do you think of my having written, in the space of 10 weeks, a romance of between three and four hundred pages octavo? It is called The Monk, and I am myself so pleased with it, that, if the booksellers will not buy it, I shall publish it myself." The Monk became a huge sensation and went through many editions, and from there on out, Matthew Lewis was called "Monk" Lewis.
July 9 is the birthday of the "Queen of Romance," a woman who wrote more than 700 books: Barbara Cartland, (books by this author) born in Birmingham, England (1901). The Writer’s Almanac

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

June 21: We boarded the Viking Sun, a four-year old, 433-foot long ship, with 99 cabins and a crew of 44
in Breisach, Germany. By the vote of its inhabitants in 1950, Breisach was the first European town to declare itself for a United Europe.
Our first dinner was Swiss.
June 22: We walked around Basel (name comes from Celtic word for water) and toured an art museum. Welcome cocktail hour with the captain and crew was followed by dinner.
June 23: We toured the Black Forest, seeing stork’s nests on the way on high roofs. Yes, we saw a demonstration of cuckoo clocks, and had an opportunity to purchase Black Forest Cake. One of our fellow travelers joked that the Black Forest was named for Black Forest Cake. In the afternoon, we toured Colmar, the birthplace of sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904). On February 18, 1879, Bartholdi earned U.S. Patent #11,023 for a "Design for a Statue." This statue, "Liberty Enlightening the World," would become one of the most famous monuments of world history.
Dinner was French, followed by a lecture on the European Union.
June 24: We had a bus and walking tour of Strasbourg (more stork’s nests) and saw the Council of Europe building The European Parliament meets in Strasbourg and also has a complex in Brussels.
As usual, four-course dinner on the ship. TO BE CONTINUED

Bankruptcy Court Approves Plan to Sell G.M.'s Assets
New York Times DealBook: A federal judge late on July 5 approved a plan by General Motors to sell its best assets to a new, government-backed company, a crucial step for the automaker to restructure and complete its trip through bankruptcy court. The decision by the judge, Robert E. Gerber, of Federal Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, came after three days of hearings to address the 850 objections to the restructuring plan and after he received a revised sale order from G.M.’s lawyers. In his 95-page opinion, Judge Gerber wrote that he agreed with G.M.’s main contention: that the asset sale was needed to preserve its business, in the face of steep losses and government financing that is slated to run out by the end of the week.
Related postings on General Motor's bankruptcy and the financial system

WSJ: New Evidence on the Foreclosure Crisis, - Zero money down, not subprime loans, led to the mortgage meltdown, by Stan Liebowitz, Ashbel Smith Professor of Economics, University of Texas at Dallas: "...the focus on subprimes ignores the widely available industry facts (reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association) that 51% of all foreclosed homes had prime loans, not subprime, and that the foreclosure rate for prime loans grew by 488% compared to a growth rate of 200% for subprime foreclosures. (These percentages are based on the period since the steep ascent in foreclosures began--the third quarter of 2006--during which more than 4.3 million homes went into foreclosure.)"
Lender Processing Services' June Mortgage Monitor Report Shows Foreclosure Starts Increased to Second Highest Level Since 1992

Resource of the Week: Roundup of Recent Posts About eBooks…and Some Kindle Stuff by Shirl Kennedy and Gary Price July 6, 2009
Why eBooks? Why now? Because the Fourth Annual World eBook Fair got underway July 4…which means you have free access to more than two million eBooks through August 4. Also, the Kindle DX—with its larger screen format—just made its appearance…and apparently sold out quite rapidly. Word from Michael Hart, the Founder of Project Gutenberg, that once again this year the World e-Book Fair will take place from July 4th-August 4th. This is the 4th year of the annual book fair. It starts on July 4th to celebrate the 38th anniversary of Project Gutenberg which began on July 4th, 1971. Once the event begins you’ll find FREE access to over 2.5 million full text eBooks that you can download to your computer. Some titles can also be downloaded and read on certain types of mobile phones.
Book Sources include:
+ Project Gutenberg
+ Digital Pulp Publishing
+ Internet Archive
+ The World Public Library (normally a fee-based site)
+ E-Books About Everything
++ Direct to World eBook Fair Web Site and Database

NDIIPP Launches New Digital Preservation Video Series
July 6th, 2009 From the Announcement:
The Library of Congress National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program has released a new video: Bagit: Transferring Content for Digital Preservation.
Just over three minutes long, the video is aimed at librarians, archivists, and others interested in working with digital content. The Bagit production is the first in a planned series of videos that will address specific digital preservation issues. Currently, the Library has a number of online video presentations featuring NDIIPP partners discussing their projects. View Video/Access Transcript Collection of other NDIIP Videos

July 7 is the birthday of "the dean of science fiction writers," Robert Heinlein, (books by this author) born in Butler, Missouri, in 1907. He served in the Navy, but when he got sick and was discharged, he was too weak to get a normal job. So when he saw an ad in a pulp fiction magazine offering $50 for the best story by an unpublished author, he decided to give writing a try. In four days, he had finished a story about a machine that could predict a person's death. It was published in 1939, and he went on to write almost 100 novels and short stories, including his famous novel Stranger in a Strange Land (1961). He said, "I took up writing because I needed money. And I continued to write because it's safer than stealing and easier than working."
The Writer’s Almanac

Monday, July 6, 2009

On June 20, we traveled to EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg, located in France, and serving Basel (Switzerland), Mulhouse (France), and Freiburg (Germany). Our cruise ship, Viking Sun, was supposed to be docked in Basel, but due to high water (ship was unable to get under a bridge) was actually waiting for us in Breisach, Germany, about an hour away. I will share stories of our two-week adventure in installments—and today will just relate a few encounters of human interest. We visited a cheese farm near Gouda (pronounced HOW-da in Dutch), a winery in Cochem, Germany (town floods about three times a year) where we could see vines hanging on a steep cliff behind the shop, and enjoyed Dutch singers and dancers one evening on the ship. On most days, we had lectures, demonstrations, and entertainment scheduled in addition to walking tours.

Holden Caulfield Stays Young: Salinger Wins Copyright Suit
U.S. District Court judge Deborah Batts followed up on her temporary restraining order from last month, and permanently banned publication of an unauthorized sequel to J.D. Salinger's uber-famous novel, Catcher in the Rye. Click here for the NYT article; here for the opinion; here and here for previous LB coverage of the case. Judge Batts ruled that the novel, penned by an American living in Sweden who used the pseudonym J.D. California, did not fit into the fair use exception in copyright law because the book did not constitute a critical parody that “transformed” the original. The book imagines a grown up Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of the original, wandering the streets of New York after having escaped from a retirement home. WSJ Law Blog July 2, 2009

Great buildings: Desert House
For the best of Architectural History and Current Architecture combined,
search the complete archives of ArchitectureWeek and at once.

Main cloud components
Alto – high
Cirrus – lock of hair
Cumulus – heap
Nimbus – precipitation-bearing (Latin for "raincloud")
Stratus – layer (Latin for "spread out")

On July 6, 1535 Sir Thomas More was beheaded in the Tower of London for refusing to recognize his longtime friend King Henry VIII as the head of the Church. Thomas More was a barrister, a scholar, and a writer. He was the author of Utopia (1516), a controversial novel about an imaginary island named Utopia, where society was based on equality for all people. It is from this novel that we get our word "utopia."
On July 6, 1812 Ludwig van Beethoven wrote two famous love letters to an unknown woman. Beethoven wrote the letters from the Czech resort town of Teplitz, which his physician had recommended for his health, and there he became friends with the poet Goethe. And over the course of two days, he wrote three letters to a mysterious woman who has come to be known as "the Immortal Beloved."
On July 6, 1957 John Lennon and Paul McCartney met at a church dance in Liverpool, England. John Lennon was almost 17, and Paul McCartney had just turned 15. Lennon had formed a band called the Quarrymen. They were all right, but not great, and they couldn't play at bars because they were all underage. But they got a gig playing at St. Peter's Church for the annual summer garden party, on a stage in a field behind the church, and then again that night in the dance hall at the church. Paul McCartney heard the band and thought they were pretty good—especially John Lennon. Paul went to school with one of the band members, who took him over to the band and introduced him while they were setting up for their second show. Paul said that he played guitar, and also that he knew how to tune one. No one in the band could tune their own guitars—they took them to a specialist—so they were impressed. Paul taught John how to tune, and he sang him a few recent rock songs, including a medley by Little Richard. And about a week later, John asked Paul to join the band. The Writer’s Almanac