Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Unusual behaviors during an eclipse? We are not the only ones.

It seems that everywhere I turn, people are talking about the total eclipse of the sun - their plans to travel to Oregon or Wyoming to view the eclipse or travel elsewhere just to see it.  Is it because it is such an unusual phenomenon?  I have seen a total eclipse when I was a kid and it was okay. I was not mesmerized like my brother, who is now an astrophysicist or frighted like a friend of mine who happens now to be in the clergy.  To me, it was nature being nature.  I do not get all the fuss of going to spend all this money on something that is supposed to happen.  However, I do recognize the immense power of natural phenomena, especially how total eclipses tend to throw people into fits of crazy behavior.  People are discussing how their lives are out of sync because of the eclipse.  I certainly cannot discount it.  When nature is out of whack, we certainly can feel it, especially those of who are more grounded to the earth than others.  The media are starting to run stories about myths and superstitions around solar eclipses as August 21st approaches.  For example take a look at the PBS News Hour ( report on how life responds as animals and insects change their behavior.  National Geographic ( also posted a very interesting story in animal reactions to the solar eclipse.  Do these help understand our reactions?  A really good article is Bob Berman's article in Wired (

If you look at NASA's history of eclipses site, you will see what I mean.  For example, the most famous solar eclipse  ( was in 1133 CE when Henry II died coinciding with a complete solar eclipse.  As a result of his death, England was thrown into civil war. 

NASA also has wonderful eclipse history site  for beginners who are just learning about these events and explain the difference between partial and total eclipses. (  Sorry, they do not apply to a total eclipse of your heart all you Bonnie Tyler lovers.

So get out your GPO eclipse kit and get ready.  The next one is scheduled for 2024. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

When Women Didn't Count

One of the many reasons free government information is useful is that it can be analyzed to reveal fascinating, and sometimes disturbing, facts about our history. An excellent example of this is Robert Lopresti's new book, When Women Didn't Count: The Chronic Mismeasure and Marginalization of American Women in Federal Statistics:

In the book, society's (and government's) changing attitudes toward women are chronicled through statistics on marriage, motherhood, heads of households, occupations, health, crime, and military service, among other topics. The focus isn't on the statistics themselves, but on how and why they were collected as they were. It is, indeed, both fascinating and disturbing. 

 (Lopresti is a librarian, but when he isn't examining the mysteries of government statistics he's writing popular mystery stories. You might want to check those out as well.)

Friday, June 9, 2017

United Nations Digital Library System

If you're getting a little tired of the issues being discussed in the U.S. Government, it might be a nice change of pace to explore some international issues.  The United Nations Digital Library System is now freely available for your searching or browsing pleasure.  Enjoy!


Friday, May 5, 2017

Obama Presidential Center

Before they've even broken ground on Barack Obama's Presidential Center, it's already groundbreaking in the world of Presidential Libraries. The three-building complex on Chicago's south side will include many interesting features, but it won't physically contain President Obama's papers and documents. Instead, according to this press release from the National Archives and Records Administration, his records will be digitized and made available online:
Those who wish to see the physical records will have to visit Washington, DC. Perhaps this new approach will increase tourism in both cities. Only time will tell.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Days of Remembrance

This week marks the annual Days of Remembrance in commemoration of the Holocaust. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum provides a great deal of information about this observance, including a map of events being held around the country. It also provides information for communities to use in planning their own Remembrance events:

Those who tend to compare more recent atrocities to the Holocaust might wish to use this as an opportunity to review the basic facts and statistics.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


April showers are traditionally supposed to bring May flowers, but in California, winter showers have resulted in a "superbloom" of spring flowers.  Read about the reasons for the spectacular display on this site from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The photos may leave you California dreaming.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

De Quervain Tendinitis

People who do repetitive work with their hands may develop a number of different medical conditions. Some, like carpal tunnel syndrome, are fairly well known. Others, like De Quervain tendinitis are less so. You can read about the causes, symptoms, and treatments of De Quervain tendinitis in the National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia:

Beware, though. If you hold your phone or tablet while you browse the 4,000 articles available in the Encyclopedia, that's exactly the sort of thing that might cause De Quervain tendinitis.