Mass Media in The Middle Ages

The leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, recently announced his resignation from the papacy. The news spread quickly. This historical event was reported by the internet, twitter, blogs, TV, radio, etc. Mass media has changed greatly since the last pontiff, Pope Gregory XII, resigned in 1451. Read this fascinating article from The Atlantic to find out how news of the papal resignation spread during the Middle Ages.
Also, the MVCC library has numerous books about the papacy.

Interviews with Shin Bet, the Israeli Security Agency

The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is an ongoing struggle that deserves study and discussion. This is a topic that is the focus of some classes here on campus and is regularly a paper topic for students. Our library has a number of resources on this conflict (click here to view our library catalog).

Additionally, I wanted to post this interview and film trailer. This is a discussion with director, Dror Moreh, who recently was nominated for an Oscar for his documentary The Gatekeepers. In this documentary, Moreh interviewed former leaders of the Israeli Security Agency, the Shin Bet. This is a fascinating discussion involving views on violence and politics.

The Oscar Documentaries, Part 4: ‘The Gatekeepers’
Summary: “The Gatekeepers” is a film that consists mostly of interviews with six men, but they happen to be six former heads of Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency. These are men who have been largely or completely unknown to the public, running an organization that since the 1967 war has been deeply involved in counter-terrorism and intelligence gathering in the West Bank and Gaza. The film is nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary.

THE GATEKEEPERS Official Theatrical Trailer

Do Video Games Cause Violence?

In the past, I have posted about violence and video games on this blog (see The Science of Video Games: Violence, Benefits, and Stories). This is a topic that is regularly researched by students, many of whom play violent video games. I wanted to post the video below from the News Hour, which hits key issues in the debate in relation to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary this past December.

Also, our library has many items in our collection on video games.

Can Violent Video Games Play a Role in Violent Behavior?
Summary: “In our continuing look at the gun debate for PBS’s weeklong special “After Newtown,” Jeffrey Brown explores whether there is any connection between violent video games and violent behavior.”

Watch Can Violent Video Games Play a Role in Violent Behavior? on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

How the Higgs Boson Swept the World…as rap

I had to share this video partly because it starts with a funny rap video about the Higgs Boson and partly because this discussion is excellent. I mean, how can we resist a rap video about particle physics? Clearly, this video will not win any awards, but the content is very important. Our understanding of our world has been greatly changed with the discovery of this particle.

Critical Mass: How the Higgs Boson Discovery Swept the World (Published on Feb 14, 2013)
Discovery: Last summer, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, announced the discovery of a new particle that could explain why elementary particles have mass. On February 7, 2013, a panel of experts from the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, and Fermilab discussed why this discovery marks the beginning of a new era in particle physics research.

Meteors & Asteroids…It’s been a busy week.

This week a meteor hit the earth in Russia and an asteroid came within 17,000 miles of earth. Here is a video with physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson about these events and about the fact that there are no series efforts being funded to deflect these kind of cosmic threats.

Cosmic Coincidence: Asteroid Careens by as Meteor Delivers ‘Buzz Cut’ to Earth
SUMMARY:On the same day as a meteor hit Russia, an asteroid careened towards Earth. Jeffrey Brown talks to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson about this cosmic coincidence, how the meteor and asteroid came so close to Earth, what risks it poses and why this is a ‘wake-up call.’

Watch Asteroid Careens by as Meteor Delivers ‘Buzz Cut’ to Earth on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Bringing Lincoln to Life

Today (February 12th, 1809) is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Being that we are in the Land of Lincoln and that we are looking at the Civil War for our One Book program on Confederates in the Attic, this is a birthday we should pause and note. Our library has many books and DVDs about Lincoln. You can view them here: Search our collection for Abraham Lincoln.

Additionally, I thought it appropriate to post this 60 Minutes piece about the making of the new “Lincoln” film by Steven Spielberg.

60 Minutes: Bringing “Lincoln” to life (February 10, 2013)
Description: The team behind the 12-time Oscar-nominated film “Lincoln” talks about how they brought the president and his world to life. Lesley Stahl reports.

American Experience: How Silicon Valley Changed the World

The PBS series American Experience explores topics that are vital to life today. It is a mix of history, story telling, and journalism. This is a great series that covers many topics which students and faculty will find relivant to our curriculum. Last night, I watched this piece about Silicon Valley.

American Experience: Silicon Valley
Description: In 1957, decades before Steve Jobs dreamed up Apple or Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, a group of eight brilliant young men defected from the Shockley Semiconductor Company in order to start their own transistor business. Their leader was 29-year-old Robert Noyce, a physicist with a brilliant mind and the affability of a born salesman who would co-invent the microchip — an essential component of nearly all modern electronics today, including computers, motor vehicles, cell phones and household appliances.

Watch Silicon Valley on PBS. See more from American Experience.

Liquid gold

The English poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, paints an ironic image of the world’s water shortage: “Water, water every where,/Nor any drop to drink.” (121-122).

Investors are always looking for the next big thing to make them rich. Fresh water has become the new gold, oil, etc. Here are a number of sites to check out. Find out about a precious commodity we all take for granted.

Is water the new gold?

Lack of fresh water

Are we running out of water?

MVCC Catalog

Poem: One Today by Richard Blanco

In January, we posted a video by poet Richard Blanco following the announcement that he would be the poet for Barack Obama’s 2nd Inauguration. I came across this video of Blanco reading his poem, “One Day,” which he wrote for the inauguration. If you want to read the full text of the poem visit, One Today: Full Text and video

One Today: Dreamies® American Poet Richard Blanco

Dreamies® American Poet Richard Blanco from Bill Holt on Vimeo.

Flu Outbreaks and the Flu Shot

Not only are we in the midst of flu season, but this year’s strain is particularly bad. There are outbreaks hitting across the US (see PBS Newshour, More Than 40 States See Widespread Flu Infection, from January 9th).

There are many myths floating around that the flu vaccine is not really necessary, but these myths are just not true. The flu can be very serious especially for children and older adults. Here’s a short video from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health talking about some of the myths.

Beyond the Research: Debunking Myths about the Flu Vaccine