Today marks the 58th anniversary since the release of the polio vaccine. On April 12th, 1955, Jonas Salk released his vaccine to the public. Polio was a disease that had caused such panic in the US that some families would not let their children swim in public swimming pools. Today, polio is almost wiped out in the US. The last reported case of polio in the US was in 1991.
Take a look at this 1954 issue of Time magazine Closing in on Polio (Time. 3/29/1954, Vol. 63 Issue 13) from the library’s databases for a glimpse into American life before the Salk Vaccine.
If you are someone who truly loves and appreciates movies, you probably felt an extra pang of sadness at the news that Chicago’s own Roger Ebert passed away yesterday at the age of 70.
At the height of their popularity, references to Gene Siskel, Roger Ebert and their “two thumbs up” phrase could be found in moves and TV shows ranging from the Simpsons and the X-Files to Summer School and Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla (Mayor Ebert?).
Ebert was the first film critic to receive a Pulitzer Prize (for Criticism) and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
If you would like to know more about Roger Ebert, we have his autobiography, Life Itself: a Memoir, in our collection. Yesterday, Salon.com re-posted an essay Ebert wrote as part of his memoir titled I Do Not Fear Death. We also have a number of other books he has written or contributed to.
And, finally, if you would like to pay tribute to Roger Ebert just by watching and enjoying a good movie, we have many of the movies he considered as being the greatest of all time in our DVD collection. Stop by the library and check one out.
Casablanca (which also includes a commentary audio track by Roger Ebert)
“Kindness” covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do.
Illinois lawmakers are currently debating a bill (HB 2615) that would allow hydraulic fracturing to come to Illinois. Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, is the process where a highly pressurized mixture of water, sand, and chemicals is pumped into the ground to fracture the rock deep underground and release the natural gas there.
If you are interested in learning more about the pros and cons of “fracking”, you will soon have the opportunity to read Under the Surface: Fracking, Fortunes, and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale by Tom Wilber. Wilber examines fracking with a journalist’s objectivity and allows all sides to have a say, from land owners to people in industry and government. Wilber is a reporter who has covered business, health, and environmental issues. In fact, you can find some of the articles he has written about this subject in our online databases. Under the Surface should show up on the New Releases shelf in about a week.
In the meantime, we also have the DVD of the 2010 documentary Gasland in the collection already. In 2011, Gasland was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
Ten years ago, our library had scheduled a faculty panel discussion on the Just War Theory. For several months, President George W. Bush had been talking about a preemptive strike against Saddam Hussein . We decided that a discussion on the justification for war would be useful. We didn’t know it, but we had inadvertently scheduled this panel on the exact day (March 19, 2003) that the US started bombing Baghdad. Over 300 students packed into the library for this event. Our faculty members were great. Four years later (in 2007), we reconvened this panel for further discussion. I have pasted the link to the podcast from the 2007 event below.
Listen to Podcast: The Iraq War Four Years Later: A Panel Discussion Reconvened (Date of Event: March 6, 2007)
Description: Four years ago, on March 19, 2003, the Moraine Valley Library held a panel discussion about the just war theory. Through eerie coincidence, this event fell on the very day that the US started bombing Iraq. Now, four years later, this panel of experts reconvenes to talk about the last four years and the future. As in the book, 1984, war has become an ongoing part of life.
Since it is Women’s History Month, I thought that this story from last night’s 60 minutes might be appropriate. The Catholic Church is dealing with great change and challenge, and this story highlights the voices of women within the Catholic community.
The newly elected pope joked with the crowd at St. Peter’s Square about how far he had come to be their pope. “As you know, the duty of the conclave is to give Rome a bishop.” “It seems that my brother cardinals went almost to the end of the earth to find him.”
How did the newspapers of the “end of the earth” country of Argentina react to the news of their native son, Jorge Bergoglio’s, elevation to the papacy?
Yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul took to the Senate floor with a talking filibuster against John Brennan’s nomination as CIA director. The filibuster, which lasted nearly 13 hours, was prompted by Attorney General Eric. H. Holder Jr.’s refusal to rule out drone strikes within the United States. For more on this story, see Rand Paul launches talking filibuster against John Brennan (Washington Post, March 6, 2013).
The rise of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, and other remotely controlled and increasingly autonomous robotics in the military has been making headlines in recent weeks. For a look into the subject, check out:
1. Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the Twenty-first Century / P.W. Singer (2009) Description: “We are just beginning to see a massive shift in military technology that threatens to make the stuff of I,Robot and the Terminator all too real. More than seven- thousand robotic systems are now in Iraq. Pilots in Nevada are remotely killing terrorists in Afghanistan. Scientists are debating just how smart—and how lethal—to make their current robotic prototypes. And many of the most renowned science fiction authors are secretly consulting for the Pentagon on the next generation. Blending historic evidence with interviews from the field, Singer vividly shows that as these technologies multiply, they will have profound effects on the front lines as well as on the politics back home.”–Publisher
2. Remote Control War (Documentary, 2011) Description: “The current campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan comprise the world’s first Robotic War. From almost none when it invaded Iraq, the U.S. fleet has grown to 7,000 robots in the air and 12,000 on the ground. 43 other countries are now using robots in combat. But robots only have the ethics that they are programmed with, and human/robot wars raise many ethical questions. Does the ability to kill anyone, anywhere with a robot amount to lawlessness? What about when robots decide who to kill? Will having no casualties make going to war too easy? Very soon all sides will have access to remote control weapons. Will robots be the suicide bombers of the future? Robotic war is here. From today’s CIA drone strikes to the next generation of armed autonomous robot swarms, killer robots are about to change our world.”–Distributor
Civil Rights has been a key issue of study and discussion on our campus and in this library. Our library has held lectures around issues relating to civil rights and librarians have highlighted resources on civil rights on this blog. (Click here to see past blog posts about civil rights.)
This week the Supreme Court heard arguments about the Voting Rights Act, which is a key piece of legislation supporting the rights of all Americans to vote. (For more information on the Voting Rights Act take a look at this page from the US Justice Department.) Here is a video outlining the issues discussed in the Supreme Court:
Supreme Court Hears Arguments Against Key Provision of Voting Rights Act
SUMMARY: The Supreme Court heard arguments over a provision in the landmark Voting Rights Act, which requires states with a history of racial discrimination to get approval by the Justice Department before making any changes to voting rules. Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal was in court and talks to Jeffrey Brown.
Here’s a lesson in information literacy. Our faculty have emailed around some stories related to the Bicholim Conflict. Ever heard of this 17th century war? No? Well, that’s because it was entirely made up on Wikipedia. It never happened, but some creative writers put together a whole history about a war between Portugal and Indian. Here are some articles about the hoax:
Unfortunately, Wikipedia is so influential that there are still references to this fake war all over the web, so it is unlikely that the Bicholim Conflict will soon go away. We will long remember the brave sacrifices made by the soldiers and civilians who fought in this fake, hoax of a war.