Did you know that Missouri has more than 450 species of bees, including several kinds of bumble bee? Many of those natives have evolved to pollinate very specific plants such as blueberries, squash, tomatoes or peppers. Did you also know that the honeybee is NOT a native of the US? Bees, both our native bees and the honeybee, are responsible for pollinating around 75% of the produce that we eat, and they maintain the habitats on which many other animals rely. That’s a big responsibility. Continue reading “The Future of Bees!”
Have you ever read just the right book at just the right time and everything was enhanced by the experience? My family recently took a trip to Vienna and Munich and we had a wonderful time, but it was made even better (for me, anyway) by two perfectly timed books.
The first book was “The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer” by Anne Marie O’Connor. This book is a convoluted story moving from the crazy art world of the early 1900s to the crazy art auction world of today. It is also a story that spans from the Holocaust and Austria’s complicity all the way to today’s collective guilt on one hand or the lack of it on the other. Continue reading “Perfect Timing”
In many cultures, a solar eclipse was thought to be due to an animal or demon trying to eat the sun or moon. People would bang on pots and pans or drums to drive the threat away. For some cultures an eclipse is a time of terror, but for others it is a time for reflection and reconciliation. Whatever meanings we ascribe to it, we know that solar eclipses are natural occurrences whereby the moon passes between the sun and the Earth. This year’s eclipse is the first total solar eclipse to be visible in the continental U.S. since 1978 and the first to cross the entire country from west to east since 1918. Columbia is lucky to be in the middle of that path. We will have 2 minutes and 37 seconds of totality. That doesn’t seem very long but if you didn’t know the science behind it, it could be a bit terrifying. Continue reading “Danger! View It Safely: The Solar Eclipse”
Last Thanksgiving, while we were driving to visit extended family, we caught a segment on NPR about a man in the suburbs of Los Angeles who created fake news in order to try to expose extremist groups. His effort failed miserably, but it did highlight how easy it is to disseminate fake news.
We have heard a lot about fake news over the past year. I mean — a lot! But what does “fake news” even mean? There are websites, like The Borowitz Report and The Onion, that specialize in news satire, and, while it’s usually obvious that the stories from those sources are not “real,” sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish the satire from real news. There are also outlets like The Daily Show (originally hosted by Jon Stewart) and The Colbert Report that have been credited with covering the news better than actual news outlets. While that may be true in a sense, they are not “journalists,” and they are technically fake news, but this is also not what is meant by “fake news.” As pointed out by Sandra Borden and Chad Tew in their journal article, “The Role of Journalist and the Performance of Journalism: Ethical Lessons from “Fake” News” in the Journal of Mass Media Ethics,” “Stewart and Colbert do not share journalists’ moral commitments. Therefore, their performances are neither motivated nor constrained by these commitments … Rather than evaluating the work of Colbert and Stewart in the role of journalists, we propose analyzing their contributions to media ethics in the role of media critics.” Continue reading “What Is “Fake News”?”
My family has been hoping and planning to go to Europe for several years, but something has always gotten in the way. Not this year! We are finally doing this: Germany and Austria, here we come! The library has been so instrumental in planning for this trip. Sure, there are travel guides, which have been helpful, but there are so many other resources beyond that.
We have watched travel DVDs to get a feel for what we want to see when we get there and to get a feel for the culture and language. When we first began planning this trip, my daughter was worried that it would be nothing but World War II and beer. The DVDs helped ease her fears — there will also be music, food and beautiful scenery. Our favorite DVDs were “The Best of Europe: Fairy Tale Europe, Germany and Austria” and “Visions of Germany and Austria.” We can’t wait to see Neuschwanstein Castle, which was the model for Walt Disney’s castle! Continue reading “Summer Vacation in Germany and Austria!”
“Late one evening towards the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barrelled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else’s forehead and pulled the trigger.
This is the story of how we got there.”
I have said it before, but I will say it again: Fredrik Backman has become one of my favorite authors! And he definitely does not disappoint with “Beartown.” I have to admit that I was a little hesitant with this one: the story is set in a hockey town and centered around the sport. I’m not a huge sports fan to begin with, and I grew up with football, not hockey. But the story is more about the community of a sports town and what that means, both the good and the bad. Continue reading “Staff Review: Beartown”
Salman Rushdie will be the keynote speaker for the Unbound Book Festival this year. He has won more awards and accolades than I can even begin to list including the Booker Prize for his second book, “Midnight’s Children.”
I have read several books by Rushdie and I have several more on my “to read” list, and while I have enjoyed them all, the book that really struck me was his autobiography, “Joseph Anton: A Memoir.” “Joseph Anton” chronicles the aftermath and fallout from one of his novels. Continue reading “Salman Rushdie, Welcome to the Unbound Book Festival!”
This quote by Jorge Luis Borges is rather perfect for this week: National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association, and it is April 9-15 this year. The theme is “Libraries Transform.” Libraries have gone through their own transformation in the digital age — it’s not just books anymore. Libraries provide everything from internet access and computer classes to film screenings and classes on cooking and exercise.
Just seeing a library is enough to inspire me, whether it is one of the creative Little Free Libraries or the Library of Congress. Libraries have always been magical places that make me want to be better and know more, and I feel so lucky to be a part of one. But you are a part of one, too, even if you didn’t know it! This library belongs to all of us! Continue reading ““I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.””
Spring break! For my family, that usually means a long car trip and a bunch of audiobooks to make the time pass quickly. I tend to listen to a lot of audiobooks anyway, but spring break demands a little more.
The first requirement of a spring break audiobook is an overall appeal for a variety of listeners (minimal girly stuff for the boy and minimal gory stuff for the girl). Luckily, all of our travelers are over the age of 13 so I’m not quite as restrictive as I used to be. Secondly, the narration must be of the highest quality. The last requirement is that the length fit with the time frame of the trip. It’s very frustrating to get to the end of a trip and have half a book left. Continue reading “Spring Break: Hit the Road With Great Audiobooks!”
I’m sure you’ve already heard a lot about “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly. It’s the true story of the female African-American mathematicians who worked for NASA to help get John Glenn into space, among many other achievements. The movie starring Taraji Henson, Octavia Spencer and Dorothy Vaughan just won the Screen Actors Guild Award for best cast, and it’s been nominated for three Oscars and two Golden Globes. I read the book before I saw the movie, and I loved it. I have to admit that this is one of the few movies that I love just as much as the book, if not more! I hope it wins every award.
Also coming out soon is “The Zookeeper’s Wife” by Diane Ackerman, with an expected release date of March 31. It’s the true story of how the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from the Nazis by smuggling them in empty cages. The movie will star Jessica Chastain and Daniel Bruhl. It looks like it’s going to be incredible, and if we hurry, we just might have enough time to read it before the movie comes out. Continue reading “Books on the Big Screen in 2017”