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”
It is now mid-August, which to me, is the reverse equivalent of mid-February. Rather than being done in by the dark and cold, the wicked heat and humidity is taking its toll on me. Do summer dog days have you down and dragging around, too? What are your remedies? Continue reading “Ice Cream Sandwiches to the Rescue!”
“The elephant is loved, revered and respected by people and cultures around the world…”
World Elephant Day is August 12. But why do elephants get their own day? They’re just that cool, for one thing. And they’re endangered. WorldElephantDay.org explains: “The elephant is loved, revered and respected by people and cultures around the world, yet we balance on the brink of seeing the last of this magnificent creature.”
Elephants are highly intelligent, with excellent memories and the ability to recognize themselves in reflections. They develop strong bonds with each other and live together in communities. Female and juvenile elephants herd together in groups led by matriarchs, while adolescent and adult males form their own separate herds. Elephants work collectively to protect their young, and they appear to mourn their dead. Continue reading “World Elephant Day”
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”?”
The library is hosting its annual cosplay event on Friday, August 4, and I could not be more excited.
Cosplay is a contraction of the words costume + play. It is a performance art in which participants wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character. These characters can come from anywhere: movies, comic books, video games or cartoons. Cosplay was born from the love of fandoms in the 1960s, but it has grown in scope. Continue reading “More Than a Costume Contest”
The Humane Society was founded in the United States in 1954 as an animal advocacy and welfare group. The Society has since grown to sponsor thousands of shelters throughout the United States, as well as serving with the mission to educate pet owners about the importance of spaying and neutering their animals. It must be noted that the Humane Society is also almost entirely run by volunteers, and opportunities are always available at the Central Missouri Humane Society. My 11-year-old daughter is a volunteer at our local chapter with her G’ma, and they accept people of all ages and backgrounds.
Concern for animal welfare is not a new concept. History is filled with those individuals and groups who have been dedicated to helping our non-human friends. Indeed, the concern and reverence for animals is as old as humanity itself. Consider the religion of Jainism, founded in India in 500 BCE, which teaches a philosophy of non-violence and kindness toward all animals. Continue reading “Animal Welfare and the Humane Society”
On Monday, August 21, Mid-Missouri will experience the most anticipated two and a half minutes of the century, as a total solar eclipse engulfs the region. All local hotel rooms have been booked for months, and events are taking place throughout the area to celebrate our plunge into the dark.
Though totality will last for only a couple of minutes, the whole eclipse, start to finish, will take about three hours. The moon will begin its journey across the sun at 11:45 a.m., eclipsing it entirely at around 1:12 p.m., and finishing its business at 2:40.
“Where can I learn more about the eclipse?” you might ask. At your library, of course. DBRL will hold events at all three buildings, featuring Dr. Angela Speck, a professor of astrophysics. Continue reading “Eclipse Fever”
What better way to show a little love for the environment — and for crafting — than by turning something old into something new! Drop by Monday, July 10 between 6:30 and 8:30 in the Friends Room of the Columbia Public Library, where we’ll be upcycling t-shirts into fun crafts.
Bring a t-shirt you’d like to re-purpose (or help yourself to one of ours) and I’ll show you how to turn it into a shopping bag. Learn how to make fabric yarn out of t-shirts and old sheets. Fabric yarn can be used for dozens of different crafts, but Monday night we’ll be using it to create headbands, infinity scarves and even rag rugs if you have the time!
I’ve eschewed commercial soda most of my adult life, and in my growing-up years this product wasn’t on my mother’s grocery shopping list. Rather, my mother allowed my sisters and me to have an occasional “treat” soda (7-UP was my preference) when we ate out at a restaurant, which wasn’t very often. Perhaps her protocol didn’t allow me to develop much of a taste for soda, and I don’t recall feeling deprived from the lack of it. Knowing what I know now about the ill health effects of drinking soda, I’m glad my mother offered us mostly water, orange juice or milk to drink at home.
Maybe you already know commercial soda (both regular and diet versions) is loaded with sugar and/or other artificial ingredients linked to a long list of deleterious health effects. If not, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but better to be informed so you can consider your choices. Here is a little parade of health conditions linked to soda consumption: obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, tooth decay and osteoporosis, among other health impacts. Apparently it doesn’t take much to harm your health; drinking just one can of soda a day can increase risk of stroke by 16%. And since soda is consumed amply by many in the U.S., this data is rather alarming. These two books, backed with substantial scientific research, clearly illuminate the health dangers of soda consumption: “Soda Politics” by Marion Nestle and “Killer Colas” by Nancy Appleton and G.N. Jacobs. Continue reading “Kick Commercial Soda in F(l)avor of Healthier, Homemade, Thirst-quenching Summer Soft Drinks”
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!”