Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice 2012: Of Beer and Bollocks

Well, time has run out for time to run out. The pseudo-Mayan apocalypse has not transpired, although that did not stop Stevens Point Brewery from manufacturing a novelty beer called 2012 Black Ale:
Thousands of years ago the ancient Mayans of Central America developed a "Long-Count" round calendar that ends ominously on December 21, 2012. Some predict this symbolizes the end of time as we know it. Inspired by this mystery, we offer Point 2012 Black Ale to help contemplate this 'end of time' or perhaps a 'new beginning.' Dark rich roasty and complex, Point 2012 Black Ale is hand-crafted with Pale, Munich, and Roasted Malts with Cluster, Saaz, and Cascade hops for the robust flavor and finish. Enjoy--while there's still time.
The brewery even recommended food pairings for its Long-Neck-cum-Long-Count libation:
Point 2012 Black Ale pairs well with steak tips, grilled salmon or pork chops. The mild burnt/roasty flavors and malty sweetness tends to complement grilled meats very well and are perfect for pairing up with dark chocolates.
While referencing the Mayan calendar was merely a clever marketing ploy for this particular company, the widespread gullibility of a scientifically illiterate public compelled NASA to publicly counter such misinformation. For reassurance, one can check out their end-time FAQ entitled, "Beyond 2012: Why the World Won't End." Cheers!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


A One, A Two, A Cha Cha Cha! by Barbara Boylan & Bobby Burgess on the Lawrence Welk Show. Carpe diem!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Human Rights Day 2012

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually on December 10 to mark the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted on this date in 1948. The Declaration was proclaimed through United Nations General Assembly Resolution 217 A (III):
. . . as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.
Although not itself a binding legal document, it has "inspired more than more than 60 human rights instruments which together constitute an international standard of human rights."

The Declaration has been translated into more than 300 languages and dialects, from Abkhaz to Zulu. The English version is available here, while other versions are available via an online database. A guide to UN Human Rights documentation as well as various related UN databases are also accessible on the UN Human Rights web site.

In the video above, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay presents her message for this year's Human Rights Day, December 10, 2012.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Plant Ahead! 2013 Seed Savers Exchange Catalog Now Available

Founded in 1975 by Diane Ott Whealy and Kent Whealy, Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) is now the largest non-governmental seed bank of its kind in the United States. With over 13,000 members, SSE conserves and maintains heirloom seeds for thousands of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers. Its mission is:
. . . to save North America's diverse, but endangered, garden heritage for future generations by building a network of people committed to collecting, conserving and sharing heirloom seeds and plants, while educating people about the value of genetic and cultural diversity.
Located on the 890-acre Heritage Farm in Decorah, Iowa, SSE is open to visitors from April to October, and sponsors special events such as seed starting, grafting, and gardening workshops. It also hosts an annual conference and campout. To learn more about Seed Savers Exchange and the benefits of membership, visit its website.

The amazing 2013 Catalog can be downloaded as a PDF, or a copy in print can be requested free of charge. Also of interest is the book authored by co-founder Diane Ott Whealy, Gathering: Memoir of a Seed Saver.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa 2013

In 247 days, RAGBRAI XLI will commence its annual mass bicycle ride from Iowa's west coast, the Missouri River, to the east coast, the Mississippi River. Registration for the week-long event (July 21-27, 2013) begins today, November 15, 2012. For full details and registration forms, visit the RAGBRAI website. The Common Curator rode on the fortieth anniversary RAGBRAI last summer and is contemplating next year's ride.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Vote Early, Vote Mad

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Iowa City Song Project

As part of its year-long centennial celebration, the Englert Theatre in Iowa City, Iowa has collaborated with Maximum Ames Records to produce the Iowa City Song Project, commissioning 31 musicians and bands to craft new music inspired by the city of Iowa City. With a release date of November 6, 2012, the album can be pre-ordered through Maxiumum Ames Records. In addition, the Englert Theatre and The Mill Restaurant will be hosting record release shows on November 2 at 7pm and November 3 at 8pm, respectively.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Kickstarting the Morbid Anatomy Anthology

Joanna Ebenstein of Morbid Anatomy is joining forces with author Colin Dickey to edit and produce the Morbid Anatomy Anthology, "a lavishly-illustrated book comprising a collection of articles based on some of the best of the Morbid Anatomy Presents lectures and presentation series." The Morbid Anatomy Library and Cabinet is located in Brooklyn, NY, and is dedicated to "surveying the interstices of art and medicine, death and culture." Numerous scholars, writers, museologists, morticians and scientists are signed up to contribute works to the anthology, and more on the project, including a short video, can be found at the Kickstarter project page 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Past Re-Imagined As The Future

The Free Music Archive and the Prelinger Archives Collection are co-sponsoring  a video remix contest called "Sound for the Moving Image: The Past Re-imagined As The Future." The contest invites artists everywhere to mix video from the Prelinger Archives Collection on the Internet Archive with audio from the Free Music Archive to create new digital mashups for the public domain.

The Prelinger Archives was founded in 1983 by Rick Prelinger, and the Free Music Archive is directed by freeform station WFMU. A free public screening of winning entries will be held at Anthology Film Archives on November 29, 2012 at 8-10pm. More information on how to participate in the contest can be found online; the deadline for submissions is November 4, 2012. The video above describes the Prelinger Archives.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The World's First Color Films

The National Media Museum in Bradford, U.K. has recently discovered what it believes are the world's first color films, produced by a method patented by the photographer Edward Turner and his financial backer Frederick Marshall Lee in 1899. The technique involved photographing successive frames through blue, green, and red filters, and then recombining the images to produce full color moving pictures. Current staff at the museum utilized digital technology to reproduce the films for screening in a manner that has not been experienced in over 100 years. For a timeline of the Turner & Lee color process, visit the museum website.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

"my eyes are not shut"

"my eyes are not shut," an exhibition of photographs by Sandra Louise Dyas, opens at the Anderson Gallery at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa on September 7 and runs through October 12, 2012. A reception will be held from 5 to 7 pm on Friday, September 7, and the artist will give an informal gallery walk beginning at 6:30 pm. The exhibition received great support through a recent Kickstarter campaign, and features a new body of work. In January, Dyas published a book of the same name through Blurb, which serves as the template for the upcoming show. An earlier book, Down to the River: Portraits of Iowa Musicians, was published in 2007, and is available from The University of Iowa Press. "Caroline Flies" is the title of Dyas' photograph shown above.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vulnerable on the Open Road

"Vulnerable on the Open Road: Five Pro Cyclists Reflect on Bike Safety" is a new video produced by, an advocacy organization devoted to "mak[ing] bicycling safer, more convenient and appealing for everyone." Share the road!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

"Growing It Here, Growing It Now" on YouTube

"Growing It Here, Growing It Now" is a documentary about real food and the people who make it happen in community gardens. It explores the knowledge, passion, and collaboration of gardeners, both young and old, who nurture and raise their own crops in an urban environment. Of interest to anyone who needs to eat well.

Filmed at the verdant site of two thriving, side-by-side gardens--the Carrboro Community Garden and the Growing Healthy Kids Garden in Carrboro, North Carolina--eight gardeners relate their unique connections to the soil and why it is important to produce one's own food. The youngest, five-year-old Liana, speaks perceptively of the growth cycle of plants, while Bob, who grew up with a Victory Garden in World War II, freely shares his abundant gardening experience and advice with newcomers.

"Growing It Here, Growing It Now" shows gardeners in action, whether turning under "green manure," conditioning seed beds for new crops, transplanting tomatoes, weeding chard beds, or pruning raspberry bushes. The challenges of pests such as deer, insects, and disease are described, as well as the need for participation, cooperation, and simple, hard labor at the height of summer heat. As Alice, a gardening veteran, observes: "It's an important part of life. It feeds the soul."

"Growing It Here, Growing It Now" is a Common Curator production, directed and produced in 2011 by Daniel Smith. The documentary is available on YouTube as well as on DVD for $5 postpaid; email the Common Curator (commoncurator @ for ordering details.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Livin' XL

RAGBRAI XL: The Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa 2012: from the Missouri to the Mississippi . . . did that, been there, got the patch:

Total Trip Mileage:
circa 500

Top Daily Mileage: 88

Top Speed:
38 mph (momentarily)

Peak Temperature: 102 degrees Fahrenheit

Mountain Bikes: 1.6% (outliers all)

To view RAGBRAI XL videos, click here

Monday, July 30, 2012

Books That Shaped America

Books That Shaped America is an exhibition on view through September 29, 2012 at the Library of Congress. Intended to kick off a multiyear "Celebration of the Book," Librarian of Congress James H. Billington states that:
. . . the list [of books in the exhibition] is intended to spark a national conversation on books written by Americans that have influenced our lives, whether they appear on this initial list or not. We hope people will view the list and then nominate other titles. Finally, we hope people will choose to read and discuss some of the books on this list, reflecting our nation’s unique and extraordinary literary heritage, which the Library of Congress makes available to the world.
An annotated online exhibition can be viewed here; in addition, readers are encouraged to submit their input on books of merit via an online survey. Another upcoming significant event is the 12th annual National Book Festival, to be held September 22-3, 2012 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

BookOpolis 2012: Call for Entries

Asheville BookWorks is soliciting entries for its eighth BookOpolis, an annual exhibition and celebration of artists' books and prints. Located in West Asheville, North Carolina, BookWorks is a vibrant community center for the book arts and printmaking. The theme for BookOpolis 2012 is "Editorial Content: Spine-Tickling Artists' Books." Entries must be delivered during the period, August 20 to 24, 2012; submitted works will be exhibited during BookOpolis weekend, September 21-22, 2011.

Juror Tatana Kellner will also make a selection of the best work for extended display through November 30, 2012. A prospectus with further details, as well as an entry form, is available at the BookWorks website.

Throughout the year, BookWooks sponsors workshops, exhibits, lectures, and other events, such as the Edible Book Festival. BookWorks is a valuable resource for all those with an interest in the book arts, providing "space, equipment and technical support for artistic exploration, collaboration and the sharing of knowledge."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Public Libraries: Weathering the Storm

The American Library Association produced the following infographic to highlight the continued cuts to public library budgets across the United States despite increased demand for a wide range of library resources and services. More detailed information can be obtained in the ALA's final report, Libraries Connect Communities: Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study 2011-2012, which "assesses public access to computers, the Internet, and Internet-related services in U.S. public libraries, and the impact of library funding changes on connectivity, technology deployment, and sustainability."

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Kickstarting "Freeform or Death": A Documentary about WFMU

Directed by Tim K. Smith, Freeform or Death is a documentary about iconoclastic freeform radio station WFMU. With support through his Kickstarter project, Smith intends to:
. . . share the intimate story of New Jersey’s WFMU, the world’s longest-running freeform radio station, and one man’s attempt to keep it independent and alive in the face of a recession, the persistent threat of commercial media, and the challenges that come with keeping a rebellious group of outsiders together.
With 24 days to go, Smith's project has attained 2/3 of his funding goal with over 300 backers. Two brief videos as well as further information about the documentary can be viewed at Kickstarter.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

National Recording Registry Adds 25 New Entries

On the tenth anniversary of the National Recording Registry, Librarian of Congress James Billington has selected 25 sound recordings as the official entries for 2011, stating: "America’s sound heritage is an important part of the nation’s history and culture and this year’s selections reflect the diversity and creativity of the American experience."

In chronological order, the selections are as follows:
  1. Edison Talking Doll cylinder (1888)
  2. "Come Down Ma Evenin’ Star," Lillian Russell (1912)
  3. "Ten Cents a Dance," Ruth Etting (1930)
  4. "Voices from the Days of Slavery," Various speakers (1932-1941 interviews; 2002 compilation)
  5. "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart," Patsy Montana (1935)
  6. "Fascinating Rhythm," Sol Hoopii and his Novelty Five (1938)
  7. "Artistry in Rhythm," Stan Kenton & and his Orchestra (1943)
  8. Debut performance with the New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein (Nov. 14, 1943)
  9. International Sweethearts of Rhythm: Hottest Women’s Band of the 1940s (1944-1946)
  10. "The Indians for Indians Hour" (March 25, 1947)
  11. "Hula Medley," Gabby Pahinui (1947)
  12. "I Can Hear It Now," Fred W. Friendly and Edward R. Murrow (1948)
  13. "Let’s Go Out to the Programs," The Dixie Hummingbirds (1953)
  14. "Also Sprach Zarathustra," Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1954, 1958)
  15. "Bo Diddley" and "I’m a Man," Bo Diddley (1955)
  16. "Green Onions," Booker T. & the M.G.’s (1962)
  17. "Forever Changes," Love (1967)
  18. "The Continental Harmony: Music of William Billings," Gregg Smith Singers (1969)
  19. "A Charlie Brown Christmas," Vince Guaraldi Trio (1970)
  20. "Coat of Many Colors," Dolly Parton (1971)
  21. "Mothership Connection," Parliament (1975)
  22.  Barton Hall concert by the Grateful Dead (May 8, 1977)
  23. "I Feel Love," Donna Summer (1977)
  24. "Rapper's Delight," Sugarhill Gang (1979)
  25. "Purple Rain," Prince and the Revolution (1984)
The full National Recording Registry currently numbers 350 recordings, and can be viewed here. The Registry solicits nominations for inclusion on the registry; further information on the criteria and procedures for making nominations is available at the Registry website


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Tribute to Morris L. Cohen

The Law Library Journal, the main publication of the American Association of Law Libraries, recently devoted the entirety of its Winter 2012 issue to the remarkable life and work of legal scholar, bibliographer, and librarian, Morris L. Cohen [1927-2010]. Cohen died on December 18, 2010, with an obituary appearing in the New York Times; the newspaper also published an editorial appreciation extolling Cohen's career.

The articles appearing in Law Library Journal, with links to PDFs, are titled as follows:

Morris L. Cohen, 1927-2010: A Remembrance and Celebration
In Praise of Morris L. Cohen's Bibliography of Early American Law
Morris L. Cohen: A Reminiscence
Memories of Morris—and How I Use His BEAL 
Morris Cohen and Rare Book School
Morris Cohen and the Art of Book Collecting
Cornerstones for Enduring Law Libraries: Morris Cohen's Influence at Yale
Birth of a Nutshell: Morris Cohen in the 1960s
The End of Scholarly Bibliography: Reconceptualizing Law Librarianship
Appeals to the Privy Council Before American Independence: An Annotated Digital Catalogue
Blackstone and Bibliography: In Memoriam Morris Cohen
Booksellers in Court: Approaches to the Legal History of Copyright in England Before 1842
Practicing Reference . . . "That Most Congenial Lawyer/Bibliographer"
Reflections: An Interview with Morris L. Cohen
Morris L. Cohen: A Bibliography of His Works
Keeping Up with New Legal Titles

The Common Curator was fortunate to have known Morris while working in the antiquarian book trade and as a curator of rare law books. A true scholar-librarian and gentleman, he exemplified the very best qualities of the book world, the likes of which are indeed rarely encountered.

Note: The photograph above appeared in the Law Library Journal courtesy of the Cohen family.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Letterpress Guild of New England Exhibition

In celebration of the 30th Anniversary of its founding in 1982, the Letterpress Guild of New England is mounting an exhibition "to educate, entertain, and inform the public," and is soliciting entries of letterpress posters and broadsides through June 15, 2012. For further details and an entry form, visit the LGNE website. Call for entries poster designed by the Interrobang Press.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Support Chapel Hill Public Library

The Friends of the Chapel Hill Public Library are sponsoring a fundraiser for the Library, which is currently undergoing a major expansion project. For a donation of $150, the Friends will include an engraved paver in Friends Plaza at the front of the Library in time for its reopening in early 2013:
Your paver will be a long lasting public tribute to whoever is named and the money will be used for an otherwise unfunded need in the new library. Pavers are being sold by the Friends of the Chapel Hill Public Library, a membership organization dedicated to supporting library needs not covered by the town’s budget. Friends’ gifts are used to support children’s programming, the Library’s collection and other special projects.
320 pavers are being offered to the public until the deadline of August 31, 2012. Further details and an application form are available on the Friends' website.

Note: Image of the planned expansion by Corley Redfoot Architects.

Friday, April 27, 2012

For Arbor Day: The Forest Where Ashley Lives

To commemorate Arbor Day, check out the free electronic version of The Forest Where Ashley Lives, an educational book about the value and care of urban forests, written by Mark A. and Ashley L. Vitosh, and illustrated by John L. Smith. Intended for elementary school readers, the text has won an Arbor Day Foundation Education Award.

The book is also available in print and as an interactive CD from the Iowa State University online store. The CD includes the text and illustrations of the book, plus additional features such as audio narration, web links, a glossary, “Did You Know?” facts about forests, and supplemental materials for teachers.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

NC Governor Opposes Amendment One

North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue has recently released a video urging a "no" vote on "Amendment One," or North Carolina Senate Bill 514 (2011), which is on the ballot for the 2012 Primary Election on May 8. The bill proposes that the North Carolina Constitution would be amended to include the following section: "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State . . . . " Early voting is now underway throughout the state, and the State Board of Elections has also prepared a Voter Guide for candidates covered by the North Carolina Public Funding Programs. Register and vote!

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Sioux City Journal on Bullying

The entire front page of the April 22, 2012 edition of the Sioux City Journal was devoted to the issue of bullying in schools, precipitated by the recent death of a young student at South O'Brien High School in Paullina, Iowa. The text of the editorial board's statement can be read here; more information on bullying can be found at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services web site,

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Surf Zombies Release "Lust for Rust"

Practitioners of the tsunami school of surf music, The Surf Zombies have recently issued their third album, Lust for Rust. Their self-titled first album, The Surf Zombies, appeared in 2008, followed by Something Weird in 2009. More on the band can be found at ReverbNation.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

National Library Week 2012

Sponsored annually by the American Library Association, National Library Week promotes libraries of all types: school, public, academic, and special. In conjunction with this year's celebration (April 8-14, 2012), the ALA released its annual report, The State of America's Libraries, which details many current trends, including the growing use of e-books, continued budget cuts and diminished library services across the United States, and other issues such as book challenges and censorship.

Johnny Dowd Releases "No Regrets"

The redoubtable Johnny Dowd and band have just released the latest in a long series of sui generis albums, this one featuring a lucky 13 songs about women recorded with five female vocalists. A CD release party will take place on Record Store Day (April 21, 2012) at Lot 10 in Ithaca, New York, with a European Tour following in May. The video above is for the CD's first cut, "Betty," and was produced by Louk Voncken at Ummerfilm.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Master Printmaker: Mauricio Lasansky [1914-2012]

Mauricio Lasansky, who as a long-time professor of art developed the printmaking program at the University of Iowa into one of finest anywhere, died at 97 on April 2, 2012 in Iowa City. Best known for his series, The Nazi Drawings, Lasansky exhibited widely throughout the world, and extended his influence through his work as a teacher of countless artists and printmakers. "Lasansky: Inside the Image" documents his artistic methods, life, and philosophy.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Is the Foolest Month

This spaghetti farmer from New Jersey is just one of many from around the world who strives year after year for a bountiful crop. Archival footage from the BBC documents that the spaghetti harvest in southern Switzerland was especially good in 1957, while television station HSV-7 in Melbourne has reported that yields in Australia have been known to suffer from the dreaded Spag-Worm. Indeed, as T.S. Eliot observes at the very beginning of The Waste Land:
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain . . . .

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead trees give no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water . . . .
For more on April Fools' Day, see this previous Common Curator post.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Of Cherry Blossoms and Plant Quarantines

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is this year celebrating the 100th anniversary of the planting of cherry trees in Washington, D.C. The trees planted during the spring of 1912, however, were not the first ones imported from Japan for the beautification of the Capitol. Two years earlier, on January 6, 1910, 2,000 flowering cherry trees arrived from Japan and were inspected by the U.S. Bureau of Entomology. Although the Bureau lacked authority to inspect private plant imports, acting chief Charles Marlatt determined that the trees were afflicted with "practically every pest imaginable" and should be destroyed. President Taft subsequently ordered the burning of the entire shipment, which took place at the Washington Monument.

The controversy surrounding the cherry tree incident galvanized the passage of the Plant Quarantine Act of 1912, which established the Federal Horticultural Board and authorized plant quarantines. Prior to this, 39 states had enacted their own legislation regulating plant inspections. While the federal regulatory framework was being built, a second batch of 3,020 cherry trees was ordered from Japan. Fumigated before shipment and declared pest-free upon arrival, the first two trees were finally planted in the Capitol on March 12, 1912 by First Lady Taft and Viscountess Chinda, the Japanese Ambassador's wife.

A full account of this interesting intersection of international diplomacy and domestic horticulture can be read in "Cherry Blossoms, Insects, and Inspections" at the Law Library of Congress' blog, In Custodia Legis. The image above depicts two paired commemorative stamps recently issued by the USPS.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Kickstarting "Shell Game"

"Shell Game: An Art Show about the Financial Meltdown" is a Kickstarter project by artist Molly Crabapple. As she describes it:
Shell Game is an art show about the world financial collapse, and the people who have risen up in protest against it. I'll create nine giant paintings about the different parts of the collapse and the global movement fighting back (including Goldman Sachs, Greece, and Occupy Wall Street), but filter them through my lens of burlesque, surrealism, satire, and symbolic animals. Then, I'm going to rent a storefront in New York city, rig it out like a gambling parlor, and invite the city and the Internet to check it out for a week.
Crabapple's project has already elicited widespread support from over 600 funders, more than doubling its $30,000 goal well before deadline; pledges may be made at Kickstarter until March 27, 2012. The image shown here, entitled "The Great American Bubble Machine," is the first in a series of nine large (6' x 4') paintings planned for the project. Of related interest is the illustration Crabapple executed for The People's Library at Occupy Wall Street.

Monday, March 19, 2012

North Carolina Issues Draft Report on Hydraulic Fracturing

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources has just issued a draft report on proposed hydraulic fracturing within the state entitled, "North Carolina Oil and Gas Study under Session Law 2011-276." In addition to the full report, the draft Executive Summary and draft Recommendations and Limitations are downloadable separately.

Findings from this draft report will be presented publically in two upcoming meetings, in Sanford on March 20, 2012 and in Chapel Hill on March 27, 2012. Written comments on the draft report will be accepted through April 1, in addition to any feedback received at the two public meetings. Written comments can be sent via email to or through the mail to NCDENR, attn: Trina Ozer, 1601 MSC, Raleigh, NC 27699. Additional resources regarding shale gas can be found at the NCDENR site.

Of related interest is an earlier Common Curator post on an Integrative Workshop on Hydraulic Fracturing held in January 2012 at Duke University.

Attorney General Holder on National Security Policy

On March 5, 2012, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder delivered a major policy speech on national security issues at the Northwestern University School of Law. The full text of this speech, which among other things provides the administration's rationale for "targeted killings," is available on the U.S. Department of Justice's web site.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Full Route Announced for RAGBRAI XL

The Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa will be celebrating its 40th anniversary this year with a 471-mile ride across the state on July 22-28, 2012. The ride begins in Sioux Center and concludes seven days later in Clinton. A special event will be held in Cedar Rapids on July 26 to commemorate what has become known as the "oldest, largest and longest touring bicycle ride in the world." Riders traditionally dip their tires in the two rivers bordering the state, the Missouri River at the start of the ride and the Mississippi River at the end. The ride is capped at 8,500 week-long riders, but registration for the lottery can be made online until April 1. For more on the ride's illustrious history, as well as training advice, visit the RAGBRAI website.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

International Women's Day 2012

March 8, 2012
marks the 101st anniversary of International Women's Day. First celebrated on March 19, 1911 by more than one million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland after a proposal by Clara Zetkin [1857-1933] in 1910 at the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, International Women's Day is now observed in many nations throughout the world.

The United Nations first began celebrating March 8 as International Women's Day during International Women's Year in 1975, and in 1977 approved a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace for member states.

The UN's theme for International Women's Day 2012 is "Empower Rural Women--End Hunger and Poverty." The video above, produced by UN Women, is entitled, "Columbia: Wayuu Gold, Fighting for Access to Fresh Water," and details the campaign led by Griselda Polanco to obtain a secure water supply for her village. In 2006, Griselda's sister, Orsinia Polanco, was the first indigenous woman elected to the Columbian Congress, and she has worked tirelessly to make access to water a fundamental right for all Columbians, including the Wayuu and other indigenous peoples.

James Hansen: Why I Must Speak Out about Climate Change

TED has just made available a recent talk (filmed in February 2012) by noted climatologist, Dr. James Hansen. An Iowa native, Hansen studied mathematics, physics, and astronomy at the University of Iowa, where Dr. James Van Allen headed up the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Hansen's 1967 doctoral dissertation was entitled, The Atmosphere of Venus: A Dust Insulation Model, and he has since had a long scientific career investigating the basis of global climate change and advocating for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions into the Earth's atmosphere.

Monday, March 5, 2012

WFMU Sets Marathon Fundraising Record

Congratulations to WFMU--Freeform Station of the Nation--on its record-breaking Marathon 2012! Although not quite reaching its goal by the end of its two-week-long annual fundraising frenzy at midnight on Sunday, March 4, additional pledges today have allowed it to surpass its $1.2 million goal. WFMU is 100% listener-supported, and Marathon funds will go far in supporting operations for the coming year. More on the station can be found at the WFMU website and in a previous Common Curator post. And, for any remaining holdouts, pledges can still be made online.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

This charming cinematic ode to the book, directed by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg of Moonbot Studios, won the 2012 Academy Award for Animated Short Film. Their responses to the Academy's questionnaire for nominees can be read here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"Today, If All Goes Well . . . "

Fifty years ago today, on February 20, 1962, NASA astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth in the Mercury spacecraft he named "Friendship 7." Glenn orbited the planet three times in a flight that lasted just under five hours. In 1963, NASA transferred the recovered space capsule to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, which describes his historic mission as follows:
Glenn's flight was the third manned mission of Project Mercury, following two suborbital flights by astronauts in 1961. Glenn's three-orbit mission on February 20, 1962, was a sterling success, as he overcame problems with the automatic control system that would have ended an unmanned flight. But reentry was tense, as a faulty telemetry signal from the spacecraft indicated that the heat shield might be loose. Mission Control instructed Glenn not to jettison the retrorocket package after firing in order to better hold the heat shield in place. Glenn reentered successfully and splashed down in the Atlantic 4 hours, 55 minutes and 23 seconds after launch.
Glenn was preceded into orbit by the Soviet cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin, who as the first human in space made one orbit on April 11, 1961, and Gherman S. Titov, who made 17 orbits after launching on August 6, 1961. Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom were the first and second Americans in space, but flew suborbital missions, on May 5, 1961 and July 21, 1961, respectively.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

WFMU Marathon 2012

Appreciate free-form radio? Then consider supporting independent station WFMU during its annual fundraising Marathon that runs February 20 through March 4, 2012. WFMU first hit the airwaves on April 24, 1958 at the now-defunct Upsala College and has never looked back. Currently based in Jersey City, New Jersey, WFMU broadcasts at 91.1 Mhz and via a second signal at 90.1 Mhz in Mount Hope, New York. WFMU has also long been an Internet pioneer, streaming its programming 24/7 in multiple formats, including iPhone and Android. Past shows are archived at the station's website, which also features WFMU's entertaining and content-rich blog.

What is free-form radio you might ask? WFMU describes itself as follows:
WFMU's programming ranges from flat-out uncategorizable strangeness to rock and roll, experimental music, 78 RPM Records, jazz, psychedelia, hip-hop, electronica, hand-cranked wax cylinders, punk rock, gospel, exotica, R&B, radio improvisation, cooking instructions, classic radio airchecks, found sound, dopey call-in shows, interviews with obscure radio personalities and notable science-world luminaries, spoken word collages, Andrew Lloyd Webber soundtracks in languages other than English as well as country and western music.
And because WFMU is 100% listener-supported, with zero corporate, government, or other underwriting, WFMU DJs have for years maintained complete autonomy and control over their own programming, which is indeed extraordinarily eclectic. Check out the current WFMU audio smorgasbord, and see for yourself!

Note: The poster shown above was designed by Dave Cunningham for the 2002 Marathon. The premiums for this year's marathon can be viewed here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fein and Nader on Constitutional Crimes

Ralph Nader and Bruce Fein, both graduates of Harvard Law School, visited their alma mater on February 8, 2012 to take part in an event sponsored by the Harvard Law School Forum and Harvard Law Record entitled: "America's Lawless Empire: The Constitutional Crimes of Bush and Obama." The Constitution of the United States is housed at the National Archives and Records Administration, along with the other Charters of Freedom.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Jackie's White House Tour on Valentine's Day

On Valentine's Day 1962, millions of television viewers watched First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy lead "A Tour of the White House." Initially broadcast on CBS and NBC, the same show aired on ABC four nights later and later was syndicated for viewing in dozens of other countries.

Of related interested are the just opened Personal Papers of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. In a news release, Library Director Tom Putnam observed:
“Students, scholars, and the general public continue to be fascinated by Jacqueline Kennedy and the pivotal role she played in our nation’s history. These new documents demonstrate her work as First Lady, her legendary attention to detail, and the incredible range of her understanding of art, history, and public diplomacy.”
A detailed archival finding aid to her papers can be downloaded; information on visiting the library's research rooms can also be found at the library's website.

Note: The video above is available at the Internet Archive, as part of its Classic TV collection.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Opposition Grows against ACTA / TTP

As with SOPA and PIPA domestically, opposition is mounting against the international agreements, ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) and TPP (the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement). Both have lacked transparency in the negotiating process and threaten to rewrite intellectual property laws, thereby impacting citizens' rights globally to access content on the Internet and innovate with information technology. The Electronic Frontier Foundation provides further information on ACTA and TPP, and Fight for the Future is sponsoring a petition for people living around the world against the implementation of both.

In Europe, numerous protests are planned for February 11, 2012:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Linotype: The Film

Directed and produced by Doug Wilson, Linotype: The Film is a feature-length documentary about a revolutionary printing technology that like so many others has since fallen into desuetude. The Linotype machine could cast type in complete lines--hence its name--and thereby was greatly faster than manual typesetting. The film documents the views of present-day Linotype operators, and explores the place of the Linotype in the digital age. The world premiere was held on February 3, 2012 in New York City, with additional screenings scheduled around the country.

The Linotype is still used by Route Three Press in Anamosa, Iowa to produce The Wapsipinicon Almanac. The video below was produced by the Gazette's Dave Rasdal and shows Eldon Meeks at work on a Model 8 Linotype.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The True University of These Days Is a Collection of Books

Designed by the American illustrator, Franklin Booth [1874-1948], this bookplate is printed directly on the front paste-down of A German-English Dictionary for Chemists by Austin Patterson. Booth has slightly truncated the quotation from Thomas Carlyle [1795-1881], which is found in his On Heroes and Hero-Worship, and reads in full as "The true University of these days is a Collection of Books."

According to Wikipedia, Booth's distinctive style was derived from his practice as a young boy of emulating illustrations he found in magazines, thinking them to be pen-and-ink drawings when they were in fact wood engravings.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Internet Archive Protests SOPA / PIPA

As stated on its blackout page: The Internet Archive believes that it is critical to protest and raise awareness of pending legislation in the United States: House Bill 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and S.968, the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA).

We are going dark from 6am to 6pm PST on Wednesday, January 18 (14:00 - 02:00 UTC) to drive a message to Washington. We need your help to do this.

Legislation such as this directly affects libraries (pdf) such as the Internet Archive, which collects, preserves, and offers access to cultural materials. Furthermore, these laws can negatively affect the ecosystem of web publishing that led to the emergence of the Internet Archive.

For United States residents, please take action.

For non-US Residents: Sorry for dragging you into this, and if you are willing please sign a petition to the State Department to express your concern.

Wikipedia Protests SOPA / PIPA

On January 18, 2012, the Wikipedia community is blacking out millions of articles of content in the English version for 24 hours to protest pending US legislation: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). The decision to withdraw content was made by the global community of Wikipedia editors and is supported by the Wikimedia Foundation, which is the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia and numerous related projects.

Wikipedia is urging US constituents to contact their elected representatives and voice their opposition to the two acts now under consideration in the House of Representatives and Senate. Wikipedia states further that:

SOPA and PIPA cripple the free and open internet. They put the onus on website owners to police user-contributed material and call for the blocking of entire sites, even if the links are not to infringing material. Small sites will not have the sufficient resources to mount a legal challenge. Without opposition, large media companies may seek to cut off funding sources for small competing foreign sites, even if big media are wrong. Foreign sites will be blacklisted, which means they won't show up in major search engines.

In a post SOPA/PIPA world, Wikipedia --and many other useful informational sites-- cannot survive in a world where politicians regulate the Internet based on the influence of big money in Washington. It represents a framework for future restrictions and suppression. Congress says it's trying to protect the rights of copyright owners, but the "cure" that SOPA and PIPA represent is much more destructive than the disease they are trying to fix.

To learn more about SOPA/PIPA, click here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

North Carolina Eugenics Task Force Recommends $50,000 Reparations for Survivors

In North Carolina over 7,600 people were sterilized between 1929 and 1974 under the state’s Eugenics Sterilization Program. Indiana was the first state to implement such a program, and eventually over 30 states followed suit, including North Carolina in 1929. The Eugenics Board of North Carolina reviewed petitions for sterilizations and authorized sterilizations in over 90% of cases. Of those sterilized, approximately 38% were black and 84% were female; moreover, 71% were classified as “feebleminded.” While most states’ sterilization programs diminished in scope after World War II, almost 80% of North Carolina’s cases occurred after 1945. By the late 1960’s over 60% of those sterilized in North Carolina were black and 99% were female.

In 1972 the Eugenics Board became the Eugenics Commission, and was finally abolished in 1977. In 2002, the state of North Carolina formally apologized to the victims of sterilization, and in 2003 the General Assembly repealed the law that authorized involuntary sterilization.

On March 8, 2011, Governor Beverly Perdue issued Executive Order 83 to create the Governor's Task Force to Determine the Method of Compensation for Victims of North Carolina's Eugenics Board, which functions with the support of the North Carolina Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation. After months of investigation and public hearings, the Task Force issued a preliminary report on August 1, 2011 and three additional reports on December 6, 2011.

At its most recent meeting on January 10, 2012, the Task Force voted on its final recommendations, which included the recommendation that the state pay $50,000 to each surviving victim. In response, Governor Perdue issued the following statement:
Thank you to the devoted members of this task force for months of diligent, careful and thoughtful work to address one of the most difficult and emotionally wrenching issues in our state’s history.

While no amount of money will ever make up for the fact that government officials deprived North Carolinians, mostly women, of the possibility of having children—and officials did so, in most cases, without the victims’ consent or against their will—we must do something. I support the task force’s compensation proposal. I also agree that we should establish a permanent exhibit so that this shameful period is never forgotten. I look forward to reviewing the details of the task force’s recommendations.
Although it is unknown at present how many survivors there are, it is estimated that there may be as many as 1500 to 2000. The North Carolina Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation strongly encourages anyone believing he or she was sterilized under the authority of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina to contact them for assistance in documenting a potential claim.

Readers interested in learning more about the historical background of eugenics can check out Eugenics in North Carolina at the State Library of North Carolina web site, as well as the Winston-Salem Journal's project, Against Their Will: North Carolina’s Sterilization Program.

In addition, the North Carolina History of Health Digital Collection, a grant project initiated and directed by the Common Curator, contains all volumes of the Biennial Report of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina [1934-1966], and the survey report, Eugenical Sterilization in North Carolina [1935].

Of related interest are an archival finding aid for Eugenics Commission documents and previous Common Curator posts: North Carolina Dedicates Eugenics Historical Marker and The History of Eugenics in North Carolina.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Community Gardening Cornucopia

"Growing It Here, Growing It Now," the recent Common Curator documentary about community gardening in Carrboro, North Carolina, will be having additional showings this week on several local television stations:
Channels 4 (Carrboro) and 8 (Chapel Hill)
Mon., January 9 4pm
Tues., January 10 11:30am
Fri., January 13 11:30am
Sat., January 14 3:30am (i.e., late Friday night) + 8pm

Channel 18 (Durham)
Tues., January 10 8:30am
Wed., January 11 3:30am (i.e., late Tuesday night)
Sun., January 15 12:30pm
The documentary was directed and produced by Daniel Smith; for a description, check out the announcement in a previous Common Curator post. The film is available on DVD for $10 postpaid, and can be ordered by emailing the Common Curator.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

"Occupy" Voted Word of the Year by American Dialect Society

The American Dialect Society, during its annual conference on January 6, 2012, voted "occupy" as its Word of the Year for 2011. Founded in 1889, the organization is devoted to the study of the English language--and of other languages and dialects influencing English--in North America. It counts among its members "linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, authors, editors, professors, university students, and independent scholars." Membership is open to anyone.

The Society began voting on Words of the Year in 1990, although it does not regard its selections as conferring any official status on lexical items. Rather it seeks to emphasize that language change is a normal, ongoing process; indeed, earlier winners such as "Y2K" and "chad" are examples of words that have fallen into relative disuse.

In addition to Word of the Year, additional categories are voted on; below are listed all the winners for 2011:

Word of the Year
occupy -- verb, noun, and combining form referring to the Occupy protest movement.

Most Useful
humblebrag -- expression of false humility, especially by celebrities on Twitter.

Most Creative
Mellencamp -- a woman who has aged out of being a “cougar” (after John Cougar Mellencamp).

Most Unnecessary
bi-winning -- term used by Charlie Sheen to describe himself pridefully, dismissing accusations of being bipolar.

Most Outrageous
assholocracy -- rule by obnoxious multi-millionaires.

Most Euphemistic
job creator -- a member of the top one-percent of moneymakers.

Most Likely to Succeed
cloud -- online space for the large-scale processing and storage of data.

Least Likely to Succeed
brony -- adult male fan of the “My Little Pony” cartoon franchise.

Occupy Words (new category)
the 99%, 99 percenters -- those held to be at a financial or political disadvantage to the top moneymakers, the one-percenters.

In commenting on this year's Word of the Year, Ben Zimmer, chair of the Society's New Words Committee, observed: “It’s a very old word, but over the course of just a few months it took on another life and moved in new and unexpected directions, thanks to a national and global movement. The movement itself was powered by the word.”

Visit the American Dialect Society's website to learn more about this year's contest and past winners. In a related vote, the American Name Society chose "Arab Spring" as its Name of the Year for 2011.

Note: The pervasiveness of "Occupy" is evidenced even by its presence as part of Bill Griffith's Zippy cartoon for January 8, 2012.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hydrofracking: An Integrative Workshop at Duke

On January 9, 2012, Duke University will be holding a one-day workshop: Environmental and Social Implications of Hydraulic Fracturing and Gas Drilling in the United States: An Integrative Workshop for the Evaluation of the State of Science and Policy. Sponsored by the Nicholas School of the Environment and the School of Law, the event is open to the public, but seating is limited and registration is required. The workshop will bring together industry representatives, scientists, governmental regulatory agencies, and environmentalists, and will feature sessions on the Environmental Protection Agency, major scientific findings, and the legal and socio-economic aspects of hydrofracking.

To learn more about the workshop and to register, visit the workshop website. An overview of Duke researchers' work on hydrofracking is also available online, as well as key policy papers and recommendations.
Update: Video of the three public sessions at the workshop is now available online.

Note: The video and graphic above are from ProPublica, which has investigated environmental issues related to hydrofracking around the country.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Growing It in the New Year

"Growing It Here, Growing It Now," the recent Common Curator documentary about community gardening in Carrboro, North Carolina, will be having its first showings of the new year on several local television stations:
Channels 4 (Carrboro) and 8 (Chapel Hill)
Sat., January 7 11am + 8pm

Channel 18 (Durham)
Wed., January 4 7pm
Sun., January 8 3pm
The documentary was directed and produced by Daniel Smith; for a description, check out the announcement in a previous Common Curator post. The film is available on DVD for $10 postpaid, and can be ordered by emailing the Common Curator.