Monday, December 30, 2013

Heirloom Seeds for the New Year

The amazing 2014 Catalog from Seed Savers Exchange is now available and can be browsed online, or a copy in print can be requested free of charge.

Founded in 1975 by Diane Ott Whealy and Kent Whealy, Seed Savers Exchange 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. Also of interest is the book authored by co-founder Diane Ott Whealy, Gathering: Memoir of a Seed Saver.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Wapsipinicon Almanac No. 20

The latest annual installment of the eclectic Wapsipinicon Almanac is now available. Published and letterpress printed since 1988 by Timothy Fay of Route 3 Press, the present issue, as with previous numbers, features an engaging mix of essays, reviews, fiction, poetry, art, wit and wisdom.

Number 20 can be purchased at bookstores or directly by writing the publisher at Wapsipinicon Almanac, 19948 Shooting Star Road, Anamosa, Iowa 52205. Single copies are $9, plus $2.50 for postage; Iowa residents should also include 63-cents for sales tax.

The cover shown here was designed by Terry Rathje, who also did the cover for the first almanac. A brief history of the publication can be viewed at the Almanac's website, and a video of "Linotype Operator Emeritus" Eldon Meeks in action can be viewed here.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Spike Like Ike!

Here is Dwight D. Eisenhower's recipe for bourbon-enhanced eggnog, courtesy of the National Archives' Our Presidents Tumblr. Enjoy responsibly.

Other of Eisenhower's favorite recipes, for such dishes as Old-Fashioned Beef Stew, Chili Con Carne, and 1868 Venison, can be downloaded here. Further historical information is available on the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum, and Boyhood Home website.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Jean Seberg Documentary Premieres

Movie Star: The Secret Lives of Jean Seberg, a documentary about the internationally renown actress from Marshalltown, Iowa, has just premiered at the 3rd Annual Jean Seberg International Film Festival. Besides screening several of Seberg's films, the festival sponsored a symposium that explored Seberg's legacy both as an actress and as a civil rights activist. The documentary was produced by filmmakers Kelly and Tammy Rundle of Fourth Wall Films and Garry McGee of McMarr, Ltd.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Story of the Duck

David Lynch relates a story of a duck and its significance for painting and film-making.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Cover Crops Reduce Nitrogen Run-off, Improve Water Quality

This short video features the Smith farm in north-central Iowa, and was produced by the Iowa Farm Bureau, which is working to improve conservation practices among farmers.

For a related post, see The Boone River Watershed: Why Strip-Till and Cover Crops Matter.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Celebrating the Freedom to Read

Banned Books Week is an annual celebration of the freedom to read. It began in 1982 in response to widespread censorship of books, and since that time over 11,000 books have been challenged in communities throughout the United States.

The American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom has been documenting cases of challenged and banned books since 1990, and the ALA's Library Bill of Rights strongly supports free and unfettered access to information and ideas.

An illustration of the extent of the phenomenon is the remarkable fact that of the 88 titles featured in the Library of Congress' 2012 exhibition, Books That Shaped America, 30 have been challenged or banned at one time or another.

Friday, September 6, 2013

National Book Festival 2013

The 13th annual National Book Festival, organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress, will be held on Saturday & Sunday, September 21-22, 2013, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The festival is free and open to the public, and will take place rain or shine.

As in prior years, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are honorary chairs for the event. More than 100 authors, illustrators, and poets will be making presentations throughout the day in the theme-based pavilions for Children, Teens & Children, Fiction & Mystery, History & Biography, Contemporary Life and Poetry & Prose.

Schedules are available online for the Author Pavilions and the Library of Congress Pavilion. A map of the festival grounds can be downloaded here [PDF]. The Library of Congress is also sponsoring a survey about "Books that Shaped the World," which can be completed online.

The Festival website features an archive of video webcasts and audio podcasts. The 2013 poster, shown here, was designed by Suzy Lee.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Do the Gargon

"Do the Gargon," the latest album from the inimitable Johnny Dowd and band, is now available from the Johnny Dowd website. A European tour will commence in September.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

"From One Second to the Next," a Documentary by Werner Herzog on Distracted Driving

Werner Herzog's documentary on the perils of distracted driving.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Scenes from Heritage Farm at Seed Savers Exchange

The above photographs were taken at Heritage Farm in Decorah, Iowa during the 33rd Annual Conference and Campout at Seed Savers Exchange.

From the top: View from the Trial and Diversity Gardens; View of the Main Stage, with Lillian Goldman Visitors Center; Barn, with Diane's Garden; Livestock Warning Sign; Detail of a Life-sized Painting by Valerie Miller of Steel Cow Studio; and Painted Tongue flowers.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Seed Savers Exchange Conference Preview

The annual Seed Savers Exchange Conference and Campout is nearly here!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Seed Savers Exchange Conference & Campout

Registration is now open for the 33rd annual Seed Savers Exchange Conference and Campout to be held July 19-21, 2013. The event will feature numerous speakers, workshops, and other activities on the grounds of Heritage Farm in Decorah, Iowa. A full schedule can be downloaded here [pdf]; early registration ends June 30.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Captive Audience

Members of the Philadelphia Orchestra recently performed part of Antonin Dvořák’s String Quartet No. 12, known as his American String Quartet, while stuck in coach on the runway at the Beijing airport. It was composed while Dvořák was vacationing in Spillville, Iowa in 1893:
As for my new Symphony, the F major String Quartet and the Quintet (composed here in Spillville) – I should never have written these works 'just so' if I hadn't seen America," wrote Dvořák in a letter in 1893. In his description of the New World symphony, Dvořák was more specific: "As to my opinion, I think that the influence of this country (it means the folk songs that are Negro, Indian, Irish, etc.) is to be seen, and that this [the symphony] and all other works written in America differ very much from my earlier works, as much in colour as in character . . . . [Wikipedia]
As of this posting, well over one million viewers have taken a look at this impromptu concert--an audience far in excess of a typical performance by the orchestra.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Printing and the Mind of Merker

Kim Merker [1932-2013], master printer and proprietor of Stone Wall Press and Windhover Press, died on April 28, 2013 at age 81. A native New Yorker who travelled to Iowa City to study poetry at the University of Iowa, he launched Stone Wall Press in 1957, and published the early work of a number of significant writers, including Pulitzer Prize winners Philip Levine, Mark Strand, and James Tate.

In 1967, Merker began Windhover Press, which served as the official fine press of the university as well as a teaching press for students in the book arts. In 1986, Merker also founded the Center for the Book at Iowa, which this spring awarded the first MFA degrees in its interdisciplinary Book Arts Program.

The Grolier Club, in 1997, held a major retrospective exhibition curated by Michael Peich entitled: K.K. Merker: Serving the Muse: Stone Wall Press and Windhover Press, 1956-1996. Accompanying the exhibition was the publication of a comprehensive annotated bibliography, Printing and the Mind of Merker: A Bibliographical Study, by Sidney Berger, with contributions by Harry Duncan, Dana Gioia, and Merker himself. An obituary for Merker can be read in the New York Times.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Ponseti Method and World Clubfoot Day

June 3, 2013 has been designated by the Ponseti International Association as the first World Clubfoot Day to commemorate the birthday of Dr. Ignacio Ponseti [1914-2009], the developer of the Ponseti Method which has been used to successfully treat congenital clubfoot in thousands of infants worldwide through non-surgical means.

A native of Spain, Dr. Ponseti graduated from medical school at the University of Barcelona in 1936, a day before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, and eventually came to the University of Iowa in 1941 to further his training in orthopedics. He joined Iowa's medical faculty in 1944, where he spent the rest of his career. Clubfoot was one of Ponseti's major research interests, and through longitudinal studies he discovered that surgical interventions were often ineffective if not even more detrimental. With gentle manipulations and a series of plaster casts, however, deformed feet could attain normal appearance and function in a majority of cases.

In 1996, Dr. Ponseti authored Congenital Clubfoot: Fundamentals of Treatment (Oxford University Press), and the 2008 second edition currently is available for download in both English and Spanish. The Ponseti Method is actively being taught to healthcare providers around the world, who are implementing it with high success rates in numerous countries. Further information is available on the Ponseti International Association website

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Type on the Cob Wayzgoose

After two highly successful annual conferences in Asheville, North Carolina, the Ladies of Letterpress is sponsoring its first regional wayzgoose on June 27-29, 2013 in Printers' Hall on the grounds of Midwest Old Threshers in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. A full complement of workshops and presentations led by leading printers, graphic designers, and book artists is scheduled. Registration is now open and further details may be found online.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Saving Our Heritage: MayDay 2013

Since 2006, the Society of American Archivists (SAA) has designated May 1st as MayDay, or a day of action for both individuals and organizations such as archives, libraries, museums, and historical societies to improve their capacities to deal with emergencies that can threaten or destroy historical collections. The ravages of recent tornadoes in Alabama and other states is just one example of the physical risks facing cultural heritage institutions.

Although the landmark study, A Public Trust at Risk: The Heritage Health Index Report on the State of America's Collections (2005), systematically documented that most institutions lack an adequate disaster preparedness plan, the SAA has worked to mitigate these deficiencies. The SAA web site provides recommendations for MayDay activities, as well as a compilation of resources, including technical literature and tools, disaster plan templates and examples, tutorials and courses, bibliographies, and other resources.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest

Entries are now being accepted for the 2013 National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest. Begun in 2005 by the Fine Books & Collections magazine for bibliophiles, the competition is now jointly sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America, the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies, as well as the Center for the Book and the Rare Books and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress.

A number of contests are currently held at colleges and universities around the U.S., with Swarthmore College's competition being the first in the 1920s. College-level students from all educational institutions, however, are encouraged to participate. Entries for the 2013 competition are due by May 31, 2013. Contest rules and further information are available at the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America website. The Library of Congress will be the site of this year's awards ceremony on October 18, 2013.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

4.20 Is Record Store Day 2013

Ambassador White says "Gimme the combo platter." Find a participating shop near you at the Record Store Day website.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Books over Bloomberg

On April 9, 2013, the Occupy movement scored a victory when a settlement was reached in the case of Occupy Wall Street (OWS), "an unincorporated association," against the City of New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and other city officials and individuals. The suit was filed because of the seizure and destruction of books, library furnishings, and equipment of the People's Library at Zucotti Park in New York City on November 15, 2011. Among other things, the settlement provides for the payment of $47,000 to the OWS Library Working Group and $185,000 in attorneys' fees for the plaintiffs. The full text of the settlement can be read online. Further information about the People's Library and its history can be found at its blog.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Moon Hoax Not

Moon Hoax Not by S.G. Collins is a quick-paced video describing the technical implausibilities and impossibilities that would have been involved in any attempt to fabricate the visual documentation of NASA's moon shot in 1969. The Common Curator also has these earlier offerings for All Fools' Day, including its putative origin and other notorious hoaxes.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Twist and D-Day Broadcast among Latest Entries to the National Recording Registry

In the eleventh year of the National Recording Registry, Librarian of Congress James Billington has selected 25 sound recordings as the official entries for 2012, stating: "Congress created the National Recording Registry to celebrate the richness and variety of our audio heritage and to underscore our responsibility for long-term preservation, to assure that legacy can be appreciated and studied for generations. Our challenge, however, continues to be finding collaborative and innovative ways to protect and make available this unmatched legacy to the public."

In reverse chronological order, the selections for 2012 are as follows:

1. "The Audience with Betty Carter," Betty Carter (1980)
2. "Einstein on the Beach," Philip Glass and Robert Wilson (1979)
3. "Saturday Night Fever," The Bee Gees, et al. (1977)
4. "Ramones," The Ramones (1976)
5. "Wild Tchoupitoulas," The Wild Tchoupitoulas (1976)
6. "Music Time in Africa," Leo Sarkisian, host (July 29, 1973)
7. "The Dark Side of the Moon," Pink Floyd (1973)
8. "Cheap Thrills," Big Brother and the Holding Company (1968)
9. "Sounds of Silence," Simon and Garfunkel (1966)
10. "Hoodoo Man Blues," Junior Wells (1965)
11. "Old Time Music at Clarence Ashley’s," Clarence Ashley, Doc Watson, et al. (1960-1962)
12. "The Twist," Chubby Checker (1960)
13. "Crossing Chilly Jordan," The Blackwood Brothers (1960)
14. "The Shape of Jazz to Come," Ornette Coleman (1959)
15. "A Program of Song," Leontyne Price (1959)
16. President's Message Relayed from Atlas Satellite, Dwight D. Eisenhower (Dec. 19, 1958)
17. Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Van Cliburn (April 11, 1958)
18. "Descargas: Cuban Jam Session in Miniature," Cachao Y Su Ritmo Caliente (1957)
19. "South Pacific," Original Cast Album (1949)
20. "Just Because," Frank Yankovic & His Yanks (1947)
21. D-Day Radio Broadcast, George Hicks (June 5-6, 1944)
22. "You Are My Sunshine," Jimmie Davis (1940)
23. "Begin the Beguine," Artie Shaw (1938)
24. "Bacon, Beans and Limousines," Will Rogers (Oct. 18, 1931)
25. "After You’ve Gone," Marion Harris (1918)      

The full National Recording Registry currently numbers 375 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     

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Complete Route for RAGBRAI XLI

The complete route for the 2013 Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa has just been announced. Beginning in Council Bluffs on July 21 and concluding in Fort Madison on July 27, the overnight and pass-through towns are shown on the map above, which can also be downloaded as a PDF. Registration for RAGBRAI XLI is still open online, with an April 1 deadline for week-long riders.

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Song for International Women's Day 2013

Launching on International Women's Day, celebrated annually on March 8th, "One Woman" is "a rallying cry that inspires listeners to join the drive for women's rights and gender equality." The song was written for UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

The theme for this year's International Women’s Day is "A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women." Violence against women is "a gross human rights violation that affects up to 7 in 10 women and a top priority for UN Women." For further information and a schedule of events sponsored by UN Women, including a live webcast, visit the IWD 2013 website.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Emancipation Proclamation at 150

The sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation was observed by the U.S. Postal Service on January 1, 2013 with the issuance of a commemorative stamp at the National Archives. While marking a momentous event in American history, what is unusual about this stamp is that the design is based on a letterpress-printed broadside. Designer Gail Anderson and art director Antonio Alcalá collaborated on the graphic design, with printing executed with the assistance of Jim Sherraden at Hatch Show Print. Photos of the process can be viewed at the Felt & Wire web site. In addition, the U.S.P.S. is offering a limited edition of both numbered and signed and numbered prints, as well as the stamps themselves with and without the first day of issue cancellation.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

WFMU Marathon 2013: Freedom Is Free-Form!

Love free-form radio? Then consider supporting independent station WFMU during its annual fundraising Marathon that runs March 4 through March 17, 2013. 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!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Obama Zong-Tong: 大力支援农业 !

"Vigorously support agriculture!" Would that it were so. Editorial cartoon by Scott Stantis in the Chicago Tribune, February 21, 2013. For linguistic commentary, see the Linguistic Log.

Wrestling in Jeopardy at Olympics

Olympic wrestling champion Dan Gable joins Iowa Governor Branstad and others at a press conference on February 15, 2013 to organize opposition to the International Olympic Committee's recent decision to drop the ancient sport of wrestling from the Olympics beginning in 2020. Let's Keep Wrestling is a new web site devoted to the cause, and an online petition has already garnered over 22,000 signatories.The petition reads as follows:
WE PETITION the International Olympic Committee to ensure wrestling remains a summer Olympic competition by including wrestling on the roster of events for the 2020 summer Olympic games. As one of the oldest non-running sports in the history of the world, wrestling has transcended generations in nearly 200 nations and has proved to be an inclusive sport providing opportunities for all genders and backgrounds. No sport captures the essence of the Olympics as does wrestling, and future generations should not be denied this opportunity that dates back to the ancient Olympic games.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Democracy Now! Celebrates the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Civil Rights Activist Rosa Parks

Sunday, January 27, 2013

RAGBRAI XLI Overnight Towns Announced

The eight overnight towns for RAGBRAI XLI (July 21-27, 2013) were announced yesterday at the annual Route Announcement Party: Council Bluffs > Harlan > Perry > Des Moines > Knoxville > Oscaloosa> Fairfield > Fort Madison. The pass-through towns of the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa will be announced in the near future.

Registration for the world's oldest, largest, and longest recreational bike touring event is currently open; the deadline is February 15, 2013 for paper applications and April 1, 2013 for online applications. Lottery results are announced May 1, 2013.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Boone River Watershed: Why Strip-Till and Cover Crops Matter

This short video features the Smith farm in north-central Iowa, and was produced by the Nature Conservancy, which is working to improve conservation practices among farmers. The organization notes that, "For farmers in Iowa's Boone River watershed, the change to strip-till and cover crops can make sense both economically and environmentally."

For further information about the initiatives sponsored by the Nature Conservancy and its partners in Iowa, as well as other recent videos such as "Restoring Ox Bows on the Boone River" and "How Bioreactors Are Making a Difference in the Boone River Watershed," visit the Nature Conservancy's web site. An index of project areas in Iowa can be found here.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Letterpress Now: A Do-It-Yourself Guide

Jessica C. White, proprietor of Heroes and Criminals Press and co-founder of the Ladies of Letterpress, has authored the recently published book, Letterpress Now: A DIY Guide to New and Old Printing Methods. Published by Lark Crafts, the volume offers how-to information for getting started with letterpress printing, as well as projects and techniques for cylinder presses and both tabletop and full-size platen presses. In addition, the book features seven letterpress printers, a glossary of terms, recommended reading, and other resources.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Wapsipinicon Almanac No. 19

The latest annual installment of the eclectic Wapsipinicon Almanac is now available. Published and letterpress printed since 1988 by Timothy Fay of Route 3 Press, the present issue, as with previous numbers, features an engaging mix of essays, reviews, fiction, poetry, art, wit and wisdom. For those in the Iowa City area, Fay and other contributors will be giving readings from the almanac at Prairie Lights bookstore at 7 pm on January 25, 2013.

Number 19 can be purchased at bookstores or directly by writing the publisher at Wapsipinicon Almanac, 19948 Shooting Star Road, Anamosa, Iowa 52205. Single copies are $8, plus $2.50 for postage; Iowa residents should also include 56-cents for sales tax.

The cover shown here is based on an linocut by artist Lindsay Whitmore. A brief history of the publication can be viewed at the Almanac's website.