Archive for December, 2012

Victorian Plays Online

There were literally hundreds of plays or dramas written and produced during the 19th century in England. The Victorian Plays Project (VPP) allows access to 350 texts of plays during that time period. One can search via author, title, year, keyword, quotes, stage directions, etc. Its catalog allows one to search through 1500 plays and provides basic information on them – theater and date of first, title and subtitle, and the playwright’s name. This project is based on the 100 volume Lacy’s acting edition of plays, dramas, farces and extravagances…. compiled by Thomas Hailes Lacy (92 of the volumes are represented here in HathiTrust.). These 92 volumes provide almost all the 1500 plays indexed in VPP, but there is no centralized index to review all these volumes; the VPP provides that service through its catalog which presents a volume by volume contents list. The VPP provides a valuable service in allowing one to search through the whole corpus of works on its site, and with that information in hand, one can then look at the 92 volumes available through HathiTrust. So, if one cannot find the full text of the play in VPP, then come to the 92 volumes online through HathiTrust and find it. The VPP offers multiple search options not available in HathiTrust; HathiTrust offers almost all the plays in full text which VPP does not.

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How Does Santa Do What He Does?

If you want to find out, please visit this Planet Money broadcastWithout Magic, Santa Would Need 12 Million Employees.

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Live Coverage of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on the Attack on the Benghazi Mission

This hearing is underway now; it also comes with closed captioning. It will be permanently archived by C-SPAN.

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History of Gun Control Legislation in the United States

With the tragic shootings in Newtown, CT still fresh, and President Obama’s apppointment of V-P Joe Biden to head a task force on gun control, this topic will once again become contentious. This report – Gun Control Legislation – from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides a wealth of information presented through statistics, figures and tables. These data are supplemented by a list of major Federal statutues on control control since 1968. (These statutues are public laws. The full text of these laws are available from Thomas, the Library of Congress’ legislative portal.) A timeline of federal gun control legislation can be perused as well as this Second Amendment section from the Law Library of Congress. For those who may have forgotten the exact words, here is the Second Amendment to the Constitution with annotations supplied by CRS. There are additional historical documents on this amendment. State gun control laws are online as are hundreds of articles from prestigious law reviews. Americans and Gun Control is a recent program that aired on the always-informative Diane Rehm Show (listen to it or read the transcript). The C-SPAN Video Library contains thousands of videos on this subject.

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President Obama is TIME Person of the Year for 2012

Read all about it here. Photos, videos, the shortlist of nominees and links to previous POYs are also available.

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State Department Report on Benghazi

The unclassified report of the Accountability Review Board for Benghazi has been released; the main findings are summarized by Reuters. The report does not paint a pretty picture: “Systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department…resulted in a Special Misssion security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.” (4) The two bureaus in question are the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. A lengthy list of recommendations is included. Reportage/analysis is at The New York Times, CNN (with an Arabic translation available), The Washington Post, and Politico. This Libya section from the Council on Foreign Relations provides valuable information on Benghazi as does this Libya – the Benghazi Attacks feature from The New York Times. C-SPAN carries videos of Congressional press briefings on Benghazi.

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Best Books of the Year for 2012

Well, here we go!  Best NonFiction, Fiction, Case Books (Mysteries) of 2012 (Wall Street Journal);  Page Turners (The Economist); Best Books of 2012 (Financial Times);  Books of the Year 2012 (The Guardian); 100 Notable Books of 2012 (The New York Times);  Books of the Year 2012 (The Atlantic);   Best Books of the Year: Top 100 Picks for 2012 (Amazon); Best Books of 2012 (Barnes & Noble);  Best Books and Media of 2012 (Library Journal); Outstanding Academic Titles, 2012: Top 25 Books (Choice); Best Nonfiction of 2012 (Kirkus Reviews); Best Books 2012 (Publishers Weekly); and Top 10 of 2012 (Slate). There’s still time to go out and buy a book for someone, no matter the format. We’ll be spending our down time with OUR present (we know, we know, we’re not supposed to know) – Peter Brown’s Through the Eye of a Needle, along with several books of British naval fiction.

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Library Hours for 2012/13 Winter Intersession

We’ll be open Monday, December 24, from 8:30am to 4:30pm. We will re-open after the holiday break on Wednesday, January 2. The Library hours from January 2 to Friday, January 18 will be: Monday-Friday, 8:30am to 4:30 pm. We resume regular operating hours on Tuesday, January 22.

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Text and Video of President Obama’s Speech at Sandy Hook Prayer Vigil in Newtown, CT

The full text of the speech and a video are available.

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Poverty and Income Statistics at the State and County Level; Poverty Statistics for Every School District

The SAIPE (Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates) division of the Census Bureau has released its figures for 2011. These numbers are important for they act as a guidance tool for the disbursement of federal monies to school districts. Poverty and median income estimates are available for every state and county in the country; at the school district level, poverty data are available. For comparative purposes, the data are available from the previous two decades. There is a press release that more fully explains this product; there is also a release highlights for your edification.

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Where Can I Watch the Concert for Sandy Relief?

In what will be the most watched musical event in history, you can watch the concert practically everywhere. This article from the Bergen Record provides a plethora of options. And since Madison Square Garden, the venue site, owns Clearview Cinema, many of those theaters will also be showing the concert for free. A complete listing of viewing sites, including international locations, is available.

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The Decline of the United States by 2030?

That is one of the scenarios as envisioned by the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds. The continued development of China’s economic power will result in that nation surpassing the United States within two decades; however, China will not assume a “hegemonic” role by replacing the United States at the top of the world order. There is much more in this 160 page report, and it should be read through. Other areas addressed include climate change, water wars, and energy independence for the U.S.; the document does repeat that: “The U.S. most likely remains ‘first among equals’ among the other great powers in 2030….”(18) Commentary/analysis is at: The World in 2030: Asia Rises, the West Declines (NPR); Envisioning 2030: US Strategy for a Post-Western World (Atlantic Council); CNN; New York Times; Washington Post; and GT2030 (NIC-sponsored blog).

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Top Quotes of 2012

From Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” remark to Governor Christie’s statement that “I have a job to do. … If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me,” this is the seventh annual list from Fred Shapiro of Yale Law School. Not surprisingly, most of the quotes come from the concluded political campaigns.

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How Historical Research is Changing in the Digital Age

This report, Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Historians, examines the roles that content providers play in this electronic age. It stresses the need for libraries to embrace format changes, and it asks them to collaborate more to allow maximum access to disparate collections. The report recommends that archives produce more finding aids and to continue to digitize their collections. And it points out the lack of foreign language materials online. The report also states that “”…only a comparatively small share of the primary sources required by historians has been made available digitally, tempering the opportunity for new methods to take hold.”(4)  A review of computer use by historians can be read at : History and Computing.

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The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, 1999 edition, is Online

We have previously pointed out that the 3d edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction is online in all its glory. We can now point you to the online 1999 version of The Encylopedia of Fantasy. Many of the editors/writers responsible for the first-mentioned volume were also involved in this venture. Again, you can search the 4000+ entries by author, theme, media, or culture as well as by an alphabetical listing or full-text searching. Read an extended discussion of one of our favorite genre writers  –  J R R Tolkien or peruse an analysis of one of our favorite genre books – Little, Big. This electronic version has been slightly updated since 1999, mostly with death dates of authors. Another informative romp through the fantastic!

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2012 New Jersey ASK and HSPA Scores Released as Well as Graduation Rates

The ASK scores for grades 3-8 and the HSPA results are now online. A press release from the NJ Department of Education provides an overview of the results. The less than user-friendly data has been restructured courtesy of NJ Spotlight and its interactive map;  The Star-Ledger also has re-packaged the data into an easier format. The published graduation rates are presented in a more acessible manner by the state.

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The Plum Book – Listing of Presidentially-Appointed Positions

Do you want to know what government officials can be appointed by the President? As well as their salary schedules, type of appointment, pay plan, tenure, location, and term expiration? The book is actually called United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions and is published every four years after a Presidential election alternately by the House and the Senate. “The Plum Book is a listing of over 9,000 civil service leadership and support positions (filled and vacant) in the Legislative and Executive branches of the Federal Government that may be subject to noncompetitive appointments. These positions include agency heads and their immediate subordinates, policy executives and advisors, and aides who report to these officials. Many positions have duties which support Administration policies and programs. The people holding these positions usually have a close and confidential relationship with the agency head or other key officials.” The 2012 edition is now available online; previous volumes back to 1996 are here under its proper title. There is an insightful article from The New York Times concerning the 2008 edition: What Is Everyone Reading in Washington, D.C.? The Plum Book.

 

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What is the “Fiscal Cliff”?

The fiscal cliff refers to the $1.2T in tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts which will commence at the beginning of 2013 unless the White House and Congress can reach some sort of agreement. For those who seek elucidation and clarification, the following sites will prove helpful: The “Fiscal Cliff”: Macroeconomic Consequences of Tax Increases and Spending Cuts (CRS); “Fiscal Cliff” (Investopedia); What is the Fiscal Cliff? (Council on Foreign Affairs); Q&A: What is the Fiscal Cliff? (Wall Street Journal); Fiscal Cliff (The Economist); Fiscal Policy and the Fiscal Cliff (Brookings); US Fiscal Cliff (Financial Times); and Q&A: Understanding the Fiscal Cliff (The New York Times).

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The Leveson Report on the British Press

The four-volume report, an executive summary, and a speech by Lord Justice Leveson can all be found online. From the executive summary:”… the press is given significant and special rights in this country which I recognise and have freely supported both as barrister and judge. With these rights, however, come responsibilities to the public interest: to respect the truth, to obey the law and to uphold the rights and liberties of individuals. The evidence placed before the Inquiry has demonstrated…these responsibilities…have simply been ignored…by press behaviour that, at times, can only be described as outrageous.”(5) It ends with a framework for regulating the press. (33+) Additional information/analysis is at: Poynter, Columbia Journalism Review, and Times Tpics.

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National Security Reports – December 2012 Update

Climate and Social Stress: Implications for Security Analysis (National Academies Press); Privacy: An Overview of the Electronic Communications Act (CRS); Terrorism and the Electic Power Delivery System (National Academies Press. This 2007 report has just been declassified despite the fact that the authors stated that there was nothing confidential in it. It still took five years for it to be released. Read about the controversy in Foreign Policy); China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities – Background and Issues for Congress (CRS); Diplomatic Security Challenges (GAO); Russian Political, Economic and Security Issues and U.S. Interests (CRS); and How Nation-States Craft National Security Strategy Documents (SSI).

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