Archive for October, 2017

What Happened in Niger?

We may never know the entire situation, but this CRS report certainly will inform us – Niger: Frequently Asked Questions About the October 2017 Attack on U.S. Soldiers; it can be read in conjunction with this PolitiFact piece – The big picture: Niger and what we know about what happened to U.S. troops. Both come with references. Another excellent site is the Council on Foreign Relations Niger page.

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Today in History – The Beginning of the Protestant Reformation

Whether Martin Luther nailed his “95 Theses” to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral or simply delivered them to his archbishop is a matter of conjecture, but what is indisputable is that his public condemnation of numerous, Papal transgressions, spawned a movement of rebellion whose legacies still reverberate to this day. While not the first wave of protests (hence “protestant”) against the Catholic Church (look at the Waldensian movement and a little later the Hussite movement), this particular iteration proved long-lasting, thanks in no small part to the burgeoning role of the printing press that had been introduced in the West in 1451.

This post will not present a recapitulation of this era. Please come here to read about the best books on the Reformation. (Roland Bainton’s work still stands the test of time, and Parker’s work on Calvin removes much of the heated and opinionated rhetoric associated with this towering intellect.) For an online examination of those turbulent times, please read this entry from Spartacus Educational – Protestant Reformation. Another site worth visiting, and containing audio/video files as well, is this one from Deutsche Welle.

The standard edition of the collected works of Martin Luther, short-handed as WA (Weimerer Ausgabe), took over forty years to compile, are in 121 volumes, and in German; there is an multi-volume selected edition of his works in English. Online works by Luther can be found at: Christian Classics Ethereal Library (hundreds of authors) and Project Wittenberg (along with other contemporary authors). To get an insight into this person, recommended readings include:His Table Talk (conversations with Luther) and Luther’s Correspondence and Other Contemporary Letters.

John Calvin’s challenging works were published in 59 volumes as Ioannis Calvini opera quae supersunt omni; English versions can be found in the CCEL where the commentaries alone comprise 46 volumes. A contemporary document on the man can be found in Memoirs of the life and writings of John Calvin; compiled from the narrative of Theodore Beza…

Other Reformation authors can be found here and here.

Post-Reformation Digital Library is an amazing site holding hundreds, if not thousands of digital copies of primary writings.

From the Reformation to the Thirty Years’ War contains valuable primary sources.
















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Air and Water Pollution Cause Millions of Deaths Every Year

According to the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, “Pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and premature death in the world today. Diseases caused by pollution were responsible for an estimated 9 million premature deaths in 2015—16% of all deaths worldwide—three times more deaths than from AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined and 15 times more than from all wars and other forms of violence.” (Summary) This report examines the causes of the problems and makes recommendations on remediation. Numerous references and graphics supplement this work; related articles are also indicated. (Free registration is required.)

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Interviews With Hurricane Sandy Witnesses from New Jersey

As we remember Hurricane Sandy, having recourse to these interviews of those who were there will readily reinforce the memories we all have of that day and the days that followed.

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“Beyond the Caliphate” Project

Sponsored by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, this undertaking “… documents and identifies activity linked to and inspired by the Islamic State outside of the territory it claims as part of its physical Caliphate. In doing so, the project seeks to provide insights into how the influence, operational reach, and capabilities of the Islamic State are changing in certain locales over time.” At present, three brief reports have been released: Morocco, Southeast Asia, and Turkey.

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Some of the Remaining JFK Assassination Records Have Been Released

The National Archives released another large batch of records that deal with the investigations into the death of President Kennedy. While all the remaining records were assumed to be made public, many were held back due to “national security” concerns. Here is The New York Times take on this development. From the Kennedy Presidential Library, here is an overview of his assassination; Spartacus Educational provides a link-laden review of that event.

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Jersey City Is #2 Among 2017’s Best Halloween Cities

This survey by WalletHub places Jersey City just behind New York City as the best place for trick or treating, further reinforcing Jersey City’s growing stature as a friendly, dynamic, and growing urban center.

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Find Out What Nationalities Live In Your Town

Have you ever wondered from what countries people in your town come. Where I live, it has always been stated that we are like a mini-United Nations with so many different countries represented here. So how to find ancestry groups? It is easy. Just use the

American Factfinder from the Census Bureau

To find what ancestry groups are in your town, please follow these steps:

Choose “Advanced Search” from homepage

Select “Race & Ethnic Groups” link

Choose “Ancestry” link (For Hispanics, choose “Hispanic or Latino”)

Input town, county, city, state name in geography box

Your results will be then be normally highlighted by a star.

For example, you’ll find that Jersey City is home to 36 people who claim Cajun ancestry, 2422 who hail from Guyana, 11, 167 who identify as having Irish ancestors, and 12, 840 who have ancestors from Italy.


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Net Prices for College Go Up

These two reports – Trends in College Pricing and Trends in Student Aid from The College Board show that while tuition increases have slowed, the amount of student aid has fallen behind, meaning that the net price for attending college is trending upward. Dozens of tables present aggregate numbers on the national and state level as well as across the various higher education sectors.

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Read Stephen Hawking’s Dissertation Online

Stephen Hawking is just not a character on Big Bang Theory, he is well-known for his far-flung research in the area of physics. His dissertation – Properties of Expanding Universes – has been online for a two days now; it is the most heavily accessed document in Cambridge University’s open access collection, crashing the system intermittently as demand for this item is intense. Here is an article from The Guardian that further elucidates this development, and here is one from the BBC.

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“The Digital Middle Ages”

Is the sub-title for a special issue of Speculum exploring the various projects employing digital technology in the field of medieval studies. An informative introduction (the references and links alone are worth a close read) traces the development/introduction of computers into this area, and subsequent articles highlight certain applications. Artificial paleography, GIS, and visualization are among the tools utilized.

As an ongoing source of information, mention of the Digital Medievalist is a must here.

Work has certainly progressed from the days when I input punch cards of part of the proces of the Knights Templar into the SPITBOL compiler at Columbia University. Just dipping into HathiTrust to consult works that decades ago required treks and quests through the libraries of New York City and beyond is a revelatory experience.

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NJCU, Again, Has Lowest Tuition in New Jersey

According to this survey in, NJCU still offers the lowest tuition of any four-year school in the state.

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Free Online Audiobooks

Thousands of books, chapters, and short stories are available for free listening and downloading from LibriVox. While the works are in the public domain, there are plenty of interesting pre-1923 works here: Henry James, Herman Melville, Frederick Marryat (if not the father of naval fiction, then at least the father of British naval fiction), Jules Verne, H.G. Wells among others. You can also search by title as well as genre.

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2017 Forbes Wealthiest Americans

This latest iteration features the 400 wealthiest people in the country; Bill Gates leads the list again as he has now done for almost a quarter of a century. Each entry presents biographical tidbits along with the individual’s ranking on other Forbes-generated lists. You can filter the list by age, sex, industries, or states (here is the New Jersey result) as well as searching by company name; for example, how many billionaires from Google are on the list. Another feature of interest is the ability to track their wealth on a real-time basis.

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Jersey City Scores 100% on “Municipal Equality Index”

“The Municipal Equality Index examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of LGBTQ people who live and work there. Cities are rated based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and the city leadership’s public position on equality.” Forty-four separate criteria are used in this survey of 506 cities. Jersey City in the only municipality in the state to receive the top rating.

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Terrorism in Great Britain

Terrorism in Great Britain: the statistics presents a brief background to events leading up to its enactment of the Terrorism Act 2000.  It then proceeds to enumerate the various instances of terrorism as extracted from the Global Terrorism Database that pertain to Great Britain as well as detailed information of the perpetrators. The dates of coverage run from 2001/02 through 2016/17. A plethora of data are presented succinctly.

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The Moon Once Had an Atmosphere

It may not have been breathable, but it was once surrounded by a blanket of gas. That is according to this recent article – Lunar volcanism produced a transient atmosphere around the ancient Moon – from Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

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Senator John McCain’s Speech in Philadelphia

Here is an excerpt:

“To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”

A video of his full speech is here.


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Latest Data on College Graduation Rates, Financial Aid, and Admissions

This impressively entitled NCES report –Graduation Rates for Selected Cohorts, 2008-13; Outlook Measures for Cohort Year 2008; Student Financial Aid, Academic Year 2015-16; and Admissions, Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2016 – presents nationally aggregated data on the above topics. For the first time, part-time and transfer students are included in tracking completion rates of 100%, 150%, and 200%. (Please read Expanding College Success Rates to Reflect Today’s College Students. It explains the rationale for inclusion of part-time and transfer students thusly :”…over the past decade, the number of non-traditional students has outpaced the increase in traditional students, mostly driven by growth in those who have transferred schools.”)

Types of financial aid are listed along with the average amount of the award, and the all-important net price of attending college.

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Earthquakes Caused by Human Activity

It’s bad enough when earthquakes occur naturally (and if you have lived though a bad temblor, you’ll know what I mean), but with various extraction industries boring into the earth and in certain cases injecting material, it is no wonder that humans now cause some earthquakes. The Human-Induced Earthquake Database, hosted by Dunham University (UK), presents an interactive map tracing these anthropogenic disturbances. Each incident report includes the year, the magnitude of the quake, the magnitude type, and what caused it in the first place.

This accepted manuscript for Earth-Science Reviews – Global review of human-induced earthquakes – presents the scientific scaffolding for this database. Other links of interest include: Risk of Human-Triggered Earthquakes Laid Out in Biggest-Ever Database (Scientific American); Induced Earthquakes (US Geological Survey); Injection Induced Earthquakes (Science); Induced Seismicity Potential in
Energy Technologies (National Academies Press); 2017 One-Year Seismic Hazard Forecast for the Central and Eastern United States from Induced and Natural Earthquakes (USGS); and Triggered Earthquakes (Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences. N.B. This is from 1986 so this topic is not as new as some may believe; in fact, the bibliography attached to this piece has relevant references dating back to the 1940s.)

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