Archive for Current Events

West Side Campus Moving Forward – August 18, 2017 Report

This laudatory article from Jersey Digs highlights the quickness of this development, especially compared to its neighbor across Route 440 – Bayfront.

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Live Broadcasts of the August 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse

Please come to this site for various options. The Guarini Library will be showing coverage of this event starting at noon in the Machuga Technology Center.

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“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”

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Climate Change Is Already Affecting Us

The Climate Science Special Report (CSSR) states that “Evidence for a changing climate abound, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans. Thousands of studies by tens of thousands of scientists around the world have documented changes….Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities…are primarily responsible for recent observed climate changes.”(11) Past, present and future impacts on the United States and the world are found on pp.13-14.

This version of the document is its third draft; the fifth draft, fundamentally unchanged from its predecessor, is at the White House, waiting approval for release. A review of this report was undertaken by the National Academies of Sciences that found “The Committee agrees that the draft CSSR is largely accurate and generally represents the breadth of available literature pertaining to the state of the science at the time of writing, with the exception of some specific topic areas detailed in this report.”(5) The CSSR is part of the fourth iteration of the National Climate Assessment, a Congressionally mandated review of climate due out every four years, the next to be delivered in late 2018.

In a related development, The Guardian has just published a series of emails detailing how the term “weather extremes” is to be used rather than “climate change” within parts of the Department of Agriculture. Other euphemisms are also indicated. This follows a similar pattern at the EPA.

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Is Coffee Good For You?

If you believe the current news reports/interpretations of two studies (abstract of the first study; abstract of the second study), yes. However, this BBC article written in response to these studies presents a more nuanced approach to what is presented in the media. To say that the controversy over the benefits or drawbacks of coffee consumption is a contentious one is an understatement; a simple literature review of “coffee benefits” in a medical database yields 810 results for the past year alone!

This 1682 publication – The natural history of coffee, chocolate, thee, tobacco, in four several sections: with a tract of elder and juniper-berries, shewing how useful they may be in our coffee-houses ; and also the way of making mum, with some remarks upon that liquor –  makes some salient points supportive of both sides, giving us an indication of how long this dispute has been around:

“…As for the qualities and nature of Coffee, our own
Countryman, Dr Willis, has publilh’d a very rational
Account, whofe great Reputation and Authority are of
no fmali force; he fays, that in feveral Headachs, Diz-
zinefs. Lethargies, and Catarrhs, where there is a grofs
habit of Body, and a cold heavy Conflirution, there
Coffee may be proper, and fuccefsful; and in thefe cafes
he fent his Patients to the Coffee-Houje rather than to the
Apothecaries Shop: but where the temperament is hot
and lean, and active, there Coffee may not be very agree-
able, becaufe it may difpofe the Body to inquietudes…”(10)

That the aforementioned coffee houses were seen as less than healthful places   (on so many levels) can be found in these ballads dating from the 17th century.

A fascinating 1792 history of coffee, replete with sources (though source citation is a bit weak), is A treatise concerning the properties and effects of coffee ; beginning on page 41, you can find a list of benefits and harms of this beverage.

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World Press Freedom Day

In the era of “fake news” and “alternate facts”, a truly independent press is a must. Why do you think it is enshrined in the First Amendment? This is a particularly appropriate series for World Press Freedom Day from UNESCO; it contains nine volumes of relevant material including its 2017 publication Protecting Journalism Sources in the Digital Age. Another title worth perusing is Building digital safety for journalism: a survey of selected issues. The World Press Freedom Index shows the United States in 43d position among the world’s countries, a drop of two places since 2016. Previous presidents have marked this day. As of this writing (on May 3 at 1:30pm, EDT), there has been no statement from the current occupant of the White House on the importance of a free press.

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Update on Hudson County Construction Projects

Jersey City is not the only municipality in Hudson County witnessing a building boom. Every other town appears to be in the midst of rising towers of condos or rentals. This article from the Hudson Reporter provides a detailed and informative review of what is happening. It is the best summation of county-wide construction activities I have seen; it is very readable considering the amount of information offered. Another article from this same paper provides an overview of all the advances the county has made in attracting businesses.

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