KeepcalmBy now many of you have probably heard about the Shellshock bug and the dire threat it poses to computers world wide.  If you don’t know what it is, it’s a flaw in the user interface of some computers’ operating systems that provides an opening for hackers to take control of other people’s computers. Some tech journalists were opining that Shellshock could be bigger than Heartbleed, the security bug last spring that put half a million servers (and all the passwords on them) at risk.

Well, don’t panic. First of all, if you use a Windows computer, you’re safe (oh, the irony!): the security flaw occurs in Bash, a program that appears only in computers that use the Linux or OS (i.e., Mac) operating systems. Second, if you’ve got a firewall enabled on your computer, you should be fine. A friend who works in IT pointed out that the hackers exploiting the Shellshock bug are more of a threat to servers than to individual computers. Hackers could trick you into running some of their commands on your home computer, but simply take reasonable precautions by keeping an eye out for phishing websites or malicious emails. If you don’t know what I’m talking about take a look at PC World’s guide to security traps.

Earlier this week the major distributors of Linux operating systems have released patches to fix the Shellshock bug, but they’re not 100% effective. Some more thorough patches were released in the past 24 hours. Meanwhile, Apple is working on a security patch for their operating system.

More later.

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whalesharkSince Monday’s post on Shark Week, I’ve received quite a few comments about the Discovery Channel’s sensationalist and inaccurate Shark Week programming.  And rightly so. Shark Week producers have actually lied to scientists to get them to appear in programming, and  Discovery airs “documentaries” in which most of the material is made up.

So don’t watch Discovery Channel.

And whatever you do, don’t let Shark Week stop being about the sharks.

The National Geographic Channel has some level-headed and scientifically informed (albeit dramatically titled) programming. And over on Facebook a friend posted “The Thinking Person’s Guide to Shark Week” (thanks, Sarah).

At SPL you can pick up books such as Shark Chronicles, in which the authors do justice to the inherent fascination of these misunderstood creatures.

 

 

And check out this short video from the PBS series It’s Okay to Be Smart: “What if There Were No Sharks?:”

 

 

 

 

 

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Movies and summer just seem to go together, don’t they? Well we think so, and we have some great ones coming up for kids, teens, and families.

Tomorrow at 6:30 p.m., we’re showing The Iron Giant! Kids of all ages and families are welcome to attend. Bring snacks and get ready for one of the coolest movies ever, one that answers the question “How can an 11-year-old boy keep a 50-foot tall, metal-eating robot from space a secret?” Following the movie, there will be a discussion of the book the film is based on, The Iron Giant: A Story in Five Nights, by Ted Hughes. The discussion is recommended for kids ages 9-12.

On Friday at 2:30 p.m., teens are invited to the monthly Anime and Manga meet-up for a screening of My Neighbor Totoro, a classic from Studio Ghibli. There will be Japanese snacks while they last, and a chance to say goodbye to Teen Librarian Cynthia, who will be much missed as she leaves us for another job opportunity.

Last, but certainly not least, a movie that needs no introduction: The Wizard of Oz! We’re planning to show the story of Dorothy and her friends on the front lawn on Wednesday, August 20th beginning at around 7:45 p.m., immediately following our Summer Reading Club Awards Ceremony. In case of bad weather this event will have to be cancelled – so keep your fingers crossed for a beautiful evening!

All of these events are free and will take place at the Central Library. We hope that you’ll be able to come!

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“Mr. Vaughn, what we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, an eating machine. It’s really a miracle of evolution. All this machine does is swim and eat and make little sharks, and that’s all.” –Hooper in Jaws.

Those are great lines from a scary movie,  and you know what? They’re true. sharkSharks have existed for at least 450 million years. That’s almost twice as long as dinosaurs. And five major mass extinctions have occurred in the past 439 million years. Sharks survived them all. Miracle of evolution, indeed.

And now Shark Week is upon us, the media’s annual celebration of all things shark. Sharks are fascinating (they can regrow teeth and detect electric currents). And Shark Week is fun. However, you should take much of what you watch on the Discovery Channel (the birthplace of Shark Week) with a large grain of salt. University of Miami marine biologist David Shiffman is a harsh critic of Shark Week television. So what’s a Shark Week fan to do? First you can apply Shiffman’s advice for watching Jaws to Shark Week specials: have fun, just remember it’s fictional. If you’re on Twitter you can learn facts about sharks and keep up with shark news by following Shiffman’s feed @WhySharksMatter. And you can read about sharks at Shark Savers (an international organization that’s basically the Lorax for sharks). And check out the National Geographic Channel’s Shark Fest.

Stay tuned for more Shark Week news and shark fun facts….we’ll even have info on the relatives of sharks...

 

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Hoopla is here! We are delighted to offer this new service that allows Somerville patrons free access to thousands of movies, television shows, music albums, and audiobooks for mobile devices and computers.

To start using Hoopla, download the free digital mobile app on your Android or iOS device or visit hoopladigital.com. Then, begin enjoying titles from major Hollywood studios, record companies, and publishers. Titles can be borrowed for instant streaming or for temporary downloading to smartphones, tablets, computers, and Apple TV. Hoopla is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Best of all, there’s no waiting for popular titles and the service’s automatic return feature eliminates late fees.

To get to the Library’s Hoopla page, go to the catalog, click on databases, then scroll down the alphabetical list until you get to Hoopla.

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by Eileen and Sujei

If you’re like me, you have a ton of things on your mind/plate. And although I knew July was International Zine Month, I couldn’t quite pull the trigger on this blog post till now. But, all this information is still valid – and it’s always a good time to enjoy and make zines.

But wait – I should slow down, back up – and address a question you may have: What is a zine anyway?

A zine made by women over 40. Found at the Papercut Zine Library.

A zine made by women over 40. Found at the Papercut Zine Library.

For those of you not into underground, DIY publishing, first things first: Zine (pronounced “zeen”) is short for fanzine. A zine can be produced by anyone with something to say or share. The low cost of making one allows the maker the freedom to produce as many as them as he or she wants, for a limited/small circulation. They are usually cheap or free to obtain, and zinesters like to trade theirs with other makers.

Zines can contain anything one’s imagination can fathom – types of zines: perzines (personal zines), political zines, DIY zines, music zines, art zines, parenting zines, sexuality & gender zines, people of color zines, traveling zines, comics zines, e-zines, etc. They are often made by communities who are marginalized by mainstream society – like the poor or disabled, LGBTQ individuals, people of color, those with radical political views – the list goes on and on. They provide a unique glimpse of contemporary culture that challenges mainstream publishing industry and dominant historical narratives.

What do you need to make a zine? An idea, an interest, a gimmick, a pet peeve. And then you’ll need supplies: Paper, scissors, glue stick, markers, pencil, stapler … and a computer. But, wait, nope, you don’t need a computer or a typewriter. Because zines have been around a long time, many makers don’t use electronics to make their zines. Plenty of zinesters hand write or draw their content, cut them out and paste them on a master copy. Then, when satisfied with its content and layout, the maker makes copies of the zine, folds and sometimes staples them together.

But, you may be wondering, how can I obtain access to enough room to lay out my zine and make copies? Well, the library of course! Your local library has tables and chairs and a copy machine so you can make your copies. (SPL’s copiers cost 15 cents per black and white page; 30 cents per color page.) But, you may be thinking, I can’t draw. I can’t write very well. The important thing is to be able to express an idea, love, hate toward a particular topic. But can you fill up one sheet of paper with your art or ideas, no matter how “bad” or “silly” you may think them to be? I’m betting yes.

Boston’s local zine library – Papercut Zine Library – just moved a last month from Lorem Ipsum Books in Inman Square to Allston, for the time being anyway. They are still available for appointments and events, but are not circulating issues. For those who can get to Framingham, the local public library has a young adult zine collection.

And do you enjoy getting snail mail? Promote your zine online through distros or fests and make those trades! Start your own collection. And I’ve even seen zines sold on sites like etsy.com for a few bucks. Chat with other zinemakers on twitter by checking out the hashtag #izm2014 or #zines. Network with other makers at this month’s New England Zine Fest and MICE (Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo) in October. You can also catch up with what happened at the RIPE (Rhode Island Publishing Expo) that just happened here.

Here are some sites to give you some ideas:

http://poczineproject.tumblr.com/
http://zineopolis.blogspot.com
http://zines.barnard.edu/
http://wemakezines.ning.com/
http://24hourzines.com/
http://zinewiki.com
http://www.qzap.org
http://zinelibraryday.wikispaces.com/
http://zinelibraries.info

Books in the Minuteman System about Zines and Zinemaking
Whatcha mean, what’s a zine? : the art of making zines and minicomics by Mark Todd + Esther Peal Watson
Zine scene by Francesca Lia Block & Hillary Carlip
The Factsheet five zine reader : the best writing from the underground world of zines  Collected by R. Seth Friedman
Start your own zine : everything you need to know to put it into print! by Veronika Kalmar
Zine : how I spent six years of my life in the underground and finally found myself– I think by Pagan Kennedy
A girl’s guide to taking over the world : writings from the girl zine revolution Edited by Karen Green and Tristan Taormino

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More than a repository of books, public libraries host story hours, ESL classes, and community meetings, many libraries also include a cafe so patrons can relax with a good book and cup of coffee or meet other parents while their children are attending a book group.  The Boston Public Library has taken their cafe one step further to become a destination restaurant.

Check out the Boston Magazine’s review of the BPL’s Courtyard Restaurant at:

http://www.bostonmagazine.com/restaurants/article/2014/07/29/boston-public-library-courtyard-restaurant/?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Restaurant%20Club:%20Boston&utm_content=

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Since our Muslim Journeys series began at SPL, I’ve been reading quite a MslmJrnysbit about Islamic history and culture and taking note of events in the Islamic calendar. As with Christianity and Judaism, the Islamic year is based on a lunar calendar. Ramadan, the period when Muslims must fast between sunrise and sunset, ended recently. A writer for The Atlantic brought up an issue that had never occurred to me: how can Muslims be expected to fast between sunrise and sunset in a place where the sun is up for twenty hours?

Our planet tilts substantially over the course of the year and in the northern hemisphere’s summer months the northernmost parts of the planet are tilted toward the sun. So in countries such as Canada, Finland, Norway and midnightsunSweden, there are times when the sun is still up at midnight.  Most of us can’t go without food or liquids for twenty hours and still function, so on the face of it an observant Muslim in say, Tromso, Norway, or Juneau, Alaska, has a big problem. Fortunately there’s a fatwah (clerical decree)* that states that Muslims in the lands of the midnight sun can observe the timetable of the nearest Islamic country, or the timetable in Mecca. So if the sun sets at 8 pm in Mecca, then Muslims in Norway or Iceland can break their fast at 8 pm local time (even if the sun’s going to be up another 4 hours).

Ramadan actually ended yesterday with the feast of Eid al-Fitr. Here’s a great photo gallery of celebrations worldwide courtesy of the BBC.

*Contrary to what most non-Muslims might think, the word fatwah does not mean an order to kill someone, although unfortunately a fatwah can be an order to kill someone (as in the case of Salman Rushdie). The word simply means a ruling on a point of Islamic law by recognized authorities.

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The next installment in the “Muslim Journeys” book series at the Somerville Public Library will take place on Thursday, July 31 with a discussion of Why the West Fears Islam and Acts of Faith at 6:30 p.m.

In recent years the presence of growing Muslim populations in Western democracies has sparked fierce debate on issues ranging from what constitutes genuine assimilation to whether Islam poses an existential threat.

CesariJocelyne Cesari, Director of Harvard University’s Islam in the West program and lecturer in Islamic Studies at Harvard Divinity School, will lead a talk on these issues as explored in her book, Why the West Fears Islam, and Interfaith Youth Core Founder Ebo Patel’s autobiographical work, Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, in the Struggle for a Soul of a Generation. The discussion is free and open to the public.

We are able to offer this series thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association. We are grateful for their generosity.

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u15This year a number of books on the First World War have been published in recognition of its upcoming 100th anniversary: on July 28, 1914 Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, sparking a chain reaction of hostilities. Serbia’s ally, Russia, declared war on Austria-Hungary. Austria-Hungary’s ally, Germany, then declared war on Russia and Russia’s ally France. Then German troops swept through neutral Belgium to invade France.  In response to the violation of Belgium’s neutrality and sovereignty, the United Kingdom declared war on Germany. The United States remained steadfastly neutral until 1917, when it declared war in response to German attacks on US ships.

Perhaps this all seems remote to people in Massachusetts in 2014. But the war didn’t seem at all remote to the people of Orleans, Mass. on July 21, 1918, when a U-boat surfaced off the Cape and began firing on the tugboat Perth Amboy and the four barges it was towing.   Chatham Coast Guard sailors rowed lifeboats directly into the lines of fire and rescued all 32 people on board the tugboat and barges. The U-boat fired several shells directly at the town. One landed in a pond, the others sank into the sand.  Eventually the U-boat left.  It was the first attack on American soil since the War of 1812.

No one has ever learned why the Germans attacked the Perth Amboy and Orleans. One theory is that the U-boat was chasing a larger American ship, lost track of it, and happened to stumble upon the Perth Amboy. Another suggestion is that the U-boat was on a general mission to damage American morale by attacking the mainland.

However, given that it took an armed U-boat an hour and a half to disable five completely unarmed civilian vessels, the Germans were probably not as threatening as they had hoped. “Germans Prove Poor Shots,” read one Globe headline.

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