Archive for the “News You Can Use” Category

pcmagIt’s an  election year. Candidates are saying a lot of things to get people’s votes, which means many of them are, to be blunt, lying.

How do you know what to believe? How do you sort fact from fabrication? Surprisingly, the Internet can actually help if you go to the right places.

Factcheck.org is just what it sounds like: a website devoted to finding the truth behind politician’s statements, misleading headlines, and viral rumors. Factcheck is published by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, and it’s refreshingly bipartisan: today posts’ dissected the spin in the Republican candidates’ most recent debate; earlier in the week their writers took Obama to task for some exaggerations and omissions in the State of the Union address. And if you have a question about something you’ve heard that’s not covered on their website, you can ask them.

Politifact is another reputable fact-checking website published by the Tampa Bay Times. Their staff subject politicians’ statements and campaign ads to their famous Truth-o-meter and their Obamameter tracks how well Obama’s kept his promises from the 2004 and 2008 campaigns. Their page “Pants on Fire” lists recent lies by public figures, untrue stories circulating online, and faked viral images and videos.

Of course, skepticism is warranted all the time: not just in an election year, and not just about what’s on the news. If you’re snopeswondering if a charity is legitimate, if a story going around on Facebook is true, or if that email forward from your uncle has a single fact in it (hint: probably not), you can find out on Snopes.com, a site devoted to debunking rumors, conspiracy theories, urban legends, and hoaxes.

If you’re interested in taking the time for a more in-depth analysis of what appears in the media, try the podcast On the Media from NPR. it’s where I learned one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given about breaking news coverage: don’t listen. In the hours immediately following a disaster, a terrorist attack, an assassination or any other big event, reporters are under a lot of pressure to have something to report, but the bottom line is no one knows anything yet, and all they’ve got to go on is hearsay.

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Now that I think about it, this blog post title sounds like it should be the name of a kid’s book–the If You Give a Pig a Pancake for the automated warfare age. But seriously, drones were one of the most popular gifts this Christmas. And anyone who owns a drone has to register it with the Federal Aviation Administration–even if it’s tiny, and even if you’re not using it to attack people. So, to register your drone, go here.

And somebody out there go write that kid’s book.

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Income inequality: it’s one of the most troubling issues we face. A presidential candidate has made it the focus of his campaign. Two years ago a book on the issue made a French economist into a media rock star. Even some billionaires are worried about it.  You may think it’s something only the federal government can address, but as a Speaker of the House from this area famously said, “All politics is local,” so go to the Alderman’s chambers in City Hall tomorrow night to share your concerns and ideas and listen to what both the aldermen and other members of the public have to say about what can be done to make Somerville a more affordable place for all its residents.

The Place: Aldermanic Chambers, City Hall, 93 Highland Ave.

The Date: Thursday, Dec. 10

The Time: 7 pm.

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Two copies of the Union Square Neighborhood Plan and the draft Fiscal Impact Analysis of Union Square and Boynton Yards are available at the library for public review and comment. The city Department of Planning and Zoning is accepting public feedback through noon of December 31. Their email address is planning@somervillema.gov. Other contact information is available on their home page.

The documents are in the upstairs reading room at the Central Library on the shelf beneath a window near the Consumer Reports.

 

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Wondering what to do on the upcoming weekend? The Friends of the Library  Book Sale starts at noon on Friday at the Central Library. It continues through Sunday.

If you’ve got kids to entertain you could take them to the East Branch at 3 pm Friday for festive snacks and craft-making with their ever-so-much-fun children’s librarian Meghan Forsell.

The Boston Calendar has a list of events occurring this Saturday, many Halloween- themed, others not.

And if you just feel like curling up with a good book, here’s a list of recommended horror novels.

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CCRR

In light of ongoing national conversations surrounding this topic, the City of Somerville invites residents to share their experiences, concerns, and ideas on race and racism in a new round of its Community Conversations Series beginning on Monday, October 5th.

Organized by the Office of Health and Human Services, ‘conversations’ will be held in each of the City’s seven wards. Residents are invited to join these small-group discussions to share their experiences and learn from their neighbors.

“We, as a city, must do our part to move the national conversation on race forward,” said Mayor Curtatone. “Somerville can and should lead the way in showing how a city can reflect on itself and take action against injustice. I look forward to hearing from our residents and working with the community to ensure everyone has the same opportunities and is treated fairly.”

Each conversation will be led by a trained facilitator and light refreshments will be served. Child care and translations services will be provided by request to enable more Somerville residents to participate in the dialogue.

“Systemic racism is a complex challenge that will result in various approaches, initiatives, and public conversations,” said the Mayor. “We will be using this time to listen to the experiences of residents and use that feedback to guide us moving forward.”

Community Conversations are scheduled for:

Feel free to walk in to any conversation – no reservations are necessary.  However, if you will need child care, translations services, or any ADA accommodations, please RSVP to Director of Human Services Nancy Bacci at nbacci@somervillema.gov or 617-625-6600 x2250.

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DeCordova

DeCordova Sculpture Park

It’s been a long time since we’ve reminded you about the variety of discount museum passes that your library offers, so here goes.

Gardner

Gardner Museum

We’re fortunate to live in an area with a wealth of fascinating museums and other cultural attractions. Thanks to the generosity of the Friends of the Library, passes are available for Somerville residents to visit a number of these nearby treasures at a discount. Borrow a museum pass soon and discover inspiring worlds of artistic and natural beauty right on Somerville’s doorstep.

Science

Museum of Science

Discount museum passes are available for:

Each pass is different in terms of the discount offered. For more information click here or call the Reference Department of the Library at (617) 623-5000 x2955.

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Just a reminder: technology instruction classes at Somerville Community Access Television (90 Unions Square) start next month. Whether it’s computer basics, getting the most out of your smart phone, or something else you want to know, instructors Erica Jones of SCATV and Heidi Downing of SPL are available to help. For more information or to schedule an appointment, go here.

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Thank you for your patience.

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We’ve had to close the East Branch Library due to an issue with the air conditioning. We apologize for the inconvenience and will let you know as soon as the branch opens again. In the meantime, lots of library goodness (and coolness!) is available at both the Central Library and the West Branch – please stop in!

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