March 19th 2016
By the reference desk in the Central Library is a statue of an Ancient Greek boxer known to history as Damoxenos. However, for as long anyone can remember he's been known around Somerville as Clarence. And like all Ancient Greek athletes depicted in sculpture, Clarence isn't wearing anything A few days ago a woman who was clearly in a hurry came into the main reading room with two small children. One of them, a boy who looked about five or six, pointed to Clarence and asked, "Why isn't he... Read Post
March 17th 2016
It's St. Patrick's Day. For some that might mean drinking some Guinness or listening to Irish folk music, but for enthusiastic readers it's an occasion to add some books by Irish writers to their reading list. I am steering clear of the usual suspects (e.g., Ulysses) to point out some books that might be under the radar of many readers. John Banville is a prolific writer of both beautiful, challenging literary fiction and of mysteries (the latter under the name Benjamin Black). He's also... Read Post
March 15th 2016
On this day in 44 BC the Roman dictator Julius Caesar was assassinated. His murder and the ensuing warfare and chaos has been written about by historians, poets, playwrights and novelists. SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Cambridge classicist Mary Beard, is a highly regarded and compulsively readable work in which she discusses the significance of Caesar's life and death, as well as other important figures in Roman history such as Cicero, Hannibal and Augustus. If you're interested in... Read Post
March 10th 2016
First the good news: it seems to have infected relatively few computers. To find out if your Mac has been infected (and learn how to remove it) go here.
March 7th 2016
Transmission, a popular Mac application for downloading videos and music, has been infected with ransomware. It encrypts the data on users' Macs and demands they fork over roughly $400 in bitcoin. Apple took steps to neutralize the malware over the weekend, but some Macs may have been infected as of today. You can read more about the problem here and here. Stay tuned.
March 3rd 2016
A few weeks ago I posted about resources to help you determine the truth of what you see, hear or read in the media. Here are 3 more fact-checking resources to consider: Media Matters for America, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, and The Washington Post's Fact Checker.
February 26th 2016
Our latest staff profile is of Donna, a self-described "jill of all trades" who can usually be found at the Central Library. "When I first started working at the Library I was in the audio-visual department, which I really enjoyed. Now my duties include payroll, administrative services, coordinating schedules, and working at public desks in a variety of departments including circulation, the children's and teen departments, and occasionally the East and West branches. "I like many things... Read Post
February 24th 2016
Fates & Furies- Lauren Groff’s third book, describes marriage over a 23 year period, very vividly. The book illustrates marriage from two different perspectives, the husband and wife, seemingly, somewhat realistic, but who really knows for sure? After all, how many of us are completely honest in marriage? I enjoyed the book immensely; many reviews compared the book to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. I see where some readers may contrast character’s Amy Dunne (Gone Girl and Mathilde (Fates and... Read Post
February 20th 2016
The world lost a brilliant mind and ingenious writer yesterday. Umberto Eco, author of phenomenally popular novels such as The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum, died of cancer yesterday. He was 84. Some were taken aback by the popularity of his work. On the face of it, Eco's first novel, The Name of the Rose--a historical murder mystery with a crime-solving friar--sounds as if it was written to cater to the taste for crime novels in the Brother Cadfael vein. But in Rose, Eco immerses... Read Post
February 16th 2016
I've posted a fair bit about protecting your online privacy, but most of it's only applicable to PC users. However, Mac users have an array of privacy self-defense tools at their disposal as well. First, go here and follow Lifehacker's instructions on configuring OS X to maximize your privacy (it's not at the top of the screen--you'll have to scroll down a bit to find the instructions. They're under the heading "Audit OS X's System Settings." For iPhone and iPad users: there's a free app... Read Post
February 12th 2016
Happy Birthday, Abraham Lincoln. The sixteenth president was born on this day in 1809. If you enjoy historical photography you might be interested in checking out a recent SPL acquisition, The Photographs of Abraham Lincoln, a collection of every known photograph of Lincoln, from his days as a young lawyer to the end of the Civil War. It's a beautifully printed book and a fascinating window into life in 19th-century America. Another title I recommend is Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of... Read Post
February 10th 2016
It's going to be cold. Looking for something fun to do inside this weekend? Join us at the Central Library Sunday, Feb. 14 at 3 pm, where local artist/musician/children's book author Jef Czekaj is hosting a DJ dance party for children and families. Jef is a Somerville resident and dad. He plays grown-up music kids love. And he'll be taking requests! Jef is a longtime friend of the library and host of library programs. Everyone has a great time at a Jef Czekaj event!
February 1st 2016
January 29th 2016
On this day in 1845 Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Raven" was first published. It appeared in the New York Evening Mirror. Over at Share This is a brief post about the poem and its cultural impact. Below is a dramatic reading of the poem by Christopher Walken. And below that is another reading by Vincent Price. And below that is my favorite.
January 28th 2016
Whenever you click on an online ad, the companies that track your movements on the Internet take note and use that information to build a profile of you to decide which ads to send your way. Search engines also use the profile they've created to determine what links to retrieve when you do an online search. It's creepy and it's suffocating. Not only are we being tracked, but what appears in our virtual environment, what information we find online, becomes part of a self-reinforcing pattern.... Read Post