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
January 15th 2016
It'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... Read Post
January 12th 2016
Have you ever noticed the 600 section in the main Somerville library on the second floor? The one where all the eating healthy and fitness books are? Well, I’m on a mission to read all of those books. Will I fail or succeed, who knows? Starting in the 613.2 section, I’m going to read the ones that interest me the most, and write mini reviews along the way. So here it is.
Laurie Bell in her book, Loose the Lies, Loose the Weight, is incredibly mmotivating and will... Read Post
January 4th 2016
Recently I walked past a re-shelving cart and noticed a paperback romance called Some Like It Scot, with cover art depicting a heterosexual couple under-dressed for Scottish weather. According to the catalog record, the novel is part of a series called Scandalous Highlanders. Then scanning the shelves where we keep paperback romances at SPL, I realized that tartan-themed passion seems to be a really popular genre (I know next to nothing about romance novels, so this is all new to me): The... Read Post
December 28th 2015
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.
December 22nd 2015
Is online privacy important to you? Worried that someone will hack into your account, or worse steal all your credit card and personal information? If so, you should practice internet security. A very important, part of internet security is choosing the right password. So, how do you choose the right password?
Well first off,
1. A password should be between 8-12 characters long.
2. Does not contain a solid word (especially not your name, username or company name!)
3. Must be different from... Read Post
December 18th 2015
If you're lucky you'll have some time off next week. Many Americans aren't that fortunate. What do you plan to do with your time? I will be reading Jenny Lawson's new(ish) memoir Furiously Happy and returning to some old favorites: Carl Hiassen's Tourist Season and Daniel Boorstin's The Discoverers.
If you're looking for book suggestions, the staff of Jezebel have compiled a list of their favorite reads this year. And Slate's critics have compiled a list of the year's overlooked books. If... Read Post
December 9th 2015
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... Read Post
December 2nd 2015
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is a novel describing the hardships of women during war. This charming book set in France during World War II, focuses on two sisters, set apart early in life by a dead mother and distant father, tells the story of each woman.
Vianne, the eldest sister, additionally a mother and concerned for her young child’s survival, deals with the loss of her husband, who was drafted into the war. She fights to feed her daughter and battles... Read Post