2015

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... 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
November 28th 2015
A few years ago Esquire posted an online list entitled "80 Books Every Man Should Read,"  that keeps popping up relentlessly on social media. The list consists almost entirely of books by male writers. The list attracted the notice of writer and Harper's contributing editor Rebecca Solnit who wrote a brief commentary about it called "80 Books No Woman Should Read." She had a few sharp comments to make about some of the authors whose works are on the list. Of Hemingway she wrote, "if you get the... Read Post
November 20th 2015
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... Read Post
November 1st 2015
Dylan Thomas

For the week of Oct. 26 - Nov. 1, 2015.

Oct. 27: Dylan Thomas and Sylvia Plath are both born on this date in 1914 and 1932, respectively. While both are considered among the greatest 20th century poets who wrote in English, their work is extremely different. Thomas wrote elegaic poetry influenced by the Victorian poets Hardy and Hopkins, with imagery drawn from the Bible, Welsh folklore and the works of Freud. The much-younger Plath shocked readers with the angry tone and brutal... Read Post

October 29th 2015
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... Read Post
October 6th 2015
Remember Mark Watney in The Martian modifying the astronaut habitat to grow potatoes? Over at Quirk Books Danielle Mohlman has posted some potato recipes from various online sources. And if you're interested in food real-life astronauts would eat, Tara Ziegmont of Feels Like Home has instructions for making astronaut pudding. The post includes a video of an astronaut on the International Space Station demonstrating how he and his co-workers make dinner. Yum.
October 1st 2015
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... Read Post
September 24th 2015
Does your kid want to make a Martian? Silly question--what kid wouldn't? Be at the East Branch tomorrow with your children at 3:30 and Children's Librarian Meghan Forsell will open her Ali Baba's cave of craft supplies and help your kids make mini-Martians out of her wondrous trove of creative goods.       Then follow it up with dinner and a movie at the Central Library! Children's Librarian Cathy Piantigini hosts a potluck dinner and an outdoor screening of the 2005 version of The War of... Read Post
September 16th 2015
One noteworthy feature of The Martian is the absence of any, well, actual Martians. In many science fiction works set on Mars, most notably Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, the presence of an intelligent native species is a key plot element. And thanks to the work of Percival Lowell, whom I wrote about in yesterday's blog post, many credulous people believed that Mars was inhabited. And given that contact between different human cultures has often resulted in war, there was little reason... Read Post
September 15th 2015
The selection of The Martian for Somerville Reads raises the question, "Why Mars?" No one would ever write a book called The Venusian or The Plutoniac. But the words "Martian" or "Mars"  command attention. And they long have. But why? What is it about this planet that has fascinated humanity for so long? A partial explanation is that Mars is distinctive-looking. The planets we can see without telescopes look like more or less white stars. Mars, on the other hand, is a striking reddish color.... Read Post
September 14th 2015
Jim J Zebroski of the Aldrich Astronomical Society will be giving a talk on Mars as our kickoff event for this year's Somerville Reads. Zebroski will discuss the history of humanity's fascination with the red planet and our ever-increasing knowledge of it thanks to satellites, probes, and unmanned rovers. There will also be a touch table with replica samples of Martian soil and model rovers. If the weather's good and the skies are clear, Zebroski will take the audience outside to look at Mars... Read Post
September 11th 2015
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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