Friday, February 26, 2010

Guide to NonGovernmental Organizations

The Defense Department just put out a nice book, intended for the military but of use to anyone interested in NGOs (NonGovernmental Organizations). Here is the official title:

Guide to Nongovernmental Organizations for the Military: A primer for the military about private, voluntary, and nongovernmental organizations operating in humanitarian emergencies globally.

If you think about it, the military runs into NGOs every time they are sent to earthquake zones, or similar disaster sites, so it makes sense to make sure the officers know how they work.

The best part is a 100-plus page directory of NGOs, giving phone numbers, budgets, e-mail, etc.

Government: The Snapshot

Nothing to say here, except that this photograph with caption reminds me of the Census Bureau's jokey ads about taking a snapshot of America. The illustration comes courtesy of the City of Witchita, Kansas.

Periods of War

Occasionally we get questions about the dates the U.S. was officially at war with some other country. Here is a nice, authoritative source. The Congressional Research Service has published a list of official periods starting with the Indian Wars (January 1, 1817, through December 31, 1898) and continuing up to the wars that haven’t ended.

The main purpose is to help determine whether someone is eligible for veteran’s benefits, but students have asked for these dates as well.

If the good ol' days were like the good new days

You have probably heard the old joke that if software designers built cars they would cost $100, go 200 MPH - and blow up for no apparent reason.

This thread raises the same sort of question: What if getting full-text articles had been as complicated in the day of paper journals as it is now?

"Z awoke one day from uneasy lectures to find that journal publishing had been turned into a giant insect. And not one of your cute bumblebee ones..."

Photo by Apollo 13.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Power Failure

Last month I put up a link to a Procol Harum video and said what I really wanted was a live performance of "Power Failure," preferably with original drummer B.J. Wilson in action. And here it is. Sorry about the psychedlia.

Monday, February 15, 2010

My part in history

Park Avenue
Originally uploaded by DaCosta1
It's a strange thing to read about a historical movement or moment and realize that you, unwittingly, were part of it.

Years ago I read a piece by a fellow government information librarian about an older man coming into the library looking for tax forms. When he discovered he was in a depository for federal documents he asked if they had any publications about the Korean War. He had fought there and had always remembered one battle he and his comrades had marched to, fought at, and those who survived marched away from. Life went on, and no one ever told them the point of that fight or even who had won. He was thrilled to find a Defense Department book that told him what his part in the War had been about.

My tale is not so dramatic, fortunately.

I am working on a short story about the riots that hit Plainfield, NJ during the long hot summer of 1967. They effected my family in several ways. But in researching that event I came across an earlier one.

My first years of education were spent at Cedarbrook School, which was all White. In sixth grade I was moved to Washington School which was closer to home and had both Black and White students. The next year I moved to a junior high. I always thought it was weird that Plainfield had a special school for sixth graders, but never thought much more than that.

In one of the articles I read I learned that Plainfield fully integrated its schools in 1967 but two years earlier they had acquiesed to complaints by integrating Washington School, which had been all-Black even though it was close to some White eighborhoods.

It turned out I was part of the school integration movement. Nobody ever mentioned it to me - as far as I recall.

So what do I remember from Washington School? Two great teachers, Mr. Charloff and Mrs. Sonin. One new friend, Craig Sweet. And life went on...

Photo of Park Avenue in Plainfield by DaCosta1

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

North American Environmental Atlas

This is incredibly cool. The Council for Environmental Cooperation
(i.e. the governments of U.S., Canada, and Mexico) have created a free, online atlas of the environment. You can add and subtract layers, remove political boundaries, etc. The pretty banners you see on this page are actually the lines of marine vessel emissions, which is to say pollution from ships.