FDR’s Birthday

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933

Today is the 127th birthday of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, America’s thirty-second president and the only president elected to four successive terms.

If you’re looking for a good book on Roosevelt, you’ll find more than twenty biographies and related works on the library shelves, along with dozens upon dozens of related historical volumes.

An excellent recent work to consider is Jon Meacham’s Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship, which focuses on the vital relationship, crucial to the outcome of events in the twentieth century, of Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. You’ll find a brief review of Meacham’s book in our earlier post Peril, Power and Personal Diplomacy

Published in: on January 30, 2009 at 12:56 pm  Comments (1)  

Looking for Kansas

Kansas Pioneers Near Lawrence, 1856

Kansas Pioneers Near Lawrence, 1856

Looking for Kansas-oriented information on Kansas Day?

One place to begin is with our increasingly popular Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Web, which includes entries for Kansas History (ranging from the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum to the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum) for Kansas Geography (from the Center for Great Plains Studies at Emporia State University to Topographic Maps of Kansas Lakes from the Kansas Geological Survey) and, of course Kansas Government.

But where to begin? Why not with the Kansas State Historical Society, which includes a feature on Lincoln in Kansas in anticipation of the Lincoln Bicentennial celebration on February 12th? Or drop by the Haysville Community Library for dozens of intriguing books on Kansas, from Kansas Art to Kansas Zoology.

Published in: on January 29, 2009 at 12:05 pm  Comments (1)  

Kansas Day


One hundred forty eight years ago today, Kansas was admitted to the Union — the last state admitted before Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration and the advent of the Civil War.

Indeed, since its designation as a territory in 1854, events in Kansas had been intimately connected to the apparently inexorable advance toward Civil War. As the 34 stars in the field of the Kansas state flag indicate, Kansas was admitted as the 34th state — but even that was in doubt on this day in 1861. In the previous month, on December 20, 1860, South Carolina had seceded from the Union, followed by Mississippi (January 9, 1861), Florida (January 10), Alabama (January 11), Georgia (January 19) and Louisiana (January 26). The very survival of the Union to which Kansas had just been admitted was supremely in doubt.

Next Post: A Few Kansas-Oriented Websites of Interest

Published in: on January 29, 2009 at 10:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Keeping Food Safe During Emergencies

Given the temperature and conditions outside today, it’s perfectly appropriate that the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the US Department of Agriculture has chosen to offer a new consumer alert on Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency. As they explain, the alert focuses principally on information that will “help minimize the potential for foodborne illnesses due to power outages and other problems that are often associated with severe weather events.” The alert includes links to several other USDA videos and websites that may also be of use.

Published in: on January 27, 2009 at 12:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Happy Chinese Lunar New Year


Welcome to the year 4707 on the Chinese lunar calendar — and Happy New Year! Join us for the end of the Year of the Rat and the advent of the Year of the Ox.

Monday January 26th is the first day of the New Year and, as you can see, we’re ready to celebrate.

Published in: on January 25, 2009 at 4:03 pm  Comments (1)  

Cell Phone Bans

For those who may be driving beyond the bounds of Kansas at some point, the National Safety Council offers a set of four maps which summarize the current status of cell phone bans while driving across the country.

Noting that “driver inattention is a leading cause of traffic crashes, responsible for about 80 percent of all collisions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” and observing that cell phone usage is among the very greatest of distractions, the National Safety Council is “calling for a legislative ban on these activities.” Regardless of your opinion of this NSC lobbying, many jurisdictions have chosen to ban cell phone use while driving.

The four maps (derived from information provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety as of October 2008 ) outline 1) the six states (California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Utah and Washington) where there is a complete ban on the use of handheld cell phones; 2) the eighteen states which ban such use by teenage drivers; 3) the seventeen states which ban such use by school bus drivers; and 4) the six states which permit local jurisdictions to pass such bans but do not have a statewide ban.

Published in: on January 25, 2009 at 2:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Roadside Emergency Kit Update

Earlier this month we posted a Roadside Emergency Kit for hazardous winter driving. Now Consumer Reports offers this shorter quick checklist of a dozen (I count 11) items to keep in your car for winter emergencies.

Published in: on January 25, 2009 at 1:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Animals Using Tools

The Science blog at Wired.com offers an absolutely fascinating collection of eight short videos and photographs of tool-using animals. Don’t miss the New Caledonian crow (here’s another good New Caledonian crow short from Science magazine) or the club-wielding chimpanzees battling a mock cheetah.

Published in: on January 22, 2009 at 5:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Peanut Butter Recall Update

The Food and Drug Administration has posted a new document with Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about the Recent Salmonella Outbreak

Published in: on January 21, 2009 at 6:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Peanut Butter Recall

The massive Food and Drug Administration recall of possibly tainted consumer products containing peanut butter is being widely reported, but not always with sufficient information to direct consumers to those locations which can tell them exactly which products from what companies are in question.

If you’re unaware of the situation, the FDA describes it in a nutshell:

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is conducting a very active and dynamic investigation into the source of the Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak. At this time, the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state partners have traced sources of Salmonella Typhimurium contamination to a plant owned by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), which manufactures peanut butter and peanut paste—a concentrated product consisting of ground, roasted peanuts—that are both distributed to food manufacturers to be used as an ingredient in many commercially produced products including cakes, cookies, crackers, candies, cereal and ice cream. In addition, PCA peanut butter is distributed to and institutionally served in such settings as long-term care facilities and cafeterias.”

The FDA has a convenient and frequently updated page which allows you to Search for Peanut Butter Product Recalls by brand name, by UPC code, or by product type, or any combination of the three.

At the end of this listing, you will find an option that allows you to see all recalled products in Excel spreadsheet form or as an 8-page PDF.

For information on salmonella, see the Centers for Disease Control salmonella page.

Published in: on January 21, 2009 at 12:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hobbit Update

In A New Human: Return of the Hobbit earlier this month, we looked at Mike Morwood and Penny van Oosterzee’s A New Human: The Startling Discovery and Strange Story of the ‘Hobbits’ of Flores, Indonesia, an excellent excursion into paleoanthropology. We found their case persuasive, if not absolutely conclusive, particularly in the light of accumulating evidence to which we alluded in that post.

Now comes further confirmation in a study noted earlier today in Science Daily. Researchers at Stony Brook University have concluded after extensive analysis of hobbit’s skull that it is not that of a modern human, whether healthy or malformed. As Dr Karen Baab summarizes, “the overall shape of the LB1 skull, particularly the part that surrounds the brain (neurocranium) looks similar to fossils more than 1.5 million years older from Africa and Eurasia, rather than modern humans, even though Homo floresiensis is documented from 17,000 to 95,000 years ago.”

Incidently, the Journal of Human Evolution, where the article reported by Science Daily appeared, last month published two closely related confirming papers. The abstract of one, concerning the faunal remains in Liang Bua cave on Flores, appears here, while another examination of the lower limbs of a number of Homo floresiensis skeletons is abstracted here.

Published in: on January 20, 2009 at 11:03 pm  Comments (1)  

William Lee Miller on President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman

Just a single tantalizing line from the very beginning of what promises to be an exquisite book:

“I wrote an earlier book, Lincoln’s Virtues: An Ethical Biography, which dealt primarily with Lincoln before he became president. Of course a wit said the next book should be Lincoln’s Vices. I offer this instead.”

On the 21st of February, Clark Killion will be leading a discussion concerning both of Miller’s works. It’s a session not to be missed. Check this blog or the library calendar for an update as to time and additional details.

Published in: on January 20, 2009 at 10:11 pm  Leave a Comment