Category Archives: ~ In the Library

“A room without a book is like a body without a soul.”
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In the Library ~ Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson ~


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Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring“, an early voice for our environment in 1962 

Silent Spring

 See why Carson’s analysis is more relevant now than ever.Buy Silent Spring at Amazon.com     

Rachel Carson, writer, scientist, and ecologist, grew up simply in the rural river town of Springdale, Pennsylvania. Her mother bequeathed to her a life-long love of nature and the living world that Rachel expressed first as a writer and later as a student of marine biology. Carson graduated from Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham College) in 1929, studied at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, and received her MA in zoology from Johns Hopkins University in 1932.

She was hired by the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries to write radio scripts during the Depression and supplemented her income writing feature articles on natural history for the Baltimore Sun. She began a fifteen-year career in the federal service as a scientist and editor in 1936 and rose to become Editor-in-Chief of all publications for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

She wrote pamphlets on conservation and natural resources and edited scientific articles, but in her free time turned her government research into lyric prose, first as an article “Undersea” (1937, for the Atlantic Monthly), and then in a book, Under the Sea-wind (1941). In 1952 she published her prize-winning study of the ocean, The Sea Around Us, which was followed by The Edge of the Sea in 1955. These books constituted a biography of the ocean and made Carson famous as a naturalist and science writer for the public. Carson resigned from government service in 1952 to devote herself to her writing.

She wrote several other articles designed to teach people about the wonder and beauty of the living world, including “Help Your Child to Wonder,” (1956) and “Our Ever-Changing Shore” (1957), and planned another book on the ecology of life. Embedded within all of Carson’s writing was the view that human beings were but one part of nature distinguished primarily by their power to alter it, in some cases irreversibly.

Disturbed by the profligate use of synthetic chemical pesticides after World War II, Carson reluctantly changed her focus in order to warn the public about the long term effects of misusing pesticides. In Silent Spring (1962) she challenged the practices of agricultural scientists and the government, and called for a change in the way humankind viewed the natural world.

Carson was attacked by the chemical industry and some in government as an alarmist, but courageously spoke out to remind us that we are a vulnerable part of the natural world subject to the same damage as the rest of the ecosystem. Testifying before Congress in 1963, Carson called for new policies to protect human health and the environment. Rachel Carson died in 1964 after a long battle against breast cancer. Her witness for the beauty and integrity of life continues to inspire new generations to protect the living world and all its creatures.

In the library: The Emperor’s New Clothes: a Hans Christian Andersen’s tale – in this era of trump


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Two weavers are approached by a vain, pompous Emperor who desires the finest and most luxurious clothes in all the land for himself – clothes which are befitting of his supreme status. The two weavers promise him just such a set of clothes, so fine and wonderful that they will only be for the eyes of the great and good in society; indeed, they will be quite invisible to anyone who is stupid, incompetent or unworthy of their position in society. What’s more, the clothes will be made of a material so fine (‘as light as a spider web‘) that they will not weigh down the wearer, so fine, the wearer will not even be aware of them draped over his body. Such a set of clothes would be perfect for a great Emperor. They would suit his sense of his own importance, and their magical properties of invisibility to the unworthy, would enable him to find out which of his ministers were unfit for their jobs (‘and I could tell the wise men from the fools‘).

Of course, the weavers are nothing more than a pair of con-men – swindlers who have no intention of creating a fine set of clothes. They have heard of the Emperor’s vanity and they believe they can turn his failings to their own advantage. So they decide to go to the pretence of making this set of fine clothes. Of course when the Emperor goes to visit the weavers at their work and they make a show of enthusing over the cloth and the clothes they are making, he cannot see anything at all. But he is too proud to admit that he cannot see the clothes. To do so, would be to label himself as stupid and unfit to be Emperor. And of course when his courtiers and ministers visit the weavers, they also cannot see these clothes, but they also pretend that they can – because if they say anything different, they will be admitting their own incompetence and unworthiness. (Can it be that I’m a fool? It would never do to let on that I can’t see the cloth). What’s more, if any of them did have their suspicions about the existence of the clothes, well to voice their doubts would be to imply that the Emperor himself was stupid enough and gullible enough to be taken in by this foolery.

When the Emperor finally walks out among his subjects in his non-existent finery, the crowds watch eagerly. They all want to see which of their friends or neighbours are so stupid that they cannot see the clothes. What actually happens of course, is that none of them see any clothes. But no one says anything. Perhaps some are embarressed to tell the truth because they think that they themselves must be too stupid to see the cloth. Perhaps others believe that to say anything derogatory would be to draw attention to the truth of the Emperor’s own stupidity. Perhaps others simply do not wish to be the first to speak out with a contrary voice. Only one small child who is far too innocent of all this pretension and social convention shouts out But he hasn’t got anything on!’ At first the little boy’s father tries to correct the boy, but gradually the news breaks out and so everyone finally realises they are not alone in their inability to see the clothes. And now everybody begins to find the strength in numbers to admit there is nothing to see, and they begin to laugh.

The Emperor cringes, but continues with the procession, because to turn back now would be to admit his own gullibility.  Better by far to carry on in the pretence that he is the only one who has the wisdom to see the clothes. His courtiers likewise feel they have to continue to live the lie, and dutifully follow their leader.

An original drawing of the Emperor's parade by Vilhelm Pedersen, the first illustrator of Hans Christian Andersen's tale
An original drawing of the Emperor’s parade by Vilhelm Pedersen, the first illustrator of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale | Source
in this era of trump … #staywoke – Nativegrl77
why are there so many fools for #teamtrump … the moral of this story … is obvious don’t be a lemming

In the Library … Anna Atkins


Anna Atkins

Anna Atkins: This is why British scientist who produced first photographic book has been given a Google Doodle

Anna Atkins

Artist

Anna Atkins (Maiden name Anna Children) was an English botanist and photographer. She is often considered the first person to publish a book illustrated with photographic images. wikipedia.org

  • Born: March 16, 1799
  • Died: June 9, 1871
 Anna Atkins’ use of cyanotypes in botanical books was a first for scientific publishing, and for photography. (Getty Images)

LONDON: Today marks the birthday of Anna Atkins, a British botanist whose use ofcyanotypes – or ‘sunprints’ – of plants and algae in botanical studies paved the way for the use of photography in scientific publishing.Now versions of her beautiful photographic images are being used as a Google doodle to celebrate the 216th anniversary of her birth, in 1799. The delicate leaves used to spell out the name of the search engine are slate blue against a darker blue background. This is due to the cyanotype process, which involves the exposure of a mix of ammonium iron citrate and potassium ferricyanide to ultraviolet light, leaving the paper so-called Prussian blue.

In fact, the word ‘blueprint’ comes from the same process, which had previously been used to reproduce architectural drawings and designs. Atkins’ claim to fame rests on her realisation that the photographic process could be used to give accurate and detailed botanical images, thus advancing the possibility of scientific illustration. She did this by placing leaves directly on the paper for the length of the exposure, which makes these, strictly speaking, photograms, rather than photographs.

Google doodle in honour of Anna Atkins.
However, Atkins’ first book using the technique didn’t show leaves such as those we see in today’s Google Doodle. Instead this was Photographs of British Algae, in 1843, a privately published collection with handwritten captions to the individually produced cyanotypes.

It was her mentor – and the inventor of the cyanotype process – English astronomer Sir John Herschel, who produced the first commercially published book illustrated with photographs, The Pencil of Nature, in 1844.

Taken from an album of ferns published in 1853 for presentation to CSA by Anna Atkins and her friend, Anne Dixon (1799-1864). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
Atkins was born in Tonbridge in Kent and received an unusually scientific education for a woman of her time, following in the footsteps of her father, John George Children. Long before her experiments with cyanotypes, her engravings of shells were used to illustrate her father’s translation of a book on the subject.

After her book on algae, she collaborated with Anne Dixon on at least two more botanical books, Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Ferns and Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns.

Because they were produced in such small numbers, her books are very rare, and have fetched up to £229,000 at auction.

In the Library … Dr Suess


Happy Birthday ! repost

dr.suessin 1904, Theodor Geisel, better known to the world as Dr. Seuss, the author and illustrator of such beloved children’s books as “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham,” is born in Springfield, Massachusetts. Geisel, who used his middle name (which was also his mother’s maiden name) as his pen name, wrote 48 books–including some for adults–that have sold well over 200 million copies and been translated into multiple languages. Dr. Seuss books are known for their whimsical rhymes and quirky characters, which have names like the Lorax and the Sneetches and live in places like Hooterville.

Geisel, who was born on March 2, 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts, graduated from Dartmouth College, where he was editor of the school’s humor magazine, and studied at Oxford University. There he met Helen Palmer, his first wife and the person who encouraged him to become a professional illustrator. Back in America, Geisel worked as a cartoonist for a variety of magazines and in advertising.

The first children’s book that Geisel wrote and illustrated, “And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street,” was rejected by over two dozen publishers before making it into print in 1937. Geisel’s first bestseller, “The Cat in the Hat,” was published in 1957. The story of a mischievous cat in a tall striped hat came about after his publisher asked him to produce a book using 220 new-reader vocabulary words that could serve as an entertaining alternative to the school reading primers children found boring.

Other Dr. Seuss classics include “Yertle the Turtle,” “If I Ran the Circus,” “Fox in Socks” and “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.”

Some Dr. Seuss books tackled serious themes. “The Butter Battle Book” (1984) was about the arms buildup and nuclear war threat during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. “Lorax” (1971) dealt with the environment.

Many Dr. Seuss books have been adapted for television and film, including “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” and “Horton Hears a Who!” In 1990, Geisel published a book for adults titled “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” that became a hugely popular graduation gift for high school and college students.

Geisel, who lived and worked in an old observatory in La Jolla, California, known as “The Tower,” died September 24, 1991, at age 87.