In the Headlines

Blog posts about big news stories and issues (i.e. not local news)

Are There Really Farting Microbes on the Planet Venus? This is a Job for Research!

Maybe you were scrolling through a news feed today and saw some headlines about aliens on Venus, or at least this weird gas that maybe means aliens. Maybe you’re not sure what to make of that or even if it’s true.

So we’ve got this library full of reliable news sources and books just waiting to be explored. Let’s do a little SCIENCE RESEARCH!

Oh, come on, don’t you want to know about the alleged aliens? Let’s check out some different databases and see what we can find!

If we’re looking for science news, a great place to start is Science Magazine Online, where we can find a news article describing the research that lead to the discovery.

If we are looking for more news, maybe we should try a news database, like the New York Times. If we search “life on Venus” under news, we find another article about the research that looks at this specific gas found in the Venusian atmosphere that we know is produced on Earth by tiny microbes. The production of that gas could mean there are living microbes, like bacteria, in the Venusian clouds! ALIEN BACTERIA!

Maybe now you’ve been bit by the knowledge bug and you want know more about Venus or the other planets. Follow me down the rabbit hole of astronomy information! We’ve got some great books in our collection that you can find through our Catalog! You might find a few books that look interesting…

As for life on Venus, we may not have the answer yet, but with a little bit of research we can discover what the headlines really mean. It wasn’t that bad, was it?

Librarians are always ready to help you dig into the databases to find what you need. All you have to do is ask us!

What Is the National Guard?

In the past week, I have learned a lot more about the National Guard. “Bring in the National Guard to bring peace to the streets” or “Allow the local police to handle the unrest” is the argument that is being spread across America. As a researcher, I know it is important not only to research both sides of an argument, but also to explore background information that will help better understand the topic.

According to the National Guard website, “The National Guard is a unique element of the U.S. military that serves both community and country. The Guard responds to domestic emergencies, overseas combat missions, counterdrug efforts, reconstruction missions and more.” The National Police Foundation describes four main functions of local police: enforcing laws, preventing crimes, responding to emergencies, and providing support services. It may also be helpful to investigate how the National Guard has been used in the past.

Where does a researcher go next? I think most people may want to understand why some groups prefer keeping local police in charge instead of deploying the military to keep the peace. TwitterFacebook, and other websites can be informative, but a researcher has to make sure the information is correct. The MVCC databases, especially the NEWS database, are good sources of reliable information.

Actions for Creating Safe Communities

If you’ve been paying attention to the protests calling for an end to police violence towards the Black community, you may have seen “Defund Police” or “Abolish Police” on posters and hashtags. These ideas might sound new or even outrageous–the police and the criminal justice system are one component of our social structure that seems fundamental–but questions about the role of policing to keep communities safe have been asked by communities of color for a long time. 

The current movement to shift government funds from police to communities grew out of the prison abolition movement that began in the 70’s. The concern with both prisons and policing stem from the deep racial inequities that are revealed in who is imprisoned and policed. Are Prisons Obsolete by Angela Davis is a good and short place to start. Davis introduces and explains the term Prison Industrial Complex which is used “to describe the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing, and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems” (Critical Resistance). Activists have charted the way this collusion of interests has led to over-policing and the criminalization of minority communities

Abolitionists, like Mariam Kaba, see alternatives to the Prison Industrial Complex and policing in transformative justice and community accountability. One example of how this might look is presented by Chain Reaction: Alternatives to Calling the Police a project from Project Nia

Below you’ll find readings that explain both the concern with prisons and policing as status quo as well as the potential for creating real systemic change.  

“Abolition is not about destruction and anarchy—it’s about building alternatives…”You can’t just focus on what you don’t want, you have to focus also on what you do want”

Abolish the police? Organizers say it’s less crazy than it sounds

The War on Neighborhoods : Policing, Prison, and Punishment in a Divided City by Ryan Lugalia-Hollon and Daniel Cooper–When the main investment in a community is policing and incarceration, rather than human and community development, that amounts to a “war on neighborhoods,” which ultimately furthers poverty and disadvantage. Longtime Chicago scholars Ryan Lugalia-Hollon and Daniel Cooper tell the story of one of those communities, a neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side that is emblematic of many majority-black neighborhoods in US cities.


Invisible No More : Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color by Andrea J. Ritchie–A timely examination of how Black women, Indigenous women, and women of color experience racial profiling, police brutality, and immigration enforcement…it documents the evolution of movements centering women’s experiences of policing and demands a radical rethinking of our visions of safety—and the means we devote to achieving it.

Freedom is a Constant Struggle : Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis (Audiobook)–Reflecting on the importance of black feminism, intersectionality, and prison abolitionism for today’s struggles, Davis discusses the legacies of previous liberation struggles-from the black freedom movement to the South African antiapartheid movement. Facing a world of outrageous injustice, Davis challenges us to imagine and build the movement for human liberation. 

Additional research options include the library’s databases:

A Reading List for Learning How to be Antiracist

No one becomes “not racist,” despite a tendency by Americans to identify themselves that way. We can only strive to be “antiracist” on a daily basis, to continually rededicate ourselves to the lifelong task of overcoming our country’s racist heritage.

Ibram X. Kendi, author of Stamped from the Beginning and How to be an Antiracist, created this Antiracist Reading List in the summer of 2019. It was useful then and feels especially necessary right now. Kendi describes the reasons why he recommends each book rather than just summarizing each title. He chooses books that may be difficult or challenging because they force us to encounter the world from a different perspective. Read through his Reading List and come back to this post to see what the library has available either in print or online. You can access print books from the library through our new curbside service (use the request it button in the catalog and you’ll be contacted to schedule a pick up time), and if you need help accessing the online versions, please ask a librarian.

The Condemnation of Blackness : Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America by Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, also available as an Ebook or Audiobook

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, also available as an Ebook or Audiobook

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley

Dying of Whiteness : How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland by Jonathan M. Metzl, also available as an Ebook

Black Marxism : The Making of the Black Radical Tradition by Cedric J. Robinson available as an Ebook

How We Get Free : Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective edited and introduced by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor available as an Ebook

Well-read black girl : finding our stories, discovering ourselves : an anthology edited by Glory Edim available as an Ebook

Redefining Realness : My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock, also available as an Audiobook

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde, also available as an Ebook or an Audiobook

New Free Release from J.K. Rowling

J.K Rowling has a new children’s book to share called The Ickabog. It’s not Harry Potter and it’s not about magic. It’s something entirely different. She wrote it years ago and read it her children as she was working on it. She had intended to publish it after the Harry Potter series, but decided to do some writing for adults instead. The Ickabog went up to the attic.

Then the pandemic happened. Wanting to do something special for children everywhere, she dusted the book off and gave it another read. She made some changes, re-read it to her now much older children, and then put some things back they way her children had remembered and loved them from before. The Ickabog will be released in print this coming November. But before that, starting today, she is releasing the book online for free. She will release a chapter or two at a time over the next 7 weeks.

In addition to sharing the book with everyone, she’s also encouraging children to send in illustrations for the book. The selected ones will appear in the print version when it is published.

Read all the details, and of course The Ickabog, at the official website for the book. theickabog.com

You can also read more about the Harry Potter series and J.K. Rowling herself in the library collection.

How This Pandemic Will Go Down in History

From the Library of Congress: “As part of our “National Book Festival Presents” series, Jill Lepore (bestselling historian and Harvard professor) and John Haskell (director of the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress) discuss how the current pandemic, its effects and our reaction to them say something very real about America in this moment and in the historical record that will emerge from it.”

Scooby-Doo Because RFK?

Movies theaters have been closed for some time now. Many movie release dates have been delayed until audiences can once again gather in great numbers. But some productions have taken a different route and are bypassing the theater altogether, going straight to on-demand. This strategy proved quite successful for the recent on-demand release of the movie Trolls World Tour. The sequel made more money in 3 weeks on digital than the first Trolls movie made in 5 months in theaters. And I gotta say, I’m pretty excited about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s announcement this week that the Hamilton movie, originally scheduled for theatrical release in October of 2021, will be streaming on Disney+ this July 3rd!

Another movie going straight to on-demand tomorrow is Scoob!, the newest CGI feature film starring Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. gang. Scooby-Doo has been enjoyed for generations in 16 television series, 2 live-action films, 35 direct-to-DVD movies, 20 video games, 13 comic book series and 5 stage shows. That’s quite a run. How this all began is pretty interesting.

In the 1960’s, children’s cartoons were becoming increasingly action-packed and violent. Society was becoming more and more concerned about the effects of media violence on children. Robert F. Kennedy, father of 11, had always been a champion of children’s causes. As Attorney General, he worked with the FCC to improve children’s programming. It was his assassination in June of 1968 that led to real change and to the creation of Scooby-Doo itself.

Hours after Kennedy was shot, President Johnson announced the formation of the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence. One of the things that came out of this was demand from groups all over the country to curb media violence. Looking out for children became a sort of tribute to Kennedy. This sent the creators of Saturday morning cartoons into a tailspin. In response to public demand, they suddenly had to move away from the scary, violent shows that had become their staple.

Hanna-Barbera, the largest children’s television animator at the time, answered this call with Scooby-Doo. Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? premiered on CBS on Sept. 13, 1969. The goofy talking Great Dane with his equally goofy best bud Shaggy, along with Daphne, Fred and Velma, stumbled upon adventures but they were never really in danger. The villains always turned out to be, not monsters, but regular humans in disguise. It was just what audiences needed at the time. The shows have kept this formula for decades and the gang has been solving mysteries in their groovy van ever since.

You can read more about children’s television, Robert F. Kennedy, and enjoy some Scooby-Doo comics in the MVCC Library resources.

Recently Discovered Shipwrecks

In just one week last month, two historic shipwrecks were unearthed on the shores of Lake Michigan. On April 20th, near Manistique, an early 20th century schooner was discovered. Rapidly on its heels, a mid 19th hull washed up near Ludington on April 24th.

The Great Lakes have served as a transportation and recreation hub for hundreds of years. Many areas of the lakes are quite treacherous to navigate and it is believed that upwards of 6,000 ships lie wrecked in their waters. The cold, fresh water found in the Great Lakes preserves the wreckage exceptionally well. Recent years have seen some of the highest water levels on record. This has resulted in shoreline erosion and the in washing up of more and more shipwrecks.

The map pictured above is a snapshot of an interactive map of shipwrecks in Michigan waters. You can explore the map and lots more information on this Michigan History Center Shipwrecks site. And the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, at Whitefish Point Light Station on Lake Superior, provides even more information about shipwrecks across all of the Great Lakes.

Find out more about the history and ecology of the Great Lakes and about shipwrecks in MVCC Library resources.

Reminder : Census 2020

The 2020 Census is open for self-response online at 2020Census.gov, over the phone by calling the number provided in your invitation, and by paper through the mail. As of May 5, about 56.8% of households across the country have already responded since invitations began arriving in mailboxes on March 12. Households who do not respond to the census will receive an in-person visit by a census taker to collect their information later this summer. Everyone living in the United States and its five territories is required by law to be counted. The census can shape many different aspects of your community. Respond today!

For Its Birthday, Hubble Is Celebrating Yours

This is an image of a small portion of the Cygnus Loop supernova remnant, which marks the edge of a bubble-like, expanding blast wave from a colossal stellar explosion that occurred about 15,000 years ago.

The Hubble Space Telescope just celebrated the 30th anniversary of its launch. A joint effort of NASA and the European Space Agency, Hubble orbits Earth from outside of the distorting effects of the atmosphere. This has allowed it to capture some amazing images and has led to unprecedented understanding of space.

Since April 24th 1990, Hubble has been in operation 24/7, gathering 1.4 million observations of things like exoplanets, and distant galaxies. The data collected have led to discoveries about black holes, gravitational waves, dark matter, and much more. It has spotted things both inside and outside of our solar system that were previously not known to exist.

NASA has collected 366 of its most stunning images and is showcasing them on its What Did Hubble See on Your Birthday website. Select a date and NASA will show you what it saw. You can share the image on social media using the hashtag #Hubble30.

You can also see some of Hubble’s amazing images and read more about the history and future of Hubble in this CNN article Hubble Space Telescope Celebrates 30 Years of Discoveries and Awe-Inspiring Images. Find out even more through the MVCC library collections on Hubble, space exploration, and astronomy. You can use the limiters on the left of your results to select e-resources.

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