• Patron: Do you have books on animals?
  • Me: Yes, what kinds of animals?
  • Patron: Fish, reptiles, amphibians.
  • Me: Yes, we would have books on all those. What are you trying to find out about them?
  • Patron: I want to raise them in my house.
  • Me: Sure, we've got a lot of books on aquariums and also on keeping snakes and lizards and frogs.
  • Patron: Why frogs?
  • Me: They were the first amphibians that came to mind.
  • Patron: Frogs are amphibians?
  • Me: Yes, they are.
  • Patron: Do you have books on keeping stingrays?
  • Me: Rays are pretty big and you probably can't keep them at home. But we have books about them in general.
  • Patron: Not rays! Stingrays!
  • Me: Stingrays are rays. They're a very large fish.
  • Patron: I was told that they're hard to keep at home.
  • Me: They're very big.
  • Patron: But I want to sell them.
  • Me: How will you get them?
  • Patron: I will just breed them. Do you have books on which fish will get along in an aquarium?
  • Me: We have a lot of aquarium books so that should be mentioned, but you can't keep a ray in a home aquarium.
  • Patron: Stingray!


Jean Picard - Scientist of the Day

Jean Picard, a French astronomer, was born July 21, 1620. In 1669-70, Picard successfully measured the length of a degree of latitude.   He carved up eighty miles of open country north of Paris into 13 adjoining triangles. He carefully measured one side of one triangle with measuring rods, and then measured all the other sides by triangulating with precision quadrants. After he had thus measured this line of triangles, he set up a zenith telescope (one that looks straight up) at the two endpoints and sighted on a star, and determined that the two endpoints were 1 degree and 12 minutes apart. He concluded, therefore, that for a separation of precisely one degree, the two points would be 69.07 miles apart, which is thus the length of one degree of latitude at the latitude of Paris. Assuming the earth were a perfect sphere and every degree were like every other, this would mean that the earth has a circumference of 24,865 miles.

Within the next eighty years, it would be discovered by a French expedition to Ecuador that a degree of latitude on the equator is shorter than one at Paris, and another French expedition would determine that both are shorter than one in Lapland. This means that the earth is not a sphere, but is shaped more like a grapefruit, being wider at the equator than through the poles. Picard’s Mesure de la Terre (1671, issued 1676) was one of the first publications of the recently-founded Paris Academy of Sciences; we have a copy in the History of Science Collection.

Dr. William B. Ashworth, Jr., Consultant for the History of Science, Linda Hall Library and Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Reblogged from Turning the Book Wheel



The end of the World Cup will have seen fans discussing what went wrong (or right!) for their teams, including those ever controversial refereeing decisions. This letter from W. Pickford of the Hampshire Football Association explains that he has found an early reference to the offside rule in the Sheffield Football Association Rules of 1867 although he suspects that the term is earlier still. It turns out that even the origins of the offside rule are up for debate!



Anonymous said: I read about FDR's relations with Hoover and Wilkie thanks to you, but what where his views on Landon and Dewey?


Alf Landon is either completely forgotten or used as a punchline because FDR destroyed him by an ungodly margin in the 1936 election, but Landon, who was Governor of Kansas, was a highly-respected leader by politicians on both sides of the aisle.  FDR liked him and even offered Landon a spot in his Cabinet later in his Presidency.  Landon liked FDR, too, supported him on numerous issues (including a lot of the New Deal) and really wasn’t that distant from Roosevelt ideologically.  Unfortunately for Landon, he faced FDR in 1936 when Roosevelt was really at the top of his game, as popular as he would be during his 12-year-long Presidency, and also as healthy as he would be during his Presidency.  

All of that turned FDR into a steamroller and poor Governor Landon just happened to be the opposition.  It must not have eaten at Landon too much because he lived until 1987.  That’s right — the second person to run against Franklin Delano Roosevelt didn’t pass away until 1987 when he was 100 years old.

The campaign between FDR and Thomas E. Dewey in 1944 was significantly different because it took place in the midst of World War II and because FDR was obviously dying.  In 1944, FDR didn’t quite have the energy that he used to have on the campaign trail.  Dewey, on the other hand, was only 42 years old and had all of the energy in the world.  Instead of hammering Roosevelt’s policies, Dewey took a ton of shots at FDR’s fitness for continuing as President when his health was failing and his physical appearance was deteriorating frighteningly.  Roosevelt didn’t know Dewey as well as he had known Hoover (a former friend), Landon (whom FDR respected and liked personally), or Willkie, who ended up being close to Roosevelt and serve as a special envoy to war-torn Europe.  FDR’s campaign focused on what Roosevelt had accomplished and how close the Allies were to bringing World War II to an end.  Roosevelt really didn’t run against Dewey in 1944, he ran (as much as FDR could run — get it? because he was crippled — too soon?) on his own record and on the always-effective argument that you don’t swap horses in the middle of the stream, particularly when that stream is the deadliest and most horrific war in the history of the world.

Incidentally, the best quote about Thomas E. Dewey during the 1944 campaign came from a Roosevelt, but not from Franklin.  FDR’s cousin and Theodore Roosevelt’s oldest daughter, the acid-tongued Alice Roosevelt Longworth — described Dewey as the little groom figurine on the top of a wedding cake because his mustache made him look like that was exactly where he belonged.

Of course, the worries that Governor Dewey expressed throughout the 1944 campaign about FDR’s fitness to remain in the White House and the President’s failing health were completely accurate.  Five months after Roosevelt defeated Dewey, FDR was dead.  Dewey was nominated once again by the GOP four years later, in 1948, against FDR’s successor, Harry S. Truman.  And as even casual readers of history know, some newspaper editors jumped the gun with the morning edition that was being published for the day after Election Day because Dewey did not defeat Truman.

Reblogged from Retro Campaigns

Famous American men and their hat sizes. From Hat Life, 1971.


As I always suspected about Delaware, it’s not real

From my workplace’s internal newsletter:

Each state on the map display is represented by a book set in that state. Most of the states are represented by books for adults but also included are some notable books for young adults and children to make the map more inviting for everyone. Branch staff reported that while it was easy to select books set in states like California, Florida and New York, it was a bit more challenging to find the literature of Idaho, Delaware and Rhode Island. The display features several books available for checkout that represent each state. In addition to the map, there are custom made bookmarks in each book showing the state flag, capitol, fun facts and books set in the state. Amazing undertaking! Nice work!

That is because the only writers in Delaware are people drafting corporate charters.



Richard Nixon about to lose to Pat Brown by 5%

(Allan Grant. 1962)

Reblogged from Retro Campaigns

The Portable Griddle turned 2 today!



Germany: 2014 World Cup champions!

Reblogged from FOX Soccer Blog

World Cup Final Preview, Day Whatever

It’s July 13. Back on June 13, we got excited about the World Cup starting. Brazil gave up an own goal early to Croatia, but bounced back, thanks to a dubious penalty call, to win 3-1. And that may have been the highlight of the tournament for the hosts.

After that, there was a scoreless tie against Mexico, an easy win over Cameroon, the worst team in the tournament, a win on penalties against Chile, a brutal win over Colombia, followed by horrific losses to Germany and the Netherlands. The Brazilians hadn’t lost two straight matches at home since 1940, when they lost the last game of the Roca Cup to Argentina 5-1 and then lost a Copa Rio Branco match to Uruguay 4-3.

But enough about Brazil. On to the teams playing for the championship.


Germany vs Argentina at Rio de Janeiro

There haven’t been two sets of countries that have played each other more than once in a World Cup final: Brazil and Italy squared off in 1970 and 1994. And Argentina and Germany did it in 1986 and 1990. So today is the third matchup, provided you don’t think West Germany is not the same as today’s Germany. (If you do, you’re wrong. The country didn’t change names. It was the Federal Republic of Germany in 1986 and 1990 and it still is today.)

Both countries have female heads of government. German chancellor Angela Merkel is supposed to come to the game. Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is not planning to attend, although she did meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin on Saturday. Kirchner says she has a very sore throat and she also wants to celebrate her grandson’s first birthday. But, she will be in Brasilia next week for a conference. Go figure.

Kirchner has had a rough few years. Her husband, who also had been President of Argentina, died in 2010. In 2011, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Then, doctors checked again and said she didn’t.  She was reelected in 2013, but later that year doctors found bleeding in her brain from a head injury and she had to rest up. Now, her Vice-President is charged with corruption. Along with a lot of other people in Argentina. And the economy there might go into recession.

So, the end result is that Germany is likely going to win Sunday no matter what happens on the field. Because Argentina is going to need a loan. So they better be nice to Angela Merkel.

As for the action on the field, Germany looks unbeatable. Which hasn’t meant much in this tournament. Appearances have been deceptive. Argentina’s defense is too well organized to give up seven goals. The only team to score more than one in a game this tournament against Argentina was Nigeria, who managed to get to two. 

The Germans probably have a good plan in place to neutralize Lionel Messi. They seem so well prepared and have been playing better as a unit than any other team. Brazil was hoping to beat Germany in the semis on emotion. Germany used talent and tactics. The latter won.

Argentina leads the all time series with 9 wins. Germany has 6 wins. There have been 5 ties. 

I am predicting a 2-0 German win, preventing Brazilian fans from the humiliation of watching their noisy neighbors raise the World Cup in front of them.