Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Reminder: The 1940 U.S. Census to be Released on Monday, April 2

We've written previously on the upcoming release of the 1940 U.S. Census, and we are hardly the only ones excited by the issue.  Staff at the State Library of North Carolina are planning a 1940's themed party around the release, complete with music, clothing, and toys on display from the era.

The State Library staff were also interviewed by their local public radio station for a segment that highlights the kinds of information to be found in the data release.  If you're curious as to why people get so excited about the released of new Census data, click on the image below and stream their interview.  The interview provides an excellent context for the historic importance and value to researchers of this Census data.

And don't forget to visit the National Archives and Records Administration (that's NARA to me and you) April Second to search these records of an America from just before World War II and the subsequent post-War Baby Boom.  The opportunity to compare it to the 1950 Census data is only ten years away!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Watergate Break-In Turns 40 in May -- Celebrate with The Beastie Boys

The break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. on May 28, 1972, was the beginning of a series of events that would culminate in the eventual resignation of then-president Richard M. Nixon -- the first time a sitting had U.S. president had resigned from the office.
Bob Woodward's Washington Post article on the 2nd, June 17, 1972 Watergate break-in.
From ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

Since that time, not only has "Watergate" become an adjective synonymous with government corruption, but the standard -- and the standard journalistic phrase -- against which every subsequent presidential scandal is measured. Whether it has been William Clinton's "Lewinsky-gate,"  Hilary Clinton's "Whitewater," Ronald Reagan's "October Surprise,"  or George W. Bush's quest for the "weapons of mass destruction" that initiated the war in Iraq, every political journalist has aspired to uncover a story with as much staying power and cultural impact as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's Watergate.

The original cover to the 1974 book.
Wikipedia offers an excellent brief summary of the events and repercussions stemming from the Watergate scandal, and reading the piece offers the opportunity to gauge the weight of events that have become, to a modern audience, commonplace examples of government corruption.  But the writing that broke the story was the investigative journalism of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward for The Washington Post, later re-purposed for a book and film treatment:  All The President's Men.

In a stroke of more cross-cultural brilliance, Vimeo user Jeff Yorke has taken the tense pace of the 1974 film and married it to a soundtrack that speaks to empowerment in the face in injustice, the 1994 track from The Beastie Boys: "Sabotage."  (This video should be played in full-screen mode with the volume up loud to full understand the power of the Fourth Estate.)

Read more about it!
If you are interested in the rich history of the Watergate affair, its effect on contemporary journalism, or how it changed the political climate of the United States perhaps forever, there are a wealth of primary sources and compiled documents relating to the scandal available at Norlin Library, as well as dozens of secondary histories.

The book "All the President's Men," co-authored by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, is available at Norlin Library, as is the screenplay of the film, authored by well-known Hollywood screenwriter William Goldman.  The 1976 film is available through Prospector.  Norlin does hold the 2008 film, Frost/Nixon, which dramatizes Nixon's famous remark "that when the President does it, it's not illegal."

The Gerald R. Ford Library & Museum Web site offers an expansive timeline of events, from the May 28, 1972 burglary of the DNC headquarters through to President Gerald Ford's pardon of the disgraced Richard Nixon on September 8, 1974.

Playable audio files and transcripts of the Nixon White House tapes and the Watergate Trial tapes are available from the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum Web site.

Clearly, this massive topic can be explored, recreated, and remixed in any number of ways.  But mapping it all to The Beastie Boys is a bit of creative genius*.

*The Beastie Boys video came to our attention via a tip by an investigative internet user in Arlington, Va., Sarah Mercure. Thanks for the suggestion, Sarah!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports

Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a research agency of Congress and writes reports at Congress' request. These short reports (usually 10-40 pages long) cover recent topics of concern. This month brings us reports on the budget, foreign relations, military issues, and much more. Although these reports are in the public domain, there is no central database available to the public. To get a copy of a CRS report, you can request it from your senator or representative. These reports were discovered by Secrecy News:
Interested in historical CRS reports? If you are here at the Boulder campus, check out the Congressional database, which has reports dating back to 1916.

Not on campus but still want access to additional reports? The library has a guide linking to various additional sources of CRS reports.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map Has Nothing to Do With The Hunger Games

Confused if Spring is here to stay?  You aren't the only one.  Imagine life as a plant -- growing a little, getting buried under snow the next week, listening to passers-by complain about how listless you are -- all because every year some hapless gardener forces you into survival mode, planting you far from your native temperature zone, and demanding you thrive in extreme situations well outside your range.  Does this sound a lot like the premise of the popular Hunger Games series to you?  Us either, but we're running with it.
There is Not Much In Common Between This Book and the Updated
 Plant Hardiness Zone Map.  Or is there...?
Whether you are a plant, a gardener, or someone who pretends at times to be survivalist archer Gale Hawthorne, you will be pleased to learn that The Department of Agriculture has updated its Plant Hardiness Zone Map.
Panem, as portrayed by the USDA
As described on the Web site,
"The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones."
Boulder, Colorado is coded to Zone 6a, seen in bright green on the map below, which means our Tributes --er, plants -- typically live with extreme temperatures between -10F and -5F (which is honestly like District 1 or 2 compared to some parts of the country. Take that, Katniss!)
The ability to search the Plant Hardiness Map by zip code is a new feature as of this month.  Other new features include these items:  
  • Two new zones, 12 and 13, have been added for regions with average annual extreme minimum temperatures above 50 degrees and 60 degrees F. These zones appear on the maps for Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
  • The 2012 map reflects 30 years of weather data (1976-2005). The previous edition--published in 1990--reflected 13 years of data (1974-1986).
  • Learn more about what's new in the 2012 edition of the Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

New Districts 12 and 13, you say?  That sounds suspicious to all of us in Panem.  And if the pressure to survive weren't enough, the United States National Arboretum has posted this list of what it suspiciously calls  "Indicator Plant Examples."  Yes, that does sound like a conspiracy to select extreme weather survivors, doesn't it?

Katniss Everdeen explores USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 7a
in this photo that was in no way made by the government.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Government Accountability Office (GAO) Reports and Releases

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) which is often called the investigative arm of Congress. This month brings us publications from GAO investigating taxes, foreign policy, education, and many other issues. If you would like to know more about GAO, check out the library's guide.

  • More Efficient and Effective Government: Opportunities to Reduce Duplication, Overlap and Fragmentation, Achieve Savings, and Enhance Revenue, by Comptroller General of the United States, Gene L. Dodaro, before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. GAO-12-449T, February 28.
  • Cybersecurity: Challenges to Securing the Modernized Electricity Grid, by Greg C. Wilhusen, Director, Information Security Issues, and David C. Tremble, Director, Natural Resources and Environment, before the House Energy And Commerce Committee: Oversight And Investigations Subcommittee. GAO-12-507T, February 28.

    Highlights - 
  • Information Technology: Potentially Duplicative Investments Exist at the Departments of Defense and Energy, by David A. Powner, Director, Information Technology Management Issues, before the Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and Procurement Reform, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-12-462T, February 17.
  • Workforce Investment Act: Innovative Collaborations between Workforce Boards and Employers Helped Meet Urgent Local Workforce Needs by Andy Sherrill, director, education, workforce, and income security, before the Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, And Pensions. GAO-12-419T, February 16.
  • National Nuclear Security Administration: Observations on NNSA's Management and Oversight of the Nuclear Security Enterprise, by Gene Aloise, Natural Resources and Environment, before the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, House Committee on Armed Services. GAO-12-473T, February 16
    Highlights - 
  • Law Enforcement Body Armor: DOJ Supports Its Use and Enhancements, but Could Strengthen Management of Its Related Grant Programs, by Dave C. Maurer, Director, Homeland Security and Justice, before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. GAO-12-448T, February 15.
  • Information Technology: SBA Needs to Strengthen Oversight of Its Loan Management and Accounting System Modernization by David Powner, director, information technology, before the House Committee on Small Business. GAO-12-395T, February 8.
  • Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request: U.S. Government Accountability Office, by Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States, before the Subcommittee on Legislative Branch, House Committee on Appropriations. GAO-12-455T, February 7.
  • Improper Payments: Moving Forward with Governmentwide Reduction Strategies, by Beryl H. Davis, Director, Financial Management and Assurance, before the Subcommittee on Government Organization, Efficiency, and Financial Management, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-12-405T, February 7.
    Highlights - 
  • Supply Chain Security: Container Security Programs Have Matured, but Uncertainty Persists over the Future of 100 Percent Scanning, by Steve L. Caldwell, Director, Homeland Security and Justice, before the Subcommittee on Border And Maritime Security, House Committee on Homeland Security. GAO-12-422T, February 7.

    Highlights - 
  • Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program: Governmentwide Fraud Prevention Control Weaknesses Leave Program Vulnerable to Fraud and Abuse, but VA Has Made Progress in Improving Its Verification Process, by Richard J. Hillman, Managing Director, Forensic Audits and Investigative Service, before the Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and Procurement Reform, House Committee on Oversight And Government Reform. GAO-12-443T, February 7.
    Highlights - 
  • Department of Homeland Security: Additional Actions Needed to Strengthen Strategic Planning and Management Functions, by David Maurer, Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues, before House Committee on Homeland Security: Oversight, Investigations, And Management Subcommittee. GAO-12-382T, February 3.

    Highlights - 
  • Arlington National Cemetery: Actions Needed to Ensure Lasting, Positive Changes in Contracting and Management, by Brian Lepore, Director, Defense Capabilities and Management, and Belva Martin, Director, Acquisition and Sourcing Management, before House Committee on Armed Services: Military Personnel Subcommittee, and House Committee on Armed Services: Oversight And Investigations Subcommittee. GAO-12-436T, February 3.

    Highlights - 
  • OPM Retirement Modernization: Progress Has Been Hindered by Longstanding Information Technology Management Weaknesses by Valerie C. Melvin, director, information management and technology resources issues, before the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District Of Columbia, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. GAO-12-430T, February 1.

    Highlights -
Special Publication

Friday, March 09, 2012

Interesting Facts from the Census Bureau

The Census Bureau publishes a series of tip sheets for journalists called Facts for Features. What kind of information is included? The Valentine's day release includes facts on flowers, candy, dating services, marriages and more. The Super Bowl release gives details on the population of the home towns for the two teams and for the host city.

Here's a list of the regular features:
  • African-American History Month (February)
  • Super Bowl
  • Valentine's Day (Feb. 14)
  • Women's History Month (March)
  • Irish-American Heritage Month (March)/
    St. Patrick's Day (March 17)
  • Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month (May)
  • Older Americans Month (May)
  • Cinco de Mayo (May 5)
  • Mother's Day
  • Hurricane Season Begins (June 1)
  • Father's Day
  • The Fourth of July (July 4)
  • Anniversary of Americans With Disabilities Act (July 26)
  • Back to School (August)
  • Labor Day
  • Grandparents Day
  • Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15)
  • Unmarried and Single Americans Week
  • Halloween (Oct. 31)
  • American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage Month (November)
  • Veterans Day (Nov. 11)
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • The Holiday Season (December)

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Along with Everybody Else, The CDC Thinks Rihanna Could Do A Lot Better

Rihanna and her, um, sometime friend, musician Chris Brown made news last month when, for Rihanna's 24th birthday, she tweeted not one, but two remixes that paired the duo's vocals -- one on a new version of "Birthday Cake," and the other for Chris Brown's "Turn Up The Music."

Gossip columnist Perez Hilton summed up the exchange best, but unfortunately used a vocabulary that we should probably not repeat.  Needless to say, fans who knew of Chris Brown's February 2009's assault of the then 20-year-old Rihanna (and the subsequent restraining order) were shocked by the musical collaboration, and psychologists everywhere will have something to say about it for years.

Probably not-at-all-coincidentally, February was proclaimed Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month was in January of 2011 by President Barack Obama.  In his statement last year, the President seemed particularly aware of how social networking and portable communications can contribute to incidents of dating violence -- issues that were rumored to be catalysts in the attack upon Rihanna.    

Click for larger text.
Indeed, the CDC found that there was a 50% increase between 2000 and 2005 in electronic aggression, and that 67% of electronic victimization occurred through instant messaging, and 16% through text messages.

the Centers for Disease Control had published, three days before the collaboration, a reminder that February is the first anniversary of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

"Did you know that in the past 12 months, one in 10 teens report being hit or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend at least once? And nearly half of all teens in relationships say they know friends who have been verbally abused."  
"Before violence starts, a teen may experience controlling behavior and demands. One partner may tell another what to wear and who to hang out with. Over time, the unhealthy behavior may become violent."  
"That's why adults need to talk to teens now about the importance of developing healthy, respectful relationships."

The CDC's Teen Dating Violence Web site has extensive information available on how to recognize dating violence, understanding healthy versus unhealthy dating relationships, and warning signs for trouble ahead.  There is also a broader site for Intimate Partner Violence.

For a localized treatment of the topic, the University of Colorado is home to the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, and of course for concerns about personal safety, services are offered on campus under several category types.

Clearly this is an issue that affects more than only popular musicians, but it is still enjoyable to see that the government can subtly find ways to perhaps call a few people out.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Spotlight on the OECD

It is Monday and while the waiting for that third cup of coffee (or tea) to kick in, why not read a little about the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD)? While there are probably a few of you non-governmental folks out there who can't imagine stuffing another acronym into your memory back, I would encourage you to find some room for this group.

First, who is the OECD and what do they do? This group started with 20 countries (18 European and the US and Canada), which were dedicated to development. It now is made up of 34 countries, most of the world's most developed countries and a few emerging countries. To be a member of OECD, countries must meet OECD standards on a wide range of policy areas (from economics to human rights).

Now that your brain is running away from all this history and policy, watch this video:

Ah, Paris. I would love to take a free trip to Paris. Want to try? Check out the OECD's contest page.

Alright, enough daydreaming of climbing the Eiffel Tower or strolling through the Louvre, let's take a look at some of the information you can find from the OECD. For example, there has been a lot of talk from the Occupy movement about the 99%, but is this real? And how widespread it this? Check out this video:

One of the amazing things that the OECD does is data gathering (by now you should know I will always get to numbers at some point) and since their membership contains many of the top economies in the world, this is a great group to go to when studying the developed world. Now the video links you to a web page with some of the information on this topic, but wouldn't you like to see all the data and the book itself? If you are here on campus (or off campus with the VPN), you can. We have a great database called the OECD iLibrary and in it you can access the full-text of Divided  We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising and so much more.

The data used in this book and that you can use to write your own study on this topic can be found in the OECD iLibrary's Social Expenditures Statistics data set, which has a section on Income Inequality, which has data on most of the members from the 70s till now.

But, that is not all you will find in the OECD iLibrary, just this year CU-Boulder has added access to IEA energy statistics (that is the International Energy Agency for those interested). These statistics have information such as use, production and prices of oil, natural gas, renewables, and other energy products. To see what data from this can look like, see this table:
IEA Energy Prices and Taxes in OECD iLibrary
Still want more? Check out the library's guide to the OECD.

Friday, March 02, 2012

1940 Census Online starting April 2nd!!!

Genealogists are thrilled by the pending release of the personal records from the 1940 Census.   On April 2nd, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will make the records available on special website.  Since names have not been indexed, you can only locate the record by searching for the enumeration district in which the person resided in 1940.  If you don't know an address, NARA suggests looking at old phone books or using an enumeration district database for the 1930 Census.  This information is available on NARA guide to finding the enumeration district.  By playing around with it, we discovered that the best place to start is to search in the maps file only at  Enter a place or county name AND "enumeration" to find maps.  Results can be narrowed to the 1940 census by using the facets on the left side.  By looking at the maps, you can zoom in to identify the district number.    Will this work?  All will be revealed on April 2nd.    In the meantime, you find additional information on the Census on our subject guide to finding names and data from the Census.

Get ready to visit the 1940 Census at on April 2nd.