Friday, April 24, 2015

Literacy Night on April 29th


From the Newport Rotary Club

Literacy Night is Wednesday April 29th from 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM at the Newport Public Library. Since 2010 Rotary has been sponsoring the evening for the children and families of Head Start. In 2013 they included Newport Cubby Preschool and this year they are also including early intervention. 

Rotarians give tours of the Library, Provide art activities and Rebecca Storyweaver from the Library provides story time. This year we are also adding a scavenger hunt for the children . At the end of the evening Rotarians, children and families are treated to a BBQ. Rotary also provides a book for each child to keep. The book is chosen by Rebecca and the teachers as one that will be beneficial in helping the children prepare for 1st grade. The age of the children that attend the event is 4-5 year olds. This event is completely paid for by Newport Rotary.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell

Fast-moving, fluid, and joyously dark, Beat the Reaper sucks you into the worlds of Peter Brown, MD, and Pietro "Bearclaw" Brnwna, Mob hitter-- one man, two identities, one of which is protected.  Guess which one?

In the present, Peter's life as an intern is something like Hell.  He lives on pharmaceutical samples of speed in a hospital so riddled with racism and corruption that everyone is just out to cover their own ass.  He's getting through it though, sometimes even making a positive difference in the lives of the staff and patients he works with.

Then the past comes to call, in the form of a Mob guy with stomach cancer who recognizes him and blabs before Peter can figure out what to do.

My problem with Mob books in general is that I can't bring myself to care what happens to the characters-- if you're embroiled in the world of violent crime, what do you expect but a bad end?  Predictable.  But Beat the Reaper is not a Mob book-- it's a book about a kid whose love, loyalty, and need led him to the wrong family.  Full of liars, betrayal, and moments of grace, it comes at you like a speeding train.

This one I listened to via Library2Go, but we have the hardcopy  and the book on CD too.


Monday, April 13, 2015

EVERGREEN: THE ROAD TO LEGALIZATION



Once upon a time, the image of the pot-smoking slacker was, at best, the butt of late-night TV humor, or, at worst, the hapless (and often incarcerated) victim of the federal government’s war on drugs. Today that image has changed dramatically. With medical cannabis now legal in 23 states, and recreational use legal in 4 states and counting, marijuana is big business. The private equity firm, Greenwave Advisors predicts that by 2020 the value of the U.S. marijuana industry could surpass 35 BILLION dollars.

It is this changing perception that makes the DVD Evergreen so fascinating to watch. This 2013 documentary follows Washington State’s Initiative 502, the 2012 voter’s referendum to legalize the private consumption of marijuana. This is a surprising film in several ways. It is, first and foremost, a political documentary. And a very good one. It reinforces the notion that money and organization are key to any political campaign. That and the perfect spokesman. Supporters of 502 were not the bleary-eyed Rastafarians one might have imagined. Instead they were law enforcement officials, government attorneys and, most surprising of all, Rick Steves, the affable host of a public television travel series, who canvassed the state in support of the measure.

Equally surprising was the revelation that the most vocal opponents to the measure were not conservative religious groups but rather the medical marijuana industry. With a once-near monopoly on the cultivation, processing and distribution of cannabis, the industry stood to loose its entire business model with the advent of legalization. They fought bitterly to oppose the measure and lost.

In the end, big money, better organization and Rick Steves won out, making Washington State the second in a growing roster of states that have legalized possession of cannabis  for personal use. Evergreen depicts this sea change in American public opinion of marijuana with forceful and eloquent clarity.

And you can reserve Evergreen here.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Holmes and James are on the case


The Fifth Heart is a mashup of history and mystery with a dash of metafiction, as the award-winning and masterful Dan Simmons puts Sherlock Holmes to the grindstone on a cold case in 1893 America.  Holmes is having a bit of an existential crisis, having used his exemplary deductive powers to conclude that he may in fact be fictional.  (The scene where he explains this conclusion is quite funny, as you may imagine.)

And Holmes, real or not, is not alone.  He's joined by a collection of historical contemporaries like the witty Samuel Clemens, aggressive young Theodore Roosevelt, and of course, writer Henry James, who serves despite himself as a de facto Watson.

The case is the apparent death by suicide of Clover Adams in 1885.  Adams, an accomplished photographer and the wife of writer Henry Adams, swallowed a vial of photographic developing chemicals following months of grief over the death of her father.  This is historical fact, but Simmons' Holmes does not let it lie, having been paid by her brother to discover the truth behind the surface.

In a case that comes to enfold the plotting of Professor Moriarty (also possibly fictional) and the threatened assassination of not one but numerous world leaders, Holmes and James follow the trail from Boston to the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, meeting with more well-known historical figures along the way.

I was initially afraid The Fifth Heart would be dry and boring, because Henry James is a bit of stick-in-the-mud on the surface.  However, Simmons makes it work, switching back and forth from James to Holmes to provide a diversity of viewpoint and add tension.  Holmes loves to needle James, bringing out a side of the repressed writer that James had forgotten was there.  The book engages the reader by the clever plot, the historical detail, and the tongue-in-cheek depictions of historical figures and attitudes.  I must admit, I have been mightily amused, and recommend it to Simmons fans, Holmes fans, and fans of literary mystery.

Monday, April 6, 2015

April 9th is Newport Reads!


 
What do you know about the way black people were treated in Oregon during the early settling, say the hundred years from 1830 to 1930? Jane Kirkpatrick, Phillip Margolin and Gregory Nokes probably know more. They are popular Oregon authors who have researched the subject and written books about it. Kirkpatrick and Margolin will be at the Newport Performing Arts Center to discuss their findings and their books. Nokes will not be able to attend, but his book will be discussed. Because it’s sponsored by the Newport Public Library Foundation, there is no charge for the program. The date is April 9; doors open at 6:30; program begins at 7:00. 

Margolin and Nokes wrote books relating to the ground-breaking court case, Holmes versus Ford. Margolin gave us Worthy Brown’s Daughter, a work of fiction inspired by Holmes versus Ford; Nokes wrote Breaking Chains, a nonfiction account. Kirkpatrick’s latest book, A Light in the Wilderness, is the story of a woman of color also featuring a significant court case. “I’ve read all three books,” said Wyma Rogers a member of Newport Reads, “they’re good reading. I learned how Oregon law excluded black people from coming into the state. I hope we have come a long way from those times – I’m looking forward to learning more from the authors.” 

Get your books on loan from the Newport Public Library or buy them from local book stores. You can also buy copies at the program and get them signed by authors. Mark your calendars now for April 9, 7:00 at the PAC. 

 -Wyma Rogers, Newport Reads! Committee Member

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Brave New World at Newport Public Library


Director Ted Smith has unveiled plans for Phase III of improvements at the Newport Public Library. “Now that we are finishing up Phase II, I’m thrilled to announce the biggest change of all—robots!"

To cut down on the expense of salaries and benefits, the library will be replacing their staff with humanoid robots. ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories in Japan has been creating prototypes, which are ready to hit the mass market.  Smith spoke to their director, Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro, and verified that he is able to fit the library into his production schedule.

Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro (center back) and three of his creations.
Smith went on to explain more of the process, “To ease the transition for our patrons, we will model the robots on our staff. Robots will be created using casts of staff members, and will be able to imitate body and facial movements, and reproduce their voices.”



“It’s unfortunate for staff that they’ll have to find new jobs, but we are mandated by City Hall to make the best use of our limited resources,” Smith said. The robot installation is expected to be complete by April 1, 2016.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Are You a Biased Reader?



If you're a woman, do you mostly read books written by women? How about you, men? Has it occurred to you to think about it before?

I have to admit that personally, I mostly read books by women. I don't do it consciously; I just find myself more drawn to work by female authors. (Last year I read 86 books. 15 were by men.) This tendency toward gender-biased reading came up on the radio last week when I was on my way to work. In his story, "Confession: I'm Biased Against Female Authors," Peter O'Dowd reflected on the fact that in a decade's worth of reading, he read 149 books, only 22 of which were written by women. (I apparently read way more than this guy.). He cites a study by the bookish social media website Goodreads confirming his hunch that he's not alone in this proclivity. Surprise, though: Both men and women tend to rate books by women a tad higher.

Does it really matter if we stick to writers of our own sex? Maybe, maybe not. I think we should all read whatever it is that grabs us, but just as an experiment, next time you're in need of a book, pick up one written by a member of the opposite gender and see where it takes you. 

P.S. If you're interested, the Goodreads study found that the top five books written by women published 2014 that men on Goodreads were reading were: City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Cress by Marissa Meyer, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, and Four: A Divergent Collection (four out of those five are teen fiction!). The top five books published by men in 2014 that women on Goodreads were reading: Hollow City by Ransom Riggs, The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (who is really a woman!), The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King.