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Aug 01
2013

Years of Inspiring Dreams of the Stars--NASA's First 50 Years and Coming Home: Reentry and Recovery from Space

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jdavis

So many kids growing up in the United States dream of being astronauts, and flying through space. Many adult Americans can remember where they were when the Eagle landed, or when (sadly) the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded. You know you're invested in American culture when you can successfully use the phrase, "Houston, we have a problem" in a social conversation. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the reason why we have these touchstones in American culture. NASA celebrated the anniversary of its establishment on July 29; the agency has been doing its job passionately for the last fifty-five years, since it began in 1958. When NASA hit its fiftieth anniversary, NASA issued commemorative volumes in 2009. NASA at 50: Interviews With NASA's Senior Leadership takes a look at the new direction senior management wants to guide the agency towards after its first successful half-century. 

It really is interesting for readers to look back at NASA's storied past on this memorable occasion. NASA took that look back with the companion volume, NASA's First 50 Years: Historical Perspectives. However, space exploration fans will be eager to learn more about NASA's future as well as its past, and that's the purpose of this book. 

Jul 26
2013

The Power to Make the Difference- Parent Power: Build the Bridge to Success and Poder de los Padres: Para Trazar el Camino Hacia el Exito

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jdavis

The opening of Parent Power: Build the Bridge to Success  and Poder de los Padres: Para Trazar el Camino Hacia el éxito  is a quote from President Obama made in July 2009: "To parents, we can't tell our kids to do well in school and then fail to support them when they get home. You can't just contract out parenting. For our kids to excel, we have to accept our responsibility to help them learn."

Jul 23
2013

Stop Me If You've Heard This One ... a Top Ten List of Funny Government Document Titles.

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jdavis

A few weeks ago, a supervisor delivered a challenge to me via email: write a story about humorous government document titles. I love reading government documents for their data and their fascinating stories, but I usually wouldn't consider them to be laugh-out-loud-funny. Or as one colleague said, "They're not Abbott and Costello funny." But everyone's got to laugh some time, right? And when I searched the CGP, and picked my coworkers' brains, I found that Uncle Sam sometimes gets his chuckles too. I found more titles than these ten-- but I want to save some for another occasion.

There have been a few other lists of humorous government documents, not all of them Federal, circulating around the Internet. I've tried to keep this list as unique as possible. If you like the topic of this column you should surf over to Washington State University's exhibit, The Lighter Side of...The Government Printing Office. Looking at the photos online, I can see WSU has got even more material in the exhibit cases. I wish I could visit it in person, as the exhibit looks so fascinating.

All of these titles have records in the Catalog of Government Publications, and you might be able to find a copy in your local depository, or find one at your regional. Since many of these titles are older than five years, you might have to search a bit. When available, I have provided links for the electronic version of these titles. 

Jul 15
2013

You Scream, I Scream... National Ice Cream Month, July 2013

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jdavis

 

Ice cream,  beloved by Americans, has a long, even  pre-colonial history in the Americas. Some of my Mexican friends have told me that Moctezuma had servants climb the snow-capped volcanic mountains for snow to mix with fruit juices as a hot weather treat. The United States got in on the game early too. In 1744 Barbara Janssen Bladen, daughter of Lord Baltimore and wife of Proprietary Colonial Governor of Maryland Sir Thomas Bladen, first served ice cream in the American colonies.* Ice cream, at that time, was a fashion of the well-heeled. The sweet treat did not become popular until after the American Revolution, when the Americans had continued contact with the French.

Jul 02
2013

The Gettysburg Campaign: June-July 1863 and Gettysburg National Military Park (guide).

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jdavis

Maybe you've been to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to see the battlefield. Maybe you've even gone to the battle's anniversary, which men and women reenact with great verve, carrying the weaponry and dressed in the clothes of the era. Lasting three days in 1863, from July 1-3, Gettysburg was one of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War, and a purely unplanned accident that grew out of a desperate need for soldier's shoes. Park officials and enthusiasts always commemorate the battle on battle days in Gettysburg, and it's a great event. But if you haven't visited the battlefield, this sesquicentennial anniversary year is a good time to make a virtual trip, if not a real one. Starting with these guide and history books is a great beginning to what could be a life-long interest.

Having witnessed the activities of scores of reenactors who visited the park during the years I lived near the town, I know that people invest themselves very deeply in the Civil War in general, and in the Gettysburg battle in particular. Civil War buffs live in their own unique subculture, but you don't have to be a fan at the William Frassanito level to appreciate the silence of the rolling battlefield landscape. Imagining the July heat, the stench of sweat, horse, wool clothing and blood, the cries of pain and death, is easy to do when you are on that "consecrated ground" as Abraham Lincoln said in his famous Address

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