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It’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, an off-the-books celebration of all things pirate. The idea was hatched in 1995 when friends John Baur and Mark Summers (aka Ol’ Chumbucket and Cap’n Slappy) began, inexplicably, to insult each other in pirate lingo while playing racquetball. So, in honor and in the spirit of this incredibly important holiday, eLibrary presents …

Six stream-of-consciousness Research Topics vaguely related to International Talk Like a Pirate Day:

Piracy in the Caribbean: This is what we all think of when we think of pirates–eyepatches, peg-legs, fighting with swords. We tend to think of pirates as happy-go-lucky adventurers, but their short careers were often filled with brutality.

Piracy in the Caribbean RT

Piracy in the Caribbean Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

 

Piracy in Somalia: At the other end of the timescale is modern-day piracy in which gangs hijack cargo ships off the coast of Somalia and hold them for ransom. The hijackings fell off in 2013 due to security actions by vessel owners and increased naval patrols. (The Tom Hanks movie Captain Phillips portrays such an incident.)

Piracy in Somalia RT

Piracy in Somalia Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

 

Parrots: OK, let’s lighten things up a bit. What can I say? Beautiful parrots that would make Long John Silver proud.

Parrots RT

Parrots Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

 

Treasure Island: This is the book that provided pretty much all of the stereotypes we know about pirates.

Treasure Island RT

Treasure Island Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

 

Barbary Wars: Back in the day, the Barbary states (current day Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya) demanded American merchant ships pay tribute or be attacked by “Barbary pirates.” Then Thomas Jefferson became president, and he was having none of it. He (and successor James Madison) used military force to end the practice. (For a famous incident in the Barbary Wars, see this post from last year: Stephen Decatur Burns the USS Philadelphia.)

Barbary Wars RT

Barbary Wars Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

 

Linguistics: Well, I said vaguely related, and it is Talk Like a Pirate Day …

Linguistics RT

Linguistics Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

 

While this has been a lighthearted post, we are serious about providing content for your classroom, and the information above gives you an idea of the breadth of information–history, modern issues, science, literature–contained in our collection of more than 11,000 Research Topics. You can see how a trip to eLibrary could bolster classwork, assignments, and discussions on just about any topic with introductory and in-depth material.

And, arrrrren’t you glad I made it through this without a bit of cheesy pirate talk?

“Isaac’s Storm”: The 1900 Galveston Hurricane

Author Erik Larson stormed onto the bestsellers list in 1999 with “Isaac’s Storm,” which chronicled the 1900 Galveston Hurricane as well as the work of meteorologist Isaac Cline. The book is both a riveting read and an interesting look at the nascent National Weather Service (then known as the United States Weather Bureau), established during the Grant administration in 1890. From a Washington Post review:

[Larson’s] gripping new book, “Isaac’s Storm,” which tells the story of the Galveston hurricane in excruciating, Grand Guignol detail, threatens to become the “Jaws” of hurricane yarns. Except that it’s all true.

The book details Cline’s work leading up to the September 8, 1900 hurricane and his experiences in dealing with the aftermath. His wife was among the 6,000 to 12,000 killed by flooding and the massive amount of debris pushed around by the storm. Cline’s own house, which had been used as refuge for a number of residents, was smashed by a railroad trestle that had been knocked loose. After seeing the unexpected destruction and loss of life caused by the storm, Cline dedicated himself to studying tropical cyclones and flooding patterns and contributed significantly to the science of meteorology.

Galveston Hurricane (1900) Research Topic

Galveston Hurricane (1900) Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

“Isaac’s Storm” would be a good book for cross-curricular instruction in Literature, Science, general Social Studies and Texas state history, and eLibrary can be helpful in giving students background in areas related to the book. Among the Research Topics that can be utilized are:

Galveston Hurricane (1900)

Erik Larson

Hurricanes

Meteorology

To find Research Topics pages covering other individual storms, start typing “hurricane” in the search box and you will get at least a partial drop-down list, or you can keep typing if you have a specific storm you want to find. Often, even if you don’t get a drop-down hit, a search will return a relevant RT. For example, a search of “katrina” may return results and an RT on Hurricane Katrina. So, mix up your searches.

In addition to the great stuff that is on the Research Topics, there is plenty more in eLibrary. Try searches like “galveston hurricane,” “galveston 1900,” “hurricane 1900” or “erik larson” to get documents, photos and more. In particular, we have a good number of web links; use the source-type checkboxes to limit to websites. Here are a few of note:

The Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 (NOAA)

The 1900 Galveston Hurricane & the Activities of U.S. Lighthouse Service Personnel (Coast Guard)

Galveston 1900: Storm of the Century: Teacher Resources (University of North Texas)

Nelson Mandela’s Birthday: eLibrary Resources for the Classroom

On this day 99 years ago (July 18, 1918), Rolihlahla Mandela was born to the Thembu royal family in the South African village of Mvezo. The world would come to know him as Nelson Mandela, opponent of racialist policies, 27-year prisoner and eventually the first black president of South Africa.

While he is undoubtedly a hero for his pursuit of equality for all South Africans, history is complicated, and Mandela’s life and career provide the opportunity to examine justice, freedom and the moral considerations of revolution. Early protests against apartheid were largely unsuccessful and resulted in retaliation by the white-minority government. Mandela and others in the African National Congress came to the conclusion that armed resistance was necessary. This brings up some questions. “What is the difference between a struggle against an unjust government and a terrorist movement (which is what some called the ANC’s efforts)?” “Can the same question be asked in relation to the American Revolution?” “How did the West view Mandela and the situation in South Africa at the time?”

Mandela and President F. W. de Klerk negotiated a new constitution that would ensure rights for all and agreed on elections that would enfranchise the country’s majority black population–efforts that won them a Nobel Peace Prize. What cements Mandela’s legacy is his insistence on uniting his country in a climate of fairness. After the apartheid system was defeated and Mandela became president, he rejected a course of retribution against whites and made efforts to bring all of his countrymen together, much to the dissatisfaction of more militant voices. He helped form the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated crimes committed by both the government and the African National Congress.

Nelson Mandela Research Topic

Nelson Mandela Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

ProQuest’s eLibrary can supplement your classes’ discussions of Mandela, African history, human rights and matters of justice. Besides all of the great articles, websites and other resources available in eLibrary that can be discovered while searching, also look for relevant Research Topics that can provide background, context and points of view. Here is a sampling:

Nelson Mandela

Apartheid in South Africa

F. W. de Klerk

South Africa

Human Rights

Imperialism

Drive-In Theater Anniversary, Pre-Summer Movie Study

By now school is winding down in most places, and students and educators are getting ready for some summer fun. It just so happens that today is the anniversary of an icon of summer entertainment: the drive-in movie theater. The first permanent drive-in was opened by Richard Hollingshead, Jr. in Pennsauken, New Jersey, on June 6, 1933. Although it didn’t last long, it started a craze that peaked in the 1950s, when more than 4,000 theaters were operating. That number has dwindled to a few hundred, with the latest challenge being the movie industry’s transition to expensive digital projection systems.

Lawrence of Arabia Research Topic

Lawrence of Arabia RT, eLibrary

Okay, so eLibrary doesn’t have a Research Topic on drive-ins, but it does have a number of pages related to film history, genres and specific movies. If you are still in school and you need to fill some of the last days with something fun but meaningful, how about encouraging your students to watch some great movies over the summer. You could discuss film criticism, the relationship between films and their literary source materials or just let students scoop up some trivia. If you are already out of school and you are still reading this, you might as well check them out for yourself and use them to enhance your own movie enjoyment as you take a much-needed break from school.

Motion Pictures
Talking Films
2001: A Space Odyssey

Gone with the Wind
The Godfather Films
Star Wars
Casablanca
Horror
Apocalypse Now
Lawrence of Arabia
Singin’ in the Rain
Alfred Hitchcock

This a limited list; we have plenty of pages on film directors, actors and movies. Just search around.

7 Summer Reading Titles for High School Students

Most school districts have summer reading lists to help keep students’ minds from turning to mush while away from school. The lists can vary wildly, with titles including the unquestionable classics to the latest in teen lit. eLibrary can help out with its many literature-related Research Topics, which can be used to introduce works to students before summer or can be accessed while they are reading over the break. So, here are a handful of  works with corresponding RT pages that you may want to suggest to your older high school students. Some of them have been controversial, but, hey, that’s probably why they appeal to teens.

Listed in order of publication date.

1. Brave New World  Although it was written all the way back in 1931, Aldous Huxley’s story of a world of social stratification, consumerism and a lack of privacy is still relevant.

Brave New World RT

Brave New World Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

2. The Catcher in the Rye  This 1951 work by J. D. Salinger is possibly the ultimate expression of teenage angst and rebellion, which, of course, got it in trouble with a lot of schools over the years.

The Catcher in the Rye RT

The Catcher in the Rye Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

3. Farenheit 451  Ray Bradbury envisions an American dystopia in which certain books are outlawed, confiscated and burned. Perfect for examining freedom of thought and speech.

Fahrenheit 451 RT

Fahrenheit 451 Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

4. Black Like Me  John Howard Griffin, a white man, dyed his skin and traveled around the American South as a black man. Another book that ties well with the study of American history due to its probing of racial attitudes and civil rights in the 1960s. Griffin had a very interesting life and is worth examining itself.

John Howard Griffin RT

John Howard Griffin Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

5. Catch-22  The phrase “catch 22” has become part of our language to describe a situation that is made impossible by contradictory rules, and it was Joseph Heller who coined it in his satirical novel about a bombardier in World War II.

Catch-22 RT

Catch-22 Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

6. Slaughterhouse-Five  “All this happened, more or less.” And off the reader goes into Kurt Vonnegut’s wild satire that is influenced by his own experience of witnessing the Allied firebombing of Dresden, Germany, during World War II. Challenged by critics and a challenging read.

Slaughterhouse-Five RT

Slaughterhouse-Five Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

7. The Kite Runner  Khaled Hosseini’s 2003 bestselling novel delves into themes of guilt and betrayal that play out against a swath of Afghan history.

The Kite Runner RT

The Kite Runner Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Terrorism Resources in eLibrary

Osama bin Laden Research Topic

Osama bin Laden Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Next Tuesday, May 2, marks six years since Osama bin Laden was killed by Navy Seals in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The infamous terrorist leader of al-Qaeda had been wanted by the United States for a decade since he masterminded the attacks of September 11, 2001. While some may have thought that the success of Operation Neptune Spear would bring about some great sense of closure, the truth is that terrorism still never seems to be far from our minds. With the turmoil in Afghanistan and Iraq, the civil war in Syria, the rise of ISIS and the churn of politics and the 24-hour news industry, it is difficult to get away from.

So, do you discuss it in class in the hope of helping students make sense of it or do you stay away for fear of stirring up anxiety? This post from a middle school teacher in which she talks about her experience and these guidelines from Operation250 and Facing History and Ourselves might give you some ideas on how to go about it.

If you decide to tackle the issue, eLibrary has many Research Topics that can provide your students information on terrorist groups, historical and contemporary incidents and the context with which to examine them. A good place to start is the ProQuest Research Topic Guide: Terrorism. This is a special page that compiles most of the terrorism Research Topics. You can use this page to easily see what we have and what you might want to use in the classroom, and you can even provide it to your students to allow them to browse. Of course, you and your students can also search around in eLibrary for more RTs and for up-to-the-day articles.

It’s National Engineers Week

Engineering is the science by which the properties of matter and the sources of power in nature are made useful to humans in structures, devices, machines, and products. An engineer is an individual who specializes in one of the many branches of engineering.

Engineering and Technical Science, The New York Public Library Science Desk Reference

There has been a lot of talk about in recent years about emphasizing STEM/STEAM in schools to help the U.S. fill jobs in many technical fields. One front in this effort is National Engineers Week, which in 2017 is February 19-25. Quoting from the website of DiscoverE, the organization behind it, National Engineers Week is intended to “Celebrate how engineers make a difference in our world; Increase public dialogue about the need for engineers; Bring engineering to life for kids, educators, and parents.” The site has activities, videos and other resources to help educators expose students to engineering concepts and career paths.

Engineering Research Topic

Engineering Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Teachers, eLibrary also has you covered. Of course, students and educators can search the database for lots of interesting articles, websites, transcripts and more relating to the various branches of engineering. But we also offer lots of Research Topics on specific topics in the sciences. They can be discovered while searching (look for drop-down lists while typing in search terms–many of the items here will return a Research Topic at the top of the results) and by browsing the list of all RTs. Here is a small sampling of relevant RTs to get your students started in exploring the impact of engineers and considering educational and career paths in the sciences:

Architect
Civil Engineer
Computer Software Engineer
Dams
Electrical Engineer
Engineering
Engineering Technician
Golden Gate Bridge
I-35W Bridge Collapse
Materials Science
Mechanics (Physics)
One World Trade Center
Skyscrapers
Three Gorges Dam

It’s Groundhog Day! How About Some Rodent Facts?

Rodents Research Topic

Rodents Research Topic page via ProQuest eLibrary

It is groundhog day again–it seems like the last one was only yesterday. A few years ago, a colleague did a great post on Groundhog Day itself, so I won’t repeat that here, but I started thinking about rodents (the groundhog is one). Here are a few rodent morsels on which to chew. (Ew, that didn’t sound right.):

Rodents are from the order Rodentia, and they account for around half of all mammal species. (Note about this link: This takes you to the subject browse area of eLibrary. Anything with a yellow star next to it includes a Research Topic page.)

-The word “rodent” comes from Latin word meaning “to gnaw.” This makes sense, considering that their large front teeth and gnawing habit are probably the things that most define them in our minds. They gnaw because those front teeth grow continuously and failure to wear them down would result in death from starvation or impalement of the skull.

-The smallest rodent is the pygmy jerboa, only about an inch long. The largest rodent in the world, currently, is the capybara, but its extinct cousin Josephoartigasia monesi was the largest ever, measuring in at eight feet. And just for the awwwww-factor, here is a picture of two cute baby capybaras with their mother.

-Among the common animals that are mistaken for rodents but are not, are the rabbit and the opossum, which is a marsupial. (Speaking of marsupials, here is a crazy one: the Tasmanian wolf. It became extinct in the 1930s, and scientists had hoped to bring it back through cloning. He sure doesn’t look like a kangaroo.)

-The porcupine IS a rodent, but the similarly spiky hedgehog, which also comes in a furry variety, IS NOT.

-Most rodent species are highly social. In an interesting experiment, a researcher showed that rats show empathy by working to free others from cages.

-While they were once killed in huge numbers for their pelts and to eliminate them as pests, beavers, the second-largest rodents, are becoming respected for the benefits they provide, including erosion prevention, improvement of fish and wildlife habitat and soil enrichment.

-On the other hand, some rodents can carry diseases deadly to humans, including plague and hantavirus.

Search around in eLibrary or browse our thousands of Research Topics pages for information on this topic and just about everything else.

Breaking News: King James I Assassination Plotters Executed!

On January 31, 1606, four men were dragged by horses (drawn) through the streets of London to the place of their execution. One by one, they were hanged by the neck until nearly dead and, while still alive, cut into four pieces (quartered). After having watched the three men before him suffer so horribly, Guy Fawkes was spared the agony by either falling or jumping from the scaffold and breaking his neck.

Fawkes, Robert Catsby, Thomas Percy, Thomas Wintour and John Wright, along with a number of others, had planned to blow up the House of Lords and King James I on the opening day of Parliament in November of 1605. They had hoped that the Gunpowder Plot, as it became known, would spur a revolt that would bring a Catholic monarch back to the throne and end a long period of persecution against Catholics.

Gunpowder Plot RT

Gunpowder Plot Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

The conspirators had managed to place 36 barrels of gunpowder in the basement of the House of Lords, but Fawkes was discovered guarding the powder and the assassination was foiled. Authorities had acted on an anonymous letter that tipped them off to the plan. Fawkes was tortured into giving up his associates, and all were tried and found guilty of treason. Somewhat ironically, the incident only spurred increased pressure on Catholics.

The foiling of the plot was celebrated with an official national holiday until 1859, and the tradition of Guy Fawkes Night (or Bonfire Night) on November 5 persists to this day. Traditionally, the revelry included the burning of a Guy Fawkes effigy made from old newspaper-stuffed clothes and a grotesque mask. Children would go through town asking for “a penny for the Guy” to pay for the effigy and for fireworks. The word “guy” eventually entered everyday language, coming to refer to any male person.

Follow the links above to find more information, and be sure to do your own searches in eLibrary to find lots of articles, images, websites and our Research Topics on thousands of subjects.

Stay Up Late for the Leonid Meteor Shower

Have you ever seen a shooting star? If not, it is a pretty cool thing to see, and you might have your chance this week. The annual Leonid meteor shower is getting underway, providing skywatchers about a week of increased meteor activity, November 13-21, 2016. The peak of this year’s shower will be Thursday night (November 17) into Friday morning. But, If you want the best chance to see something, you’ll have to stay up very late; the show will not really get going until after midnight. And, since the frequency of sightings increases through the early morning hours and peak before sunrise, it might be a better idea to go to bed early and get up before dawn.

meteor showers RT

Meteor Showers RT via ProQuest eLibrary

Unfortunately, this is not expected to be a great year for the Leonids. The showers happen because Earth travels near trails left by Tempel-Tuttle, a comet that orbits the sun every 33 years. Bits of the comet are pulled by Earth’s gravity into the atmosphere at tens of thousands of miles per hour, and the resulting friction causes them to burn as they fall. When our planet travels directly through one of these trails, we get what is known as a meteor storm or meteor outburst. Such storms usually occur in the years following Tempel-Tuttle’s pass, but they can occur in years in between. But, this is not one of those years, and the number of shooting stars is expected to be low. (Too bad it is not 1833 or 1996, years when the Leonid storms were especially spectacular, with thousands of meteors per hour.) In addition, the shower this year will be competing with a waning gibbous moon which will fill the sky with light for most of the night.

All that said, you might still want to give it a shot, especially if you have never seen a meteor. So, where should you look? Meteor showers are named after the place in the sky from which they appear to radiate, in this case, the constellation Leo. In reality, they can appear across the sky and go in many directions. So, the best strategy is just to lie back and take in as much of the sky as possible. Of course, to increase your odds, try to watch from a spot as far away from the glow of the city and other light sources as you can.

If you’d like to learn more about the stuff in the sky, check out the links in the text above, see the Research Topics pages below or do your own searches.

As they say in astronomy circles, clear skies to you!

Astronomy
Astrophysics
Constellations and Star Systems
Galaxies
Meteor Showers
Near-Earth Objects
Solar System
Stars
Telescope