Neat New Stuff I Found This Week

chosen by your
"librarian without walls,"
Marylaine Block

marylaine at

This Week------ Previous Weeks

How Does a Site Qualify?

To see how and why I choose the sites, go to About NeatNew at the bottom of this page.

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Order My Books

  • The Thriving Library: Successful Strategies for Challenging Times;
  • Net Effects: How Librarians Can Manage the Unintended Consequences of the Internet,
  • The Quintessential Searcher: the Wit and Wisdom of Barbara Quint.

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    Drop me a Line

    Want to comment, ask questions or suggest sites? Send e-mail to: marylaine at

    My Other Sites

    My Word's Worth

    My occasional column on books, words, libraries, American culture, and whatever happens to interest me. The complete archive (some 300 columns) is available at

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    Observing US: a Column about America

    The column I wrote For Fox News Online from 1998-2000.

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    Ex Libris:
    my Weekly E-Zine for Librarians, which I published from 1999-2008.

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    BookBytes My pages on all things book-related.

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    Book Proposal

    Land of Why Not: an Appreciation of America. Proposal for an anthology of some of my best writing about America, drawn from both "Observing US," the column I wrote for Fox News Online, and "My Word's Worth." An outline and sample columns are available here.

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    My resume
    To view outlines of presentations I've done, click on For a list of my published writings, click on

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    My personal page

  • August 31, 2012- Final Edition

    NOTE: I have decided that this will be my last issue. I've been doing this every week since 1995, and as my life as a grandma gets busier, I'm thinking that 17 years is enough. The rest of my site will remain available, and I may even use any spare time to update my "Books Too Good To Put Down" reading lists on BookBytes <>. Thanks to all my faithful readers. It's been a good run and I've enjoyed your comments. As Douglas Adams said, "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish."


  • Children and their Minds - Five Books - the Browser

    Alison Gopnik talks about books that will help parents understand what goes on in their children's minds. She modestly doesn't mention her own book, The Scientist in the Crib, an invaluable guide to what scientists have learned about how infants observe and make sense of the world.

  • Mobile Apps Gallery

    The government collects and publishes a lot of handy information (airport wait times, first aid, current hurricane info, etc.) and they're starting to make it available to your phone.

  • National Center for Injury Prevention and Control - CDC

    Data, prevention and treatment information on topics including motor vehicle safety, home & recreational safety, traumatic brain injury, violence prevention, and more.

  • Skyscraper Page

    If there's anything you've ever wanted to know about skyscrapers, this is the place to start, with its "unique skyscraper diagram illustrations, a world-wide buildings database, one of the world's busiest skyscraper-themed discussion forums and one-of-a-kind skyscraper posters, is a one-stop resource for the skyscraper enthusiast in us all." It includes a loving memorial page for the twin towers.

  • What To Do after College if You Can't Find a Job

    Advice way too many grads can use on how to keep busy and look employable to prospective employers.

  • Why Are Americans So...

    "A map of American state stereotypes, generated by Google autocomplete." Mouse over any state to see what stereotypes people hold about it, as judged by the to most frequent questions asked about it on Google.

  • World Wonders Project - Google

    Usings its StreetView technology, Google "aims to bring to life the wonders of the modern and ancient world." Browse by continent or by themes -- archaeological sites, historic sites, places of worship, wonders of nature, and more. From the initial images, you can scan the adjoining landscape in all directions.


    I have often given you links to tie in with both well-known and obscure annual holidays and/or events. Since I won't be doing this in the future, I've created a calendar of events that could provide interesting and fun programming and exhibit possibilities for librarians and teachers.

    January 29: National Puzzle Day <>. This has great possibilities for a family event at your library, or for an all-school challenge (lessons or assignments in puzzle form maybe?).

    February is American Heart Month <>. This would be a great time for librarians to highlight their health collections and team up with local hospital and the American Heart Association for programs.

    First full week of February is Children's Authors and Illustrators Week <>. What a great time for librarians, bookstore owners, art museums and teachers to collaborate on a joint celebration of the writers and artists who enchant children (as well as their parents) and lure them into a lifetime of reading!

    First week of March: Return the Borrowed Books Week - a great time for a well-promoted amnesty (and maybe a celebration of the longest-overdue book that gets returned?).

    Third Saturday of March: National Quilting Day <> - wouldn't this be a great opportunity to host quilting workshops and decorate your library with the work of local quilters?

    March 29 - National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day <>. A good time to celebrate local businesses and thank them for their contributions to library activities like summer reading programs.

    First week of April: Major league baseball returns. Want to do a book exhibit for the occasion? See my recommended baseball novels <>

    April 17: Ellis Island Day <>. One thing libraries do really really well is provide genealogy resources. This might be a fine time to display some of your collection and team up with your local historical society to do a workshop on tracking your family history.

    April 26: Poem in Your Pocket Day <>. A great time for a children's poetry contest, a poetry slam, or an invitation to library users to nominate their favorite poems or lines from poetry for a display or reading.

    May 5 - Cartoonists Day <>, celebrating the anniversary of the first published color cartoon, The Yellow Kid. It's also Free Comic Book Day. How about a make your own comic book event?

    On or about May 18, International Museum Day <>. A good time for a collaborative event with a local museum.

    June is Men's Health Month <>, and the week preceding Fathers Day (the 3rd Sunday in June) is Men's Health Week. A great time to highlight your health collection and work with local hospitals on events.

    last Saturday in July, National Dance Day. Details and official dance routines you can participate in will be available at the Dizzy Feet Foundation <>

    Last Friday in July, System Administrator Appreciation Day <>: Time to share the love with the folks who keep your systems running.

    First Sunday after Labor Day, National Grandparents Day, <>. How about an event for grandparents and their grandkids, like an old-fashioned ice cream social?

    September 11, National Day of Service and Remembrance, <>

    September 25, National One-Hit Wonder Day, <>. A great nostalgia and performance opportunity, don't you think?

    mid-October, Ada Lovelace Day, <>. A good opportunity to celebrate women in technology

    October 28 - National Plush Animal Lovers Day. Children's librarians and elementary school teachers take note!

    Halloween. I'm sure you already have lots of plans, but I'd love it if some library would try out my idea <> for a costume party in which everybody came as the character from mythology, fiction, movies, comic books, that they consider the "most influential person who never lived."

    First Tuesday in November, Voting Day. See Vote Back <>, the column in which I offer you a compelling reason to vote: the fact that some people really, really don't want you to.

    November 19, International Men's Day <'s_Day>. It's only fair that men should get their day of appreciation too. And a celebration event might be a good way to show men that the library has loads of useful stuff for them as well as for women and children

    November 29, Pay a Blogger Day <>. If you love somebody's free online writings, it would be nice to express your appreciation with a little cash.

    You're welcome to copy and distribute this listing for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit me and provide the link to NeatNew.

    Neat New Stuff I Found This Week
    Copyright, Marylaine Block, 1999-2012.
    [Publishers may license the content at reasonable rates.]

  • Previous Weeks' Picks

    August 24 -- August 17 -- August 10 -- August 3 -- July 27 -- July 20 -- July 13 -- June 29-July 6 -- June 22 -- June 15 -- June 8 -- June 1 -- May 25 -- May 18 -- May 11 -- May 4 -- April 27 -- April 20 -- April 13 -- April 6 -- March 30 -- March 23-- March 16 -- March 9 -- March 2 -- February 24 -- February 17 -- February 3-10 -- January 27 -- January 13-20 -- January 6

    I will keep the most recent 6 months worth of sites on file here.

    For those who would like to know what I look for when I select these sites each week, click HERE.

    August 24

  • 10 Things That Kill More People Than Sharks - Foreign Policy,1

    There's nothing like a shark attack to attract TV cameras and convince people that it's not safe to swim in the ocean. But as Foreign Policy points out, you have a greater likelihood of being killed by vending machines, furniture, and other hazards that are less likely to attract reporters.

  • The 15 College Majors with the Biggest Payoffs - Fortune Management

    Here's something college freshmen might want to consider as they plan their course schedule. Though, as the author points out, money is not the only thing that makes a career rewarding.

  • Avoid These Fast Food Items, Say Fast Food Employees

    And who would know better than the employees which food is likely to be old, made with mystery ingredients and leftovers, excessively fatty or sugary, or downright dirty?

  • Capturing TV History Through Video Interviews - Archive of American Television

    Here are 700+ fascinating interviews with the people in front of and behind the camera who made television history. Browsable by interviewees, shows, professions, or topics like memorable moments, TV's golden age, sports, bloopers, etc. You may also be interested in its blog.

  • Citizen Science Center - You can do science too

    You don't have to get a college degree to participate in and learn about science; this site offers opportunities to contribute to science projects like tracking solar storms, improving climate prediction models, crowdfunding science projects, identifying creatures that may eat polystyrene, etc. One excellent post, "Start your science education now," links to a wide variety of free online courses, talks, topnotch science media, and more.

  • Heat Wave: The Best Reporting on Our Rising Temperatures - Pro Publica

    An annotated guide to reporting on the sometimes unexpected impacts of rising global temperatures.

  • Holding Power to Account - Five Books - the Browser

    Heather Brooks, a journalist and expert on Britain's freedom of information act, recommends five books dealing with unaccountable power and corruption.

  • Nursing Home Inspect

    A tool that makes it easy to examine reports on nursing home deficiencies before you seek placement for yourself or a loved one. See the grades assigned to each and click to view the full reports.

  • One Impressive Fact about Every State in America

    There are, of course, many impressive facts about any of our states, so the choices of which facts to highlight may seem a bit whimsical, but I think it's pretty neat that Illinois is noted for the Chicago Public Library, Oregon for the largest collection of carousel horses, and Massachusetts for being "the only place in the world where a boat can sail under a train driving under a car driving under an airplane.

  • Traveler Photo Contest 2012 - National Geographic

    If you're up for it, you can look through all 12,000+ entries. Or you can just search by keyword or browse by categories (outdoor scenes, sense of place, travel portraits, spontaneous moments). There are some gorgeous and spectacular scenes here, as well as heartwarming human connections.

    August 17

  • 20 Everyday Things We Have Because of NASA - Business Insider

    In order to send missions to the moon and Mars, NASA had to invent a whole lot of things to solve the problems of space travel, and many of them led to the development of products we use every day. NASA counts 1800+ spin-off technologies, including cell-phone cameras, firefighter gear, long-distance communication, memory foam, MRI and CAT scans, and more. And no, Tang is not one of them.

  • American Brand Project

    A project to create awareness of great products made in America. It's still in the early stages, so there's not a big selection here as yet, but site users can help build the site by nominating their own favorites here.

  • The Food and Environment Reporting Network

    This relatively new organization says it's "an independent, non-profit news organization that produces investigative reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health...because these subjects touch our lives every day in profound ways." There's not a great deal here yet, but what IS there includes reporting on suspect chemicals in the food system, a link between bladder infections and antibiotics fed to chickens

  • Free Books from Classicly - Download or Read Online

    A collection of pre-1923 books that can be accessed on Kindle, Android, iPhone, iPad, or your web browser. Browse by author, most popular, or by hand-picked collections in categories like Travel, African-American, Harvard Classics, History, Great Poets, Mystery, Science Fiction, etc.

  • How Much Does the Government Spend To Send a Kid to School? Planet Money - NPR

    Counting federal, state and local expenditures, the average cost of sending one child to school for one year is $10,615, though costs vary widely from state to state. Check the map here to see what it costs in your state.

  • See What Your Local College or University Has To Offer - The Simple Dollar

    Shows you how to find out what free or cheap concerts, art exhibits, lectures, workshops and other learning opportunities you could take advantage of at a college near you.

  • SubsidyScope

    You may be benefiting from a government subsidy and not even realize it. Check out this site to learn about the important but little-known role that federal grants, contracts, loans, research, and tax subsidies play in America's economy and in our personal lives.

  • The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books

    Top writers have a special credibility when picking best books. Here, the editors asked 125 top American and British authors to list their 10 favorite works of fiction of all time. The web site expands on the resulting book, "posting annotated versions of all 125 lists from The Top Ten, ... gathering new lists from prominent authors... [and] highlighting lists submitted by our readers."

  • Unravel Your Home's History

    Here are 10 things you can do to learn about the history of an older home. See also the Internet Public Library's Guide to Researching the History of a House, <>

  • Whooping Cough [Pertussis]- What You Need To Know - CDC

    A serious preventable disease we thought had vanished has returned, and it's particularly dangerous to infants who are too young to be vaccinated. Read this to find out how to make sure your family is protected.

    August 10

  • 10 Best American-Made Products

    This article argues that there are some products American manufacturers make better than anybody else in the world - motorcycles, kitchen appliances, pianos, and more.

  • The 40 Highest Paying Jobs You Can Get without a Bachelor's Degree - Business Insider

    And many of these jobs can't easily be outsourced!

  • Everything You Need To Know about the Fiscal Cliff in One Post

    In case you're wondering what this "fiscal cliff" is, and why political people are so worried about it, this is a pretty good explanation of what will happen if we fall over it (though Ezra Klein kind of assumes we know that the CBO, the primary source of the figures, is the Congressional Budget Office).

  • Evolution Documentary Channel - You Tube

    Gathers in one place a sizable number of documentaries about evolution produced by the BBC, National Geographic, PBS, Discovery Channel, and other excellent explainers of complicated ideas.

  • Gas Prices Explained by Way of a Neighborhood Barbecue - Grist

    A good explanation of why gas prices go up and down, and why there is no simple way for any government to control them.

  • Frugal Foodie

    Though it's also full of recipes and ideas for getting the most from your food dollars, one of the especially appealing things is its Friday Meal Deals, "a selection of the latest coupons for casual and fancy fare."

  • Maintaining Memories: How To Save Old Photographs

    Surely one of the saddest losses people experience in disasters is the loss of irreplaceable family photographs. This article offers valuable tips and links for preserving your photographs in both physical and digital form.

  • ScienceDebate 2012: the Questions

    "An independent citizens' initiative asking candidates for office to discuss the top science questions facing America," sponsored by Scientific American, the National Academies, and several other major scientific organizations. The wide-ranging questions deal with pandemics and biosecurity, climate change, scientific innovation and the economy, energy, fresh water, and more. You can sign up to support the initiative and submit your own questions. It would, of course, be even more useful if they could solicit answers from candidates and post them on this site.

  • The Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time - British Film Institute

    The film journal Sight and Sound posts the results of its annual poll of "more than 1,000 critics, programmers, academics, distributors, writers and other cinephiles, [who submitted] precisely 846 top-ten lists that between them mention a total of 2,045 different films." The big news is the demotion of the perennial best film of all time, Citizen Kane.

  • US Constitution as Rewritten by Slate Legal Experts and Readers

    The immense public dissatisfaction with our current politics and government has made many of us believe it's time to rethink or add to our Constitution. Here are proposals by both legal scholars and by Slate-reading ordinary citizens. See what you think.

    August 3

  • 31 Charts That Will Make You Proud To be an American - Business Insider

    Who knew we did all these things: lead the world in R&D expenditures and output per hour worked, have the smallest public sector as a percentage of GDP, produce the most scientific publications and Nobel prizes, enjoy the cheapest gas, and more.

  • "Earth as Art" Winners - NASA

    As chosen by viewers of the 120 beautiful "Earth as Art" images collected by Landsat over the past 40 years.

  • How To Protect Your Retirement Benefits If You Lose Your Job

    The USA Blog points you to the laws and government agencies that may protect your benefits.

  • Kids Count Data Book 2012

    Provides national and state-by-state profiles on key indicators of child well-being (economic, education, health, family & community), and compares each state with each other and with the national levels on all data points.

  • Pew Global Attitudes Project

    This project "conducts public opinion surveys around the world on a broad array of subjects ranging from people’s assessments of their own lives to their views about the current state of the world and important issues of the day. Nearly 300,000 interviews in 59 countries have been conducted as part of the project’s work." Current polls assess global opinion on topics like Obama, the world economy, a nuclear-armed Iran, and support for al Qaeda, as well as opinions within individual countries and regions on topics affecting them (European unity, Egyptians on democracy and religion in public life, opinions of Assad in Syria's neighboring countries, etc.)

  • Stop by Your Town's Visitor Center - The Simple Dollar

    Here's a staycation idea you might want to try during these last days before the kids go back to school.

    In the News:

  • 47 Million Women Will Have Guaranteed Access to Women's Preventive Services...

    Another part of the Affordable Care Act kicked in on August 1, requiring non-grandfathered insurance plans to provide certain recommended preventive health services without requiring co-pays. "These services include well-woman visits, screening for gestational diabetes, HPV DNA testing, domestic violence screening and counseling, HIV screening and counseling for sexually transmitted infections, breastfeeding supplies, contraceptive methods and family planning counseling."

  • The Best Reporting on Guns in America

    As is our custom after every gun massacre, people are calling for a national conversation about possible restrictions on gun ownership. Here's a good collection of data, history, and analysis to inform any such discussion.

  • Conversation Nation - National Journal

    "Where presidential tickets rank on the Talk Meter, and what people are saying about them," according to "Keller Fay’s TalkTrack® research service [which] interviews a nationally representative online sample of approximately 615 Americans aged 18 to 69. See also the Twitter Political Index <>, "a daily assessment of how Twitter feels about Obama and Romney."

  • Everything You've Ever Wanted To Know about Voter ID Laws - Pro Publica

    If you're one of the 21 million citizens who lack a government-issued photo ID and live in one of the 30 states that have enacted Voter ID laws, you should check now to see if your current form of identification will allow you to vote in November. Find out more about your own state's laws here. See also "Study: New Voting Restrictions May Affect More than Five Million" from the Brennan Center for Justice <

    July 27

  • 7 Rules of Listening, Really Listening

    I've often suspected that when people say they and their partner can't communicate, it means they haven't mastered the art of listening to each other - and it is an art, one that anyone can learn. Here's a very good explanation of how to do it well.

  • 10 Companies That Are Saving the World - Business Insider

    It's inspiring to read about how companies that are tackling some of the most pressing medical, environmental and energy issues that our political system seems incapable of dealing with.

  • Best Deals Online - Daily Deals and Coupons at DealNews

    Browse the deals of the day, or by clothing, computers, electronics, travel, or your geographic area.

  • Books That Shaped America - National Book Festival - Library of Congress

    Not just literature and books that shaped our history and government (the Federalist Papers, Thomas Paine's Common Sense, Uncle Tom's Cabin...), but also books that changed the way we live (The Joy of Cooking, The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care...), the way we understood the people we shared a nation with (The Souls of Black Folk, How the Other Half Lives, The Feminine Mystique...), the books we raised our children with, and more.

  • Copy That! Top Secret Restaurant Recipes - Food Network

    Most restaurants won't give out their recipes, but Food Network has worked out copycat recipes for top restaurant dishes such as Bloomin' Onions, cheesecake pancakes, cheddar biscuits, cinnamon buns,mocha frappes, and more.

  • Hospital Safety Score - Leapfrog Group

    Enter your zip code or location to get overall scores and detailed reports on hospitals in that area. High grades seem to reflect active administrative and medical team efforts to improve patient care and outcomes. Hospitals are scored on a variety of safe practice measures, surgical care improvement measures, hospital acquired conditions measures, and hospital-acquired infections.

  • How To Be a Better Student: 8 Steps - WikiHow

    School will be starting soon. Students who want to do better can find some excellent advice here.

  • Public Health - Five Books - The Browser

    Public health issues in the news now, like the whooping cough epidemic and numerous cases of food-borne illness, remind us of the debt we owe to our public health system for disease detection and prevention, and for the steady increase in our longevity. This interview and these five books explain the public health system's accomplishments.

  • Sales Tax Holidays

    Many states have scheduled sales tax holidays to coincide with back-to-school shopping. Several of them are coming up the first weekend in August. Check your state's schedule and the allowable tax-free items here.

  • A Self-Made Man Looks at How He Made It

    As both of our presidential candidates recently reminded us, nobody got where they are today without the help of many other people. The novelist John Scalzi remembers, and thanks, all of the taxpayers and teachers who helped him through a challenging childhood, the teachers and editors and colleagues who helped him become a writer, and the people who guided him through his life.

    July 20

  • 25 No-Cook Meals

    Nothing makes salads and sandwiches more appealing than 90+ degree temperatures. Here's a sampling of simple but appealing meals for days like these.

  • After Words - BookTV

    "an interview show in which authors of the latest nonfiction books are interviewed by journalists, public policy makers, legislators, and others familiar with their material."

  • American Bridges in Need of Repair

    These 19 are merely the most glaring examples of the thousands of US bridges the American Society of Civil Engineers considers structurally deficient and dangerous. It makes you wonder why when Congress finally approved transportation funding, they did away with the funds reserved exclusively for maintenance and repairs.

  • The Best Most Revealing Reporting on our Healthcare System - ProPublica

    Written before the Supreme Court Decision on the Affordable Care Act, this article points to explanations of the problems of high costs and insurance that health care reform set out to solve.

  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing People at Work - Jobs, Careers and Callings

    Hearing-impaired people are interviewed here about their careers, the challenges of their work, their work- arounds for difficulties caused by the impairment, and their advice to young hearing-impaired people seeking work in their profession. This site will help hearing-impaired students see that their disability need not stand in the way of their dreams for the future.

  • Do the Math - Using physics and estimation to assess energy, growth, options

    This blog is where physics professor Tom Murphy takes an "astrophysicist's eye-view" of societal issues relating to energy production, climate change and economic growth.

  • How Do I Know a Credit Counseling/Repair Service Is Not a Rip-off?

    The questions you need to ask and sources you can check before entrusting your financial information to people offering credit counseling and repair services.

  • How To Keep Your Cool without Air Conditioning - Yes Magazine

    Tips from Stan Cox, author of Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World.

  • National Dance Day - Dizzy Feet Foundation

    July 28 is the day. Here's where you and your friends can learn the hiphop routine and/or the zumba routine created for the occasion, submit videos of yourselves performing them, and join whatever National Dance Day party is going on in your town.

  • Summer Booklist for Young Readers - National Endowment for the Humanities

    Arranged by grade levels. The recommendations are spot on, but unfortunately they don't tell you anything about the books. You can find descriptions of many of them - and other recommendations by age group) at Children's Book Almanac <>.

    July 13

  • 100 Great Things about America - Fortune

    This inspirational article does much to counteract the constant messages we receive about how America has gone awry, and to remind us why July 4 is an occasion worth celebrating. It celebrates great achievements in politics (the GI bill, Title IX), products (Crayola, teddy bears, Fender guitars), culture (the blues, the Muppets, Dr. Seuss), sites to see (the Appalachian trail, the Pacific Coast Highway, the Brooklyn Bridge), food (the cheeseburger, flapjacks, New England clam chowder), American life (line dancing, trick-or-treating, cheerleading, roller derbies), sci-tech (the Polio vaccine, wi-fi, Silicon Valley), and more.

  • Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature

    Part of the University of Florida's Digital Collection, this site offers digital versions of more than 5,900 out-of-copyright, mostly 19th century children's books, stories, and poems. They are searchable and browsable by geographic area, genre, and topics (brothers & sisters, friendship, Christian life, children's songs, etc.),

  • Government Is Good - A Day in Your Life

    When government works well, it is, unfortunately, invisible, its services and infrastructure taken for granted as if they were part of the scenery rather than something our taxes bought for us. This article takes us step by step through a day to show you the way our activities are enabled by government.

  • How To Tackle Inept Customer Service - Deal News

    One of the editors of Consumerist <>, which publishes tales of customer abuse, talks about effective strategies for getting companies to respond to complaints.

  • NBC Olympics Schedule

    Enter your zip code and TV station or cable carrier, and then you can get a complete schedule, or browse by events or channel (NBC's cable channels will be carrying some of the events).

  • Religion Dispatches

    Nominated for a Webby in Religion & Spirituality, this daily online magazine "publishes a mix of expert opinion, in-depth reporting, and provocative updates from the intersection of religion, politics and culture...Because we’re observers (but not necessarily observant), respectful but not reverent, we tackle stories that others can’t, or won’t." Here's a sampling of recent topics: "Obama’s Gay Marriage Support Shocks Black Church," "Nuns on the Bus," "Religious Freedom Gets Hollywood Treatment," "Top Ten Peacemakers in the Science-Religion Wars," "Does Analytic Thinking Erode Religious Belief?," "8 Great Stories on Religion and History in U.S. Politics."


  • Confused about the Higgs-Boson? Read This

    And then you can read "The Higgs-Boson: Why Should We Care? <>, and "The HiggsBoson: Why You Should Care" <>.

  • How Your Chicken Dinner Is Creating a Drug-Resistant Superbug - Food and Environment Network

    More details on a study reported on the news recently.

  • The June 29, 2012 Derecho - National Weather Service

    The term derecho was unfamiliar to most of us until June 29, when "an intense, long-lived line of thunderstorms raced eastward at nearly 60 mph from the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic coast" leaving immense destruction, downed power lines, and loss of life. Read more about these intense storms here.

  • Stand Your Ground Laws and Homicides - National Bureau of Economic Research

    Summary of research study exploring what effect the "Stand Your Ground" laws have had on the frequency of homicides discovered that "between 4.4 and 7.4 additional white males are killed each month as a result of these laws." The study itself can be purchased online for $5, which would seem to be a worthwhile investment for any state legislator deliberating on such laws.

    June 29-July 6, 2012

  • The 4th Of July - a Celebration of Ideas

    My take on our founding fathers' unique accomplishment. July 4 is a perfect occasion to refresh your memory of what our founding fathers' ideas were. You can view the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights at <> and visit the Federalist Papers at <>

  • Do Nothing for 2 Minutes

    Are you stressed out? Annoyed? Try clicking on this site, and for 2 minutes, just watch the view and listen to the waves.

  • Heat Stroke - Mayo Clinic

    Forecasters are predicting temperatures of 100 of above for much of the country in the next few days, and that kind of heat is a killer. Find out here how to protect yourself, your family, and the most vulnerable members of your community. Remember that most public libraries can serve as free cooling centers for people without air conditioning.

  • Justices Uphold Individual Mandate - Kaiser Health News

    Read about the decision from reporters who understand the entire history of attempts at health care reform in America. Then you can turn elsewhere on the Kaiser site <> to learn how it is supposed to work, and what parts of it will kick in when.

  • Modern Writers - BBC

    "This collection of interviews with some of the 20th Century's most read authors reveals something of those imaginations and the personalities which lie behind some of the greatest modern novels." Authors include Virginia Woolf, Margaret Atwood, William Golding, Aldous Huxley, and nearly 50 more.

  • Money As You Grow

    A tool to help parents teach children about money and financial responsibility at appropriate age levels.

  • NPR Cities

    NPR wants to know about the place you consider the heart of your city. Send a picture with a description, or maybe a sound file. You'll need to act fast for it to possibly be used in an interactive graphic they plan to publish next week.

  • ParkSearch - L.L. Bean

    An example of great merchandising. L.L. Bean helps people find state or national parks by location or activity. Not coincidentally, Bean provides clothing suitable for all those outdoor pursuits.

  • Top 10 Tech Safety Tips for Parents of Tweens and Teens - Parenting Squad

    Some important rules to set in place (for yourself as well as the kids) before you let them loose in the wild west of the internet.

  • Your Day in a Chart: 10 Cool Facts about How Americans Spend Our Time

    A fascinating look at how people in different age groups and genders use their time during the day, and what activities people spend their leisure time on. Some surprising data here; a lot of people would be astonished to hear that employed parents are getting more than 7 hours of sleep a night.

    June 22

  • 20 Frugal Ways To Brighten Your Spouse's Day

    You don't have to spend money to make your sweetie feel loved if you just spend a little time and attention (which are even scarcer than money).

  • 2011 Pew Research Political Typology - Beyond Red and Blue

    The latest survey data from The Pew Center for People and the Press finds the widely varying philosophies lurking inside our narrow stereotypes of conservatives and liberals - Staunch Conservatives, Main Street Republicans, Libertarians, Disaffecteds, Post-Moderns, New Coalition Democrats, Hard-Pressed Democrats,and Solid Liberals . You can read the report here, take the quiz to analyze where you fit in the political typology, and find out much more about the values and opinions within those political typologies.

  • ABC Family - Bright Students, Big Ideas

    Want to help students fund their best ideas and projects? This site allows students to post their proposals and viewers to contribute to any that interest them. Most of the current ideas are students' ideas for stopping bullying.

  • Baseball Novels - Michael Carlson - The Browser

    Michael Carlson considers baseball novels a reflection of American life, and offers these five novels as proof. If Carlson's recommendations interest you, you might also check out my own "America in 9 Innings" <>.

  • Business Insider

    A site "dedicated to aggregating, reporting, and analyzing the top news stories across the web and delivering them to you at rapid-fire pace." In addition to a huge collection of daily news stories, it offers a data center, a collection of financial and economic charts, and a set of model documents for start-up businesses.

  • Citizenship Works

    This Webby winner offers a set of videos explaining the process of becoming an American citizen - determining your eligibility, learning about the process, preparing for the tests, finding legal help, and identifying other resources.

  • Consumer Complaint Database - Consumer Finance Protection Bureau

    "This contains data from the consumer credit card complaints received by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau." From this page you can also access reports (including a synopsis of all consumer finance complaints), file a complaint, and get assistance.

  • Hole in the Wall Gang Camp

    This program was founded by Paul Newman to offer free of charge "a community dedicated to providing "a different kind of healing" - summer camps designed so that children with serious medical challenges can have the same kinds of fun and community as any other children, and can develop the same confidence in their abilities. The site tells all about the program, and allows camper applications, volunteer applications, and donor contributions.

  • Motorcycle Safety Guide - CDC

    This latest report from the Centers for Disease Control analyzes who dies in motorcycle crashes, injury prevention strategies that have been shown to work, helmet laws that save lives and money, and more.

  • Pixar Story Rules

    The rules that Pixar uses could be a useful starting point for any beginning fiction writer.


    Non-Ficton: Mary Roach. Packing for Mars. Gravity is one of those things people took for granted, back when living in it was the only option. Once governments started sending people into space, scientists had to learn quickly how to provide an environment in which humans could survive and meet basic human needs like eating, digesting, moving, bathing, and sleeping in a weightless oxygenless void, and what the effects of prolonged weightlessness and radiation exposure would be once astronauts returned to earth. It turns out that even knowing when you need to poop requires gravity (Roach seems to have a somewhat excessive interest in excretion). The experiments they conducted (and the after the fact studies of the returned astronauts) are strange, fascinating, gross, and amusing.

    June 15

  • America's Most Affordable Cities - Forbes

    Forbes came up with these top 20 cities by analyzing housing affordability and cost of living, along with people's ability to pay based on median salaries and recent local unemployment rates.


    The official government database, which indexes 127,453 trials with locations in 179 countries, is searchable by medical condition, location, drug intervention and sponsor. The information on each clinical trial includes whether they are currently recruiting patients, active but not recruiting, terminated, or completed with results. Click on those of interest for more details about the study and methodology. A results database is also available here.

  • The EuroZone Crisis: a Primer - New York Times

    If you'd like to know more about it than the fact that it makes our own 401-Ks go up and down like a roller coaster, here's a pretty good place to start. Also useful: BBC News' Timeline on the eurozone crisis <> and its links to related stories.

  • Frommer's Travel Guides

    The long--time publisher of travel guidebooks has created an excellent site for planning a trip. Searchable by keywords (I used "bicycle Canada" and "Baseball Arizona"), and browsable by destinations, hotels, trip ideas, and Tips and Tools (a calendar of events, currency info, customs info, etc.). A feature parents will like is 100 Places To Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up.

  • Gifts for Fathers Day - AskMen

    Because the last person you want to ask is a woman, you can ask the people who really know. Or you can just do what I do: bake him a bourbon chocolate pecan pie.

  • Indian Memory Project - Visual & Oral history of the Indian Subcontinent via family archives
    Searchable and browsable by tags or categories like Caste, Ethnicity, Year, Attire, Religion, Music, Art, Dance & Culture, etc. The site welcomes comments and submissions of family archival material.

  • The Private Sector and the Public Sector under Obama - Business Insider

    After the President's recent remark about the private sector (and the complete failure of the news media to show the second half of that sentence about how layoffs in the public sector affected the unemployment numbers), this is a topic where some actual facts would be useful. Here they are.

  • Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly - PBS

    This People's Voice winner includes programs from the PBS series, articles, blogs, and resources for teachers. Recent topics have included "Catholic Institutions versus the Obama Administration," "Women in Theology and Ministry," "Conversations before Dying," and Catholic Teaching and the Budget."

  • Share a Story

    "By gathering real stories from people around the world and from every background you could possibly imagine, this website hopes to paint a raw picture of humanity today." There aren't a great many stories here yet, but you can add your own or browse the ones that are already here by topic and region.

  • Simply Hired - Job Search Made Simple

    This Webby nominee for best employment site allows you to search job postings by keyword and location, and narrow the results by job title, date posted, and job type. It also includes links to relevant information for that career's trends and salaries. Employers can post jobs here, and job seekers can post resumes.


    Non-fiction: Michael Lanza. Before They're Gone: A Family's Year-Long Quest To Explore America's Most Endangered Public Parks. Lanza, a longtime outdoors writer and photographer, and Northwest Editor of Backpack Magazine, knows from direct experience that our national parks' glaciers are melting, their coastal areas are flooding, and their flora and fauna are changing as winters become warmer, and summers become hotter and longer. So he and his wife take their 7 year old daughter and 9 year old son to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Glacier National Park, the Everglades, and other endangered parks before they change irrevocably. Fascinating, though as a mother and grandma, I cringed when he described taking his kids down a narrow, ice-covered trail in the Grand Canyon, and was relieved when he decided against camping over night in a spot full of very fresh bear spoor.

    June 8

  • AllState Teen Driver

    This Webby Award winning site offers games that help kids improve their driving skills - and doing so online sure beats making inevitable mistakes on the road with other drivers.

  • Belief

    This Webby-nominated blog includes a "morning rundown of the top faith-angle stories from around the United States and around the world," as well as posts by their own writers and editors.

  • Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE)

    "a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency." Browse by state or by the summary maps that give you a geographical overview of specific types of incentives.

  • Glassdoor - an inside look at jobs & companies

    A Webby-winning site that lets you search for jobs and find salary information, company reviews by anonymous insiders, link in with Facebook to see if any of your friends have connections in the company you're looking at, and more.

  • Google Art Project

    "Over 150 collections, 40 countries, one gallery." From the homepage, select Collections, Artists, or Artworks and choose from the menu. The side bar offers tools for exploring the works and for creating your own collection online and sharing it.

  • Harvard Business Review Blog Network

    Nominated for a Webby award for best business site. The bloggers cover a wide range of business topics, skills, and industries. If you want to search the blogs, you can browse by tags, or search all HBR publications and limit by blog posts (which unlike the PDFs of articles and book chapters, are free).

  • Library and Archives Canada

    Canada's National Archive is switching to an increasingly digital mode of delivery, with many of its databases available here - genealogy, portraits, immigration records, censuses, etc. - along with a virtual exhibitions on a wide variety of topics.

  • National Geographic Kids

    If you want your kids to enjoy learning things even after school lets out, check out this Webby nominated site full of games, videos, photos, cartoons, crafts, contests, and more, complete with opportunities to participate.

  • Road Trip Roundup: Surviving Summer Car Trips with Kids - Parenting Squad

    If you're taking kids on the road this summer, you'll want to read this. The always invaluable Parenting Squad not only offers its own tips, but has scoured other parenting resources for their best advice. (And if you'd like to read about how my parents managed to keep four kids from driving them nuts on frequent trips from Michigan to New Jersey, read my column, Word Child <>.)

  • The Savings-Experiment : Money-Saving Ideas - Daily Finance

    Offers articles on how to save money on almost everything - cable, refrigerators, cooling your home, pest control, and more.


    Fiction: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. This novel set in post-war England is told in letters, most of them to and from writer Juliet Ashton. A man in the island of Guernsey, who acquired a book she had once owned and made marginal notes in, writes her to learn more about its author, Charles Lamb. Curious about the literary society he mentions and its even more curious origin, she writes back. Thus begins a conversation between Juliet and all the members of the society, revealing a world she knew nothing about: their lives under German occupation during World War II. For an epistolary novel to work, each character not only has to have a unique voice, but their letters have to sound more like they're talking than writing. The authors pull this off magnificently.

    June 1

  • 50 Money Questions To Consider before Marriage

    Since financial problems often lead to divorce, it might be helpful to ask questions like these BEFORE you tie the knot - what your combined debt is, your intended's spending and savings habits, the expenses you each consider necessities, etc.

  • 70 Amazing Examples of Street Art - Bored Panda

    Amazing is right - also beautiful, quirky, amusing, childlike, and kind of scary.

  • 16th Annual Webby Awards

    Links to Webby winners and nominees, as well as the People's Voice winner. As always this is a great place to find out about useful sites you may not have encountered before.

  • Be Prepared for Any Home Emergency - Money Magazine

    Recommends essential safety devices, warns about common threats new homeowners may not have thought about, and lists must-have tools for your emergency kit.

  • Breath-taking Archival Footage of Constructing the Golden Gate Bridge - Video

    In case you missed it, the Golden Gate Bridge just celebrated its 75th anniversary. It's easy to take a wonder like this for granted, unless, of course, you get a glimpse of what went into the building of it.

  • Concussion in Youth Sports - Centers for Disease Control

    Provides fact sheets for parents and young athletes on preventing, recognizing, and responding to concussions, as well as an online training course for coaches.

  • Consumer World's Mini Consumer Resource Guide

    While not intended to be an exhaustive set of links to consumer assistance, it's a wonderful quick guide to the most authoritative sources for the most common consumer interests and problems, like auto safety, free credit reports, product recalls, coupons, airline complaints, lemon laws, and more.

  • Here's What You Need To Know about the US Talent Shortage - Business Insider
    If you're looking for education and training that will lead to job offers, you should be interested in the results from the Manpower Group survey of employers by about what job vacancies have been hardest to fill.

  • ParkScore Project

    The Trust for Public Land looks at how well the 40 largest cities do in providing adequate, easily accessible parks. Scores are based on acreage as a percentage of city area, number of playgrounds per 10,000 residents, spending on parks per resident, and percentage of the population living within a 10-minute walk of a public park. If your city is rated here, click on it for details about the city's parks.

  • Small Home? Space-Saving Tips on the Cheap - Savings Experiment - DailyFinance

    Whether you're a new grad renting an itty-bitty apartment you can actually afford, or someone downsizing from a bigger home, these room by room tips on how to maximize your available space should be helpful.

    Non-fiction: Bernie Krause. The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World's Wild Places. This is one of the most fascinating books I've read in a long time. Krause, a musician and recordist of background ambient sounds for movies, suddenly started LISTENING to not just the individual sounds he was asked to record, but the combined soundscape created by the sounds of wind, water, birds, animals, fish, and insects. In doing so, he created a new science and a new understanding of what each small soundscape (they change from block to block, and from one time of day to another) reveals about the changing ecosystems. But he also found patterns in the rhythms and sounds that are virtually identical to human music - and guess which came first?

    Fiction: John MacDonald. Condominium. In this 1974 novel, MacDonald departs from the mystery genre in this saga detailing what happens to condominium residents during a "perfect storm" brought about by greedy developers, corrupt local officials, environmental destruction, shoddy construction, topped off by a hurricane that destroys these homes built (quite literally) on sand. MacDonald introduces a wealth of characters but still manages to make us remember them all and care about their fate.



    I'm going to do something a little different this week: explain how and why I choose the sites I do for Neat New Stuff.

    In 1995, when I was a reference librarian at St. Ambrose University, I constructed a web site for our students and faculty called Best Information on the Net (BIOTN) <>, an annotated guide to authoritative information sources for every academic program St. Ambrose offered, as well as useful resources for faculty and for students (Hot Paper Topics <> turned out to be a BIG hit with students). I also created a virtual reference desk to answer questions my fellow librarians and I regularly fielded. Each week, the section on Neat New Stuff pointed out to students and faculty some of the niftiest sites I'd added to BIOTN.

    When I quit my job to become a full-time writer and speaker, my colleagues suggested that since NeatNew was the one part of the site where I let my personality leak through, it was more mine than St. Ambrose's, so I took it with me when I left, and mounted it on my own web site. My audience was now wider than just my campus, but I still saw NeatNew as a tool to share with other librarians sites that answered questions I knew people would be asking them.

    That's why many of the sites I point to provide objective evidence to shed light on current national issues and controversies. When factual misinformation and confusion about an issue abounds, as in the case of the Affordable Health Care Act, I may address it repeatedly, pointing to the text of laws, Congressional testimony, statistics, research reports, and good explanations offered by objective sources. Many of the sites I point you to are sources I encountered in my daily reading; others are sites I scouted for when I needed better background information on a topic.

    Since many people who are in trouble go to the library looking for information and assistance, I've been listing numerous resources to help people deal with unemployment, foreclosures, credit problems, and money management. Since people are always coming to librarians with health questions, I point to any trustworthy health site I come across.

    It has been my experience that in the face of disaster, most of us hate feeling helpless, and want to DO something, be it volunteering or donating. That's why I always point to trustworthy organizations that are assisting in current catastrophes.

    I provide other fodder for anyone's own virtual reference desk in the form of statistical sources, documents, topical news sites, webliographies, map sources, information portals, databases, etc. Since many information requests are seasonal, I always point to resources for things like summer travel, holidays, dedicated months (Women's History, Hispanic Heritage, etc.), and sites to help frazzled parents entertain the kids when school is not in session.

    Reading lists, review sources, and other good sites about books are always welcome to librarians (myself included) and the readers they serve, so I frequently include such sites on NeatNew. Lists not only make great conversation starters, but can also serve as exhibit and program ideas for librarians, so I often tuck in a Top 10 of some sort on NeatNew.

    Librarians and information junkies alike revel in the fact that the interactive, audio, and visual capabilities of the net allow it to provide entirely new kinds of information experiences, so I often point to photography and film archives, oral histories, recorded speeches, illustrated lectures, charts and graphic illustrations of complex topics, discussion forums, mashups of maps and content, etc.

    From that point on, it's a pretty eclectic mix - you might find sites for recipes, auto repair, hobbies of all sorts, blogs, thought-provoking articles, prize-winning work in some field of endeavor, government web sites providing useful information, etc.

    To a large extent I simply follow my curiosity - and there's nothing I'm not curious about. I pick up sites from the books and magazines I'm reading, or I go hunting on the web for more information on something that was mentioned in them. And sometimes I follow my readers' curiosity, when they send me sites they think are pretty neat AND explain why they're special (after one computer catastrophe too many, I do not follow blind links).

    I know my limitations, and stick to recommending things I am qualified to evaluate. I won't include:

  • sites about computers and software - sorry, I only use them, I don't understand them.
  • social networking sites
  • sites that are primarily commercial - I'm after good free information, and plenty of it. Commercial sites can make the cut if, like Amazon and L.L. Bean, they also offer great free information

    I know that many of my readers are not, in fact, librarians, but simply people who enjoy discovering the often hidden treasures of the net; I'm delighted to be of service to you as well.

    And now that you all know what I've been doing on NeatNew, and have every intention of continuing to do, please come back next week to see another dozen sites that I'm already looking forward to showing you.

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