Writers on Climate Change

In 2014, Earth Day will be celebrated on April 22.  The first Earth Day, in 1970, led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.  The founder of Earth Day, Senator Gaylord Nelson, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995 by President Bill Clinton.  Millions of people have demonstrated, volunteered, labored, and voiced concern for the sustainability of Planet Earth.  The following is a small selection of the best environmental writing of the past year.

The Incidental Steward: reflections on citizen science, by Akiko Busch.

Busch is a Hudson River Valley native and chronicles her discoveries of environmental change through beautiful and inspiring essays.  Each essay recounts an adventure in “citizen science” with observations on natural history and reflections on our changing natural world.  Donna Seaman from Booklist wrote, “This is a beautiful and incisive affirmation of how “full engagement with the natural world enriches the human experience.”

Overheated: the human cost of climate change, by Andrew T. Guzman.

Guzman is a respected legal scholar, educator and economist.  His book is not a scientific debate on climate change, but rather an expose on the catastrophic consequences of ignoring climate change.  Rising seas will swamp island nations, coastal areas will be flooded, and food production will be jeopardized.  The result is famine, drought, and war as people and nations compete for survival.

Oil and honey: the education of an unlikely activist, by Bill McKibben.

McKibben has been writing about the devastation of climate change for 25 years.  This book however is different.  This is his account of personal activism, of protests against the Keystone XL pipeline, including his time in jail, and on a local level, his efforts with bee husbandry.  More than a story of McKibben’s environmental activism, this is a self-revealing memoir of a personal transformation.

The upcycle: beyond sustainability – designing for abundance, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart.

McDonough (an architect) and Braungart (a chemist) offer a provocative plan to move beyond sustainability and actually add to the earth’s abundance.  Their examples are drawn from nature, where one creature’s waste becomes nutrition for another.  The book has many creative, practical ideas on growing Planet Earth.



Summit County’s ADM Board : Recovery Starts Here

As a citizen of Summit County, chances are you have heard mention of the ADM Board.  Other than asking for your vote on a levy every few years, what do you know about them?  Or perhaps the ADM Board has personally aided you as an individual or one of your family members.  To begin with, ADM stands for Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services.  What scope!  The County of Summit ADM Board is one is one of those agencies which help provide a safety net for so many of Summit County’s individuals and families.  They deal with some of society’s most troubling issues-addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc. and mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, bi-polar disease-just to name a few.

The ADM Board coordinates services from a myriad of providers and agencies active in the treatment of addiction and mental illness in Summit County.  Some of the best known agencies include Oriana House, Portage Path Behavioral Health Center, and the Summit County Suicide Prevention Coalition.  Opiate abuse has been a big news story lately.  Heroin overdoses currently exceed deaths from homicide and car accidents.  The Summit County ADM Board has taken the lead locally in convening the Opiate Task Force.  This task force is composed of individuals and organizations committed to reducing the tragic consequences of opiate abuse in Summit County through education, collaboration, and the wise use of available resources. 

Recovery Starts Here is a slogan used by the ADM Board to promote their mission.  Access to appropriate treatment is a key to recovery.  Our ADM Board is the cornerstone of that treatment.  Key contact numbers include these 24 hour a day resources:

Child Mental Health Emergencies/Children’s Hospital of Akron PIRC program

(330)543-7472 or (866)443-7472

Adult Mental Health Emergencies/Portage Path Support Hotline

(330) 434-9144

Alcohol and Drug Crisis Hotline (Includes Detox services)/Oriana House Hotline


To contact the ADM office call (330)762-3500 or toll-free (877)604-0006.

Also note, the second ADM Recovery Challenge fundraiser is May 17, 2014.  It is a 5K obstacle course taking place in the woods and on the fields and grounds of the Interval Brotherhood Home in Coventry Township.  To register, visit the ADM Recovery Challenge page on FaceBook or the ADM web page.  This is an opportunity to get outside, get some exercise, AND support those in recovery.


Hot off the Press

Lebow, Richard Ned. Archduke Franz Ferdinand Lives!: A World without World War. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

What if WWI had never happened? No Nazis, no Bolsheviks, no Holocaust, no WWII, no Cold War, perhaps no nuclear weapons. Then again: King, Kaiser and Tsar would have ruled the 20th century, holding back democracy and decolonization. A century of peace would have delayed war-related inventions like radar, penicillin, nuclear energy, long-distance air travel, computers. Without war-related industrialization, Black mass migration to the North fails to take place-as does the struggle for civil rights and the election of Barack Obama as President. Lebow has produced a dense-yet-sophisticated “what-if” history. Read this book to jog your mind and to understand the worst and best century in world history: Why we are where we are now. One noteworthy drawback of this book is that the author has a tendency to focus on Europe, the Middle East and North America, ignoring possible future events and outcomes which might have happened in the Far East, Africa and South America.

Braun, Adam. The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change. Scribner, 2014.

Adam Braun began working summers at hedge funds when he was sixteen years old, sprinting down the path to a Wall Street career. But while traveling, he met a young boy begging on the streets of India, who, after being asked what he wanted most in the world, simply answered, “A pencil.” This small request led to a series of events that took Braun backpacking through dozens of countries before eventually leaving one of the world’s most prestigious jobs to found Pencils of Promise, the organization he started with just $25 that has since built more than 200 schools around the world.

The Promise of a Pencil chronicles Braun’s journey to find his calling, as each chapter explains one clear step that every person can take to turn your biggest ambitions into reality, even if one starts with as little as $25. This story takes readers behind the scenes with business moguls and village chiefs, celebrities and hometown heroes. Driven by compelling stories and shareable insights, this is a vivid and inspiring book that will give you the tools to make your own life a story worth telling.

Martin, Felix. Money: The Unauthorized Biography. Knopf, 2014.

What is money, and how does it work? In this tour de force of political, cultural and economic history, Felix Martin challenges our conventional understanding of money. He describes how the Western idea of money emerged from interactions between Mesopotamia and ancient Greece and was shaped over the centuries by tensions between sovereigns and the emerging middle classes. He explores the extraordinary diversity of the world’s monetary systems, from the Pacific island of Yap, where value was once measured by immovable stones, to the currency of today that exists solely on globally connected computer screens. Martin shows that money has always been a deeply political instrument, and that it is our failure to remember this that led to the crisis in our financial system and so to the Great Recession. Money skips among such far-ranging topics as John Locke’s  excursion into economic policy, Montesquieu’s faith in finance to discipline the power of kings, the social organization of ancient Sparta and the Soviet Union’s ill-fated attempt to abolish money and banking altogether. Throughout, Martin makes sense of a chaotic and incoherent system—the everyday currency that we all share—in clear and stimulating terms. This is a work of history and economics.

Pakroo, Peri. The Small Business Start-Up Kit. Nolo, 2014.

Entrepreneurs need to have a look at The Small Business Start-Up Kit. Want to start a business? Don’t know where to begin? Start here. The Small Business Start-Up Kit shows the reader how to set up a small business in any state, while clearing state and local bureaucratic hurdles along the way. Other topics include how to:  choose between an LLC and other business structures; write an effective business plan; pick a winning business name and protect it; hire and manage staff; comply with legal and tax issues affecting home businesses; price, bid and bill your projects; manage finances and taxes; get a website up and running; market the business effectively, online and off This new edition is completely updated, with material on emerging business structures and how to raise money online through crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter.


Ivry, Bob. The Seven Sins of Wall Street: Big Banks, their Washington Lackeys, and the Next Financial Crisis. Public Affairs, 2014.

We know that the financial crisis of 2008 came dangerously close to pushing the United States and the world into a depression rivaling that of the 1930s. But what is astonishing—and should make us not just afraid but very afraid—are the shenanigans of the biggest banks since the crisis. Ivry details the ineptitude of America’s best-compensated executives and the ways the government kowtows to what it mistakenly imagines is their competence and success. Ivry indicts a financial industry that continues to work for the few at the expense of the many. The Great Depression of the 1930s moved the American political system to real reform that kept the finance industry in check. With millions so deeply affected since the crisis of 2008, the reader will finish this book wondering that so many of the nation’s leading financial institutions remain little more than exasperating problem children.


Leases, Receipts and Liens, oh my!

Trying to find a ready made legal form for many of life’s situations can be very frustrating.  It’s usually a good idea to consult an attorney, however you might also like to take a look at the convenient legal form database on the Business and Government Blog page.

This database allows you to search by either title or keyword and hopefully find the necessary paperwork.  There are broad categories such as Power of Attorney, Wills, and Leases that you can browse.  There are often way more variations of a form than you might realize, for instance when you go to the Power of Attorney section, there are 56 different forms to choose from.  It is a good idea to carefully look through the list and make sure to print the one that fits your situation.  We cannot emphasize enough that, having a legal professional assisting you can save a lot of headaches and they can also confirm that you have the correct legal form.

You can access the Legal Forms database by going to the Business & Government blog and scroll down to the legal heading and click on “legal forms.”


The Goodness of Guinness

St. Patrick’s Day, aka “the Day we’re all Irish”, is March 17 this year.  Some local bars will open early Monday morning to …well, raise a pint.  Naturally, this led me to the subject of beer and Guinness in particular.  So as LUCK would have it, I pulled from the shelves in Business & Government, the book “The goodness of Guinness: a loving history of the brewery, its people, and the City of Dublin,” by Tony Corcoran.

The book is the story of Guinness and its influence on Dublin’s economic, social and cultural life.  As a third-generation employee of Guinness, the author gives both a fascinating and charming insider account of the brewery.  From company history to family history, from progressive work policies to social initiatives, to a fond description of the experience of drinking Guinness, this book is a treasure trove of facts and memories.

Equally fascinating is “The search for God and Guinness: a biography of the beer that changed the world,” by Stephen Mansfield.  This book precedes Guinness by including a chapter on the history of beer before 1759.  Arthur Guinness, the founder of the company bearing his name, thought crafting a stout beer was his calling in life.  He saw the beverage as a healthy alternative to gin and whiskey, which were the common drinks of the day.  Because of his deep religious faith, Guinness and future generations were active in social causes and generous in economic benefits to their employees.

In more than one way, “Guinness is good for you.”


2014 Severe Weather Awareness Week

Even though it’s difficult to think of the coming of spring with snow still on the ground and temperatures that refuse to climb above freezing, warmer weather is on it’s way and with it the threat of severe weather.  Along with the chirping birds, blooming flowers, and budding trees come unstable air masses that give birth to severe thunderstorms.  Not only do these storms produce ear-splitting thunder, flood inducing downpours, hail, and deadly lightning, they can also spawn tornadoes.  Tornadoes can occur any time of the year in Ohio, but the vast majority develop during the months April through July.

Reviewing safety information concerning tornadoes should be on everyone’s list with the start of spring.  The Ohio Committe for Severe Weather Awareness has a web page that outlines Tornado Facts, Safety Tips & Insurance Information.  They also offer a brochure, Protection Against Tornadoes, Be Storm-Ready.

Ohio has a grim history when it comes to these powerful swirling storms.  Most notably, the Super Outbreak that occured April 3rd and 4th, 1974.  Many states experienced powerful twisters during that event.  Xenia, Ohio was pummeled by a massive funnel that came close to exceeding the highest ranking of the Fujita Scale and almost earned an F6.  The fatality count was 36 people.  The total of deaths of the Super Outbreak across 13 states was 315.  Below is a government issued film of the event.


Guilty Pleasure Reading: The Lindbergh Case

March 1 is the anniversary of the Lindbergh Kidnapping which occurred in 1932.  Recognized as one of the most famous and important crimes of the 20th century,  it still attracts attention and controversy.  Charles Lindbergh, Sr., one of the most well-known celebrities of his time, was known for making the first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic in 1927.  He and his wife, Anne Morrow, were the parents of 20 month old Charles Lindbergh, Jr.  The toddler was taken from his crib and his body was found in a neighboring community more than two months later.  It was determined that the cause of death was a massive skull fracture.  A ransom note was found in the child’s bedroom in the Lindbergh home in East Amwell, New Jersey.

The Lindbergh Kidnapping resulted in changes in federal law and also some early uses of forensic investigation techniques.  It is also an example of early 20th century media frenzy.  H.L. Mencken called the case and subsequent trial “the biggest story since the Resurrection”.

Akron Summit County Public Library owns a variety of titles on this fascinating case, each with a different point of view.  The aptly titled The Case That Never Dies: The Lindbergh Kidnapping is written by Lloyd C. Gardner.  As a historian, he places the story in the context of the time period-the Great Depression, fear of anarchy, and the presence and influence of organized crime.

Cemetery John: The Undiscovered Mastermind Behind the Lindbergh Kidnapping by Robert Zorn falls into the category of “theory” books on the case, of which there are several.  Zorn discredits the established opinion that Bruno Richard Hauptman, German immigrant, acted alone.  Hauptman was tried, convicted, and finally executed in 1936.  Zorn states that the crime included several accomplices, some of whom were friends of his own father.

Attesting to continuing interest in the case is the recent publication of The Sixteenth Rail: The Evidence, the Scientist, and the Lindbergh Kidnapping by Adam Schrager.  This book focuses on the forensic science which was so crucial in Hauptman’s conviction, and the scientist, Arthur Koehler.  Lacking today’s DNA testing and working with a contaminated crime scene which lacked fingerprint evidence, Koehler came forth came forth using his knowledge of xylology.  As someone with deep understanding of the unique structure (think snowflake or fingerprint) of individual trees and pieces of wood, he tied part of the ladder used to gain access to the Lindbergh nursery to wood in the attic of Bruno Hauptman’s home.

So be you social history buff, conspiracy theorist, amateur forensic expert, or true crime fanatic, we have an array of interesting titles to enlighten you.


New and News

New Books to Consider:

Karabell, Zachary. The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World. Simon & Schuster, 2014.  We are bombarded every day with numbers that tell us how we are doing, whether the economy is growing or shrinking, whether the future looks bright or dim. Gross national product, balance of trade, unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence guide our actions, yet few of us know where these numbers come from, what they mean, or why they rule our world. In The Leading Indicators, Karabell tells the history of these indicators. They were invented in the mid-twentieth century to address the urgent challenges of the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War. They were rough measures, designed to give clarity in a data-parched world that was made up of centralized, industrial nations—yet we still rely on them today. If you want to buy a home, look for a job, start a company, or run a business, you should find your own indicators. National housing figures don’t matter; local ones do. You can find them at the click of a button. Personal, made-to-order indicators will meet our needs today, and the revolution is well underway–We need only to join it.

Fink, Caroline K. Cold War: An International History. Westview Press, 2013.  The decades-long Cold War had implications for the entire world and was more than a conflict between the USA and the USSR. Fink explores the war from an international perspective, including events in Asia, Africa and Latin America. She offers a braoder time line of the Cold War, beginning with the Russian Revolution and World War II and discussing the aftermath after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Casale, James L. Wise Up: Be the Solution: Establish a “learning culture” in your home and help your child succeed in school. CreateSpace, 2013. Direct your frustration about your child’s education to something you can control-the learning environment in your own home. No special skills are needed.  Casale, a state and national award winning educator with 50 years of experience, inspires parents to become more knowledgeable about key school issues and more proactive in their child’s education. You don’t need another parenting book or any specialized knowledge. You will not have to do your child’s homework or design elaborate learning activities. This book offers readers a straightforward,  common sense approach to creating a learning culture in the home and helping your child succeed in school and in life. Parents can change the family dynamic for the better by remembering the four C(s)-calm, civil, courageous and consistent. Get the tools you need to: maintain a positive attitude about education and develop a plan that values education and life-long learning. Parents are their child’s first and most important teachers. They must accept their solemn responsibility to love, protect, and nurture the emotional, psychological, physical and academic growth of their child. This book will help parents to be the solution.

Appling for Student Aid: The U.S. Department of Education awards about $150 billion a year in grants, work-study funds, and low-interest loans to more than 14 million students. Federal student aid covers such expenses as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. Aid also can help pay for other related expenses, such as a computer and dependent care. Thousands of schools across the country participate in the federal student aid programs; ask the schools you’re interested in whether they do. Federal student aid includes:

  • Grants—financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid (unless, for example, you withdraw from school and owe a refund)
  • Loans— borrowed money for college or career school; you must repay your loans, with interest
  • Work-Study—a work program through which you earn money to help you pay for school

Use FAFSA4caster to get an estimate of how much aid you might receive from the U.S. Department of Education.

Apply for federal student aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSASM). And remember, the first F in “FAFSA” stands for “free”—you shouldn’t pay to fill out the FAFSA.

News from the Federal Trade Commission:

How much is everything on your computer worth to you?  About $300?  The criminals behind a new malware program are betting on it.

The Federal Trade Commission, the FBI and other federal agencies are warning consumers and businesses about “Cryptolocker,” a malware program that holds the files on your computer for ransom, and doesn’t allow you to access them until you pay up. Even then, there’s no guarantee. It’s essentially extortion, with all your personal documents, photos, and files at risk.

Cryptolocker is spread mostly through email and “drive-by” downloads. The email might look like a routine message from a legitimate company, like a tracking notice from a shipping company. If you click on the hyperlink in the email, Cryptolocker encrypts everything on your hard drive and in your shared folders. When the job is done, you get a “ransom note” demanding payment via Bitcoin or some other anonymous payment method. The criminals behind this malware say they’ll give you the encryption key if you pay, but they’re hardly trustworthy. And there’s no other way to unlock your files. For tips about how to protect your business from Cryptolocker, read Lock, stock, and peril at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/back-back-back-it.



When Not at the White House

On President’s Day the previous leaders of our country are honored and glorified. Full page ads depicting the heads of Lincoln and Washington are set amongst a backdrop of red, white and blue fireworks and 50% off sales.

But have you ever wondered more about the actual places that the Presidents lived and hung out in?  There are several books that discuss a more personal aspect of Presidential life by sharing an inside look at homes and getaways of the Commander in Chief.

In “Houses of the Presidents,” Hugh Howard and photographer Roger Straus III showcase how these men have lived.  Everything from simple small homes to ornate mansions, farmhouses to cottages…this fascinating book is both interesting to read and beautiful to look at.

Margaret Truman writes from a personal perspective about some of the history and secrets of the White House in “The President’s House.”

It’s not always their homes that Presidents find most relaxing and Peter Hannaford’s book, Presidential Retreats: where the Presidents went and why they went there,”  goes thru President by President and discusses and illustrates where the men went to get away from it all.

William Clotworthy has written a helpful book entitled, Homes and libraries of the Presidents,” which offers a background of the President and also information on how to visit birthplaces, homes and the libraries which inevitably seem to spring forth after the President is out of office.


Carter G. Woodson: the Father of Black History

Nearly 90 years ago, Negro History Week was started by an educator named Carter Godwin Woodson.  Woodson believed that the history of blacks went far beyond slavery.  He believed blacks had made significant contributions to both American and world history, but the stories were untold or unnoticed.  Knowledge and education of one’s history was the key to success for Woodson, and so he dedicated his career to the teaching of black history.

Carter Godwin Woodson had humble beginnings.  He was born in 1875 in Virginia to former slaves.  In his youth he worked on the family farm and in the Kentucky coal mines.  At the age of 20, he began his formal education, attending high school, several universities and eventually graduating with a PhD from Harvard in 1912.

Woodson devoted his life to preserving the history and contributions of black people.  His greatest contribution was the establishment in 1926 of Negro History Week which took place during the second week of February.  Woodson chose February because it’s the birth month of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, President Abraham Lincoln and writer Langston Hughes.  He was also a prolific writer and his most famous book “The Mis-education of the Negro” was written in 1933.  The book emphasized the lack of authentic black history and biography in schools and the lack of literature to teach black studies.  He believed not knowing or understanding one’s heritage led to a poor self-image by failing to teach the worthiness of black achievement.

In 1976, Negro History Week was extended to the entire month of February and the name was changed to Black History Month.

Carter G. Woodson died on April 3, 1950.  Please explore his legacy through his readings, or his biographies, or the many books and audio-visual materials on black history at the Akron-Summit County Public Library.