Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Government Style

Check out the Census Bureau’s Halloween page for fun facts and statistics about everything from where Halloween celebrations started in the U.S. to the number of Trick or Treaters.

NASA to Repair Hubble

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin announced this morning that NASA will send the space shuttle to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. The servicing mission will likely take place in 2008, when astronauts will take new instruments, batteries and gyros necessary to Hubble's success through 2013.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Pittsburg, P.A.?

In the 1890s President Benjamin Harrison launched a campaign to standardize the spelling of U.S. place names. The problem was that federal agencies were using multiple variations of spellings for the same locations and this practice was a source of needless confusion. So on September 4, 1890 President Harrison issued an executive order creating a new agency, U.S. Board on Geographic Names, the job of which was to standardize the spellings of U.S. locales. At the time, no one probably expected that the work of the agency would become the source of controversy.

As part of the standardization process, however, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names decided to drop the final "h" in places ending with "burgh." As this NPR story reveals, this change didn't sit well with many citizens of the newly dubbed "Pittsburg, Pennsylvania" and thus began a twenty year campaign on the part of Pittsburgh citizens to get back the "h" in their name. At a special meeting in 1911, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names decided to give up the campaign to remove the "h" in Pittsburgh, and the secretary of the board sent a letter to Pennsylvania Senator George T. Oliver instructing him of the decision.

The fight over place names can be told with Government Documents (thus the connection!). For instance, the executive order that President Harrison issued on September 4, 1890 to create the U.S Board on Geographic Names can be read on the second page of this document. Also, to see an original copy of the U.S. Board's complete report on uniform place names, see the House of Representatives Report "Message from the President of the United States Transmitting The Report of the United States Board of Geographic Names," [52 Congress, 1st Session, Ex. Doc. No. 16], which was issued on December 23, 1891.

EPA Library Closures -ALA Action Alert!

From an ALA Action Alert as cited in OpenTheGovernment.org:

Help save the EPA Libraries - call your Senators before November 1 and ask them to sign the Boxer-Lautenberg "Dear Colleague" letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee asking that the EPA be directed to "restore and maintain public access and onsite library collections and services at EPA's headquarters, regional, laboratory, and specialized program libraries while the Agency solicits and considers public input on its plan to drastically cut its library budget and services."

U.S. Capitol switchboard 202-225-3121

Also see our earlier post on the EPA Library Closures.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Patents, Patents Everywhere!

According to Canadian Patent Librarian Michael White, everyone is jumping on the patent reality tv bandwagon. Ever since American Inventor debuted in the Spring of 2006 on ABC, other networks are following suit. PBS will be airing Everyday Edisons in May 2007 and are interviewing Oct. 28 in Chicago for the next season. Nov. 30 is the deadline for patent hopefuls to enter the History Channel’s Modern Marvels Invent Now Challenge with a May 2007 airtime. Even Canadians are joining the race with two shows, Discovery Canada’s Patent Bending which tries to figure out why wacky inventions never became popular and CBC’s Dragons’ Den in which inventors compete for the backing of “business moguls” (the dragons).

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Government Spending Database

Want to know where your tax dollars are being spent? OMB Watch has created a free database, Fedspending.org, that allows users to search government grants and contracts back to FY 2000. Check out their helpful tutorial first to make your search strategy more productive.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Early Voting Oct. 23 - Nov. 3, 2006

In Harris County you may vote early at one of the locations indicated on the Harris County Early Voting Map (includes hours of operation). For precinct information specific to Rice University, access Rice Vote Coalition Voting Reference Information which also includes absentee ballot information. On election day (Nov. 7) for those voting at Rice (Precinct 361), the poll will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Grand Hall of the RMC. If you are not sure what precinct of Harris County you are in, check the Harris County Precinct Guide. Use Who Represents Me? to identify state and national representatives and senators for your precinct. View a non-precinct specific sample ballot in English/Spanish or Vietnamese/English and The League of Women Voter's Guide for Ft. Bend County or for Harris County (in English) or (in Spanish). If you prefer to vote by mail, applications for ballots by mail must be received (not post marked) by Oct. 31, 2006.

Friday, October 20, 2006

When do you really need a patent?

For those who might have missed it, here is a terrific article that Business Week ran on the pros and cons of obtaining a patent.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

School Associated Violent Deaths

In addition to the free downloadable report mentioned in the title, the National School Safety Center site offers school safety assessments, tips, leadership training, presentations, technical assistance, journals, and videos. The Texas School Safety Center also conducts safety training and collects school safety data. Of particular interest to schools that need to upgrade security but face budgetary constraints is its Grants for Schools Districts Concerning School Safety Issues.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

U.S. Population Reaches 300 Million

The U.S. Census Bureau announced that the population of the U.S. reached 300,000,000 early this morning. See the Population Clock for the current number.

Monday, October 16, 2006

UN Resolution - Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

The United Nations Security Council passed a non-proliferation resolution regarding the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on Saturday, October 14. See also the Security Council's announcement and the press release from the U.N. News Centre.

Also see the Statement by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on the North Korea Nuclear Test.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Modern Marvels Invent Now Challenge

Win a $25,000 grant if your "breakthrough" invention is selected by The History Channel for its Wednesday night (8pm/7c) television series Modern Marvels. Co-sponsered by the USPTO, the contest ends Nov. 11, 2006.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

EPA Library Closures

Congressmen Gordon, Waxman, and Dingle have requested that the Government Accountability Office examine the President's budget proposal to cut funding for the EPA Library System by 30 percent for FY 2007. These cuts will cause some regional EPA libraries to close while others will reduce hours and services.

Read the notice in the Federal Register about the EPA Headquarters Library closure. See page 6 and page 11 (attachment 2) of the EPA FY 2007 Library Plan: National Framework for the Headquarters and Regional Libraries for information about library closures.

PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) expresses concerns about lost services when material housed in the EPA Headquarters Library is relocated to three “information repositories.”

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Texas House District 134 Debate

Rice University will be hosting the Texas House of Representatives District 134 Debate on Thursday, Oct. 12, at 8:00 p.m. in McMurty Auditorium, Duncan Hall. Candidates debating will be Ellen Cohen (Democrat), Mhair Dekmezian (Libertarian and senior student at Rice), and Martha Wong (Republican). Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and close at 7:50 p.m. Admission is free but seating is limited. RSVP online at http://www.vote.rice.edu.

Voter Guides are here!

The League of Women Voters 2006 Voter Guides are ready. You can pick up a paper copy at Fondren Library (both entrances, the reference desk, bulletin board, or the government publications service desk in the basement of Fondren) or access the Guide online.

For additional election information see the Fondren Library Government Publications and Microforms election website.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Friday, October 06, 2006

Silly Government Titles Contest Winners

(Students) 1st Place - Stephen Ahn - Odors From Confined Livestock Production
2nd Place - Diana Yen - Texas Turkey Talk
3rd Place - Emilia Calvaresi - The Environmental Impact Statement – It Seldom Causes Long Project Delays but Could Be More Useful if Prepared Earlier
(Community) David Bynog - Boron: Light Heavyweight