Thursday, August 28, 2008

LBJ Centennial

On August 27, 1908 Lyndon Baines Johnson was born in Stonewall, Texas. To help celebrate his centennial, the staff of the LBJ Library has prepared a brief pictorial history of this "Great Society" President, matching dates and pictures to the most important events of his life. A Web site commemorating his birthday includes a calendar of celebrations and events being held in Texas and Washington, D.C. in his honor through the end of the year. For a more detailed history of his life and that of his wife, Lady Bird, visit online or in person the LBJ Library and Museum at the University of Texas in Austin.

Dreams Come True?

On Aug. 28, 1963 Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington, D.C. Forty-five years later on Aug. 28, 2008 Senator Barack Obama, author of Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, will accept the Democratic presidential nomination.

To learn more about Martin Luther King Jr. including links to his speeches, access the American Memory Collection from the Library of Congress, or the Martin Luther King Jr., Research and Education Institute, or the King Center. To read Senator Obama's biography, access the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Creeping Dead Zones

Scarier at the moment to fish than to humans but of increasing concern to all, dead zones are areas of the ocean along coasts with low levels of oxygen at the sea floor. Many dead zones are occurring near the mouths of major river systems when fertilizer run-off, especially during flooding, supplies nutrients to phytoplankton which multiply rapidly. Organic matter produced by phytoplankton sinks to the bottom of the ocean where bacteria break it down. The bacteria use oxygen in the process and release carbon dioxide, depleting available supplies of oxygen needed by other forms of aquatic life.

To learn more about dead zones, access Creeping Dead Zones by NASA's Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center. The site includes satellite views of dead zones, a world map of dead zones, and links to further information.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Higher Education Act Debate

In a July 30, 2008 press release, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings indicated support for many provisions contained in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act that recently made its way through Congress and is awaiting the president's signature. However, she expressed concern about "the creation of more than 60 new, costly, and duplicative programs." She also felt that the legislation "falls short on strengthening accountability."

The complete bill, H.R. 4137, is available at To see other versions of the bill, access the "Full Text on THOMAS" link from the Library of Congress on the left side of that page.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Hurricane and Flood Information

As tropical storms and hurricanes make their presence known in the Gulf Coast area, helpful information is available from three government sites. Two branches of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are especially useful when the skies are stormy. NOAA's National Weather Service makes a quick visual survey of weather easy with its map of the United States color-coded for various weather conditions. It also offers links to weather-related RSS feeds and warnings by state or city. The service even offers an experimental UV Alert Forecast Map.

NOAA's National Hurricane Center also offers hurricane advisories and local forecasts available by city or zip code. You can even sign up to receive hurricane advisories on your cell phone. Their hurricane awareness page contains online guides, brochures, and miscellaneous current and historical hurricane-related information including some written in Spanish.

On the local level the Harris County Flood Control District has "full and lite" versions of hurricane trackers to download. You can use their floodplain mapping tool to find out if you live in or near a floodplain, and their flood preparedness link to "learn facts that could save your life." The site also contains information about who needs flood insurance.