Living in a Virtual Panopticon?

With the recent revelation that three major telecommunications companies are working under contract with the NSA to collect the phone records of millions of average Americans, the discussion of how to balance civil liberties and national security seems more important now than ever before. Is it safe to say that we are now all living in a virtual panopticon? A surveillance society?

The library has a number of books on this topic for those interested in learning more. Here are some recent titles:
No Place to Hide
Chatter: Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping
Civil Liberties: Opposing Viewpoints
The End of Privacy: How Total Surveillance is Becoming a Reality
The Naked Employee: How Technology is Compromising Workplace Privacy
The Soft Cage: Surveillance in America from Slavery to the War on Terror
Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID

So Dark the Con of Man

It's still a week away from hitting theaters, but Ron Howard's film version of the controversial blockbuster is making as many waves as Tom Hanks' new hairdo. Churches are trying to debunk the novel; a senior official (and devout Catholic) in the Philippine government hopes his state's censors will ban the film. Others are simply tired of all the hype. But if you can't wait for the film, or you're one of the two remaining people alive who doesn't yet know the 'secret' of 'the code', here are a few videos to tide you over: Unlocking Da Vinci's Code, Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci or Da Vinci Code DeCoded.

Han Shoots First!

Star Wars: Han Solo

It appears that LucasArts has finally given in to fan demands and promised to release the original Star Wars trilogy in all its unaltered glory. I am glad the greed finally won out over Lucas's strange need to tinker..

Dancing the Night Away with Fred Astaire

Celebrate Fred Astaire’s birthday on May 10th by checking out a few of his movies from the library. Astaire was a man of many talents. Born in 1899, he was well-known for being an actor, dancer and choreographer. After performing in his first Hollywood screen test, a producer had this to say about him: “Can’t act. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.” Astaire went on to show that producer and made over 40 movies including Silk Stockings, Easter Parade, and my personal favorite Holiday Inn. In many of his movies, he is partnered with the beautiful Ginger Rogers.

The Play Ground

The Play Ground

Dave Brubeck has been going strong since his quartet formed in 1951. He received much critical acclaim and was so popular that his picture graced the cover of Time magazine in 1954. Before becoming a legend himself, he kept company with other legends such as Ellington, Parker, Gillespie and Bernstein. In 1996 he was inducted into the International Jazz Hall of Fame and was named an NEA Jazz Master in 1999. On Saturday, May 13 at 6pm at Hill Auditorium, the 11th Annual Ford Honors Program will present Brubeck Time: A Lifetime Tribute honoring him with the 2006 UMS Distinguished Artist Award. Bravo! If you cannot attend, check him out by audio or video.

For those of you who haven't yet trashed your VCRs

The Morocco Experience

An exciting deviation from the average travel documentary, this Lonely Planet production attempts to recreate the overall tone of their popular guidebooks and website. Hosted by an adventurous back-packer, we get to see first-hand what it's like to hitch-hike on a mountain farm truck, barter services and goods at the local markets, accept invitations from locals to join them for home-cooked meals, and even ride a camel. Throughout his journey, our host speaks with many fellow travelers representing a wide range of cultures, male and female, young and old. This is a terrific source for when planning a Moroccan escape, and an even better source when you just need a 47 minute escape in the comfort of your own home. The Morocco Experience is vicarious living at its finest.

Jonathan Rowe speaks on his 'thriller'

In case you missed local novelist and attorney Jonathan Rowe's talk at the library's 'Sunday Edition' program in January you can view his talk this week on local Community Access Cable Channel 17. Rowe discusses his Ann Arbor-based thriller A Question Of Identity, which recounts the tale of an overeducated, underachieving tabloid reporter on the trail of a fugitive 1960's radical. The program is also availabe from the library on DVD. The Cable TV broadcasts can be viewed on Tuesday, May 2 at 3:40 p.m.; Thursday, May 4 at 1:30 p.m.; Friday May 5 at 5:00 p.m.

Fingersmith - A Victorian Thriller

BBC feature film Fingersmith, based on the novel (short listed for the Orange Prize and the Man Booker Prize in 2002) by Sarah Waters, is a Victorian thriller not to be missed.

The paths of Maud, a wealthy heiress and that of Susan, an orphan raised in a den of petty thieves (or fingersmiths) collide with devastating consequences and yet, a deep connection is forged that spell their redemption.
Beautiful period costumes, moody cinematography, and knock-your-socks-off plot twists made for 180 minutes of sensual viewing pleasure.

Check out Waters’ other titles Tipping the Velvet (in DVD); and her latest - The Night Watch.

In 2003, Granta magazine named Sarah one of 20 Best Young British Novelists.

Invisible Children

Lost Boys

Last Saturday night, some 600 area students were inspired by a film-in-the-making to stage a sleep-in outside Ann Arbor's city hall. The film is about the plight of children abducted, brainwashed and trained to fight in Uganda's 18-year-old civil war. University students organized the screenings and local sleep-ins as part of a "Global Night Commute". Until the film (currently in rough cut) makes its way into the AADL collection, you may want to check out the similarly themed Lost Boys of Sudan, last year's award-winning documentary about two orphaned Sudanese refugees from yet another devastating African civil war. This title, along with several other powerful films, is available at AADL through the Human Rights Video Project. Teachers, students and other local groups may arrange to borrow any of the titles on this list for a public screening. Check out a complete listing of titles and summaries.

Celebrating Families Built Through Adoption

Recent news of celebrities building their families through adoption is raising the public's awareness of the joys and heartaches that come with the adoption process. The library has many materials for those interested in learning more about adoption.

The Waiting Child, by Cindy Champnella, tells the true story of a little girl, whom the Champnella family adopted from China, and her persistence in finding a mama for a little boy she left behind. On Saturday, May 6th, 2006, Cindy Champnella will be in Ann Arbor to speak about her family's inspirational story.

Other recent books about adoption include:
Two Little Girls: A Memoir of Adoption
Weaving a Family: Untangling Race and Adoption
A Love Like No Other: Stories from Adoptive Parents
Complete Adoption and Fertility Legal Guide

Two recommended films about adoption include:
Secrets and Lies and My Flesh and Blood

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