The Forgotten Spaghetti Farmers

On this date in 1957, the BBC aired a groundbreaking report on the harvesting of spaghetti trees in southern Switzerland. Up until this time, many people in the UK did not consume spaghetti, and therefore were unaware of the painstaking process involved in spaghetti farming.

Though the images from the story are quite pastoral, spaghetti tree cultivation is not for the faint of heart. Improper care of the spaghetti tree can result in a crop of difficult-to-eat dancing spaghetti or the accidental transmogrification of the spaghetti tree into a pizza plant. At first thought, this may sound even better, but pizza plants are an invasive species, and almost always attract most of a neighborhood’s pests to one’s garden. Even worse, spaghetti storms (sometimes including meatball hail) have been known to happen in areas where genetically modified spaghetti plants are grown in large quantities. Scientists are unsure of why this may happen, but some hypothesize about a process similar to that where it rains frogs: waterspouts (spaghetti trees are largely farmed in low-lying wetlands or artificially-created ponds) rip the spaghetti from the tree limbs (which are weakened by unnaturally large spaghetti pods), transporting it to relatively high altitudes, and carrying it over large distances. The winds are capable of allowing the spaghetti to fall in a concentrated fashion in a localized area. Some tornadoes can suck up a spaghetti pond entirely, resulting in what we loosely translate as the fabled “rain of pasta.”

C-SPAN's 2012 StudentCam Local Winners

Today, C-SPAN announced the 75 winning videos in the 2012 StudentCam video documentary competition. C-SPAN's StudentCam is an annual national video documentary competition that encourages students to think seriously about issues that affect their communities and the nation.

This year students were asked to create a short (5-8 minute) video documentary on a topic related to the competition theme “The Constitution and You." Students were asked to focus on any section of the Preamble, Articles, or Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

148 students from across the country are winning a total of $50,000. A record 1,203 entries were received in this year's competition.

Congratulations to our local winners!!!

Ruby Emberling, Maria Newton, and Delaney Wright
11th Grade Pioneer High School
"Students' First Amendment Rights"

Tamar Hofer, Andrew Siddall, and Jassadi Moore
11th Grade Pioneer High School
"First Amendment Rights for Students"

Samuel P. Sturgis, Local Photographer Remembered

Celebrated Ann Arbor photographer Samuel Payne Sturgis passed away on March 11 (see obituary).

A graduate of the Rochester (New York) Institute of Technology, Mr. Sturgis served in the Naval Reserve as photo reconnaissance pilot on USS Bennington in the South Pacific, and received the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medals as a combat pilot, retiring in the early 1950's.

He joined the Dey Studio in Ann Arbor as a portrait photographer, earning "Michigan Photographer of the Year" Award from the Michigan Association of Professional Photographers in 1959. In 1962, he opened his own studio at 1112 South University, a space designed by local architect David Osler.

His extensive collection of antique photographs of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and surrounding areas, donated to the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan, is available as the Sam Sturgis Photograph Collection. A few of these outstanding photographs are part of the Making of Ann Arbor collection and the Downtown Ann Arbor Historical Street Exhibit program.

Over the years, Mr. Sturgis's works have been widely exhibited and he has been active in community service. See Ann Arbor News articles.

Shhh.....A Friendly Introduction To Modern Cryptology With Brett Hemenway, Ph.D.

Thursday March 22, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Cryptography was originally developed to facilitate secret communication. Modern cryptography now encompasses an amazing variety of tasks and cryptographic algorithms which are embedded in a surprising number of everyday devices. From car-keys to metro-cards, from providing anonymous access to preventing satellite collisions the applications of cryptography are growing rapidly.

This lecture by UM Assistant Professor Brett Hemenway will present a history of the development of modern cryptography, along with the ideas and tools needed to provide security in an increasingly complex world. Along the way we'll see some of the successes and failures of modern cryptographic schemes.

Brian Leigh Dunnigan, Associate Director Of The Clements Library, Discusses Urban Agriculture in Detroit, Part I: The History Of Agricultural Land Use

Sunday March 18, 2012: 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm -- Malletts Creek Branch: Program Room AB

Join us for a fascinating look at early Detroit history when AADL and the Culinary Historians of Ann Arbor welcome Brian Leigh Dunnigan, Associate Director and Curator of Maps at the William L. Clements Library.

Brian will discuss Detroit as an agricultural settlement from its founding in 1701 into the 19th century, when the growing city largely consumed the original French-pattern farms along the Michigan side of the Detroit River.

Brian has written numerous books and articles on the history of the Straits of Mackinac, the Niagara River region, and the early Great Lakes.

Michigan Basketball & The Cazzie Years

Starting LineupStarting Lineup

Read all about it! The University of Michigan Wolverines are in the thick of the NCAA’s annual contest to name the No. 1 men’s college basketball team. To celebrate this annual hoopla, the Ann Arbor District Library is offering an opportunity to turn back the clock and experience the triumphs of an earlier Wolverine team, the 1963 ~ 1966 squad. The ups and downs of the three-time Big Ten champions was chronicled in the Ann Arbor News, especially in the passionate reporting of Wayne DeNeff. These photos and articles are available online through the Old News site, presenting the dramatic story of a great team.

Presentation By The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum - Deadly Medicine: Creating The Master Race, Insights from the Exhibition

Friday March 9, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Join us for an informative presentation by The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, in conjunction with their traveling exhibition, Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race (now on display at the UM Taubman Health Sciences Library through April 13).

Dr. Dieter Kuntz, historian at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, in Washington, DC, will discuss the theme of the exhibit, which illustrates how Nazi leadership enlisted people in professions traditionally charged with healing and the public good to legitimize persecution, murder, and ultimately genocide. This event is co-sponsored by The Taubman Health Sciences Library and the UM Center for the History of Medicine.

Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee

Diamond Jubilee: Queen Elizabeth II Diamond JubileeDiamond Jubilee: Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee
February 6 marked the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's 60 year reign starting in 1952. To read about the Diamond Jubilee celebrations click here. Recent biographies written about the Queen include: Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by noted biographer Sally Bedell Smith. Smith follows the young princess as a student to a love-struck teen (after meeting Philip) through her current reign. This is a well-written and engrossing account of a Queen that successfully balances royal tradition and modernity. Another title, The Real Elizabeth : an intimate portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, takes on the subject of the role of the monarchy itself specifically under her auspices over the past 60 years and how it has changed over time. And do not forget, her royal consort, Prince Philip, who has served by her side (and one step behind her). There is a recent biography, Prince Philip : the turbulent early life of the man who married Queen Elizabeth II that focuses on his turbulent childhood as his family is exiled from Greece (where he was born) to his mother’s schizophrenia and his father leaving him at an early age in order to live with his mistress. His charm and good looks eventually win him the hand of the-then Princess Elizabeth for whom he renounces his titles, religion and even family. A storybook romance indeed! To read more about their life together, read Philip and Elizabeth : portrait of a royal marriage. Movies about her include Helen Mirren’s outstanding portrayal in the Queen and the British TV show, Queen : a dramatic portrait of one of the world's most powerful women, as well as several documentaries including Windsors, a royal family.

Black History Month Concert: An Afternoon With The Rev. Robert B. Jones

Saturday February 18, 2012: 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Join us for this special afternoon concert - celebrating Black History month - as Rev. Jones shares his musical talents with us. For over 20 years Rev. Robert Jones has been a champion of American Roots music, with a special emphasis on traditional African-American music. He is also a storyteller, a preacher, an artist, and a teacher.

Stories, spirituals, blues, work songs, field hollers, country music, folk songs, gospel and original songs are all a part of the fabric of America's culture. This is the music that gave the world jazz, R&B, bluegrass, rock and even Hip Hop. They give insight into the way that we have lived and the ways that we continue to live together - celebrate the legacy of this music with renditions from Rev. Jones!

Biography in Context: Research Someone Famous!

If you are searching for biographical information about important people, click into Biography in Context. This valuable database offers reams of information on notable people from the past and present. Moreover, you will find news articles to help you place an individual life into historical context. Access to this and any of our other reference databases and resources is available at every branch of the AADL, as well as from outside the library with a valid AADL library card. For access from an outside location, please sign in to your library account, visit our reference database page, and navigate to the desired resource. To access Biography in Context, go to the research page, and select Biography in Context from the History and Biography category.

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