December 2008 Archives

The Case for Reading Braille

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Many people, including some advocates for the disabled, feel that vision-impaired persons, especially adults, don't need to learn how to read braille.  The prevailing attitude is that legally blind people don't have to read braille books because they can simply listen to recorded versions of them on audiocassette and compact disc. 

 William M. Raeder, former president of the National Braille Press, disagrees: 

From the mid-'60s to the present, the percentage of school-aged blind children in this country who use braille as their primary reading medium has dropped from 50 percent to 12 percent, and more than a generation of blind children has been largely allowed to grow up illiterate under the damaging notion that tape recordings and talking computers are sufficient for them.

You can read the rest of his essay here.  Strong stuff.  -Ed




Guest Review: Bartok Concero for Orchestra DVD

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Today's guest blogger is Music Librarian David Waring, who reviews the following DVD:

412hHfaCnpL__SL500_AA240_.jpg Concerto for Orchestra / Bela Bartok DVD 784.185 BARTO BARTO

The Concerto for Orchestra is one of the more accessible pieces in the Bartok oeuvre and here benefits from both the Berlin Philharmonic's inspired performance under Pierre Boulez and the superior production values common to releases in EuroArt's 'Discovering Masterpieces of Classical Music' series. The fact that the proceedings were filmed in Lisbon's Mosteiro dos Jeronimos enhances visual appeal, although perhaps a tad too much attention is paid to the church's stunning interior details. No matter, Bartok's alternately delicate and powerful orchestration more than carries the day; especially as the BPO, in fine form, rises to the challenge of this technically challenging piece. A separate documentary disc provides background on the composers life and the Concerto's creation.

(Thanks David.  Patrons interested in seeing this DVD can reserve it from our catalog here. -Ed)


Due to the holidays, I'm combining this week's Science Fiction & Classic TV posts into one:  

The New York Science Fiction Society (AKA The Lunarians)'s 52nd annual Lunacon Convention will be held February, 2009 in Rye, NY.  Details can be found here.  I've only attended one (in 2005) and had a lot of fun. 

B0000687BN_01_LZZZZZZZ.jpgMy recent post some weeks back on the Space:1999 series reminded me of another UK-based science fiction series also created and produced by Gerry Anderson, which the library carries:  UFO.  Produced in 1969-70 (and aired in the US in 1972), UFO focused on the efforts of the SHADO organization to protect the Earth from mysterious aliens from a dying planet.  Set in the "future" of 1980 (!), UFO may look somewhat dated with its fashion sense (Nerhu jackets, purple wigs) and overly optimistic viewpoint on advanced technology (on the show, SHADO actually has a base on the Moon!), but a surprisingly mature,"adult" attitude towards the material and some still-excellent-after-all-these-years special effects overseen by the late Derek Meddings (1978's Superman The Movie; the James Bond films; Thunderbirds)  more than make up for any flaws.

Here's a link to Marc Martin's UFO Series Home Page site, which offers meticulous background information (as well as an episode guide) on the series.  The library offers the first thirteen episodes on DVD, which you can access on our online catalog here.  Check them out if you're interested.  -Ed 


Here's something I came across that allows online access to various web sites for the disabled (although registration is required for some of them):  The Disability Resources Monthly Guide to Disability Resources on the Internet.  The DRM Guide allows you access to links to various web sites you may find interesting and/or address a particular disability or condition.  Various topics include Education, Housing, Legal Rights and even Web Page Design

Some of the site links, as I noted earlier, require registration.   One of the sites  DRM offers requiring you to sign up/subscribe to, is similar to the ABMS one we offer here on our library home page.  You may want to check these sites out on your own.  I'll be reviewing them in future posts to see what they each individually offer (or don't offer).


One of the best television anthologies ever produced aired on NBC from 1960-62 and was known simply as Thriller, hosted by horror film star Boris Karloff.  Karloff would introduce (and sometimes star in) each episode, list the names of the stars appearing in that particular show (like William Shatner, Ursula Andress, Dick York, Mary Tyler Moore, Robert Vaughn, Rip Torn, Mary Astor and Leslie Nielsen, among others) and end with the ominious sounding words, "As sure as my name is Boris Karloff...This is a Thriller!"  During it's short run, the series alternated formats, with a crime oriented mystery story one week and a really scary horror/science fiction entry the following week. 


One of my favorite science fiction and fantasy authors has a web site devoted to his works. 

The Official Philip Jose Farmer Home Page covers the life and career of Mr. Farmer (who's just turned 90!), including his short stories and novels (which also include horror stories and mysteries), essays, take-offs on other authors' books and even the fictional biography or two.  The library offers many of his books, including the imaginitive Riverworld series, which you can find here in our online catalog.  It's my goal for future posts to offer reviews of his work, including this recently reissued collection (which we also carry), and highlight the brilliance and sheer fun of Mr. Farmer's work.  -Ed



Connecticut's Department of Motor Vehicles are going after people abusing  Handicapped Parking Permits, according to last Sunday's New York Times's Connecticut section.  You can access the December 14th article by George Hladky  at (use "parking hartford" as your search terms) or find a copy here at the library. 

Meanwhile, both NY Governor David Paterson and the National Federation of the Blind are still ticked about that Saturday Night Live skit from last weekend.  Newsday has a piece on the situation here.  The NY Daily News  takes a look at the reaction from the governor's colleagues on the whole affair.   -Ed


Not a whole lot of Science Fiction shows scheduled (yet), but Greenwich Library 's Classic and Cult Television series gets its latest season underway beginning in January with Mannix, starring Mike Conners.  The full schedule can be found online (with links!) here.  -Ed


Classic Science Fiction Films Online

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51YWEJCSK0L__SL160_SS160_.jpgHere's a site that offers people the chance to watch science fiction films online:  The Classic Science Fiction Channel .  It will feature actual films or offer links to sites (like Hulu TV) that offer these films for viewing.  

Some of the films, like A Boy and His Dog and Metropolis are true classics of the genre.   Others, like The Ape and At The Earth's Core are guilty pleasures carried along more by the cast and director than artistic merit.  And still others, like Killers From Space and Voyage To The Planet of Prehistoric Women  are just plain bad. 

You can also get to view the ORIGINAL The Day The Earth Stood Still from 1951 as well.  Check it out if you're considering going to see the upcoming remake with Keanu Reeves and see if it still holds up!  -Ed


How To Operate The Kurzweil 3000!

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The Reference and Children's Room Librarians here get a lot of questions from the public on how to operate the computers with the Kurzweil 3000 software.  The software is set up to assist patrons who are visually and/or hearing impaired and who have difficulty reading books and documents.  It offers the option of hearing the text being scanned in English and other language and magnification of text.  Directions on how to operate it can be accessed here


An instructional video showing how to operate the Kurzweil 3000 has also been posted online.  You can watch it below:



 If all else fails, just stop by the Reference Desk on the first floor and ask one of the librarians there to show you.  -Ed



From Medical News Today:


AbleNet's Impulseā„¢ Bluetooth(R) Technology Access For Computers For People With Significant Physical Limitations .


What is Bluetooth Technology? Go here for details (and video!)   -Ed



It's The SF Site (what else?) and can be found here . The SF Site ("The Home Page For Science Fiction And Fantasy") featues lots of news and reviews of upcoming and classic works in the genre. Here's their review of Joe Haldeman's latest novel (which I recently ordered a replacement copy of for the library), Marsbound , which gives you an idea of their approach.   -Ed


 (Here's a clip of Mr. Haldeman reading from his novel, The Accidental Time Machine, which you can reserve a copy of from us here.)







51CXWMSGHCL__SL500_AA280_.jpgOne of the best-produced science fiction TV shows ever put together (although for dramatic reasons, it's scientifically inaccurate) was the British-made Space:1999, which aired on US stations in first run syndication from 1975-77 and starred former Mission:Impossible cast members Martin Landau and Barbara Bain (pictured above). The slightly unrealistic premise -in 1999, a military & scientific colony known as "Moonbase Alpha", consisting of 300 men and women on the moon, is hurled into space (and into other star systems) after nuclear waste stored there explodes- and the inhabitants there must cope with their perilous situation themselves - was simply a plot device to get the characters in one dramatic situation after another. The show's production values, which included impressive special effects that still hold up after all these years, were above average, and if the writing sometimes flagged, the acting and direction made up for any lulls.

The first six episodes of the series are available at Greenwich Library. (Go here.) The series has also inspired one of it's fans to put together one of the most comprehensive web sites devoted to any television series, The Catacombs . Here, you'll find information on the making of all 48 original episodes, background on the creative personnel, the various merchandising (including original paperback novels and comic books based on the show), other site links and even the movies!

Even if you're not a fan, you'll be amazed at how this site is put together.   Explore The Catacombs here to see what I mean!      -Ed

Related Sites: Fanderson (a site devoted to Space:1999 and other shows created and produced by Gerry Anderson ); Television Heaven .




New Networking Site For The Disabled.

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It's called and it's similar to Facebook and Linkedin in that it helps bring persons with disabilities together, with an emphasis on employment and careers. Subscribers are given access to employment and networking resources online.

The Wall Street Journal's Marketwatch site has more about this networking service here.  -Ed

mrmr!.jpgAfter much too long, the harrowing 1966 Science Fiction classic, Make Room! Make Room! , the source for the infamous 1973 film Soylent Green , has finally (since last spring, actually) been reprinted! At last, new readers will get an opportunity to look at Harrison's work and not associate it just with the one-joke premise ("Soylent Green is...") that comedians love to riff on.



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This page is an archive of entries from December 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2009 is the next archive.

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