Posted by & filed under Data about Databases, Delicious and Nutricious, Get Help, Is That a Document?.

MyPlate icon

100 Years of Nutrition Guidelines

For over a century the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been trying numerous strategies, charts, and diagrams to teach Americans how to maintain a healthy diet. In response to scientific discoveries about human nutrition, changing patterns in food consumption and physical activity, and political pressure from food industry lobbyists, adults and schoolchildren may have seen, depending on which generation they belong to, such guides as the Basic Seven food groups, the Four Food Groups, the Food Wheel, or the Food Guide Pyramid.

Since 2011, the reigning food guide icon has been MyPlate. It is a device to help visualize the correct proportions of servings in a balanced diet. Explanations of MyPlate are also available in other languages, and if you avoid animal products, MyVeganPlate adapts the MyPlate guidelines for vegans.

A Brief History of USDA Food Guides provides a quick overview of this historical development; for a more detailed account of how the USDA dietary guidelines have evolved, see Dietary Recommendations and How They Have Changed Over Time. The National Agricultural Libraries’ Historical Dietary Guidance Digital Collection provides access to over 1200 historical documents that have been created to educate the public about nutrition over the years.

Recipes

Step into the MyPlate Kitchen and you’ll find a cornucopia filled with hundreds of recipes, USDA cookbooks, webinars and cooking videos, and other recipe resources to make healthy eating easy and delicious. You can even build your own cookbook!

Staying Healthy on a Budget

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to create nutritious meals. Healthy Eating on a Budget provides tips for getting the most for your dollar when you shop for groceries. Here you can find menus, recipes, budgeting advice, and more.

If you rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help pay for your food, you can find SNAP Recipes specifically tailored to your culinary requirements.

Think Globally, Buy Locally

Are you a locavore? Purchasing locally-grown foods is good for the environment and the economy, and it keeps you in touch with your community. Foods that don’t spend a lot of time traveling to your door also taste better. MyPlate, My State shows you what foods your state or territory is known for. Celebrate your home town and local traditions while eating the freshest, most nutritious food available.

Don’t Be Fooled

The Internet and other media are filled with hucksters and self-appointed experts spreading misinformation to lead you astray. Check out USDA’s Fraud and Misinformation page to learn how to spot suspicious health claims and investigate food and nutrition myths. This page includes resources specific to weight loss diets and products.

Nutrition Around the World

Americans aren’t the only ones concerned about their nutrition. The article “A Global Review of Food-Based Dietary Guidelines,” published in the international journal Advances in Nutrition, assesses the similarities and differences in dietary guidelines promulgated by the governments of various countries around the world.

Article by Bobby Griffith.

MyPlate icon courtesy of USDA.

Posted by & filed under Is That a Document?, Special Days, Toys R US.

Terry Virts making Vulcan hand salute

Live Long and Prosper Day has been celebrated on Leonard Nimoy‘s birthday every year since 2017, when it was created by artist Matt McCarthy as a project for Make Up Your Own Holiday Day, also celebrated on March 26. It is a day to contemplate the Vulcan blessing and consider how it might apply to your own life. We would like to take this opportunity to share with you a few U.S. government publications that are related to Mr. Nimoy or to the Star Trek television and movie series, demonstrating how deeply embedded they have become in our American culture and consciousness.

NASA

Because of their common theme of space exploration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has had perhaps the most intimate connection with Star Trek of any government agency. NASA even has a section of its Web site dedicated to the relationship between NASA and Star Trek and, on the 50th anniversary of the show’s final episode, published an article detailing 50 Years of NASA and Star Trek Connections.

The first NASA space shuttle was called the Enterprise, named after the Star Fleet’s most famous ship in response to a letter-writing campaign from fans of the television show. The Star Trek cast and crew even visited NASA’s Dryden (now Armstrong) Research Center for a photo opportunity when the Enterprise was rolled out.

Many Americans have been inspired to become astronauts after watching the Star Trek, and some astronauts have even made guest appearances on the show. The casting of African-American actress Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura broadcast a powerful message about the position of minorities and women during the height of the civil rights movement; Nichols even actively recruited a diverse crew of new astronauts in real life, including Guion Bluford (the first African-American astronaut), Sally Ride (the first female American astronaut), Judith Resnik (one of the first class of female astronauts, who perished during the launch of the Challenger on January 28, 1986), and Ronald McNair (the second African-American astronaut, and another victim of the Challenger accident). Mae Jemison was inspired to become the first African-American woman in space, and later Jemison became the first real astronaut to appear in a role on Star Trek when she played Lt. Palmer in 1993.

In his article The Science of Star Trek, NASA scientist David Allen Batchelor explores various features of Star Trek according to how scientifically accurate or inaccurate they are, and comments upon whether various of the show’s inventions are feasible or, in some cases, have already been achieved.

Library of Congress

Wonderful Inventions: Motion Pictures, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound at the Library of Congress is an anthology of essays providing a taste of the varied holdings in the Library of Congress related to movies, television shows, radio programs, and recordings of music and the spoken word. The entire book is full of fascinating anecdotes and trenchant technical analyses, but one essay in particular is essential reading for Star Trek fans: Music for Star Trek: Scoring a Television Show in the Sixties is a first-hand account of how the soundtrack music was created for the three seasons of the original Star Trek series. Written by Fred Steiner, one of the eight composers who worked on a total of thirty episodes, the essay provides not only a detailed, insider’s account of how the music for each episode was composed, it also gives a lucid account of the complex process of scoring a typical television show in the 1960s. The essay is enhanced with photographic stills from the show and excerpts from the scores themselves, including a facsimile of the famous main title fanfare and theme composed by Alexander Courage.

Speaking of the main title, did you know that the music has lyrics? According to a blog post by Reference Specialist Paul Sommerfeld, producer Gene Roddenberry was concerned that the show would not be financially successful, so he wrote words under Courage’s melody and submitted this version of the score to the Copyright Office, listing himself as lyricist. This bit of legal subterfuge guaranteed that he would collect 50 percent of the proceeds every time the them song was performed in public, even if the words were not sung, but it also guaranteed that the composer would be bilked out of half of his earnings.

Smithsonian Institution

In May 2016, the Smithsonian Institution‘s Smithsonian Magazine celebrated the 50th anniversary of the debut of Star Trek with An Oral History of Star Trek, exploring the richness and persistent appeal of the television series in a collection of interviews excerpted from the book The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years, by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman. After this article came out, a second volume of the book was published, entitled The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years: From The Next Generation to J. J. Abrams: The Complete, Uncensored, and Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek.

Here are a few examples of Star Trek–themed realia owned by the Smithsonian:

Congress

Immediately following the beloved actor’s death on February 27, 2015, there were many tributes and reminiscences shared by those who were inspired by his achievements both on and off the television and movie screen. U.S. Representative Adam B. Schiff submitted his personal Tribute to Leonard Nimoy to the Extensions of Remarks section of the March 2, 2015 Congressional Record.

On another occasion, Star Trek co-star William Shatner testified before Congress about the tinnitus he suffered after a “routine explosion” on the Star Trek set damaged his hearing. Shatner mentioned in his testimony that Nimoy was on the opposite side of the explosion and was also adversely affected by it.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Like so many Americans, Leonard Nimoy started smoking as a teenager because he thought is was “cool,” then he became addicted. He eventually gave up smoking when his first grandchild was born, but by then his lungs were permanently damaged, and eventually he passed away from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). His family arranged for Leonard’s story to be told online through the CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers® campaign.

We hope you have enjoyed these stories about Leonard Nimoy and Star Trek, and we invite you to celebrate the day by sharing your own plans, reminiscences, or experiences. How has your own life been affected by Star Trek?

Article by Bobby Griffith

Image is of International Space Station astronaut Terry Virts (@AstroTerry) flashing a Vulcan hand salute from orbit as a tribute to Leonard Nimoy shortly after the actor died on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. Cape Cod and Boston, Massachusetts, Nimoy’s home town, are visible through the station window. Image Credit: NASA

Posted by & filed under Get Help, Local Doings, Make a Difference, Special Days.


The office of the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue was established in 1862, and in 1913 a personal income tax was authorized by the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The mission of the Internal Revenue Service, according to the U.S. Government Manual, is to collect “the proper amount of tax revenue, at the least cost to the public, by efficiently applying the tax law with integrity and fairness.”

Jean-Baptiste Colbert, minister of finances under King Louis XIV of France and a grand master in the art of revenue enhancement, put things a little more bluntly (the statement may have actually been made by his mentor, Cardinal Mazarin):

“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.”

We can’t guarantee that you won’t feel like a plucked goose when you file your tax return this season, but here are a few suggestions on your options for filing and for obtaining assistance in undertaking this annual onus:

Filing Electronically

Almost 90 percent of taxpayers now opt for the convenience and speediness of filing their tax returns electronically.

Free File

If you are one of the 73 percent of Americans who made $69,000 or less last year, you are eligible to access brand-name tax preparation software or fillable online forms through the IRS Free File service to prepare and file your federal tax return online for free. Even if you made more than that, you are still allowed to use the fillable, electronic versions of the forms.

Tax Preparation Software

A number of commercial software programs are available for purchase to help you prepare your tax return and file it electronically. The IRS does not endorse or approve any of these companies, but if you’re not sure which one to use you can find reviews of the seven best tax software programs of 2020 at The Balance, a personal finance website.

Commercial Tax Preparers

You can pay a tax preparer in your local community to prepare and/or file your taxes online for you. They’re not always identifiable by Uncle Sam or the Statue of Liberty waving in front of the building, but you can enter your ZIP Code in the IRS Authorized IRS e-file Provider Locator to get a list of the nearest commercial tax preparers in your location who are authorized to file your taxes electronically.

Filing by Mail

Do you prefer the old-fashioned paper tax forms? You can still use them! Tax forms, instructions, and publications can be ordered online at the IRS Forms and Publications by U.S. Mail page, or ordered over the telephone by calling 1-800-829-3676.

For direct access to U.S. federal tax forms and publications, visit the IRS Forms, Instructions, and Publications page. At this site, you can scroll through a list of current IRS publications, select the document you need, and print it. You can also obtain forms and instructions for prior years, and there are some accessible forms and publications to accommodate people who use assistive technology or require accessible formats such as braille or large print.

The IRS website has instructions on where to file paper tax returns once they are filled out.

Need Help Filing?

Please don’t ask librarians tax law questions—they’re not tax law specialists. Instead, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 for answers to your tax questions. The following programs also provide free assistance with filling out and filing U.S. income tax forms:

Please note that many resources for obtaining in-person tax assistance may have been suspended because of the coronavirus emergency. Go to the IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief webpage to find the latest updates about IRS services. The filing deadline has been extended to July 15.

VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance)

The IRS VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program offers free tax help to people who earn less than $52,000. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals in local communities. They can inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify, such as Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. VITA sites are usually located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations.

Denton County residents who qualify can get tax help from United Way’s VITA members at selected times and locations during the weeks before April 15 to help them fill out their forms and answer tax related questions. Be sure to bring the materials listed on the United Way VITA page.

TCE (Tax Counseling for the Elderly)

The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program offers free tax help to taxpayers who are 60 and older and specializes in questions about pensions and retirement issues unique to seniors. Most of the TCE sites are operated by the AARP Foundation’s Tax Aide Program. To locate the nearest TCE site or AARP Tax-Aide site and to find out if you qualify, use the AARP Site Locator Tool or call 888-227-7669 from January to April. During other months, call 1-800-829-1040 to find the VITA/TCE location and hours nearest your home.

MilTax: Tax Services for the Military

MilTax is a free tax service from Military OneSource and the Department of Defense that provides free tax preparation, free e-filing, and personalized support to address the special circumstances of military life. To help members of the Armed Forces make wise tax decisions, the IRS has prepared a compilation of Tax Information for Members of the Military. Military tax programs are overseen by the Armed Forces Tax Council, which consists of tax program coordinators for the Marine Corps, Air Force, Army, Navy, and Coast Guard.

Self-Help Tax Preparation

If you have a simple tax return and just need a little help or don’t have access to a computer, you can visit one of the participating VITA/TCE tax preparation sites, and an IRS-certified volunteer will guide you through the process.

Become a Volunteer and Make a Difference!

You can receive training in tax preparation and make a difference in your community by volunteering with the VITA or TCE programs. If you’re interested, send your contact information using the VITA/TCE Volunteer Sign Up form, and be sure to indicate the city and state where you would like to volunteer. Your information will be forwarded to the sponsoring organizations in your area for further contact.

TAS (Taxpayer Advocate Service)

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers resolve problems with the IRS and recommends changes that will prevent the problems in the future. If you’ve had problems with the IRS that you haven’t been able to get resolved, the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TSE) may be able to help. Qualifying taxpayers who request assistance receive personalized service from a knowledgeable taxpayer advocate who will listen to their problems, help them understand what needs to be done to resolve the problems, and stay with them every step of the way until those problems are resolved.

Contacting a TAS Advocate

You can find the address and phone number for your local Taxpayer Advocate Service office on the TAS Web site. Other ways to reach a TSE advocate:

  • Call the TSE toll-free line at 1-877-777-4778
  • Fill out Form 911, Request for Taxpayer Advocate Assistance, which is available by phone at 1-800-829-3676, or online at www.irs.gov
  • Ask an IRS employee (in person or over the phone) to complete the form for you
National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) Reports to Congress

The leader of TAS, the National Taxpayer Advocate, submits two Reports to Congress each year.

  • The Annual Report, delivered each January, summarizes the 20 most serious problems encountered by taxpayers during the previous year, makes legislative and administrative recommendations for resolving those problems, and examines that year’s most frequently litigated issues.
  • The Objectives Report identifies the priority issues TAS will focus on during the upcoming fiscal year.
Tax Reform Suggestion Box

To further a dialogue about tax reform, TAS has established a Tax Reform Suggestion Box to receive taxpayers’ suggestions for tax reform. Take this opportunity to let your voice be heard! You can also read some suggestions that other taxpayers have made.

And finally, here’s one last bit of tax advice from an unnamed IRS Auditor (quoted in the April 2005 issue of The Reader’s Digest):

“The trick is to stop thinking of it as your money.”

Article by Bobby Griffith

Posted by & filed under Get Help, Make a Difference.

Information about the novel Coronavirus/COVID-19 seems to be constantly evolving and coming fast. Similarly, how communities are managing and responding to the growing outbreak changes rapidly. To help navigate some of the information and facts that are known about COVID-19, the UNT Libraries created a page to help you Help Yourself. This page offers information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Texas State Department of Health Services, the World Health Organization, publishers, and more. Included here is also what you need to know now and ways to get updates on the ever-changing information from UNT and beyond.

The University of North Texas cancelled all in-person classes from March 16-22. Instruction will resume on Monday, March 23. Students will receive an email update on March 19 about delivery of instruction. All UNT updates will be posted here: https://healthalerts.unt.edu/

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created a COVID-19 information site. This site provides information about COVID-19 symptoms, risks, and updates. The updates offer the latest guidance on best practices for trying to prevent the spread of the virus, like social distancing, self quarantining, and more.

The Texas State Department of Health Services (TSDHS) offers information about Texas response to COVID-19. This site provides similar information about symptoms and risks but includes information about where and how Texans can be tested for COVID-19. Testing sites are currently few and limited but services are expanding.

Many individuals are experiencing financial constraints as a result of COVID-19. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) offers information to help inform consumers and answer questions related consumer finances and shortfalls that people may experience over the coming weeks and months. Additionally, the federal government and the state of Texas are in the midst of expanding services and modifying policies to respond to the ever-evolving situation. Below is a limited list of resources and good information to know as of now. As the things related to the Coronavirus pandemic are ever-changing, plan to monitor reputable news organizations and check for updates at USA.gov’s Government Response to Coronavirus. UNT students needing assistance can contact the Libraries’ AskUs service for information on available resources.

To help prevent the spread of Coronavirus/COVID-19 try to self-quarantine. If you go out practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently, cough into your elbow, and avoid high-risk individuals.

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Irish American Heritage Center

Every year since 1991, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation declaring the month of March to be Irish-American Heritage Month, honoring the contributions of Irish immigrants and their descendants to American life and culture. Here are just a few government publications to help you celebrate Irish-American culture today and throughout the month of March:

Literature

Cover of Four Dubliners, by Richard EllmannFour Dubliners—Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, and Beckett: Richard Ellmann was a widely-respected American literary critic who wrote important biographies of several Irish authors. In 1982, he gave a series of lectures at the Library of Congress discussing the lives and careers of four of Ireland’s most important authors: Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, and Samuel Beckett. The lectures were originally published separately in four chapbooks, and then in 1986 they were revised and brought together in this collection, which also points out some intriguing connections among these authors. Audio recordings of the original lectures are available at the Library of Congress.

Some Irish Plays: A Selection: The Federal Theatre Project was a welfare measure set up during the Great Depression to support the dramatic arts as a social and educational force by providing jobs for out-of-work theatre professionals, and by providing affordable, enriching entertainment for the masses, especially those who could least afford to spend their meager income on artistic pursuits. This bibliography list several Irish plays, both classic and popular, written from 1899 to 1930, providing for each a brief synopsis and a list of the (usually modest) production requirements. Because of their educational value, simple sets, and small casts, these plays are ideal for staging by amateur and school groups.

Music

Cover of Ethnic Recordings in America by the American Folklife CenterIrish Ethnic Recordings and the Irish-American Imagination,” in Ethnic Recordings in America: A Neglected Heritage: The American Folklife Center was established by Congress in 1976 “to preserve and present American folklife.” Their first major public event was a conference discussing sound recordings of various ethnic musical traditions in the United States. The presentations at that conference became the basis of a 1982 book. Irish-American folklorist and musician Mick Moloney’s chapter on Irish recordings explores several strains of Irish-American music, including works by Irish-American composers trained in the western European classical tradition, vaudeville comedy numbers and similar “stage-Irish” songs, traditional Irish dance tunes, and hybrid forms that combine these strains with traits of American popular music. He also discusses the surge of American interest in Irish folk music during the 1960s and 70s that was stimulated by the popularity of Irish performers such as the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem.

If It Wasn’t for the Irish and the Jews: Irish and Jewish Influences on the Music of Vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley: In 2009, Mick Moloney gave an illustrated talk on a largely forgotten, yet highly influential, period in American popular music. This Web site provides a summary of the lecture and a recording of the Webcast.

Irish Tin-Whistle Instruction Books: A Bibliography: The tin-whistle, also known as the penny-whistle, among other names, is inexpensive (although it does cost a bit more than a penny!) and easy to play, making it one of the most popular instruments for playing traditional Irish folk music. This historic reference aid from the American Folklife Center lists several instruction books that were published in the 1970s in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Food

These articles from Smithsonian magazine provide background on the history and traditions of Irish cuisine and also include some delicious recipes to give you a taste of traditional Irish culture.

Classic Irish Soda Bread: Learn how to make authentic Irish soda bread in the traditional way, with out all the fancy extras.

A Brief History of Ireland’s Fortune-Telling Mashed Potato Dish: Colcannon, a side dish combining mashed potatoes with cabbage or kale, is traditionally eaten at Halloween, but its green hue also makes it perfect for St. Patrick’s Day.

Eating Irish Moss: This Irish seaweed makes a tasty pudding, salad, or even lasagna!

 

Article by Bobby Griffith.

Photo credit: Irish American Heritage Center in Irving Park, Chicago, IL, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Posted by & filed under Data about Databases, Get Help, Local Doings, Make a Difference.

Texas Music Office logo

Texans love music, and for thirty years, the Texas Music Office (TMO) has played a crucial role in promoting the Texas music industry. If your ambition is to make a living in this competitive field, whether as a songwriter, performer, publisher, booking agent, manager, venue owner, event planner, recording engineer, or in one of its other myriad roles, the Texas Music Office website has a plethora of resources to help you make connections, learn best practices, and encourage your business to thrive. Here are just a few of these invaluable resources:

Texas Music Industry Directory: The most important job of the TMO is to provide a referral service linking music professionals to each other and encouraging growth in the music industry. The Texas Music Industry Directory has been published since the agency’s inception and provides a comprehensive list of businesses, musicians, radio stations, colleges and universities, music libraries and archives, and private music schools and instructors, Instructions are also provided for adding yourself or your business to the directory.

Music Business Guides: A whole library of useful guides is available to show you step-by-step how to do just about anything related to the music industry. For example, there are guides to creating a presskit, getting started in entertainment law, finding capitalfinding a digital music distributor, using social media, and more.

Event Calendar: Find a list of musical events occuring throughout the state, listed in chronological order and sortable by genre.

Music Friendly Communities: Cities in Texas that have been officially designated as “Music Friendly Communities” are those that have a proven track record of attracting and developing musicians and other music industry professionals.

Texas Music License Plate: By purchasing a Texas music themed vanity license plate, you can help provide opportunities for the next generation of Texas musicians and provide support for music programming in under-served and under-resourced communities. You can also donate to the License Plate Grant fund without buying the license plate.

Texas Music Trails: The TMO is in the process of creating a series of self-guided tours of various regions in Texas, using itineraries and maps to highlight locations and organizations that have been historically significant to state’s unique and dynamic musical heritage. The first of these “Texas Music Trails” is entitled Amarillo by Morning, and takes the musically-minded tourist through the Panhandle Plains Region.

Are you a music professional, or do you have hopes of becoming successful in the music industry in Texas? South by Southwest, sadly, has been cancelled this year, but with the help of the Texas Music Office you can still find networking opportunities and educational resources online. Let us know if you have found any these resources to be helpful.

Article by Bobby Griffith.

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This Sunday, March 8, 2020, most of the population of the United States will perform the annual chore of setting their time-keeping devices forward by one hour, as we enter the seemingly ever-lengthening portion of the year referred to as Daylight Saving Time—surely an ironic term for the many students who will lose one precious hour of their Spring Break this year! (Usage note: don’t ever call it Daylight Savings Time, even if you’re a congressman. It’s not a bank account.)

Historical Background

World War I poster advertising the first daylight-saving lawBenjamin Franklin is credited with first conceiving the idea for a daylight-saving law, which he proposed (perhaps as a joke) in an anonymous and humorously-worded letter to the editor published in the Journal de Paris in 1784.

The first serious proposals for such a law came from the entomologist/astronomer George V. Hudson in New Zealand in 1895 and 1898, and from the builder William Willett in England in 1907. (Willett, incidentally, was the great-great-grandfather of Chris Martin of Coldplay, the band responsible for the songs “Clocks” and “Daylight.”)

Franklin’s whimsical idea was not taken seriously in the United States until Congress passed the Standard Time Act of 1918 to economize on fuel during the First World War. By then, several European countries had already adopted some version of a daylight-saving law.

The law turned out to be quite unpopular in the U.S., especially among farmers, who found it unnatural and disruptive, and it was abolished immediately after the war. It was reinstated during the Second World War, then abolished again after that war, then reinstated inconsistently by various state and localities. It has been a continual source of controversy up to the present day.

A 2019 Congressional Research Service Report for Congress summarizes the contentious history of this law over the decades.

Observance

The most recent change to the dates of observance of Daylight Saving Time was implemented as Section 110 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Under current law, Daylight Saving Time (DST) is observed in the United States from 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday in March until 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday in November, theoretically saving energy during the longer days and keeping children safe (and candy companies in business!) during the prime trick-or-treating hours of Halloween.

A few U.S. states and territories do not observe DST:

Controversies

Among the advantages that have been imputed to DST are that it saves electricity and the money spent on lighting during the evening hours; it offers more daylight hours for recreation after our jobs, studies, or chores and encourages people to spend more time exercising and socializing; it stimulates tourism and business; and it reduces crime and traffic accidents during the evening hours.

Opponents to DST have objected that changing the clocks twice a year is inconvenient, unnatural, and confusing; the extra cost of air-conditioning at night negates any savings in reduced lighting; the extra driving drives fuel-spending up and generates pollution; the extra hour of darkness in the morning leads to more traffic accidents and endangers children on their way to school; and the jolt to our inner circadian clocks is unhealthy.

Many of these assertions for and against have been based more on hunches than on proven facts, but there have been several studies of the effects of daylight-saving laws in various places around the world.

A 1975 study by the U.S. Department of Transportation indicated that extending DST from a six-month period to an eight-month period might have modest benefits in the areas of energy conservation, traffic safety, and reduced violent crime, although their conclusions were not asserted with much confidence.

A 2008 report by the U.S. Department of Energy indicated a small savings in electricity during the daylight saving period, while a study of daylight saving time in Indiana suggested that a reduced demand for lighting is negated by an increased demand in electricity for heating and cooling, especially in the southern states.

Perhaps most disconcertingly, several studies have indicated that there is a spike in the rate of heart attacks, an increased risk of stroke, and even a rise in the rate of suicides, following the spring time shift. (A later study challenged the conclusion that there is an increase in heart attacks following DST.)

A recent telephone survey showed that the number of Americans who believe that the advantages of daylight saving time are worth the trade-offs may be dwindling, but a White House petition to have the law abolished expired before receiving enough votes to elicit a response. For now, it seems, the law—and the controversy—will continue.

Would You Like to Know More?

Clock being set forward during World War IThe National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has answers to several frequently asked questions about Daylight Saving Time, as well as information about the current DST rules.

For a list of government documents and other publications at the UNT Libraries related to daylight saving time, search the subject heading “daylight saving” in the Library Catalog. More titles can be found in the Library of Congress catalog.

Visit the Daylight Saving Time WebExhibit to learn more about the history of daylight saving time, about the reasons for it and the controversies surrounding it, and about how other countries around the world observe—or don’t observe—Daylight Saving Time, often referred to as Summer Time outside the United States.

Timeanddate.com also has a helpful compilation of articles about Daylight Saving Time, including tips on how to minimize the health risks encountered when we shift the clocks forward, and a chart summarizing how DST is observed around the world.

Share Your Thoughts

What is your opinion of Daylight Saving Time? Has it affected you in a positive or a negative way? Would you like to leave our government policy as it is, change the days we observe DST, see DST go away completely, or perhaps extend DST hours through the entire year?

Article by Bobby Griffith.

Photos from Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002722591/ and http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/hec.13949/

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Texas Declaration of Independence

On a cold first day of March in 1836, even as a handful of brave Texas were desperately fending off General Santa Anna and his troops at the Alamo, a convention of delegates sent by the provisional Texas government huddled in an unfinished building in Washington (today better known as Washington-on-the-Brazos), where by March 2 they had drafted and adopted a Declaration of Independence from Mexico.

During the next couple of weeks, the delegates signed the Declaration, hurriedly cobbled together a new Constitution (which incorporated large chunks of the U.S. Constitution, along with a few Mexican laws), and elected a few ad interim government officials. Then, during the early morning of March 17, with no time to lose, they skedaddled, joining the mass exodus known as the Runaway Scrape.

The battle for independence continued until April 21, when the Mexican army was defeated and Santa Anna captured. For the next decade Texas existed as an independent republic, until on December 28, 1845 it was admitted into the United States as the 28th state of the Union.

Here are some ways you can celebrate the anniversary of Texas Independence:

Article by Bobby Griffith.

Banner image of the Texas Declaration of Independence from the Texas State Library and Archives Web site.

Posted by & filed under Local Doings, Make a Difference, Special Days.

image of vote button

March 3, 2020 is Super Tuesday, the election day in the presidential primary with the most states voting or caucusing. Texas is a Super Tuesday state, meaning you can cast your vote in the presidential primary on that day, but you can also cast your vote EARLY.

Here are some benefits of voting early:

  • You can vote at any designated polling location in the county where you are registered to vote. On election day you can only vote at your designated precinct polling location; and, for primaries these are also divided by party (Democrat or Republican [listed alphabetically]).
  • You have more flexibility of when you can vote. Early voting polling locations are open Feb 18-21 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, Feb 22 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, Feb 23 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Feb 24-28 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • If you’re on or near the UNT campus on Thursday, Feb 27 at 11 a.m., you can meet-up at the Eagle Commons Library at Sycamore Hall and walk to the polling place in the UNT Gateway Center with fellow voters in honor of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote.

In addition to the presidential primary, there are several local offices on the March 3 ballot. Here are a few resources to help you locate your nearest polling location, view sample ballots, and learn more about the candidates:
  • The Denton County Election Office offers information about early voting and Super Tuesday polling locations and hours. Visit VoteDenton.com for information.
  • Vote411.org, a service from the League of Women Voters, provide sample ballots and information about the candidates. Simply search by your address for helpful information.
  • Ballotpedia offers information about candidates and current elected officials as well as information and news about voting.
  • Texas requires specific forms of ID in order to cast your ballot. The UNT Libraries Election Portal has a list of acceptable IDs.
  • Still have questions? Stop by the Eagle Commons Library at Sycamore Hall to talk with a deputy voter registrar.
Remember to meet up at the Eagle Commons Library at Sycamore Hall to walk to the polls on Thursday, September 27 starting at 11 a.m. or join us for a post-voting Liber-Tea.

Posted by & filed under Inside the ECL, Special Days.

Susan B Anthony illustration

Saturday, February 15 marks what would have been Susan B. Anthony’s 200th birthday. 2020 also marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. Although she may be best known for her work on woman’s suffrage, during her life Ms. Anthony worked as an activist for a number of social issues, including temperance, anti-slavery, labor, women’s rights, African-American rights, and universal suffrage.

In 1869, Ms. Anthony and her long-time friend and collaborator Elizabeth Cady Stanton co-founded the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), which worked for women’s suffrage, divorce reform, and equal pay for women. Despite Anthony’s support of universal suffrage, she opposed the 15th amendment, which prohibited denial of suffrage based on race. Ms. Anthony’s opposition to the 15th amendment was the result of the law’s failure to recognize women as citizens with voting rights. In 1872, after ratification of the 15th amendment, Anthony was arrested for voting illegally. She fought the charges unsuccessfully and was fined $100—a debt she never paid.

From 1892 to 1900, Susan B. Anthony served as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (created by a merger of the NWSA with the competing American Woman Suffrage Association). In this role she canvassed the county giving speeches, gathering petition signatures, and lobbying Congress in support of women’s suffrage.

In August 1920, fourteen years after her death, the Susan B. Anthony Act was ratified as the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Though she did not live to see the results of her life’s work, she played a crucial role in securing female suffrage at the national level. In 1979, the U.S. Treasury minted the Susan B. Anthony dollar, making her the first female to be represented on U.S. currency.

To help celebrate Susan B. Anthony Day and the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, we invite you to visit the Eagle Commons Library at Sycamore Hall and take a selfie with Ms. Anthony.

Article by Robbie Sittel.
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