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Earth Day 2017: reading for environmental & climate literacy

Earth Day is celebrated globally on 22 April in support of environmental protection. The theme for 2017’s Earth Day is “Environmental & Climate Literacy” – and we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate knowledge of the environment and climate than with a reading list. These books, chapters, and articles can add to your understanding of Earth through topics such as climate change, natural phenomena, and what practical steps are being taken to help protect our planet.

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Why do we love our pets so much?

Since time immemorial, humans have kept animals for companions. Pets are known to provide physical and emotional benefits, not only in terms of companionship, but also in terms of outdoor adventure, exercise, and socializing with other pet owners. As Sigmund Feud once said, “Time spent with cats is never wasted.” Dogs and cats have been particular favourites throughout the ages, with cats commonly thought to have been domesticated in ancient Egypt, and dogs from the time of the hunter-gatherers.

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John Capgrave and a medieval view of scholarship as service

John Capgrave is one of the few medieval authors whose birthday we know. As he composed his universal history known as the Abbreviation of Chronicles, he recorded that on 21 April 1393, “the friar who made these annotations was born.” And lest this entry be overlooked amidst the doings of the powerful, he inserted his personal nota bene mark, a trefoil, beside it in the margin.

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Choral avatar with crest

Helping small amateur choirs to survive and flourish

Many small choral groups struggle with a range of problems such as ageing choruses, dwindling membership and audience, unsuitable repertoire, a recently retired musical director, poor finances, weak administrative infrastructure, and inadequate publicity. Simon Ible reflects on how to revitalize your choir.

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Misogyny, cheap sweets, and daydreams

Some of the most startling expressions of misogyny over the last century have been directed at girls and young women enjoying themselves. By the 1900s women were reading novels in large quantities. Heavy, three-volume works of fiction were disappearing in favour of single volumes in light bindings: paper covers were beginning to sport colourful, inviting designs.

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Why banning the Jehovah’s Witnesses won’t work for Russia

The Supreme Court of Russia has a decision to make this week about whether to label the Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist organization and liquidate its assets. This act would transform the religious community into a criminal network, and make individual Witnesses vulnerable to arrest simply for speaking about their faith with others.

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Libraries: The unsung heroes in A Series of Unfortunate Events

This January, Lemony Snicket’s first four critically acclaimed novels of the A Series of Unfortunate Events were adapted as a Netflix original series, starring Neil Patrick Harris. Although famously known as a book series built upon three children’s misery and misfortune, the stories do contain one consistent factor on which the kids can always rely: the library.

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Raiding religion, the new normal

The 19th of April 2017 is the twenty-fourth anniversary of the 1993 Branch Davidian tragedy in Waco, Texas. The disaster began three months earlier, however, with a botched effort by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to serve a search warrant for weapons upon a small religious community. The raid resulted in 15 casualties among federal agents, including four dead, and the deaths of six Branch Davidians.

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Where did Darwin go on the Beagle?

On 27 December 1831, Charles Darwin set off on a round-the-world survey expedition and adventure on the HMS Beagle. Captained by Robert FitzRoy, the trip (the second voyage of HMS Beagle) lasted until 2 October 1836 and saw the crew visit locations as varied as Brazil, Tierra del Fuego, South Africa, New Zealand, and the Azores.

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How well do you know the Hollywood Western? [quiz]

In Hollywood Aesthetic: Pleasure in American Cinema, film studies professor Todd Berliner explains how Hollywood delivers aesthetic pleasure to mass audiences. The following quiz is based on information found in chapter 12, “Complexity and Experimentation in the Western.”

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Fake news, circa 70 A.D.: The Jewish War by Josephus

Concern about fake news is nothing new. Readers have long doubted the truth of Josephus’ contemporary history of the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. to the Roman general Titus. Many have assumed that any author who could accept a post as a general on the side of the Jewish rebels in the war against Rome but abandon his comrades and end up writing an account of the war from the Roman side as a self-proclaimed friend of the Roman emperor could not be trusted.

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On multiple realization

There’s no overestimating the significance of the multiple realization thesis in the past fifty years of theorizing about the mind’s relationship to the brain. The idea behind the thesis is simple enough, and most easily explained in terms of a comparison.

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The contemporary significance of the dead sea scrolls

Many people have heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but few know what they are or the significance they have for people today. This year marks the seventieth anniversary of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and it gives us an opportunity to ask what are these scrolls and why they should matter to anyone.

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