Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Expulsion of Percy Shelley

By Lon Maxwell, Reference DepartmentPercy_Bysshe_Shelley_by_Alfred_Clint_crop

Percy Bysshe Shelley, perhaps one of the greatest poets of the English language, universally admired by students of literature, a revolutionary mind in literature and philosophy and college drop out. Okay, that is not entirely correct. He was actually expelled. Yes, expelled. That guy that you were required to study by your senior year English teacher and whom your Literature 201 professor went on about for days was actually expelled from Oxford. Now the Romantic poets were not exactly known for being good little boys and girls, and most of Byron’s poor behavior came in the form of romantic conquests and there was also the all too common descent into penury and debt that plagued them all at one time or another. But no, not Shelley.  He had done something entirely unacceptable, something so scandalous it would cause his father to stop speaking to him (although in honesty, it was one of several occasions where his father refused to speak to him so take that as you will).

What was this heinous crime? What terrible transgression did he commit? He wrote a paper. Yes, just a paper. Well, technically it was a pamphlet. It was 13 pages on a topic that would be none too popular today either. The pamphlet was titled “The Necessity of Atheism” and its author was listed only as “Thro’ deficiency of proof, an atheist.” Shelley never did actually cop to writing it, but it is believed that he and a friend named Thomas Jefferson Hogg wrote and published it in small numbers in the late winter of 1811. They both had talked it up amongst their fellows at Oxford and made sure copies were disseminated far and wide, going as far as to mail them to the bishops, professors and heads of the college. This was probably a bit too much cheek for the Oxford Dons.

The_Necessity_of_Atheism_(Shelley)_title_pageThe pamphlet itself was actually very blasé. It can be summed up quickly as saying due to a lack of empirical evidence of G_d’s existence; it is safer to be an atheist. It is not the very strong argument of a died in the wool zealot, nor was it actually written very well. It was, however, enough to bring him before a disciplinary committee. Some believe that it was helped by another of Shelley’s publications from that year, a poem called “A Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things” that Shelley had published alone as a Gentleman of the University of Oxford, that made a great outcry against the Napoleonic Wars that were nearing an end at that time. Whatever the reason turned out to be, when Shelley refused to confirm or deny his authorship of either works he was expelled. Hogg met the same fate.

Shelley wrote to his father 3 days after the expulsion had taken place. He was convinced that his father would at least sympathize with him. He Wrote:

“I know too well that your feeling mind will sympathise too deeply in my misfortunes. I hope it will alleviate your sorrow to know that for myself I am perfectly indifferent to the late tyrannical violent proceedings of Oxford.”

Sir Timothy Shelley felt no sorrow for his son. His own copy of “The Necessity of Atheism” has the word “impious” scrawled across it. In fact, the Baronet went to see his son and in the presence of the aforementioned Hogg raved, cursed and cried at his son, finally insisting that Percy return home to be educate by teachers Sir Timothy would choose. This began a rift that would eventually keep the two from speaking to each other for years and damaged their relationship in ways that were never to be mended.

To many modern Americans, “The Necessity of Atheism” and “A Poetical Essay” are just a bit of youthful rebellion, common to people in their late teens. They would have been articles in your school’s underground newspaper twenty or forty years ago. Today they would be blog posts from online aliases or facebooks status updates. Your parents might not approve, but nothing that would warrant expulsion and being disowned. Shelley held to his beliefs and rarely compromised them. He never abandoned them wholly, but only modified them as his life brought him greater scope of experience.

In an ironic twist, these two pamphlets as well as Shelley’s letter to his father are all part of the collection of the Bodleian Library and are part of a travelling collection called Shelley’s Ghost. In fact a copy of “A Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things”, once thought lost to the world was added at some expense to the library’s collection as the 12 millionth items in 2006. The Bodleian is the much celebrated research library of Oxford University and the second largest repository in Britain. If you go to see it you can also take in the rather grand memorial to Shelley placed on Oxford’s campus, a place too noble to accept him in life and only too willing to lionize him, deservedly so, in death.WHITE-BOX

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An Unlikely Ballerina: Misty Copeland

By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department

There you are, minding your own business, just trying to be an average teenager—daughter, sister, middle school student, hall monitor, drill team member—when your drill team coach suggests that you go check out a ballet class taught by her friend at your local Boys and Girls Club, the place where you hang out after school in order to avoid the grim, grimy two hotel rooms that you and your mother and your five siblings call home. So you go, and are an audience of one in the bleachers for a few weeks, until you summon the courage to stand at a ballet barre for the very first time. You spend an hour feeling like a “broken marionette,” awkward and clueless and a little overwhelmed, and then you put it all in the rearview mirror and scurry past that section of the gym for the next few days. But Cynthia, the dance instructor isn’t letting you off the hook that easily. You eventually drop your defenses to her relentless persuasion and begin taking classes in earnest, but you are still haunted by insecurity and doubt.

Then, something in you changes. Your confidence rises. You begin to believe what everyone else is telling you: that someday, you will dance in front of kings and queens, and that you will have a life that most people cannot even imagine.

You are a ballerina.f0b3fd5259f1f29e8a53954f622a23ca

In case you haven’t twigged to it yet, the “you” in the vignette above is ballet dancer Misty Copeland, the first African-American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in the prestigious American Ballet Theatre’s history.

Misty Danielle Copeland was born on September 10, 1982 in Kansas City, Missouri, to Doug and Sylvia Copeland. She is the youngest of four siblings from her mother’s second marriage and has two younger siblings, one each from her mother’s third and fourth marriages. Misty has no childhood memories of her father; she didn’t see Doug Copeland from age 2, when Sylvia, a former Kansas City Chiefs cheerleader, left Doug and loaded Misty and her siblings onto a Greyhound bus bound for Bellflower, California until she was 22, when she was traveling the world with American Ballet Theatre. “From the time I turned two, my life was in constant motion,” Misty states in her memoir Life In Motion. And that statement is not an exaggeration. Misty’s childhood was unstable and turbulent, and she has said that in retrospect, she used to measure time through the sequence of her mother’s dependency upon an ever-changing string of men. “We Copelands were like a nomadic tribe: hardy, fiercely protective of our band, and adaptable. We clung tightly to one another.” Those familial bonds would be severely strained in Misty’s teen years, when she had to make an excruciating choice: legally declare her emancipation from Sylvia in order to continue her dancing, or give up her dreams and remain with her family.f0b3fd5259f1f29e8a53954f622a23ca

A lengthy series of legal machinations ensued when Misty began emancipation proceedings from Sylvia, at the urging of her longtime instructor and mentor Cynthia Bradley, with whose family Misty had been living during the week for the past three years, and returning to her mother’s home, two hotel rooms at the Sunset Inn in Gardena, California, on the weekends. Sylvia retained the services of lawyer Gloria Allred and they claimed that Misty had been “brainwashed” by the Bradleys and that they turned Misty against Sylvia by belittling her intelligence. After several court hearings in autumn of 1998, the emancipation proceedings were dropped, as well as the restraining order and charges of stalking and harassment by Sylvia against the Bradleys. Misty would return to her mother’s custody, and she wouldn’t see Cynthia or Patrick Bradley again for more than a decade.f0b3fd5259f1f29e8a53954f622a23ca

Misty completed high school in California, and in September of 2000 joined the ABT Studio Company, which is the American Ballet Theatre’s second company. In 2001 she was promoted to ABT’s Corps de ballet. She was sidelined for a year due to a lumbar stress fracture, but recovered and embarked upon a series of beautiful, memorable roles in La Bayadere, Swan Lake, and Cinderella, to name only a few. In August of 2007, she was promoted to soloist, one of the youngest dancers ever to achieve that distinction. She was a standout among her dancing peers and appeared in The Firebird, Don Quixote, Le Corsaire, The Nutcracker, Coppelia, and Sleeping Beauty, to name just a few of the numerous productions she danced in over the ensuing years. On June 30, 2015, she was promoted to principal ballerina, the first African-American woman to achieve such an honor in the 75-year history of the American Ballet Theatre.

Misty currently resides in New York City with her fiancé Olu Evans, a Manhattan attorney. You can read more about Misty’s amazing life in the 2014 memoir she co-authored with Charisse Jones titled Life In Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina (Simon and Schuster; 92 COPELAND.) She also co-wrote a children’s picture book, Firebird (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, J E COPELAND), and in November 2015 she announced plans to publish a health and beauty guide tentatively titled Ballerina Body.

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*** author’s note: this is the first in a series I’m going to call “Amazing Women Athletes.” The theme for this year’s Summer Reading Program is sports-related, so, you know. I take my inspiration wherever I can find it.

Guest Post: Spring is in the Air, Pollen is Everywhere

By Patsy Watkins MPS, CFCS

Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, UT/TSU Extension, Williamson County

Spring means beautiful flowers, blooming trees, and fresh cut grass.  But if you are 1 out of the 50+ million people in the U.S. that suffer from nasal allergies, it can be miserable!

  • Allergies are abnormal immune system reactions to things that are typically harmless to most people.
  • Allergens or triggers are substances that cause the allergic reaction.
  • Sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and throat, nasal congestion, but no fever are all symptoms of allergic rhinitis also commonly known as “hay fever.”
  • Seasonal allergies are caused by tree pollen, grass pollen, weed pollen and airborne mold spores.
  • Perennial allergies, which occur year round, are caused by animal dander, dust mites, cockroaches, and indoor mold spores.

Tips to Reduce Your Exposure:allergies

  • Use air-conditioning in your home and car.
  • Use a humidifier.
  • Avoid pets in the home.
  • Bathe dogs twice a week.
  • Vacuum carpets weekly using a HEPA filter.
  • Wash sheets and blankets weekly in hot water 130°F.
  • Don’t dry laundry outside.
  • Stay indoors on dry windy days.
  • Keep your doors and windows closed during pollen season.
  • Avoid mowing grass or raking leaves.
  • Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning.

You can also attend out upcoming Using Essential Oils to Prepare our Sinuses for Spring event. Preparing for spring sinuses and maintaining our sinuses is key to having a great season. Learn how to use Essential Oils to keep our sinuses happy.

 

Rental and Mortgage Assistance Programs

By Jessica Dunkel, Reference Department

At the library, we do more than just help people find the best books (although we love doing that, too). We also care about helping people find the best information to improve their lives. As one of the biggest bills of the month, rent can be a major financial stress. In this article on free resources we’ve compiled some helpful links from http://www.needhelppayingbills.com to organizations that may help you, a family member, or a friend get the assistance you need.

Click on the links below for access to various government, local, national, non-profit and charity programs that provide direct rental or financial assistance, while others offer referrals or help people sign up for public funding and private resources.

And don’t think we forgot about you home owners! Keep scrolling down for more information on foreclosures, refinancing, and mortgage-related scams to avoid.


Rental Assistance


State Assistance Programs and Organizationsbuilding

Many states and local governments operate agencies and public assistance type programs that can help you with paying your rent, security deposits, and other housing expenses. Contact the assistance agencies and programs to get information on rent help from these types of resources, or call your local community action agency to learn about what other government services and programs may be available.

Rent Assistance from Federal Stimulus Program

The federal government is providing billions of dollars for housing and rental assistance as a result of the stimulus program. The name of the program being funded is The Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (more on this program), and most of the rental help is being distributed at the local government level. So your local social service agency, county government, charities and other organizations will process applications.

Rental Assistance from Federal Government Organizations

The largest program is HUD (Housing and Urban Development). Almost 1.5 million families use this program and it helps those in need pay their rent and security deposits. Other housing costs such as energy bills may be paid for as well. It is targeted to low income individuals, including senior citizens and the disabled. In addition to offering grants that help pay rent, the government Rental Voucher Program also helps to increase the availability of affordable housing choices by allowing families to select privately owned rental housing. More.

USDA Rural Development provides affordable housing, vouchers, and rental assistance for struggling rural families. Beneficiaries tend to be low-income residents, disabled, and the elderly who live in multiunit housing buildings. Continue.

Veterans and their families can get help with paying rent from a federal government resource known as Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program. This service is providing rental assistance vouchers and security deposit assistance to both veterans and their family members. More.

Receive legal advice to prevent evictions. Over one million people per year receive some form of free legal assistance and counsel to help them deal with eviction notices from the federal government funded Legal Services Corp. Attorneys can try to mediate a solution with your landlord and advise you on your rights. Or they can help you apply for government benefits such section 8, help with housing discrimination, and provide other aid. Click here to read more.

Or if you are being evicted because your landlord is facing foreclosure, read about your tenant – landlord foreclosure rights.

Apply for government or private grants. Many non-profit private organizations as well as the government have information on or offer grants that can be used to help pay rent.

Eviction Prevention Programs

Find emergency rental assistance from programs that prevent homelessness and evictions. The federal government as well as many local and state governments and nonprofit organizations have emergency eviction prevention programs in place for low and moderate income individuals and families. Many of the programs will try to prevent evictions and associated lawsuits, with a goal of stopping homelessness. Some even try to stop foreclosures. They provide resources such as mediation, landlord and tenant assessments, conflict resolution, direct rent payments and grants to tenants, and other forms of rental assistance. Or an agency may be able to help you locate more affordable housing. Learn more.

Rent assistance from charities and other local resources

For short term rent help look to your local community, including non-profits and charities. If you are experiencing a difficult time in paying your rent for a month or if you think you may soon fall behind, you should contact community based and local agencies that may be able to help you and your family with paying housing costs, rent and security deposits. There are many community groups, churches, and charitable organizations that will sometimes have funds that can help people who are having financial difficulties. Some of the organizations, such as the Salvation Army and United Way, can assist with making rent payments if they have funding. Priority is often given to people who are faced with a short term financial hardship or crisis. They will also often provide case management, referrals, and other social services. See the following link of organizations that can help.

There are also other charities and not for profit organizations that can help with housing costs, such as utility and heating bills. Resources provided are often one-time-only or they are given on a first-come-first-served basis, so you should not depend on these sources over the long term for rent or housing assistance. Calling these organizations, even if you are affiliated with their group or already a member, can sometimes get you the help you need. Or if an organization does not have funding, many can refer people to another agency that can help with paying rent and bills if your need is great.

Some examples of agencies that can help with these types of expenses include Catholic Charities, government social service offices, United Way, American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Legal Aid Society. There are many others. Find more emergency rent assistance agencies.

Many local churches are increasing their assistance programs, including offering more rent help, electric bill aid, and more. However many churches rely heavily on donations from the community and therefore tend to have very limited funding available.

Short term and transitional housing programs are operated by numerous non-profit agencies. For families that are behind on their rent and facing imminent eviction or individuals that are currently homeless, these programs can help them find a place to live, such as a shelter, and gain self-sufficiency. Once that occurs, get assistance in locating a new, low income home to live in. While more limited, some of these transitional services can direct qualified clients to resources that can help them pay for expenses such as moving costs, a security deposit, or maybe even their first month’s rent. Read more.

Communication is always key. Contact your creditors, as well as your landlord, and communicate with them and tell them exactly what is going on. You need to be very honest about every part of your financial picture. You can ask for a lower temporary monthly rental payment, or even ask for a skipped payment schedule or some type of installment plan. The landlord and creditors will appreciate you being proactive, and in many cases they would rather keep you as a tenant than have to evict you, as it can cost them thousands of dollars to go through the eviction process, market the site, find a new tenant, run background checks on the new tenant, etc. It is many times in their best interest to work with you to find a solution.


Mortgage Assistance


In danger of foreclosure on your home?save money

Are you anticipating a change to your adjustable mortgage that will be too expensive for you? Do not ignore the situation. Act now. The Tennessee Housing Development Agency has provided training to many organizations across Tennessee that will provide free and confidential counseling about your options.

Learn about Great Save, a new refinance program from THDA

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency has a new mortgage program called Great Save to refinance adjustable rate mortgage loans closed after December 31, 2001 and before January 1, 2008. To qualify, the THDA must determine that a financial hardship to the borrower is likely if they do not refinance.

Involved in a possible lending or mortgage-related scam?

The Department of Financial Institution’s Consumer Resources Division will identify if there is a problem and help you through the formal complaint process.


 

As Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” Armed with the proper financial knowledge, this metaphor can become a reality. Finding the right assistance can open many doors – we hope you or someone you know can benefit from these free, helpful resources!

It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird: Harper Lee 1926-2016

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department

harper-lee_0Harper Lee passed away at the age of 89 last month. She was a literary giant and wrote one of the most famous and beloved novels of the twentieth century: To Kill a Mockingbird. It was only last year that her second book, a predecessor of To Kill a Mockingbird, was published. This book, Go Set a Watchman, was as divisive as her first book was beloved. Many thought that Go Set a Watchman was published without her say-so, and that Ms. Lee was taken advantage of. And the views on race relations and the language used shocked many readers.

The book is so beloved that, according to Variety, Aaron Sorkin will be writing the script for a new Broadway play, adapting To Kill a Mockingbird for the 2017-2018 season. There is precedent: In 1990, a stage adaptation by Christopher Sergel debuted in Monroeville, where it’s performed each May by local actors. The performances take an almost reverential approach, with audiences taking part in order to ritually enact scenes of segregation and justice denied.

Truman Capote

Truman Capote

So why do we love To Kill A Mockingbird so much? Firstly, it’s one of the few books that kids in high school actually like to read. Consider the reading lists, it is a relatively shorter and easier to read book. And even though it’s themes are overt and plentiful, it doesn’t feel like Harper Lee was beating you over the head with themes (I’m looking at you Mr Dickens and your paid by the word description of how the wine and the street represented the Revolution).  Also, it is one of the few books that made the transition to film well. We all picture Gregory Peck when we think of Atticus Finch, and he was the epitome of the thoughtful, kind father we all wished we had. And we all related to Scout, who was an adventuresome tomboy learning about the world at his knee. And finally, as we all now know, the neighbor Dill was based off of a young Truman Capote.

During the years immediately following the novel’s publication, Harper Lee enjoyed the attention its popularity garnered her, granting interviews, visiting schools, and attending events honoring the book. In 1961, her book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Literature and the Brotherhood Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.   The popularity snowballed and she began to turn down interviews sometime in 1964; she said the questions were monotonous. She also thought the attention was bordering on invasive and would take away the impact of the book. She was also quite shy all her life. Several times Lee said, once in a phone interview with Oprah, that the character in the book she most identified with is Boo Radley.

Only one year after its publication To Kill a Mockingbird had been translated into ten languages. Through the years, it has been translated into more than 40 languages. The novel has never been out of print in hardcover or paperback. A 1991 survey by the Book of the Month Club and the Library of Congress Center for the Book found that To Kill a Mockingbird was rated behind only the Bible in books that are “most often cited as making a difference”. It is considered by some to be the Great American Novel.48bbe6e4f83767fb9933a723e8f1196d

People celebrated across the United States in 2010 when To Kill a Mockingbird turned 50. A book was even published in honor of the 50th anniversary–Scout, Atticus, & Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird. It was full of famous readers writing to Harper Lee telling her how much they loved her book. The 2010 documentary film in the PBS American Masters series Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird focuses on the background of the book and the film as well as their impact on readers and viewers.

And to have the second book Go Set a Watchman published in 2015 was a final gift to all of her fans. It was also a surprise, since so many readers had idolized Atticus, to see racist words pop up and find out that Calpurnia had retired. Many book groups are still discussing Lee’s new book. It is a nice legacy for her to leave us. Thank you Harper Lee for your magnificent To Kill a Mockingbird and your surprising postscript novel Go Set a Watchman. The world was better for your presence and your writing gifts.

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The Situation with the Flint River

By Lon Maxwell, Reference Department

As most people are aware, the City of Flint, Michigan, is in the middle of an environmental and health crisis. The origins of this crisis come from what was once a cost cutting move that moved Flint from the Detroit water supply to pulling their water from the Flint River. After seeing a rise in cases of lead poisoning in the people of the city, especially the children, it was determined that the water they were getting from the river was corroding the lead pipes and releasing the lead from the pipes into the water supply.maxresdefault

Much of Michigan is in financial trouble and many of the state’s local governments are doing everything in their power to remain solvent. In 1962 Flint had attempted to build a pipeline for water to come from Lake Huron. This was ended due to a real estate profiteering scam and Flint began buying their water from the City of Detroit, culminating in the cessation of Flint’s own water treatment. A 2011 study by a local firm concluded that using the Flint River water would mean for expensive treatment, but that it could be done if improvements to the city’s water treatment plant were made. Water from Lake Huron was a more cost effective solution and Flint decided to move to a different water cooperative, to the dismay of Detroit who deemed the water agreement they had with Flint to be terminated in April of 2014. Unfortunately, the connection to the other water cooperative was not to be completed until 2016. This meant that Flint had to use a backup water source, the Flint River. While the water source had been the backup water supply for 50 years it had not been a major contributor in all that time. The Flint water treatment authority had been forced to issue boil advisories in August and September of 2014 due to coli-form bacteria and there were spikes in a chlorine related carcinogen, most likely caused by over chlorination to combat the bacteria. There is also a suspected link to a legionnaire’s disease outbreak. The major problem came from the low ph and higher salinity of the Flint River water corroding the protective layer of the lead pipes and leaching lead into the water.

Flint is now returning to the Detroit water supply and Flint will be adding orthophosphate to the Detroit water to help build up the protective scale in the lead pipes. How long this will take is unknown.

 

The Situation in Our Area

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Harpeth River

The Harpeth River, where our water comes from in most of Williamson County, has had its own share of contamination issues. The Harpeth Valley Utility District (HVUD), where most of the county gets their water shows lead at 1.3 parts per billion (ppb). HVUD Uses copper pipes for tap water delivery so the possibility of a situation like that in Flint is impossible. The Hillsboro, Burwood & Thompson’s Station Utility district shows1.5 ppb of lead in their water quality tests and they use PVC and Ductile Iron pipes for their water delivery. Franklin Water Management shows 1.4 ppb. The Mallory Valley Utility District has the lowest lead locally, with .6 ppb. When you compare these to the EPA regulatory standard of 15 ppb, or even the 5 ppb level the researchers from Virginia Tech call a cause for concern, you can see that our water here is relatively safe. Flint averages 27 ppb with the highest found spiking at 13,000. Two communities get their water from outside the county. Fairview buys their water from Dickson County (2.2 ppb) and Brentwood water comes from metro Nashville water (1.5 ppb).

Two contributors to water quality problems in our area were ELMCO and Metalico. The Egyptian Lacquer Manufacturing Company was the source of a leak into Liberty Creek. An underground line leaked into the soil, washed into Liberty Creek and flowed into Harpeth. Acetone and Toluene were the main components of that leak and it was down river from the Franklin water intake. Since the pipes have been disconnected and the chemical tanks removed before the fall of 2008, no free product has been observed in Liberty Creek or the Harpeth. What lead we do see in the Harpeth and surrounding watersheds comes from natural sources but may be contributed to by lead smelting and battery reclamation. From the 1950s to the 1990s in College Grove, General Smelting and Refining Inc. (owned by Metalico) operated a plant that did just that on a site adjacent to the river near its head waters. While there is no current concern for lead contamination, continued monitoring for lead and antimony from the plant still goes on.

While there are concerns over the treatment of sewage and the amount of water used by some entities, the water in this area has received a clean bill of health by the last set of standards and test and new, stricter standards are coming before the next time the state renews local water certificates. For information on some of the challenges facing the Harpeth River and water quality reports look at the web sites for the utility districts discussed above and also take a look at the web page for the Harpeth River Watershed Association.

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