Author Archives: mjw

Tracking Santa

From the Government Book Talk Blog by Chelsea Milko:

“Twas Christmas eve 1955 when a misprinted Sears Roebuck & Co. newspaper ad directed kids to a top secret Soviet alert hotline instead of Santa’s direct dial. Wrong red phone! On the receiving end, an Air Force colonel played along and a team of Cold War-era serviceman became North Pole elves. And that’s how the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) eventually became the Santa tracking agency.

NORAD is a bi-national U.S. and Canadian organization with the mission of aerospace warning and control in the defense of North America. But its most famous and favorite mission is watching the winter skies for the “big red one.”

Different high-tech systems are used to read Rudolph’s infrared nose signature, capture high-speed video around the globe, and provide Santa and his reindeer with a NORAD fighter pilot escort. Fun fact to impress people at your holiday party: satellites and radar once clocked Santa’s flying delivery cart at 100 times faster than the Japanese bullet train.

Santa positioning updates were originally delivered over the radio and through the Santa Tracking hotline.  A few years ago, NORAD teamed up with tech companies to release a set of free apps. If you download the tracking app, that ding from your phone could be a radar ping showing the globetrotting sleigh’s whereabouts.

Want to track jolly St. Nick and his sleigh-pullers on Christmas Eve? Visit NORAD’s multilingual Santa site,  but be careful – you just might have difficulty getting the little ones to bed!

Pearl Harbor

A re-posting of today’s Government Book Talk blog: ‘A Date Which Will Live in Infamy’: Remembering Pearl Harbor
by Trudy Hawkins

Battleship USS Arizona on fire and sinking (Image sources:


Battleship USS Arizona on fire and sinking (Image source:

Moments before 8 a.m. on December 7, 1941, the United States was ‘suddenly and deliberately attacked.’ Hundreds of Japanese fighter planes and bombers launched a surprise assault on American soil at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The volley on the U.S. naval base was swift and devastating: 2,403 Americans were killed, and another 1,178 were wounded; American battleships sunk; other ships irreparably damaged; and almost 200 U.S. aircraft were destroyed.

President Roosevelt delivers his “Day of Infamy” speech to a joint session of Congress on December 8, 1941. (Image source:

President Roosevelt delivers his “Day of Infamy” speech to a joint session of Congress on December 8, 1941. (Image source:

The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to formally declare war against Imperial Japan. It was then that Roosevelt spoke those famous words, proclaiming December 7, 1941 “a date which will live in infamy.” America had finally joined WWII. That momentous week of loss and defiance took place seventy-four years ago this month. The GPO makes available a variety of gov docs that reference the historic Pearl Harbor attack.

GPO’s Federal Digital System provides free access to a number of Federal Government documents related to Pearl Harbor:

Check out some of our government documents related to Pearl Harbor

Read more about it in the Colgate Libraries. Do a subject search Pearl Harbor Hawaii Attack On 1941

Ukrainian Famine

This evening at 4:30 in the Persson Hall auditorium, the history department presents the Douglas K. Reading Lecture by Timothy Snyder, Bird White Housum Professor of History, Yale University. His talk: “The Ukrainian Famine as World History.” After you’ve attended the talk, read more about it. Check out the U.S. government investigation of and report on the Ukraine Famine. It’s this month’s “blast from the past” display on the new government documents shelves (level 3, Case Library), and includes 3 volumes of oral history. There’s more in the collection, search Famines–Ukraine for more government documents, books, and videos .

Happy Halloween

Halloween is upon us, as is the annual loss of Daylight Savings Time – an extra hour of sleep!. Dating back thousands of years, Halloween has evolved into a celebration characterized by child-friendly activities, such as costumes, trick-or-treating and carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns.  Take a look at”Halloween by the numbers” brought to you by the U.S. Census Bureau. Did you know that 50,900 acres of pumpkins were harvested in the U.S. in 2013, with a total estimated production value of $149.9 million? New York state ranked 5th in pumpkin production. All this and more at the Census Bureau website

Changing Arctic Landscapes: Then and Now

You’ve seen Ken Tape photos on level 5 of Case-Geyer, now read all about it. We currently have a display of government documents about the Arctic dating from 1879-2013 on level 3 behind the Research Services Desk. More government publications and books are available: simply search the library’s catalog and government documents databases.

Banned Books Week

It’s time to reprise our annual post about Banned Book Week.

This week is Banned Books Week, an annual week-long celebration of the freedom to read that was first launched 1982. his book Free Speech for Me—But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other, Nat Hentoff writes that “the lust to suppress can come from any direction.” He quotes Phil Kerby, a former editor of the Los Angeles Times, as saying, “Censorship is the strongest drive in human nature; sex is a weak second.” (ALA banned books website 9/23/2008)

Other than having the freedom to read, what does this mean to you? Freedom to read without interference means that librarians all over the country examine and place books in age appropriate collections; handle challenges to those books fairly; and defend appropriate decisions. It means that here at Colgate, we do not give out information about who has checked out books or films from our libraries (not only policy, but N.Y. State law). You could even say that it means that there is a free flow of information from and about our government that is so necessary in a democracy.

The Colgate Libraries (e.g. search prohibited books or censorship in our catalog), the Colgate Bookstore and Hamilton Public Library, the American Library Association, and the entire book community offer many resources on books and censorship; take a moment and read a banned book today – or even over fall break!

RIP Gunter Grass

On Monday, at the age of 87, Gunter Grass died. Called a “towering literary figure” by Der Spiegel, he is perhaps best know to many as the author of  Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum). Read more about him in our collection and his obituary in Der Spiegel, and check out his writings in our collection (you can limit to English language if needed).

Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA Detention and Interrogation Program

The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) makes available the official and authentic digital and print versions of the Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program, together with a forward by Chairman Feinstein and Additional and Minority Views (Senate Report 113-288).

This document comprises the declassified Executive Summary and Findings and Conclusions, including declassified additional and minority views. The full classified report will be maintained by the Committee and has been provided to the Executive Branch for dissemination to all relevant agencies.

The digital version is available on GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys). Colgate will receive the paper copy later.

Election Day!

It’s here – have you voted today? It is one of our most cherished rights as citizens. Yes, the campaigns have been ugly in many cases, but when haven’t they been? The presidential election of 1800 has often been cited as a pivotal point in election history, and included some remarkable rhetoric. Read all about it with materials from the 18th century in Early American Imprints or Eighteenth Century Online databases or in books about the race: Political Campaigns United States.

Still gathering information? Check out our Elections webpage. Already voted? Settle back, await the results, and hope that they will be decisive. Follow the results on your favorite news outlet, all of which are running live coverage.

R.I.P. Christopher Hogwood

Got the news this morning: Christopher Hogwood, champion of performing early music in a historically informed manner, died Wednesday. Co-founder of the Early Music Society and founder of the Academy of Ancient Music, his recordings are numerous and known for the research that went into preparing and interpreting the score.

Read more about Hogwood, find his recordings and writings, and more about performance practice by searching Oxford Music Online, RILM, and our catalog.