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Asian Heritage Month Double Event: Iranian Architecture and a Musical Performance

April 24, 2015 | Maureen | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Celebrate Asian Heritage Month this May with two events at North York Central Library on Saturday, May 23. The afternoon will begin with an overview of the architecture of Iran. At one o'clock, Dr. Rafooneh M. Sani (Eastern Mediterranean University, Cyprus) will showcase Iranian architecture from the ancient to the contemporary. The magnificent city of Persepolis will be one of the topics of her presentation. Persepolis has a fascinating history. In 1930 archaeologists began excavations of this ancient city, which dates back to 515 BCE. The destruction of Persepolis came after the army of Macedonian king Alexander the Great looted it in 330 BCE. The city that had been known as “the richest city under the sun” was destroyed by fire, possibly as revenge for the destruction of the Acropolis in Athens 150 years earlier, by Xerxes, King of Persia.

2009-11-24_Persepolis_02  Persepolis. Photo credit: Hansueli Krapf. Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0           

After Dr. Rafooneh's talk, you'll have time for a treat at the North York Centre food court (just a one minute walk from the library) before the second event begins. If the weather is fine, you can sip your coffee outside, in Mel Lastman Square, an urban oasis just steps from busy Yonge Street. Sit by the fountain or the reflecting pool and consider the modern Canadian architecture that borders the square.

Be sure to come back to the library in time to get a seat in the auditorium for the three o'clock performance by the Shiraz Ensemble. The musicians will perform Persian instrumental music on instruments with intriguing names: the Tar (Persian long-necked lute), the Tombak (goblet drum), the Kamanche (spiked fiddle), and the Santour (dulcimer).

Both events are free. They will take place in the North York Central Library auditorium and will be conducted in English and Farsi. Please call (416) 395-5639 to register.

Here are some books with beautiful images of the architecture and art of Iran, which you can borrow from the library:

  Persian art and architecture Islam Splendors of Islam  

 If you are an ancient history buff, consider borrowing these movies on Persepolis:

Persepolis rediscovering the lost capital of the Persian Empire "In 520 B.C. King Darius I of the Archaemenids had a forty acre terrace piled up at the foot of the Kuh-e-Rahmat, the Mount of Mercy, in the central Persian plateau. Here the new capital of the Persian Empire was to arise, Parsa, or Persepolis."

 

 

Persepolis stage of kings

 

The pace of this movie is unhurried, and I mean that in a good way. It's a great antidote to movies with explosions, bullets, and nerve shattering sound tracks. The camera lingers on the awe inspiring ruins of Persepolis and the beautiful relief sculpture adorning it's walls and columns, while traditional music softly plays. These sculptures, which scholars believe were once brightly painted, depict fascinating scenes, such as representatives of subjugated nations bringing offerings to the King. It's easy to slip into a dream of the distant past, watching this movie.

 

Persepolis recreated, or Shukūh_i takht_i Jamshīd (no cover image available)

You have the option of watching this movie in Farsi or English. It begins with a stunning opening shot -- the camera pans the ruins of Persepolis against a crimson sunset sky. The halls and palaces of Persepolis are digitally recreated in this movie.

This is a Big One: North York Central Library presents Mona Eltahawy!

April 23, 2015 | Emoke | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Mona Eltahawy photoAs soon as I heard about Mona Eltahawy's upcoming book entitled: Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution, I knew I would be interested in this woman's work.

According to her official website, Mona (Egyptian-American activist and journalist) is an award-winning columnist as well as international public speaker on Arab and Muslim issues and global feminism. She is based in Cairo and New York City.

Mona is a contributor to the New York Times opinion pages, and her commentaries have appeared in several other publications and she is a regular guest analyst on various television and radio shows. She appeared on most major media outlets during the 18-day revolution that toppled Egypt's President. In November 2011, Egyptian riot police beat, sexually assaulted and detained her. Eltahawy was named one of Newsweek's '150 Most Fearless Women of 2012.'

In her book Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution, (released this month), she crafts an argument about the complexity surrounding women's sexual and political identities in the Middle East and uses her experiences of sexual assault as well as her conflicted feelings about the hijab to unveil what she identifies as false choices for women in Islamic societies. Her book is very well-reviewed in Library Journal, which describes her account as "a strong, insightful, and well-researched analysis of many issues connected to Middle Eastern women's autonomy (e.g., the hijab, marriage, female genital mutilation). Her personal insights set this work apart."

Mona Eltahawy will read from her book at the North York Central Library Auditorium on Monday, April 27th, 2015. Free tickets are required and are available by clicking here.

Find her book and others of a similar subject at the Toronto Public Library below:

Book Title: Headscarves And Hymens: Why The Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution  Book Title: Muslim women reformers : inspiring voices against oppression  Book Title: Women in the Middle East and North Africa : change and continuity  Book Title: Price of honor : Muslim women lift the veil of silence on the Islamic world

Link to the ebook version of Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution:

http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDM3262348&R=3262348

 

A Modern Plague

April 2, 2015 | Carolyn | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

In Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio curses the feuding families by wishing "A plague on both your houses". I find it interesting that in Shakespeare's time a plague - a disease - was considered one of the worst curses one could wish on an enemy.

Burying Plague Victims of TournaiBurying Plague Victims of Tournai. Public doman image.

What was once known as a plague we now call a pandemic - a widespread outbreak of a communicable disease, sometimes with a significant mortality rate.

Fear of pandemics is understandable

The Black Death (bubonic plague) killed over 50 million people in Asia and Europe between 1339-51, and the single worst pandemic in recorded history, the Spanish flu, killed about the same number of people in a single year (1918-19). Other pandemics, while not as deadly, have also had devastating consequences.

But is it rational?

On the one hand, we have more information about prevention, causes and treatments for communicable diseases than ever before. It's easier for public health officials to communicate alerts and warnings. On the other hand, increased international travel has meant that disease can spread more quickly than previously around the globe.

Learn more

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 10,000 people died during the recent Ebola outbreak. The speed with which the virus spread, the lack of effective treatments and the high mortality rate caused concern and fear around the world. There were similar concerns during the SARS outbreak in 2003 and over the possible reappearance of avian or bird flu.

Preparing to enter Ebola treatment unitPreparing to enter Ebola treatment unit 
[CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Graduate students from the University of Toronto's Department of Immunology want to clear up some of our misconceptions about Ebola. On Tuesday April 14 they will be giving a talk at the North York Central Library about how viruses infect humans. Focusing on the Ebola virus, they will discuss the biological and sociological factors behind the recent outbreak and explain why the virus spread more in some regions than in others. 

What:   What's in an Outbreak?: an overview of Ebola and infectious disease

Where: North York Central Library

When:  Tuesday April 14, 7:00 pm

To learn more about Ebola and other infectious diseases, check out these websites:

 Books and DVDs about infectious diseases are available at library branches:

 

Plague has long been the subject of novels and films:

Free Science Events in Toronto for April 2015

March 26, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The Science and Technology Department of North York Central Library compiles a monthly calendar of free science and applied science events in Toronto. Applied science includes health, gardening, pets and food; all subjects found in the department's collection. Here is the April calendar (PDF).

April's highlights include:

  • April 9: Epigenetics: A New Frontier, human epigenomes is the 'instructions' which tell the DNA whether to make skin cells or blood cells or other body parts. In this talk, the speaker will introduce the topic and the data and outline some of the challenges.
  • April 14: Debunking the Top Cancer Myths, leading experts from Sunnybrook's Odette Cancer Centre will discuss the myths relating to colorectal cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer.
  • April 25: 6th Annual Black Diabetes Expo, presented by the Canadian Diabetes Association and its Caribbean Diabetes Chapter, this educational event brings together products, resources, speakers and experts to show how you can help prevent and manage diabetes while improving your overall health.

The Toronto Public Library also offers many free science and applied science events:

April's highlights include:

  • April 1: Common Misconceptions About the Universe: From Everyday Life to the Big Bang, at Bloor/Gladstone branch. A fun introduction to astronomy by learning and "correcting" common misconceptions about the universe, from everyday life to space aliens, black holes and the birth of the universe - the Big Bang. No science background needed.
  • April 9: Mental Health 101, at Eatonville branch. Presented by Reconnect Mental Health services, this information session will review the current mental health system and where we have come from. An overview of mental illnesses and treatments will be described as well as supports available and how to access services.
  • April 14: Music to Better Your Health: Ideas from a Music Therapist, at Annette Street branch. Research increasingly shows that music has positive effects on our physical and emotional health. This evening will provide an information session about music therapy, followed by an interactive workshop exploring ways everyone can use music to improve their health and well-being.
  • April 22: Rosetta: Deciphering the Language of Comets, at North York Central Library. In November 2014, the world witnessed the first time man landed a spacecraft on a comet. How did we get there? What will we learn? Highlights from one of the most exotic places ever visited with Sebastian Daemgen.
  • April 25: iMovie for Beginners, at Fort York branch. An introduction to using iMovie on the Mac. Basic video editing techniques will be taught like using transitions and titles, adding audio and a soundtrack, cutting and splicing, and using the timeline.

Can't attend a program or want to read more about the topics covered? Try some of these titles:

Epigenetics  Cancer  The African American guide to living well with diabetes  The universe

Complete mental health  Music therapy  Comets  IMovie

Introduction to Baroque Music with Violinist Patricia Ahern

February 27, 2015 | Maureen | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...

Patricia AhernPlease join us at North York Central Library on Friday March 27 for an introduction to Baroque music. Patricia Ahern, a violinist with award winning Baroque orchestra Tafelmusik, will perform selections of Baroque music to illustrate her talk. Tafelmusik has been called one of the world’s top Baroque orchestras by Gramophone Magazine.

Baroque music is a style of European music that roughly spans the years 1600 to 1750. The love of theatricality during this time period led to the invention of a genre which is still flourishing today -- opera. Some well known composers of the period include George Frideric Handel, Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Pachelbel, Antonio Vivaldi, Henry Purcell, and Claudio Monteverdi.

If you’d like to learn more about Baroque music before you come to the event, use your library card to log into Naxos Music Library on the Toronto Public Library Website. Here, you can listen to works by composers of the Baroque period. Or you can listen to The history of classical music, an audio book by Richard Fawkes, a hidden gem for your ears and mind. At the beginning, you will hear the soulful sound of Gregorian chant, then British actor Robert Powell infusing the first line of the book with life in his mellifluous, unhurried tones: "The sound of Gregorian chant -- the oldest music we have in the western world".

His voice is so well modulated and pleasing that even when he tells you about the walls of Jericho being brought down by trumpets, and the Christians being fed to lions to the sound of organ music, you will be lulled into a state of both relaxation and alert curiosity -- the perfect mood in which to time travel with Powell into music history. It's a great way to learn. You are treated to samples of music which really help you appreciate what Powell is saying in his delicious British accent. If you want, skip right to the section on the Baroque period. (The same title is available in Hoopla, Toronto Public Library's streaming music and video service.)

Patricia will begin her talk at 7:00 p.m. Please call 416-395-5639 to register for this free program.

Here are just a few titles from the thousands available to you in Naxos Music Library:

Richard Fawkes The History of Classical Music
"Recommended to anyone new to classical music or to informed listeners looking to plug any gaps in their knowledge." Gramophone Magazine. Narrated by award winning actor Robert Powell. (Most well known for his role as Jesus in Franco Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth.)

Baroque Masterpieces

.

Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra Concerti Virtuosi

 

 

Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra House of Dreams

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Free Science Events in Toronto for March 2015

February 26, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The Science and Technology Department of North York Central Library compiles a monthly calendar of free science and applied science events in Toronto. Applied science includes health, gardening, pets and food; all subjects found in the department's collection. Here is the March calendar (PDF).

March's highlights include:

The Toronto Public Library also offers many free science and applied science events:

March's highlights include:

Can't attend a program or want to read more about the topics covered? Try some of these titles:

Garments of paradise   Real food all year   Climate change   The essential guide to home herbal remedies   Healthy meals for less   Arduino for beginners   Teach yourself visually Microsoft Excel 2010   The complete visual guide to building a house

The Beautiful Brain: How Do We See the World?

February 20, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Edit: Please note that the talk "The Beautiful Brain: How Do We See the World?" has been rescheduled (date and time to be confirmed). Tonight's talk will be delivered by Derek Wilson (York University) on "What Happens When Proteins Go Rogue".

I recently had surgery to correct my vision. I've needed glasses since sixth grade so it's been quite a different experience not having to wear glasses or contacts. Being able to wake up and see things clearly has been simply wonderful.

Working together, the eyes and brain allow us to perceive the world around us. As light hits the retina of the eye (which allows us to see), signals are sent to the visual cortex of the brain. There, visual information is processed.

So whether you are looking at a work of art or engaging in a daily routine such as driving, our visual sense and powerful brain let us react with adequate behaviours.

Join Dr. Georg Zoidl from York University, for a talk on the brain and visual perception on Wednesday, March 4 from 7 – 8 PM at North York Central Library in the Auditorium. He will explain what our perception of the physical world mean for us as individuals and as social beings.

Presented in collaboration with York University’s Faculties of Science and Health, this talk is part of the Neuroscience: How Your Brain Lives, Works… And Dies lecture series.

For more information about the brain, take a look at these books:

Brain structure and its origins  The human brain book  A very short tour of the mind  We are our brains

Here are some DVDs about the brain:

How does the brain work  The intelligent brain  The nervous system  Your best brain

There are also books about visual perception:

Basic vision  An introduction to the visual system  A tour of the senses  Vision and brain

Tutankhamun's Uncommon Encounters

February 13, 2015 | Ann | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

 

National Gegoraphic featured video:  King Tut's Tomb
Photograph of King Tut's Mask courtesy of v.williams46 (flickr) under the Creative Commons licence 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

This year Ontario celebrates Family Day on Monday February 16.  It is a great day for people to share time with family and friends.  For those who like to spend their time immersed in ancient history, February 16 celebrates the 92nd anniversary of the discovery of King Tut (aka King Tutankhamen).  This day in 1923, Howard Carter discovered the inner burial chamber and gave rise to a social phenomenon rich in scientific research and folklore. 

Tutankhamun endured some (mis)adventures in life and in the thereafter.  These include physical injuries that hastened his untimely death, possible spontaneous combustion of his mummified remains during entombment, and the recent unfortunate breaking and hasty reattachment of the beard on his death mask.  

Other intriguing issues related to King Tut can be shelved under folklore.  These include the ever popular "mummy's curse" upon the opening of King Tut's sarcophagus and the successful plot to murder the young king.  In the late 1960s, scientists examined King Tut's remains using X-ray photography.  The initial images showed a crack in the lower back area of the mummy's skull.  This evidence suggested that King Tut may have been bludgeoned to death.  Ay(e), a  middle-aged close relative and counselor to the king, was the prime suspect in the young king's demise.  Ay(e) had a great deal to gain in murdering the child king and marrying the equally young queen, Ankhesenamun.  

Further scientific analysis debunks this initial theory.  Recent CT scans discount Ay(e) as the Tutankhamen's murderer.  The crack in the skull most likely occurred in the mummification process.   King Tut may have died due to an infection resulting from a serious fracture to his left leg.  The scientists did report two unusual occurrences while they performed a CT scan on Tut's remains.  They jokingly suggested that the sudden shutdown of power to the CT scanner and illness to one of the scientists may be caused by the mummy's curse for performing this "penetrating" procedure.  

 

The library has a good assortment of titles that would interest readers fascinated with topics on Tutankhamen and the history of Ancient Egypt: 

Discovering Tutankhamun: from Howard Carter to DNA.  By Zahi Hawass Tutankhamun's funeral.  By Winlock, Herbert Eustis, 1884-1950 Amarna sunset: Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, Ay, Horemheb, and the Egyptian counter-reformation.  By Dodson, Aidan, 1962- In the valley of the kings:  Howard Carter and the mystery of King Tutankhamun's tomb.  By Meyerson, Daniel
The golden king:  the world of Tutankhamun. By Hawass, Zahi A. The treasures of Tutankhamun and the Egyptian Museum of Cairo.  By Amenta, Alessia Tutankhamun's armies: battle and conquest during ancient Egypt's late eighteenth dynasty.  By Darnell, John Coleman A passion for Egypt: Arthur Weigall, Tutankhamun, and the "curse of the pharaohs."  By  Hankey, Julie

 

For those readers who would like to find out more on the possible murder plot on the young king, here are some gripping suggestions: 

The murder of Tutankhamen: a true story.  By Brier, Bob The shadow king:  the bizarre afterlife of king Tut's mummy.  By Marchant, Josephine The murder of King Tut: the plot to kill the child king: a nonfiction thriller.  By Patterson, James, 1947- Secrets of the dead. Ultimate Tut (DVD)

 

As new innovations in scientific research develop, the analysis of King Tut's artifacts and remains will continue to reveal a better understanding of how people in Ancient Egypt perceived life and death.  Perhaps not everything about King Tut will be answered--speculation and folklore will attempt to fill in those gaps.

Whether it be murder, archaeology, science, or Egyptology, you will find something intriguing in the titles and the online articles suggested here.  Come visit the Society and Recreation Department at the North York Central Library to browse our Ancient Egypt collection.  And please visit the Toronto Public Library Pinterest site for more amazing images on all things Tutankhamen. 

Everybody Eats

February 11, 2015 | Jane | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

...whether intricately prepared or straight from the freezer, whether from the backyard garden or shiny supermarket. The dudes at my dog park talk pork recipes, my sister has inordinate pride in her pie crusts. Tomorrow (Feb. 12), is the last day of Winterlicious, the Toronto festival that allows us all to try something, or someplace new.  

We eat for pleasure, have memories wrapped up in the recipes we cook, and of course food sustains us.

If only we could, like Jennifer Bain, “Eat for a Living”. You can at least come to hear her talk about what it's like though. Jennifer Bain is the food editor for the Toronto Star and will provide a “free – ranging” (no cooped up chat here) talk about how she came to be a food writer, how Toronto’s food landscape is changing, and about the process of writing a cookbook.

A little context: Bain’s Toronto Star Cookbook won the 2014 Taste Canada award for best English regional/cultural cookbook, and has hometown foodies feeling very proud. 

                     Toronto Star cookbook: more than 150 diverse and delicious recipes

 The talk is at North York Central Library, 5120 Yonge St., in the Auditorium, on Wednesday, February 18 from 7:00 to 8:00 pm.  

Meantime, read, explore...try out a new recipe. 

Bitter: a taste of the world's most dangerous flavor, with recipes   Cooking with Les Dames d'Escoffier: at home with the women who shape the way we eat and drink  Note by Note Cooking  Cuisine and culture: a history of food and people
Cooking for Geeks   Plenty More   Vegan Pressure Cooking  The Cookbook Library

Is sugar the new fat?

February 6, 2015 | Carolyn | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Sugar Cubes   Photo by Uwe Hermann. Creative Commons licence.

From the Paleo diet to buttered coffee, fat is making a comeback after decades in the dietary wilderness.

For years the conventional wisdom was that dietary fat was responsible for many chronic health problems. Studies starting in the 1960s appeared to show a strong relationship between saturated fats and heart disease, and low-fat diets and food products enjoyed decades of popularity as a result. As David Katz, Director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, noted in a 2012 blog post, "The food industry saw opportunity in the low-fat message, and reinvented the interpretation of the message to suit its profit-driven motives. The era of highly-processed, starchy, sugary, salty, low-fat foods was born."

Recent research has discredited the earlier studies, leading to declarations that the war on fat is over. 

So what has replaced fat as the new dietary culprit? How about sugar. Increasing sugar consumption is being linked to rising rates of obesity and diabetes, and recent research suggests that it is at least as responsible for other poor health outcomes, including heart disease, as fat. The pendulum has swung so far that some even suggest sugar may be toxic.

To read more about sugars and fats in our diet, and their health effects, have a look at these books, available in a variety of formats:

Fat Chance: beating the odds against sugar, processed food, obesity, and disease Why We Get Fat: and what to do about ir Sweet Poison: why sugar makes us fat
available as a book, an eBook and an eAudiobook available as a book, an eBook, an audiobook and an eAudiobook
The Big Fat Surprise: why butter, meat and cheese belong in a healthy diet Year of No Sugar: a memoir Salt, Sugar, Fat: how the food giants hooked us
available as a book, an eBook, an audiobook, an eAudiobook and a Talking Book available as a book and an eBook available as a book, an eBook, an audiobook and an eAudiobook

 

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