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November 17: Celebrating International Students Day

November 17, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)

Global Call for Action

On November 17, many people celebrated International Students Day. Students from all over the world stand united in arguing for freedom of movement, freedom to study, and freedom to live in dignity. The Global Call to Action in 2015 urges governments all around the world to “guarantee the right to study to everyone regardless of their socio-economic, cultural, religious and sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression.” The campaign can be recognized on Twitter and on Facebook by #free2learn and #free2move within countries, continents, and all around the world itself.

Why November 17? Nazi troops stormed the University of Prague on November 17, 1939 following the killing of Jan Opletal, the invasion of Czechoslovakia by German troops, the execution of nine student leaders, more than 1,200 students sent to concentration camps, and the closure of all universities and colleges in the country by the Nazi invaders. International Students Day was first acknowledged on November 17, 1941 in London, England by the International Students’ Council (that included many refugees as members) and continued by the International Union of Students. The latter group has been lobbying in conjunction with European national student unions and other organizations for International Students Day to be officially recognized by the United Nations.

November 17 gained additional resonance as International Students Day when students at the Athens Polytechnic went on strike against the governing military junta in Greece in November 1973. A tank crashed through the blocked gate of the Athens Polytechnic and several students were injured in the protest, despite pleas from the protesters for the military not to fight with them. The fiftieth anniversary of the 1939 events in Czechoslovakia in November 1989 began with a peaceful attempt to commemorate International Students Day in Prague with a mass demonstration organized by independent student leaders and the Socialist Union of Youth. Riot police and supporting troops beat many of the protesters and one person was left dead, purportedly a student who was an undercover agent. Many students were not aware of this, believing that a fellow student had been killed. A strike organized by students and theatre actors became part of a chain of events that contributed to the fall of the communist régime in Czechoslovakia and that country’s subsequent democratic partition into two countries: the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Toronto Public Library collections offer the reader insights into seemingly normal people who can do extraordinary things when circumstances demand. It seems rather fitting on International Students Day to highlight the exploits of some students:


The boys who challenged Hitler Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club

Book – also available in eBook and eAudiobook formats.

Denmark was under Nazi occupation for much of the Second World War. Fighting back was not always easy but eight teenage schoolboys from Aalborg Cathedral School in Jutland, led by Knud Pedersen (1925-2014), organized the Churchill Club (Danish: Churchill-klubben) to carry out 25 acts of sabotage against the Nazi occupiers before being arrested in May 1942. Even after arrest, members of the Churchill Club were still able to carry out sabotage activities at nighttime.


A noble treason the story of Sophie Scholl and the White Rose revolt against Hitler vs the revolt of the Munich Students against Hitler


Hans and Sophie Scholl German resisters of the White Rose



Sophie Scholl the real story of the woman who defied Hitler



German siblings and students Hans Scholl (1918-1943) and Sophie Scholl (1921-1943) grew out of their membership in the Hitler Youth and became angry at the savagery of Nazism. Following the arrest of their father in 1942, Hans and Sophie organized a non-violent protest group called White Rose (German: Weisse Rose) whose membership included fellow students Christoph Probst, Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf, and philosophy professor Kurt Huber. The group was able to write, print and distribute five leaflets criticizing the evil ways of the Nazi régime and urging resistance from German citizenry. In attempting to scatter the sixth pamphlet from a balcony at the University of Munich, a custodian of the university (and Nazi sympathizer) reported Hans and Sophie Scholl who were subsequently arrested (along with Christoph Probst) and found in possession of handwritten material corresponding to the leaflets. Following extremely physical interrogations and an appearance before the notorious (Nazi) People’s Court, Hans, Sophie, and Christoph were all executed by guillotine in Munich’s Stadelheim Prison on February 22, 1943. However, a copy of the group’s sixth leaflet was smuggled out of Germany and Allied aircraft dropped millions of copies of the White Rose’s leaflets over Germany in spring/summer 1943.


Free the Children a young man fights against child labor and proves that children can change the world

Book – also available 

in eBook format


Power of We Day moving the world from me to we



Living me to we the guide for socially conscious Canadians



Canadian Craig Kielburger (1982- ) founded the charity Free the Children to combat global child labour with his older brother Marc Kielburger (1977- ) when Craig was just twelve years old, having read a report of a murdered 12-year-old boy named Iqbal Masih who had been forced into child labour at age four. Kielburger researched the topic of child labour for school and he and several of his classmates started Kids Can Free the Children (which subsequently became Free the Children). The charity supports a program called We Schools in conjunction with 10,000 schools in North America and the United Kingdom. We Schools supports teachers and students with curriculum and educational resources along with suggested action campaign ideas. Students learn about the causes associated with hunger, poverty, and the lack of education and what they as citizens can do to help by planning one local and one global action to improve the world.

In 1995, Craig Kielburger accompanied children’s rights advocate Kailash Satyarthi in Southeast Asia to return child labourers to their families after Mr. Satyarthi had freed them from a carpet factory.

The Kielburger brothers also founded a social enterprise called Me to We (half of whose profits go to Free to Children) that encourages people to foster social change through consumer choices.


I am Malala the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban

Book – also available in eBook and Large Print Book formats.

Women’s rights and education advocate Malala Yousafzai (1997- ) is a Pakistani-born activist fighting for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize Laureate. Malala championed these issues in the Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan until an assassination attempt by the Taliban on a school bus on October 9, 2012 brought her close to death. She recovered enough subsequently that she and her family relocated to the United Kingdom for rehabilitation and residency. Malala has continued her advocacy work for education and women’s rights, received honorary Canadian citizenship in 2013, and was co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize with children’s rights and education advocate Kailash Satyarthi.

Snapshots in History: November 9 - Remembering Mikhail Tal

November 10, 2015 | John P. | Comments (1)


Mikhail Tal in play against Bobby Fischer at the 1960 Chess Olympics in Leipzig, East Germany.

(Source: )

Even if you have never played a game of chess, you might have heard of Robert James “Bobby” Fischer and Boris Spassky, especially when they faced off for the 1972 World Chess Championship in Reykjavik, Iceland when the American Fischer defeated the current World Champion Russian (then-Soviet) Spassky. However, take a moment to remember the contributions to the competitive chess world of one Mikhail “Misha” Nekhem’evich Tal (also known in Latvian as Mihails Tals) (Born: November 9, 1936 in Riga, Latvia; Died: June 28, 1992 in Moscow, Russia) who won the 1960 World Chess Championship from Mikhail Botvinnik with a 12.5-8.5 point score (6 wins 2 losses 13 draws), only to lose the title in the 1961 return match with Botvinnik by an 8-13 score (5 wins 10 losses 6 draws).

Misha Tal was known for his daring attacking and sacrificial style of play with the chess pieces. Winning the competitive 24th Soviet Chess Championship in 1957 for the first time (without even having first obtained an International title) propelled him to International Grandmaster status from the World Chess Federation (known by its French acronym FIDÉ from la Fédération Internationale des Échecs) and drew global attention to his exploits. Repeating as Champion in the 25th Soviet Championship qualified Tal to represent the Soviet Union in the 1958 Portorož Interzonal tournament to compete for the right to play for the World Championship. Tal won the Interzonal tournament and went on to win the 1959 Candidates Tournament in Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade in dramatic fashion with 20 out of a possible 28 points, including four wins over a 15-year old named Bobby Fischer (who at the time was the youngest International Grandmaster in chess history!). By winning the 1959 Candidates tournament, Tal became the challenger to World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik the following year.

Mikhail Tal was World Chess Champion for barely one year and his subsequent successes alternated with some failures as well as having ill-health thrown into the mix (not helped by excessive chain smoking and drinking). Needless to say, Mikhail Tal was one of the most popular chess players on the international competitive circuit, well-liked for his sense of humour and his love of chess, including his willingness to play casual games with chess players below the ranks of candidate master and master. Tal was also an accomplished blitz (speed) chess player, winning the second World Blitz Chess Championship in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1988. In addition, he was an excellent writer and journalist with many articles and several books to his credit on chess.

Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:

Study chess with Tal My great predecessors Volume 2 from Euwe to Tal Garry Kasparov on my great predecessors Part IV Fischer The most instructive games of chess ever played 62 masterpieces of modern chess strategy



The magic tactics of Mikhail Tal learn from the legend On the attack the art of attacking chess according to the modern masters Bobby Fischer for beginners the most famous chess player explained The mammoth book of the world's greatest chess games




Snapshots in History: October 20: Remembering Nellie McClung

October 20, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)

Nellie McClung


On October 20 and beyond, take a moment to remember the contribution to Canadian women’s suffrage of feminist and social activist Nellie Letitia (Mooney) McClung (Born: October 20, 1873 in Chatsworth, Ontario; Died: September 1, 1951 in Victoria, British Columbia). While living in Winnipeg, Manitoba with pharmacist husband Wesley and their family, Nellie McClung began campaigning for women’s right to vote in the 1914 and 1915 Manitoba provincial elections as a supporter of the Liberal Party. Additionally, she helped to create the Women’s Political Equality League. In 1914, McClung organized a mock Women’s Parliament to show the illogic of denying women the vote by playfully arguing that men should not have the right to vote. The Liberal Party won the 1915 Manitoba election and Manitoba became the first Canadian province to grant women the right to vote (and the right to run for elected office in the provincial Legislative Assembly) on January 28, 1916, although Nellie McClung and her family had just moved to Alberta.

Nellie McClung championed women’s suffrage in the province of Alberta as well as advocating for dental and medical care for school children, property rights for married women, mothers’ allowances, and factory safety legislation. McClung was elected to the Alberta Legislative Assembly as a member of the Liberal Party in 1921, serving in office until 1926. McClung’s controversial support of eugenics and sterilization of the developmentally disabled influenced the introduction of the Alberta Sexual Sterilization Act in 1928 by the United Farmers of Alberta.

This government also created an Alberta Eugenics Board (AEB), despite opposition from some segments of the population that the Act constituted a violation of human rights. Despite the subsequent embracing of eugenics by the racist Nazi regime in Germany in the 1930s, the subsequent Social Credit government in Alberta allowed the AEB to continue its work until the new Progressive Conservative government of Peter Lougheed discontinued the law in 1972. (In fairness to Nellie McClung, other progressive people considered eugenics as a viable option for a time before the Nazis embraced it, including author H.G. Wells, playwright George Bernard Shaw, civil rights activist and historian W.E.B. Du Bois, and yes, even T.C. “Tommy” Douglas. Douglas completed his Master of Arts thesis on eugenics in 1933 but rarely mentioned it and never implemented it in health services while serving as Premier of Saskatchewan from 1944-1961. See: Snapshots in History: February 24: Remembering T.C. “Tommy” Douglas )

Nellie McClung is also remembered as one of the Famous Five (or Valiant Five) – five Alberta-based women ( Emily MurphyIrene Marryat ParlbyNellie Mooney McClungLouise Crummy McKinney and Henrietta Muir Edwards ) who petitioned the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) on August 27, 1927 to inquire whether the word “Persons” in Section 24 of the British North America Act included “female persons” or women for the purposes of being considered for appointment to the Senate, Canada’s unelected Upper House of Parliament. (The background context to this petition was that women were fighting for equality rights across North America, even though Canadian women already had the vote federally and in most provincial jurisdictions.)

The SCC ruled on April 24, 1928 that women were not “persons” under the intent of Section 24, hence not eligible for appointment to the Senate, prompting the “Famous Five” to refer the matter (i.e. the “Persons Case”) to the British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council which reversed the SCC’s decision on October 18, 1929, utilizing the “living tree doctrine” towards the constitution in that interpretations should be broad and progressive so as to ameliorate the constitution’s adaptability to the times. In October 2009, the Senate of Canada honoured the Famous Five posthumously as Canada’s first Honorary Senators.

Nellie McClung was also an author of fiction and non-fiction books, publishing her first novel Sowing Seeds in Danny in 1908. (Click here for online access to Nellie McClung’s works.)

Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:



Nellie McClung the complete autobiography Clearing in the west and The stream runs fast Nellie McClung voice for the voiceless Nellie McClung Firing the heather the life and times of Nellie McClung


Nellie McClung Sowing seeds in Danny



Read the review of Nellie McClung by Charlotte Gray in Quill and Quire.

Read the review of Nellie McClung by Charlotte Gray in Canada’s History


Snapshots in History: October 15: Remembering Kenneth Taylor

October 16, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)



On October 15 and beyond, take a moment to remember the contributions of former Canadian ambassador to Iran Kenneth Douglas “Ken” Taylor (Born: May 10, 1934 in Calgary, Alberta; Died: October 15, 2015 in New York City, New York) who died of Stage 4 colorectal cancer. Ken Taylor is best remembered amongst Canadians for masterminding the “Canadian Caper” in which he procured Canadian passports to help six American embassy staff members escape with the assistance of two Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives from Tehran, Iran on January 27, 1980 following the seizure of the American embassy on November 4, 1979 during the unfolding of the Iranian Revolution. The group pretended to be a Hollywood film crew working on a science-fiction film called Argo. Following his departure from Iran, Ken Taylor became Canadian Consul-General in New York City. In 1980, Mr. Taylor, his wife Pat, and others involved in the escape were made Officers of the Order of Canada. Mr. Taylor also received the Congressional Gold Medal from the United States of America. He served for several years as the Chancellor of Victoria University within the University of Toronto (from where he had graduated earlier with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree. Mr. Taylor also earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of California at Berkeley). Upon leaving the Canadian Foreign Service in 1984, Ken Taylor worked in the private sector as Senior Vice-President of RJR Nabisco from 1984 to 1989 and also founded and chaired a public consulting firm called Taylor and Ryan.

Some controversy resulted following the release of the film “Argo” with Ben Affleck (who directed as well as portrayed CIA operative Tony Mendez) which showed a fictionalized account of the rescue of the six American hostages in which the Canadian contribution, especially that of Ambassador Taylor, was downplayed. Not only was this issue raised at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) but former President Jimmy Carter, who was American Commander-In-Chief during the “Canadian Caper”, confirmed “…that 90 percent of the contributions to the ideas and the consummation of the plan was Canadian. And the movie gives almost full credit to the American CIA. And with that exception, the movie is very good.” (Read Brian D. Johnson’s September 12, 2012 review of the film Argo in Maclean’s magazine.) However, the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) showcased the documentary “Our Man in Tehran” that told what actually happened during the “Canadian Caper”. (Read Simon Houpt’s review of the documentary in The Globe and Mail.)

Consider the following items for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:


Our man in Tehran the true story behind the secret mission to save six Americans during the Iran Hostage Crisis and the foreign ambassador who worked with the CIA to bring them home Our man in Tehran the true story behind the secret mission to save six Americans during the Iran Hostage Crisis and the foreign ambassador who worked with the CIA to bring them home Our man in Tehran the true story behind the secret mission to save six Americans during the Iran Hostage Crisis and the foreign ambassador who worked with the CIA to bring them home Talking Book

Book                            eBook                            Talking Book


Argo Our Man in Tehran the true story of Argo

Feature DVD                    Documentary DVD



(See also: Snapshots in History: October 15: Remembering Hurricane Hazel)

(See also: Snapshots in History: October 15: Remembering John Kenneth Galbraith)

Snapshots in History: October 15: Remembering John Kenneth Galbraith

October 16, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)


On October 15 and beyond, take a moment to remember the contributions of Canadian-American economist John Kenneth Galbraith (Born: October 15, 1908 at Iona Station, Ontario, Canada; Died: April 29, 2006 at Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States). Galbraith was a long-time professor of economics at Harvard University and wrote popular and readable books such as American Capitalism (1952), The Affluent Society (1958), and The New Industrial State (1967). He also served several American Democratic Party Presidents such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson, including serving as United States Ambassador to India during the Kennedy Administration. Galbraith approached economics from a post-Keynesian lens within an institutional perspective. He saw trade unions as a countervailing (or opposing) force to the influences of big business and government and visa versa.

J.K. Galbraith received a Bachelor of Science in agricultural economics from the Ontario Agricultural College (affiliated to the University of Toronto), followed by Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees in agricultural economics from the University of California at Berkeley.

J.K. Galbraith received many awards and honours during his illustrious life, including the United States’ Medal of Freedom in 1946 and its Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000, the Lomonosov Gold Medal in 1993, and the Order of Canada (Officer Level) in 1997.

Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:

Non-Fiction Books:

The lost Massey lectures recovered classics from five great thinkers The new industrial state The economics of innocent fraud truth for our time The essential Galbraith

Name-dropping from F.D.R. on The affluent society The good society the humane agenda American capitalism the concept of countervailing power

Non-Fiction eBooks:

The lost Massey lectures recovered classics from five great thinkers The affluent society

Fiction Book:

A tenured professor a novel


(See also: Snapshots in History: October 15: Remembering Hurricane Hazel)

(See also: Snapshots in History: October 15: Remembering Kenneth Taylor)

Snapshots in History: October 14: Remembering Winnie-the-Pooh

October 14, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)

On October 14 and beyond, take a moment to remember Winnie-the-Pooh (or Pooh Bear). Many of us remember growing up with the books written by A.A. Milne and illustrated by E.H. Shepard. The journey of Winnie-the-Pooh’s adventures (with his animal friends Piglet, Eeyore, Owl,  Rabbit, Kanga and her son Roo  and with the boy Christopher Robin) began in a big way on October 14, 1926 with the publication of Winnie-the-Pooh.

Readers got a sneak peak at the human-like teddy bear in another Milne-Shepard collaboration with a poem “Teddy Bear” and an accompanying illustration of the then-named “Mr. Edward Bear” in the children’s verse book When We Were Very Young, published in 1924. It was followed in 1927 by another book of children’s verses, Now We Are Six, in which 11 of the 35 poems by A.A. Milne are accompanied by illustrations by E.H. Shepard of Winnie-the-Pooh. 1928 saw a return to storytelling with the publication of The House at Pooh Corner in which the character Tigger is introduced.

In addition to the books, Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends have entertained children and adults alike over the years as the characters came alive in animated films and television programs produced by the Walt Disney Company. Other versions of the character have emerged such as Vinny-Pukh (Винни-Пух) in Russian.

Canadians have a connection to Winnie-the-Pooh as the character was inspired by a real black bear named Winnipeg (or “Winnie”) who was adopted by Canadian soldier and veterinarian Harry Colebourn during World War One in White River, Ontario.  

The estate trustees of A.A. Milne authorized writer David Benedictus and illustrator Mark Burgess to publish a vetted sequel of short stories entitled Return to the Hundred Acre Wood in 2009 in which a new character named Lottie the Otter is introduced.

As we celebrate Winnie-the-Pooh, consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:


The real Winnie a one-of-a-kind bear Winnie the true story of the bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh Return to the Hundred Acre Wood in which Winnie-the-Pooh enjoys further adventures with Christopher Robin and his friends

Winnie-the-Pooh 1st American ed 80th anniversary ed The complete tales & poems of Winnie-the-Pooh rev ed The complete tales of Winnie-the-Pooh




Winnie-the-Pooh Audiobook Winnie-the-Pooh Audiobook 2003 Return to the Hundred Acre Wood in which Winnie-the-Pooh enjoys further adventures with Christopher Robin and his friends Audiobook


Winnie the pooh eBook Return to the Hundred Acre Wood in which Winnie-the-Pooh enjoys further adventures with Christopher Robin and his friends


Winnie-the-Pooh eAudiobook The collected stories of Winnie-the-Pooh unabridged eAudiobook


Winnie the pooh movie The many adventures of Winnie the Pooh  Vinni-Pukh = Winnie the Pooh

Snapshots in History: October 5: Remembering Henning Mankell

October 13, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)


Readers of Nordic noir (or Scandinavian noir) crime fiction should remember the contributions of Swedish author Henning Mankell (Born: February 3, 1948 at Stockholm, Sweden). Known as the creator of detective Kurt Wallander, Mankell died from cancer on October 5, 2015 at Göteborg, Sweden. Mankell wrote 40 novels, 11 of which featured the character detective Kurt Wallander, and sold more than 40 million copies worldwide that were published in more than 40 languages. The Wallander journey began with Faceless Killers (first published in 1991 and translated into English in 1997) and ended with The Troubled Man (first published in 2009) in which Wallander left the police force due to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

In fact, the author had grown tired of his famous character even though many of his readers and reviewers had not. Others came to enjoy the Wallander character in Swedish-language movies and television adaptations (in which Wallander was portrayed by Rolf Lassgård and Krister Henriksson) and the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) English-language television production (in which Wallander was portrayed by Kenneth Branagh). Read what author Ian Rankin had to say about Henning Mankell in the October 10, 2015 issue of The Guardian.

Henning Mankell devised the Kurt Wallander character following his return to Sweden after a lengthy stay in Mozambique. His progressive perspective came through in his writing with critiques towards rich people as well as Christianity but with a trust in widespread goodness in ordinary people. For a timeline of the Kurt Wallander series, please click here to see the books listed by English language title cross-referenced with the original Swedish language publication date. For those of you interested in Henning Mankell’s other works (standalone non-Wallander crime novels), please click here to review the title list.

Consider the following selected Henning Mankell items for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:

Kurt Wallander:


An event in autumn The troubled man The pyramid and four other Kurt Wallander Mysteries

Large Print Books:

The troubled man Large Print


An event in autumn The troubled man The pyramid and four other Kurt Wallander Mysteries


An event in autumn Audiobook The troubled man Audiobook The pyramid and four other Kurt Wallander mysteries Audiobook


The troubled man eAudiobook unabridged The pyramid and four other Kurt Wallander mysteries eAudiobook

Talking Books:

An event in autumn Talking Book The troubled man Talking Book The pyramid and four other Kurt Wallander Mysteries Talking Book

Rather watch and listen to Wallander than read about him? Then consider borrowing these DVD sets:


Kenneth Branagh:

Wallander BBC Kenneth Branagh Wallander Volume 2 BBC Kenneth Branagh Wallander 3 BBC Kenneth Branagh

Krister Henriksson:

Henning Mankell's Wallander Episodes 1-3 Henning Mankell's Wallander Episodes 4-6 Henning Mankell's Wallander Episodes 7-9 Henning Mankell's Wallander Episodes 10-13

Henning Mankell's Wallander 2012 Wallander 3 2014

Rolf Lassgård:

Henning Mankell's Wallander the original episodes set 1 Rolf Lassgård

Other Works:


A treacherous paradise The shadow girls The man from Beijing


A treacherous paradise eBook

The shadow girls The man from Beijing


The shadow girls eAudiobook unabridged The man from Beijing eAudiobook


A treacherous paradise Audiobook The man from Beijing Audiobook

Talking Books:

A treacherous paradise Talking Book The man from Beijing Talking Book

Snapshots in History: August 12: Remembering the IBM 5150 and Where We Came From…

August 13, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)





On August 12 and beyond, take a moment to remember the debut of the International Business Machines (IBM) personal computer (PC), in fact the IBM PC model 5150, onto the consumer market on August 12, 1981. Although the Apple 2, the Commodore PET, the Osborne 1, and the Tandy TRS-80 preceded the IBM 5150, the IBM 5150, in conjunction with MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System), was seen as popularizing the idea of a personal computer in most homes.  Over the last few years, a debate has been occurring over whether the personal computer is obsolete and has been superseded by mobile devices.

Writing in 2011 around the thirtieth (30th) anniversary of the IBM 5150, Mark Dean, Chief Technology Officer of IBM Middle East and Africa, helped design the IBM 5150 but has “moved beyond the PC”. Dr. Dean saw the PC as no longer being on computing’s cutting edge and joining other items seen as obsolete including the typewriter, vinyl records and incandescent light bulbs. He used a tablet in 2011 but saw innovation occurring primarily in social spaces where people and ideas come together rather than through the devices themselves. IBM sold its PC division in 2005 to Lenovo and Dean saw IBM being on the leading edge of the “post-PC era.” Apple’s Steve Jobs referred to the iPhone, iPod, and iPad as “post-PC devices” at the unveiling of the iPad 2 in March, 2011.

Frank X. Shaw, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President – Corporate Communications, saw things differently as the “PC-plus era” where some 400 million personal computers will be sold in the coming year but Microsoft’s software dovetails with various evolutionary devices, including the Windows PC, the Windows Phone platform, and the Xbox. Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets have already taken on tasks that were previously the sole purview of PCs such as document creation/editing, email, and internet browsing.

What were others saying in 2011? Ed Oswald, writing on PCWorld, cited his agreement with both Dean and Jobs and emphasized the growing importance of the server and cloud computing and the reduced significance of personal computers. Kevin C. Tofel, writing on GigaOm, stated his concurrence with Dean on the importance of mobile social networks and consumer interaction reducing the PC influence, and pointed to the continuing trend of smartphone sales beginning to outpace PC sales at the end of 2010/beginning of 2011. Joel Santo Domingo, writing on, offered six reasons why the predicted demise of the PC has been great exaggerated, including: simple ergonomics; large screens/HDTV; storage; number crunching (i.e. working on spreadsheets is better suited to PCs); dings and dents on mobile devices (with less likelihood of accidents with PCs); and, separate keyboard.

Fast forward to 2015. The website reported in a July 2015 update for the United States of America (USA) that mobile digital media time was 51% of the total so far in 2015 compared to 42% digital media time for desktops/laptops and 7% for other connected devices. Contrast these numbers with 2008 when desktop/laptop digital media time comprised 80% of the American total compared to 12% for mobile devices and 9% for other connected devices.

Within the mobile device spectrum, Ben Taylor, writing on on February 26, 2015, listed five (5) ways in which the smartphone has been outperforming the tablet: Larger smartphone sizes provides a better option for reading; the best apps are available through smartphones not tablets; smartphones tend to have better battery life than tablets; smartphones generally have better cameras than tablets; and, tablets have an identity crisis in the web experience in which users on many web sites must choose between the classic, desktop view or the mobile view that is better suited to smartphones.

Consider the following titles as examples for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:


The computer Computer a history of the information machine third edition The connected Apple family discover the rich Apple ecosystem of the Mac, iPhone, iPad, and AppleTV Working with an Android 4.4 tablet for seniors suitable for tablets from different manufacturers Android tips and tricks My Samsung Galaxy S5 for seniors IPhone portable genius second edition

IPhone 5s and iPhone 5c portable genius IPhone for seniors in easy steps IPhone All-in-One For Dummies 4th edition The third screen the ultimate guide to mobile marketing revised and updated edition

The mobile application hacker's handbook


IPhone 5s and iPhone 5c portable genius IPhone portable genius second edition IPhone All-in-One For Dummies 4th edition Samsung Galaxy Note 3 for dummies

Pre-Election Reads: Stephen Harper

August 5, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)

Canada has a federal election scheduled for October 19, 2015. While some voters may have already decided which political party and leader to support, others have not and may be seeking information and research to help them to make a personal, informed decision.  Toronto Public Library can help those individuals in a non-partisan way by providing access to collection items available for borrowing (or using) with a valid Toronto Public Library card. So let us continue…

Stephen Harper is the 22nd and current Prime Minister of Canada and the sixth in terms of length of time of service in office after William Lyon Mackenzie King, Sir John A. Macdonald, Pierre Trudeau, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and Jean Chrétien. Stephen Harper assumed office as Prime Minister on February 6, 2006 as head of a minority Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) government, following victory in the January 23, 2006 federal election. Stephen Harper won a stronger minority government following the October 14, 2008 federal election . However, the Prime Minister fought the combined opposition parties’ attempts to topple the Harper government by forming a coalition minority government with support from the Bloc Québécois by successfully obtaining a prorogation of Parliament from then-Governor General Michaëlle Jean from December 4, 2008 to January 26, 2009. The CPC government survived a confidence shortly afterwards with support from the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC).

Stephen Harper requested and received a second prorogation of Parliament from the Governor-General from December 30, 2009 to March 3, 2010, citing the importance of the government’s economic plan and coinciding with the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver and Whistler. Public protests were organized in January 2010 in opposition to the prorogation of the Canadian Parliament. However, on March 25, 2011, the Harper government was defeated on a landmark vote of no-confidence by 156 to 145 on the basis of contempt of Parliament, the first such occurrence in any Parliament of a British Commonwealth of Nations country. The subsequent May 2, 2011 federal election resulted in a majority government victory for Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party of Canada with 166 out of 308 House of Commons seats won with 39.62% of the popular vote.

Stephen Harper was born and grew up in Toronto, Ontario, graduating from Richview Collegiate Institute in 1978. Following a move to Alberta, Stephen Harper enrolled at the University of Calgary and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and later a master’s degree in economics in 1993. Dissatisfaction with the National Energy Program (NEP) under the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau led to Stephen Harper severing ties with the Young Liberal Club. He became chief aide to Progressive Conservative MP James Hawkes but dissatisfaction with the Progressive Conservative government of Brian Mulroney led to Stephen Harper joining the Reform Party of Canada. In the November 21, 1988 federal election, Stephen Harper lost against incumbent Calgary West MP James Hawkes but bested Hawkes in the October 25, 1993 federal election and served as a Reform Party of Canada MP for one term, resigning his seat in January 1997, prior to the June 2, 1997 federal election, following a difficult relationship with Reform Party leader Preston Manning. Stephen Harper became vice-president and subsequently president of the conservative think tank National Citizens’ Coalition (NCC). Following the re-election of Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government in the November 27, 2000 federal election, Stephen Harper re-entered the political arena by challenging and defeating Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day for the leadership on March 20, 2002, won a subsequent by-election in Calgary Southwest and became Leader of the Opposition in May 2002. Stephen Harper won the leadership of the new Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) on March 20, 2004 and led the CPC to official opposition status against Paul Martin’s minority Liberal government, following the June 28, 2004 federal election.


Given Stephen Harper’s tenure as Prime Minister, much has been written about him, his government, and its policies. Consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:




Stephen Harper

Read an excerpt from The Globe of Mail of John Ibbitson’s new biography Stephen Harper.

Read Bruce Campion-Smith’s overview in The Toronto Star.


Dismantling Canada Stephen Harper's new conservative agenda

Read the book review in Quill and Quire.


Party of one Stephen Harper and Canada's radical makeover

Read the book review in Foreign Policy Journal.

Read the book review in The Globe and Mail.

Read the book review in The Toronto Star.


Harperism how Stephen Harper and his think tank colleagues have transformed Canada

Read the book review in the Literary Review of Canada.

Read the book review in Quill and Quire.

Read Andrew Coyne’s comments on the book in The National Post.


The longer I'm Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006-

Read the book review in the Literary Review of Canada.

Read the book review in Quill and Quire.

Read the book review in The Toronto Star.


Harper's team behind the scenes in the Conservative rise to power

Read the book review in the Literary Review of Canada.

Read the book review from Policy Options.

Read the book review in Quill and Quire.





Stephen Harper Dismantling Canada Stephen Harper's new conservative agenda Party of one Stephen Harper and Canada's radical makeover The longer I'm Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006-

In his spare time, Stephen Harper, an avid hockey fan and historian, wrote and published A Great Game: The Forgotten Leafs and the Rise of Professional Hockey . (See: Recent Prime Ministerial Writings on Hockey History and Foreign Policy ).


As part of making an informed decision in federal election 2015, citizens should avail themselves of information from the media (newspapers, radio, television, online etc.) as the election campaign unfolds. To help with that, Toronto Public Library cardholders can also access the following databases online in seeking information from magazine and newspaper sources:

Canada in Context

Full-text articles, videos, audio files, vetted web sites etc. on a broad range of topics, people, places and events.

Available anywhere.

Sign in with library card.

Access Online


Canadian Business and Current Affairs (CBCA)

Full-text business and general interest articles from popular, academic and business periodicals.

Available anywhere.

Sign in with library card.

Access Online

Canadian Newsstand Major Dailies

Full text articles from major Canadian newspapers and television news transcripts.

Available anywhere.

Sign in with library card.


Access Online


Canadian Newsstand TorStar

Full text of newspapers published by Torstar Media Group including Toronto Star and several Toronto community newspapers.

Available anywhere.

Sign in with library card.


Access Online


Canadian Periodical Index (CPI.Q)

Articles from general, academic and business magazines. Index from 1988, full text from 1995.

Available anywhere.

Sign in with library card.

Access Online



(See also: Pick a PM: Prime Ministerial Biographies and Memoirs )

(See also: Pre-Election Reads: Elizabeth May )

(See also: Pre-Election Reads: Thomas Mulcair )

(See also: Pre-Election Reads: Justin Trudeau )

Ribfests and Ribs Recipes

August 4, 2015 | John P. | Comments (0)

Summertime is the time for people who like to eat spare ribs and enjoy the summer weather too! Whether you enjoyed the Toronto Ribfest in late June and early July, or more recently attended the Scarborough Ribfest at Thomson Memorial Park, you might be one of those people who would like to duplicate the experience at home with delicious spare ribs. If you have never cooked or barbecued ribs before, sure you might be able to find some good recipes on the Internet but please do not forget to consider borrowing some titles from Toronto Public Library collections as you search for that perfect ribs recipe (or for other grilling recipes if spare ribs are not your first choice):


America's Best Bbq 100 Recipes from America's Best Smokehouses, Pits, Shacks, Rib Joints, Roadhouses, and Restaurants The kamado smoker & grill cookbook delicious recipes and hands-on techniques for mastering the world's best barbecue The big flavor grill no marinade, no hassle recipes for delicious steaks, chicken, ribs, chops, vegetables, shrimp, and fish 100 grilling recipes you can't live without The best ribs ever 100 killer recipes including slaws, baked beans & finger-lickin' sauces Grilling surf and turf 140 savory recipes for sizzle on the grill Ribs, chops, steaks, & wings irresistible recipes for the grill, stovetop, and oven Chez Jacques traditions and rituals of a cook with 100 recipes


America's best BBQ 100 recipes from America's best smokehouses pits shacks rib joints roadhouses and restaurants Bobby Flay's Throwdown! more than 100 recipes from Food Network's ultimate cooking challenge

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