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Check It Out

Find a listing of the latest arrivals of books, audio and video items at the Wauwatosa Library, as well as information on upcoming events and staff suggestions for timely information you can use every day on the library's blog.

Dancing Dolls

Artists and scientists have long been fascinated with the idea of creating mechanical beings that imitate humans.  The Greek myth of Pygmalion and Galatea and the Jewish myth of clay golems are just two examples of life given to inanimate objects. 

The science of robotics goes back to at least the Middle Ages.  Al-Jazari, an Arab scholar and engineer, is credited with inventing the first robot, an automated humanoid waitress, in 1206.  In 1770, Wolfgang von Kempelen amazed Europeans with his invention called “The Mechanical Turk”, a chess playing automaton who played and defeated such famous people as Napoleon and Benjamin Franklin.  It was a cleverly constructed machine controlled by a person.  

Ballet audiences are delighted by the robotic dancing of doll characters.  Coppelia, in a ballet by the same name, is a life-sized dancing doll invented by the mysterious Dr. Coppelius.  This humorous ballet was adapted from a sinister story by E.T.A. Hoffmann, The Sandman, in which the main character suffers mental anguish when he learns that the girl he loves is a machine.  In another adaptation of a Hoffmann story, the Milwaukee Ballet’s Nutcracker has two dancing dolls, gifts from Herr Drosselmeyer to Fritz and Clara.  The latest Caldecott winner, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, attests to the enduring popularity of stories featuring automatons.   


The Milwaukee Ballet will present Marius and the Magnificent Dancing Doll Shoppe on Saturday, November 1st from 1:30-2:15 p.m. in the Civic Center Auditorium.  This program is recommended for kindergartners through 8th graders.  To register or for more information, please call the Wauwatosa Public Library, Children’s Department at 414-471-8486.  

New Additions

  Books 

Comforts of a Muddy Saturday/Alexander McCall Smith 

Incomplete and Inaccurate History of Sport/Kenny Mayne 

Indie Band Survival Guide/Randy Chertkow 

Lavinia/Ursula Le Guin 

Liberty: a Lake Wobegon Novel/Garrison Keillor 

Paint Style: the New Approach to Decorative Paint Finishes/Lesley Riva 

Planet Google: One Company’s Audacious Plan to Organize Everything We Know/Randall Stross 

Treasures of China: the Glories of the Kingdom of the Dragon/John Chinnery 

Willie & Joe: the WWII Years/Bill Mauldin 

Wineries of Wisconsin and Minnesota/Patricia Monaghan 

Audiobooks on CD 

Indignation/Philip Roth 

Iwo Jima: World War II Veterans Remember the Greatest Battle of the Pacific/Larry Smith 

My Name is Red/Orhan Pamuk 

Story of Edgar Sawtelle/David Wroblewski 

When You Are Engulfed in Flames/David Sedaris

 Music on CD


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Elections Demystified



Every four years the library devotes more than the usual amount of its materials budget to the purchase of books related to the presidential campaign.  As we approach what is certainly one of the more interesting U.S. presidential elections of modern times, we’re well-stocked with views of the issues and personalities from right, left and in-between. 

The system by which we elect our chief executive often appears odd to residents of other democracies, most of which are parliamentary systems in which the majority party after an election chooses the executive from among its members.  France has a president elected directly by the voters (unlike ours, who is chosen by the Electoral College), but also has a run-off system that ensures that whoever is elected has received a majority of the votes cast.  The fact that an American President may be elected by less than a majority of the voters is sometimes seen as a problem for our system.  (Lincoln, for example, was elected in 1860 in spite of the fact that 60.2% of the vote went to the other three candidates.  The length of the whole election process and the astonishing amounts of money spent on it in the U.S. are also highly unusual.

For a recent view on electoral systems and their problems in theory and history, see Gaming the Vote : Why Elections Aren’t Fair (and What We Can Do About It) by William Poundstone. (329 P65, on the new shelf).
 

The following are few websites related to the current presidential election: 

 Politics1 ( http://www.politics1.com/p2008.htm ) includes a complete list of and information on all candidates appearing on at least one state ballot. 

League of Women Voters ( http://www.lwv.org/Election2008/index.html )  includes a Presidential Voters’ Guide.  

Official John McCain campaign site ( http://www.johnmccain.com/ ) 

Official Barack Obama campaign site ( http://www.barackobama.com ) 

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