Staff members from the Greenfield Public Library will write about recent developments at the library, staff book recommendations, new materials, updates on the new library, upcoming events and programs, and highlights of specific collections. For more information about the Greenfield Public Library, check out our web site.
In our last History Book Club meeting, the group discussed Simon Garfield’s On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks. The book is a sort of pop-historical introduction of cartography for the layperson interested in maps, but not necessarily making a career out of it. It is a very fascinating, and what I would think a difficult-to-write book, capturing a chronological history of cartography through a series of well-researched and whimsical chapters that will not make the reader bored. Exhausted perhaps, but never bored.
One of the questions posed to the book club was whether paper maps were becoming the floppy disks and VHS tapes of our current generation; in other words, informational, yet outdated. When asked if they have used an online mapping site such as Google Maps or Mapquest and whether they own a Global Positioning System (GPS) or not, it was nearly unanimous that members of the group have used one or both of these services, despite the fact that the technologies are not perfect and a paper map is still the ol’ reliable. It seemed that everyone had a horror story using an online mapping service, application, or a GPS and they laugh about it now. But seriously think about it: you don’t need these services when you are just driving to work or in an area you know; you use it when you DO NOT know where you are. This is a serious, and in some instances, horrifying situation to be in. Granted, a road map from 60 years ago will most likely not do the trick today. However, it is a printed, physical record in front of you that will not disappear once you are out of WIFI range.
Unfortunately, the paper map is dwindling. They can be expensive; much more expensive than an app. You have to get up, go to a store and buy a map and this is SO much more inconvenient than just laying in bed and downloading a map or frantically searching through your mobile device after you have accidently passed your exit ramp that your phone told you to take over and over in that annoying voice. And, my God, you have to fold the thing up when you are done. That is simply too much to ask!
The paper map will continue to be around, as society continues to publish books with the Kindle and Nook present and compact discs continued to be pressed as digital music has revolutionized the medium. While today’s mass-published road maps may not be a beautiful thing to be treasured and kept for future generations’ enjoyment, the maps created by cartographers hundreds, even millennia ago are simply stunning pieces of art, even if California is portrayed as an island and dragons and other mythical beasts really do not live in the Pacific Ocean. While one would not use these to navigate today, each map chronologically tells the story and advancement of cartography, exploration and scientific discovery that if not discovered then, would not provide reliable results on your iPhone app today.
Another question posed to the group was whether cartography was dead. After all, with the advancement of Google Maps and the explosion of the purchase and usage of GPS and satellite navigating, all of planet Earth has been mapped to the tiniest degree. So, why do we need cartography any longer?
While this question is a loaded one, cartography and mapping will always be needed. It just may be that a shift might be occurring from the concept of ‘cartography’ to the newer concept of ‘mapping.’ Terrestrial maps may not change much from now on beside altering border disputes and fulfilling the political creation of new countries since most everything on Earth has been explored.
Despite this fact, this does not mean the end of maps; just what is being mapped. The creation of useful visual representations beyond the means of numbers and graphs provides an educational opportunity for others in fields outside of cartography to “map” their findings for a larger number of people to learn from. In the same manner that a Spanish explorer surveyed their findings while crossing the Atlantic Ocean in the 1500s, a neurologist can begin mapping the sequence of neurons firing in the brain in a linear, map-like fashion. Even though it is not land being mapped, today’s professionals can now map their concepts with the same results.
With the increase and dawn of this new digital age we are living in, mapping might now only be just beginning and going in directions that Ptolemy to even 21st-century cartographers never knew were possible. Cartographers of land now must have a new role in developing their maps: storyteller. New and creative maps of the world must show and tell the viewer something beyond bodies of water and mountain ranges to flourish in the future. Publications like the State of the World Atlas place a map of the world on each page, but also emphasize data on a wide variety of topics such as population density, health issues, and human rights of countries and regions, highlighted by various colors and graphs. This information goes above and beyond what one can learn staring at a plain ol’ map of the world. Such a collection of maps can teach the viewer a variety of topics and show what kind of lifestyles, values, and people live in each region. Cartographers in the future will need to say more with their maps, since almost all already has been discussed and discovered.
At the most recent History Book Club, we discussed Douglas Waller’s A Question of Loyalty: Gen. Billy Mitchell and the Court-Martial That Gripped the Nation and the legacy of the brash Milwaukeean, General Billy Mitchell. Mitchell was a pioneering military officer whose viewpoints on the future of military aviation ultimately led him to being court-martialed and eventually found guilty for speaking his mind and undermining American military procedure (violation of the catch-all 96th Article of War).
In a time when airplanes were very little more than wood, cloth, and an engine, Mitchell understood the potential importance of air-power on the battlefield unlike any other of his time. He predicted the importance of the Hawaiian Islands and the rise of Asia, particularly Japan, as one of the countries that the world needed to be concerned of post-World War I. He in fact predicted that the Japanese would strike at Pearl Harbor years before the eventual attack in 1941, and actually predicted the time of the attack within 20 minutes. He had successfully proven that air-power could sink a battleship, a thought once noted as preposterous, during a flight test in 1921; a result that made manly naval admirals weep at the test.
Unfortunately, as smart and prophetic as he was militarily and aeronautically, two things that he could not control ultimately did Mitchell in: his social class and his mouth. Born the grandson of an eminent Milwaukee banker and the son of a Congressman, Mitchell lived a life of excess and privilege that many in the military never dreamed having. Though he was a very ambitious and promising soldier, Mitchell could not help how his lineage perhaps took away from the successes he had earned. His wealthy family may have also shaped his ego. When he asked his family for money, often overspending his bounds, the loans were lent easily, and there was always more money from where that loan came from. Having money often allows people to be more public, more outspoken, fear repercussions less.
Mitchell had the military know-how of airplanes unlike very few in the United States Military. He flew every model of plane that the US Army acquired. He flew scouting missions in France as a General. If anybody had the right to acknowledge the direction of aviation in the military, it was Billy Mitchell.
However, sometimes you just need to put your foot in your mouth. In response to the Navy dirigible Shenandoah crashing in a storm in 1925 that killed 14 on board, an enraged, ignored (in his opinion), and recently demoted Mitchell fired a scathing 6000+ word document at a press conference that accused leaders in both the Army and the Navy of incompetence and “almost treasonable administration of the national defenses.” While the average person may be able to get away about saying some of this about their superiors, in the military atmosphere, such speech could not go undisciplined.
The result was a seven-week media-circus court-martial which was the O.J. Simpson trial of the 1920s, or at least a similar equivalent. Mitchell was tried amongst a jury of his peers (fellow generals including childhood playmate and future Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers Douglas MacArthur) that either loved him or hated him for a variety of reasons. Mitchell was eventually found guilty of his breach of the 96th Article of War and was suspended for five years without pay or title.
The question remains why the US military did not kick Mitchell out outright. Did they value his opinions but not his gabbiness? Mitchell certainly thought so, but it didn’t matter in the end. Though President Coolidge altered the sentence and eventually allowed for Mitchell to receive half-pay, the flamboyant Mitchell resigned from the Army in February 1926. He tried to rally around Franklin Roosevelt’s presidential election in 1932, hoping to get a valuable military or possibly a cabinet position, but nothing materialized. Within ten years of the court-martial, Mitchell was dead at 56.
Unfortunately, Billy Mitchell never got to see most of his ideas come into fruition. His death preceded the beginning of World War II by just three years and he never saw how powerful airpower became on the battlefront, especially with the dropping of the ultimate weapon, the atomic bomb, from an airplane. He never saw the formation of an independent air force, co-equal to the army and navy that he lobbied for for so many years. He never got to see the direction of today’s modern aviation or its advancement to the point of creating drone technology where airplanes do not even need pilots. Compare this to some planes in his time being called “flying coffins” and the term ‘suicide mission’ being an apt and common concept in early aviation.
Despite his military downfall, Billy Mitchell and his legacy are stronger today than ever. Wherever there is an airplane, the legacy of Mitchell is right behind.
Hello Again Blog Readers!
Greenfield Library is brimming with activity for both young and old. Read below to see some of the exciting activities awaiting you at the Library.
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STUDENT ART ON DISPLAY
Celebrate Youth Student Art Month at the Greenfield Library with a reception in the Community Room on Sunday, March 2 from 1:00-5:00pm. There will be a “Make and Take” project sponsored by the Milwaukee Art Museum and Kohl’s Family Fun, as well as light refreshments. The art, created by Greenfield public school students will be on display throughout March in the library Community Room, Children’s Library, lobby display case, and on the second floor mezzanine area. Artwork on display in the Community Room will be available for viewing Monday evenings from 5:00-8:00pm (except March 31), Wednesdays from 10:00-3:00pm (except March 26), Fridays from 10:00-5:30pm and Sundays from 1:00-4:00pm.
DR. SEUSS BIRTHDAY PARTY
“I am what I am! That’s a great thing to be! If I say so myself, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!”
All are invited to a Dr. Seuss Birthday Party on Tuesday, March 4 at 6:30pm in the Greenfield Library Community Room. We will have stories, crafts, fun, and of course…cake! The event is free and no registration is required.
PET CRAFTS PROGRAM
Whether it is your dog, your grandma’s cat, or your friend’s box turtle, every pet deserves a toy. All middle and high school students are invited to attend a FREE Pet Craft Creation workshop on Tuesday, March 11 from 3:00-4:30pm in the Greenfield Library Community Room. We will make rope dog bones or fleece cat toys to take home to your pet. Maybe we will have that turtle craft session in the future.
ADULT BOOK CLUB REUNITES
The Greenfield Book Discussion group meets again Wednesday, March 12 at 7:00pm to discuss Lorna Landvik’s novel Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons. This book brings together a group of diverse women over forty years and their own personal book club and interactions. What will they say and do next? I guess that you will just have to get the book and find out. Request a copy of the book online at http://countycat.mcfls.org or call us at 414-321-9595 x104.
DEEP IN THE STACKS: JOHNNY CASH
February 26 would have marked the 82nd birthday of country legend, Johnny Cash. Much of the “Man in Black’s” deep bass-voiced music echoed themes of sorrow, love, and redemption. Cash influenced countless artists and left a large body of music at his death, including “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Ring of Fire,” “A Boy Named Sue,” and his much acclaimed American Recording sessions with producer Rick Rubin in his later years.
When Johnny Cash sang, whether he wrote the song or not, he owned the song, with that deep, gravelly voice mixed with the Tennessee 3’s boom-chicka sound. He was not only a country legend, but a music legend, and he is deeply missed. The following are some of the holdings from and about the Man in Black at Greenfield Library.
-Cash – Editors of Rolling Stone Magazine 781.642 CASH
-Cash: The Autobiography – Johnny Cash/Patrick Carr LP 781.642 CASH
-Johnny Cash: The Life – Robert Hilburn BIO CASH, Johnny
-Up Close: Johnny Cash: A Twentieth-Century Life – Anne E. Neimark J BIO CASH, Johnny
-American Recordings CD COU CAS
-American III: Solitary Man CD COU CAS
-American IV: The Man Comes Around CD COU CAS
-American V: A Hundred Highways CD COU CAS
-American VI: Ain’t No Grave CD COU CAS
-Biggest Hits CD COU CAS
-God CD REL CAS
-Gospel Collection CD REL CAS
-I Walk the Line CD COU CAS
-Love CD COU CAS
-The Mystery of Life CD COU CAS
-Ring of Fire: The Johnny Cash Musical Show: Original Broadway Cast Recording CD MUS RIN
-The Sun Years CD COU CAS
-Wanted Man CD COU CAS
Walk the Line – DVD WAL
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Thank you for reading and we look forward to seeing you at Greenfield Library soon.