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Wednesday, March 25,2015

Northern Michigan on two wheels

Traverse City author gives tips for exploring Northern Michigan by bicycle

by Bill Castanier
Robert Downes, author of “Biking Northern Michigan,” had two requirements for the more than 35 bike routes he details in his book. “They had to be safe and scenic,” he said in a phone conversation from his Traverse City-area home. Out of the many bicycling routes Downes writes about, he said that the M-22 Frankfort to Glen Arbor tour and the Glen Lake tour are a couple of his favorites.
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Wednesday, March 18,2015

Galileo gives the bird

Local author and activist explores issues of science, ethics and politics

by Bill Castanier
You may think you know Alice Dreger, but you probably don’t. You may have heard her asking pointed questions of Board of Water & Light officials during the aftermath of the 2013 ice storm. Or maybe you’ve seen a photograph of her in in the Lansing State Journal in an article about freedom of information. You might even remember Rush Limbaugh trash-talking an article she wrote on pedophilia and football head injuries. But you don’t really know Alice Dreger. That could soon change for East Lansing’s Dreger, 49, a historian of medicine and science. She has written a book on the darker side of scientific research, scholarship and activism that threatens to push her into the national spotlight. The title, “Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists and the Search for Justice in Science,” reflects Dreger’s wry, often ironic sense of humor. The idea for the title came from her experience seeing the famed astronomer’s actual skeletal middle finger on display at a shrine in Florence, Italy.
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Wednesday, March 11,2015

Touching history

The William L. Clements Library offers a window into the nation’s past

by Bill Castanier
Thanks to the internet, vast holdings from archives across the world have been digitally opened to the public, but it’s not quite the same as putting on the white cotton gloves and experiencing the thrill of physically encountering a rare item you have never seen before. Clayton Lewis, curator of graphic materials at University of Michigan’s William L. Clements Library, will be at the of the Capital Area District Libraries’ downtown Lansing branch Thursday for a presentation on the evolution and growth of the library.
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Wednesday, March 4,2015

Break on through

MSU neuroscience researcher tells her story of trauma, science and recovery

by Bill Castanier
As a neuroscience researcher, Apryl Pooley has dedicated her life to the rigors of scientific exploration. But it wasn’t until she turned that knowledge inward that she was able to overcome her personal demons. Pooley’s dramatic story of turning personal trauma into a fulfilling life is told in her debut memoir, “Shadow Brain:
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Wednesday, February 25,2015

A house divided

The movement in East Lansing to open housing for blacks

by Bill Castanier
Two years of smolder built to a roar. Then it cooled down but the fire was just under the surface. It started with the only visit to Michigan State University by the young pastor, Martin Luther King, Jr. on Feb. 11, 1965. Civil law prevented blacks from owning homes or renting in Eas...
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Wednesday, February 25,2015

From Paris to post-apocalypse

Photographer of ‘Lost Detroit’ comes to Lansing

by Bill Castanier
Despite the efforts of Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock Real Estate Services (aka Quicken Loans), which has invested $1.6 billion in 70 Detroit buildings, it’s impossible to drive through downtown without noticing the decaying landmarks of the city. Landmarks to its former glory, now defa...
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Wednesday, February 18,2015

How Malcolm became X

New young adult novel tells the story of Malcolm X’s formative years

by Bill Castanier
“It is so important for you and me to spend time today learning something about the past so that we can better understand the present, analyze it and then do something about it.” This is not a quote from a famous historian, it’s from the firebrand civil rights activist Malcolm X. Those who have read about his transformation from petty street criminal to formidable civil rights activist will not be surprised by his passion for history.
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Wednesday, February 11,2015

Drawing on experience

Scott McCloud puts theory into practice in his first graphic novel

by Bill Castanier
Many comic book collectors, scholars and aficionados call Scott McCloud the “grandfather of comics,” but it may be more accurate to call him the “Yoda of comics” because of his singular ability to describe comics in terms of meaning, form and function. The reason for these platitudes is McCloud’s 1993 book “Understanding Comics,” the first book to explain the theory of comics and how words and pictures work together to tell a story. He followed that with “ Reinventing Comics” (2000) and “Making Comics” (2006), creating a triptych that is used in virtually every comic book class taught in the world.
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Wednesday, February 4,2015

Take a back road

´Ride Michigan’ offers motorcycle tours off the beaten path

by Bill Castanier
About this time of year, as the snow piles up outside their windows, motorcyclists start to get antsy. Bill Murphy, who has written five books on motorcycle excursions, is already planning his next road trip on his Harley-Davidson Road King. In his most recent book, “Ride Michigan,” Murphy takes motorcycle enthusiasts on a tour of Michigan’s back roads, weaving through small towns and skirting the Great Lakes. The book is divided into four sections: the north woods, the lakeshores, the southern farmlands and the Great Lakes, and offers more than 30 tour suggestions. These tours range from excursions that only take a few hours to tours that require several days.
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Wednesday, January 28,2015

Crowned with glory

Photographer Michael Cunningham discusses his book ´Crowns´

by Bill Castanier
If Michael Cunningham has his way, the downtown branch of the Capital Area District Library will be, for one afternoon, transformed into an aviary of fancy church hats. Cunningham visits the library Sunday to discuss his photography book, “Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats,” and invites attendees to wear their finest church hats to the presentation. If you plan to attend, however, you need to know a few things first. Peggy Knox, a subject in “Crowns,” lays out the three church hat rules:
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