Saturday, February 04, 2006

Meet Your Favorite Author Online

Many law students escape from the rigors of law school by curling up with a really good book--just for fun. But who has time for author nights at a local bookstore with the writer of that great thriller, bestselling novel, or fitness guide? Now you can meet your favorite author online, thanks to Meet the Author, linked US and UK websites that offer hundreds of 1 minute video clips of bestselling authors discussing their books. Last month blinkxsTV (see Ernster's post for September 26, 2005) partnered with Meet the Author in a deal that enables blinkxsTV users to take advantage of its voice recognition technology to search through Meet the Author clips word by word, jumping directly to relevant content matching themes or topics, without having to remember titles or authors. New Meet the Author video clips are added every day, making it a great resource for both connecting with writers and choosing the perfect gift book. Recent fiction, thrillers, and crime (including mysteries) are especially well represented.
Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Friday, February 03, 2006

State of the States

We have already heard from President Bush about the State of the Union, but how about what's going on in the 50 states?

For those interested in the courts in various States, a great resource is the National Center for State Courts . You can find information ranging from the structure of each State's court system to very detailed statistical analysis of the activity of these courts.

For information regarding the States' legislative branches, go to the National Center of State Legislatures .

And, I would not be thorough without mentioning the executive branches of the States and the National Governors Association .

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Online Dictionary Of Difficult Words

We all know that the law offers no shortage of difficult words, and we keep our law dictionaries handy for the occasions when we encounter them. For quick, online definitions of non-legal difficult words (although a few legal terms of art may appear here, as well), however, try the Online Dictionary of Difficult Words. You may search for a particular word by typing it into the search box, or you may browse the list of words alphabetically. From a capella to zymotic, many difficult, unusual words and their definitions appear here, including my own favorite, ailurophile.
Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


It's a new month. Perhaps you know that July is named (actually, renamed) after Julius Caesar. Did you know though that February was named after Februus, the Etruscan god of purification and the dead. (The Etruscans were pre-Romans, before "rome" became "Rome", though this is a big simplification. But time- and geographical- wise, it's good enough.)

Now, why does the month only have 28 (or 29) days? That's a question for another time.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Biographical Directory of the United States Congress 1774 – 2005 & The American Presidency Project

This is probably not what you think as the title of this post actually refers to 2 different web sites. Both provide historical information on branches of the U.S. government.

Do you want to know who the Senators and Congressmen from New York were during the Civil War? This source will tell you. The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress 1774-2005 - also known as H. Doc. 108-222 - was compiled and edited under the direction of the U.S. Joint Committee on Printing. This Directory is exactly what it says it is: a list of who was who in Congress from The Continental Congress (1774) through January 3, 2005 (end of the 108th Congress). Brief biographies of all members of Congress are also provided. In addition there is a list of Executive Officers (Cabinet) 1789-2005. Tip, it helps to know the number of the Congress sitting for the time period concerned. Example, the Civil War was 1861-1865 which was the 37th through the 39th Congress.

The American Presidency Project provides Public Papers of the Presidents from Hoover through Clinton. These materials include Executive Orders, Proclamations, press conferences, addresses to Congress, etc. There is a Data Archive that shows popularity over time, vetoes and more. The "Elections" page tallies for each presidential nominee the electoral vote, popular vote and percentages. It is interesting and rather fun to compare the numbers among the Presidents.

Other news today:

Samuel Alito was sworn in as the 110th Supreme Court Justice.
President George W. Bush gave his 5th State of the Union address to Congress and the nation.
It was Alan Greenspan's last day as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Coretta Scott King died.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Monday, January 30, 2006

HeinOnline - Not just articles

HeinOnline, which can be found on the Law Library's Research Database page, has always been a great place to find both old and fairly new law journal articles in PDF format. But did you know about all the other materials you can now find on HeinOnline? There is a Federal Register Library which also includes the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. You can find a Legislative History Library with selected compiled legislative histories and a Treaties Library which provides a great way to find a full text PDF version of a treaty. There are many other materials that you might also need such as Attorney General opinions, a treasury of classic legal books and a Supreme Court Library.

The only caveat about using this site is that its search function is not the best. It is however a wonderful place to retrieve a document when you already have a citation or to browse for one if you know the year and most of the details.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Using Google as a verb

An interesting example of Google being used as a verb can be found in this Pontiac television commercial. In the spot, which is being being shown regionally in the United States, someone is shown entering the term PONTIAC into the Google search box with the voiceover:

"Don't take our word for it, Google 'Pontiac' to find out!"

This is a great illustration of the power of Google the brand. Are broadcast and search mediums beginning to merge? Stay tuned for more...

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat