Fantastic Anglo Saxon Treasure Hoard Discovered in England

Experts in the UK announced this past week the discovery of a fabulous hoard of objects from the Anglo Saxon period — many of which are made of solid gold — which may well revolutionize scholarly understanding of these people of western Germanic origin who ruled England for some six centuries.

Archaeologists and other scholars have literally been stunned by the size and quality of the treasure.  “[T]here were 5 boxes full of gold items of the highest Anglo Saxon workmanship,” stated an antiquities official named Duncan Slark.  “It was absolutely staggering, . . .  individual items that I’ve never seen the like of before. . . .”   

Believed to date from the 7th to 8th century AD, the quantity and workmanship of these artifacts are said even to surpass the famous royal Anglo Saxon burial discovered at Sutton Hoo in 1939.

They were found this summer in Staffordshire by an amateur named Terry Herbert using a metal detector.  The hoard includes at least 1,300 items, and it is expected even more may turn up as excavations on the site continue.

According to the BBC, a museum display of some these objects which opened last Friday attracted over 10,000 visitors in three days.  You can also view many of the items at the Staffordshire Hoard website.

If you’d like to read more about the Anglo Saxons, Greensboro Public Library has a number of books which you may find helpful, including:  Finding Merlin:  The Truth Behind the Legend of the Great Arthurian Mage by Adam Ardrey; King Alfred:  Burnt Cakes and Other Legends by David Horspool; Quest for a King:  Searching for the Real King Arthur by Catherine M. Andronik; The Anglo-Saxons by James Campbell, Eric John and Patrick Wormald; Celtic Painting and Anglo-Saxon Painting:  Book Illumination in the British Isles, 600-800 by Carl Nordenfalk; An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England by Peter Hunter Blair; The Formation of England, 550-1042 by H. P. R. Finberg; The Age of Arthur:  A History of the British Isles from 350 to 650 by John Morris; and Arthur’s Britain:  History and Archaeology, AD 367-634 by Leslie Alcock.

Racing to Find the Lost Ships of Sir John Franklin’s Expedition

Where are the lost ships of Sir John Franklin’s doomed expedition — the HMS Terror and HMS Erebus

Some refer to them as the “Holy Grail” of marine archaeology.  And, as temperatures rise and melting arctic ice raises hopes their locations will finally be revealed, there’s a race on to find them between public and private concerns.    

For those unacquainted with the story, the Franklin Expedition set sail from England in 1845 in search of the Northwest Passage, a route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Arctic Ocean along the northern coast of North America. 

By September, 1846, the ships had become trapped in ice off King William Island and were finally abandoned by their crews in April, 1848. 

Eventually the whole of both crews — 128 men in all — would perish, most probably from starvation, though not before resorting to cannibalism; other factors in their demise may have been scurvy and lead poisoning.  According to a message left behind and discovered by a search party in a cairn in 1859, Franklin himself had died in June, 1847.

Beginning as early as 1848, there have been many searches for clues to the fate of the Franklin Expedition, though modern-day scientific efforts to unravel the mystery did not really begin until much later.  Many traces — bones, equipment, food containers, even the well-preserved mummies of some of the crew — have been located — but not the ships.  

More recent searches have focused on attempting to find the ships, and a 2008 effort led by Robert Greiner of Parks Canada drew heavily upon native Inuit testimony/traditions about the expedition.

The very latest attempt, apparently being planned by a private concern led by Rob Rondeau of ProCom Diving Services and still not off the ground, has run afoul of the Canadian government and Parks Canada for its failure to consult with local authorities.        

Officials are concerned that the wrecks be properly protected if and when they are found — a prospect made more likely by global warming and the melting ice.  As Canadian Environment Minister John Baird stated last year before Greiner’s search began, “[W]e want to find it before Hollywood.”     

If you’d like to read more, Greensboro Public Library has several books on Sir John Franklin and the lost expedition, including:  Ice Blink:  The Tragic Fate of Sir John Franklin’s Lost Polar Expedition by Scott Cookman; Journey Into Ice:  John Franklin and the Northwest Passage by Ann and Myron Sutton; and Buried In Ice by Owen Beattie and John Geiger with Shelley Tanaka (juvenile).

We also have more general works on the quest for the Northwest Passage, which will include information on the Franklin Expedition, including:  Across the Top of the World:  The Quest for the Northwest Passage by James P. Delgado; Ordeal by Ice:  The Search for the Northwest Passage, edited by Farley Mowat; and The Arctic Grail:  The Quest for the North West Passage and the North Pole, 1818-1909 by Pierre Berton.

Early Voting for the Greensboro City Council Primary

You can now vote early for the Greensboro City Council Primary of October 6, 2009.  The early voting location in Greensboro is the Guilford County Board of Elections Absentee Office, which is Room 100 of the old Guilford County Courthouse at 301 West Market Street.  The early voting location in High Point is Room 103 of the Guilford County Board of Elections office at 505 East Green Drive.  The early voting days and times are: 1) Thursday and Friday, September 17 and 18, from 8-5; 2) Monday-Friday, September 21-25, 8-5; 3) Monday-Friday, September 28-October 2, 8-5; and 4)( GREENSBORO LOCATION ONLY) Saturday, October 3, 10-1.

If you vote early during any of the periods above, you can register to vote and vote at the same time.  To do this, you will need to fill out a voter registration form and show identification with your current name and Guilford County address from one of the accepted forms of identification shown at the link Registering to Vote During Early Voting found on the Guilford County Board of Elections website.

If you’re not going to be able to vote on Election Day but can make it to one of these locations during these times, please consider voting early.  Remember that every vote counts!

NC Unemployment Down a Bit; Other States See Record Highs

The News and Record reports today that North Carolina’s unemployment rate in August was at 10.8%, a tenth of a percent lower than July’s statewide rate.

Meanwhile, CNBC reports that unemployment rates in some other states are reaching record highs:  these were California (12.2%), Nevada (13.2%), and Rhode Island (12.8%).  Michigan continues to lead the nation with a jobless rate of 15.2%.

As always, please remember Greensboro Public Library’s JobSkills offerings if you’re out of work and looking for a job.

Growth Through Raving Fans Series Attracts Local Businesses

The definition is different for everyone!

The definition is different for everyone!

In early 2009 the concept for a One City One Book project for Greensboro businesses was created and the One Community, Your Business project was born.  The book chosen for the inaugural business reading project is Raving Fans.  This timely and relevant book allows business owners and key personnel to consider a new way of doing customer service and therefore promoting their business to a new level.  A series of programs has been developed to enhance this project.  The Growth Through Raving Fans Series showcases how good customer service can become great customer service that actually generates revenues for any organization.

In a collaborative effort, the four-part series began this August and will continue until the finale on October 9.  These events are helping local business men and women in their daily business practices.  Each event offers networking and an informative presentation.

Two upcoming workshops will complete the 2009 Growth Through Raving Fans Series.  All are hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and our sponsors include A.S. Web Pros; ActionCOACH; Mack Arrington, the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship, and the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce.  To date, 45 people have participated in the programs and 20 books have been distributed to business men and women who are committed to sharing the book with others.

To find out how you can participate in the remaining Growth Throug Raving Fans Series you may visit:  To borrow a Raving Fans book you may visit the Central Library or check the online catalog at

The Stock Market Goes Up, But the Pessimists Remain; Are Housing Prices on Their Way to Recovery, or Do They Have Further to Drop?

Meredith Whitney

Here are Nouriel Roubini’s latest views on the economy from CNBC.

Warning of “death by a thousand cuts,” Roubini predicted today that equally as many financial institutions could ultimately fail before the financial crisis has completely run its course. 

He also, according to CNBC, believes “housing prices are likely to fall another 12 percent in the next year — 40 percent overall since the market began its steep decline — and about half of all homeowners will owe more on their mortgages than their houses are worth.”  

Of course, they don’t call Roubini “Dr. Doom” for nothing, and one might be forgiven for at least hoping he was wrong on this one — though leading up to the financial crisis last year his predictions were all too accurate.  

But last week, banking analyst Meredith Whitney, who, like Roubini attracted a lot of attention last year for her prescient forecasts, sounded even more foreboding than the latter on housing, stating that prices could fall another 25%.  She is especially concerned about unemployment and its drag on consumer spending.  As she put it, “No bank underwrote a loan with 10 percent unemployment on the horizon.  I think there is no doubt that home prices will go down dramatically from here, it’s just a question of when.”   

For someone like me who just bought a home, this is not exactly comforting news!

If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home and/or want to learn more about the current difficult real estate market, you might want to try some of these recent titles from Greensboro Public Library:  Collateral Damaged:  The Marketing of Consumer Debt to America by Charles R. Geisst; The Housing Boom and Bust by Thomas Sowell; Busted:  Life Inside the Great Mortgage Meltdown by Edmund L. Andrews; Financial Shock:  A 360° Look at the Subprime Mortgage Implosion, and How to Avoid the Next Financial Crisis by Mark Zandi; Fool’s Gold:  How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe by Gillian Tett; Chain of Blame:  How Wall Street Caused the Mortgage and Credit Crisis by Paul Muolo, Mathew Padilla; An Insider’s Guide to Refinancing Your Mortgage:  Money-saving Secrets You Need to Know by David Reed; Home Rich:  Increasing the Value of the Biggest Investment of Your Life by Gerri Willis; And Then the Roof Caved In:  How Wall Street’s Greed and Stupidity Brought Capitalism to its Knees by David Faber; The Monopoly Guide to Real Estate:  Rules and Strategies for Profitable Investing by Carolyn Janik; Trump University Real Estate 101:  Building Wealth with Real Estate Investments by Gary W. Eldred and a foreword by Donald Trump; All Real Estate is Local:  Why Understanding the Housing Trends in Your Area is Essential to Building Wealthby David Lereah; Home Makeovers That Sell:  Quick and Easy Ways to Get the Highest Possible Price by Sid Davis; The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Staging Your Home to Sell by Julie Dana, Marcia Layton Turner; Buyers are Liars & Sellers are Too!:  The Truth About Buying or Selling Your Home by Richard Courtney; Buying a Home by the Better Business Bureau; and Home Buying for Dummies by Eric Tyson and Ray Brown.

A Personal Reminiscence About the Shot (Swish?) Heard Round the World — Or, At Least It Seemed That Way in Chapel Hill on the Night of 29 March 1982

Jordan's Memorable Jumper to Beat Georgetown, 63-62

I know some folks are complaining that Michael Jordan’s induction speech at the Naismith Hall of Fame Friday night turned petty and vindictive.  I even heard some Carolina fans talking about it at Ed McKay’s bookstore here in Greensboro on Saturday — and being very disparaging of MJ.  And maybe they’re right — he is pretty darn arrogant.

But whenever I think of Jordan it is always with a fondness for one of my most vivid sports memories, something I think must come to the minds of many Carolina fans when they hear his name, and especially if they were lucky enough to be in Chapel Hill and join in the celebrations the night the University of North Carolina won the NCAA basketball championship in 1982.

Jordan, of course, was the star freshman on one of the Tar Heel’s greatest teams, that of the 1981-82 season, which also included Sam Perkins, Jimmy Black, and the incomparable James Worthy.  They lost only two games that year en route to the championship, and I’ve always felt that team epitomized the unselfishness of the Dean Smith system with their defensive excellence and workman-like offense.

At any rate, after the ‘Heels whipped Houston in the first round of the Final Four on Saturday, March 27th, I made up my mind nothing was going to keep me from being in Chapel Hill for the national finals against Georgetown on the following Monday night.  Though the game was to be played at the Superdome in New Orleans, I wanted to be present for the anticipated celebrations on Franklin Street (in the event the ‘Heels won), and I was not to be disappointed. 

I was a graduate student at Appalachian in Boone at the time, and I really knew only one person in Chapel Hill — an undergraduate roommate whom I figured (with a fair degree of certainty) would be hanging out at The Cave, one of the town’s oldest and best known taverns, to watch the game.

So, I just hopped in my car and drove down the mountain, arriving in Chapel Hill unannounced about an hour or so before game time, and sure enough I wasn’t at the bar for long before my old roomie Tom and his buddy John showed up. 

Tom was no doubt a little miffed to see me (to think, he would have to watch Carolina vie for a national championship in company with this dull Appalachian boy!), but the joyfulness and excitement of the occasion soon mollified him, the beers flowed, and by game time we were all in the best of spirits.

Needless to say, it was one of the most exciting games I ever watched.  The teams traded the lead back and forth throughout, neither able to gain an upper hand; you just knew the outcome would come down to the final moments.  And there were lots of spectacular plays by Worthy, Jordan, and Georgetown’s star center, Pat Ewing.

Then Jordan, a mere freshman, rose to the occasion with the most important shot ever for Carolina basketball — at least, in my opinion.  Georgetown was ahead 62-61, and with :17 seconds left MJ drained a beautiful jumper from about 15 feet

Catching his defenders flat-footed with his quickness, and with his graceful form and God-given ability to seemingly float in air when he leapt vertically, Jordan simply towers over everyone as he prepares to release the shot in the immortal moment captured above.

Trailing now by one point, 63-62, Georgetown immediately made the inbounds play and pushed the ball up court without a timeout.  Then, at :07 seconds, a now obscure Georgetown guard named Fred Brown threw the ball right to Carolina’s James Worthy.  The game was essentially over and the Tar Heels, for the first time since 1957, were national champs! 

Though Chapel Hill was a long way from New Orleans’ Superdome, I think that as Worthy stole that pass and tried to dribble out the clock there must have been something like an earthquake as thousands and thousands of people across the State of North Carolina suddenly jumped for joy.

The Cave erupted in a chaos of shouts and leaping, totally unchoreographed of course, but nonetheless to my mind kind like some sort of primitive dance; in the melee, I remember a fellow gave me a high-five with such force that he nearly broke my hand — it was still a little numb later that night.

The game still wasn’t over.  Worthy was fouled, missed his shots and there was a full-court desperation toss by Georgetown that came down harmlessly into Sam Perkins’ waiting arms at the buzzer.

Everybody now spilled out of the bar into Franklin Street, and it wasn’t long before the main avenue through Chapel Hill was completely packed with a dense crowd — as it always is when Carolina celebrates championships. 

But, instead of merely joining in the crowd as it milled about, the four of us, Tom, John, another friend named Billy, and I, all for some reason decided to sit down (cross-legged) in the middle of Franklin Street — and there we sat for some time, all the while with a crowd packed like so many sardines pushing against us and around us.

Occasionally a sorority girl would say, “Oh, you’ve got to get up, you’ve got to get up!”, or “You’ll be crushed, you’ll be crushed!”  But more often than not they just smiled and smeared Carolina blue paint on our faces and our clothes.  I still have my old army coat which I wore that night — a favorite coat from my college days — with blue paint smears on it.

We finally got up for some reason and made our way off Franklin Street, John and I becoming separated from Tom and Billy.  I crashed at John’s house; his mother, I recall, made him give me his bed, while John took the couch. 

As I made my way back to Boone on I-40 the next morning, passers-by would see the blue paint on my face and coat through the windshield and honk and yell — they knew where I had been last night! 

And so, when I think of Michael Jordan, who went on to become probably the greatest player in NBA history, it’s not really all those highlights and championships he had as a pro that I think of, and I’m certainly not going to bother myself with what he said at his Hall of Fame induction.

No, I will think of my journey to Chapel Hill to watch him make that great shot, ending a twenty-five year drought for the ‘Heels and giving Dean Smith his first championship — and the incredible love-fest which played out afterwards on Franklin Street. 

That he gave us Tar Heel fans that was quite enough — and just think, what if he had missed?!

Anyway, if you’d like to relive your own memories of MJ, Greensboro Public Library has got plenty of books you might enjoy (though, as you might guess, since Jordan’s been retired for a few years now, some of them are a little dated).  Try some of these:  Driven from Within by Michael Jordan with Tinker Hatfield; When Nothing Else Matters:  Michael Jordan’s Last Comeback by Michael Leahy; One Last Shot:  The Story of Michael Jordan’s Comeback by Mitchell Krugel; Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made by David Halberstam; For the Love of the Game:  My Story by Michael Jordan (oversize); Rookie:  When Michael Jordan Came to the Minor Leagues by Jim Patton; Second Coming:  The Strange Odyssey of Michael Jordan — from Courtside to Home Plate and Back Again by Sam Smith; Airborne:  The Triumph and Struggle of Michael Jordan by Jesse Kornbluth; Jordan:  The Man, His Words, His Life by Mitchell Krugel; and Hang Time:  Days and Dreams with Michael Jordan by Bob Greene.

And the library has also got lots of books on Carolina basketball, such as:  The 12 Leadership Principles of Dean Smith by David Chadwick; Blue Blood: Duke-Carolina, Inside the Most Storied Rivalry in College Hoops by Art Chansky; The Best Game Ever:  How Frank McGuire’s ‘57 Tar Heels Beat Wilt and Revolutionized College Basketball by Adam Lucas; Blue Heaven:  A History of UNC Basketball (videorecording); The Carolina Corporation:  Inside Dean Smith and the Tar Heels by Steve Holstrom; A Coach’s Life by Dean Smith with John Kilgo and Sally Jenkins; Dean Smith:  A Biography by Thad Mumau; The Dean Smith Story:  More Than a Coach by Thad Mumau; Dean’s Domain:  The Inside Story of Dean Smith and His C0llege Basketball Empire by Art Chansky; The Dean’s List:  A Celebration of Tar Heel Basketball and Dean Smith (juvenile) by Art Chansky, with a foreword by Michael Jordan; Going Home Again:  Roy Williams, the North Carolina Tar Heels, and a Season to Remember by Adam Lucas; North Carolina, 2005 NCAA Champions by The News & Observer; One to Remember:  The 1982 North Carolina Tar Heels NCAA Championship Team Then and Now by David Daly; The Road to Blue Heaven:  An Insider’s Diary of North Carolina’s 2007 Basketball Season by Wes Miller; Tar Heel:  North Carolina Basketball by Ken Rappoport; Tar Heel Madness:  Great Eras in North Carolina Basketball by Wilton Sharpe; To Hate Like This is to be Happy Forever:  A Thoroughly Obsessive, Intermittently Uplifting, and Occasionally Unbiased Account of the Duke-North Carolina Basketball Rivalry by Will Blythe; University of North Carolina Men’s Basketball Games:  A Complete Record, Fall 1953 through Spring 2006 by Michael E. O’Hara; The Winning Tradition:  A Pictorial History of Carolina Basketball; and Three Paths to Glory:  A Season on the Hardwood with Duke, N.C. State, and North Carolina by Barry Jacobs.

NASA Releases New Mars Images

In a brief follow-up to some of our earlier posts on Mars, check out these new “Airplane View” images of the planet which NASA has recently released

Taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, they offer a view of the planet from a fantastic perspective — as if you were flying over the Grand Canyon.  You can view more of these images here.

If you want to learn more about Mars, posts here and here list some of Greensboro Public Library’s books on the Red Planet.

U.S. Navy Patrol Boat Found Off N.C. Coast in Graveyard of Atlantic

In a brief follow-up to an earlier post on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expedition exploring the Graveyard of the Atlantic this summer, an image was released this week of a U.S. Navy patrol boat which the team of underwater archaeologists found resting upright in 300 feet of water.

As the previous post explains, this is the second season of a multi-year NOAA survey of ships, U-boats, and other vessels sunk off the North Carolina coast during World War II.

The First Anniversary of the Lehman Collapse Approaches; Will the Financial System Be Reformed?

So, an anniversary approaches and what have we done?  Will it simply be business as usual for a financial system that just a few months back was on life support?  Or, will there be meaningful reform which can give Americans confidence that this won’t happen again?

Check out this CNBC interview with Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack, who expresses concern that government officials have “lost a little of [their] steam [for] financial reform” and still don’t fully understand last September’s Lehman Brothers collapse.

And in this opinion piece, Michael Yoshikami worries that the financial system is still over-reliant upon self-control and that “fringe firms willing to take excessive risk and believing in their own infallibility” might once again plunge us into disaster.    

But, the Obama Administration is concerned about financial reform — though the health care debate is getting far more attention these days.  

During a Town Hall meeting the other night, for instance, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner acknowledged

[w]e have to have much stronger rules of the game in place with much stronger constraints on how much risk can take place.  People are so angry.  They have had this searing experience that caused so much damage and I think generally people understand that we’re going to have to change things. We can’t let things go back to the way they were.

Moreover, President Obama plans a major speech next Monday night to mark the Lehman anniversary and call for financial reforms to safeguard us against another similar catastrophe.

It’s probably going to be a hard sell though, and this article suggests banking and financial reform — which must be pushed through Congress — is already in big trouble.

Congress and the President must work out just how much and what kind of regulatory power the Federal government will be granted over financial institutions.  At the same time, both can expect plenty of pressure from the financial lobby, which fears overregulation — and whose influence, many would no doubt argue, had a lot to do with the Lehman disaster and the Financial Crisis of ’08.  

There are many proposals on the table, including a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, increased powers for the Federal Reserve, controls on derivatives trading, and increased capital requirements in order to avoid the dangerous overleveraging of the recent past. 

One thing’s for sure:  we’re going to hear a lot more about the financial reform issue in the coming weeks and months.

If you’d like to read some very current literature about America’s financial woes, you can find lists of some of Greensboro Public Library’s recent acquisitions here, here, here, and here.

UPDATE:  Just as a pertinent follow-up, here’s an article from MSNBC/NY Times by Alex Berenson titled “A Year After Cataclysm, Little Change on Wall St.”