The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

See the source imageThe Radium Girls is a real life story about the women who painted luminous numbers on watch dials. The story begins in a New Jersey factory and the excitement of the women working there. The women were paid per dial painted so efficiency was important. They were shown that the easiest way to keep their brushes pointed was to “lip” the tip. At the time radium was the latest fad, people were drinking it in tonics and taking it in pill form. There wasn’t any harm in sticking the paint brush in their mouths hundreds of times a week.

Sadly, the women who worked at the factories in New Jersey, Illinois, and Connecticut soon found out that radium was not safe at all. The US Radium Corporation, originally the Radium Luminous Material Corporation, fought dirty to ensure that they didn’t have to pay restitution to any of the women working there. Radium poisoning wasn’t listed as an occupational disease therefore the women’s illnesses weren’t the company’s fault. They paid doctors to examine the sick women who then lied about their health, even going so far as telling one women she was healthier than he was though he knew she had radium poisoning. One women’s cause of death was listed as syphilis in an effort to discredit her; this was later proven false when they exhumed her body.

The Radium Girls sheds light on the inequity between men and women’s rights as well as the abuses suffered by employees of large corporations. It is a tragedy that many have never heard of. I highly recommend picking up a copy to learn about what happened to “America’s Shining Women”.

The Physics of Everyday Things by James Kakalios

What does a clock have in common with an electronic timer? They both rely on the principle of the oscillating pendulum.

Why is an electric toothbrush like a hotel keycard? They each use one coil to induce a current in another coil.

And how is an E-Z Pass system similar to a toaster? They both generate electromagnetic waves – thus the red glow of the toaster wires.

This book is organized around the story of a day. The author explains the physics behind the items that we use and take for granted. His explanations are clear and understandable – even for a reader who has no knowledge of physics.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Ronson

Have you ever taken part in a mass shaming online? Condemned someone you’ve never met and whose story you don’t fully know? That is what Jon Ronson has written about here. He looks at several specific instances where an individual made a mistake or several, was publicly outed for it.

Anonymous posts that have the power to destroy people’s lives without any consequence. When the punishment outweighs the perceived crime and yes sometimes it is only a perceived crime and not something illegal. Perhaps a poorly worded joke or an inappropriate photo that results in the absolute destruction of that person’s life and often the lives of people with the unfortunate luck to have the same name. Yet sometimes the shamee does not have their life destroyed, why is that? Ronson posits several theories about why some people come through a public shaming okay and other’s do not.

This is an insightful and often humorous look at an anonymous online culture that feels it has the right to be judge and jury for everything found online. Ronson examines a culture that has evolved which forces everyone to have the same opinion about everything; if you voice a differing opinion you will be viciously set upon by anonymous vultures just waiting in the wings for you to step outside that undefined invisible line of what they find acceptable and what they don’t.

Game Changer: John McLendon and the Secret Game by Coy

 

The year is 1944, the place, Durham North Carolina and history is about to be made.  At a time of widespread segregation and racism, an illegal basketball game is about to begin.  Two teams, one from a white college and one from the North Carolina College of Negroes face off on the court.

The game had to be held in secret and the bleachers were empty.  There had never been a basketball game between players of a different color in the part of the country.  If the authorities found out about the game, the coaches could have been fired and everyone involved could have been jailed.

But these two teams did play and the players learned much from each other.  A new way of playing basketball began that night. Although no one other than the players and coaches knew what happened, history was made that night by these brave individuals.

This is a thrilling book about a little known piece of basketball and civil rights history.

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