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Viral Spin: Cop Vs. Cyclist, Cake Pans

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Viral Spin: Cop Vs. Cyclist, Cake Pans

Digital Life

Viral Spin: Cop Vs. Cyclist, Cake Pans

Viral Spin: Cop Vs. Cyclist, Cake Pans

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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An officer pushes a man off of a bicycle in New York, libraries allow patrons to check out cake pans, and we examine Andrea Seabrook's reference last week to the year "55 BCE."


Now, a few of the stories burning up the tube, so to speak. News you're more likely to find forwarded to you by email than in any newspaper. Call it viral news.

First, if you think YouTube is all silliness and fluff, check this out. A New York City police officer was videotaped ramming a bicyclist to the ground. It happened during a Critical Mass protest when diehard bike riders take over city streets. Holding the camera, a tourist standing in Times Square. Here's a bit of tape.

(Soundbite of people yelling)

SEABROOK: The video was posted on YouTube anonymously last week and has been viewed more than a million times before. The officer was later identified as 23-year-old NYPD rookie Patrick Pogan. He's now been stripped of his badge and gun and is on desk duty while the department investigates.

(Soundbite of music)

SEABROOK: Now, these days you can probably search your local public library's catalog online, even reserve a book and go pick it up. But if you're in Woodridge, Illinois looking through the catalog of Reed Memorial Library, you might get some odd search results, like this one: 10-inch angel food cake pan; or this: cake pan, lamb, cuddly. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: The collection is at Reed Memorial Library in Ravenna, Ohio, not Woodridge, Illinois.]

Yes, along with the books, Reed Memorial Library has a couple hundred cake pans in circulation. The molds come in the form of popular themes and characters -everything from Alf to Yosemite Sam.

(Soundbite of Yosemite Sam)

SEABROOK: By the way, we read about this on the blog for pop culture aware librarians, Don't you just love the Internet? The idea of loaning out pans is spreading like sheet cake at a birthday party. Libraries in Ohio, Nebraska and Iowa already have collections. Oh, and if you're desperate for a cake pan of Spongebob Squarepants or Thomas the Tank Engine, bad news: they're checked out this weekend.

In a second we'll talk to one of NPR's own librarians, and here's why.

(Soundbite of music)

SEABROOK: Last week we aired a story about astronomers who recreated the historical conditions of Julius Caesar's landing in Britain. Here's what I said at the top of that story:

Let's go even further back now, to the year 55 B.C.E. Rome's Julius Caesar...

Did you catch that? I called the year 55 B.C.E., rather than the traditional B.C. B.C.E. stands for become the common era, while B.C. means before Christ. Well, we got two emails about this.

First, listener Judy Cone(ph) wrote to say I noticed the speaker used the term B.C.E. I resent her use of this term. Since when did we change from B.C. to B.C.E.? Then Eleanor Ware of Pittsfield, Massachusetts wrote in. Thank you for your usage of B.C.E. It was a courtesy very much appreciated. Is this usage also used elsewhere on NPR or your own?

Time for a call to the hardest-working reference librarian in radio, Kee Malesky.

(Soundbite of phone ringing)

Ms. KEE MALESKY (Reference Librarian): Reference library, this is Kee.

SEABROOK: Hi, Kee, it's Andrea.


SEABROOK: So, since when did NPR use the term B.C.E. rather than B.C.?

Ms. MALESKY: Well, it isn't being used exclusively one way or the other. Some reporters and hosts have used B.C.; some use B.C.E. - before the common era -but we don't really have a policy.

SEABROOK: Now, this is not just something that NPR is using. How long has this term been around?

Ms. MALESKY: For the last several decades. You start to see, first in scientific and academic journals. Use of the terms B.C.E. and C.E. ...

SEABROOK: C.E. meaning common era rather than A.D., anno domini.

Ms. MALESKY: Right. Because the term common era is religiously neutral.

SEABROOK: Okay. Kee, thanks very much.

Ms. MALESKY: Okay.

SEABROOK: See you later.

Ms. MALESKY: You're welcome.


(Soundbite of phone hanging up)

SEABROOK: NPR's reference librarian Kee Malesky.

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Correction Aug. 6, 2008

The story incorrectly refers to a collection of cake pans at "Reid Memorial Library" in Woodridge, Illinois. It is actually at Reed Memorial Library in Ravenna, Ohio.