Posts tagged with ‘literature’

She grabbed my anus and positioned my body in the direction of the east gallery and we started walking.

Automated transcription gone awry. The Guardian, Scanner for ebook cannot tell its ‘arms’ from its ‘anus’.

Evidently, high-end scanners using Optical Character Recognition technology can’t tell heads or tail – or arms and anuses – when going through old-timey type. 

Takeaway: You still need a copyeditor to tell your arms from your anus. With all the news about robots writing our print, there’s something reassuring about that.

Happy Teen Literature Day
As libraries across America celebrate Teen Lit Day, Readergirlz and some co-sponsors are hosting Operation Teen Bookdrop, which you can participate in too:

* Follow @readergirlz on Twitter and tweet #rockthedrop* Print a copy of the bookplate and insert it into a book (or 10!) On April 18th, drop a book in a public spot (park bench, bus seat, restaurant counter?) Lucky finders will see that the book is part of ROCK THE DROP! (If you think people won’t pick up the book, slap a Post-It or note on the front cover that reads, “Take this book - IT’S FREE!” Bonus points for using recycled paper and/or making your own funky design!)* Post the banner at your blog and social networks. Proclaim that you will ROCK THE DROP! * Snap a photo of your drop and post it at the readergirlz Facebook page. Then tweet the drop at #rockthedropwith all the other lovers of YA books.

See books that people have been dropping all day via the Twitter hashtag #rockthedrop.
Bonus: Our (well, Jihii’s) favorite teen fiction? Everything by Sarah Dessen but especially this and this.

Happy Teen Literature Day

As libraries across America celebrate Teen Lit Day, Readergirlz and some co-sponsors are hosting Operation Teen Bookdrop, which you can participate in too:

* Follow @readergirlz on Twitter and tweet #rockthedrop
Print a copy of the bookplate and insert it into a book (or 10!) On April 18th, drop a book in a public spot (park bench, bus seat, restaurant counter?) Lucky finders will see that the book is part of ROCK THE DROP! 
(If you think people won’t pick up the book, slap a Post-It or note on the front cover that reads, “Take this book - IT’S FREE!” Bonus points for using recycled paper and/or making your own funky design!)
Post the banner at your blog and social networks. Proclaim that you will ROCK THE DROP! 
Snap a photo of your drop and post it at the readergirlz Facebook page. Then tweet the drop at #rockthedropwith all the other lovers of YA books.

See books that people have been dropping all day via the Twitter hashtag #rockthedrop.

Bonus: Our (well, Jihii’s) favorite teen fiction? Everything by Sarah Dessen but especially this and this.

It’s hard to overstate absinthe’s cultural impact – or imagine a contemporary equivalent…Absinthe solidified or destroyed friendships, and created visions and dream-like states that filtered into artistic work. It shaped Symbolism, Surrealism, Modernism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Cubism. Dozens of artists took as their subjects absinthe drinkers and the ritual paraphernalia: a glass, slotted spoon, sugar cubes – sugar softened the bitter bite of cheaper brands – and fountains dripping cold water to dilute the liquor.
As a leader, I have always followed the principles I first saw demonstrated by the regent at the Great Place. I have always endeavored to listen to what each and every person in a discussion had to say before venturing my own opinion. Oftentimes, my own opinion will simply represent a consensus of what I heard in the discussion. I always remember the regent’s axiom: a leader, he said, is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.

Nelson Mandela, in his autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom, page 22.

FJP: Today is Nelson Mandela’s birthday. Growing up, I heard his name and stories a lot, as an example of an extremely humanistic, strong, warm-hearted leader. He’s a dear friend of my Buddhist mentor. Only recently did I sit down with his autobiography. You should do it too.—Jihii

Captain Ahab stood erect, looking straight out beyond the ship’s ever-pitching prow. There was an infinity of firmest fortitude, a determinate, unsurrenderable wilfulness, in the fixed and fearless, forward dedication of that glance.

Herman Melville, Moby Dick. From Chapter 28: Ahab.

Moby Dick was published 161 years ago today. Below, Moby Dick-inspired stuff:

Here, UK Prime Minister David Cameron reads Chapter 30: The Pipe for Moby Dick Big Read, an ongoing audio project that has different people read the book’s short chapters aloud.

Put Moby Dick on your wall.

Others have drawn every page of the book. From the blog Spudd 64:

Because I honestly consider Moby-Dick to be the greatest novel ever written, I am now going to create one illustration for every single one of the 552 pages in the Signet Classic paperback edition.

But no one, as far as I’ve seen, has actually gone out to kill any whales after reading the book. Or at least not recently. And no one description that I’ve seen describes the transformative experience of reading Moby Dick better than something Herman Melville wrote himself — describing what happened to one of his characters left floating in the open sea for just an hour, waiting for the ship to come fetch him.

(Spoiler alert) from Chapter 94:

The sea had jeeringly kept his finite body up, but drowned the infinite of his soul. Not drowned entirely, though. Rather carried down alive to wondrous depths, where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and fro before his passive eyes; and the miser-merman, Wisdom, revealed his hoarded heaps; and among the joyous, heartless, ever-juvenile eternities, Pip saw the multitudinous, God-omnipresent, coral insects, that out of the firmament of waters heaved the colossal orbs. He saw God’s foot upon the treadle of the loom, and spoke it; and therefore his shipmates called him mad. So man’s insanity is heaven’s sense; and wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at last to that celestial thought, which, to reason, is absurd and frantic; and weal or woe, feels then uncompromised, indifferent as his God.

He was called a number of fantastic dictionary-ready names by the Jeffersonian Republicans, including “a pusillanimous, half-begotten, self-dubbed patriot,” “an incurable lunatic,” “a deceitful newsmonger … Pedagogue and Quack,” “a traitor to the cause of Federalism, ” “a toad in the service of sans-cullottism,” “a prostitute wretch,” “a great fool, and a barefaced liar,” “a spiteful viper,” and “a maniacal pedant.”

Happy Dictionary Day, Noah Webster!

From the Atlantic Wire’s Jen Doll — a fantastic list of interesting facts about the guy whose last name makes up half of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Readers often find their best book recommendations when they aren’t even looking for them. Maybe you’re at lunch with a friend who brings up the new book that you just can’t miss, and reading it sets you on a new path. Or you read about the books that influenced your favorite designer or writer. These recommendations come from nearly everywhere: friends, television shows, thought leaders, and algorithms.

But this process can be cumbersome and difficult, requiring you to jump between multiple applications and devices. The best products tend to pair discovery with consumption in a way where the user doesn’t perceive them as disparate activities— enabling a complete consumption experience. With Oyster, we’re bringing this to books.

When everyone has access to the same library, you can share and curate with confidence. Friends can read the same book in one-click, without having to make an additional purchase or hunt for a link to buy it.

That’s from Oyster’s blog post yesterday, introducing a book app that allows you to pick freely among a wide range of titles for a monthly fee. They’re recreating chance conversations, the creators say, where the problem isn’t about how to get to a bookstore, or how much a book will cost, but rather how much time you have to read all that you want. Not a bad problem to have. Check out Oyster’s site here.

Here’s Fast Company:

There are a handful of subscription-based models floating around, but their focus is usually on a niche selection of titles. Yesterday, Harper Collins announced it will start offering subscription-based business and leadership titles through e-learning company Skillsoft’s on-demand training library. The TED Books app charges $14.99 for a three-month, six-mini-books plan that delivers short titles written by its conference speakers.

But because so much of Oyster’s mission is about helping its users discover new titles, it’s naturally looking to offer as wide a range of genres, publishers, and authors as possible. That means its closest existing competition lies in Amazon’s Kindle Lending Library, which lets $79-per-year Amazon Prime members rent just one book per month, but from a large selection of 100,000 titles.

It’s still very early, though, to come to any conclusions.

If Hemingway Wrote JavaScript
Twitter’s Angus Croll imagines what Hemingway, Shakespeare, Breton, Bolano and Dickens would do with JavaScript.
On Hemingway (screenshot above) he writes:

No surprises here. Code reduced to its essentials with no word or variable wasted. It’s not fancy; maybe its even a little pedantic - but that’s the beauty of Hemingway’s writing. No need for elaborate logic or clever variable names. It’s plain and its clear and it does what it has to - and nothing more.

The goal of the script is to create a Fibonacci series (a string of numbers where each number is the sum of the two that precede it).

If Hemingway Wrote JavaScript

Twitter’s Angus Croll imagines what Hemingway, Shakespeare, Breton, Bolano and Dickens would do with JavaScript.

On Hemingway (screenshot above) he writes:

No surprises here. Code reduced to its essentials with no word or variable wasted. It’s not fancy; maybe its even a little pedantic - but that’s the beauty of Hemingway’s writing. No need for elaborate logic or clever variable names. It’s plain and its clear and it does what it has to - and nothing more.

The goal of the script is to create a Fibonacci series (a string of numbers where each number is the sum of the two that precede it).

Gore Vidal, October 3, 1925 – July 31, 2012

Select images to view.

[R]eading is socially accepted disassociation. You flip a switch and you’re not there anymore. It’s better than heroin. More effective and cheaper and legal.

— Mary Karr, author, to the Paris Review. The Art of Memoir No. 1.

The Trials of Joseph Brodsky

  • Judge: What is your profession?
  • Brodsky: Poet. Poet and translator.
  • Judge: Who said you were a poet? Who assigned you that rank?
  • Brodsky: No one. (Nonconfrontational.) Who assigned me to the human race?
  • FJP: In 1964, the Russian poet Joseph Brodsky was put on trial for being a "literary drone" who had no real work and was therefore a "parasite" on Soviet society. He was sentenced to five years exile from Leningrad with compulsory physical labor.
  • Source: Read more at the New Republic - http://bit.ly/KB6mR3
A working habit he has had from the beginning, Hemingway stands when he writes. He stands in a pair of his oversized loafers on the worn skin of a lesser kudu—the typewriter and the reading board chest-high opposite him.

When Hemingway starts on a project he always begins with a pencil, using the reading board to write on onionskin typewriter paper. He keeps a sheaf of the blank paper on a clipboard to the left of the typewriter, extracting the paper a sheet at a time from under a metal clip that reads “These Must Be Paid.” He places the paper slantwise on the reading board, leans against the board with his left arm, steadying the paper with his hand, and fills the paper with handwriting which through the years has become larger, more boyish, with a paucity of punctuation, very few capitals, and often the period marked with an X. The page completed, he clips it facedown on another clipboard that he places off to the right of the typewriter.

Hemingway shifts to the typewriter, lifting off the reading board, only when the writing is going fast and well, or when the writing is, for him at least, simple: dialogue, for instance.

He keeps track of his daily progress—“so as not to kid myself”—on a large chart made out of the side of a cardboard packing case and set up against the wall under the nose of a mounted gazelle head. The numbers on the chart showing the daily output of words differ from 450, 575, 462, 1250, back to 512, the higher figures on days Hemingway puts in extra work so he won’t feel guilty spending the following day fishing on the Gulf Stream.

George Plimpton, The Paris Review. Ernest Hemingway, The Art of Fiction No. 21.

In a 9,000 word interview from 1954, Plimpton and Hemingway discuss writing and craft, and gossip about their contemporaries.

I’m deeply honored that President Obama will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ by introducing it to a national audience. I believe it remains the best translation of a book to film ever made, and I’m proud to know that Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch lives on — in a world that needs him now more than ever.

Harper Lee, author, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Background: This Saturday President Obama will provide an introduction to USA Network’s 50th anniversary screening of To Kill a Mockingbird. The film is an adaptation of Lee’s only published book but one that won her a Pulitzer Prize and a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007 for her contributions to American literature.

Via Hollywood Reporter:

The film stars [Gregory] Peck as a lawyer in a small Alabama town who takes the tough case of a black man accused of raping a white woman. Told from the point of view of the attorney’s daughter, the novel is heralded as one of the first to portray America’s race issues frankly and remains on many schools’ mandatory reading lists.

The film was nominated for eight Oscars and went on to win three of the awards including Best Actor for Gregory Peck, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Art Direction.

The Life and Death of Words

Words, like plants and animals, fight for survival and an international group of scientists studying English, Spanish and Hebrew believe that many — in general — are dying off.

Their killer? Editors.

Via Statistical Laws Governing Fluctuations in Word Use from Word Birth to Word Death (PDF):

The modern era of publishing, which is characterized by more strict editing procedures at publishing houses, computerized word editing and automatic spell-checking technology, shows a drastic increase in the death rate of words. Using visual inspection we verify most changes to the vocabulary in the last 10–20 years are due to the extinction of misspelled words and nonsensical print errors, and to the decreased birth rate of new misspelled variations and genuinely new words.

The Guardian clarifies this a bit by killing off some difficult words of their own and getting straight to the point about how words live and how words die:

But it is not only “defective” words that die: sometimes words are driven to extinction by aggressive competitors. The word “Roentgenogram”, for example, deriving from the discoverer of the x-ray, William Röntgen, was widely used for several decades in the 20th century, but, challenged by “x-ray” and “radiogram”, has now fallen out of use entirely. X-ray had beaten off its synonyms by 1980, speculate the academics, owing to its “efficient short word length” and since the English language is generally used for scientific publication. “Each of the words is competing to be a monopoly on who gets to be the name,” [Joel] Tenenbaum told the American Physical Society.

The phrase “the great war”, meanwhile, used for a period to describe the first world war, fell out of use around 1939 when another war of equal proportions hit the world.

Takeaway: Language is a giant Darwinian battle for linguistic supremacy. Choose yours selectively. 

Video: MIT’s Erez Lieberman Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel illustrate what we can learn from analyzing 500 billion words via Google Books and its related Ngram Viewer which gives us the ability to enter words and phrases into a search engine in order to view their frequency over time.