Thursday, September 30, 2010

Most Accurate Science Fiction

From io9 - Six Scientists On The Most Accurate Science Fiction In Their Fields. Firefly gets a nod for not having warp engines, but loses points on artificial gravity. (I personally always liked that space didn't have pew-pew laser noises and explosions, though I half-remember reading something about how there would actually be sounds.) It's mostly compiled from movies and TV shows, but there are a few books mentioned - A Handmaid's Tale, the Dune series, and a mention of Asimov's robot series.

I really need to get around to reading some Asimov someday.

(PS, the first few books of Dune are pretty good, but it gets really weird further in. Really, really weird. Even taking into account Dune should be forgiven a few oddities merely for providing us with the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear - "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." - and walking without rhythm so you won't attract the worm.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

10 Greatest Archetypal Swords

Time to slap up a quick post to keep up that whole 'daily' requirement. (I am okay with doing multiple posts on some days as long as the little number in brackets next to the month in the archive list over to the right there matches the current date.)

For the fantasy geek: 10 Greatest Archetypal Swords. I'm fond of #7 when lightsabers are unavailable.

Lord Jesus Christ Banned

I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for a gimmicky story sometimes. Like this one about Lord Jesus Christ being banned from the library. I require more info, I don't know which side to be on!

Interviewed in his apartment, which is less than a half-mile away from the town library, Jesus Christ said that all he can conclude is he is being targeted by the library because of who he is.

“I’m black, I’m transsexual and my name is Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.

Library staff say Jesus Christ is 'very rude'.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sir Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett is one of my favourite authors. He's the creator of Discworld, a fantasy series with too many interesting and hilarious characters to count. His books take up the majority of one of my shelves; I own more books by him than I do any other author. And he got knighted! And then he forged himself a sword with meteorite ore! I love that guy.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Waldo Ultimatum

From Neatorama:

"He's at the North Pole, look up, idiot!"
"That's a giant candy cane!"

Also from Neatorama: Waldo on Google Street View.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Library Lovin'

From Jezebel, a short (really short) bit on libraries as nookie spots. I remember my Introduction to Library Science teacher in night school loved the Library of Congress poster pictured at the left. "It's an in-joke for librarians," she explained. "I've caught a few people doing it." (Paraphrased. It was a year ago!)

Here is a longer piece from Blast Magazine, which I had never heard of until now.

Just another thing to look forward to?

Things which are seen cannot be unseen!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Oompa-Loompas Were Black?

Apparently the Oompa-Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory used to be black pygmies but got turned white in later editions. That is not actually the point of the article linked.

The point of the article is to ask whether censoring a children's book can remove its prejudices and if it's right to do so.

In the case of Willy Wonka's slavery being shifted, I'm going to say I'd side with the changed version. As I understood it when my sister read it to me many, many years ago, Oompa-Loompas liked living in the factory and came from Loompaland in big boxes with holes so they could breathe. And that was okay; that made sense to me as a kid and was still entertaining. I went through most of my life thinking Willy Wonka was, if somewhat callous, at least at the core a decent guy. (It probably helped that I never saw the film version with the psychedelic boat trip, which was downright scary and there was a dead guy, what the heck was with that trauma?) I had plenty of time to learn about racism and slavery when I'd aged up a little more.

See also bowdlerising, named for Thomas Bowdler, 'to expurgate (a written work) by removing or modifying passages considered vulgar or objectionable.'

Happy Blogiversary

This blog turns one year old today!

Over the past year, I have blogged kind of almost sort of every day, with large gaps. I am talking to myself pretty much. The blog has been renamed once and moved once. A Twitter feed has been added, allowing me to talk to myself even more. Awesome!

(Also, hi Natasha if you actually did make good on your threatpromise to drop by.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Heathman Hotel Library

The Heathman Hotel in Portland, Oregon, has a collection of 4000 books, each signed by their author.

The hotel began collecting books in the mid-1980s, Erickson said, and the library opened in 1992.

"We found that many authors who came to Portland for readings and literary events stayed at the Heathman," he said. "We began having them sign a book to mark the occasion."

Five authors a week stay at the Heathman on average, Soprani said, so the collection continues to grow.

The majority of the collection is available to guests to take to their rooms to read.

All Those Years Shopping At Independent Bookstore Wasted

Another article from The Onion: All Those Years Shopping At Independent Bookstore Wasted.

"Countless hours wasted quietly browsing their shelves when I could have just ordered this shit for way cheaper online."

I laughed. Was it so I wouldn't cry? Let's go with that.

Maybe I Should Move to Calgary in a Couple of Years

The University of Alberta is compiling a video game library. It works just like any other library and has enclosed multimedia rooms where students and researchers can rock out with Rock Band or play other games. Which is pretty much awesome and wow now it's more tempting to live in Alberta!

I imagine a lot of technical expertise would be needed, like 'just blow on the cartridge' and identifying the inevitable red rings of death. AND I AM THERE.

Also awesome: Video Games and Young People: Learning, Literacy, and Libraries, a paper by Heather Robinson.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Talk Like a Pirate Day

'Tis a pitiful showin' on the blogs t'day fer Talk Like a Pirate Day! All ye librarrians must be swashin' their buckles an' such to post about it. Here be Matt Stagg's list o' pirate books over on Suvudu!

As fer meself, I be recommendin' 'On Stranger Tides' by Tim Powers fer yer readin' delight, an alternate history involvin' Blackbeard, voodoo magic, an' puppet shows.

Fer yer viewin' pleasure, here be Flickarrr's Talk Like a Pirate Day photostream.

I looted the Pirate Name Generator from Dundee City's library's page. 'Tis not Lagomorph Watson today, lads. 'Tis Gangrenous Evelyn Napier!

Bless the internet fer allowin' us our made-up holidays!


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bookstore Bingo

So apparently there's a hash tag on Twitter called #bookstorebingo. It was inspired by an article written for Shelf Awareness, Notes From An ER Bookseller, wherein the owner of a bookstore's wife was sick and her husband who normally worked in the ER filled in for her and kept notes of his interactions with people in the shop (not necessarily 'customers').

So nice the Huffington Post ran articles about it thrice. Looks like a lot of people ask who the author of Shakespeare is!

Counterpoint at And She Reads: Ramblings on the Book Industry.

I personally believe in the power of venting and also in sharing. Do not roll your eyes at the clients, however.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sweet Valley High Drinking Game

Oh, wow. My sister had a pretty long run of the Sweet Valley High books and I wound up reading them as a kid. They seemed okay at the time, even if they were girly (ewww), but in hindsight some of that stuff was just awful. Erin at Forever Young Adult has been rereading the books and reviewing them. With a drinking game!

I did not remember how crazy this stuff was.

Regina, having never experienced cocaine before even though her mom was a model and her parents are rich and she went to school with rich kids all her life, is all “why are you carrying around powdered sugar?” Everyone makes fun of her ignorance, which leads her to deciding to sample the cocaine. She snorts two lines, and then has a heart attack and dies.

Man, Regina Morrow kicking the bucket. That was maybe the one storyline that I can actually remember! It was sad, because Regina was so pretty. Or something like that. Anyway, if you ever read these books, this is hilarious. It's hilarious even if you just want to see what Young Adult fiction was like in the 80's. Not quite Degrassi crazy, but pretty crazy nonetheless.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stockton Upholds Book Ban on Sherman Alexie Book

The Stockton schoolboard in Springfield, Missouri, voted to continue to ban Sherman Alexie's "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian", stating the book had too much profanity to be of value. While the complaint was originally filed by an upset elementary school parent, the suggestion to move it to the high school library with restrictions.

"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" is about a young resident of an Indian reservation who decides to attend a white high school.

There are descriptions of masturbation, sexual language and foul jokes, along with themes encompassing racism, alcoholism and violence. There are also descriptions of how the protagonist, Junior, tries to realize his dreams while surviving both life on the reservation and at a new school.

Elementary school? Alright, I can see where that might ruffle a few feathers. On the other hand, who says younger kids can't benefit from a book acknowledging racism, alcoholism, and violence? Kids don't get the benefit of not dealing with these issues just because they're 'too young'; bad things happen and sometimes feeling like nobody else in the world has the same problems makes kids feel they're alone with their troubles.

High school, though, that's a different story. The profanity's nothing they haven't heard before. Ken Spurgeon, a board member, stated the book's reading level is low for high school students and that keeping it to encourage teenage boys to read was "dumbing down [their] educational standards".

Not everyone is a strong reader, even at high school level. I'd imagine that the older someone who reads poorly gets, the less likely they're going to pick up a book to read. Any reading is good, and so what if a teenager works his way up from low reading levels? He's working his way up. He has to start somewhere. He apparently can't start at the elementary level.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ottawa's Oldest Bookstore Closes

Leishman Books, Ottawa's oldest independent bookstore, is closing after 51 years. Have you ever felt guilty for ordering books online? I kind of do a little right now. I'd never even heard of the place before, though. I wonder how many little gems I'm missing?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Kate Beaton Does Nancy Drew

Too damn big to just post, but here: Kate Beaton draws comics based on the covers of old Nancy Drew novels. And then she does it again, but my favourite is still the first one.

"How do I get into the old person zoo?"

Fight for Libraries As You Do Freedom

Karen Slaughter wrote a moving piece for an Atlanta news site. In it, she explains why libraries have been so important in her own life and how it relates to her father's background.

My father and his eight siblings grew up in the kind of poverty that America doesn’t like to talk about unless something like Katrina happens, and then the conversation only lasts as long as the news cycle. His family squatted in shacks. The children scavenged the forest for food. They put cardboard over empty windowpanes so the cold wouldn’t kill them.

Books did not exist here. When your kids are starving, you can’t point with pride to a book you’ve just spent six hours reading. Picking cotton, sewing flour bags into clothes — those were the skills my father grew up appreciating.

And yet, when he noticed that I, his youngest daughter, showed an interest in reading, he took me to our local Jonesboro library and told me that I could read any book in the building so long as I promised to talk to him about it if I read something I didn’t understand. I think this is the greatest gift my father ever gave me. Though he was not a reader himself, he understood that reading is not just an escape. It is access to a better way of life.

I found that part quite touching. I want to be a part of stories like that, and by working as a library tech I can be. I grew up with all the books I wanted; I never even had to use a library. When my brother and sister and I went with our mother on a long shopping trip as kids our treat at the end of the day was picking a new book out. She'd just buy it for us, and that's how easy it was.

I know that not everyone is so privileged. I lucked out. I really did, and the thought that someone could be denied books and reading because of the issue of money makes me sad. Even with the educational and self-improvement aspects of the library aside, I would hate for anyone to be denied the pleasure of reading.

PS: Hello to anyone from class!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ebooks and Filetypes

I stole this from - a blog post by Jason Griffey explaining how DRM (Digital Rights Management) works with ebooks.

Instant Searching

Google Instant isn't really big news, though it does seem to be irritating people. Looks like a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to me; searches function like they always did, and sometimes it is faster to just pick one of the suggestions from the drop-down bar. Does it really save that much time? No. Has it been done before? Yes, actually.

Also amusing: the Google Instant Alphabet.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wikipedia Editing War on Iraq War... Now in Book Form

One Wikipedia page, a whole lot of edits, and now a series of books.

Of the printed collection, Bridle says: "It contains arguments over numbers, differences of opinion on relevance and political standpoints, and frequent moments when someone erases the whole thing and just writes 'Saddam Hussein was a dickhead'."

Of Wikipedia, Bridle says: "It's not only a resource for collating all human knowledge, but a framework for understanding how that knowledge came to be and to be understood; what was allowed to stand and what was not; what we agree on, and what we cannot."

James Bridle has taken edits made to the Wikipedia entry for the Iraq War from December 2004 to November 2009 and printed them in a series of books. That's over 1200 edits.

Saddam Hussein was a dickhead.

E-books in Prisons?

Judith Jordet's writes about her supervisor's suggestion to bring e-readers to the inmates in an article at

I immediately saw the advantage of e-books in the prison setting. If each inmate could have a library of over 1,000 titles in one small e-book reader, it would cut down on hiding contraband among the books (such as sandpaper to erase their uniform logo), remove the unsanitary habit of reading books in the rest-room, cut down on repairing books (averaging 20% or over 1,200 books destroyed each year), free up space by limiting the 3 X 8 foot long bookshelves that only hold 640 books for 100 inmates in each unit, encourage struggling readers to listen to a book while reading the text on the screen, and, finally, allow anyone to increase the size of the font so LARGE PRINT will never be limited to a few titles!

While I'm all for inmates reading, I'm not sure I'm all for inmates reading on fancy e-book readers. Jordet takes the time to explain the math, but I'll admit that some part of me balks at expensive gadgets getting handed out even at minimum security prisons, a sort of knee-jerk 'you don't get to have nice things!' reaction.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

WalMart's Little Black Book Section

At many area Walmarts, the book section is extremely well-organized.

The self-help books are here . . . the religion section is there . . . cooking and diet books farther down . . . and right over here is the black section.

You think I'm kidding?

At Walmart, apparently, skin color trumps all.

Bob Dyer, a Beacon Journal Columnist, writes about WalMart segregating titles by subjects' skin color. Not all of them, but 'many'. Whooooooa.

Is this just in the US? Does it happen in Canada?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Order in the Library Game

Order in the Library is a site with three games - a sorting game, a shelving game, and a rearrangement game, all as the tasks occur in a library setting, only with repetitive pointing and clicking instead of repetitive back strain. It amused me! Let it amuse you.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Just In Case You're Not Sure...

How to Open a New Book.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

13 Books Nobody's Read (But Say They Have)

Huffington Post lists 13 Books Nobody's Read (But Say They Have).

I will admit I have not read any of the books on that list, nor have I ever claimed to. I did try Don Quixote and Moby Dick and failed miserably. So miserably, in fact, that I didn't get far enough into either of them to even count myself as starting to read them.

S. R. Ranganathan's Five Laws of Library Science

Just a short (Wikipedia, I know) article about the 'Five Laws of Library Science' by S.R. Ranganathan. There are as follows:

  1. Books are for use.
  2. Every reader his [or her] book.
  3. Every book its reader.
  4. Save the time of the reader.
  5. The library is a growing organism.
See also: Five Laws of Library Science, Ebook Edition by LISNews contributor AndyW.

Local Fabric Store Urges You To Check Them Out on Twitter

While not an actual news source, The Onion is pretty funny and contains kernels of truth, such as this faux-article Local Fabric Store Urges You To Check Them Out On Twitter. They even have an actual Twitter account set up. And really, this blog's Twitter feed is not much better, if at all.

Morgan Rosenburg

On the subject of crazy books, please see Baltimore City Paper's story on Morgan Rosenburg by Blake De Pastino.

In a nutshell: this guy named Morgan Rosenburg who lies about himself a lot writes books about a fictional guy named Morgan Rosenburg who goes out, has sex with, and then kills women. With extreme, explicit violence. Seriously, that's some pretty nasty stuff just quoted in the article above.

Self-insertion stories are nothing new; people have been writing them for a long time, often creating fan fiction, stories set in the universes of popular TV shows. Some of the first appearances of fan fiction were based on the original Star Trek series, where there were few women in the cast. While some fan fiction is concerned with the stories of the setting, quite a bit is self-insertion and can get kind of disturbing. At first confined to mailing lists and the like, with the advent of the internet people's stories got an even bigger audience. And now with vanity publishing, just about anyone can release a book without the benefit of things like editors and psychiatrists. Morgan Rosenburg is one of those people!

Video Game Tie-In Books

There are lots of books out there written as promotional tie-ins with video games. Warcraft, HALO, and Dragon Age come to mind. In some video games the backstory is highly detailed and complex; those who enjoy the game might find the expanded stories interesting (I, for one, am tempted by the Dragon Age books, as I'm fond of the setting).

The quality of these books is usually pretty suspect, however (and that's one reason why I haven't read the Dragon Age novels). Sometimes it's hilariously suspect, like in Elemental: Destiny's Embers by Brad Wardell, reviewed by Unamommer here:

Now generally when you introduce an important character to the audience for the first time, you want to give a strong impression of that character, be it through personality or physical traits. This is what we get when pretty, pretty Princess Angenica is first introduced.

She was wearing a long cloak. Underneath it, he saw, was a dress.

The dress is actually my favorite character in the book. A few short pages later she is accosted by bad guys and they have a conversation about the dress. Her thoughts reveal to us the backstory and political importance of the dress. After she is rescued from the bad guys by the clever orphan boy she has a crush on and a handsome knight, she flings herself into her father’s arms while sobbing and he stops to notice the dress before noticing the knife wound on her neck. That’s how badass the dress is. Later in the story other dresses get introduced. The author even makes the mistake of trying to make them more attractive than the dress.

Yes, she had been wearing dresses those last few months at the Keep, but this was different. This was a gown. This was silk or something.

Silk or something can never stand up to the awesomeness of the dress and shame on the author for trying to steal its spotlight.

...Wow. Silk! Or something! I kind of want to read the book now.