Category Archives: Random&What

The Unbearable Ironies of Libraries in Wartime

Flavorwire

Yesterday we learned from Yahoo News! that ISIS has used improvised explosive devices to destroy several historic landmarks in the Iraqi city of Mosul, including the Mosul University Theater, the Church of Mary the Virgin, and the Mosul Public Library. In the case of the library, which is now offline, ISIS destroyed more than 8,000 items from a collection that includes “manuscripts from the eighteenth century, Syriac books printed in Iraq’s first printing house in the nineteenth century, books from the Ottoman era, Iraqi newspapers from the early twentieth century and some old antiques like an astrolabe and sand glass used by ancient Arabs.”

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Dr. Seuss: Politics in Children’s Literature

A R T L▼R K

On the 2nd of March 1904,the famous writer and illustratorTheodor Seuss Geisel, known as ‘Dr. Seuss’, was born in Footloose, Springfield, MA, USA. An Oxford University graduate, Geisel published 46 children’s books, characterized by imaginative characters and the use of anapestic meter – a breezy melodic rhythm for comic verse. His most celebrated books include Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax, Horton Hears a Who!, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. Most of them were adapted extensively to theatre, television and cinema. Geisel’s birthday, March 2, has been named National Read Across America Day by the U.S. National Education Association.

61yCZTz2T6LThe son of Lutheran German immigrants, Geisel was a liberal Democrat and a supporter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. In the early 1940s, before America became aware of the destructive power of…

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Jon Scieska & Lane Smith – Math Curse and Science Verse

The Book Wars

This week I present to you two books that are an interesting mix of nonsense and non-fiction. Math Curse and Science Verse, created by author/illustrator team Jon Scieska and Lane Smith, which, under the pretence of teaching maths and science embark on a fanciful, lyrical voyage into the minds of children as they grapple with concepts that seem to swallow life whole (or is it hole?). The books don’t exactly teach science and maths though there are certainly concepts, terms, numbers and equations in the mix. What they do do is do praise creative and whimsical thinking in combination with maths and science, the combine wordplay with these subjects and show that, with a dash of nonsense and wonder that perhaps… maths can be just a little fun? Afterall, haven’t we all wondered:

How many yards in a neighborhood? How many inches in a pint? How many feet in my shoes?

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Talking Tats with Taylor

The Hooch: News & Events

Our next special-focus issue, due out in January, is all aboutSkin. Eva Talmadge, co-author ofThe Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide, talks with editor Anna Schachner in the editor’s note, and so we asked co-authorJustin Taylorto give us some additional insight on what is fast becoming a subculture. First, a little about the book:

The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwideis a guide to the emerging subculture of literary tattoos—a collection of 100 full-color photographs of human skin indelibly adorned with quotations and images from Pynchon to Dickinson to Shakespeare to Plath. Packed with beloved lines of verse, literary portraits, and illustrations—and statements from the bearers on their tattoos’ history and the personal significance of the chosen literary work—The Word Made Flesh is part photo collection, part literary anthology written on skin.

Special features include a reprint of…

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Review #75: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat – Oliver Sacks

Life Flails

Rating:  3

This was my pick for psychology.  Not having a background in the field and lacking familiarity with the associated jargon, I was hoping to find a book that was pretty accessible to “everybody else”.  While Sacks has a tendency to throw names of disorders and other words around like I am supposed to know what they mean, for the most part this book still fit that bill.  The more necessary terms were explained in detail, and when all is said and done, this book is less about the disorders and more about the actual patients who suffered from them.

The book is broken into four parts: Losses, Excesses, Transports, and the World of the Simple.  The first two were the more interesting to me as they focus on patients dealing with problems you very rarely hear about, such as the sudden lack of ability to recognize your own…

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Words, Glorious Words

Eleventh Stack

Over the weekend, our friends at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the Oxford Dictionaries Online added some new words to its listings

More than 400 of them, give or take a few.

I always think of Ammon Shea whenever these sorts of announcements happen.

Reading the OED He’s the author ofReading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,710 Pages, an account of the year he spent reading the Oxford English Dictionary.

“If you are interested in vocabulary that is both spectacularly useful and beautifully useless, read on,” writes Ammon Shea in this wonderfully quirky book. “I have read the OED so that you don’t have to.”

Ammon Shea loves words. He also loves dictionaries, and has amassed quite the collection. “By last count, I have about a thousand volumes of dictionaries, thesauri, and assorted glossaries,” he writes, adding, somewhat unbelievably, that he doesn’t view these thousands volumes of dictionaries…

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Five Fascinating Facts about George Orwell’s 1984

Interesting Literature

1. George Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four was published on this day, 8 June, in 1949. But this wasn’t the original title of the novel. According to the introduction to the Penguin Classics edition, Orwell initially planned to set the novel in 1980; this then became 1982, and finally 1984 (or Nineteen Eighty-Four, as the title is usually rendered).

Orwell12. Orwell named Room 101 after a conference room in BBC Broadcasting House. In this room, during the Second World War, he had to sit through tedious meetings when he worked for the Ministry of Information. Indeed, the Ministry also served as the inspiration for the Ministry of Truth, where the novel’s protagonist, Winston Smith, works. ‘Room 101’ has, of course, entered wider linguistic use as a term for something containing one’s pet hates or worst fears. Although the novel also popularised the terms ‘thoughtcrime’ and ‘thought police’, these…

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William T. Vollmann’s Europe Central | A Short Riff on a Long Book

Biblioklept

Kilian Eng Kilian Eng

1. William T. Vollmann’s Europe Central,  811 pages in my Penguin trade paperback edition (including end notes), is a virtuoso attempt to describe or measure or assess or explain or analyze the Eastern front of WWII, a part of the war that in my American ignorance I know, or knew (no, know) so little about.

2. The book covers 1914-1975, most of the composer Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich’s life. If Europe Central has a hero, it is Shostakovich.

From the book’s last end note, “An Imaginary Love Triangle: Shostakovich, Karmen, Konstantinovaskya”:

When I think of Shostakovich, and when I listen to his music, I imagine a person consumed by fear and regret, a person who (like Kurt Gerstein) did what little he could to uphold the good—in this case, freedom of artistic creation, and the mitigation of other people’s emergencies. He became progressively more beaten down, and certainly experienced…

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