Friday, April 29, 2011

56 worst/best analogies of high school students

  1. Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center.

  2. He was as tall as a 6′3″ tree.

  3. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

  4. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

  5. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

  6. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

  7. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

  8. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

  9. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

  10. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.
46 more here

The Journal of Universal Rejection

About the Journal:

The founding principle of the Journal of Universal Rejection (JofUR) is rejection. Universal rejection. That is to say, all submissions, regardless of quality, will be rejected. Despite that apparent drawback, here are a number of reasons you may choose to submit to the JofUR:
• You can send your manuscript here without suffering waves of anxiety regarding the eventual fate of your submission. You know with 100% certainty that it will not be accepted for publication.

• There are no page-fees.

• You may claim to have submitted to the most prestigious journal (judged by acceptance rate).

• The JofUR is one-of-a-kind. Merely submitting work to it may be considered a badge of honor.

• You retain complete rights to your work, and are free to resubmit to other journals even before our review process is complete.

• Decisions are often (though not always) rendered within hours of submission.

There is no "X" in espresso

From Brian Jones Design

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The 15 most famous cafés in the literary world

From the site:
Some of the most famous novels and literary moments of all time were written and inspired by cafes in Europe. From the American ex-pat writers in Paris to Henrik Ibsen's continental travels, cafes were a place to work while socializing, building stories, and of course, eating and drinking. Full list at the above link.
Found via Libraryland

Stephen King at 14

Click to enlarge

The above submission letter, written by an aspiring author aged just 14, arrived at the offices of Spacemen Magazine in 1961 and was accompanied by a copy of The Killer, Stephen's latest short story. It was rejected, but the editor did see fit to run it 33 years later.

Found at Letters of Note.

Edible Books

Apparently this is quite popular.

Essay on the Essays of Francis Bacon: Bacon, Eggs, Scallions, Cheese

An Edible Odyssey: Phylo Dough, Baklava, Graham Crackers

More here, here, and here. Just Google for many, many more.

Friday, April 22, 2011

If a paper is peer reviewed does that mean it's correct?

In a word, nope.

Click the above link for an excellent analysis and commentary over at Boing Boing. And pop over here to see what we said about it back in 2008.

Infographic: What a demographically representative Congress would look like

America is getting more and more diverse—for instance, our Hispanic population grew by 43 percent in the past decade alone—but you'd never be able to tell it by looking at our Congress. Here's what the House and Senate look like today, and what they would look like if they were demographically representative of our nation.

Click to enlarge

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Infographic: The world's resources by country

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Amazon announces Kindle lending library

Amazon today announced Kindle Library Lending, a new feature launching later this year that will allow Kindle customers to borrow Kindle books from over 11,000 libraries in the United States. Kindle Library Lending will be available for all generations of Kindle devices and free Kindle reading apps.
"We're excited that millions of Kindle customers will be able to borrow Kindle books from their local libraries," said Jay Marine, Director, Amazon Kindle. "Customers tell us they love Kindle for its Pearl e-ink display that is easy to read even in bright sunlight, up to a month of battery life, and Whispersync technology that synchronizes notes, highlights and last page read between their Kindle and free Kindle apps."
Customers will be able to check out a Kindle book from their local library and start reading on any Kindle device or free Kindle app for Android, iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, PC, Mac, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone. If a Kindle book is checked out again or that book is purchased from Amazon, all of a customer's annotations and bookmarks will be preserved.

Full press release available at: Endgadget

Frank Gehry's latest creation

Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health

Books by tyrants

"Hallucinogenic stream of consciousness", "Erotic allegorical fiction", "Revolutionary film criticism" - these are descriptives offered by Foreign Policy in an online article titled Bad Politics, Worse Prose in which is offered commentary and excerpt from such historical tomes as Muammar al-Qaddafi's the Green Book and its sequel Escape to Hell and Kim Jong Il's rambling Our Socialism Centered on the Masses Shall Not Perish.

Found at Boing Boing

We are going to miss almost everything

Writing for NPR, Linda Holmes has offered a pointed little piece that eloquently points out that there is simply no way you will ever experience the vast majority of the world's books, music, films, television and art. It is simply numbers and there is just not enough time.

An excerpt:
The vast majority of the world's books, music, films, television and art, you will never see. It's just numbers.

Consider books alone. Let's say you read two a week, and sometimes you take on a long one that takes you a whole week. That's quite a brisk pace for the average person. That lets you finish, let's say, 100 books a year. If we assume you start now, and you're 15, and you are willing to continue at this pace until you're 80. That's 6,500 books, which really sounds like a lot.

Let's do you another favor: Let's further assume you limit yourself to books from the last, say, 250 years. Nothing before 1761. This cuts out giant, enormous swaths of literature, of course, but we'll assume you're willing to write off thousands of years of writing in an effort to be reasonably well-read.

Of course, by the time you're 80, there will be 65 more years of new books, so by then, you're dealing with 315 years of books, which allows you to read about 20 books from each year. You'll have to break down your 20 books each year between fiction and nonfiction – you have to cover history, philosophy, essays, diaries, science, religion, science fiction, westerns, political theory ... I hope you weren't planning to go out very much.

The remainder is at the link.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

American literature awards

Links to Wikipedia articles about American literature awards:

From Word Painting via Libraryland

Anniversary of the OED

On this date in 1928, the final volume of the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary was published. The original estimate was that the complete four-volume set would take ten years; when it took five years to get to "ant," the editors knew they had underestimated spectacularly. They also did not know that they were being significantly helped by a contributor from the insane asylum.

Full story at Today in literature.

Simple animations to explain complex principles

A sewing machine:

Many more here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

eBooks dominate the book trade

According to a report released today by the Association of American Publishers, e-Books have once again enjoyed triple-digit percentage growth, 202.3%, vs February 2010.

According to Tom Allen, President and Chief Executive Officer of AAP,
“The February results reflect two core facts: people love books and publishers actively serve readers wherever they are. The public is embracing the breadth and variety of reading choices available to them. They have made e-Books permanent additions to their lifestyle while maintaining interest in print format books.”
More details at the link.

Infographc: Color preferences by gender

Click to enlarge
Much, much more here.

Some startling statistics


1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.
80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
57 percent of new books are not read to completion.
70 percent of books published do not earn back their advance.
70 percent of the books published do not make a profit.

More at the link.

Does anyone want to be "well-read?"

Roger Ebert has a wonderful little essay over at his blog decrying the sad state of reading (or lack thereof). According to the Jenkins Group, 80 percent of families in the United States did not buy a single book last year. By the time people graduate from college, 42 percent of them will not even bother to read another book!


He quotes Cynthia Ozick from a recent issue of The New Republic:
"Consider: who at this hour (apart from some professorial specialist currying his "field") is reading Mary McCarthy, James T. Farrell, John Berryman, Allan Bloom, Irving Howe, Alfred Kazin, Edmund Wilson, Anne Sexton, Alice Adams, Robert Lowell, Grace Paley, Owen Barfield, Stanley Elkin, Robert Penn Warren, Norman Mailer, Leslie Fiedler, R.P. Blackmur, Paul Goodman, Susan Sontag, Lillian Hellman, John Crowe Ransom, Stephen Spender, Daniel Fuchs, Hugh Kenner, Seymour Krim, J.F. Powers, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Rahv, Jack Richardson, John Auerbach, Harvey Swados--or Trilling himself?"
Who indeed. I can count only five that are familiar to me. I need to remedy that.

PC growth rates 2009-2011

The bottom line is that Windows-only computer units are down 2.0% while OSX-based computer units are up 272% (this excludes both the iPhone and iPod touch). The Mac has been beating the overall PC industry in terms of growth for 18 consecutive quarters. But if you count the iPad too, the difference is just astounding (the orange line).

Click to enlarge

Analysis here

The Mountain: Shot atop El Teide, Spain´s highest mountain

You really should view in "full-screen" mode:

BiebBus: Amazing Dutch Children's Library

Mobile libraries are not a new concept -- but this converted shipping container that can transform to double its size certainly is. Conceived to help support local Dutch schools that lack the funds or space for a library, the BiebBus can pull in, pop up, and let kids explore, read and learn. The design is also a lot of fun -- with a transparent floor that magnifys, cool lights, and huge portals for kids to see out.

More info and pics.

Found via Book Patrol

Custom book end table

Provide the dimensions of your favorite stack of books to San Francisco-based furniture maker Jane Dandy, and she’ll create a wooden side table that perfectly encases them perfectly. (via svpply)

Friday, April 15, 2011

A map of American gastronomy

Click to enlarge
Available for purchase at Etsy

Why the internet is no substitute for the library

Not sure I agree with every point (especially #6), but some good points here...

Click to enlarge

Found at Boing Boing via Seth Godin who references this book

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tree of Codes: the making of a die-cut book

Jonathan Safran Foer wanted to try out die-cutting technique as a different way of telling a story. Having thought about working with various other texts, Jonathan decided to cut into and out of what he calls his “favorite book”: The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz. To create Tree of Codes each page featured a different die-cut. His publisher, Visual Editions worked with Die Keure in Belgium to produce the book, having been turned down by every other printer they approached – frequently with claims of "this book can't be made" ringing in their ears. It is literally a book sculpted from another book.

Here is a brief video of the book's production:

And a video of peoples' reaction to the book upon seeing it for the first time:

New Trove of Walt Whitman Documents Discovered in the National Archives

Found at The Proverbial Lone Wolf Librarian

The Hobbit: Intro to the film in production

Old photos of famous people

The collection is here. (There are a couple of nudes so be warned)

Books for walls

A New York Japanese restaurant, Brushstroke, has put 12,000 boring old paperbacks to good use as the walls in the bar/lounge. I guess that is a good idea. I am wondering what will happen when the first customer pulls one from the stack. Their prix fixe $85 menu

Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede

Bradley Denton's hilarious comic novel Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede is becoming a big-budget science fiction movie.

The plot: Oliver Vale, whose Mother truly loved Buddy Holly, is watching a movie delivered by his satellite dish when the transmission is interrupted by a shot of a young Bully Holly stnding in a strange alien world holding a guitar. Holly reads a sign hanging from the camera in front of him, and it says, "For assistance, contact Oliver Vale." And then he reads out Oliver's home address.

At that moment, the Buddy Holly transmission which is originating from Ganymede, one of Jupiter's moons, is playing on every cable, satellite TV and radio station in the world. People get angry when you mess with their TV.

So, Oliver jumps on his vintage motorcycle and sets off on a mission to exhume Holly's body to prove it is still on Earth, and not playing guitar in orbit around Jupiter.

Hilarity ensues....

The book is long out of print, but Denton has made it available through Creative Commons license as a free PDF download here:
Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede PDFs: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede PDFs (Coral cache mirrors): Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Here is the trailer:

Info found at and pretty-well stolen from Boing Boing

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

People often say, "Don't judge a book by its cover", but this time I did. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children has not yet been released, but the cover and the synopsis on Amazon was enough for me to pre-order. Frankly, I can't wait!
A mysterious island, an abandoned orphanage and a strange collection of very curious photographs makes Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here—one of whom was his own grandfather—were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

Back cover. Click to enlarge.

Mark Twain's letter to Walt Whitman on his 70th birthday

Click images to enlarge. Transcript below:

Hartford, May 24/89

To Walt Whitman:

You have lived just the seventy years which are greatest in the world’s history & richest in benefit & advancement to its peoples. These seventy years have done much more to widen the interval between man & the other animals than was accomplished by any five centuries which preceded them.

What great births you have witnessed! The steam press, the steamship, the steel ship, the railroad, the perfected cotton-gin, the telegraph, the phonograph, the photograph, photo-gravure, the electrotype, the gaslight, the electric light, the sewing machine, & the amazing, infinitely varied & innumerable products of coal tar, those latest & strangest marvels of a marvelous age. And you have seen even greater births than these; for you have seen the application of anesthesia to surgery-practice, whereby the ancient dominion of pain, which began with the first created life, came to an end in this earth forever; you have seen the slave set free, you have seen the monarchy banished from France, & reduced in England to a machine which makes an imposing show of diligence & attention to business, but isn’t connected with the works. Yes, you have indeed seen much — but tarry yet a while, for the greatest is yet to come. Wait thirty years, & then look out over the earth! You shall see marvels upon marvels added to these whose nativity you have witnessed; & conspicuous above them you shall see their formidable Result — Man at almost his full stature at last! — & still growing, visibly growing while you look. In that day, who that hath a throne, or a gilded privilege not attainable by his neighbor, let him procure his slippers & get ready to dance, for there is going to be music. Abide, & see these things! Thirty of us who honor & love you, offer the opportunity. We have among us 600 years, good & sound, left in the bank of life. Take 30 of them — the richest birth-day gift ever offered to poet in this world — & sit down & wait. Wait till you see that great figure appear, & catch the far glint of the sun upon his banner; then you may depart satisfied, as knowing you have seen him for whom the earth was made, & that he will proclaim that human wheat is more than human tares, & proceed to organize human values on that basis.

Mark Twain

From Letters of Note via Artemis Dreaming.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April 12, 1861 the American Civil War began

On this day in 1861, the bloodiest four years in American history begin when Confederate shore batteries under General P.G.T. Beauregard open fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina's Charleston Bay. During the next 34 hours, 50 Confederate guns and mortars launched more than 4,000 rounds at the poorly supplied fort. On April 13, U.S. Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort. Two days later, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to quell the Southern "insurrection."

And that is reason enough to remember Shelby Foote:

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Inflatable Crowd. Who knew?

Did you ever wonder how and where movie producers obtain those huge crowds that are featured in some movies? Of course many today are computer generated, but there is still a huge demand for an inflatable crowd!

Understanding copyright

Rock the Drop: Teen Lit Day

Click to enlarge and download

Librarians all across the country are encouraged to participate in Support Teen Literature Day on April 14 2011 by hosting events in their library or through their web site on that day. The purpose of this celebration is to raise awareness among the general public that young adult literature is a vibrant, growing genre with much to offer today's teens. Support Teen Literature Day also seeks to showcase some award-winning authors and books in the genre as well as highlight librarians' expertise in connecting teens with books and other reading materials.

Here's how you can get involved:

* Snag the banner above, created by David Ostow (who blogs hilarious cartoons here), and add it to your website proclaiming that you will indeed ROCK THE DROP!

* Print a copy of the bookplate below and insert it into a book (or 10!) that you'll drop on April 14th. Drop a book in a public spot (park bench, bus seat, restaurant counter?) and you're done. Lucky finders will see that the book is part of ROCK THE DROP!

* Snap a photo of your drop and email readergirlz AT gmail DOT com with the pic -- she'll be posting lots of pictures of drops happening all over the world at the readergirlz blog!

Imagine people around the globe finding copies of amazing books in unexpected places, gifted out of love for YA lit. Everyone can participate to raise awareness of the day!

Check out this awesome Rock the Drop video

Yerba Maté

I was introduced to Yerba Maté over the weekend. I was invited to a 4-day event where the herb is prominently featured.

The herb is used to prepare an infusion called maté by steeping dry leaves (and twigs) of yerba maté in hot water, rather than in boiling water. Drinking maté with friends from a shared hollow gourd with a metal straw is a common social practice in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru and Chile. It has also been cultivated in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

I found the brew to be paradoxically stimulating and relaxing. It is not at all intoxicating, though there is a small caffeine kick. It is said to be quite medicinal and healthful. The taste is quite herbal and reminded me of Chinese gunpowder tea. In fact, I enjoyed the experience so much that I ordered a kilo from Amazon. (I get no compensation from Amazon - just thought you'd appreciate a link)


Click to enlarge

I snapped this pic with my iPhone 4 while at a friend's house over the weekend. It was too pretty not to share.

Caña Flecha, Columbian Tribes and Handbags

I attended a wonderful event at a friend's house in south Florida over the weekend and met two most amazing ladies. Alexandra and Paola are from Columbia and are doing wonderful things to promote and preserve the ancient and rich culture of their homeland through their company Cordobags.

On a trip home some years ago they stumbled upon a line of woven products - bags, hats, mats and such - that were woven of natural materials by an indigenous matriarchal tribe, the Wayuu. Upon returning home the bags they purchased brought so much attention and favorable comment that the ladies decided to develop a market for the goods. They have developed and nurtured a beautiful relationship between themselves and the native artisans. Together they design, produce and market some of the most beautiful objects I have ever seen.

According to legend, the Wayuu weaving tradition comes from Wale´kerü, a spider that taught the women how to weave. The life experiences of the Wayuu women are expressed in the many shades and shapes of their weaving. For Wayuu women, their mochila (shown above left), a kind of knapsack, is not just a bag, but a carrier of their identity. Women rule and live around weaving in a literal and metaphorical sense: they are the threads that unite families and clans. Each mochila takes one woman an average of 20 days to create.

The Caña Flecha collections are crafted by the Zenu Tribe. Caña Flecha is a type of palm which the natives grow on their land without fertilizer and in most cases, the Caña Flecha is then dyed by fruits, vegetables, and plants. Once it is dried the artisans use a technique of braiding the palm that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Production of the bags is a family activity. Alexandra and Paola are solely responsible for providing these skilled artists access to a market for their goods. They help the artisans grow by teaching them business skills, bringing the tribes clothing, shoes and toys and helping them with community improvement projects.

Alexandra and Paola are obviously pursuing this endeavor for their own business reasons, but their dedication to their heritage and their native culture is sincere and their love for and attention to their artisan friends is to be commended. Check out their site.