Friday, December 16, 2011

A 31 word short story by Arthur C. Clarke

Cover Letter

This is the only short story I've written in ten years or so.

I think you'll agree that they don't come much shorter.

(Signed, 'Arthur C Clarke')

21 Mar 84

(Appearing in Analog, ? 1984)

© Arthur C Clarke 1984

The Story

Arthur C Clarke

And God said: DELETE lines One to Aleph. LOAD. RUN.
And the Universe ceased to exist.

Then he pondered for a few aeons, sighed, and added: ERASE.
It never had existed.

From Letters of Note.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Porttrait of a Bookshelf

New York-based artist Jane Mount has created Ideal Bookshelves for all types of readers–literary scholars, arm-chair travelers, poetry lovers, biography buffs, and Hunger Games fans. And earlier this year, the Davidson grad inked a deal with Little Brown to turn her Ideal Bookshelf series into an Ideal Bookshelf book.

Several more examples and ordering instructions over at Garden and Gun MAgazine

The oldest piano shop in Paris (video)

Dogs in cars (video) - very cute

Friday, December 09, 2011

The Books They Gave Me

The Books They Gave Me is a delightful blog wherein one can post a short narrative about and image of a seminal book given by someone loved - or once loved. The stories are sometimes sad, often inspiring and every now and then downright funny.


He was my sweetheart all through high school. Not much of a reader, but a hopeless romantic, always leaving notes and presents in my locker. We had very different plans for life after high school; he was enlisting and I was going to college. He had your typical fantasy: a house with a white picket fence, and he would come home to dinner on the table and children there to greet him. I wanted to chain myself to trees in the rain-forests of Brazil. It was easy to put these things away when we were in high school; I mean, why worry about what’s happening in 4 years when we have now and we love each other?
The day before I was set to move into my dorm, he came to my house and gave me this book. I was speechless as I opened it, wondering what he meant by it. His chicken-scratch handwriting on the inside cover: “We’re going to get married and have babies. You are my one and only.”

I knew at that moment that we could not be together. What was real had been made into a fantasy by time and false hope.
When I looked up from the book, he was on one knee, with a ring (it was really just a piece of costume jewelry) in his hand.
He took the book with him when he stormed out my house. We haven’t spoken since.

Many more at the link.

Found via Coudal Partners

Polish Cold War Neon Signs

‘Polish neon signage was renowned for its outstanding technical and artistic qualities. These signs originally were an attempt to increase consumerism in the time of economic standstill in Poland. Author Ilona Karwinska collects her own stunning photographs, archival images, original neon designs, and interviews with their designers to reveal the untold story of Polish Neon.’

- Polish Cold War Neon

Many more over at The Retronaut

Thursday, December 08, 2011

From Frida Kahlo to Freud, Finger Puppets of Cultural Icons

The Philosophers Guild has debuted a delightful series of finger puppets depicting iconic individuals from mono-browed Frida Khalo to an anxious-looking Sigmund Freud.  Perfect stocking stuffers.

Andy Warhol

Vincent Van Gogh

Siegfried Freud

The Buddha

Charlie Chaplin

Mahatma Gandhi

Che Guevara

Sherlock Holmes


Albert Einstein

Frida Kahlo

Future Fossils: A reminder of our own technosphere's doomed frailty.

From Boing Boing.
The Bughouse Future Fossils series are a set of highly detailed, weathered concrete castings of near-contemporary technology, from DJ turntables to film cameras to Atari joysticks. They're a nice memento mori -- a weighty-but-whimsical reminder of our own technosphere's doomed frailty.
Several more at the link.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Now You Can Sleep Inside a Giant Book

FieldCandy has designed its Fully Booked tent to look like an open book. Lots of other interesting and clever designs there, too.

Via Gizmodo.

Edmund Wilson Regrets....

Literary critic Edmund Wilson found himself forever responding to mail, to the point where he wasn't able to focus on his work. His eventual solution was to send the following — a list of things it was impossible for him to do — to all who contacted him with a request he couldn't fulfil.

Unluckily for Wilson, news of his unique rejection list quickly circulated, and he was soon inundated with requests for the rejection itself.

From Lists of Note.

Flipboard launches on iPhone, iPod Touch, introduces 'Cover Stories' feature

Flipboard has now arrived on a slightly smaller board. Previously available as an iPad-only affair, the popular magazine and social media app has now launched on both the iPhone and iPod Touch, bringing graphics-laden aggregation to a wider swath of the iOS community. This new universal version features much of the same functionality you'll find on its iPad predecessor, along with a new Cover Stories interface, which collects and displays all your recent photo uploads, shared articles and status updates from select social networks. If you're intrigued, you can download it for free at the source link, below.

(Via Engadget.)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Instantly Redecorating a Living Room with Video Mapping

In this video by Dutch lighting design team Mr. Beam, a living room appears to undergo a series of instantaneous decor redesigns. The incredibly clever effect was created by using two video projectors to map different sets of decor on an all-white living room set. Mr. Beam is made up of artists Mo Assem and Ruben van Esterik.

From Laughing Squid via The Awesomer.

Kadinchey: A remix of sights and sounds recorded around Bhutan.

Delightful! "Kadinchey" in Bhutanese means "Thank You"! Enjoy!

Four million children in the UK do not own a book

The BBC is reporting that almost four million children in the UK do not own a book, according to research done by the National Literacy Trust.
The proportion of children without books is increasing, the charity said. It is now one in three, compared with one in 10 in 2005.

Children with their own books were more likely to be above-average readers and do better at school, the study of 18,000 children suggested.

Poorer children and boys were less likely to have books, it added.

The survey was carried out in September with school-aged children from 111 schools across the UK. It suggested that a third (33.2%) did not have books of their own. That translates to 3.8m children UK-wide. Better off children and young people were more likely to say they had books of their own, compared with those who received free school meals.

'Missing opportunities'

Trust director Jonathan Douglas said the steep rise in the number of children without their own books was of particular concern. He said: "We know there is a direct correlation between book ownership and children's reading abilities.

Children's illustrators donated card designs to the literacy appeal
"With one in 6 in the UK struggling with literacy it is very worrying that many children could be missing out on opportunities to develop these essential skills."

The trust said that children who owned books were more likely than others to read every day, and that book ownership had a clear link with reading ability.

Of the children and young people with books of their own, more than half read above the level expected for their age, with fewer than one in 10 reading below the level.

By contrast, among those without books of their own, nearly a fifth were failing to meet the expected reading level, with only a third reading above that level.

The trust launched the survey to coincide with an appeal for public donations towards books and reading support for disadvantaged children.

A number of children's book illustrators have designed cards to support the trust's Christmas Gift of Reading campaign.

The survey also revealed links between reading ability and receiving books as presents.

About a fifth of children said they had never been to a book shop or a library.

But the survey also showed that reading any type of material, for example magazines, outside class at least once a month was also associated with greater reading attainment.

The Kindle Fire is definitely NOT ready for prime time.

A few weeks ago I posted here my initial assessment of the newly released Kindle Fire. I was underwhelmed and sent the unit back after about a week. Since then I have read many other reviews of the device. While most were not quite as damning as mine, I have been eagerly awaiting Jakob Nielsen's review. Dr. Nielsen holds a Ph.D. in human-computer interaction from the Technical University of Denmark in Copenhagen. He is a User Advocate and principal of the Nielsen Norman Group which he co-founded with Dr. Donald A. Norman (former VP of research at Apple Computer). Before starting NNG in 1998 he was a Sun Microsystems Distinguished Engineer. He is widely considered "The King of Usability".

And, he didn't like it either, saying:
  • It is heavy and awkward to hold
  • Everything is much too small on the screen, leading to frequent tap errors and accidental activation.
  • The lack of button controls is just wrong.

  • The magazine reading experience could be good but actually is miserable.

  • Screen updates are too slow.

  • And, generally, the Kindle Fire suffers from plain old bad UI design in many areas

You can read the entire review here.

Monday, December 05, 2011

'84 Charing Cross Road' revisited

84, Charing Cross Road is a 1970 book by Helene Hanff, later made into a stage play, television play and film, about the twenty-year correspondence between her and Frank Doel, chief buyer of Marks & Co, antiquarian booksellers located at the eponymous address in London, England.

Hanff, in search of obscure classics and British literature titles she had been unable to find in New York City, noticed an ad in the Saturday Review of Literature and first contacted the shop in 1949, and it fell to Doel to fulfill her requests. In time, a long-distance friendship evolved, not only between the two, but between Hanff and other staff members as well, with an exchange of Christmas packages, birthday gifts, and food parcels to compensate for post-World War II food shortages in England. Their letters included discussions about topics as diverse as the sermons of John Donne, how to make Yorkshire Pudding, the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the coronation of Elizabeth II.

The Telegraph has a charming article recalling the correspondence that is well worth a read.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Text messaging turns 19: Who knew? (infographic)

History of Text Messaging Timeline

From Tatango.

Libraries: Where It All Went Wrong

Nathan Torkington has published the text of his address the National and State Librarians of Australasia on the eve of their strategic planning meeting in Auckland at the start of November this year. It is his contention that libraries aren’t the great sources of knowledge and information on the web that they were in the pre-Internet days. This should pique your interest:
Libraries are like Microsoft.

At one point you had a critical role: you were one of the few places to conduct research. When academics and the public needed to do research into the documentary record, they’d come to you. As you now know, that monopoly has been broken.

The Internet, led by Google, is the start and end of most people’s research. It’s good enough to meet their needs, which is great news for the casual researcher but bad news for you.

Now they don’t think of you at all.

Oh yes, I know all the reasons why the web and Google are no replacement for a healthy research library. I know the critical importance of documentary heritage. But it’s not me you’re talking to at budget time. It’s the public, through the politicians.

They love public libraries, in our country at least. Every time a council tries to institute borrowing fees or close libraries, they get shot down. But someone tries, at least once a year. And England is a cautionary tale that even public libraries aren’t safe.

You need to be useful as well as important. Being useful helps you to be important. You need a story they can understand about why you’re funded.

Oh, I know, you have thought about digital a lot. You’ve got digitisation projects. You’re aggregating metadata. You’re offering AnyQuestions-type services where people can email a librarian.

But these are bolt-ons. You’ve added digital after the fact. You probably have special digital groups, probably (hopefully) made up of younger people than the usual library employee.

Congratulations, you just reproduced Microsoft’s strategy: let’s build a few digital bolt-ons for our existing products. Then let’s have some advance R&D guys working on the future while the rest of us get on with it. But think about that for a second. What are the rest of us working on, if those young kids are working on the future? Ah, it must be the past.

So what you’ve effectively done is double-down on the past.
You can read the entire essay online here, or download the PDF here.

Text reproduced under Creative Commons by Share Alike.

Blackstock's Collections: The Drawings of an Artistic Savant

Modern life is an ever-accelerating barrage of people, buildings, vehicles, creatures, and things. How much can a curious mind take in? And what can it do with all the data? Gregory L. Blackstock, a retired Seattle pot washer, draws order out of all the chaos with a pencil, a black marker, and some crayons.
Blackstock is autistic and an artistic savant. He creates visual lists of everything from wasps to hats to emergency vehicles to noisemakers. In the spirit of the Outsider art of Henry Darger and Howard Finster, Blackstock makes art that is stirring in its profusion and detail and inspiring in its simple beauty. He has never received formal artistic training, yet his renderings clearly and beguilingly show subtle differences and similaritiesenabling the viewer to see, for example, the distinctive features of a dolly varden, a Pacific Coast steelhead cutthroat, and fourteen other types of trout.

Each collection is lovingly captioned in Blackstock's unique hand with texts that reflect facts from his research as well as his passions and preferences. Blackstock's Collections contains over 100 extraordinary examples of his splendidly original taxonomy, offering a unique look inside the mind of a man making sense of life through art. His collected drawings include:

  • Monsters of the Deep
  • Major Forestry Pests
  • The Great Cabbage Family
  • The Spatulas
  • The World War II U.S. Bombers
  • The Buoys
  • King Sized Jails
  • Monsters of the Past
  • Classical Clowns
  • Great Italian Roosters
  • Our State Lighthouses, and
  • The Irish Joys

Click images to enlarge

Hogwarts library date due card

Even after consulting several librarians here we could not think of an "official" name for these wonderful little cards that resided in pockets in the front of books in the days before computers, so we called it the "check-out card". Turns out it is actually called a "date due card". Thanks Brodart.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Linda Ronstadt Announces Memoir 'Heart Like A Wheel'

Linda Ronstadt was one of the most popular musical artists of her generation, and she's going to tell it all in a new memoir for Simon & Schuster.

The publisher announced today that it had acquired her autobiography, titled "Heart Like a Wheel," named after her Grammy-winning album.

Ronstadt sold tens of millions of records starting in the 1970s with pop hits like "You're No Good" and "When Will I Be Loved." But she also segued into country, pop standards, among other genres.

Fascinating short documentary of Steve Jobs' NeXT years

Fascinating insight into Job's management style and entrepreneurial insight. I have never seen Jobs in "action" and this is very cool.

Found at Boing Boing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

BMW Book Lets Fans Read While Driving

BMW Group is celebrating its 40 years of global cultural engagement efforts with the launch of a limited-edition branded book called “Culture.” The book, a joint project between the automaker and graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister, consists of photos that present the history of BMW’s corporate cultural and sponsorship efforts. The back of the book also doubles as a small remote-control car motor that lets readers “drive” the book.

BMW will only be producing and distributing 1,488 copies of Culture, with every copy numbered, emphasizing its rarity and exclusivity.

Via psfk.

Inside the libraries of famous writers (photo set)

Click images to enlarge
Eudora Welty’s library in Jackson, Mississippi. Photo by Susana Raab.

Rudyard Kipling’s study in Naulakha.

Keith Richards is now the author of a much-acclaimed memoir, which makes him a legitimate writer in our book.

17 more at Flavorwire.

On the 111 anniversary of the death of Oscar Wilde a video commentary

111 years ago today Oscar Wilde died and the world lost one of its greatest writers. This fascinating 1997 documentary from Omnibus traces Wilde’s life, loves, and legacy, from his intellectual upbringing to his imprisonment for being openly gay. The film features cameos from Stephen Fry, who played Wilde in the film of the same title, Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant, and prolific British playwright Tom Stoppard, who explore what made Wilde the 20th century’s first true pop celebrity.

Found at Brain Pickings

Happy Birthday Mark Twain

Click to enlarge

From Google.

Neil Gaiman offers advice to young writers (short video)

Neil Richard Gaiman is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. His notable works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. Gaiman's writing has won numerous awards, including Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker, as well as the 2009 Newbery Medal and 2010 Carnegie Medal in Literature. He is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work. In this brief video he offers advice to young writers (which is, bascially, WRITE!)

Via Libraryland.

Triton Color E Ink may revolutionize eReaders (video)

The Florida Disabled Outdoors Association: Please follow on Twitter

I am fortunate to be associated with the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association. They have just launched their Twitter account and they need followers. I suspect there will be less than two or three posts per day, but a larger following would help them immensely with funding requests.

Please follow at: FDOA7 It would mean a lot to me personally if you would give them a hand and pass it on! Thanks to you all!

Since it’s inception in 1990, the FDOA has promoted accessible recreation to persons with disabilities as well as the general public through special events, newsletters and community education.

The FDOA has been instrumental in many successful projects and programs with agencies that include:

  • U.S. Fish and wildlife Service – accessibility training for wildlife refuge managers from fifteen states.
  • Saint Marks Wildlife Refuge – designed and implemented mobility impaired hunting program and FDOA volunteers host the event every year; consulted for design of courtesy boat dock facility.
  • Florida Department of Environment Protection – consulted and assisted in the creation of ADA compliance and self-evaluation program.
  • Department of Environmental Protection /Parks and Recreation – assisted in on-site evaluation of all District II State Parks. Served on strategic planning committee; member state park group- users advisory board; ADA committee member for Friends of State Parks.
  • Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission – assisted in evaluation and consultation of accessible state boat ramps, assisted in design of accessible fishing facilities; also directly responsible for development and expansion of mobility impaired hunt program.
  • Florida Water Management Districts and Eglin Air Force Base – initiated and assisted in development of mobility impaired hunt programs.
  • Hands Helping Anglers – as a committee member, expanded fishing derby for disabled anglers, now over fifty per year.
  • City of Tallahassee Parks and Recreation – assisted in self-evaluation of city parks and facilities.
  • City of Tallahassee Citizens ADA Advisory and Compliance Board- contributed to ADA transition plan

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kerouac's 'lost' debut novel is published 70 years after its conception at sea

The American beat generation author Jack Kerouac is said to have spent just eight days on active service in the US merchant marines on board the SS Dorchester in 1942; but his short stay furnished him with notes for his first novel and, after nearly 70 years, it has now been published for the first time.

The 158-page The Sea is my Brother, a tale of two young men serving on a voyage from Boston to Greenland, has been known about for some time, but is being described by Penguin, its publisher, as "a unique insight into the young Kerouac and the formation of his genius".

The author himself apparently noted: "It's a crock [of s@#t] as literature."

Complete narrative and review at The Guardian.

Bergcloud's "Little Printer"

Little Printer lives in your home, bringing you news, puzzles and gossip from friends. Use your smartphone to set up subscriptions and Little Printer will gather them together to create a timely, beautiful mini-newspaper.

Connected to the Web, Little Printer has wide range of sources, called “publications” available to check on your behalf.Subscribe to your favorites and choose when you’d like them delivered. Little Printer gathers everything it needs to prepare a neat little personalised package, printed as soon as you press the button. You can get deliveries multiple times a day, but once or twice works best–like your very own morning or evening newspaper.

So retro, in a good way, that I really want one!

Pre-orders for Little Printer will open in 2012, when it launches as a ‘beta’ product.

British Library puts 19th century newspapers online

The British Library has published online more than 4 million pages of newspapers from the 18th and 19th centuries Tuesday in what head of newspapers Ed King calls "a digital Aladdin's Cave" for researchers. The online archive is a partnership between the library and digital publishing firm Brightsolid, which has been scanning 8,000 pages a day from the library's vast periodical archive for the past year and plans to digitize 40 million pages over the next decade.

The library hopes the searchable online trove will be a major resource for academics and researchers. The vast majority of the British Library's 750 million pages of newspapers - the largest collection in the world - are currently available only on microfilm or bound in bulky volumes at a newspaper archive in north London, where the yellowing journals cover 20 miles (32 kilometers) of shelves.

"We've got 200 years of newspapers locked away," King said. "We're trying to open it up to a wider audience."

There will be a cost to download articles online, though they can be accessed for free at the library's London reading rooms.

More at the blog.

Book art by Alexander Korzer-Robinson

From:  dotsonme

(Via Libraryland.)