Thursday, January 27, 2011

The United States of Shame

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Found at Pleated Jeans

Libraries are one and two

Eli Neiberger gave a brilliant 20-minute presentation at the LJ/SLJ eBook Summit outlining the uncomfortable position ebooks puts libraries and offering several solutions. Parts one and two follow:

A Balanced Life

Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends and spirit – and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.

~ Brian Dyson, President of Coca Cola (1978-1994)

Introducing "The Book"

Ancient by Internet standards, but hilarious enough to merit a repost....

It's a book

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

The image above is the cloud generated from the content on this page of this blog.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

In the Library scent

I have serendipitously discovered CB I Hate Perfume a small company that, ironically, makes perfumes. However, this is not your usual collection of lavender and rose scents. With names like "In the Library", "Under the Arbor", "At the Beach, 1966" and "Burning Leaves", their collection of scents is eclectic, nostalgic and completely unique. They will even construct a scent specifically for you and tailored to your tastes and lifestyle. Cool stuff....

In the Library is a warm blend of English Novel, Russian & Moroccan Leather Bindings, Worn Cloth and a hint of Wood Polish

The main note in this scent was copied from one of my favorite novels originally published in 1927. I happened to find a signed first edition in pristine condition many years ago in London. I was more than a little excited because there were only ever a hundred of these in the first place. It had a marvelous warm woody slightly sweet smell and I set about immediately to bottle it.

The CD is dying....

I guess we all know this already - it has been over a year since I purchased an actual "physical" CD and the only reason I bought that one was because the music (the soundtrack to the Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil) was only available in that format at the time.

In 1982 Billy Joel's 52nd Street was the first album released on CD and offered to the public. I bought my first CD player that year - a Yamaha that cost me $1200.00. These days I shop online and through iTunes for immediate downloads and I seldom buy an entire album, but only those songs I want. So, CDs are not the only casualty of this digital age for music - albums, too, are fading fast. And, with no demand for CDs, CD player manufacturers will soon be laying off employees, as well. Can DVDs and DVD manufacturers be far behind? Netflix already streams almost anything I want to see - cheaply and when I want it.

Sony once operated three CD-producing facilities in the United States but will soon be down to one. Pitman, New Jersey, which has 9,365 residents and is about 17 miles southeast of Philadelphia, is home to one of Sony's two remaining U.S.-based CD-manufacturing plants--until March 31. After that, the company will shutter the facility and 300 workers will be out of jobs. A Sony spokeswoman recently cited an ailing U.S. economy and sagging interest in physical media as the reasons for the closure. Piracy is also partly responsible for the decline in legitimate CD sales, but I am convinced it is primarily the result of a fundamental shift in the way consumers acquire music - and video, and clothing, and almost any thing else you can imagine. The internet has changed everything and it is just getting started.

Did you read....

Maybe reading less but retaining more is a better idea....

Fran Lebowitz on Aphorisms

Fran Lebowitz, a contributing editor for Vanity Fair, is the author of the forthcoming “Progress,” which will be published within the century. In the January 16 edition of the New York Times she posted this collection of aphorisms. Typical of Fran and delightful.

Click to enlarge

JFK asks for a raise in his allowance

When John F. Kennedy was ten he approached his father for a 30¢ increase in his then 40¢ allowance. His father required the request to be put in writing and the resulting document is at the same time delightful and revealing.

Image courtesy of the JFK Library. A transcription follows the image.

Click to enlarge


A Plea for a raise
By Jack Kennedy

Dedicated to my
Mr. J. P. Kennedy

Chapter I

My recent allowance is 40¢. This I used for areoplanes and other playthings of childhood but now I am a scout and I put away my childish things. Before I would spend 20¢ of my ¢.40 allowance and in five minutes I would have empty pockets and nothing to gain and 20¢ to lose. When I a a scout I have to buy canteens, haversacks, blankets, searchlidgs, poncho things that will last for years and I can always use it while I can't use a cholcalote marshmellow sunday with vanilla ice cream and so I put in my plea for a raise of thirty cents for me to buy scout things and pay my own way more around.


John Fitzgerald Francis Kennedy

Found at Letters of Note

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The watercolors of Grzegorz Wróbel

Living Design is a wolderful visual blog that bills itself as being for "Creative and Curious Minds". Well, that's me. I love this site and have spent hours perusing its offerings. One of my favorites is the extensive collection of watercolors by Grzegorz Wróbel .

Monday, January 24, 2011

RIP, Reynolds Price

Reynolds Price has died. Among the books I have selected for my modest office library are two by him: Feasting the Heart and Three Gospels. Those books have done much for me in my apparent life-long search for enlightenment, if not salvation. Reynolds will be missed. Read him, if you haven't.

The NYT obituary

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rides a Bike

Rides a Bike offers movie stars and their self-propelled vehicles. Updated twice or thrice a week and great fun!

Because sometimes you need a drink bigger than your stomach...

Starbucks announced plans on Sunday to roll out their version of the Big Gulp: the new, massive, 31-ounce cup size called the "Trenta." (Trenta means "thirty" in Italian.) It will only be available for iced coffee and tea drinks, at $.50 more than a Venti. The rollout begins this week in 14 states, and will go nationwide by May 3.

I so want this phone...

What is being creative? from Kristian Larsen on Vimeo.

Thanks for the link, Chris!

If it were my home.

The lottery of birth is responsible for much of who we are. If you were not born in the country you were, what would your life be like? Would you be the same person? is a gateway to understanding life outside your home. Use its country comparison tools to compare living conditions in your own country to those of another. For those of us residing in the United States, prepare to be shocked.

The music of the spheres

A simple, but fun little site where you control the orbits of the planets as they pluck a harp's string making, quite literally, the music of the spheres.

The 2011 "Tournament of Books"

Each spring the folks at The Morning News take 16 of the most celebrated novels of the previous calendar year and seed them into a competitive bracket—the kind you see in the N.C.A.A. basketball championship. Seventeen judges are enlisted throughout several rounds of competition, with each arbiter considering two books and advancing one. In this way, a pool of 16 books becomes eight, eight becomes four, four becomes two, and two becomes one, The Rooster, Champion Book of the Year.

Each weekday in March, two books go head to head, with a judge explaining in detail how he or she has chosen one of them to advance to the next round. Unlike other book awards, the judges are asked to come clean about how they made their decision, their literary biases and reading preferences, their personal and professional conflicts and affiliations.

Morning News readers are also given a chance to participate. During competition, once the judges have winnowed the field to two books, the contest enters the Zombie Round. This is where the top two most popular books among you readers that were earlier eliminated in the competition rise from the dead and get another chance to trip up the semi-finalists on their march to victory.

Finally, one book wins The Rooster, the Champion Book of the Year, and its author is awarded/threatened with the presentation of a live rooster, the official Tournament of Books mascot, named after a favorite character in contemporary literature, David Sedaris’s brother.

This year's selections are:

The King James Bible represented graphically.

This image renders the 1,200 chapters and 31,000 verses of the King James Bible into visual form. The graph along the bottom represents the chapters with the lengths corresponding to the number of verses in each chapter. Each of the 63,779 colored arcs represents a cross-reference, in which a passage alludes to figures or ideas from an earlier one, while the distance between the two passages determines the color of the arc. This infographic was developed by a computer science doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and a Lutheran pastor in Germany.

Found at Discover Magazine

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How the King James Bible changed the English language

No other book, or indeed any piece of culture, seems to have influenced the English language as much as the King James Bible. Its turns of phrase have permeated the everyday language of English speakers, whether or not they've ever opened a copy.

Below are some familiar phrases from the Text and the BBC has a revealing and fascinating article that explains and debates its influence in depth.

Phrases still with us

  • Turned the world upside down Acts 17:6

  • God forbid Romans 3:4

  • Take root 2 Kings 19:30

  • The powers that be Romans 13:1

  • Filthy lucre 1 Timothy 3:3

  • No peace for the wicked Isaiah 57: 21

  • A fly in the ointment Ecclesiastes 10:1

  • Wheels within wheels Ezekiel 10:10

  • The blind leading the blind Matthew 15:13

  • Feet of clay Daniel 2:33

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The 50 best comic book covers of 2010

Kevin Melrose over at Robot6 Comic Book Resource has picked his favorites and they are all delightfully original. See them here.

Infographic: The evolution of the batmobile

Graphjam has an amazingly detailed infographic that chronicles the evolution of the Batmobile from 1941 until present. Worth a look for the "fun factor" alone. Thanks John!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wikipedia's list of common misconceptions.

So many things we take for granted and consider sacrosanct are, in fact, simply wrong. For example, Napoleon was not particularly short. He was about 5' 7" and while not particularly "tall" was certainly not far from average.

Wikipedia has a very interesting collection of common misconceptions. A few are offered below and many more at the link.

  • Searing meat does not "seal in" moisture, and in fact may actually cause meat to lose moisture.

  • Microwave ovens do not cook food from the inside out. Microwave radiation penetrates food and causes direct heating only a short distance from the surface.

  • Shaving does not cause terminal hair to grow back thicker or coarser or darker.

  • Prolonged exposure to cold weather such as rain or winter conditions does not increase the likelihood of catching a cold.

Astounding "Star Trek - like" home controller

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The top ten scifi books that have been banned

These titles are among the most popular and beloved science fiction works of the last century. They've told us how bad the future might be before we get there, how free you can be if you don't follow blind belief, and that children are perfectly capable of digesting some pretty heavy concepts, actually. But they've all been banned or threatened with banning.

Wonderful movie posters from Poland and Czechoslovakia

A wonderful collection of posters for Japanese horror movies produced by Czech and Polish artists. More at the link.

Found at Coudal Partners

Monday, January 10, 2011

Infographic: What does your state do best?

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50 years of typography in album covers

In 1938, Alex Steinweiss of Columbia Records invented the concept of album covers and cover art, replacing the plain covers used before. Over time, cover art has become an important part of the music industry, both as cultural icons and as marketing tools. Since then, cover art has evolved with the advancement of technology. The format has changed as well. We no longer use 12” LPs. Today, cover art is designed mainly for CD covers and digital downloads. This article features some inspiring examples of typography in album covers from the 1960’s until today.

Found at Coudal Partners

Monday, January 03, 2011

Kindle and Libraries

"Librarian In Black" has a recent post discussing her newly bought Kindle and her opinion on the lack of ability to load Library loaned books on the device. It's worth reading the responses to her entry.