Archive | September 2005

Revolt! Read a book!

Even though I do not reside in the United States I would like to point out the fact that it is the American Library Association’s ‘Banned Books Week‘.

Banned Books Week (BBW) celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.

So, go pick a book from the 100 most frequently challenged books and enjoy being subversive.


Something about a wheel

Over at TeleRead, David Rothman asks: what is the perfect e-book device for k-12? His suggestion?

I myself like the idea of a tablet that could be carried in a knapsack and include a detachable keyboard, maybe the fold-up variety. I’m not the biggest fan of laptops, especially for kids. The ergonomics aren’t always the best. The ideal distance between eye and screen may clash with the optimal distance from the keyboard. I also think that needs will vary by student and app. One size does not fit all, although an eight- or nine-inch screen might be a compromise.

You know, I had a think about this and I came up with a solution that I think you might like. It involves paper, some harder kind of paper to sit on the ends, to keep the inner paper all nice-like and print on either side of the inside pages. It’s small, able to be held in one hand and fully adjustable to suit all viewing distance preferences. It can fit in a kid’s backpack and withstand most of what kids throw at it, perhaps excluding gallons of water. (Although, with a little hasty action and judicious drying there would be no need to replace the motherboard). You can write on it to take notes, if you have paid for it first and not borrowed it from a library, and thus your notes will always be in context. Should you require more paper for notes than the device offers, you could always carry another device that has no printing on any of the paper.

So, what do you think?

Update 28/09/05: Ok, so I was a little narky last night and the author of the post to which I was referring didn’t take too kindly to it. I have since posted a comment clarifying my stance on this.

A dying race

Ok, so I’m in the line at Coles Broadway today and I can’t help but overhear the checkoutbloke at the next counter. The conversation goes a little like this:

Checkoutbloke: Are you Australian?
Woman: Yes.
Checkoutbloke: There’s not many of us left. We’re a dying race.
Woman: Sorry?
Checkoutbloke: Australians. People who were born here. English Australians. There’s not many of us left.
Woman: Well…
Checkoutbloke: There’s so many other people now, not Australians. People like you and me are in the minority. I go to Uni and eighty per cent of my classes are people who are not Australians.
Woman: ….
Checkoutbloke: I am concerned for Australia’s future. We’re dying out.
Woman: Well, I think it makes life more interesting.
Checkoutbloke: Hardly anyone at uni comes from an English background. I mean, they’re all Chinese, or Japanese, or Polish. Some of them are from Asia or America or Canandia…

And on and on and on. I had to try really hard to stop myself correcting him: people from CANADA are CANADIAN. There’s no such country as CANADIA you MORON.

My checkoutchick was of an Asian background. Her name was Jenny. She was clearly overhearing the conversation and was perturbed but she hid it well. The poor woman who just wanted to pay for her groceries was giggling almost uncontrollably by the end of it, such was her nervousness. The butch ahead of me in the line with the cous cous in her trolley was doing all she could not to punch the guy out.

Why is this remarkable? Well, in some parts of this great nation of ours I guess it wouldn’t be worth a remark of any kind. But I live in Newtown. I was shopping in Broadway. Coles at Broadway has always had a, how shall I put it, rather multicultural range of goods. Culture here is multi, there is no one culture. If you don’t like it you don’t live here. Simple as that. There are plenty of other places you can live if you like your bread white. I was dumbfounded that this bloke was so strident and that he actually sought out a customer, who was white and blonde, to whom he could expound his thoughts, rather loudly.

And what does this all mean? Who the f**k knows. Probably nothing. I just thought I would get it out there and give you something to think about.

And one other thing, what does this have to do with books? Probably nothing but the book part of this blog has been on ‘hiatus’ for a while so I thought I would bore you with other things.

Most cited

Also via Boing Boing comes the list of the 50 most cited texts of 1976-1983 in the Arts and Humanities citation index.

The top 20:
1 T.S. Kuhn The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 1962
2 J. Joyce Ulysses. 1922
3 N. Frye Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays. 1957
4 L. Wittgenstein Philosophical Investigations
5 N. Chomsky Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. 1965
6 M. Foucault The Order of Things. 1966
7 J. Derrida Of Grammatology
8 R. Barthes S/Z. 1970
9 M. Heidegger Being and Time. 1927
10 E.R. Curtius European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages. 1948
11 H-G Gardmer Truth and Method. 1960
12 J. Rawls A Theory of Justice. 1971
13 J. Joyce Finnegan’s Wake. 1939
14 J.R. Searle Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language. 1969
15 J. Culler Structuralist Poetics: Structuralism, Linguistics, and the Study of Literature. 1975
16 G. Genette Figures. 1966
17 N. Chomsky & M. Halle The Sound Pattern of English. 1968
18 T.S. Eliot The Waste Land. 1922
19 J.L. Austin How to Do Things with Words. 1962
20 W.V.O. Quine Word and Object. 1960

Ah, it takes me back to the heady days of undergraduate study. In the mid to late 90s a lot of the books on this list were still the references of choice in certain Australian universities.

It’s all in the accessories

I have a wedding to attend next week and I think I have found the perfect bag. Now I just have to choose between Prose and Poetry for Appreciation and the Mainstream of Physics.
Via Boing Boing.

Authors v Google

Ok, yes, it’s been around on the web for several days now and I keep meaning to post it and then I realised I was too late but then I thought I can’t claim to be a book blog and not mention it. Phew. The Authors Guild is suing Google over their Google Print app which allows you to search in books, and read them. Here’s what Boing Boing said.