Tag Archives: Books

Stuff in the news 6/18/2013 – Wildfires

Fire Danger Level Meme

  • Repeating from yesterday because it’s important…. From our friends at incidentinfo.org: Luke Sheehy was a California Smokejumper. On June 10, 2013 he made his last jump into a fire on the Modoc National Forest. He was killed when a piece of a tree fell on him. He was 28 years old. Here’s how you can help. Please share out this page when you click through.
  • Following up on yesterday’s wildfire post, in which there was piece on people building in fire zones, the state of Colorado has a task force to address the issue. Colorado wildfire task force tackles building in burn zones
  • In 2012, more than 20 wildfires in Utah were caused by target shooting. With a bad fire season upon us again this year in the West, Utah officials have set out restrictions on activity to mitigate risk. The restrictions include a ban on target shooting of exploding targets. Other restrictions are listed in the same source. According to BLM in Salt Lake City, target shooting in dry rocks or vegetation can also spark fires but that doesn’t seem to be included in the restrictions just set out.
  • Mother Nature Network released a listing of 10 of the Worst Wildfires in U.S. History. While the rankings aren’t actually consistent – some are based on dollar figures, sone on acreage, and some on the most important factor in my opinion, loss of life – it’s interesting reading.
  • More of a fire science piece than a wildfire thing but did you ever wonder how fire works in space? Here’s What Happens When You Light a Fire in Space
  • Generally, I’m skeptical of studies done by pharma companies, large or small. That said, this is a frightening statistic: Three quarters (75 percent) of the surveyed firefighters/EMTs are more concerned about dying of a heart attack than in the line of duty. This is International Fire/EMS Health & Safety Week. Why is it harder to accomplish our personal health goals than a work-related task or project? Here’s a great story on a Delaware teen who’s trying to help. Be sure to also  click-through to the Heart Healthy Firefighter program!
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Feeling a bit bookish today

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A few posts have popped out at me today in my RSS feeds, involving books and other print media. That, in and of itself, is a bit odd, since this blog post will never see actual print.

Sunday’s segment of 60 Minutes on NOLA and the partial demise of the Times-Picayune left me on the fence about newspapers going digital. Here’s the segment, online:

I have watched many local papers get thinner and thinner in my lifetime . At some point, many of them go to recycle by the time I reach the house from the mailbox. What is there is often recycled, as well – repeating some AP story that I saw online the day before. What’s left is a bunch of ads I didn’t really want or need.

On the other hand, I was happy to see that the Picayune remained in print 3 days a week. As I’ve said in the past, there is something to be said for the feel of paper and enjoying the news, sparse though it may be, over a cup of coffee. I still get the Sunday NYT and enjoy reading the best bits – Week in Review; the Magazine; and the Book Review. There’s something – well – Sundayish about it.

More importantly than my guilty pleasures, however, is that we still have a pretty large digital divide in the US. According to the video, fully 1/3 of the city of New Orleans is without internet access. Theirs is not just a want, it’s a need. Is having a paper only a few days a week enough? For me, that depends on the paper itself. one of the former editors complained that you couldn’t keep up journalistic standards with that infrequency. I think it is possible but it would be more geared toward thoughtful analysis, rather than quick hits of news. Frankly, given how much misinformation comes out when the press tried to jump on a story as it’s happening, I find the news more trustworthy, when they wait and get the story right.

I’m not sure how to find the happy medium. There is a need for quick news and that shouldn’t be restricted to those of us with high-speed internet. Libraries could be of use here, if they could obtain enough funding to serve people in underserved areas. They could also serve as gathering places for community, while providing the information to make better community decisions. Michel Scott of newgeography.com has an excellent piece on this concept:

Ray Oldenburg, author of The Great Good Place, coined the term “third place” to describe any environment outside of the home and the workplace (first and second places, respectively) where people gather for deeper interpersonal connection. Third places include, for example, places of worship, community centers, and even diners or pubs frequented by the “locals.”…

…Libraries and bookstores clearly are long-time ‘third places’ That shouldn’t be a surprise, given that books serve as the lingua franca of new ideas. Notice, though, that these establishments frequently provide coffee bars, meeting rooms, Wi-Fi access, public computer terminals, and other amenities. They serve as accessible retreats for community groups and clubs, offices for transitioning job-seekers or home-based business owners, logical meeting places for children’s literacy organizations, havens for latchkey kids, and bases of operation for homeless men and women as they try to reintegrate into the community. These are the features, probably more so than the rows of books and racks of periodicals, which grant libraries and bookstores their ‘third places’ status.

I do hope that we, as a society, manage to address these challenges successfully.

In the Land of the Non-Reader « The Bygone Bureau

In the Land of the Non-Reader

Jonathan Gourlay stops reading books. This is what happens to him.

01.09.12

Photo by Kim Mason

A few months ago, I stopped reading books.

At night I crawl into bed and thumb my iPhone to life. I watch Star Trek: Voyager on the Netflix app. It’s not a bad show. But somehow it is difficult to compare the weeks it took to complete the seven-season voyage through the Delta Quadrant with Capt. Janeway and the weeks I spent reading my favorite books — thick books by Eliot, Laxness, Dickens, and Pamuk. I know there is an argument that serialized television drama is as complex and soul-nourishing as a good book, but, unfortunately, I don’t care for the shows that are usually held up as modern classics for non-readers: The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, etc. I have never seen an episode of these shows. If you want to reach me, say it with alien explosions and busty cyborgs.

Back when I was a reader, it often troubled me when friends claimed that they had no time to read. Was it possible that their lives were so full of wonders that they could not spend five minutes here or there to read? How was it that my life, in comparison, seemed to offer so many chunks of reading time throughout the day? A train ride, a late-night break, and an office wait. Through marriage, babies, graduate schools, and new jobs, I always found time to read for pleasure.

Alas, dear reader, the term “pleasure” doesn’t capture the mental and physical need for books I once had. Without a book nearby I felt bereft, purposeless, barely human. Once upon a time I lived in a far-flung foreign swamp with an extended family of non-readers. I frightened them one night when I stumbled home drunk and ransacked the house for a lost tome. A nice cousin had cleaned the house and of course she, like most people, would never feel a deep compulsion to read all of Dickens. So my book got cast off or put away or tossed to the silent frogs in the swamp. (Yes, they were silent frogs.) I screamed, “Sid, where are my drugs!” in my best, cackling Nancy Spungen voice and I laughed for being woozily hilarious to myself but could find no rest without a page of my book to send me to sleep. Books were a long-time lover whose steady weight I needed to feel in bed before sleep was possible. It turned out that the swamp heathens had used Bleak House to balance a very wobbly chair.

Books can steady a chair and a soul. The former use is not recommended for Kindle.

The last book I read was…

continue reading at bygonebureau.com

7 Simple Steps to Becoming Well-Read

This reminds me a bit of that business movie that was floating around corp land, called Paradigm Pioneers. One of the things that struck me was that, somewhere toward the end of the film, the narrator asked, “So how do you become a paradigm pioneer?”. His answer, standing in a magazine isle of a bookstore was to read everything – not just on one subject, everything.

What jumps out at me here is:
that we’ve become so specialized in our careers that programmers only read programming books; executives read business books; and only academics read literature. (OK, vast generalization but I believe it’s a sad trend).

Maybe you won’t become a “paradigm pioneer” by being broader in your reading but maybe you’ll become more of a “people pioneer” and meet new and different people by expiring bits of the world that expanded reading can bring. Give it a try. This advice from Little Dumb Man should help.



One of the most common personal development resolutions is to read more. Reading is a great way to fire up your brain, increase your vocabulary, gain a richer understanding of your own or other cultures, and enjoy some good stories to boot!

So what’s holding you back?

Maybe diving into a “To Read” list as long as your arm feels daunting, or you’re embarrassed to go back to book club after skipping for three months in a row. Maybe you just haven’t found the time to read lately. Whatever’s keeping you from tackling that list of books, these tips may help you find your way back into the pages:

  1. Start small.

    If you don’t have time to read, you’re probably not going to wake up tomorrow and knock out 150 pages (although if you do, more power to you!). Try reading for 15 minutes before you go to sleep, or reserve part of your lunch break for reading time. Whatever reading time you decide on, though, stick to it.
Continue here to the rest of the list: dumblittleman.com

The Daily Show on how brick and mortar bookstores can compete with the internet

via TechCrunch

Going on the stack: Can Intervention Work?

Bestselling author Rory Stewart and political economist Gerald Knaus examine the impact of large-scale interventions, from Kosovo to Afghanistan in Can Intervention Work?the second title in the Amnesty International Global Ethics Book Series. Below, an excerpt:

Our experience suggests the following rules of thumb: that interveners must distinguish brutally between the factors they can control, the dangers they can avoid, and the dangers they can neither control nor avoid (whether permanent features of the place or specific to the crisis). An outsider can—indeed, should—provide generous resources, manpower, equipment, encouragement, and support. Courage, thought, and pre-planning are relevant. But they are not enough on their own. The best way of minimizing the danger of any intervention is to proceed carefully, to invest heavily in finding out about the specific context, particularly after the intervention, and to define concrete and not abstract goals.

Power and authority must be given to local leadership through elections as soon as possible. Only local leaders have the necessary ingredient of knowing the situation well, over many years and in all kinds of conditions; only they can get around the dangers that cannot be avoided, and skillfully respond to them. Local leaders who are appointed by foreigners, rather than elected, will find it very hard to assume responsibility. The person intervening should not be so obsessive or neurotic about the activity as to ignore the signs that the intervention has become too dangerous, or the mission impossible, and that it is time to regroup, pause, or even withdraw.

Since intervention is a techne—to take a grand term from Aristotle—or, in more normal language, an art not a science, such advice will always seem underwhelming. Just as the military principle that “time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted” is seen by soldiers as an insight of great life-saving wisdom, but by a civilian as a glimpse of the blindingly obvious, so too advice on intervention. Few would have any theoretical disagreements with our recommendations. Even fewer would be surprised by them. The challenge is not to lay out the principles; it is to convey just how rarely they are implemented and why, how much damage has been done through ignoring them, and how difficult they are to uphold.

The difficulty is to show people how intervention—with its elaborate theory, intricate rituals, astonishing sacrifices and expenditure; its courage and grandeur and fantasy—can often resemble the religion of the Aztecs or the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; to show how bad intervention can be: how far more absurd, rotten, counterproductive than any satirist could suggest or caricaturist portray.  And that even when all the leaders have recognized that a policy is not working, how impossible it often seems for them to organize withdrawal.

An incremental approach may seem simply common sense.  But overconfident policy-makers continue to be seduced repeatedly by the belief in the magic powers of planning, resources, and charismatic leadership.  Intervention may be a necessary, indispensable ingredient of the international system.  It is certainly capable, as in the Balkans, of doing good.  And yet how easily it falls into excess.  This is why the ultimate focus of these essays is on the particular context, temptations, predilections, and neuroses of twenty-first-century interveners.  Rory’s essay focuses exclusively on Afghanistan; Gerald’s largely on Bosnia.  But we hope they carry broader lessons because these essays aim to offer not an anthropology of the country into which the West is intervening, but an anthropology of the West—an anthropology of ourselves.

Buy Can Intervention Work? now in our online store!

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The Book is Dead. Long Live the Book

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Unscientific Poll: On average, during a typical New York City morning subway commute, Summer 2011, there are four people reading on tablets and e-readers, and five reading print books, up from about 1 to 7 two summers ago. Outside of rush hour, many a toddler can be seen tapping away at an interactive picture book. On the beach, the e-readers (more legible than tablets in direct sunlight, less bulky in the beach bag than print books) proliferate exponentially.

Hard, Cold Fact: In January 2011, Amazon’s ebook sales, up 200% from the previous January, outstripped paperback sales for the first time ever.

The digital tsunami has finally reached the shores of Big Publishing. How is the industry responding? On the whole, sluggishly – with a few notable exceptions.

http://bigthink.com/embeds/video_idea/39759?width=512&height=288&auto_play=0

More here: bigthink.com

Rocco Staino: Ten Books About 9/11 to Share With Kids & Teens

Earlier this summer it was reported by the Huffington Post and The Daily Mail that Sarah Ferguson’s proposed book about a little peach tree that survives the tragedy of September 11th had been rejected by publishers as being offensive.

Don’t worry, here are ten books that you may want to share with kids and teens in preparation for the 10th anniversary of September 11th.

14 Cows for America

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14 Cows for America (Peachtree, 2009) by Carmen Agra Deedy is a book based on fact that shows how people reacted to the horrific events that took place in America on September 11th. The book exposes children to the culture of the Massai people in Kenya and how they reacted to the story of 911 with a gift of 14 Cows for America.

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14 Cows for America (Peachtree, 2009) by Carmen Agra Deedy is a book based on fact that shows how people reacted to the horrific events that took place in America on September 11th. The book exposes children to the culture of the Massai people in Kenya and how they reacted to the story of 911 with a gift of 14 Cows for America.”,”credits”:””,”image_num”:”0″,”title”:”14 Cows for America”,”title_link”:”14_Cows_for”,”caption_style”:”normal”,”rating”:”0″,”votes”:”0″,”params”:””,”video_code”:””,”content_type”:”image”,”is_thumb_generated”:”no”,”user_id”:”0″,”is_notified”:”no”,”is_queued”:”no”,”created”:”0000-00-00 00:00:00″,”entry_id”:”0″,”slideimage_excerpt”:””,”caption_javascript”:”14 Cows for America (Peachtree, 2009) by Carmen Agra Deedy is a book based on fact that shows how people reacted to the horrific events that took place in America on September 11th. The book exposes children to the culture of the Massai people in Kenya and how they reacted to the story of 911 with a gift of 14 Cows for America.”,”caption_repaired”:””,”social_enabled”:1},{“slideimage_id”:”328943″,”slide_id”:”43119″,”image”:””,”caption”:”FIREBOAT: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey (Putnam, 2002). Maira Kalman uses the history of New York City and that of an actual fireboat to gently show the events of September 11th and the role of firefighters on that tragic day.”,”credits”:””,”image_num”:”1″,”title”:”Fireboat”,”title_link”:”Fireboat”,”caption_style”:”normal”,”rating”:”0″,”votes”:”0″,”params”:{“social_enabled”:1},”video_code”:””,”content_type”:”image”,”is_thumb_generated”:”no”,”user_id”:”0″,”is_notified”:”no”,”is_queued”:”no”,”created”:”0000-00-00 00:00:00″,”entry_id”:”0″,”slideimage_excerpt”:””,”caption_javascript”:”FIREBOAT: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey (Putnam, 2002). Maira Kalman uses the history of New York City and that of an actual fireboat to gently show the events of September 11th and the role of firefighters on that tragic day.”,”caption_repaired”:””,”social_enabled”:1},{“slideimage_id”:”328940″,”slide_id”:”43119″,”image”:””,”caption”:”If you are looking for a free ebook story for September 11, the is a

It is difficult to believe that most elementary-age children were not born when the horrific events of September 11th rocked a nation. Kay Vandergrift of Rutgers University in writing about the anniversary has advised parents and educators that “the most important thing to remember when discussing 9/11 with children is to listen to them and to follow their leads.” In her website, 911 and Children she warns that “it will be difficult to insulate children from the rebroadcasts of and commentaries about 9/11 and critical to consider the effects these may have on them. Some young children may not be able to distinguish between re-creation and reality and might believe that those events are actually happening again.”

Parents, teachers, and librarians can be assured that there is a wealth of information about 911 for sharing. The New York Times Learning Blog and School Library Journal have each published helpful links to information.


Follow Rocco Staino on Twitter:

www.twitter.com/roccoa

The Millions : The E-Reader of Sand: The Kindle and the Inner Conflict Between Consumer and Booklover

“I can show you a sacred book that might interest a man such as yourself” – Jorge Luis Borges, “The Book of Sand”

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Like many people who love to read, I exist in a paradoxical state of having both far too many books and far too few. I probably don’t have many more than the average literature lover of my age, but I live in a smallish apartment, and it often feels hazardously, almost maniacally overcrowded with books. A precarious obelisk of partially read paperbacks rises from my bedside table, coated in a thin film of dust. My shelves are all two rows deep, stuffed with a Tetris-like emphasis on space-optimization, and pretty much every horizontal surface holds some or other type of reading material. I haven’t read nearly all of these books (many of them I haven’t even made a serious attempt to get started on) but that doesn’t stop me from accumulating more at a rate that neither my income nor my living space can reasonably be expected to sustain.

This is, on occasion, a source of mild tension between my wife and me. She’s a reader too, and likes having a lot of books about the place, but she also likes to have space for all those other objects that you need to have around if you want your home to look like a home, and not a drastically mismanaged second-hand bookshop. Every time I come through the door with a couple of new purchases, or carefully rip open a padded envelope from Amazon, I can’t help being aware that I am engaging in a small act of domestic colonization, claiming another few cubic inches in the name of the printed page, in the struggle of Lesensraum against Lebensraum.

Continues here: themillions.com

Melville House Goes Hybrid with Novellas by Chekov, Conrad | The New York Observer

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Indie publisher Melville House announced today that it is publishing what it’s calling HybridBooks, “an innovative publishing program that gives print books the features of enhanced eBooks.”

The idea is that users can aim their magic phones at one of those barcode thingies (known as a Quick Response or QR) on the back of a print book to access supplemental material that the publisher is calling “illuminations.” Purchasers of the electronic books will have access to the extras within their digital copies.

Continue reading here: observer.com