When Civilizations Meet, or Astrobiology: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
READINGS / REPARTEE

When Civilizations Meet, or Astrobiology: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

The current Huffington Post cover story is “Astronomers to Congress: We’re Not Alone” Our favorite headline on the topic, however, is Wired’s:  This Alien Hearing Is the Best Thing Congress Has Done in Months. So suppose there is alien life. Let’s just take a moment to consider what happens when populations are introduced to each … Continue reading »

Math v. Maths: We’re Found the Definitive Answer
REPARTEE

Math v. Maths: We’re Found the Definitive Answer

Americans say math. Those in the UK and other Commonwealth nations say maths. But who’s right? We believe we’ve come across the clearest explanation of the reasons for the difference, and a verdict, at the wonderful Numberphile. Dr. Lynne Murphy, who answered the question, is a Reader* in Linguistics & English Language at the University of Sussex.  According … Continue reading »

A Most Fabulous Collection of Czeck Book Covers
READINGS / REPARTEE / Uncategorized

A Most Fabulous Collection of Czeck Book Covers

Ah, the Smithsonian!  When Henry James Hungerford died without children in 1835, his vast inheritance from his uncle, English scientist James Smithson, was passed on to the United States, “to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge among men.” We won’t ask why he … Continue reading »

Found in Translation – Eleanor Chandler on the London Book Fair
NONFICTION / READINGS / REPARTEE / Uncategorized

Found in Translation – Eleanor Chandler on the London Book Fair

At one point in our youth, we admit to being baffled by reading poetry that had been translated into English, yet still rhymed. What phenomenon was this? Was there some supernatural force at hand? Was English just overflowing with synonyms? Or did brilliant foreign poets plan their verse to accommodate the powerful English-language publishing industry? … Continue reading »

Diversionary Readings: “Popcorn is OK. Popcorn is Good.”
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Diversionary Readings: “Popcorn is OK. Popcorn is Good.”

“Before, I wandered as a diversion. Now I wander seriously and sit and read as a diversion.” ― Walker Percy, The Moviegoer An excerpt from “Other People,” by Phillip Maughan, writing for Litro: “We had taken to our red leather seats in the polished auditorium and were waiting for the screen to boot up when … Continue reading »

National Audubon Society Field Guides: From Artist’s Conk to Slimy Gomphidius
NONFICTION / REPARTEE / REVIEW / Uncategorized

National Audubon Society Field Guides: From Artist’s Conk to Slimy Gomphidius

We highly recommend the National Audubon Society’s Field Guides.  They’re a good size, durable, well-organized, and feature very clear photographs which  – despite the artistry of the line drawings you find in many nature guides – is highly practical, especially when the subject is Mushrooms. (Audubon has 20 field guides currently in print, see here.) … Continue reading »

“Avoid Sophistication” and Other Hints on Western Living & Self-Improvement
NONFICTION / READINGS / REPARTEE / REVIEW / Uncategorized

“Avoid Sophistication” and Other Hints on Western Living & Self-Improvement

The things you find rummaging about book sales. This little English/Chinese guidebook by Edna Goo, published by Mei Ya Publications in Taipei @1970, was to introduce western customs to women coming to the U.S.   Our particular version has a rather poisonous little inscription, to an unfortunate called “Barbara,” which we can safely assume was not … Continue reading »

“Your Book is So Perfect,” and Other Great Refusals
NONFICTION / READINGS / REPARTEE / Uncategorized

“Your Book is So Perfect,” and Other Great Refusals

“Your book is so perfect that I would feel ashamed ever to accept another book after having printed something so exciting, but as I need to continue in my business, I can’t afford to publish yours.” – An [unnamed] Chinese publisher, rejecting the manuscript of an  [unnamed] American author.  January 7, 1946 Milwaukee Journal, from … Continue reading »