Tag Archives: books

Help curb excessive exclamations – resist the urge to use an exclamation point

There is only one exclamation point in Ernest Hemingway’s - The Old Man and the Sea - published in 1951.

There were eight exclamation points in Anthony Burgess’ – A Clockwork Orange - published in 1962.

But four novels published in the 21st century each have 250 or more exclamation points, with one using 439. And this highlights the growing trend to use, or overuse, the punctuation mark in writing.

Jeff Umbro, from Quartz, searched “more than 1 million books published between 1970 and 2008, and found that the frequency of exclamation marks has soared.”

He asks that we clamp down on this, and I agree. Resist the urge to exclaim and instead write with style.

Take the advice of William Zinsser from his classic, On Writing Well:

Don’t use it unless you must to achieve a certain effect. It has a gushy aura – the breathless excitement of a debutante commenting on an event that was exciting only to her…construct your sentences so that the order of the words will put the emphasis where you want it. Also resist using it to notify the reader that you are making a joke or being ironic. Readers are annoyed by your reminder that this was a comical moment. They are also robbed of the pleasure of making the discovery themselves. Humor is best achieved by understatement, and there’s nothing subtle about an exclamation point.

 

Follow the classics. (source: Alexandre Dulaunoy)

Celebrate the freedom to read – Banned Books Week – Sep 30 – Oct 6

source: Banned Books Week

 

Everyday in America someone tries to ban a book. The American Library Association reports 326 challenges in 2011. A challenge is more than a person being annoyed with a book, it is a person telling the library they don’t want anyone else to read the book. That is censorship in its most basic form.

And these books are not always the most controversial ones – sometimes they are classics that have been on the shelf for years. Here are the most challenged books of 2011:

  1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series) by Lauren Myracle
  2. The Color of Earth (series) by Kim Dong Hwa
  3. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (series)
  4. My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy by Dori Hillestad Butler
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  6. Alice (series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  8. What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones
  9. Gossip Girl (series) by Cecily Von Ziegesar
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Celebrating Banned Books Week is about the freedom to read and that takes us beyond the printed paper. For the internet it means supporting free and open access to information – a fundamental right and need in countries all around the world.

So take a chance this week, read a banned book and support someone else’s right to do so.

A final word from David Brin on freedom of speech:

Freedom of speech is not a gift from on high. It was not declared by God. It is not holy, or even natural. No other human society ever practiced it. Even we, who are loony enough to consider it sacred, don’t practice it very well. Yet, although it runs against every tyrannical impulse of human nature… impulses to suppress whatever that loudmouth fool over there is saying… the fact is that we try to live by it. Not because free speech is holy, or natural, but because it works. Because it is pragmatic. Because it allows the rapid generation of a multitude of ideas, most of which are chaff, and then allows those notions to be criticized by other egotistical people, so that a fair percentage of the best ideas rise, and most garbage eventually sinks.

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Tumblr blog – celebrities reading poetry

It’s that subject no one wants to study in English class. It’s that aisle in the bookstore that’s always empty. It’s that stuff that star-crossed lovers spout at each other through open windows.

Explains the author of this Tumblr, called SpeakCelebrity. Offering that poetry isn’t scary, “it’s exciting, and comforting, and new, and old, and it can be clear-cut or all jumbled up, but most of all, it’s human.”

I couldn’t agree more and it’s a delight to browse through the celebrities:

  • Al Pacino reading – “Sonnet 150″ by William Shakespeare
  • Meryl Streep – “In Vain” by Emily Dickinson
  • Morgan Freeman – “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley
  • Ralph Fiennes – “Ode to the Sea” by Pablo Neruda
  • Benedict Cumberbatch – “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll
  • Johnny Depp – “The Girl of the Ghetto” by Jim Morrison

My favorite so far is Benedict Cumberbatch – Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series – and Johnny Depp. Both invite you into the poem and let you forget the world around you.

Dig-in and enjoy - SpeakCelebrity.

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The recession hits Harvard…with interesting changes – more money to undergrads, less to books

Harvard isn’t belt-tightening everywhere. Since 2007, its investment in financial aid to undergraduates has risen by more than 78%, which Harvard said is “significantly outpacing increases in tuition.” Undergraduate tuition for the 2012-13 year climbed 3.5% to $54,496.

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As it looks to economize, Harvard has turned some of its attention toward the more than $160 million it spends each year on its nearly 375 year-old library system, which holds 17 million volumes, and includes 73 separate libraries. Widener, the flagship library, alone has 57 miles of shelving.

Harvard is also changing its philosophy on owning books. The goal: Provide access to them rather than collecting each one, which can lead to costs for storage and preservation, a 2009 Harvard task-force report said. The library will extend partnerships to borrow from other libraries, and further digitize its own collection so it can share with others.

The university is finding it “increasingly painful” to manage academic-journal subscriptions, which annually cost it about $3.75 million, Harvard Provost Alan Garber said.

In a move watched throughout academia, Harvard in April urged its faculty members to publish in open-access journals. “Move the prestige to open access,” a memo said.

 

Keep reading: Wall Street Journal - Economy Tests Harvard

 

 

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Dr. Seuss – before his children’s books, he drew great ads

Before we knew him as Dr. Seuss, he was Theodore Seuss Geisel, adman. As early as 1927 he was illustrating ads for Ford, GE and NBC campaigns. His illustrative style was the same, even then.

- Via JESS3

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Most of the translation on the planet is now done by Google Translate

“In a given day we translate roughly as much text as you’d find in 1 million books. To put it another way: what all the professional human translators in the world produce in a year, our system translates in roughly a single day. By this estimate, most of the translation on the planet is now done by Google Translate.”

Pulled from Breaking Down the Language Barrier via the Google Translate Blog:

The rise of the web has brought the world’s collective knowledge to the fingertips of more than two billion people. But what happens if it’s in Hindi or Afrikaans or Icelandic, and you speak only English—or vice versa?

In 2001, Google started providing a service that could translate eight languages to and from English. It used what was then state-of-the-art commercial machine translation (MT), but the translation quality wasn’t very good, and it didn’t improve much in those first few years. In 2003, a few Google engineers decided to ramp up the translation quality and tackle more languages. That’s when I got involved. I was working as a researcher on DARPA projects looking at a new approach to machine translation—learning from data—which held the promise of much better translation quality. I got a phone call from those Googlers who convinced me (I was skeptical!) that this data-driven approach might work.

I joined Google, and we started to retool our translation system toward competing in the NIST Machine Translation Evaluation, a “bake-off” among research institutions and companies to build better machine translation. Google’s massive computing infrastructure and ability to crunch vast sets of web data gave us strong results. This was a major turning point: it underscored how effective the data-driven approach could be.

But at that time our system was too slow to run as a practical service—it took us 40 hours and 1,000 machines to translate 1,000 sentences. So we focused on speed, and a year later our system could translate a sentence in under a second, and with better quality. In early 2006, we rolled out our first languages: Chinese, then Arabic.

We announced our statistical MT approach on April 28, 2006, and in the six years since then we’ve focused primarily on core translation quality and language coverage. We can now translate among any of 64 different languages, including many with a small web presence, such as Bengali, Basque, Swahili, Yiddish, even Esperanto.

Today we have more than 200 million monthly active users on translate.google.com (and even more in other places where you can use Translate, such as Chrome, mobile apps, YouTube, etc.). People also seem eager to access Google Translate on the go (the language barrier is never more acute than when you’re traveling)—we’ve seen our mobile traffic more than quadruple year over year. And our users are truly global: more than 92 percent of our traffic comes from outside the United States.

 

by Franz Och

Distinguished Research Scientist, Google

 

// Thx to - The Next Web

LA Times Festival of Books – largest in the country, includes Stan Lee, John Cusack, Betty White, Anne Rice

If you’re free this weekend, April 21-22, 2012, you might want to attend the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. The largest book festival in the country with more than 140,000 attendees, 400 authors, 300 exhibitors, 100 panels, cooking demonstrations, and poetry readings.

The festival is a free public event held on the campus of University of Southern California (USC).

One note is that the panels require $1 reservations, not sold the day-of. These will be some of the most interesting events, including movie screenings, celebrity authors, and special releases, so it is worth it to get them now before they sell out.

Out of the 120+ panels, here are the ones that tickled our fancy:

  • DIY Revolution
  • Future Books: Media in the Digital Age
  • Disposable Nation: Trash & Consequences
  • Anne Rice in Conversation with Scott Timberg
  • The Nerds Shall Inherit the Earth

We will be there all-day Sunday and hope to see you!

 
To learn more about the festival, here is an article from the LA Times:

What do Sugar Ray Leonard, Judy Blume, Betty White, T.C. Boyle, Rodney King, Joseph Wambaugh and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have in common? They’re just a few of the high-profile personalities appearing this weekend at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

This year’s festival blends familiar features with newer events reflecting what’s hot today in the literary marketplace. While festival goers can…listen to novelist Anne Rice discuss her latest supernatural fiction (Sunday) and Ben Fong-Torres’ memories of his Rolling Stone days (Saturday), actor John Cusack will discuss not a book but his latest book-related project, the film “The Raven,” in which he portrays Edgar Allan Poe, on Saturday.”

The U.S. Postal Service will conduct its opening ceremony for the stamp series “Twentieth-Century poets” Saturday at the Poetry stage; though graphic novels receive their fair share of panel attention, thanks to USC’s School for Cinematic Arts there will also be screenings of a director’s cut of the movie”Watchmen”and the documentary “With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story.”

Kickstarter project: Womanthology – massive all-female comic anthology

I read a lot of comics and it is always upsetting that there are no women creating them. There are female characters everywhere in the stories, many super heroines, and yet, nearly all the top female characters have all-male teams working on them.

It is pretty sad, and unfair.

The good news is that a few projects rumbling around are experiencing awesome success. The following Kickstarter project, one of the most successful on the site, covers this exact topic:

 

Womanthology; Massive All Female Comic Anthology!

Womanthology is a large scale anthology comic showcasing the works of women in comics. It is created entirely by over 140 women of all experience levels, including top industry professionals.

The purpose of the book is to show support for female creators in comics and media. There will be multiple short stories, “how to” & interviews with professionals, and features showcasing iconic female comic creators that have passed, such as Nell Brinkley and Tarpe Mills. A Kids & Teens section will also be included, showcasing their work, and offering tips & tricks to help them prepare themselves for their future careers in comics.

Overall, this is pretty much a huge book showcasing what women in comics have accomplished, and what we are capable of :) We are also hoping that by doing this book, it will encourage a new generation of women to pick up the pencil and create!