Friday, February 27, 2015

UK: Worcester Cathedral rare books moved using scaffolding tower

Scaffolding has been put up to allow removal specialists to clear about 6,000 rare books, some more than 500 years old from a cathedral library so that a leaking roof can be repaired in Worcester Cathedral. Read more

Thursday, February 26, 2015

UK: Lost Sherlock Holmes story discovered in man's attic

An historian has unearthed the first unseen Sherlock Holmes story in more than 80 years that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote to help save a town bridge.

  Walter Elliot, 80, found the 1,300-word tale starring the famous detective in a collection of short stories written for a local bazaar.

  The wooden bridge in the Scottish town of Selkirk was destroyed by the great flood of 1902 and locals organised a three-day event to raise funds for a new one in 1904. Read more

One of the pleasures of reading old letters is the knowledge that they need no answer. --Byron

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Word Warriors: Vocabulary puritans urged to focus on bringing back long-lost words

Each year, the list of newly-coined words is greeted with outrage by logophiles


     Every year newly coined words, or neologisms, are included in dictionaries and greeted with outrage from vocabulary puritans.
Words like “mahoosive” (exceptionally large) and “globesity” (the worldwide outbreak of morbid obesity) have recently hit the headlines before retiring to obscurity.
     This year though, logophiles are being encouraged by academics at Wayne State University in Michigan to instead focus on the “glorious variety” of long-lost words that have fallen out of favour with today’s lexicographers.
     To further that aim the Word Warrior project has released a top 10 of lost words for 2015.
   It includes rarely heard words such as “opsimath” and “subtopia” in an effort to draw attention to what writer and project leader Christopher Scott Williams calls “some of the English language’s most expressive – yet regrettably neglected – words.”
     It is a project that British author Mark Forsyth, who recently released The Horologicon: A Day’s Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language, welcomes.
     He said: “Of course some words deserve bringing back as we don’t have an equivalent word for them today.
     “But I’m not so sure about words like knavery and caterwaul that I see have made the list; after all I still use  them today. Are they really forgotten?
     “I prefer bringing back old words that have a very specific use and could potentially catch on. For example, I use the word “poon”. It’s something to put under the leg of a table to stop it rocking and  I ask for one every time I end up in a restaurant with a  wobbly table. Because of the context, the waiter always understands exactly what I mean.”

The top 10 'lost words' of 2015

Caterwaul: A shrill howling or wailing noise.

Concinnity: The skilful and harmonious arrangement or fitting
 together of the  different parts of something.

Knavery: A roguish or mischievous act.

Mélange: A mixture of  different things.

Rapscallion: A mischievous person.

Opsimath: A person who begins to learn or study only late in life.

Obambulate: To walk about.

Philistine: A person who is hostile or indifferent to culture and the arts, or who has no understanding of them.

Flapdoodle: Nonsense.

Subtopia: Monotonous  urban sprawl of standardised buildings.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Anniversary of Y.I.P. (Youth Party International)

1968 -- US: Youth International Party (Y.I.P.) founded — Country Joe & the Fish, Fugs (includes Tuli Kupferberg, "one of the leading Anarchist theorists of our time" & Ed Sanders, poet, editor, owner of the fabled Peace Eye Book Store), Allen Ginsberg, Arlo Guthrie, Abbie Hoffman, Paul Krassner, Phil Ochs, Jerry Rubin, et al (25 artists, writers & revolutionaries).

       I spoke to Tolstoy: 'Emma Goldman's coming back!'
       He sat there writing on a shard of red & black
       Black & Red. Coming back!
       Red & Black. They're comin' back!... 

                              — Tuli Kupferberg, excerpt,

                               PAINT IT RED (& BLACK) 

Happy Birthday Alan Harrington

1918 -- Alan Harrington lives. He was with Jack Kerouac, Neal 
Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs & others at ground 
zero of what became the Beat Generation. (Harrington aka Hal 
Hingham in the later pages of On the Road.) Author of The 
Immortalist, most of his books are now out of print.  

    Alan traveled through other jungles & "despoblados," the 
    shadowy landscapes of the human mind peopled with
    psychopaths & drug users & sexual criminals. He was 
    convinced decades ago that psychopaths were the coming
    thing & soon would pass for normal. Anyone who has 
    noticed recent elections knows that Alan won that bet.

                        — Charles Bowden 

    "Hal lurked at the window [...] he heard clocks. They 
    were chiming  up & down the street.

             Altogether, it was fifty-six o'clock."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

51 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences In Literature

“At the still point, there the dance is.” —T. S. Eliot

We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us about their favorite lines from literature. Here are some of their most beautiful replies.

Suggested by CindyH11 Creative Commons / Flickr: 58621196@N05
2. “In our village, folks say God crumbles up the old moon into stars.”
—Alexander Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Suggested by Jasmin B., via Facebook

3. “She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.”
—J. D. Salinger, “A Girl I Knew”
Suggested by mollyp49cf70741

4. “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart; I am, I am, I am.”
—Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Suggested by Brooke K., via Facebook
Suggested by tina6287 Creative Commons / Flickr: 29865701@N02
6. “Beauty is an enormous, unmerited gift given randomly, stupidly.”
—Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed
Suggested by Danielle O., via Facebook

7. “Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”
—Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Suggested by Kellie C., via Facebook

8. “What are men to rocks and mountains?”
—Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Suggested by amandae16
Suggested by klavdijak22 Creative Commons / Flickr: rayseinefotos
10. “‘Dear God,’ she prayed, ‘let me be something every minute of every hour of my life.’”
—Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Suggested by Shanna B., via Facebook

11. “The curves of your lips rewrite history.”
—Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Suggested by Therese K., via Facebook

12. “A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.”
—Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Suggested by amykartzmanr
Suggested by natyjira Creative Commons / Flickr: junevre
14. “As Estha stirred the thick jam he thought Two Thoughts and the Two Thoughts he thought were these: a) Anything can happen to anyone. and b) It is best to be prepared.”
—Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
Suggested by Alyssa P., via Facebook

15. “If equal affection cannot be, let the more loving one be me.”
—W. H. Auden, “The More Loving One”
Suggested by Blake M., via Facebook

16. “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
—John Steinbeck, East of Eden
Suggested by Missy W., via Facebook
Suggested by Domo Creative Commons / Flickr: kwarz
18. “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
—William Shakespeare, Hamlet
Suggested by Emily F., via Facebook

19. “America, I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.”
—Allen Ginsburg, “America”
Suggested by Jimmy C., via Facebook

20. “It might be that to surrender to happiness was to accept defeat, but it was a defeat better than many victories.” 
—W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage
Suggested by fireworkshurricanes
Suggested by amk93. Creative Commons / Flickr: chrisjl

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Last Word in Review: Makers by Cory Doctorow

Reviewed by Charlie Jack Joseph Kruger (

When it comes to science fiction, we no longer live in a time when the distant future is scary. What is scary about science fiction now is the crippling realization that we are what HG Wells warned us about. We are a realized future of Hell. So, the strongest recent sci-fi works have all been set more so in 'the day after tomorrow' than '10,000 years later'. The unknown terrors of other worlds and technologies built upon dreams are less shocking and nerve-wracking than the technologies and mysteries that await us behind the latest drones and iPads. We are living in the future.

'Makers' is a book that is painfully aware of this. So aware, in fact, that it juggles the reader around with moments of complete normalcy, and even 80s tinged moments of capitalistic excess. Our Tyrell Corp (or Weyland Yutani or Omni Consumer Products, if you will) here in this book is more immediate. It is a company you can see someone you went to high school saying they work for on Facebook. The company exists not to create new technologies or to arrange new world, but simply to glue together our refuse and sell it back to us to pacify ourselves. The company is introduced in a press conference and seen through the eyes of our protagonist, a plucky and pointed journalist interested in what is really going on with the smiling spokesman up at the podium. The spokesman, through capped and polished teeth talks about finding discarded or ignored technologies and combining them, (for example, a laser pointer that uses a speech to text program to display words that are spoken through light onto any surface) creating new commodities, and new products with wholly new uses. The company will simply find inventors, buy their goods, pay them off and then mass produce the items, flooding the world.

This concept reminded me of Malcolm McLaren. As the crass fiend behind creating the iconic image of 'punk rock' and the attempted Svengali of Johnny Rotten and scores of others, he once made the statement that 'all of the notes have been played, nothing is original, we just have to arrange them again.' That sort of mindset felt very ingrained in the portrayal of the company in question in this book. They weren’t making anything NEW, so to speak, they were simply finding new ways to sell you old things. And if that isn’t the basis for a nightmarish vision of the future...

One moment early on in the book involved the reporter standing in a warehouse with two inventors as she was shown how the guts of an old Sesame Street electronic toy could be used to create nervous systems for paralyzed and injured people. And how that same basic technology could be used to create cute distractions. It was here in the book that things started to click and fall into place. It felt like the book was not just commenting on the dangerous future of blister-pack consumerism that is lurking in the dark alleyways of tomorrow, but also pointing out that we have everything we need to save the world already in front of us. But we cover it all in fake fur and laugh at its programed cuteness.

A lot about this book feels reminiscent of 'Atlas Shrugged'. Except, where Ayn Rand preached a world of vicious selfishness and the myopic pursuit of Brazilian hardwood desks with mahogany inlays and doors thick enough to shut out compassion and emotion, Cory Doctorow seems to be making a different statement with this tale of a maverick industrialist, flirting with an intrepid female reporter who demands to know the truth. With 'Makers' the point seems to be something more sustaining and accepting. The world wants blister-packs of single-use disposable happiness and interaction. The world wants it, so it has to be made. At least it can be made by people who care. And at least it can be made from the hollowed shells of yesterdays blister-packed life savers. John Galt (or the synthetic spokesman for this repackaging firm in this book) isn’t a hero here. He isn’t the fedora-adorned savior of the terminally inhuman. He is a vestige of a crassness that we don’t have room for. Our reporter and her two new friends, inventors and dreamers with screw-bitten fingertips are the heroes. Our heroes have grease and oil on their hands.

'Makers' reads like a socially liberal and economically aware answer to the selfish screed that is 'Atlas Shrugged'. I only wish Ayn had been given the chance to read it.