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Some things should happen on soft pages, not cold metal

http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/10/some-things-should-happen-on-soft-pages.html
In May of 2006, 46 years after the publication of her only novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, reclusive author Harper Lee wrote the following letter to Oprah Winfrey, on the subject of reading and her love of books. It was subsequently published in Oprah’s magazine, “O.”

May 7, 2006

Dear Oprah,

Do you remember when you learned to read, or like me, can you not even remember a time when you didn’t know how? I must have learned from having been read to by my family. My sisters and brother, much older, read aloud to keep me from pestering them; my mother read me a story every day, usually a children’s classic, and my father read from the four newspapers he got through every evening. Then, of course, it was Uncle Wiggily at bedtime.

So I arrived in the first grade, literate, with a curious cultural assimilation of American history, romance, the Rover Boys, Rapunzel, and The Mobile Press. Early signs of genius? Far from it. Reading was an accomplishment I shared with several local contemporaries. Why this endemic precocity? Because in my hometown, a remote village in the early 1930s, youngsters had little to do but read. A movie? Not often — movies weren’t for small children. A park for games? Not a hope. We’re talking unpaved streets here, and the Depression.

Books were scarce. There was nothing you could call a public library, we were a hundred miles away from a department store’s books section, so we children began to circulate reading material among ourselves until each child had read another’s entire stock. There were long dry spells broken by the new Christmas books, which started the rounds again.

As we grew older, we began to realize what our books were worth: Anne of Green Gables was worth two Bobbsey Twins; two Rover Boys were an even swap for two Tom Swifts. Aesthetic frissons ran a poor second to the thrills of acquisition. The goal, a full set of a series, was attained only once by an individual of exceptional greed — he swapped his sister’s doll buggy.

We were privileged. There were children, mostly from rural areas, who had never looked into a book until they went to school. They had to be taught to read in the first grade, and we were impatient with them for having to catch up. We ignored them.

And it wasn’t until we were grown, some of us, that we discovered what had befallen the children of our African-American servants. In some of their schools, pupils learned to read three-to-one — three children to one book, which was more than likely a cast-off primer from a white grammar school. We seldom saw them until, older, they came to work for us.

Now, 75 years later in an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods, and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books. Instant information is not for me. I prefer to search library stacks because when I work to learn something, I remember it.

And, Oprah, can you imagine curling up in bed to read a computer? Weeping for Anna Karenina and being terrified by Hannibal Lecter, entering the heart of darkness with Mistah Kurtz, having Holden Caulfield ring you up — some things should happen on soft pages, not cold metal.

The village of my childhood is gone, with it most of the book collectors, including the dodgy one who swapped his complete set of Seckatary Hawkinses for a shotgun and kept it until it was retrieved by an irate parent.

Now we are three in number and live hundreds of miles away from each other. We still keep in touch by telephone conversations of recurrent theme: “What is your name again?” followed by “What are you reading?” We don’t always remember.

Much love,

Harper

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Banksy Locations & Tours: A Collection of Graffiti Locations and Photographs in London, England

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Banksy Locations & Tours: A Collection of Graffiti Locations and Photographs in London, England

PM Press | Martin Bull | 2009 | ISBN: 160486060X | 173 pages | 102 Mb

When it comes to art, London is best known for its galleries, not its graffiti. However, not if photographer Martin Bull has anything to say about it. While newspapers and magazines the world over send their critics to review the latest Damien Hirst show at the Tate Modern, Bull, in turn, is out taking photos of the latest street installations by guerilla art icon Banksy.
In three guided tours, Martin Bull documents sixty-five London sites where one can see some of the most important works by the legendary political artist. Boasting over 100 color photos, Banksy Locations and Tours also includes graffiti by many of Banksy’s peers, including Eine, Faile, El Chivo, Arofish, Cept, Space Invader, Blek Le Rat, D*face, and Shepherd Fairey.

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Absinthe Antiques

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S. B. MacDonald, “Absinthe Antiques: A Collection from la Belle Époque” 
English | ISBN: 074146375X | edition 2011 | EPUB | 105 pages | 26 MB

Absinthe Antiques; A collection from la Belle Époque features a wide range of beautiful pieces utilized in the preparation and serving of the famed spirit absinthe. These lovely antiques from the mid 1800s through the early 20th century evoke a time of beauty, art, new technologies and changing culture; the era known as France’s la Belle Époque.

As you journey through these pages, you’ll relive for a moment, this magical time. Spoons, glasses, carafes, pitchers, saucers, art, and other absinthe-related accessories are shown in large, detailed color photographs, along with a short description of their purpose and use. Many of the antiques are presented actual-size or larger. Lovers of absinthe, and antiques in general, will enjoy the beauty of these elegant survivors of time.

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This Explains Everything

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This Explains Everything: Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works Publisher: Harper Perennial
John Brockman
2013
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062230174
ISBN-13: 978-0062230171
EPUB,MOBI
432 pages
3.94 MBIn This Explains Everything, John Brockman, founder and publisher of Edge.org, asked experts in numerous fields and disciplines to come up with their favorite explanations for everyday occurrences. Why do we recognize patterns? Is there such a thing as positive stress? Are we genetically programmed to be in conflict with each other? Those are just some of the 150 questions that the world’s best scientific minds answer with elegant simplicity.

With contributions from Jared Diamond, Richard Dawkins, Nassim Taleb, Brian Eno, Steven Pinker, and more, everything is explained in fun, uncomplicated terms that make the most complex concepts easy to comprehend.

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Godel, Escher & Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

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Godel, Escher & Bach – An Eternal Golden Braid

By  Douglas Hofstadter

824 pages  February 5, 1999

Douglas Hofstadter’s book is concerned directly with the nature of “maps” or links between formal systems. However, according to Hofstadter, the formal system that underlies all mental activity transcends the system that supports it. If life can grow out of the formal chemical substrate of the cell, if consciousness can emerge out of a formal system of firing neurons, then so too will computers attain human intelligence. Gödel Escher and Bach is a wonderful exploration of fascinating ideas at the heart of cognitive science: meaning, reduction, recursion, and much more.

Twenty years after it topped the bestseller charts, Douglas R. Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid is still something of a marvel. Besides being a profound and entertaining meditation on human thought and creativity, this book looks at the surprising points of contact between the music of Bach, the artwork of Escher, and the mathematics of Gödel. It also looks at the prospects for computers and artificial intelligence (AI) for mimicking human thought. For the general reader and the computer techie alike, this book still sets a standard for thinking about the future of computers and their relation to the way we think.

Hofstadter’s great achievement in Gödel, Escher, Bach was making abstruse mathematical topics (like undecidability, recursion, and ‘strange loops’) accessible and remarkably entertaining. Borrowing a page from Lewis Carroll (who might well have been a fan of this book), each chapter presents dialogue between the Tortoise and Achilles, as well as other characters who dramatize concepts discussed later in more detail. Allusions to Bach’s music (centering on his Musical Offering) and Escher’s continually paradoxical artwork are plentiful here. This more approachable material lets the author delve into serious number theory (concentrating on the ramifications of Gödel’s Theorem of Incompleteness) while stopping along the way to ponder the work of a host of other mathematicians, artists, and thinkers.

The world has moved on since 1979, of course. The book predicted that computers probably won’t ever beat humans in chess, though Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov in 1997. And the vinyl record, which serves for some of Hofstadter’s best analogies, is now left to collectors. Sections on recursion and the graphs of certain functions from physics look tantalizing, like the fractals of recent chaos theory. And AI has moved on, of course, with mixed results. Yet Gödel, Escher, Bach remains a remarkable achievement. Its intellectual range and ability to let us visualize difficult mathematical concepts help make it one of this century’s best for anyone who’s interested in computers and their potential for real intelligence. –Richard Dragan

Topics Covered: J.S. Bach, M.C. Escher, Kurt Gödel: biographical information and work, artificial intelligence (AI) history and theories, strange loops and tangled hierarchies, formal and informal systems, number theory, form in mathematics, figure and ground, consistency, completeness, Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry, recursive structures, theories of meaning, propositional calculus, typographical number theory, Zen and mathematics, levels of description and computers; theory of mind: neurons, minds and thoughts; undecidability; self-reference and self-representation; Turing test for machine intelligence.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this book applies Godel’s seminal contribution to modern mathematics to the study of the human mind and the development of artificial intelligence.
A Musico-Logical Offering. The book opens with the story of Bach’s Musical Offering. Bach made an impromptu visit to King Frederick the Great of Prussia, and was requested to improvise upon a theme presented by the King. His improvisations formed the basis of that great work. The Musical Offering and its story form a theme upon which I “improvise” throughout the book, thus making a sort of “Metamusical Offering”. Self-reference and the interplay between different levels in Bach are discussed: this leads to a discussion of parallel ideas in Escher’s drawings and then Gödel’s Theorem. A brief presentation of the history of logic and paradoxes is given as background for Gödel’s Theorem. This leads to mechanical reasoning and computers, and the debate about whether Artificial Intelligence is possible.
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The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl

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The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl

By Ree Drummond

Book Language: English 

Pages: 294

2009 Oct 27

ISBN-10 0061658197
ISBN-13 978-0061658198

My name is Ree.

Some folks know me as The Pioneer Woman.

After years of living in Los Angeles, I made a pit stop in my hometown in Oklahoma on the way to a new, exciting life in Chicago. It was during my stay at home that I met Marlboro Man, a mysterious cowboy with steely blue eyes and a muscular, work-honed body. A strict vegetarian, I fell hard and fast, and before I knew it we were married and living on his ranch in the middle of nowhere, taking care of animals, and managing a brood of four young children. I had no idea how I’d wound up there, but I knew it was exactly where I belonged.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks is a homespun collection of photography, rural stories, and scrumptious recipes that have defined my experience in the country. I share many of the delicious cowboy-tested recipes I’ve learned to make during my years as an accidental ranch wife—including Rib-Eye Steak with Whiskey Cream Sauce, Lasagna, Fried Chicken, Patsy’s Blackberry Cobbler, and Cinnamon Rolls—not to mention several “cowgirl-friendly” dishes, such as Sherried Tomato Soup, Olive Cheese Bread, and Crème Brûlée. I show my recipes in full color, step-by-step detail, so it’s as easy as pie to follow along.

You’ll also find colorful images of rural life: cows, horses, country kids, and plenty of chaps-wearing cowboys.

I hope you get a kick out of this book of mine. I hope it makes you smile. I hope the recipes bring you recognition, accolades, and marriage proposals. And I hope it encourages even the most harried urban cook to slow down, relish the joys of family, nature, and great food, and enjoy life.

About the Author

Ree Drummond is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Ree’s beloved website, The Pioneer Woman, was founded in 2006 and showcases her cooking, photography, and anecdotes about country life. Her cooking show, The Pioneer Woman, premiered on Food Network in 2011. Ree loves Ethel Merman songs, Toni Collette, and Gone With the Wind, and lives on a working cattle ranch in Oklahoma with her husband and four children.

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Design by Nature

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Design by Nature: Using Universal Forms and Principles in Design
By Maggie Macnab
2011 | 312 Pages | ISBN: 0321747763 |

In Design by Nature: Using Universal Forms and Principles in Design, author Maggie Macnab takes you on an intimate and eclectic journey examining the unending versatility of nature, showing how to uncover nature’s ingenuity and use it to create beautiful and compelling designed communications.

Written for designers and creative thinkers of all types, this book will guide you through a series of unexpected a-ha! moments that describe relationships among nature, art, science, technology, and design. Through explanation and example, you will learn about natural processes, consisting of everyday patterns and shapes that are often taken for granted, but that can be used effectively in visual messaging. Explore the principles all human beings intuitively use to understand the world and learn to incorporate nature’s patterns and shapes into your work for more meaningful design.

By recognizing and appreciating a broad range of relationships, you can create more aesthetic and effective design, building communications that encompass the universal experience of being part of nature, and that are relevant to a worldwide audience.

• Teaches how to understand and integrate the essential processes of nature’s patterns and shapes in design
• Includes key concepts, learning objectives, definitions, and exercises to help you put what you learn into practice
• Features a foreword by Debbie Millman and reviews and discussions of practice and process by some of the world’s leading designers, including Milton Glaser, Stefan Sagmeister, and Ellen Lupton
• Includes profiles of street artist Banksy, creative director and author Kenya Hara, and typographical designer Erik Spiekermann