About the Author
Has contributed to The Atlantic, New York Times Magazine, and the Washington
Post among others.
A Story of Perfume, Obsession, and the Last Mystery of the Senses. Luca Turin proposes a new theory of smell. Vision is perceived by light vibrations; Sound as well. Turin proposes that the same is true of Smell.
The science gets a little deep, but the human story is compelling.
Whether he is right or not has not been universally decided. The fights between branchs of science are like civet fights.
One scientist, Richard Doty, says
"You may have noticed that if you breath through your nose, you tend to breathe through only one side of it for a while, then for a while through the other. . . When you smell information on the right side, you send it to the left side of the brain and vice versa, and you find a statistically significant increase in verbal scores when you breathe through the left side of your nose."
"The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine this year goes to two Americans who have puzzled out the sense of smell. Richard Axel and Linda Buck will split $1.4 million for discovering how chemicals in the air trigger thousands of recognizably different odors."
"Doty's comment is incorrect. Actually, it might be from Chandler Burr's book, that was unclear.
The olfactory receptor sites do not switch recognition to the opposite brain hemisphere. What is breathed in through the right nostril goes directly to the right side of the brain, the left to the left."
According to Rick Chapman, the answer is simpler: Microsoft was the only company on the list that never made a fatal, stupid mistake. Whether this was by dint of superior brainpower or just dumb luck, the biggest mistake Microsoft made was the dancing paperclip. And how bad was that, really? We ridiculed them, shut it off, and went back to using Word, Excel, Outlook, and Internet Explorer every minute of every day. But for every other software company that once had market leadership and saw it go down the drain, you can point to one or two giant blunders that steered the boat into an iceberg.
Micropro fiddled around rewriting the printer architecture instead of upgrading their flagship product, WordStar. Lotus wasted a year and a half shoehorning 123 to run on 640kb machines; by the time they were done Excel was shipping and 640kb machines were a dim memory. Digital Research wildly overcharged for CP/M-86 and lost a chance to be the de-facto standard for PC operating systems. VisiCorp sued themselves out of existence. Ashton-Tate never missed an opportunity to piss off dBase developers, poisoning the fragile ecology that is so vital to a platform vendor's success."
Quote: the following quote was added just for the neat statistic.
"In 1993, Microsoft Excel 5.0 took up about $36.00 worth of hard drive space. In 2000, Microsoft Excel 2000 takes up about $1.03 in hard drive space. All adjusted for inflation."
About the Author
The Library of Congress has a reading by Kurzweil
"Narrated by Alexander Short, a stylish young reference librarian of arcane interests, The Grand Complication propels the reader through a card catalog of desperation and delight, of intrigue and theft. It's a novel of suspense that comes full circle, with a clock-maker's precision and a storyteller's surprise, on page 360."
"THE SEARCH BEGAN with a library call slip and the gracious query of an elegant man.
"I beg your pardon," said the man, bowing ever so slightly. "Might I steal a moment of your time?"
He deposited his slip on the reference desk and turned it so that the lettering would face me. And if this unusual courtesy wasn't enough to attract attention, there was also the matter of his handwriting — a gorgeous old-fashioned script executed with confident ascenders and tapering exit strokes — as well as the title of the book he requested. Secret Compartments in Eighteenth-Century Furniture played right to my fascination with objects of enclosure.
"Let's see what we can do for you, Mr. — " I double-checked the bottom of the slip before uttering his improbably literary name. "Henry James Jesson III."
After I had directed him to the tube clerk, curiosity got the best of me, so I rang the stack supervisor and asked that she expedite retrieval. In a further breach of protocol, I pushed through the swing gate and planted myself near the dumbwaiter in Delivery, where I waited for the book to surface.
"This is terribly kind of you," Jesson said as I slid Secret Compartments under the brass grille.
"Glad to be of service."
I was professional enough not to mention the uncanny overlap of our interests — I don't meet many readers keen on lettering technique and enclosures. But that same restraint left me mildly disappointed. The call slip was so enticing, our exchange so stilted and brief.
Jesson settled himself at a table near the municipal tax codes. He quickly supplied further proof of a charmingly outmoded manner by digging deep into his capacious trouser pockets to extract a roll of paper, a tiny ink pot, and a calligraphy pen. Though he seemed to ignore the stares of nearby readers, he occasionally glanced in my direction, as if to confirm that I'd stuck around. Which, of course, I had. In fact, while he took notes on Secret Compartments, I took notes on him, convinced that the consonance of our uncommon pursuits demanded annotation.
He wore billowy trousers of moss-green corduroy that had wale as thick as pencils. These he partnered with a button-down shirt of subtle stripe and a dainty chamois vest tied at the back with a fat purple ribbon. He had an indulgent-looking face and blue-gray eyes that recalled the color of the buckram on my compact OED. Despite a bump at the bridge of his nose and teeth that predated fluoridation, he was undeniably handsome, a scholar who appeared unencumbered by the tattered frugality of most academics I assist. Those, in toto, were my preliminary observations of the elderly man wishing to steal a moment of my time."
A watch that shows the phases of the moon, for instance, is said to have one complication. A watch with five of these extra actions is said to be a grand complication.
By Mark Obmascik
Free Press; (February 4, 2004)
About the Author
Mark Obmascik was the winner of the 2003 National Press Club Award for environmental journalism. He has a story tellers ability to, not only describe the setting, but to draw the reader into the adventure.
2.4 million people keep what is called a "life list" of birds they have seen. In the USA, some 50 million people lay claim to being bird-watchers or 'birders,' spending billions of dollars on birding-related travel and membership fees every year. A few compete in one of the world's quirkiest contests — the race to spot the most species in North America in a single year. And 1998 wasn't just a big year. It was to become the greatest birding year of all time.
"Every year on January 1, a quirky crowd of adventurers storms out across North America for a spectacularly competitive event called a Big Year — a grand, grueling, expensive, and occasionally vicious, "extreme" 365-day marathon of birdwatching.
For three men in particular, 1998 would be a whirlwind, a winner-takes-nothing battle for a new North American birding record. In frenetic pilgrimages for once-in-a-lifetime rarities that can make or break their lead, the birders race each other from Del Rio, Texas, in search of the rufous-capped warbler, to Gibsons, British Columbia, on a quest for Xantus's hummingbird, to Cape May, New Jersey, seeking the offshore great skua. Bouncing from coast to coast on their potholed road to glory, they brave broiling deserts, roiling oceans, bug-infested swamps, a charge by a disgruntled mountain lion, and some of the lumpiest motel mattresses known to man. "
"Architecture is a plant's first defense. Once a caterpillar begins to eat, compounds in its saliva can be recognized by the leaf as a form of attack. Whang, whang, whang. The entire plant goes on alert. A hormonal burst starts a second defense system, a counter attack that may include rushing newly produced toxins to the damaged leaf, as well as compounds that slow a caterpillar's ability to digest the plant as food."
About the Author
Sharman Apt Russell teaches writing at Western New Mexico University. She is also the author of Anatomy of a Rose, Kill the Cowboy and Songs of the Fluteplayer.
She has a unique voice. Inherently complex topics are made enjoyable.
From the beastly horned caterpillar, whose blood helps it count time, to the peacock butterfly, with wings that hiss like a snake, Russell traces the butterflies through their life cycles, exploring the creatures' own obsessions with eating, mating, and migrating. In this way, she reveals the logic behind our endless fascination with butterflies as well as the driving passion of such legendary collectors as the tragic Eleanor Glanville, whose children declared her mad because of her compulsive butterfly collecting, and the brilliant Henry Walter Bates, whose collections from the Amazon in 1858 helped develop his theory of mimicry in nature. Russell also takes us inside some of the world's most prestigious natural history museums, where scientists painstakingly catalogue and categorize new species of Lepidoptera, hoping to shed light on insect genetics and evolution.
By Sharman Apt Russell
Perseus Publishing 2003
..." loyalists have claimed Freddy as the ancestor of more famous literary pigs such as those in George Orwell's "Animal Farm" (1945). In fact, in "Freddy the Politician" (first published in 1939 as "Wiggins for President" ), the animals foil a crafty gang of woodpeckers who try to seize control of the Bean Farm by making extravagant promises - a revolving door for the henhouses, cat-proof apartments for the rats and so on. In his book "Fairy Tales and After," the critic Roger Sale pointed out that :Freddy the Politician: "not only preceded Orwell's work but is a good deal more careful with its materials and, for that matter, shrewder about its politics... The actions emerge much less mechanically than do Orwell's."
Freddy's readers have called him a porcine prince, a pig of many parts, a paragon of porkers, a Renaissance pig. As the problems he faces require, he is by turns a cowboy, a balloonist, a magician, a campaign manager, a pilot, and a detective. But he is the most unheroic of heroes: he oversleeps, daydreams, eats too much and, when not suffering from writer's block, writes flowery poetry for all occasions. His tail uncurls when he gets scared. Although lazy, he accomplishes a lot, because "when a lazy person once really gets started doing things, it's easier to keep on than it is to stop."
You don't have to be spreadsheet challenged to read this book. Many people become quite adept at using Worksheet functions and even VBA, but have little experience with charting.
This book has some great cartoons, and, by page 361, the reader will be exposed to step by step instructions covering both simple charts and some quite sophisticated graphing.
"Excel Charts For Dummies will show readers how to professionally display data in presentation-quality charts. How to create attractive charts and why to use specific charts in particular circumstances. Lots of real-world examples with step-by-step tutorials. How to embed graphics and pictures into charts; then use them in impressive PowerPoint presentations or Microsoft Word documents. The book features a 16-page full-color insert of the best Excel charts 'works of art.'"
Ken Bluttman is also the author of Excel Formulas and Functions for Dummies, Access Hacks, and Developing Microsoft Office Solutions.
By Ken Bluttman ISBN 0-7645-8473-1 Wiley Publishing, Inc. 2005
About the Author Michael Perry was raised on a small dairy farm near New Auburn, Wisconsin, and put himself through nursing school working as a cowboy in Wyoming. As of this writing, he is the only member of the New Auburn (nee Cartwright Mills) Area Fire Department to have missed the monthly meeting because of a poetry reading. See: SneezingCow.com
Book Description A collection of stories about life in a small Wisconsin town. What it's like to be in the volunteer fire department with your brothers and your mother. Unable to polka or repair his own pickup, his farm-boy hands gone soft after years of writing, Mike figures the best way to regain his credibility is to join the volunteer fire department. Against a backdrop of fires and tangled wrecks, bar fights and smelt feeds, he tells a frequently comic tale leavened with moments of heartbreaking delicacy and searing tragedy.
"... The village board sent someone around to recite nuisance ordinances chapter and verse, but beyond rearranging the bikes and aligning the camper with the speedboat - feng shui primitif - nothing has changed. You take what you can get in this life. Someone calls you white trash, you go with it, and fight like hell to keep your trash. You understand it is a matter of distinctions: yuppies with their shiny trash, church ladies with their hand-stitched trash, solid citizens with their secret trash. In a yard just outside town, a spray-painted piece of frayed plywood leans against a tree. It reads Trans Ams: 2 for $2000. It has been there for two years."
Joey Green has written a book about other uses for everyday products like:
"Relieve itching from chicken pox, poison ivy, poison oak, or pain from sunburn. Pour two cups Cheerios in a blender and blend into a fine powder on medium-high speed. Put the powdered Cheerios into a warm bath and soak in the oats for thirty minutes. It's a soothing oatmeal bath.
Make "Cheerios Chicken." Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a jelly-roll pan (15.5 inches by 10.5 inches by 1 inch) with aluminum foil. Mix two cups finely crushed Cheerios (from the yellow box), one-quarter teaspoon pepper, one teaspoon parsley flakes, one-quarter teaspoon garlic powder, one-quarter teaspoon dried oregano leaves, and one-half teaspoon salt. Dip four chicken-breast halves (skinned and boned) into one-quarter cup milk, then roll in cereal mix until well coated. Place chicken in pan and drizzle with two tablespoons melted margarine. Bake until done, about twenty to twenty-five minutes. (Above 3,500 feet elevation, bake about thirty minutes.) Makes four servings."
About the Author Cliff Atkinson is a leading authority on how to improve communications across organizations using Microsoft PowerPoint. He is a popular keynote speaker, a writer, and an independent management consultant whose clients include companies ranking in the top five of the Fortune 500. He is president of Sociable Media in Los Angeles.
Cliff teaches at UCLA Extension, is a senior contributor for the MarketingProfs newsletter, and writes the Beyond Bullets weblog, atBeyondBullets.com. Also see SociableMedia.com
Book Description PowerPoint owns the presentation world. We've been cocooned by a blue gradient screen with six or more bullet points feeding information. Or so we've been lulled to believe. (see Edward Tufte's dissection of the Columbia PowerPoint disaster)
Cliff Atkinson takes a well researched, but almost heretical stand that a presentation is a story and that too much data plastered on the screen, dulls the audience's soul and actually reduces comprehension and retention.
Beyond Bullets walks the reader through the story process and provides tools to structure presentations to have the maximum impact.
The "PowerPoint" part of the process is easy to follow, even for a novice. The story telling sections will help improve the most experienced speaker's show.
"But what might not be evident in the simplicity of this slide is what happens when the audience experiences it along with your verbal explanation. Because the slide design is simple, the audience can quickly scan the headline and visual and understand the idea. Then their attention turns to the place you want it. — to you, the words you're saying, and the way the information relates to them. Instead of making everything explicit and obvious on the slides, you can leave the slides open to interpretation so the audience is dependent on you, and you on them.
What (the experts are) saying, basically, is that slides filled with bullet points create obstacles between presenters and audiences. You might want to be natural and relaxed when you present, but people say that bullet points make the atmosphere formal and stiff. You might aim to be clear and concise, but people often walk away from these presentations feeling confused and unclear. And you might intend to display the best of your critical thinking on a screen, but people say that bullet points "dumb down" the important discourse that needs to happen for our society to function well.
Somewhere in our collective presentation experience, we're not connecting the dots between presenters and audiences by using the conventional bullet points approach. This issue is of rising concern not only to individuals and audiences - even the major players of large organizations are taking notice of the problem. It seems that in every location where people meet, from small meeting rooms to board rooms to conference halls, people want a change."
Microsoft Press; Deluxe edition (May 10, 2008) Ed Bott, Carl Siechert, and Craig Stinson. ISBN: 0735625247
The First edition of this book came out January of 2007. The latest version will be breaking your mailbox in May.
This edition has advanced information. You get 300+ new pages in this update. New topics include advanced networking, security, and corporate deployment issues as well as advanced features such as speech recognition, Tablet PC support, and Windows Vista certification.
Ed Bott is a Microsoft Guru. If you can hold off until its release, you'll be well rewarded. If not, pick up the earlier edition.
Has written for all the usual suspects: The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, and the New York Times.
"Bilger kicks off the tour from his hometown in Oklahoma, where he 'noodles'--thrashes a limb around in catfish-thick waters--hoping to land a fabled 80-pound monster with his bare hands. In Louisiana, he challenges the misgivings any nonenthusiast might have about cockfighting.
Even though it's illegal in most of the country, the bloodsport is thriving in the Bayou State, replete with trade magazines, well-produced venues, and American Kennel Club-worthy breeding strategies. The same passion for efficiency goes into the moonshining business, where Bilger is taken under the wing of one of the few shiners willing to lead him through his sourmash operation. A few nights later, however, Bilger is on the other side, on a raid with the local sheriff.
Squirrel-brain consumption is still popular in hamlets throughout Kentucky, even after a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine blamed a neurological disease on the dish. Bilger treats each eccentric character with a distant respect and hints at the melancholy of losing tradition, no matter how bizarre."
"tick tick tick
I'm nostril-deep in murky water, sunk to the calves in gelatinous muck.
Noodling, I know, is the fishing equivalent of a shot in the dark. For his master's thesis at Mississippi State University, a fisheries biologist named Jay Francis spent three years noodling two rivers.
All told, he caught 35 fish in 1,362 tries: 1 fish for every 39 noodles."
To "noodle" is to dangle your arm in the water until a catfish swallows your hand. The fish record catch includes one at 111 pounds.
"When clamped on your arm, catfish also have an unfortunate tendency to bear down and spin , like a sharpener on a pencil."
... "once that thing gets to flouncin' and that sandpaper gets to rubbin', it can peel your hide plumb off."
By Ralph Leighton ISBN 0-393-32069-3 W.W.Norton & Company, Inc. 2000, 1991
There has been a lot made of the PowerPoint contribution to the failure of the Challenger shuttle (see Edward Tufte.)
Before that was the Columbia disaster. Richard Feynman found the problem with the "O" rings, He too complained about PowerPoint like presentations:
"Then we learned about bullets — little black circles in front of phrases that were supposed to summarize things. There was one after another of these little goddamn bullets in our briefing books and on the slides."
This book however is about something altogether different.
As a stamp-collecting boy always fascinated by remote places, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman was particularly taken by the diamond-shaped stamps from a place called Tannu Tuva. He hoped, someday, to travel there. In 1977, Feynman and his sidekick — fellow drummer and geography enthusiast Ralph Leighton — set out to make arrangements to visit Tuva, doing noble and hilarious battle with Soviet red tape, befriending quite a few Tuvans, and discovering the wonders of Tuvan throat-singing. Their Byzantine attempts to reach Tannu Tuva would span a decade, interrupted by Feynman's appointment to the committee investigating the Challenger disaster, and his tragic struggle with the cancer that finally killed him. Tuva or Bust! chronicles the deepening friendship of two zany, brilliant strategists whose love of the absurd will delight and instruct. It is Richard Feynman's last, best adventure.
"Sure enough, occupying a notch northwest of Mongolia was a territory that could well once have had the name Tannu Tuva. "Look at this," remarked Richard, "The capital is spelled K-Y-Z-Y-L." "That's crazy," I said. "There's not a legitimate vowel anywhere!" "We must go there," said Gweneth. "Yeah!" exclaimed Richard. "A place that's spelled K-Y-Z-Y-L has got to be interesting."
Also: Listen to the music of Tuva on this CD. Willie Nelson is on one track, but it does demonstrate two toned throat singing:
Here's another great Tuva story:
" Paul Pena is a blind San Francisco blues singer who has played with the likes of John Lee Hooker and Jerry Garcia (he also penned "Jet Airliner," which Steve Miller covered). One night while listening to his shortwave radio, he picked up a Radio Moscow broadcast and heard the mesmerizing, gutteral sound of throat singing, which is peculiar to Tuva's region of upper Mongolian. Enthralled, he became a master of this obscure art form. Enter Friends of Tuva, a curious group that included Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, who likewise had become fascinated with Tuva. In 1993 they sponsored a San Francisco appearance by Tuvan singers. Pena was in the audience and met with the singers afterward. Pena so impressed the Tuvans that he was encouraged to come to Tuva and participate in its annual festival competition. Genghis Blues chronicles this incredible journey."
About the Author Has written for Salon, Discover, New York Times Magazine
For two thousand years, cadavers -- some willingly, some unwittingly -- have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. They've tested France's first guillotines, ridden the NASA Space Shuttle, been crucified in a Parisian laboratory to test the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, and helped solve the mystery of TWA Flight 800. For every new surgical procedure, from heart transplants to gender reassignment surgery, cadavers have been there alongside surgeons, making history in their quiet way.
In this fascinating, ennobling account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries -- from the anatomy labs and human-sourced pharmacies of medieval and nineteenth-century Europe to a human decay research facility in Tennessee, to a plastic surgery practice lab, to a Scandinavian funeral directors' conference on human composting.
Quote Besides a study about what happens to our remains, Roach has this comment:
"Anthropologists will tell you that the reason people never dined regularly on other people is economics. While there existed, I am told, cultures in Central America that actually ranched humans -- kept enemy soldiers captive for awhile to fatten them up -- it was not practical to do so, because you had to give up more food to feed them than you'd gain in the end by eating them. Carnivores and omnivores, in other words, make lousy livestock."
About the Author Williams teaches electronic typography and has written some excellent books on digital design.
Anyone who has witnessed the horrific use of type on many personal web sites knows how badly these books are needed. Clear explanations and good illustrations are the hallmarks of both volumes.
Also author of The PC is not a typewriter.
Book Description Each short chapter explores a different type secret including use of evocative typography, tailoring typeface to project, working with spacing, punctuation marks, special characters, fonts, justification, and much more. It is written in the lively, engaging style that has made Williams one of the most popular computer authors today.
It uses numerous examples to illustrate the subtle details that make the difference between good and sophisticated use of type. The non-platform specific, non-software specific approach to the book makes this a must-have for any designer's bookshelf - from type novices to more experienced graphic designers and typesetters.
"Most packages also have a discretionary hyphen, affectionately called a "dischy." If you type Ctrl+- (Control Hypen on a PC), the word will hyphenate at that point, that hyphen will disappear when the word moves to another location.
Also (and this is the point), if you type a discretionary hyphen in front of a hyphenated word, it will not hyphenate at all, ever."