Cool video made from David Foster Wallace commencement address.
“Every separation is a link.” — Simone Weil
- Star musicians’ backstage food requests : What makes it cool are the photos in a Flemish Baroque style
- Niall Ferguson apologizes : Will people finally pick up on what a dope this guy is?
- The Buddha said, first drafts are suffering : No wait, it was John McFee
- Facebooks : No, really: face books
- Bad Land : Examing the American culture of violence
- Heracleion : Photographing the latest sunken city discovery
- 60 thoughts about turning 60 : There are even a few I agree with
- Landscape with Yellow Birds : A nice review
“Every separation is a link” — Simone Weil
- Blood and tragedy: The Caucasus in the literary imagination : Why Tolstoy is “the most revered Russian writer in Chechnya”
- Chechnya’s favorite Russian : More on Tolstoy and Chechnya
- The Chechen grievance: Tolstoy’s “Hadji Murad” after Boston : And still more
- L’origine médiévale de l’hyperlien, des pointeurs et des smileys : The medieval origins of emoticons (in French)
- “Anyone can create an e-book” : An interview with Michael Hart, said to have created the e-book in 1971
- Is Michael Pollan a sexist pig? : Emily Matchar of Salon.com wants to “smack Pollan … upside the head with a spatula”
- Most people won’t friend a boss on facebook : Let’s all unfriend our bosses!
- When Google lost its cool : Was it just this spring?
I returned home yesterday to find a case of books waiting for me.
This is my translation of poems by José Ángel Valente, considered by many the most significant Spanish poet of the second half of the twentieth century. (Thanks to Eliot Weinberger for the generous blurb.)
The book was published by Archipelago Press, in a lovely edition with a laid-textured cover. Its elegantly simple design is by Dave Bullen (whose mastery of typography is evident in the treatment of the title on the cover).
Stitching together photos can be great fun in the proper context. I think the Piazza del Duomo in Milan counts as one of these. This photo was taken 5 April 2013 with an Olympus E-Pl2. I stiched the images together with Olympus’s own photo software, called Olympus ib, but I’ve uploaded the result to a new service I found called Dermander, because I like its scrolling and embedding functions. Its a bit bare-bones (I wish it had the capability of selecting where to begin the scroll), but in contrast to Clevr (a service I’ve used before), it does allow full-screen panoramas (click the play icon and then the full-screen icon at upper right).
This version is downsized for web viewing. The original comprises seven large images.
This is nice. While I was traveling I received this e-mail:
Dear Tom Christensen,
On behalf of the Northern California Book Reviewers (NCBR), I am delighted to tell you that 1616: The World in Motion has been nominated for the Northern California Book Award in General Nonfiction as one of the best works by a northern California author published in 2012. Congratulations!
We hope that you can join us for the ceremony. Please let us know. It is free and open to the public; feel free to invite your friends and family. If you can’t attend yourself, please send a friend or representative to represent you and to accept should you receive the award. All nominated books at the awards will be celebrated, acknowledged, and made available for purchase and signing. We are looking forward to celebrating all of the nominated books and authors.
The 32nd Annual Northern California Book Awards will be held Sunday, May 19, 2013, at Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin, at Grove, at 1:00 p.m.
Immediately following the awards, a public reception with book signing for all of the nominated books will begin in the Latino/Hispanic Room at the Library. (The Library closes at 5:00 on Sunday.)
The event draws an enthusiastic literary audience to celebrate books and writers in northern California. All of the nominees will be brought on stage for recognition during the ceremony, and the winner in each category will be asked to speak briefly and read for three minutes. (Please come prepared to read for three minutes if you are announced as winner.)
Your book will be ordered for purchase at the reception by Friends of the San Francisco Library’s Readers Bookstore at the Main. During the reception, please stand or sit near your books for a time, so those who wish their books signed may find you. Please introduce yourself to the booksellers. There will be a reserved table for book signing at the reception.
The Northern California Book Awards were established by the NCBR (formerly BABRA) in 1981 to honor the work of writers and recognize exceptional service in the field of literature in northern California. The awards recognize excellence in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translation, and Children’s Literature. In addition to the book awards, the Fred Cody Award is presented annually for lifetime achievement. This year, poet and educator Kay Ryan will be honored. A complete list of nominees is posted on Poetryflash.org http://poetryflash.org/programs/?p=ncba_2013
The Northern California Book Awards are sponsored by Northern California Book Reviewers, Poetry Flash, Center for the Art of Translation, Red Room (redroom.com), Mechanics’ Institute Library, PEN West, the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, and San Francisco Public Library.
Someone representing NCBR may contact you directly regarding an interview opportunity if we receive a media request.
Please let me know if you have any other questions.
~Joyce Joyce Jenkins, NCBR chair
N C B R * Northern California Book Reviewers
Pixels or sensor size? Consumers have been trained to judge cameras by their pixel counts, But there are other factors that may be more important to image quality, in particular lens quality and sensor size. Recently I purchased an Olympus PEN E-PL2 camera. This is one of the newish breed of interchangeable lens mirrorless digital cameras that have near-DSLR-size sensors in bodies almost as small as those of point-and-shoots. It’s a good camera for me because much of my photography is travel related, and DSLRs tend to be too heavy and conspicuous for travel work (If I had the budget I would upgrade to the newer OM-D E-M5.)
On a recent trip I took both the Olympus and my old Canon A630 (which was more of a photo enthusiast camera than the current Powershot line, which to me is barely an upgrade from an iPhone camera), and I found that I used the Canon point-and-shoot more than I expected to. Among its advantages are its smaller size, which allows it to be slipped into a pocket and whipped out instantly (the Olympus is a little too big for this, except maybe when equipped with a pancake lens), its shorter time lag time between shots, its silent shutter (the PEN’s is fairly loud), and its swivel view screen, all of which make it well suited for inconspicuous street shooting — it draws virtually no attention. The Canon is also good in low-light situations, when I might not bother to pull out the PEN (unlike the more recent but expensive OM-D E-M5 in the same line, low light is not one of its particular strengths).
But how does the image quality compare? Photography sites tend to do comparisons between comparable cameras, which makes sense if you are shopping in a particular segment. It is less common to compare cameras that are significantly different in nature. But I was curious how great the difference would be between such cameras, and I made a quick, unscientific comparison. The results indicate the the larger sensor size and better optics of the Olympus are (as would be expected, or at least hoped) a distinct upgrade from the Canon. (The Canon is 8 megapixels, the Olympus 12.3 megapixels, but I don’t think that is sufficient to account for the difference in these images).
The Canon images are on the left, the Olympus on the right. The first obvious difference is in color. Olympus has the reputation of producing satisfying jpegs out of the camera without post processing (I’m mostly shooting jpg with the occasional raw; these are jpegs), but I’m not sure in this case that the color of the tomatoes is more accurate from the Olympus than the Canon — though I do think the Canon overdarkens the countertop and stove. (These images are reduced in size and sharpened a little to compensate for the reduction but otherwise not manipulated. They were taken without a flash.)
The difference becomes more apparent (even when reduced to the tiny size of these blog images) when we zoom in. Most obviously, the Canon fails to capture detail in the tomato sprigs, while the Olympus captures individual hairs.
There is also a clear difference in the cameras’ ability to capture the quality of the tomatoes’ translucent plastic container (the angles of the shots are slightly different).
Bottom line: no surprises (thankfully), but I think it is interesting to see just what the degree of difference is between a relatively top-of-the-line point-and-shoot and a typical mirrorless camera. For people who want high-quality images from a small camera, I would recommend the Olympus PEN series.
Thanks to the Pulp-O-Mizer.
“Every separation is a link.” — Simone Weil
- The rise of paywalls : Information wants to be free. Unfortunately, free doesn’t pay the bills
- News Corp spinning off its publishing arm : That $2.56 billion bankroll should help
- The paradox that is Emil Orlik : From The Blue Lantern, one of my favorite art blogs
- An awesomely bad contract from a Random affiliate : No advance, cede all rights for term of copyright, receive a single copy — self-publishing never looked better
- Ten grammar myths “debunked“ : If simply saying they’re wrong is the same as debunking. Sorry, I still don’t like “The reason is because”
- Do we need more readers? : Madam Mayo weighs in
- New art magazine Mothproof : Edited by Ellen Christensen, issue one is now on press. Time to begin issue two!
- And don’t forget Catamaran : Issue 2, now out, features the usual mix of cool art and writing, including new work by Gary Snyder
This photo of a jade plant in front of the fireplace was taken with my new camera, an Olympus E-PL2. This is a mirrorless camera in the micro four thirds format (so called for the 1.33 in. size of the sensor, I think). The best thing about the fairly new mirrorless cameras is that they employ near-DSL-size sensors in point-and-short-sized bodies (although eqipped with anything other than a pancake wide angle lens they are not really pocket sized). Within the mirrorless category, the u4/3 system is nice because some major camera manufacturers (notably Olympus and Panasonic) got together and agreed on specifications for the system. This means that within the u4/3 system you can buy a camera body from one company and make use of a lens from another company. The E-PL2 is a couple of years old, but it was offered at a great price, and the lenses are the same as on the current models (such as the OM-D-EM5, which is great but lists for $1300 on Amazon).
For more examples, I have some garden photos like this one posted at Frisco Vista.
And low-light examples like this one from the Asian Art Museum’s Terracotta Warriors show at 7Junipers.
February 22: After nine months, Friday Roundup returns.
“Every separation is a link.” — Simone Weil
- A dictionary of despicable words : Arguably a fine Flaubertian list of des mot injustes
- Bookstores as showrooms : Should there be a cover charge?
- Excising adverbs : How good an idea is this classic advice for writers?
- Bring back the illustrated book : Picture that
- Sadakichi Hartmann dancing : The King of Bohemia is my current research project
- Atlas Blaeu-Van der Hem : 17th-century cartographic prints suitable for the next edition of 1616
- The boredom of boozeless business : Does drinking at work make you more creative?
- Ulysses in pie chart form : From those cut-ups at Publishers Weekly
- Giclee prints : They’re art if I say so
- Shooting range : Add this to places not to store your your ammo
“Write in recollection and amazement for yourself.” — Jack Kerouac
(resurrecting a few old posts, because it’s been so long)
- A glossary of book publishing terms : What your publisher is really saying
- Some helpful books about writing : Any we missed?
- How to get a book published : The Old School method
- The plight of independent book publishing : About the toughest business there is
- Gutenburg and the Koreans : Did Europeans reverse engineer Asian printing technology?
- Motoring Amalfi : Such fun
While we’re on the subject of music, here’s a fine chorus of street musicians from around the world. Pretty cool.
This photo is one of a series of dark, atmospheric photos by Arnaud Labgraph showing the Seine at high water.
Photography is one of the diverse interests of this mainly book publishing-related blog, but I have been largely inactive for a while as I have been at work on nonvirtual projects. I hope to get back to more regular blogging now — we shall see — and what better way than with a post drawn from my colleague Jason Jose’s Faith Is Torment blog?
Maybonne returned recently from a trip to Europe, which included a swing through northern Germany and Denmark. While there she took a few pictures of Christensen-related books and signage, including this shelf featuring the best-known title of Tom Kristensen (1893-1974).
I’ve long had some interest in Kristensen, and not just because of the similarity of our names. I first encountered him in Richard Ellman’s biography of James Joyce. (Apparently Ellman got some of his facts wrong about Joyce and Kristensen, who did a review of the bio.) Kristensen’s book Haervaerk (“Havoc,” shown in the photo) was influenced by Joyce and introduced some of his literary strategies to Denmark. The two men met, and Joyce was interested in Kristensen’s work, which centered around the city of Copenhagen much as Joyce’s centered around Dublin. Haervaerk, which was published in 1930 traces a journalist’s intentional journey of self-ruination. The book was translated into English by Carl Malmberg as Havoc and published by the University of Wisconsin Press.
There is a good brief appreciation of Haervaerk by Marie (who has a master’s degree in Comparative Literature and Theatre Studies, and is employed as a dramaturge at a chamber opera house in Copenhagen) at the blog “At the Lighthouse.”
“Through twenty years of effort, we’ve successfully trained everyone to use passwords that are hard for humans to remember, but easy for computers to guess.”
I proof color professionally in my job as a museum publications specialist, and I feel like I’m pretty good at it. So I was pleased to get the confirmation of a perfect score in this interesting color test. Give it a try!
I know it’s Pepsi, but Uncle Drew is still awesome.
“Every separation is a link.” — Simone Weil
Lots of questions today:
- Can bookstores compete by combining traditional strengths with innovations? : Is the answer really as easy as Espresso Book Machines?
- Does reading fiction make you more empathetic? : An Ohio State study finds readers can be more sympathetic to others who are different from themselves
- Is most human discourse plagiarism? : Let’s ask Mark Twain
- What would happen if Maurice Sendakcollaborated with Tony Kushner? : Might some prints remain to be published?
- What did Jorge Luis Borges sound like when he lectured? : This fellow had a lot to say
- What is the future of book publishing? : “The bottom line is it’s a mess and everybody’s worried.”
Duly quoted (Mother’s Day weekend edition):
- “Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother’s love is not.” – James Joyce
- “Mothers are all slightly insane.” — J.D. Salinger
- “I believe that always, or almost always, in all childhoods and in all the lives that follow them, the mother represents madness. Our mothers always remain the strangest, craziest people we’ve ever met.” – Marguerite Duras
- “David Stern should get with the mothers of the NBA and let the moms decide what the dress code should be. I asked my mother if I could wear a chain, and she told me yeah.” – Shaquille O’Neal
The Walters Art Museum has donated some 19,000 images of works from their collections to Wikimedia. They are among the museums — another is the Getty — who reject the spurious claim of some institutions that they can control the copyright on works that are hundreds of years old. In 2006 they removed admission fees. In 2011 they made 20,000 images available on their website through a Creative Commons license. I endorse this attitude, which promotes the free exchange of ideas and furthers the institution’s educational mission in a dramatic and effective way.