Right-reading (adj): Having the proper orientation (used in printing)

Today is Friday, February 12, 2016 4:02 pm (U.S. central time).

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Tom Christensen
("xensen") . tom [at] rightreading.com
 

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Some popular blog posts, 2006-2008

Mailbag: NCBR (1616)

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.

Warmest regards,

~Joyce Joyce Jenkins, NCBR chair

N C B R * Northern California Book Reviewers

Canon Powershot A630 vs. Olympus PEN E-PL2

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.

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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.
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Pulp nonfiction

9 March">Friday roundup : Links for 9 March

“Every separation is a link.” — Simone Weil

Olympus E-Pl2

P3070267

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.

apricot blossoms - P3080274

And low-light examples like this one from the Asian Art Museum’s Terracotta Warriors show at 7Junipers.

terracotta warrior (kneeling archer)

Links for Friday, February 22

February 22: After nine months, Friday Roundup returns.

“Every separation is a link.” — Simone Weil

“Write in recollection and amazement for yourself.” — Jack Kerouac
(resurrecting a few old posts, because it’s been so long)

Stand by me

Who knows the way? Johnny Cash!

Paris under water

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?

Tom Kristensen

tom kristensen, haervaerk (havoc)

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.”

 

 

Password strength

How well do you see color?

Uncle Drew

Friday Roundup: Links for May 11

“Every separation is a link.” — Simone Weil

Lots of questions today:

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

Bravo, Walters!

llama, chamay culture, earthenware, 1000-1470

llama, chamay culture, earthenware, 1000-1470

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.

*

via artdaily.org

Kansas City Public Library

Friday roundup: links for May 4

“Every separation is a link.” — Simone Weil

Duly Quoted

  • “I think many men are much more familiar with the failed policies than a lot of other people, as well as the general public.”
    — Herman Cain, explaining the political gender gap

Font Shop plug-in

The Font Shop plug-in allows trying before buying. According to the FS webpage, “The FontShop Plugin Beta allows designers and other type enthusiasts to try out FontShop fonts directly inside Adobe® Photoshop® CS5 and CS5.5. You can preview any of the over 150,000 FontShop fonts for free, in the context of your own artwork. This is a great new way to find the perfect typographic fit for your project.”

Cats as typefaces

A manuscript of geometric solids

geometric solid from Codex Guelf 74. 1, via Bibliodyssey

This curious image, shamelessly copied from Peacay’s excellent Bibliodyssey, is one of several similar images from a 36-page manuscript said to date from the sixteenth century. The provenance and attribution of this work are a bit mysterious. There was great interest in regular geometric solids during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as it was thought that in them was hidden God’s secret design for the universe. Such thinking derived from the ancient lineage of Pythagoreanism.

One researcher who explored this direction in depth, as described in my 1616: The World in Motion, was Johannes Kepler, who in the early seventeenth century produced this somewhat similar diagram of a “cosmic cup” in which all of the regular solids are embedded together (Kepler persuaded the eastern Habsburg emperor Rudolf to commission royal metal workers to construct such a cup, though the efforts came to nothing):

kepler: planetary solids

 

The image reproduced at Bibliodyssey is curious for its lack of context and its early date. As a philosophical/mathematical model it is much less rigorous than Kepler’s version and seems as much the result of private symbolism as of mathematics. Some of the images from the manuscript have something of the quality of origami, which is certainly out of the mainstream even of esoterica, so to speak. I would hazard the guess that the author of this work might have been a forerunner of Rosicrucianism (notice the three-dimensional cross in the center of the image, which has some of the vocabulary of alchemy). If I can learn more about the manuscript I will share what I find out.