Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Wild Asia in Sonoma

September 14, 2017

Tuesday morning on KRCB (NPR station in Sonoma CA), a brief piece about the Quarryhill Botanical Garden there and a forthcoming Quarryhill lecture by Andrea Wulf, author of a recent book on Alexander von Humboldt. The garden was new to me, as was the book, and both are fascinating, but what mostly got my attention was the reporter’s pronunciation of quarry — with accented æ, to rhyme (in my variety of English) with Larry, Harry, carry, and marry.

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Obsolete technologies and middle verbs

September 5, 2017

A pair of Zits strips, from yesterday and today:

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The theme is the looming obsolescence of technologies and their supporting infrastructures and social practices, in this case the system of mail delivery (cue Thomas Pynchon’s novella The Crying of Lot 49), with all its parts and accompaniments: postage stamps, envelopes and postcards, mail boxes, mail transport and delivery systems, posthorns and their tunes, delivery personnel in uniforms, mail slots, post offices, conventions for the form of letters, and more. If you’re young and well wired these days, this all could be as mysterious and exotic as analog clocks.

Jeremy is wary of the whole business.

And yes, Pynchon is relevant.

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HIH and his boys

August 21, 2017

From Steven Levine on Facebook today, this vintage image he found in his explorations at flea markets, used book stores, estate auctions, and the like:

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An ad for two of the H. (for Harrie) Irving Hancock book series for boys. Yes, the hero of the two High School Boys series is named Dick, there’s “Hard as Nails” and “Laying Tracks”, but the books themselves seem to be earnest, innocent, and manly.

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July 24th, p. 9: two artists

August 15, 2017

(References to mansex in public places in the second part of this posting, so that section is not for kids or the sexually modest.)

The July 24th issue of the New Yorker, p. 9, with announcements of two art shows in NYC, one (still life photographs of food by Sandy Skoglund) involving an old artistic acquaintance of mine, one (a group show with two paintings by Lucas Michael) including an artist unfamiliar to me, but LM’s theme of glory holes at an LA sex club caught my eye.

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The War of the Weeds

August 12, 2017

On Facebook on the 4th, from Michael Siemon in Oakland CA, photos of rampant golden bamboo and common ivy in his backyard jungle. Amanda Walker wondered if they could be pitted against one another. The ensuing exchange:

Michael Siemon: They are fighting it out with salvia and ferns for total control of the back yard, down to Temescal Creek. We keep all of them (mostly!) cut back beyond the small path around the back of the house…

Arnold Zwicky: In back of the downtown Palo Alto Library (across the street from my house) this variety of bamboo, incredibly aggressive ivy, and trees of heaven (ailanthus) are warring on the fence line with the property to the south. More than a little scary.

Ailanthus and common ivy are known to be allelopathic (chemically inhibiting the growth of other plants) and golden bamboo is suspected of being so.

Now for some pictures.

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The clean-gasm

August 5, 2017

Friday’s Zits:

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The playful libfix –gasm, extracted from orgasm and suggesting great satisfaction (akin to orgasm). Here attached to clean (either Adj or V, probably Adj),

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A stay in medical Antarctica

August 4, 2017

Yesterday’s medical adventure, set off by my shortness of breath during exertion, especially in hot weather (which we’ve been having a lot of; my symptoms became worrisome on a weekend in May when the temperature in Palo Alto reached 107 F). I was referred to a cardiologist; alarmed, she set up yesterday’s myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) test, specifically via single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). Details to follow.

The test involved hours at Palo Alto Medical Foundation, much of it sitting around between its parts. The actual imaging parts of the test took place in astonishingly icy rooms — which I came to refer to as medical Antarctica — so that I was shivering with cold when I left after 5 hours.

In the sitting-around parts of the event, I read through most of the latest (August 7th and 14th) issue of the New Yorker. To leaven the stark medical details, I’ll report on one of the pieces (Lauren Collins’s “Identity crisis: Notes from a names obsessive”), one of the cartoons (by Joe Dator), and a set of “spots”, small illustrations by Nishant Choksi sprinkled throughout the issue.

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POP with Poe

July 18, 2017

Another POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau) from Hilary Price in today’s Rhymes With Orange:

(#1) Edgar Allan Poe + po’ boy

The Raven flies to New Orleans.

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Surreal juxtaposition

July 15, 2017

One of Dan Piraro’s specialties in his Bizarro strip. Today’s strip brings Pinocchio to the beach, offering to exchange favors:

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(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

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Words on a wall

July 8, 2017

The latest xkcd (#1860):

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That’s Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty on that wall, discoursing on semantics as in Through the Looking-Glass. The stand-in for the baffled Alice in the book is the aggressively disputatious Science Girl of xkcd.

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