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John Ruskin: Pedant or pioneer?
August 30, 2014 | 12:32 pm

John Ruskin (1890-1900), art critic, amateur artist, social thinker, and brilliant literary stylist, was one of those titans of Victorian industry that make modern creative figures seem feeble dilettantes in comparison, dominating aesthetic, social, and political commentary in the English-speaking world and beyond for most of his life, not least through his enduring and superb writing. He also has a less appealing reputation as an elephantine pedant, the man sued by James McNeill Whistler for libel after accusing him of "flinging a pot of paint in the public's face," the man castigated by Vernon Lee (Violet Paget) for his "obscure,...

Weekend Links: Question of Clickbait. The opposite of legacy
August 30, 2014 | 11:27 am

clickbait-memeInternet Archive Uploads More than 14 Million Public Domain Images to Flickr (Boing Boing) Kalev Leetaru programatically recovered all the images that were discarded by the OCR program that digitizes the millions of public domain books scanned by the Archive... *** The Opposite of Legacy (Joe Konrath) I've found--and I'm sure I'm not alone--that when something newsworthy is happening, I first hear about it via Twitter or Facebook. Often, from people reporting what's occurring in real time. *** Bookless Library Opened by New U.S. University (The Guardian) Florida Polytechnic University's enormous facility promises to make 'many more books available for the students' in digital form. *** When Does Giving...

France’s anti-Amazon minister goes
August 30, 2014 | 10:32 am

the FrenchIn the latest of a series of ministerial exits from the deeply unpopular government of French President François Hollande, minister for culture Aurélie Filippetti has quit during a ministerial reshuffle, ostensibly over Hollande's new austerity policies. She joins former education minister Benoît Hamon and Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg, himself already cited as a left-leaning chauvinist in other high-profile negotiations and spats with France's international investors and business partners. In an open letter, Filippetti has warned of political disarray that is throwing the electorate into disillusionment with politics, "or worse, into the arms of the Front National." The letter also refers to...

E-Book Review: Rand Unwrapped: Confessions of a Robotech Warrior
August 30, 2014 | 5:55 am

coverIt’s no secret that the animated TV show Robotech had a big formative influence on me when I was growing up. I still use the handle “Robotech_Master” for my Twitter, Facebook, and other personal Internet accounts, and I still love the show. And my main foray into podcasting, Space Station Liberty, is about Robotech. On Space Station Liberty, I’ve interviewed a number of the actors and writers associated with the show, including the late Carl Macek himself. Today at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern, I’m going to be interviewing another: Frank Catalano, voice actor for the characters Rand,...

Morning Roundup: Pinterest boards for bookish types and more
August 29, 2014 | 12:08 pm

Pinterest is full of recipes, outfits, and intense Pinterest-y craft projects. But it’s also full of books....

xkcd explains why texting is good for writing skills
August 29, 2014 | 7:18 am

Origin 8292014 70958 AM.bmpRandall Munroe, Hugo-winning webcomic artist of xkcd, has hit the nail on the head with another keen observation about our mobile lifestyle. The xkcd character Cueball is not surprised when his friend observes that SMS texting is actually good for spelling and grammar. Practice, he explains in the rest of the strip, makes perfect. (The text does contain an F-bomb, but it’s an F-bomb that was dropped by James Joyce.) Be sure and pay attention to the alt-text that comes up when you mouse over the comic. In an odd juxtaposition, this came just a few minutes after I...

Designers & Dragons vol. 3 now available to Kickstarter backers
August 28, 2014 | 10:54 pm

ddvol3A quick update on the Designers & Dragons Kickstarter, whose first volume I reviewed a few weeks ago. The second volume in the 4-volume series, covering the 1980s, has been available for a while to those (such as myself) who kicked in at least $15. Today, the ‘90s volume came out. The second and third volumes are PDF-only for now, since the EPUB and MOBI versions take time to craft, but they’re coming. The fourth volume will be released in a preliminary draft form without an index sometime before the Kickstarter completes. I haven’t had the chance to look...

The Edinburgh International Book Festival 2014: Some concluding images
August 28, 2014 | 3:30 pm

IMG_20140825_184414Here is a montage of shots from the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2014 - just to give you all a taste. And here's to next year - in another country, perhaps ? ...

Morning Roundup: Amazon Student Scholarship; floating libraries and more
August 28, 2014 | 11:57 am

The Amazon Student Scholarship is a merit-based contribution that will supply 50 undergrads with $5,000 in tuition money and $500 for textbooks....

Interview with Niall Campbell, winner of the first Edwin Morgan Award
August 27, 2014 | 3:56 pm

At this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival, poet Niall Campbell came first in the inaugural Edwin Morgan Poetry Award for young Scottish poets with a first collection (published or unpublished). Under the terms of the Award, he received £20,000 ($33,000), twice the value of the venerable and highly regarded James Tait Black Prize for fiction. I spoke to him about the Award and his own feelings regarding the Scottish tradition....

Morning Roundup: Australian authorities want to track bandwidth data and more
August 27, 2014 | 9:42 am

A leaked consultation paper suggests that the Australian government has realised it’s a tad excessive to track which websites people visit. However, the tracking of available bandwidth and upload/download information seems to be on the table....

In dismissing Amazon’s Orwell quotation, Laura Miller misinterprets Orwell herself
August 26, 2014 | 9:15 pm

There she goes again. Salon’s Laura Miller has penned the latest in a series of tirades against Amazon, this one summing up the squabble thus far and taking issue with Amazon’s quotation of Orwell’s discussion of paperbacks in its “Readers United” letter explaining that lower prices were good for everyone. We’ve already discussed Miller’s biases in some of the links above, but the most interesting thing has to do with her understanding (or lack thereof) of the Orwell quotation. Miller writes: To top it all off this month, the retailer posted an open...