In the ballad, told countless times over more than a century, the railroad worker John Henry wins a race against a new steam-powered drill, but the victory is Pyrrhic: he collapses, saying “Give me a cool drink of water before I die.” “Did he win? Did he lose?,” wonders novelist Colson Whitehead. “By the '60s,” remarks Scott Nelson, a professor of history who wrote Steel Drivin’ Man, “John Henry is looked down on, as being an Uncle Tom character. ... The black man who’s always willing to do what the white man wants. There’s a division between brain and brawn.”
Book that looks at technologies that have gone extinct.
Coke can ring pulls, telephone boxes, VHS, cassette tapes, village post offices, the test card, hand-written letters, classic TV ads of yesteryear -- all of these and many, many more are bid a fond farewell in this affectionate, but slightly irreverent tribute.
"What are your favorite books from 2012?" Tis the season when this question starts firing up libraryland and produces massive amounts of list serv posts with you-absolutely-have-to-read-this-book
recommendations. This topic is also an easy way for business, science and other non-library type of publications and websites to reach out to readers. (I find that many of the books that top these lists are more obscure titles that are not on the best seller lists, but that's whole other post.)
A couple of months ago I offered to give a talk on Children and e-books. Who is reading them, what they are reading them on, where the books come from, etc.
A lot has been written on adults and ebooks, a bit less on teens and ebooks and next to nothing on kids and ebooks except for the pieces on pre-schoolers and iPads.
Clearly, the organizers of the conference thought that there wasn't enough discussion on this topic and agreed to have me speak. But it turns out to be a Catch-22. What do I speak on, if there isn't enough information out there?
A comedy in four acts over seven weeks, from AAP/PSP's endorsement of HR3699, the Research Works Act, on January 5, 2012, to Elsevier's withdrawal of its support for RWA (which mysteriously caused the near-instantaneous death of the bill, introduced as it had been by wholly independent Congresspeople) on February 7, 2012. It's a story that I believe and hope will resonate with scientists and others...
And it's not directly related to the other essay, but some might see connections:
The Japanese have stumbled upon an extraordinary way to do mental arithmetic very, very fast: Become proficient with an abacus, then discard it and do your calculations using a mental image of one. The results are mind-boggling