- I got to see my very first real aurora last month (living in the rural north has benefits!) It was not nearly as flashy as the following link, but it was still stunningly amazing. It does mean I’ve been clicking on aurora pictures even more than usual, though, and I particularly liked this post from Phil Plait over at Bad Astronomy with a time lapse movie made from aurora still shots in Norway by Nicholas Buer. Click(and as Phil says, full-screen) if you need 2.5 minutes of beauty in your day.
- Also, the 21 best astronomy images of 2012.
- (And the one a friend sent me on Wednesday, a gorgeous image of Saturn. And the Milky Way and a lighthouse. Look, I like pictures of stars and planets and stuff, okay?)
- If you are looking for something to read, the MeFi wiki index of questions about books is extremely comprehensive.
- The power of the books you read at 12.
- I’m not sure if this goes in books or culture, but how do you deal with fantasy agricultures (specifically, how do you grow wine in a country with seasons as messed up as Westeros?)
- Why we need comfort reading.
- Curious George’s great escape. (I half knew some of this, but it’s an amazing story.)
Copyright, so complicated:
Community and culture:
- AskAManager had a recent conversation about class – what things you need to know to work in a white-collar environment that may not be obvious if you’re not familiar with that kind of setting. It’s a sort of imperfect discussion, because the topic is So Big, but as someone who works with people from a variety of backgrounds, I think it’s a good start.
- Ann Patchett on independent bookstores. Specifically, starting one.
- I keep chewing over Anil Dash’s “The Web We Lost” in the way that makes me think there will be more writing from me about it eventually.
- Vienna Teng’s draft of the hymn of axciom – fascinating both for the content, and for the fact that technology makes this kind of sharing possible.
- TEDx and Bad Science: there’s a fascinating article from the TED folks about how to vet for bad science in TEDx talks – interesting both for the specifics, and for the general “how do we talk about evaluating stuff”. Bad Astronomy talks about it a bit more, too.
- 250 year old codes. Society of the Golden Poodle. Secret societies. What more do you want out of a story?
- Also in the history department: a Ponzi scheme for flappers.
- The Lying Disease: truth, lies, and the Internet.
- How Pompeii perished (and the misassumptions about the nature of geology that pervade our ideas about it.)
- The history and implications of the Zapruder film.
Next question is a great one – and I hope will fill many people’s reading lists for a good time to come:
I really want to read more sci-fi by writers who are queer and/or PoC and/or feminist besides Nalo Hopkinson, in particular more recently published stuff (i.e. definitely not the scifi canon – yet). Not picky about sci-fi subgenre. Open to multiple genres and formats: novels, anthologies, sci-fi magazines, online repositories …
May I slightly amend it to additionally specify whatever magazines or other serial publications tend to have the latest work in sci-fi? I want to be able to keep up to date with the latest developments, since the kind of fiction I want to write is more or less sci-fi. I hope that’s not too much of a separate question.
This is a huge question, but also a great one, so I’m going to take an initial stab at it, and I know that readers on my personal blog will have more comments, so I’ll come back here with a few more additions in a couple of days.
Continue reading Ask This Librarian: Reading suggestions
Many fun things this week:
First, the things that need little commentary:
Visual Economics takes (financial) information and synthesises it into fascinating pictures and infographics. Check out their graphics for the cost and effect of the BP oil spill, and how the world spends its time online.
My web host posted a nice summary of spam filtering techniques – you might check it out to see if anything in there applies to your web host (if your host uses CPanel, chances are good, but there’s some other useful info in there.)
A fascinating post from Geek Feminist titled “Scientists are ‘normal’ people, some children discover“which has some really intriguing data about how taking children to meet scientists (at least in this particular iteration) drastically increased the number of girls who drew their idea of a scientist as a woman. (There’s some interesting discussion in comments about why this might be the case, and some thoughts about why it was not true for the boys.)
danah boyd publishes a draft of the 2010 literature review of risky behaviors and online safety that builds on the 2008 literature review done for the Internet Safety Task Force. As she says, unsurprisingly, not much has changed. I’m looking forward to digging into the material.
And finally, a story from this year’s Merritt Fund banquet at the ALA conference. The Merritt Fund is designed to provide support to librarians dealing with freedom of information related legal issues, and this year’s winner (Carol Brey-Casiano) told a story about a Patriot Act issue that’s chilling.
One of the things about finishing work for the school year is that people ask you what you’re reading and looking forward to reading over the summer – so here are a few recent reads I recommend (and a couple I’m looking forward to…)
Recent reads that made me think:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
This is about the life, death, and lasting influence of Henrietta Lacks, who died of cancer in Baltimore in the 1950s. Her cells were used to create the HeLa cell culture, which has gone on to be amazingly prolific and of huge scientific benefit (among other things, it was the cell culture used to grow the polio vaccine for distribution). However, Henrietta herself – and her family – didn’t understand what was being done, and this book is both a provoking and sensitive look at the issues of medical ethics, historical legacies, and issues of race, class, and education and their intersection with ‘informed consent’. It’s also very readable, and has some truly great moments of beauty and compassion.
(read more at Rebecca’s site over here , and there’s a great brief story from the magazine Popular Science about Five Reasons Henrietta Lacks Is The Most Important Woman In History).
A Conspiracy of Kings : Megan Whalen Turner
This would be a series where I keep going “Why did I not discover this sooner?” Set in a pseduo-Ancient-Greece, this is a fantastic four book series dealing with the relationships between the powers of neighboring realms, who are at the same time very human and able to fail at doing the best thing all the time. It’s hard to talk about the books beyond that without giving spoilers (and if you go browse the earlier editions, even the cover blurbs and information give spoilers), but I highly recommend these for a thoughtful but fast read.
(Megan’s site is over here.)
Soulless by Gail Carriger
Ok, this one is a little less recent – I read it this spring – but delightful. It’s a Victorian-era steampunk vampires and werewolves romance novel. If you enjoy dramatic moments, wonderful culture and clothing descriptions, and one of the best on-screen Queen Victoria moments I’ve ever seen in a work of fiction, you’ll probably like this. (And this did make me think about the assumptions we have in interacting with others, among other things.)
(Check out Gail’s website and play with the dress-up doll and videos of the cover design.)
Books I’m looking forward to reading:
(These are, of course, only some, but they’re ones I anticipate getting to in the next couple of weeks…)
I’m currently reading The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines, which I picked up in part because I was impressed by a range of blog posts he’s made over the last couple of months. (I’m enjoying it so far, and expect to finish it in the next day or two, when I’ve got the sequel waiting.)
- The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm by Juliet Nicholson
- Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
- Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
- Candor by Pam Bachorz