Sunday, January 29, 2012

Biblophile: Canadiana

I feel like I've already used the "judging a book by its cover" tagline, but that's really what we're doing here in a nutshell. So sit back and get into the zone for another edition of Bibliophile.

The library's received an influx of 8000 books this week--I'm guessing someone's added a new digital archive. And yeah, we're going to be glossing over some of that.

We have never been postmodern : theory at the speed of light / Steve Redhead. Edinburgh : Edinburgh University Press, c2011.
It's probably somewhat telling that my first reaction on seeing this book's title was to wax nostalgic: "Aw, a book on postmodernism! I haven't seen one of those in forever!". But that just supports Redhead's point: the moment we're in now is not postmodernism, and perhaps never was. Rather, it's MANC--Mobile Accelerated Nonpostmodern Culture. That probably won't catch on as a term, but I can see the advantage of being able to refer to the world as particularly "MANC-y." Seriously, it may be worth wondering why postmodernism has fallen out of favor. Is it a matter of academic fads passing elsewhere, has postmodernism failed to pass, or is it so obviously here it's not worth talking about anymore? (Incidentally, this is a book to see in a library setting; it's currently weighing in at $98.24 for 192 pages at Yikes.)

In your face : the new science of human attraction / David Perret. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
Good title. The book is an in-depth study of the face, and what attracts us to one. On a tangential note, it reminds me of William Sleator's YA sci-fi book, The Boy Who Reversed Himself. One its plot points was that people could move between dimensions (and I'm talking dimensions in the 2-D, 3-D sense), but the process meant reversing yourself, turning yourself into your mirror image. And for us 3-D humans, that meant a change that people noticed, but couldn't quite place. Also, the reversed form of ketchup was an intoxicant.

Why people cooperate : the role of social motivations / Tom R. Tyler. Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c2011.
Payback : why we retaliate, redirect aggression, and take revenge / David P. Barash and Judith Eve Lipton. New York : Oxford University Press, c2011.
I love that these two books were side by side.

Gay, straight, and the reason why : the science of sexual orientation / Simon LeVay. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2011.
This, um, sounds like it might be contentious. (Understatement.) For what it's worth, LeVay is leaning to the "born that way" argument, with his claim that scientific evidence points in its favor. I could go into a long discussion of my own view here, but let's just say I'm of the opinion that two consenting adults can do whatever they want with their body parts, and I'll leave the philosophizing about why to others. Now, to further dodge the issue, have you ever thought about how "content" means satisfied with the current situation, but "contentious" means something more like unsatisfied? Where's the scientific study on that?

The "E" section contained about 100 items on First Nation issues; I think I just found one of the new databases.

Look of Catholics : portrayals in popular culture from the Great Depression to the Cold War / Anthony Burke Smith. Lawrence, Kan. : University Press of Kansas, c2010.
This book may be vaguely interesting. I come from a small town where Catholics were the majority, and I was in one of the half dozen or so Protestant minorities. Thus, my default view of Catholics is this exclusive club that everyone talked about that I wasn't a member of. Confession, exclusively male priests, and Latin chanting all seem simultaneously mysterious and ridiculous to me. The book itself seems to cover the major points its subject matter would suggest; obviously, the Kennedys loom large.

Lake Titicaca : legend, myth and science / Charles Stanish. Los Angeles : Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, University of California, c2011.

Lords of the rinks : the emergence of the National Hockey League, 1875-1936 / John Chi-Kit Wong. Toronto ; Buffalo : University of Toronto Press, c2005.
Like lord of the dance, but with more slapshots. For those hockey fans among my academic acquaintances, I'll note that we've received an influx of ice-sports related books this week.

Disneyland and culture [electronic resource] : essays on the parks and their influence / edited by Kathy Merlock Jackson and Mark I. West. Jefferson, N.C. ; London : McFarland & Co., c2011.

Saving babies : the efficacy and cost of recent expansions of Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women / Janet Currie, Jonathan Gruber. Cambridge, MA : National Bureau of Economic Research, 1994.
And that is how you give an economic paper a politically loaded title. All right, being fair, medical aid for pregnant women *is* and should be a politically loaded issue, and the case could be made that ignoring that aspect would be as much a political move as foregrounding it.

Okay, we've reached the true source of the mysterious influx of items: a few thousand new electronic entries, all on the social and economic status of Canada. I hope you'll excuse the indiscretion, but I think I'll skip over the full analysis of such page-gripping titles as "Gateways and Clusters: the government of Canada’s experience with client-centred single-window electronic service delivery, report on year 1 of research conducted by the Public Policy Forum on behalf of the Research Consortium on Information in the Public Sector." (Although this particular entry is a bad example, because it misspelled "clusters" as "custers" which makes me think it's either a report on the delivery of pies, or the delivery of generals who had famous last stands.

Coming back 5000 some entries later, we have:
Popular music and television in Britain [electronic resource] / [edited by] Ian Inglis.
Off the top of my head, my familiarity on this topic begins and ends with music competitions and Dr Who. If pressed, I might add the Beatles and Monty Python. The actual subject matter is focused on the intersection of music and television, and so we have such topics as the musicology of Life on Mars (I wouldn't mind reading that one) and the ubiquity of the Beatles in their day. So I was almost right, then.

The cat : 3500 years of the cat in art. By Caroline Bugler.
If this doesn't culminate in Garfield and the LOLcats, something has gone terribly wrong.

Good servant, bad master? : electronic media and the family / Arlene Moscovitch. Ottawa, Ont. : The Vanier Institute of the Family, 2007.
The conclusion of the 23 page report is "There is so much we do not know." As a conclusion, it hits honesty, but kind of makes the preceding redundant.

Hyperbole in English : a corpus-based study of exaggeration / Claudia Claridge. Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2011.
This is the best idea for a book I've ever heard of. We might as well stop all English studies here and now, because it's achieved a pinnacle that may never be surmounted. Throughout history, this work will stand as a beacon, a monument, a tribute to all that humankind may aspire towards--but also a solemn mockery, as each person must in their own way come to terms with the fact that we will never reach such lofty heights again.

Hypertext and the female imaginary / Jaishree K. Odin. Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, c2010.
Despite being in the digital humanities, I've never read a scholarly work specifically on hypertext, per se. But I like the idea that there are still people doing it.

Television culture / John Fiske. 2nd ed. London ; New York : Routledge, 2011.
Subjects include realism, psychoanalysis, audience participation, oral culture, genre, intertexuality, and chapters on gender, the quiz show, and the news program. It's very clearly a book written for undergraduate courses, not that there's anything wrong with that. The overview is written by Henry Jenkins, one of those scholars who's managed to transcend their position and become "personalities," in part by virtue of showing up everywhere. Seriously, I've seen work by this guy on comic book studies, television studies, fan-based behavior, and video games. He's the go-to guy for pop culture studies.

Trickster in contemporary film / Helena Bassil-Morozow. Hove, East Sussex ; New York : Routledge, 2012.
I'm focusing on this one because I wanted to do a search to see what films Bassil-Morozow was talking about. Incidentally, this book shows up on Amazon in the categories Social science, humor & entertainment (which make sense) and Health, Fitness & Dieting (which does not). All the basic report of the book will tell me is that it features trickster comedians (Jim Carrey, Sacha Baron-Cohen, Andy Kaufman) and Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times and The Great Dictator.

Twilight mystique : critical essays on the novels and films / edited by Amy M. Clarke and Marijane Osborn. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., c2010.
I can't think of a subject in pop culture studies I would be less interested in. Give me a book on knitting. I'd read that first. A book on the NHL. Sure, pile it on. But Twilight? No thank you, sir.

In other worlds : SF and the human imagination / Margaret Atwood. 1st U.S. ed. New York : Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, c2011
Wait, Margaret Atwood wrote a book on SF theory last year? I feel as if I should have known this already. This feels like big news. Is it big news? According to the info I can find, it seems to be a written compilation of some of her 2010 lectures on the subject, and other essays, so I'm not so sure if it quite counts as anything she's done recently, but it may be required reading for anyone looking at sci-fi literature in a Canadian context.

Past the literature section, we're back in the new Canadian database, with ebook after ebook on the Canadian environment. "Effects of hypoxia on scope-for-activity of lake trout: defining a new dissolved oxygen criterion for protection of lake trout habitat" by David O. Evans and other exciting topics. And I still have just under 2000 titles to go.

World wide mind : the coming integration of humanity, machines and the internet / Michael Chorost. 1st Free Press hardcover ed. New York : Free Press, 2011.
It's 2012. Do you know where your Singularity is?

And then we're into healthcare for the next 1000 or so entries. That means titles like "Dare to dream [electronic resource] : reflections on a national workshop on women and primary health care, February 5-7, 2004, Clarion Hotel, Winnipeg, Manitoba," "Legislating for health and human rights [electronic resource] : model law on drug use and HIV/AIDS prisons. Toronto, Ont. : Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, 2006," and "Healthy balance: a summary report on a national roundtable on caregiving policy in Canada / Judi Varga-Toth. Ottawa, Ont. : Canadian Policy Research Networks, 2005." Important topics, but not really anything that I have either the ability or interest to understand.

And then we're back to Canadian environment again, with such gems as "A consultation-based review of the Harvester Support Programs of the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc : final report." And "The Great Lakes Sewage Report Card." And who could forget "Radon: The Unfamiliar Killer."

Able seamen : the lower deck of the Royal Navy 1850-1939 / Brian Lavery. London : Conway, 2011.

Murder Game! / by Dan Ross ; directed by Brian Rintoul, 1983 - production photos. 1983
It's the exclamation point that really sells it. They thought they were playing just another tabletop... little did they know that they had just picked tokens for... The Murder Game!

Tough cookies [electronic resource] : leadership lessons from 100 years of the Girl Scouts / Kathy Cloninger ; with Fiona Soltes. Hoboken : Wiley, 2011.
Good title.

And that brings us to another end of Bibliophile. The thing about all the Canadian stuff is that, my mockery aside, I know that almost any given title summarizes research that is as important, and often more important, than the research I'm doing. But being important is not really the same as being interesting. Sad, but true.

Later days.

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