Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bibliophile: A Very Short Introduction to Hitler and YouTube

A library implies an act of faith.

Reading through a gigantic digital library catalog implies an act of too much time on one's hands.

This is Bibliophile.

That title should attract some interesting hit traffic.  This week, we have 1250+ items.  That's a fairly light load, but, to quote Futurama, you don't hear me not complaining.  Let's dive in.

A new documentary and video database has been added this week, so we've got a few hundred titles such as  230  I am because we are!: an Afrocentric approach to group work, a diversity competent model and Celebrating cultural diversity: a group for fifth graders before we even get to the listings proper.  Nearly six hundred titles, in fact, which makes things much easier for me.  

Reality : a very short introduction / Jan Westerhoff.   Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2011.
I love this title.  From the series that gave us such classics as Space: a small part of it, and Time: it goes by, I presume.  My mockery aside, Westerhoff's book tries to show that the question of what is real is more than just a philosophical question, via an investigation of philosophy, physics, and cognitive science.  I assume, given the length, and the phrase "just a philosophical question," we're dealing with pop philosophyIncidentally, the book follows up the statement that reality is more than an "esoteric puzzle" by stating that serious cognitive scientists and regular scientists are pondering the question.  I'm not sure I'm crazy about the sharp distinction between science and philosophy.  On the bright side, it turns out this book is part of series, which includes Anarchasim: a very short introduction, Galaxies: a very short introduction, and Nothing: A very short introduction, which I'm sure is a very short introduction indeed.

 Two plus two : couples and their couple friendships / Geoffrey L. Greif, Kathleen Holtz Deal.   New York : Routledge, c2012.
I thought this might prove interesting.  Greif and Deal argue that having couple friends is important to the health of a couple's relationship, in terms of enriching their own relationship, and so that they have something to talk about.  (Really, the book's description says that.)  They interviewed 400 people under a variety of circumstances, and found that couples fell into three categories: Seekers, Keepers, and Nesters.  These categories are created based on introvert/extrovert tendencies.  Seekers go out and seek new couples to befriend (extroverts), nesters are content to stay at home (introverts), and Keepers are somewhere in between--they keep the friends they have, but don't go too far out of their way to make new ones.  Those categories strike me as very broad--it strikes me as more interesting to map them with the length of the relationship, to see what possible connections may exist.  Does an old couple go into a seeker stage to shake things up?  If a new couple stays seeker too long, does it imply they're uncomfortable being alone?  And so forth.   Chapters include such subjects as When Couples Have Been Dumped: Like Her and Hate Him, and The Impact of Divorce on Couple Friendships.  I'm going to go out on a limb right now, and say it strains them.

 The Murder of Adolf Hitler : the truth about the bodies in the Berlin bunker / Hugh Thomas.  1st U.S. ed.   New York : St. Martin's Press, 1996, c1995.
As you may guess from the title, Thomas presents a version of events concerning Hitler's death that deviates from the accepted version.   He argues that the SS murdered him rather than let him fall into Soviet hands, gien his (Thomas alleges) deteriorated, raving mental state.  I suppose the real question is what difference it makes how Hitler died; granted, suicide has a different rhetorical signification than murder, but the end result in this case doesn't really change.  As far as conspiracy theories go, it lacks the oomph of the Second Gunman or the 9/11 Truthers.  Americans get all the best conspiracy theories.

Raising the stakes : e-sports and the professionalization of computer gaming / T. L. Taylor.   Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, c2012.
 I should probably read this at some point; mental note made.  Taylor documents not just the history of competitive gaming, but also the attempts to turn it into a professional industry, and the ramifications of such a transformation in terms of our notions of play, work, sport, and spectatorship.  My knowledge of this area extends to watching the movie The Wizard and a youtube video of Korean Starcraft Tournaments, but it's something I find very interesting, in theory, at least.  We tend to privilege physical-based sports because they lend themselves to spectatorship; a chess match can be a challenge, but it takes a lot of focus to make it interesting.  Videogames do lend themselves to a more visual, rapid-paced competition (depending on the game) so the reasons it can't be a larger sport tend to be more cultural than anything else, I think.  (Although one factor may be the relative ease of play--the harder it is to do something that looks impressive, the more impressive it's regarded.)  The chapter titles aren't particularly illuminating, but I will note that the book has an appendix with a Standard Player Contract. 

 Brand turnaround : how brands gone bad returned to glory...and the seven game changers that made the difference / Karen Post.   New York : McGraw-Hill, c2012.
I'm not really interested in the book, but I am interested in seeing what the seven "game changers" are.  And they are: Take responsibility, never give up,lead strong, stay relevant, keep improving, build equity, and own your distinction.  Okay, I'm much less interested now.

 Reading YouTube : the critical viewers guide / Anandam Kavoori.   New York : Peter Lang, c2011.
 Online territories : globalization, mediated practice and social space / edited by Miyase Christensen, André Jansson and Christian Christensen.   New York : Peter Lang, c2011.
 Trust and virtual worlds : contemporary perspectives / edited by Charles Ess & May Thorseth.   New York : Peter Lang, c2011.
Here's a set for the digital scholars in the crowd.  The three came a little close together for me to relish doing a detailed examination of each one, so we'll do a quick examination instead.   Kavoori provides a methodology for approaching YouTube videos, dividing the book into issue of identity and fame, and potential YouTube s, including the Short, the Mirror, the Morph, the Witness, the Word, and The Experiment.  Online Territories is an interdisciplinary discussion of space online, with a focus on the everyday, the civic and the public, and the transnational and the translocal.  Essay topics include the Iraq War and YouTube, mass perpetuation of cyberporn, online gambling, politics of spam, and my most despised portmanteau neologism, glocal.  Trust and Virtual Worlds is another anthology, asking how traditional notions of trust and accountability translate into the digital realm.  (Poorly, generally speaking.)  Essay topics include trusting software agents, suggested taxonomy and child pornography images.  Frankly, of the two, Online territories sounds like more fun.  

Love online / Jean-Claude Kaufmann ; translated by David Macey.   Cambridge, UK ; Malden, MA : Polity Press, 2012.
So many digital books this week!  And I thought this Bibliophile would be a cakewalk. LITTLE DID I KNOW. 
Anyway, I almost mixed this book up with Love Online:Emotions on the Internet by Aaron Ben Ze'ev, which would have been very embarrassing, I'm sure.  Kaufmann argues that while new internet dating may make it seems as if you can order a man or a woman like a pair of eBay shoes, the reality is more complex.  (Which, frankly, sounds like the lead-in for an updated Harlequin romance series.) Provocative chapter titles include How to Kiss, Should You Have Sex on a First Date?, and The 'Bad Boy' Paradox, a cliche that not only apparently persists to this day, but will probably survive nuclear fallout--it's the cockroach of dating stereotypes.

Making it like a man : Canadian masculinities in practice / Christine Ramsay, editor.   Waterloo, Ont. : Wilfrid Laurier University Press, c2011.
I wanted to move things along, but I couldn't pass up this title.  It's not only on masculinity, but it's on that rarest and most fragile of beasts, Canadian masculinity.  Essay topics include Trans-Imperial Manliness in 19th century farming, "Making Art Like a Man," Canadian gangsta rap in Regina, masculinity in Thomas King and Douglas Coupland (separate topics), and, last but not least, Toronto's drag queens.  What, no Red Green Show?

 Defining deviance : sex, science, and delinquent girls, 1890-1960 / Michael A. Rembis.   Urbana : University of Illinois Press, c2011.
This sounds like it could be interesting, with a slight to mid possibility of being emotionally scarring as well. Rembis goes through the thousands of cases documented over seventy years at the  State Training School in Geneva, Illinois, a juvenile detention center for young girls (until the 70s, when it became a juvenile detention center for boys as well.  So either there weren't enough juvenile girls offenders, or there was an upsurge in the number of male offenders jailed.  You tell me which is more likely).  Documenting that history, Rembis argues that the treatment reveals a long-standing process of how Americans treat their deliquent girls as threats to the moral and eugenic purity of the country.  As a counterpoint, a google search of the facility turned up this blog by a former worker at the school in the 70s.  Both the book and the site are pretty sober examples of systems that don't work.

 Cinema after Deleuze / Richard Rushton.   London ; New York : Continuum International Pub. Group, c2012.
What would Bibliophile be without its weekly Deleuze check?  ...Shorter.

 Finder library / Carla Speed McNeil.  1st ed.   Milawukie, Or. : Dark Horse Books, 2011-
I've read this; it's a rather long graphic novel with fantasy and sci-fi elements, and a heavy focus on personal relationships.  The art is fine, but I remember being frustrated with the male lead who seemed a very explicit ideal man type: he's a rebel who fights the system, but he's sensitive and caring and handsome and so forth.   If only some woman could tame him!  Okay, I'm exaggerating; it's not that bad, and McNeil sets up a very compelling situation and story in the book.

 Strange divisions and alien territories : the sub-genres of science fiction / edited by Keith Brooke.   Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York, N.Y. : Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
My sci-fi sense is tingling.  Genre studies is a notoriously difficult subject, because even its devotees have to acknowledge (and usually build entire theories around) the fact that the goalposts are constantly shifting; what`s part of one genre now may change as its reception changes.  Sci-fi is one of the more stable of genres (as it permits a "if it's about an imaginary future, it's sci-fi" rule of thumb), but it contains its own constantly shifting  subgenres.  Cyberpunk today isn't what it was 10 years ago, and the space opera hasn't been the same since the Star Trek franchise imploded.  The idea behind this anthology is that the genres will be discussed by people writing in them.  I recognize absolutely none of the names involved, except Alastair Reynolds--I suspect the book either focuses on British sci-fi writers, or I'm more behind in my sci-fi than  I thought.   Sections include space Opera, Alternate History, Political Science Fiction, Aliens, After the apocalypse, Time Travel, Cyberpunk, and Post-Human.

 Judging eye / R. Scott Bakker.   Toronto : Penguin Canada, 2010, c2009.
 My word, it seems a fantasy book has snuck into the literature section.  What a scandal!  This is the first book in Bakker's new series, Aspect-Emperor. It's set 20 years after the end of the last series, for what that's worth.  I've never quite warmed to Bakker, though most seem to like him.  He's good at crafting that "moment of awesome" that fantasy stories strive for, but the journey there always feels like a slog to me, the female characters are close to offensive (in his first book, at least), and the characters in general just don't click.  I'll stick to Patrick Rothfuss for my personal "brave new fantasy voice."

Nothing in the sciences catches my eye (translation: I'm tired of typing), so I'll bring this to a close.

Later Days. 


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