Monday, May 21, 2012

Bibliophile: Water, Sandman, and H. G. Wells' War of the Giants

A friendly mugger doesn't just steal your wallet.  He steals your heart.

This is Bibliophile.

A mere 704 items this week.  The lowest ever, if I recall correctly.  Are we in a twilight of the libraries?  Or are we just operating under summer hours?  Time will tell.

Things we do and why we do them / Constantine Sandis.   Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire : Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
This is probably the broadest subject for a book possible, judging from the title, at least.  As far as I can tell from the description, the book is arguing that human actions can`t be explained on a simple cause-effect type model. Rather, we`re conflating a bunch of different elements.  I`m not sure how we can explain actions, then, but presumably, the book has an answer for that, rather than just saying "magic" or something. 

Food of the gods and how it came to earth / by H.G. Wells.  Armed services ed.   New York : Armed Services, Inc., c1932.
I was at a conference last year where someone gave a paper on the war propaganda writing a number of high profile popular British writers did during World War I.  When I saw that this was an Armed services edition, I thought it might be one of those books.  I was wrong.  It's actually one of Wells' more outlandish mad scientist plots.  The idea is that a scientist, experimenting with growth hormones, hits the motherlode, creating giant chickens six times the size of a normal bird.  But then it gets out into the general population, and suddenly Britain is awash in giants.  It's a satire, with Wells making commentaries about the expansive nature of Man, and British gentry.  It sounds like it could be a good read; from the description, it's Wells channeling Jonathan Swift for all he's worth.  

Problem of pleasure : leisure, tourism and crime / edited by Carol Jones, Elaine Barclay and R.I. Mawby.   London ; New York : Routledge, 2012. 
This book is anthology, with the focus as stated above.  The editors say the purpose of the book is to inform academics and a general audience on how modern technology has enabled leisure and tourism, but also crime.  That sounds a little alarmist, but given the number of essays and contributors, I imagine there's a variety of approaches.  Topics include cinematic sexualized violence, police programming on television, playgrounds and the boundaries of pleasure, alcohol related crimes in cities and tourist resorts, a comparison on law enforcement in Las Vegas and Orlanda, and safety in Australian caravan populations.  It'll be of particular interest to leisure studies, but I think there's a lot here for people just interested in the cultural joining of crime and tourism.

Eau Canada : the future of Canada's water / edited by Karen Bakker.   Vancouver : UBC Press, c2007. 
Possessing one of the world's largest bodies of fresh water is arguably one of Canada's biggest resources.  And while I'd agree that access to water is a basic human right, the fact remains that there may be some growing problems with water supplies on a global scale in the near future (along with every other resource, if most reports can be believed).  With an original release in 2006, the book is a little out of date, but the discussion is still important.It's divided into a number topics, including background on water use, weaknesses in Canadian water governance, debates about water privatization and exports, and plans for more sustainable approaches in the future.

Online territories : globalization, mediated practice and social space / edited by Miyase Christensen, André Jansson and Christian Christensen.   New York : Peter Lang, c2011.
This book is probably the most digital thing we'll be looking at this week.   Or it would be, if we hadn't covered it a few weeks ago.  It's good to know that I can usually tell when the library is adding another copy of a book
I've already covered; it suggests that some amount of knowledge, no matter how minor, is sinking in.  So all of this does have a purpose, even if I'm the only one who uses it.  Of course, there may be dozens of entries I missed and repeated anyway, but it does no good to dwell.

 Politics and the Twitter revolution : how tweets influence the relationship between political leaders and the public / John H. Parmelee, Shannon L. Bichard.
Oh, wait, there is another digital option.  Oh boy.  I think I've indicated in the past that I have serious reservations about the value of Twitter for engaging in important discussions.  It's excellent for alerting people to news found elsewhere, but when it comes to sustained debate and an actual exchange of ideas, it falls short.  Twitter is great for witty one-liners, but when it comes to something a little more sustained, I'll take my old-timey blog, thank you.  But apparently no one else agrees with me, so it's a good thing people like Parmelee and Bichard are paying attention.  Their approach is a variety of communication studies based approaches, including innovation characteristics, uses and gratifications, continuity-discontinuity framework.  I'm not really familiar with communication studies, but those words sound good.  They found that the twitter requests from politicians to their base were extremely influential, though there's often a disconnect between what the followers expect and what the political leader provides.  (I know that's vague, but that's what the description says.)

John Byrne / [edited] by Jon B. Cooke and Eric Nolen-Weathington.
Jeff Smith / [edited] by Eric Nolen-Weathington.   Raleigh, NC : TwoMorrows Pub., c2011.
This is an interesting thing.  Nolen-Weathington is the founder of a series called Modern Masters, wherein he (and sometimes a few other collaborators) amasses a collection showcasing a comic book artist who qualifies as a "modern master."Jeff Smith is a great cartoonist (and a pretty great writer as well), and while I've never been that crazy about Byrne's stuff, I recognize that he's made a big contribution to superhero comics over the years.  The books have interviews with the artists, and essays on their history and process. It's a great resource for comic book studies people.  

Pretty guardian : Sailor Moon / [Naoko Takeuchi].   New York : Kodansha Comics, 2011-
Sometimes you get Modern Masters series, sometimes you get Sailor Moon.   This is actually a new/old series; it's a re-translation, with a claim to greater accuracy and adherence to the original, with detailed notes on the overall process.  I think the process of translating artifacts from one culture to another is fascinating; for books, it's usually just a word-for-word thing, but even then, interesting processes of censorship and the desire to appeal to a broad audience can get the work to change in strange ways.  I've always been strangely fascinated with the Sailor Moon mythos.  Probably best I didn't get involved, though.  I was weird enough as a teenager, you know?

 Little endless storybook / by Jill Thompson.   New York, N.Y. : DC Comics, c2004.
Here's how my thought process went on this one: Omigod it's a Jill Thompson book!  Wantitwantitwantit! Jill Thompson is a comic book writer/artist, and her work is always with a look. She's particularly well-known for the work she did illustrating Neil Gaiman's Sandman, though for my money, it's her work with Evan Dorkin on Beasts of Burden that's really noteworthy. This particular book is a bit of a hard sell, unless you're getting it for free from a library (like me) or you really, really like Sandman.  It's based on the Sandman characters (specifically, the Endless), but has drawn them as little chibi characters, with big heads and tiny bodies.  It's adorable, but definitely one for a niche audience--fans of Sandman and fans of cute kiddy things.  Then again, I watch My Little Pony, so I clearly qualify. 

Complete encyclopedia of different types of people / Gabe Foreman.  
 It's a book of poetry, organized by the conceit that it's a collection of types of people.  So you have ambulance chasers and animal lovers and armchair psychologists ("You're the type of introvert / who writes her name / on birch bark /and burns it.")  Poetry is pretty hit and miss for me; generally, the more it's like a monologue, the more I like it.  But there are some neat notions here: blind dates has "see optimists" for the entry, and bad apples has a pie chart labeling average dudes and jerks.  Again, not really my thing, but it seems like it would be a good read for those who enjoy it.  (And yes, that would be true for anything, technically.  Look, I'm trying, okay?)

History of neuroscience in autobiography / edited by Larry R. Squire.   Washington DC : Society for Neuroscience, 1996- .
This is apparently an established series; the library has just received volumes 6 and 7, in fact.   It features... a whole bunch of people I've never heard of, actually.  But I think works like this are extremely important, especially for the purposes of people who (like me) specialize in the studies of rhetoric.  Essentially, it's a chance for the science folk to explain themselves without being too technical, which makes it a lot easier for a relative layman to analyze.  There's always an element of self-congratulations in a series with a stated focus such as this one, but again, that's all the better for someone studying it from a discourse analysis perspective.

That's it; it really was a short week.

Later Days.




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