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centre of the universe: Money for Nothing

Copyright is, at its simplest form, the method by which creators are paid for their work. It is a registration of an intellectual property (IP). It says “the creator has the right to charge, or not to charge, money for you to use this”. It’s not a form of censorship (and no court would rightfully […]

A Puff of Absurdity: On Rape on Campus

Since I saw Into the Wild and started reading Krakauer, I haven’t stopped. But this last one took a while to open. It’s about rape on college campuses, specifically in one football-lovin’ town: Missoula.

The book is readable only because the rape scenes are reported factually and “reporter-ly” without any emotional language attached to the narrative. But the descriptions are still really detailed.

“Females between sixteen and twenty-four years old face a higher risk of being sexually assaulted than any other age group. Most victims of campus rape are preyed upon when they are in their first or second (Read more…)

A Puff of Absurdity: Finnish Schools: What Do They Have That We Don’t Have?

Everyone’s a buzz about schools in Finland being awesome, so I read a book and some articles and their curriculum documents to figure out what’s so special.

In a nutshell, copying their school system will do little unless we can find a way to copy their entire culture, but let’s look at their structure nonetheless because it’s pretty interesting.

THE STRUCTURE

They start grade 1 a year later, at 7 instead of 6, and their schooling to the end of what we call high-school is the same number of years, so students graduate at 19 instead of 18. That works (Read more…)

Blast Furnace Canada Blog: A same sex marriage, 200 years ago

Is same sex marriage a recent phenomenon? Actually, it isn’t. Let me explain.

On Tuesday, the odd legal team of David Boies and Ted Olsen (who opposed each other in the infamous Bush vs Gore debacle) will try to build on their previous victories in striking down Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. Now, they’re going for the jugular at the US Supreme Court and trying to legalize same

centre of the universe: To Print or Not to Print

You’ve heard by now that HarperCollins will be publishing a “new” book by Harper Lee, the author of one of my favourite books, To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee, renowned for being reclusive and very protective of her work, may not have made the decision to publish, and that raises some interesting questions. Questions about art ownership and intellectual property and … Continue reading →

mark a rayner: Breakthrough books and late bloomers

As a “late bloomer” (my first novel wasn’t published until I was 39 and I haven’t had that “breakthrough” book yet), this interactive infographic is kind of reassuring. I hope you enjoy it it too! Alltop loves a good bloomer. Source: Blinkbox Books

PostArctica: Short Story

I woke up this morning and what happened next will blow your mind. I put on the pot for hot water and something extraordinary happened. Then I went to the bathroom and you just wouldn’t believe what happened there. Back in the kitchen I found something awesome. The water boiled and I will never forget what happened next. Pouring my coffee was like standing atop Mount Everest. I sat down and the coolest things started happening. Exhausted, I went back to bed and what happened next has kept me up for days, mind blown, better world!

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: A renaissance feast for Christmas #nlpoli

Fans of politics in Newfoundland and Labrador have two excellent books that should be at the top of their Christmas gift lists this year.

First among unequals: the premier, politics, and policy in Newfoundland and Labrador is a collection of 12 essays on different aspects of recent politics with an introduction, and an opening and closing chapter by Dr. Alex Marland, who, along with Dr. Matthew Kerby, edited the collection.

Newfoundland’s last prime minister by former CBC executive producer Doug Letto is subtitled, not surprisingly,  “Frederick Alderdice and the death of a nation.”

People will  – and should – buy both these books.  They are well written and researched and represent, in their own way, two firsts in local political writing.

(Read more…)

A Puff of Absurdity: On Wente’s "It Girl" Article

It’s curious that Margaret Wente is so clear about the errors Klein commits in her new book, when it appears from Wente’s article today, “The It Girl of climate change doesn’t get it,” that she’s looked at “every interview, excerpt and review,” but hasn’t actually read the book.  It reminds me of a film buff I know who refused to see Atom Egoyan’s beautiful film Exotica because it was just about strippers.  As if.

I’m only on chapter 4, and I’m convinced Wente’s concerns are unfounded.  She claims Klein ignores “elementary facts” about China and India’s role in (Read more…)

centre of the universe: Haze: a blog tour

I know you remember when I did the blog tour for Aussie author Paula Weston’s Shadows. I have been waiting and waiting and waiting to read the next book in the series. Well. To be honest, I’ve just been waiting and waiting. I mean it SEEMS like a super long time, but really, it’s only been about a year. A … Continue reading →

Things Are Good: The 7 Common Points in Self-Help Books

“There’s always room for one more self-help book” said every publisher ever. On the other hand, there are too many books and not enough time to read them all (especially if you read self-help books). Having never read one, I was interested in what all the fuss is about then I saw Forbes’ article on the core tenets of the genre.

Save yourself some time and check out this short list of seven things to think about.

7. Human needs: Accept your inherent irrationality and learn to fight it.

Human beings are neither robots nor computers – and as it (Read more…)

A Puff of Absurdity: The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains

I love Nicholas Carr’s book. There are lots of studies and science mixed with many stories and asides and discussions of philosophers and other great thinkers. It reminded me of reading a Bill Bryson book. You get the facts painlessly. And it presents a strong argument for keeping kids (and everyone) off-line when they work, but I’m still unlikely to  convince them to actually turn off facebook.  Reading the bare bones here doesn’t do it justice, but here’s what I don’t want to forget about my memory:

The Medium is the Message

He quotes McLuhan from 1964 – “The electric (Read more…)

centre of the universe: A Gift of the Prairie

THE BOOK THAT MY POEMS ARE IN IS HERE! THE BOOK THAT MY POEMS ARE IN IS HERE!! Extra points if you can name the reference there. It’s called A Gift of the Prairie and it is published by the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre. This was a project co-ordinated (and edited) by the inimitable Bernadette Wagner. The book features … Continue reading →

A Puff of Absurdity: Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century

I feel like I don’t have to read this one with all the press it’s getting. Maybe next summer.  This is the gist I’ve gotten so far:

 Michael Rozworski wrote a piece about it recently. In brief: the basic thesis of the book is that capitalism has a tendency towards the concentration of wealth in few hands.  And there’s a discrimination inherent in the system that ensures whites are better able to make it at least into the middle.

In Canada right now, our distribution looks like this: * the top 10% owns 58.2% of the wealth, up (Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Summer Political Reading List #nlpoli

If you are looking for some political reading over the summer, here are a few books worth checking out.

Tragedy in the Commons by Alison Loat and Michael MacMillan. Here’s the whole Random House blurb: 

In Tragedy in the Commons, Alison Loat and Michael MacMillan, founders of the non-partisan think tank Samara, draw on an astonishing eighty exit interviews with former Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum to unearth surprising observations about the practice of politics in Canada.

Though Canada is at the top of international rankings of democracies, Canadians themselves increasingly don’t see politics as a way to solve society’s problems. Small wonder. In the news, they see grandstanding in the House of Commons and MPs pursuing agendas that don’t always make sense to the people who elected them.

(Read more…)

mark a rayner | scribblings, squibs & sundry monkey joys: Summer Reading Sale!

If you prefer your books in dead tree format, do I have a deal for you. Three of my books are available for 25% off! Get all the deets here. Alltop was originally published in parchment.

Christy's Houseful of Chaos » politics: A is for Activist

I found a neat book for children of activists! It is called A is for Activist and it is by Innosanto Nagara. While the book is a baby board book it held more interest for my six year old than my three year old, as he could relate to the abundance of poster-carrying protesters. Each letter is tied in with at least one activist-related word, including those normally hard to use letters: V is for Vox Populi, the voice of the people, X is for Malcolm X and Z is for Zapatistas.

There’s lots of room for discussion of concepts (Read more…)

Christy's Houseful of Chaos » politics: “If you Give a Gay Mouse a Cookie” by Art for a Democractic Society

I bought the book “If you Give a Gay Mouse a Cookie” by Art for a Democratic Society because a facebook friend recommended it, and I have to admit, I’m disappointed. I recognize the spirit of the book. I recognize that they are trying to rebut the crazy “gay marriage will lead to bestiality and people forcing you to marry them” nonsense by saying no, gay marriage will lead to good things, and as expected they followed the pattern established by Laura Numeroff where one (good) thing leads to another.

What I didn’t expect was that the book would erase (Read more…)

centre of the universe: Competition?

Hi cenobyte, How have you been? I understand you only wanted to communicate to your previous consultant but I am emailing you now check on the update for your book. We are celebrating our 17th anniversary this month and we’re giving out almost more than 50% discount. I am not sure if you are particular […]

centre of the universe: Cherie from the vanity press called today

I received correspondence today from the vanity press that keeps contacting me. You remember this from such escapades as Nathan’s going to publish my manifesto and Suggestions for Nathan regarding my manifesto and A Mouthful of Marbles and Nathan’s gone missing. A woman called “Cherie [REDACTED] a Publishing Consultant from [REDACTED]” contacted me today. Below is my […]

centre of the universe: NATHAN, WHERE ARE YOU?

In January, I was contacted by Ex Libris, a vanity press that uses extremely aggressive marketing techniques to bilk writers out of their hard-earned income. I have asked repeatedly to be taken off of their contact lists, to no avial. When they contacted me in January 2014, I began a lengthy correspondence with my contact […]

A Puff of Absurdity: On The Sixth Extinction

Look inside!

We’re in the midst of a mass extinction, but Elizabeth Kolbert is actually somewhat hopeful about it all.  We are at a truly extraordinary moment of history in which we are cognizant of our own demise (except for those in denial) and, therefore, able to affect how it turns out if we can just get our act together!

This book has been on the NY Best Sellers list for four weeks for good reason.  It’s full of scientific data, but it’s written conversationally.  We get to know all the people involved in the research.  They’re all pivotal to (Read more…)

THE CAREGIVERS' LIVING ROOM A Blog by Donna Thomson: An Early Morning TV Interview About My Book

Yesterday morning, I got up really early and travelled to the studios of CanadaAM in Toronto.  Here’s the interview about the new paperback edition of my book, “The Four Walls of My Freedom: Lessons I’ve Learned from a Life of Caregiving” (House of Anansi Press, 2014).  Available everywhere in Canada now and for pre-order online in the USA.

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Marcus Aurelius

I continue to be profoundly moved by the wisdom of the classical authors. It’s often hard to accept that some of them were writing two or more millennia ago: many seem so contemporary they could have been written this century. Of late – within the past year or so – I’ve been reading Lucretius, Aristotle, […]

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Beyond The Book Lecture: John Gormley – #UofR 2014

I’ve been to a lot of University of Regina lectures over the years. None by a right wing radio commentator, until tonight, and it didn’t turn out how I expected. I know there are people who reeeally don’t like John Gormley and his radio show. I used to listen to it frequently while I worked in a job that had me in a car most of the day, traveling the province’s east side. I’ve not really tuned in too much the past 6 years, while I work meters from where his talk was given Tuesday night. It’s not easy to (Read more…)