Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hark, it is Banned Books Week! Librarians, unite and defeat the forces of stupidity and narrow-mindedness! Take heart from those superheroes who have done battle in courtrooms (and are now part of a nifty library exhibition)! Join forces with the Evil Librarian Supervillain (hey, even supervillains are anti-censorship; check out the post on the banned books)! Battle the corruption even if it comes from within, for not even libraries are havens of effective leadership! (I know, it's shocking. Take a deep breath.)

If you're still up for battle after taking on the book banners, try taking on the endless march of technological progress as it makes older systems obsolete and their materials irretrievable. This is a major concern among archivists. I think programmers and technicians who speak old technology languages will be in big demand sooner rather than later.

Fortunately, the Baseball Hall of Fame is working toward digitizing its materials (and hopefully planning ahead, too). Bring on October!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Today I am actually pointing you toward places I've been! In person! Well, most of them, anyway. I haven't been to Los Angeles, where ShriekFest is getting underway, but October is almost here and I'm gearing up for the spooky posts.

It's also time for corn mazes and apple picking, and last week we were at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill way up in Vermont. Their cider donuts are freaking amazing.

The Brooklyn Botanical Garden is another place I've visited, and this weekend they're having the 2010 Chile Pepper Fiesta! I am intrigued by the mention of the "ghost pepper."

And lastly, back to the spooky and the ethereal. Check out these Crucifairies.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Administrative note: The Steampunk Librarian (aka Tuesday's postings) has moved to Typepad for the time being. I'm not sure yet if this is a permanent move, but that's where it is for now!

Nader Elhefnawy's guest post on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America website is all about steampunk. It's long and detailed (over 40 footnotes!) and a must-read for anyone interested in the genre. And if you're interested in steampunk-themed literature, why not take The Bookkeeper's Steampunk Challenge? It's a year full of reading, all geared toward steampunk (pun intentional).

The latest group to embrace steampunk may give readers pause: it's DARPA. Who knew that Babbage's levers might be more useful than semiconductors?

I had not heard of Strowlers until now. (I thought perhaps they were all-terrain strollers.) They are most definitely here and out in public, and are even throwing the first StrowlerCon later this fall in Boston!

The intricacies of Muslim art and dress seem to complement steampunk quite well, so it's wonderful to see a growing interest in Muslim steampunk. 

And finally, if you're in the area, be sure to check out Cirque Acirca's mural as it's being created this week in Grand Rapids. It's part of the 2010 ArtPrize competition, so you can also vote and support steampunk-loving artists and entertainers!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hi, we're back! Sort of, anyway. While I get caught up, here's another edition of Links from Others. Many thanks to everyone who sent in material!

From Zazoo: A burlesque version of Animal Farm is on the way. Wow. Also from Zazoo: OK Go's new video, which features many amazing animals of its own.

From Julie: Was it Moses or ordinary winds parting the Red Sea? Are supernatural entities real after all? Are questions truly unanswerable?

From Cassandra: Populations decrease as civilization improves. Why? Show your work.

And finally, from Tim, a truly deep question: could vampires use touch panel screens?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hi all! Off for an adventure today. In the meantime, please remember that DEVO was right about everything, and everything is better with Muppets.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Special bonus Monday edition of Links from Others! Thanks, everyone!

From Julie: The last "sin-eater" is celebrated with a church service. (I thought this was going to be opium-related at first.)

From Cassandra: Are student cheaters psychopaths? Yikes!

From Tim: Watching someone use a computer. As Tim said, any public librarian can relate to this. (Librarians in other institutions may as well -- I know I do!)

Also, via Scalzi: Explore the amazing world of UnicornPegasusKitten!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Happy Friday, everyone!

Administrative note: Right after disappearing for a few days, we're going to disappear for a few more days. Irritating, isn't it? But we have a week off, and while I may update throughout the week, it'll probably be sparse. (Also, Vox is shutting down at the end of the month, so I have to move the Steampunk Librarian to new digs. Fun!) Regular posting should resume on Monday the 27th!

From Nicole: Scientists now believe that being an only child isn't so bad after all. Well, that's a relief.

From Cassandra: Will October 13 bring UFO revelations? A former NORAD officer thinks so.

Also from Cassandra: cosmology as theology and Buddhist monks with guns.

From  Julie: In Somerset, a chef attempted to create the most expensive cheese sandwich...and it looks like he succeeded!

Swiped from Odd Brian: the son of Harpo Marx has launched a new website devoted to the actor.

Have a spiffy weekend and following few days, everyone! Updates are possible, stay tuned.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Aw, man, nothing good lasts. Apparently Yale is denying all knowledge of Monty's stress-relief skills.
Hey, did you know that Yale's law library has a dog available for checkout to help students with stress? Monty seems like a great library dog.

NASA has joined the ranks of the Flickr Commons; lots of great historical photos are now posted.

I am warning everyone about National Punctuation Day a week in advance, so everyone can properly prepare his or her verbiage.

A post at the New York Public Library's weblog brought back some great memories of a series I read when I was a kid. (I remember reading the one mentioning the Sputnik launch in particular.)

Tomorrow: links from others!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hi there! I am easing back into the swing of things kind of slowly here. Fortunately, for those of you raring to go and explore, there's a lot of festivities this weekend.

First of all, it's the bicentennial celebration of Mexican Independence Day, and even though Mexico is not in the best of shape right now it's still doing its best to observe the date.

Also going on this weekend: the International Tequila Fest in Las Vegas and the Golden Stilt Contest in Belgium.

For the nomads: I don't know if the U.S. has any Cineroleums yet, but it's definitely something that needs to happen, especially in cities like Detroit and Cleveland. The UK version is already sold out for weeks, it seems!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hi everyone. Still healing up; will hopefully be back to posting strength Wednesday!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Hi there. Folderol will be taking tomorrow off and possibly Monday as well, as I am going under the knife tomorrow morning and can't be held responsible for what I post while on anesthesia and/or painkillers. (If you like medical terminology, this is the best description I could find of what's happening tomorrow; it's part 459786 of my exciting adventures in dentistry.) So today is a mishmash of links from others and a few library-related things, too!

From Zazoo: RIP, Glenn Shadix, also known as Otho in Beetlejuice and the minister in Heathers.

From Cassandra: Darwin's Ascension Island could hold one of the keys to Mars exploration.

From Julie: Behold, the great Penny Farthing Race! 

Also from Julie: Music may be prescribed to help certain ailments. I'm sure my goth/synthpop collection would horrify these scientists. Ha.

What does the future hold for books? The Wall Street Journal asks William Gibson, while the New York Times compares and contrasts pixels and pages.

Have a spiffy Friday and weekend and possibly Monday, too! Back soon.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Two asteroids are zooming past us right now. We're sort of hoping for an event like the intro to Thundarr the Barbarian.

If nothing exciting happens, however, there's lots going on this weekend. In Minnesota, they're celebrating the death of Jesse James. In Wisconsin, they're getting ready for the Pardeeville Watermelon Festival (I like the offer to pay helpers in free watermelon). In Massachusetts, the 31st Annual Banjo & Fiddle Contest is taking place, and in Great Britain, they're continuing what seems to be a growing trend of throwing things at each other. This time it's York vs. Lancaster all over again in the 2010 World Black Pudding Throwing Championship.

And finally, if you decide to stay home and curl up with a good book, consider how frightening most fairy tales truly are.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

It's time once again to feature a book for those interested in steampunk! No giveaway contest this time, unfortunately. I wish there was, because this book is terrific! Many thanks to Pyr for giving me the chance to read an advance copy.


Burton & Swinburne in The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack
by Mark Hodder
Beyond the gears and the goggles, most people interested in steampunk (or neoVictorianism, or any of a dozen similar labels) will say that what fascinates them about the Victorian era is the sense of unbridled possibility. Explorers, inventors, writers and architects alike were dreaming of new places, new machines, and new ways of living. All this was taking place amidst cities full of poor and middle-class workers who had no hope of upgrading their stations in life. It's the conflict between dirt and aether, exploration and exploitation, that makes the world of the Victorians intriguing.
In the middle of this place and time -- London, 1861, to be exact -- Mark Hodder places explorer Richard Burton and poet Algernon Swinburne as the protagonists of a wonderful tale. It begins as one would expect a normal story involving Burton to begin, with him planning to debate John Speke at the Royal Geographical Society...but then there is violence and chaos, and Burton takes the atmospheric railway home and receives a message by greyhound which...
Wait, what?
In The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack, Hodder has combined what never happened with what did take place, to wonderful effect. Isambard Kingdom Brunel's atmospheric railway has sprung to life, as have political groups of Eugenicists, Libertines, Rakes and Engineers. Lord Palmerston (still alive? Yes!) asks Burton to help his country in investigating peculiar occurrences involving a creature they call Spring-Heeled Jack. Burton's detective work leads him into a twisted web of methodical plans and overreaching accidents going back to the assassination attempt on Queen Victoria in 1840. Along the way, readers encounter Oscar Wilde, Florence Nightingale, Charles Darwin, Paul Gustave Dore, and many more characters -- some known to us through history, some lost to us, and some reimagined in ways never dreamed of before now.
In Burton & Swinburne in The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack, Mark Hodder has created a world which manages to be fantastical and yet entirely believable. Burton and Swinburne make an excellent (if somewhat unpredictable) team, and the story is nonstop action. Anyone who knows their Victorian history will have a superb time finding the inside jokes and references to the characters, and even those who think Richard Burton is the actor who married Elizabeth Taylor can jump into this book and go along for the ride without needing any background information. The Fortean explorers in the reading audience can also come along and discover an entirely new (and, possibly, even plausible?) explanation for the phenomenon that came to be called Spring Heeled Jack. I hear that this is the beginning of a series; I certainly hope so, because it's a great read and I recommend it without hesitation.
As a bonus, Mark Hodder maintains a site devoted to detective Sexton Blake!
(Burton & Swinburne in The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack is available from Pyr; you can purchase it through any of the many resources on the linked page, including Amazon.)

Friday, September 03, 2010

Happy Friday, everyone!

From Holly: The cartoons of James Hance, perfect for Generation X.

From Danny: Apparently the Doctor visited MIT, and no one told me!

From Julie: There is no God! Well, that's sort of what Stephen Hawking said.

From Cassandra: Two fascinating articles, one on neurodiversity and one on psychopathology.

From my Flickr contacts: Wait, DragonCon has a Library of the World group?!? 

From my law librarian mailing list: Remembering the unemployed this Labor Day weekend.

Have a spiffy weekend, and happy Labor Day! We'll be taking Monday off but will be back on Tuesday.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Hey, Red Sox fans! Did you know that the organist at Fenway is a law librarian? How awesome is that?

The Library of Congress is on Twitter now. Also, they posted really fascinating material from piracy trials earlier this month. (Piracy, in this instance, refers to the old swashbuckling kind of shenanigans, not copyright infringement.)

Also on Twitter and newly revived, thanks to Justia: Genie Tyburski's Virtual Chase!

Librarians and mythology, as presented by Shelf Check, is right on target. Sometimes I think Sisyphus should be an honorary patron saint or bodhisattva or something.

And this the future of advertising? It took me a few minutes to grok what was happening.

Tomorrow: Friday! And links from others, too.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Happy September! I've been reading about the Carrington Event, which took place on this day back in 1859, and wondering what would happen if something similar happened in modern times. Would computers catch on fire like the telegraph machines did?

Anyway, on to more cheerful stuff. This is a holiday weekend here in the US, which means an embarrassment of festivals and conventions. It's time for DragonCon and Burning Man and many, many fireworks displays, including our local insanity on the river. Go out and be festive this weekend, wherever you are!