Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A.M. Energizer: Early Moonwalks

We're not talking NASA, we're talking dance. Michael Jackson popularized the moonwalk in the 1980s, but it was a step used by dancers earlier in the 20th century. Check it out:



(Via Boing Boing)

Monday, June 29, 2009

WP Reviews "The Angel's Game" by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón hit the number one position for hardcover fiction on two of the best seller lists followed here. Louis Bayard reviewed the book recently for the Washington Post. Here is the link.

Best Seller Round-Up

"I am a completely horizontal author.
I can't think unless I'm lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I've got to be puffing and sipping.
As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis.
No, I don't use a typewriter."

- Truman Capote in 1956.
Responding to the question "[w]hat are your writing habits".
From The Paris Review Interviews.


A number of new books in the number one spots this week, including something by a "Glenn Beck". Who is this person, "Glenn Beck"?


Published June 26, 2009.

Fiction Paperback (Trade): The Shack, William P. Young.
Fiction Hardcover:
Knockout, Catherine Coulter.



Nonfiction Paperback: Glenn Beck's 'Common Sense', Glenn Beck.
Nonfiction Hardcover: Liberty and Tyranny, Mark R. Levin.

II. Los Angeles Times.
Published June 28, 2009.

Fiction Paperback: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
Fiction Hardcover: Shanghai Girls, Lisa See.
Nonfiction Paperback: Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
Nonfiction Hardcover: Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell.

III. Northern California Independent Booksellers.
For the week ending June 21, 2009.

Fiction Paperback (Trade): The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows.
Fiction Hardcover: The Angel’s Game, Carlos Ruiz Zafón.
Nonfiction Paperback: Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
Nonfiction Hardcover: Home Game, Michael Lewis.

IV. Heartland Indie Bestseller List.
Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association
For the week ending June 21, 2009.

Fiction Paperback (Trade): The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows.
Fiction Hardcover: The Angel’s Game, Carlos Ruiz Zafón.



Nonfiction Paperback: Glenn Beck's 'Common Sense', Glenn Beck.
Nonfiction Hardcover: Liberty and Tyranny, Mark R. Levin.



Saturday, June 27, 2009

New Murder Mystery from Chuck Barris

Chuck Barris, who hosted the Gong Show and wrote the memoir Confessions of a Dangerous Mind in which he claimed to have worked for the CIA, has a new book out called Who Killed Art Deco? The L.A. Times has a review.



Friday, June 26, 2009

Yes, Yes, More Michael Jackson

But I dig the moon walk, so here it is . . . wait for it . . . moonwalk, spin, sur les pointes:

Up-date: Sorry, this YouTube video no longer works.


ACLU Wins Case Before the United States Supreme Court for Arizona Student

In an 8 to 1 decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a strip-search by school officials of a 13-year-old student, Savana Redding, suspected of possessing prescription-strength ibuprofen, violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Justice Clarence Thomas dissented.

ACLU

From the New York Times: Safford Unified School District v. April Redding

Other Reading: The Anita Hill - Clarence Thomas Controversy.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

One Moment, You are the King of Pop; the Next . . .

A fine graphic here. And below, a sad bit of video, given all that subsequently happened, in which a young Michael Jackson sings that he likes what he looks like. Or, was all that came subsequently irony?



(Via Boing Boing)

FT Reviews "Turbulence" by Giles Foden

John Sutherland, writing for the Financial Times, gives a positive review to Turbulence, a new book by Giles Foden. Foden is the author of The Last King of Scotland, which was turned into a popular film.

Turbulence, the FT reports, takes as its central event “'the most important weather forecast in history', for the D-Day Landings. The timing depends on that most perverse of things – the British weather." Mr. Sutherland calls the book "high-suspense plot" and "a classy page-turner, with a terrific D-Day climax."

Ring Around the White Collar: What Penalty for Ponzi Perp?

Bernie Madoff will be sentenced on June 29. In a recent article, Forbes examines what type of penalties have been given to other white-collar criminals. According to the story, Sholman Weiss is serving the longest such sentence, having been committed to 845 years in federal prison for his role in the the $450 million collapse of National Heritage Life Insurance. That officially puts his release date as Nov. 23, 2754.

Allen Stanford (not to be confused this morning with Mark Sanford), are you paying attention?


(Via WSJ Law Blog)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

White House Photostream

Check out the Official White House Photostream at Flickr.

Let's check it out.

NPR Summer Beach Book Poll

NPR is conducting a poll on the best beach books of all time. Check it out here, and submit your title.

(Via Papercuts)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Highly Recommended Reading: "Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure" by Matthew Algeo

A book that you absolutely must read this summer is Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure, The True Story of a Great American Road Trip by Matthew Algeo. Algeo writes about the three-week drive taken by former United States President Harry Truman and his wife, Bess, in the summer of 1953.

In 1953, after eight years in Washington D.C., Mr. Truman was back home in Independence, Missouri. Truman, elected Vice President on ticket with Franklin D Roosevelt in 1944, became President in April 1945 when Mr. Roosevelt died. Truman was subsequently elected President in 1948. In January 1953, after Dwight D. Eisenhower began serving his term as President, Mr. Truman and his wife resumed life in Missouri.

After a few months at home, the former President and former First Lady were ready for a road trip. In their new car, Harry and Bess drove from Missouri to Washington D.C., New York City, and back home again. They went by themselves: No Secret Service, no security, no staff, no entourage of any kind. In this charming, entertaining, and informative book, author Matthew Algeo tells the story of that trip, and that time in America.

This book is rich with interesting facts and trivia about the Trumans, the Office of the President, and the other men who have held that position: Who hated who; which former Presidents became close friends; who struggled financially after leaving the White House and who capitalized in private life on their former position of power.

In addition to the political stories, Mr. Alder wonderfully describes, and contrasts with today, the states, communities, hotels, even the highway itself, that Harry and Bess visited. The book is filled with not only Truman's story, but American's story.

Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure is simply a delightful book. It is highly recommended reading.







Monday, June 22, 2009

Some Kindle Books Reportedly Come with a Cap on the Number of Times the Book You Purchased can be Downloaded.

As more folks have experience with purchasing electronic, or e-books, for a Kindle, new limitations on the experience are being uncovered. From Boing Boing:
It turns out that there's an undocumented restriction on Kindle books -- if you download them "too many" (where "too many" is a secret number) times to your Kindle or iPhone or whatever, you run out of downloads and can't get copies anymore.
As the complete article on Boing Boing points out, this limits the ability to refresh a Kindle library across multiple Kindles as consumers upgrade or replace devices. Once the cap on downloads is reached, consumers must buy the book again in order to electronically read it again.

Check out the full article at Boing Boing as well as links to additional articles about e-books.

Best Seller Round-Up

"All good books are alike in that they are truer
than if they had really happened,
and after you are finished reading one,
you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you;
the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse, and sorrow,
the people and the places and how the weather was. "
- Ernest Hemingway


Published June 19, 2009.

Fiction Paperback (Trade): The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
Fiction Hardcover: Relentless, Dean Koontz
Nonfiction Paperback: Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
Nonfiction Hardcover: Liberty and Tyranny, Mark R. Levin.





II. Los Angeles Times.
Published June 21, 2009.

Fiction Paperback: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
Fiction Hardcover: The Scarecrow, Michael Connelly.
Nonfiction Paperback: Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
Nonfiction Hardcover: Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell.

III. Northern California Independent Booksellers.
For the week ending June 14, 2009.

Fiction Paperback (Trade): The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows.
Fiction Hardcover: The Scarecrow, Michael Connelly
Nonfiction Paperback: Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
Nonfiction Hardcover: Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell.

IV. Heartland Indie Bestseller List.
Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association
For the week ending June 14, 2009.

Fiction Paperback (Trade): The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows.
Fiction Hardcover: Shanghai Girls, Lisa See.
Nonfiction Paperback: Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
Nonfiction Hardcover: Liberty and Tyranny, Mark R. Levin.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Dog Lovers: Check Out the Official Portrait of the FDOTUS

The White House released an official photo of the Obama family dog: Bo, First Dog of the United States. Cute.

WP Reviews "Border Songs" by Jim Lynch

Border Songs, a novel by Jim Lynch, is in my "to read" stack of books. The story is about a young Border Patrol agent working in Washington State, along the U.S. / Canadian border. Check out this favorable review of Border Songs from Ron Charles at the Washington Post.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Weekend: 2009 U.S. Open Golf Championship

Cleared the decks for golf this weekend? If not, plan for it now. Here is a t.v. schedule for the tournament from golf.com.

A short video here from Slate on how to make golf exciting -- Wait: make golf even more exciting? Like that is at all possible to do -- but the video is a bit of fun.

Don't forget, Sunday is Father's Day.

Below, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods earlier this year at Dove Mountain in Arizona.




Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bananas: A Fruit. A Movie. A Book.

Buying a banana in Wisconsin fills this would-be locovore with enormous guilt. The environmental impact! The carbon footprint! But bananas are so useful in cooking and baking that it is difficult for me to totally avoid them. During the peanut butter product re-call earlier this year, I was consumed with the idea of having a peanut butter and banana sandwich; who'd have ever imagined these ingredients as items that would put you on edge.

The bland banana is generating controversy in the movie world. The Los Angeles Times reports that the screening of Bananas!, a documentary on the agenda at this week's Los Angeles Film Festival, is being fought by Dole Food Co. Dole asserts it will sue the filmmaker and the Los Angeles Film Festival for defamation if Bananas! is shown.

The film apparently concerns, at least in part, suits brought by Los Angeles attorney Juan Dominguez on behalf of Nicaraguan banana plantation workers. The workers claimed they were poisoned by pesticides used by Dole. Regarding this litigation, the Wall Street Journal reported, "Dominguez won a jury trial in 2007 on behalf of several Nicaraguans. But this spring, a judge in Los Angeles threw out two other lawsuits against Dole after being presented with evidence gathered from Nicaraguans who said that they had been recruited and coached by lawyers and provided with false work histories and falsified medical lab reports." The documentary, however, was completed and accepted for the festival before the suits were tossed out and thus does not address this latest development in the litigation.

If you find the topic of bananas appealing, check out Bananas: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World by Dan Koeppel. Bananas, the book, traces the history of the fruit, from the Garden of Eden, to banana republics, to current-day plantations where the fruit is being destroyed by a blight for which there is no cure. The author was interviewed in a very interesting program from NPR's Fresh Air last February; access that material here.







Cool Science Stuff: NASA LCROSS Mission

Hey, we're going to the moon tomorrow to look for water. NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) are set to lift off together aboard an Atlas V rocket on Thursday, June 18, at 5:12 p.m. EDT. How do you like them apples, Perrier?

Check out details from NASA, and the countdown to launch, here.

More Mystery News: New Material from a Classic Author

Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making - Includes Two Unpublished Poirot Storiesby John Curran will be published this fall. As the title states, the book will contain two previously unpublished short stories by Christie that feature detective Hercule Poirot. John Curran found the stories among the author's notes.

(Via the New York Times)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Mysteries



A few new titles to check out:

Fifty Grand by Adrian McKinty. Review and synopsis from Powell's Books here.




Choker by Frederick Ramsay. Review and synopsis from Powell's Books here.




The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. Review and synopsis from Powell's Books here.



The Innocent Spy by Laura Wilson. Review and synopsis from Powell's Books here.



David Sedaris' Reading List

David Sedaris, humorist and author of When You Are Engulfed in Flames, recommends books at his web site. Check it out here.

Recommended Reading: "Why Did I Ever" by Mary Robison

Why Did I Ever (2001), a unique and hilarious novel by Mary Robinson, must be described on two tracks. Track one is the plot. Protagonist Money Breton's life seems like a mess. She works as a Hollywood script doctor, traveling back and forth between California and her home in a small town in the South. Her job is constantly in jeopardy and her personal life is equally chaotic.

Money is thrice divorced, with a new boyfriend from whom she is withholding her home address. She has two adult children. Her son has recently been the victim of a sexual assault. Her daughter has an addiction problem. While trying to cope with the job, the boyfriend, and the kids, Money, who has her own drug issues, hangs out with her friend, Hollis, chats with neighbors, and takes rambling drives around the South.

Track two is what makes Why Did I Ever sparkle. The book is organized in what I imagine a book by comedian Steven Wright might look like. Within each chapter, the text is presented in numbered paragraphs, or short multi-paragraph section, some with their own title. The niceties of writing, such as transitions, sequencing, and other linking techniques, are largely omitted. Instead, the story is told in jolts and shots, interspersed with the random thoughts Money has over the day. For example:

And Yet
Overconfidence is a mistake for me. Not a big one, but it kicks
open the door for several others.

And:

38

We end up at the River Cafe on Science Street. Who works here
according to their name tags are Toadstool and Paranoid Phil.
My Asparagus Tips Casserole has no asparagus. "
How're you doing?" the two servers ask me.
They must mean with this food.
"You guys are spoiling me," I say.

Why Did I Ever
is both a serious and a funny novel that is very interesting to read. A perfect book for right now.





Monday, June 15, 2009

USDOJ Files Victim Impact Statements in Madoff Case

Bernie Madoff, who entered a guilty plea to 11 felony counts last March, will be sentenced on June 29. In anticipation of that, the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York has filed 113 victim impact statements with Judge Denny Chin. See those documents here.

(Via the Wall Street Journal)


Related: Bitterness. The American Psychiatric Association debated recently whether bitterness should be listed in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a bona fide mental disorder. Psychology Today, May 2009.

Kansas Can't be Trusted With Books

Kansas, a place recently in the news because a physician there was murdered while attending Sunday service at a Wichita church, has some infamous history.

Adding to all of the above, the Los Angeles Times reports that Kansas cannot even be trusted with books. "Books dating back to 1819 recently were vandalized at Watson Library on the University of Kansas campus, causing $5,000 worth of damage," the paper reports.

And what about the mysterious Kansas Rectangle?


Trouble in the garden: A gang of blue flowers menace the rose.

Kindle Competition

Competition is bubbling in the electronic book ("e-book") industry, where Amazon's Kindle has thus far dominated. Publisher Simon & Schuster is now selling its books via Scribd, a publisher of online content. Check out this explanation of the deal at the Los Angeles Times.

Additionally, Google also has an e-book plan. The New York Times has details. Google's plan involves selling readers on-line access to books; no special device or unique "reader" required.

Interesting developments. Yet, except for a small segment of the market, such as business travelers, I still see no advantage in purchasing an e-book for most readers. Am I wrong?




Best Seller Round-Up

"Next to acquiring good friends, the best acquisition is that of good books."
- Charles Caleb Colton.


Published June 12, 2009.

Fiction Paperback (Trade): The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
Fiction Hardcover: Skin Trade,
Laurell K. Hamilton.
Nonfiction Paperback: Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
Nonfiction Hardcover: Liberty and Tyranny, Mark R. Levin.

II. Los Angeles Times.
Published June 14, 2009.

Fiction Paperback: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Fiction Hardcover: The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book 5) Rick Riordan.
Nonfiction Paperback: Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
Nonfiction Hardcover: Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell.

III. Northern California Independent Booksellers.
For the week ending June 7, 2009.

Fiction Paperback (Trade): The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows.
Fiction Hardcover: The Scarecrow, Michael Connelly
Nonfiction Paperback: When You Are Engulfed in Flames, David Sedaris.
Nonfiction Hardcover: Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell.




IV. Heartland Indie Bestseller List.
Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association
For the week ending June 7, 2009.

Fiction Paperback (Trade): The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows.
Fiction Hardcover: Shanghai Girls, Lisa See.
Nonfiction Paperback: Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
Nonfiction Hardcover: Horse Soldiers, Doug Stanton.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Feel that Someting in the Air is Different Today? Analog T.V. is Over.

As of today, full-power television stations will broadcast only in digital signals.

Here is Gizmodo's DTV transition chart:



Friday, June 12, 2009

Crime Statistics on the Web

More web sites are tracking and mapping incidences of crime. Here are a few:

CrimeReports.com

CrimeMapping.com

EveryBlock.com

What do you think about these web sites?


(Via the Wall Street Journal)


Thursday, June 11, 2009

IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Winner Announced

Man Gone Down, a novel by Michael Thomas, is the winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. The winner of the prize was announced by Lord Mayor of Dublin, Éibhlin Byrne, Patron of the Award.




(Via The Millions)

Book Buzz: "Shop Class as Soulcraft" by Matthew Crawford

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work by Matthew B. Crawford, is described in the New York Times as a "beautiful little book about human excellence and the way it is undervalued in contemporary America." Mr. Crawford, who holds a Ph.D. in political philosophy, is also a mechanic and runs a motorcycle repair shop. The book concerns the joy and rewards in work that involves making things, as opposed to sitting in a cubical at a call center.

If you are interested in reading this book, you might also want to listen to an interview with Mr. Crawford that took place on the Diane Rehm Show from NPR.

Mr. Crawford - an author, philosopher, Ph.D., mechanic, and entrepreneur who apparently also has a strong streak of discipline and ambition - is the poster child for a liberal arts education, in my opinion. His various interests look to be unified by his ability to think critically, organize those thoughts coherently, and communicate clearly. Crawford seems to be living an interesting life. I look forward to reading his book to find out if it is equally as interesting.

Related: Raising Kids Who Can Thrive Amid Chaos in Their Careers by Sue Shellenbarger writing in the Wall Street Journal. Discusses job market skills to install in young people, including adaptability, exploration and entrepreneurial thinking.






Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Check Out "The Hope Chest " and Interesting Newspaper Headlines from the Past.

A blog called The Hope Chest: Bad News from the Past reproduces bad news reports that ran in various American newspapers in the 1930s. The stories are sad, but the headlines interesting, such as "Boy Dies from Moron's Bullet." That headline really sums things up, doesn't it?

(Via Boing Boing)


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Republicans Attempt to Tweet

During the Presidential race, John McCain admitted that he was computer illiterate. Since then, Republicans have been working on their technology skills, including Twitter.

Slate reports that Iowa's Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has been scolding President Obama on Twitter: "'Pres Obama you got nerve while u sightseeing in Paris to tell us 'time to deliver' on health care. We still on skedul/even workinWKEND,' wrote Grassley in the shortened vernacular of the form."

Well. It appears Republicans have not completely mastered this form of communication.

Book Buzz: "The Little Stranger" by Sarah Waters

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters was reviewed on NPR this morning. The book is both a spooky ghost story set in 1947 England, and a story about about post-war changes in class and social hierarchies.

The Little Stranger received favorable reviews in the Washington Post and the New York Times, which called it "a gripping and readable novel. "

The Times Online reviewer wrote, "It would be unfair to reveal very much about The Little Stranger; enough to say that this reader, left alone one night in her boxy Seventies ex-council house - about as unspooky a place as you can imagine - had to stop reading for fright. This is an effective, gripping book . . . You'll want to sleep with the light on." However, the reviewer from the Financial Times was more convinced by the book's social history than its ghost story.


Music We Like: "Wicked Grin" by John Hammond

A 2001 release, on Wicked Grin bluesman John Hammond performs songs by Tom Waits. Mr. Waits also produced the album. My favorite track? Very difficult to choose. Right now, it might be 2:19 or maybe Jocky Full of Burbon, but it's all good.



New Book from Daniel Silva: The Defector.

The Defector, a new book in the Gabriel Allon series by author Daniel Silva, is being published this July. Read the description of the book at the author's web site.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Fiction from Author Lee Child in the NYT

From the op-ed pages of the New York Times yesterday: A Guy Walks Into a Bar . . ., a short work of fiction by Lee Child, author of Gone Tomorrow (Jack Reacher, No. 13)





For the Grammar Group

A style guide from The Economist.

And found under Spelling, Common Problems . . .is that a typo?

When it is necessary to use a Latin name, follow the standard practice. Thus for all creatures higher than viruses, write the binomial name in italics, giving an initial capital to the first word (the genus): Turdus turdus, the song thrush; Metasequoia glyptostroboides, the dawn redwood; Culicoides clintoni, a species of midge. This rule also applies to Homo sapiens and to such cod uses as Homo economicus.(emphasis supplied)
Cod?

(Via The Millions)

Best Seller Round-Up

"A good word is like a good tree
whose root is firmly fixed and whose top is in the sky."
- The Koran

I. The New York Times.
Published June 7, 2009.

Fiction Paperback (Trade): The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows.
Fiction Hardcover: The Scarecrow, Michael Connelly



Nonfiction Paperback: Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
Nonfiction Hardcover: Liberty and Tyranny, Mark R. Levin.

II. Los Angeles Times.
Published June 7, 2009.

Fiction Paperback: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Fiction Hardcover: The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book 5) Rick Riordan.
Nonfiction Paperback: Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
Nonfiction Hardcover: Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell.

III. Northern California Independent Booksellers.
For the week ending May 31, 2009.

Fiction Paperback (Trade): The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows.
Fiction Hardcover: The Scarecrow, Michael Connelly
Nonfiction Paperback: Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
Nonfiction Hardcover: Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell.

IV. Heartland Indie Bestseller List.
Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association
For the week ending May 31, 2009.

Fiction Paperback (Trade): The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows.
Fiction Hardcover: The Scarecrow, Michael Connelly.
Nonfiction Paperback: Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
Nonfiction Hardcover: Horse Soldiers, Doug Stanton.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Saturday Morning FYI: Crunchberries are not Fruit.

If you are lazin' around this Saturday morning, feeling virtuous because you are eating Cap'n Crunch with Crunchberries and getting a serving of fruit in your bowl, then you have a problem. Actually, you may have more than one problem, but definitely a problem with thinking a Crunchberry is a fruit. It is not, and there is now a legal opinion confirming this point.

In a suit filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, the Plaintiff claimed that the packaging and marketing of Cap'n Crunch with Crunchberries misled her into thinking that the product contains real, nutritious fruit. Defendant moved to dismiss, and that motion was recently granted.

In dismissing the Plaintiff's claims concerning deceptive practices and advertising, the Court wrote:

While the challenged packaging contains the word "berries" it does so only in conjunction with the descriptive term "crunch." This Court is not aware of, nor has Plaintiff alleged the existence of, any actual fruit referred to as a "crunchberry."

Furthermore, the "Crunchberries" depicted on the [Product's principal display panel ("PDP"), the panel of the cereal box facing consumers as they shop in a store aisle] are round, crunchy, brightly-colored cereal balls, and the PDP clearly states both that the Product contains "sweetened corn & oat cereal" and that the cereal is "enlarged to show texture." Thus, a reasonable consumer would not be deceived into believing that the Product in the instant case contained a fruit that does not exist. (emphasis supplied).
Not only would no "reasonable consumer" - the standard for analyzing the Plaintiff's claims - be duped into thinking that a Crunchberry was fruit, but the Court noted that the Plaintiff even conceded that "'[c]lose inspection reveals that Crunchberries on the PDP are not really berries.'"

Delivering the coup de grace, the Court ruled that Plaintiff is not allowed to file an amended complaint: "The survival of the instant claim would require this Court to ignore all concepts of personal responsibility and common sense. The Court has no intention of allowing that to happen."

Read all of Sugawara v. Pepsico, Inc. here.

And to be complete: Froot Loops? Also not fruit. McKinnis v. Kellogg USA, 2007 WL 4766060 (C.D. Cal. 2007).

And the man himself, Cap'n Crunch? Well, I'm sorry to tell you this, but . . .



(Via Slashfood)




Friday, June 5, 2009

More About Bing

Having been thinking about both Bing and several trips that I have in the works, it is appropriate to follow-up yesterday's post about Bing with a post today about Bing Travel. Bing Travel was launched yesterday by Microsoft. According to its press release, Bing Travel features include:

Price Predictor. Bing Travel uses Farecast technology to analyze more than 175 billion airfare observations and predict whether the price of a flight is going up or down. It offers people a recommendation of “Buy Now” or “Wait,” including a confidence level and expected price increase or decrease over the next seven days.

Rate Indicator. How does someone know if the rate for a hotel is a deal or not? The Rate Indicator analyzes historical rate data from thousands of hotels to determine whether the current price is a good deal, or not a deal at all. People can view a city map with details for each hotel, color coded by Rate Indicator data.

Travel Deals. Bing Travel features up-to-the-minute flight and hotel deals for nearly 40 cities around the world. When people choose their origin city, Bing Travel will show the best airfare and hotel deals it has and will even show them why particular flights are considered deals. For example, people will see that flights to certain destinations may be a record low, or more than $150 less than the average for a particular route. People can be sure that all Travel Deals are based strictly on science, not marketing.

. . .

Fare Alerts. Most airfare price drops last less than 48 hours, so people need to be ready to jump when a fare falls. Fare Alerts will notify people if the fares for their trips drop, allowing them to catch lower fares.

Read the entire press release here.


(Via Lifehacker)

Visiting Buffalo, Re-Visited

If you decide to go to Buffalo to see the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings discussed previously here and here, don't get arrested. From the Buffalo News: Ruling to Allow Taser Use to get DNA may be Nation's First.

Given this turn of events, I'm now waiting for CSI: Buffalo to pop-up on television.


(Via Gizmodo)

It is Friday.

From Boing Boing: Winner of Boing Boing's Zombie haiku contest:

You lopped off my arms!
Thanks, now I can squeeze through your
Windows at night. Yum!


You just can't beat fun with zombies. Here is one of my favorite runner-up entries:

crunching through his brain
I realized I no longer cared
whether he loved me

Ha-ha! Take that Shakespeare.

Check out more entries at the link for Boing Boing, above.





Thursday, June 4, 2009

Microsoft's New Search Engine: Bing.


Old-school portal.


If you haven't yet heard about Bing, you soon will. Bing, Microsoft's new search engine, will be promoted heavily by the company as it tries to chip into the Google-juggernaut. Recently, the Wall Street Journal interviewed Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer about Bing:

WSJ: How much are you going to spend marketing [Bing]?

MR. BALLMER: We’re going to have to stay in the game. Depending on what you think of budgets in life, we’ll have what I would call a big budget. It was big enough that I had to gulp when I approved the budget.

Read more of the interview here.


"The Whole Five Feet" by Christopher Beha

Liberal Arts Majors: Here is yet another opportunity to put that learning to good use.

Christopher Beha has written a memoir that has as its hook the author's vow to read all 51 volumes of the Harvard Classics. The Harvard Classics is an anthology of classic literature assembled in the early 1900s by the then-president of Harvard. This collection, called the “Five-Foot Shelf", sold millions of volumes.

In a clever promotion for his book, Mr. Beha is running a contest at his web site. Each day for the next few weeks he is giving away a volume of the Harvard Classics to an individual who correctly answers a question relating to the volume in question.

For example, the June 4 question relates to Volume 23, Two Years Before the Mast: What was the name of the ship on which Richard Dana completed the second leg of his two-year trip?

If you want to participate in the drawing, email your answer by 5 p.m. Eastern to thewholefivefeet AT gmail DOT com.

And to think, some people pooh-poohed the utility of all those English courses we took as undergrads; of course, those folks didn't understand the joy in those classes.



(Via The New York Times Paper Cuts)

New Book from Elmore Leonard: "Road Dogs"

Elmore Leonard fans (and I am one of them) rejoice: There is a new book out from the 83-year old author. The book is called Road Dogs, and brings back three of Mr. Leonard's favorite characters: Jack Foley from Out of Sight, Cundo Rey from LaBrava, and Dawn Navarro from Riding the Rap.

NPR has an excerpt of the book at it's web site. Road Dogs looks like it will be a fun summer read.




Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Movies We Like: Kitchen Stories

Kitchen Stories (Theatrical release 2004). It's the 1950s and Swedish efficiency researchers are studying the kitchen habits of Norwegian bachelor farmers. This is a story about isolation and friendship. It is warm, comic, and a pleasure to watch. Read more about this movie at Rotten Tomatoes.




Movies we didn't like: Bottle Shock. Uff-da.

Summer Reading Recommendations from Salon: Novels of Crime and Adventure

Laura Miller, writing for Salon, recommends four thrillers to read this summer.





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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Choices for Audiobook Fans

If you are frequently driving long distances in your car, then you probably enjoy listening to audiobooks. CNET reports about a new source for audiobooks, Booksfree.com.

Booksfree.com follows the Netflix business model. "Users pay a flat fee for a monthly subscription, and receive a rotation of audiobook CDs sent to them by mail . . . with subscriptions as low as $10.99/mo," according to CNET.

If you link to the CNET article, be sure to check out the reader comments, which have more suggestions for finding inexpensive audiblebooks.

(Via Lifehacker).


NPR 2009 Summer Book Recommendations



From NPR: Books to consider reading this summer.

Statistic of the Day - General Motors

The New York Times reports this morning that after the current round of plant closings, G.M. will have fewer than 40,000 workers building cars in the United States compared to 395,000 workers in the 1970s.

Book Snapshots: "The Good Thief" by Hannah Tinti

The Good Thief , a novel by Hannah Tinti. Set in 19th Century New England. Orphan with one hand adopted by grave robber.

Odd little book. Is it for adults or youth? Why is one character's dialogue spelled with a New England accent ("She'd walk fah miles inta tha forest and disappeah.")? Wouldn't most folks in that place, at that time, have some sort of an accent? The story also features a dwarf, a young girl with a cleft palate, and a hard-of-hearing widow whose dialogue IS IN CAPITAL LETTERS BECAUSE, APPARENTLY, SHE IS TALKING IN A LOUD VOICE.

Although my interest in the story dropped significantly about halfway through, I was curious as to what would happen and skimmed to the end.

In sum, The Good Thief is no threat to Oliver Twist.






Monday, June 1, 2009

New Book Buzz at the BookExpo Convention

BookExpo Convention is the publishing industry's annual convention and a time where buzz begins to build around certain new works. Motoko Rich at The New York Times has a round-up of book titles getting talked-up at this year's BookExpo.

Most intriguing quote from the NYT: Geoffrey Jennings, an independent bookseller at Rainy Day Books in Fairway, Kansas, on Down Around Midnight by Robert Sabbag, "a memoir about a plane crash that [Sabbag] survived 30 years ago, and its aftermath. “I am abrasive and jaded and I have read lots of things,” Mr. Jennings said on the floor of the exhibition hall. “I was reading the book at night and my wife came down and I said ‘there is nothing you could say or do – in fact you could not even pay me – to stop reading this book.’”




Welcome June


 

 



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Best Seller Round-Up

"Beware of the man of one book."
- Anonymous

Author Lee Child is not a "man of one book." His 13th Jack Reacher novel, Gone Tomorrow, storms onto three of the lists followed here.


I. The New York Times.
Published May 29, 2009.

Fiction Paperback (Trade): The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows.
Fiction Hardcover: Gone Tomorrow (Jack Reacher, No. 13) Lee Child.
Nonfiction Paperback: Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
Nonfiction Hardcover: Liberty and Tyranny, Mark R. Levin.

II. Los Angeles Times.
Published May 31, 2009.

Fiction Paperback: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Fiction Hardcover: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan.
Nonfiction Paperback: Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
Nonfiction Hardcover: Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell.

III. Northern California Independent Booksellers.
For the week ending May 24, 2009.

Fiction Paperback (Trade): The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows.
Fiction Hardcover: Gone Tomorrow (Jack Reacher, No. 13) Lee Child.
Nonfiction Paperback: Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
Nonfiction Hardcover: Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell.

IV. Heartland Indie Bestseller List.
Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association
For the week ending May 24, 2009.

Fiction Paperback (Trade): The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows.
Fiction Hardcover: Gone Tomorrow (Jack Reacher, No. 13) Lee Child.
Nonfiction Hardcover: Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell..
Nonfiction Paperback (Trade): Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.