"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Friday, October 21, 2011

Eye Candy of Occupy Wall Street

Here here and here.

Literary Supporters of Occupy Wall Street

Here are the As:

* Laurie Abraham, author of The Husbands and Wives Club
* Susan Abulhawa, author of Mornings in Jenin
* Kevin Adams, author of Continuous Life
* Lorraine Adams, author of Harbor
* Pip Adam, author of Everything We Hoped For
* Nancy Agabian, author of Me as Her Again
* David Agranoff, author of The Vegan Revolution with Zombies
* Rose Aguilar, author of Red Highways
* Sergio Alejandro Aguillon-Mata, author of Quien Escribe
* Joe Ahearn, author of Five Fictions
* Steve Ahlquist, author of The Oz Squad
* Manan Ahmed, author of Where the Wild Frontiers Are
* Elisa Albert, author of The Book of Dahlia
* Malaika King Albrecht, author of Spill
* Michelle Aldredge, editor of Gwarlingo
* Alma Alexander, author of The Secrets of Jin Shei
* William Alexander, author of Goblin Secrets
* Tariq Ali, author of The Duel
* Dee Allen, author of Boneyard
* Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina
* Steve Almond, author of Letters from People Who Hate Me
* Eric Alterman, author of What Liberal Media?
* Andrew Foster Altschul, author of Deus Ex Machina
* Ivy Alvarez, author of Mortal
* P.F. Anderson, editor, MLA Encyclopedic Guide to Searching and Finding Health Information on the Web
* Natalie Angier, author of Woman
* Jessica Anthony, author of The Convalescent
* Nick Antosca, author of Fires
* Joyce Appleby, author of The Relentless Revolution
* Debby Applegate, author of The Most Famous Man in America
* Philip Appleman, author of Perfidious Proverbs
* Giovanni Arduino, Mai Come Voi
* Meakin Armstrong, editor, Guernica
* Katie Arnold-Ratliff, author of Bright Before Us
* Rilla Askew, author of Fire in Beulah
* James Atlas, My Life in the Middle Ages
* Shaun Attwood, author of Hard Time
* Margaret Atwood, author The Handmaid’s Tale
* Esmahan Aykol, author of Hotel Bosphorus
* Anne Aylor, author of The Double Happiness Company

For the rest of the alphabet: OccupyWriters.com

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Why I Am Addicted to the Internet

It's not rewiring for the information age, it's just that the information age is so much... fun. Well, a certain kind of fun. It does feel like a waste of time if you spend all day at it, whereas a good book never feels like a waste of time.

"...the biggest surprise, and the one most relevant to current debates, is a “revolutionary” experiment Linden discusses near the end of his book. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health gave thirsty monkeys the option of looking at either of two visual symbols. No matter which they moved their eyes to, a few seconds later the monkeys would receive a random amount of water. But looking at one of the symbols caused the animals to receive an extra cue that indicated how big the reward would be. The monkeys learned to prefer that symbol, which differed from the other only by providing a tiny amount of information they did not already have. And the same dopamine neurons that initially fired only in anticipation of water quickly learned to fire as soon as the information-providing symbol became visible. “The monkeys (and presumably humans as well) are getting a pleasure buzz from the information itself,” Linden writes.

"If this discovery proves reliable, it implies that the Internet doesn’t change our brains at all, for good or for ill. It doesn’t damage brain areas, destroy links between parts of our brains, or grow new areas or connections. What the Internet does is stimulate our reward systems over and over with tiny bursts of information (tweets, status updates, e-mails) that act like primary rewards but can be delivered in more varied and less predictable sequences. These are experiences our brains did not evolve to prefer, but like drugs of abuse, they happen to be even better suited than the primary reinforcers to activating the reward system. So if you find yourself stopping every 30 seconds to check your Twitter feed, your brain has no more been rewired than if you find yourself taking a break for ice cream rather than celery. Picking the more rewarding stimulus is something our brains can do perfectly well with the wiring they start out with."

How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good
By David J. Linden

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Margaret Atwood: Alternative Worlds and Changing Our Own for the Better

"Margaret Atwood and Canopy are piloting a new highly advanced species of paper with galactic potential for business and communities, and superhuman capacity to protect endangered forests.

"Second Harvest Paper is made without any harm to fragile forest ecosystems. It contains only straw left over from the grain harvest, and recycled paper. It is the next step forward in Canopy’s campaign to reduce the stress of paper production on our endangered forests.
Canopy Presents...

"A Limited Special Edition of Margaret Atwood’s In Other Worlds
First Book Ever on Straw Paper in North America!"

There's a link to purchase the book. Unfortunately, it costs $100, tho if waste straw were used to produce paper in any volume, it would cost a lot less than wood pulp paper. I ordered the conventional book from Barnes & Noble. I'm not sure we have to worry as much about books using up trees as about unnecessary things like junk mail, even other disposable paper products -- napkins, toilet paper, paper towels, that could better be made with straw.

On the subject of alternative worlds, such as in Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood and The Handmaids's Tale, Atwood rocks. I'm sure this collection will be as fascinating as her Negotiating with the Dead, which I recommend as highly as possible.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A small, normal thing: Bookstore in a tent

After the Fukushima disaster washed 230,000 books out to sea, the owners of the bookstore reopened in a tent in response to local demand. Mainichi Daily News.

"Between May 16 and 21, the couple opened a temporary bookstore using a 2-ton truck... at a parking lot of an auto retailer along a prefectural road, which had escaped major damage. A total of 3,000 people visited the tentative bookstore in six days, resulting in 2.05 million yen in sales.

"In July, the Chidas started to run a tented bookstore every Friday through Sunday. Once again, many people flocked to the bookstore from their shelters.

"Kai Onodera, 11, an elementary school student in Kesennuma, bought two manga titles at the makeshift bookstore on the evening of Sept. 18. The tsunami had claimed the lives of his grandmother and aunt and destroyed his home. It was four days after the magnitude-9.0 quake struck that he was reunited with his parents who were taking shelter at different places. Since his family moved into an apartment far from his school in April, Kai has no friends to hang around with in his neighborhood.

"'When I'm reading manga, I get amused and distracted, if only for a little while,' Kai said with a smile."

People living in refugee shelters are buying books -- I can imagine how important that small return to normalcy is for them, after the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdowns. Browsing and buying books must seem so reassuring, especially as the problem is far from over.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Occupy Wall Street has its Own Library

Occupy Wall Street Library (OWSL)

I've tried not to get too political with this blog, so I haven't been posting about Occupy Wall Street, much as it does my heart good. I'm happy to be able to report that there is a free lending library available to demonstrators. Click the link to get a look at some of the titles. The books are all marked "Occupy Wall Street Library" or "OWSL" on their edges.