Friday, 30 July 2010

moths and mothers

A joke from the weekly Friday Funnies:

A little boy walked up to the librarian to check out a book

When the librarian asked him if it was for his mother, he
answered 'no.'

"Then why are you checking it out?"

"Because," said the little boy confidently, "I just started
collecting moths last month!"

Sunday, 25 July 2010

anamnesis - a new word I didn't know I knew

As I browsed the internet looking for information about my dog's limp, I came across a new word - new to me, that is. The word is anamnesis. From the context I took it to mean the information I would give the vet about my dog's normal behaviour.
The online Merriam-Webster gives it two meanings, and dates it from circa 1593
1 : a recalling to mind : reminiscence
2 : a preliminary case history of a medical or psychiatric patient
So the second one fits the context of what I read about vets interacting with dog owners.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica gives more information about the first aspect of the word:
a recalling to mind, or reminiscence. Anamnesis is often used as a narrative technique in fiction and poetry as well as in memoirs and autobiographies. A notable example is Marcel Proust’s anamnesis brought on by the taste of a madeleine in the first volume of Remembrance of Things Past (1913–27). The word is from the Greek anámnēsis, “to recall or remember.”
And then I discovered a page saying it's a concept developed by Plato.
He suggests that the soul is immortal, being repeatedly incarnated; knowledge is actually in the soul from eternity (86b), but each time the soul is incarnated its knowledge is forgotten in the shock of birth. What we think of as learning, then is actually the bringing back of what we'd forgotten. (Once it has been brought back it is true belief, to be turned into genuine knowledge by understanding.) And thus Socrates (and Plato) sees himself, not as a teacher, but as a midwife, aiding with the birth of knowledge that was already there in the student.
I guess if I knew this word in a previous life I must have forgotten it.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

verbs, nouns and transition to the future in Banyule

The headline in our local paper, the Heidelberg Leader, says Community produce plan flowers. "What in the world does that mean?' was the first reaction of each family member to read it.

I think it's clever headline, because it makes you think. At first it appears to be two nouns, an adjective and a verb: Community (noun) produce(verb) plan(adjective) flowers(noun).

When it doesn't make sense, you read it again, and there it is: Community(adjective) produce(adjective) plan(noun) flowers(verb), ie a community plan to plant produce along the footpaths is about to flower.

Transition Banyule is part of a world-wide movement to engage the community in planning the future.

I'm intending to plant a fruit tree on the edge of our property so neighbors and passers-by can help themselves to the 'produce' as they pass by. On Saturday 31st July we'll get together to organise it.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

more about the Bebook

I've come across an article in The Age, an appraisal of the Bebook that looks at its good and bad points. The writer, Adam Turner, basically concludes that it's overpriced, but that it has some useful features. The comments below his article are very helpful, too.

I still love my Bebook.

Friday, 2 July 2010

the Bebook is a good ebook reader

After two long years of trying to get my hands on an e-book reader, I've bought a Bebook. Quite impulsively, I must say. I've haunted Dymocks, Borders, Readers' Feast and other shops over the last couple of years and haven't been able to find a person on duty who could actually show me one working. (Oh, I just remembered that in the last couple of weeks Borders has introduced an e-reader and has some available for people to try out - but I didn't think it had enough features and I suspect you have to buy your books from them.)

I walked into the LaTrobe Uni bookshop recently, and there was the Bebook, available to try AND behind the counter was a young woman who not only knew how to work it, but who was enthusiastic and clear in her explanations. If I've understood her properly, it's not tied to any e-book company, so you can wirelessly buy books from a range of places, or download from your computer.

I haven't bought any yet, because it's so easy to download books from local libraries that I can't see why I would pay to own books. I've been downloading from Yarra Pleny/Brisbane Libraries.

City Library tell me they have e-books available also but I haven't tried them yet.

Here's a picture of my Bebook, propped up for easy reading during breakfast, on my Bookseat, which of course is wonderful for paper books also.

The screen is matt and I find it easy on the eyes. A couple of days ago I read it sitting in the train near a window, with the sun shining in (winter sun, not the glare of an Australian summer) and it was fine. I believe I would have been squinting if I'd been reading on paper, but I'm not sure about that.

Here are some examples of landscape orientation, in the five font sizes available:

It's a different experience to read a book on this e-reader rather than in a traditional book. I'm sure someone, somewhere, is doing a study of the way the brain processes print in the two different formats. As you can see from the photos, you get a different amount of text at each font size, which makes for a different scanning technique by the eye.

When I read my first books, non-fiction - How Dogs Think and Gut Instincts - I was aware that I was reading in an electronic format. But now that I've read an engrossing murder-mystery, once I was grabbed by the plot I lost consciousness of the medium, and at one stage even tried to turn the page instead of pressing the button.

So far, I'm very happy with it. Text does do weird things, though. Paragraph breaks re-arrange themselves at the differing font sizes, and occasionally direct speech runs together into one paragraph so that you think it's the same speaker, or one speaker's words are separated into different paragraphs so that you think it's a new person speaking. Also, diagrams in the health book (Gut Instincts) looked quite weird at the large size - but I simply went back to the small size to see how the diagram was supposed to be.

It's wonderful for reading in bed! Big print, light to hold and no pages to turn.

It cost $569 at the LaTrobe Uni bookshop, but as the shop is a co-op (membership $20), I got $70 discount.

It weighs about 300 grams (about 10.5 ounces).

There are lots of things you can do with it - take notes as you read, highlight sections, go to a particular page and other things, but my main aim is to simply read books, so I haven't used many features yet.

Here are more pictures of the five font sizes, this time in the portrait orientation: