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Re: The Book Thread! What are you reading?

Sat May 27, 2017 11:53 am


Yeah, you caught me being a bit sneaky. :giggle:

Reminds me of something from my childhood. I can only imagine that the personal computer has made a huge difference in enabling members of the deaf community to participate in larger culture, including productive employment. But when I was a kid many deaf people were extremely poor and isolated. There was a form of peddling that some deaf people used to do on the subway. They'd enter a subway car holding a stack of wallet-sized cards. They would then approach each person in the car in turn and, without asking, place a card on their lap. The cards contained the ASL manual alphabet or a variation thereof and would say something like, "Sign Language Basics." After handing the cards out, the deaf person would circle back around to each person. If you happened to pick up the card from your lap and glance at it, or show any recognition or interest, they would gesture at you with the aim of guilt-tripping you into purchasing a card. We children would invariably look with curiosity at the card, thereby obligating our parental units into spending a buck. As kids we would take the card home, excited, learn how to manually sign our name maybe, crudely pretend to be speaking sign, and lose interest in a few days. I know now that learning the manual alphabet was no more "learning sign language" than learning the Cyrillic alphabet would have been learning Russian. Or learning binary would be learning machine language.

Oh yeah this is the book thread. I'm in the midst of reading "Nonsense on Stilts" which talks about pseudoscience and the type of sloppy thinking and reasoning under which it flourishes. In our current cultural environment where things like flat earth and "double suns" are given serious consideration by more than a few, he's fighting a losing battle but it's a good read nonetheless.

Re: The Book Thread! What are you reading?

Sat May 27, 2017 2:33 pm

^ Ah yes, I remember the sign language cards very well. In fact, I'm sure I've seen someone passing them out on BART as recently as a year or two ago.

On a related note, the Toki Pona book also fully describes the signed version of the language, which is introduced thus:
jan Sonja wrote:Signed Toki Pona (toki pona luka) is a silent version of Toki Pona that uses hand gestures. This can be useful, for example:
• in a quiet library or house of worship,
• during covert ninja operations,
• diving underwater for treasure, or
• while taunting rival Lojbanists with gang signs.


Re: The Book Thread! What are you reading?

Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:35 am

Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols & Other Typographical Marks by Keith Houston — Very interesting and extremely informative. Surprisingly so, in fact: I hadn't realized how little I knew about typographical symbols and their history.

I had an aha moment while reading the chapter on the asterisk (*) and the dagger (†). These symbols derive from ancient Greek signs, invented by librarians at Alexandria, called the asteriskos and the obelos. Can you see what clicked in my mind right there? Even though Houston makes no mention of this, it occurred to me that this pair of symbols must be the source of the names of Goscinny and Uderzo's inseparable Gaulish warriors. And I was right, by Teutates!

Re: The Book Thread! What are you reading?

Mon Jun 12, 2017 1:37 am

^ I thought that was intended to be obvious, at least in the case of the titular character. Maybe because (at least in my mind), I was exposed to the comic and the name of the symbol around the same time. As contrasted with, say Idéfix/Dogmatix, which went entirely over my head as a lad. Anyway, nice book find, as usual.

Re: The Book Thread! What are you reading?

Mon Jun 12, 2017 5:26 am

^ I always got that the name Astérix was a play on the word asterisk, but I only connected Obélix with obelisks, like those in ancient Egypt. I assumed that his name referred obliquely to the menhirs that he delivers, which is probably true, as well. I was just unaware that the typographical dagger (which, like the asterisk, is used to mark footnotes) had a name that would link the two characters in that way.

On a related note, here's one of my recent eBay purchases:


"Can you send menhirs through the mail?"
"Yes, but send them by registered mail, so that they don't get lost in sorting."

Re: The Book Thread! What are you reading?

Sun Jul 16, 2017 7:10 am

Not really reading per se... but I've been listening to the Under the Dome (Stephen King) audio book while at my overnight job. I'm a huge fan of Raúl Esparza so when I found out he has done a few audio books I decided to listen to them. I'm really liking this one and I can totally picture him as the main character, Barbie.

Re: The Book Thread! What are you reading?

Sun Jul 16, 2017 8:30 am

That's one of my favorite books. All 1,000+ pages of it. :lol: I might just read it again after seeing your post.

Re: The Book Thread! What are you reading?

Wed Sep 06, 2017 12:22 pm

I've started reading an English translation of The Tale of the Heike (平家物語). You know the tragic story: A girl named Michiyo achieves her teenage dream by winning a nationally televised audition to become a rock vocalist, but she is soon overshadowed by her five runners-up.

Oh wait, wrong Heike.

This is a much older story, one of the classics of Japanese literature. It is the tale of the rise and fall of the Heike (Taira) clan, culminating in their defeat by the Genji (Minamoto) clan at the Battle of Dan-no-Ura in 1185.

Re: The Book Thread! What are you reading?

Fri Jan 05, 2018 2:47 pm

Been working on The Strain trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.

01/05 edit: Finished The Fall in about a day. And I'm really glad I watched the show first, cause now I'm mad about all the discrepancies. :lol:
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