Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Unknown Binding on ABE Explained

I often chuckle when reading wants reports from the advanced book exchange because books are often listed with various attributes listed as unknown. How exactly can you not know what a binding is on a book? books to furnish a room a bookseller on ABE figured it out apparently if a seller uses terminology different from the standard good very good hardcover paperback etc. terminology ABE gets rid of it. Hopefully they'll fix this bug in the system.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Ripping Off Consumers: dinosaur publishers and bookstores

the Toronto Star has an editorial discussing the problem of publishers and bookstores ignoring the rising Canadian dollar and maintaining the exchange rates for converting prices between American and Canadian. Which of course leads to Canadian consumers paying a premium for reading. The publishers wine that they print books more than a year in advance so they can't adjust prices. Well if they're using print on demand technology as most of them are it's a simple enough change to make. Possibly needing a generation of a new barcode. Easy enough. There would also have to be a change in the books in print catalog which is industry-standard but would only take 45 days to take effect. Just goes to show what a joke the archaic industry is.

back from the wedding

I'm back from the wedding. Congratulations to Sarah and Mitchell. It was wonderful the food was superb and the company even better.

Friday, May 26, 2006

First Ypres 1914: the Graveyard of the Old Contemptibles by David Lomas

First Ypres 1914: the Graveyard of the Old Contemptibles by David Lomas lays out in classic Osprey style the battle of first Ypres. Osprey which is of course most often associated with war games is a excellent source of information not only on uniforms but on the strategies and tactics involved in the world's greatest battles. This book is no exception with its clear description of the battle crammed into only 90 some odd pages. One of the more interesting things is that the book describes the Belgian use of dogs to pull their gun carriages. Apparently this was tried in the British army but didn't work. Anyone out there have any more info?

The one major criticism I have with this book is that in most of the other Osprey books I've looked at there has been a further reading section included. For some inexplicable reason in this book there isn't. That being said still an excellent acquisition for the collection.

now that's localization

Global Thermonuclear War: featuring YOUR hometown! well it's nice to know that someone apparently plays these games at the store. Or maybe it was mentioned in the PR release. Play the game through the rubble of your hometown. Kinda neat when you think about it. There's probably a way to rig up Google earth with a hex wargame engine and play capture the flag for the hospital.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

General Michael W. Hagee stands up

I was surprised and delighted to see that Marine Corps Commandant General Michael W. Hagee released a very strongly worded memo today outlining what the Marines stand for. This was done as an attempt to bolster the Corps which has recently been shaken by allegations of the killing of civilians in Iraq. Some important extracts follow. The entire text can be read here “On Marine Virtue”.

To a Marine, honor is more than just honesty; it means having uncompromising personal integrity and being accountable for all actions. To most Marines, the most difficult part of courage is not the raw physical courage that we have seen so often on today’s battlefield. It is rather the moral courage to do the “right thing” in the face of danger or pressure from other Marines. Finally, commitment is that focus on caring for one another and upholding the great ideals of our Corps and Country.

We have all been educated in the Law of Armed Conflict. We continue to reinforce that training, even when deployed to combat zones. We do not employ force just for the sake of employing force. We use lethal force only when justified, proportional and, most importantly, lawful. We follow the laws and regulations, Geneva Convention and Rules of Engagement. This is the American way of war. We must regulate force and violence, we only damage property that must be damaged, and we protect the non-combatants we find on the battlefield.

When engaged in combat, particularly in the kind of counterinsurgency operations we’re involved in now, we have to be doubly on guard. Many of our Marines have been involved in life or death combat or have witnessed the loss of their fellow Marines, and the effects of these events can be numbing. There is the risk of becoming indifferent to the loss of a human life, as well as bringing dishonor upon ourselves. Leaders of all grades need to reinforce continually that Marines care for one another and do what is right.

Of course it will be all for not if there no changes to the actions of the Marines and if harsh punishment is not meet out to the guilty parties. It will be interesting to see.

Chancellorsville Lee's Greatest Battle by Edward J. Stackpole

Chancellorsville Lee's Greatest Battle by Edward J. Stackpole originally published in 1958 this work is considered to be a classic of Civil War history. An often lively account of the Chancellorsville campaign. It does not disappoint. The author describes the movements of the various forces in this battle which was one of the more confusing of the Civil War. Also puts forward a reason for why fighting Joe Hooker didn't at Chancellorsville.

Of particular interest is that the author obviously visited the battlefield and throughout the text mentions examples of how it is changed in the intervening 90 years since the battle. The underbrush which was such an important factor in the battles fought around this area actually expanded its hold on the land in the intervening time. Which considering the march of progress is rather surprising.

Unfortunately the work only occasionally mentions the sources from which it cites. There is no endnotes and only a partial bibliography. All that being said it is a excellent read. A welcome anecdote to the occasionally dry military history that in my education I have to inflict upon myself.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Afghani windowdressing, democracy marches on

With the news that the Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai will be investigating the casualties in the air strikes, the Afghan government is proving to be quick in its attempts to mimic Western-style democracy. After all what could be more Western and Democratic then a pointless investigation? What exactly are they going to say? That it was stupid to send in the air strike [which it was] or that they were justified and sh^t happens? It'll be very interesting to see what they come up with since they can't exactly criticize their benefactors for what they're doing. the American public would not like that one bit.

More fundamentalist reaction

The Blue Voice Does quite a good job of explaining more about the paranoia that the daVinci code has caused. Particularly interesting is that the fundamentalist view seems to involve eliminating any sort of argument. Now Heaven forbid anyone actually bring up the Q-source into the discussion that would really cause some chaos.





The daVinci code and Catholic public relations

Saw the daVinci code last night certainly not Citizen Kane by any means but not the stinker the reviews made it out to be. Much like the book it was a serviceable thriller. For my money the Day of the Jackal was a much better thriller book/movie combination.

As a news junkie I am particularly fascinated by the Catholic churches response to the book and now the film. It strikes me that there are two reasons for why the church has bungled this one. They seem to be more worked up over this fictional book then they were over the child sexual abuse cover-up.

First of all why even bring it up this is a fictional work after all. If anyone loses their faith over this it evidently their faith wasn't particularly strong enough to begin with. It is after all what faith means as opposed to science

Second of all through the church sending out there PR minions to criticize the book/movie gives this a load of credibility. To be blunt Holocaust historians do not debate Holocaust deniers they do not dignify them with the response. The church shouldn't either.




Tuesday, May 23, 2006

How ancient texts can help us with Gutenberg

Last night I was watching one of those interminable CBC presentations about how the the future is here. This was about e-books and how they were going to revolutionize the publishing industry. The usual sort of nonsense about how in five years printed publishing will be dead and no one will care.

"Authors of the world digitize all you have to lose is your chains"

This brings up a rather nitpicky question from the M.A. student in the room. How the hell are we supposed to cite these texts? In the Chicago manual of style the standard format for web site and electronic file citations looks like this.

Jenson, Alison S. "Audience and Web Design." 1999. (21 January 2000)

I've always enjoyed entering the date on which you visited the page. I'm pretty sure somebody wants lost a citations source and simply created a reasonable looking address and when the prof complained told him/her that the web site must've been shut down.

Unfortunately Gutenberg is of course made up of public domain texts where the page numbers have been removed. In fact it's part of their boilerplate that the text is not from any particular edition so don't come complaining to them if there's a mistake. But if someone happens to be citing for example Complete Project Gutenberg Abraham Lincoln Writings there's going to be a problem citing just the file. Yes I know that if it happens to be a direct quote the professor can simply type in part of it into their Web browser and search but it still very problematic for anything other than direct quotation.

Yes the Lincoln example gives information on where the writing comes from but still the student would have to meld together multiple citation formats.

So how can ancient sources help us? Well in most notation ancient sources are cited by line or verse for instance this Bible citation.

Ps. 139. 13-16 NAB (New American Bible)

The same is true for non biblical texts. The better sort of English translations include this information as well. It would be easy enough for Gutenberg to include such information in their text possibly a new version could be posted if people do not want to be bothered by the numbers. Gutenberg would likely be big enough to set up this change and improve their position as the gold standard in free texts online.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The book inventory increases

After various wanderings around my favorite web site ebay I've managed to find two more books which will work for my republication project. One is sitting here on the desk beside me. The book is severely yellowed unfortunately. Which will mean I’ll be looking for a typist? Maybe this is something I can outsource. I'll have to look into that.


Well unfortunately I lost the auction mentioned in the last message but I did find another book which would work and managed to win it. So when it shows up I'll be able to take a look and see. Already have two books here which could work. Don't seem to be currently in print. Now to pitch it to the parents.

Target work for republication

I may have a target work for my republication project. Clearly this text is in the public domain and would be relevant to historians. Copies are going for $800American in the collectormarket but I've come across a cheap set on eBay.. I don't think OCR software can handle it so this maybe a typing job for someone unfortunately. I have to see just how it looks before the auction ends. Maybe putting in a bid.

Digging through the pile

I'm back at home which means I have access to all those books that have been piling up since last September. I would bring in a few each week but could never exactly get it right. Never got through what I brought or was done by Wednesday afternoon. So now it's time to start making my way through the backlog. Not that I'll stop buying we'll know that's impossible. Now if I just had somewhere to put them all.

quick explanation

I wasn't particularly fond of the interface on xanga so hopefully this will work out better. I'll be reposting my old messages just so there's a complete archive.