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1. Zeppi’s Christmas gift for kids: FREE download on December 25th and 26th of books 1 & 2

The Adventures of Zeppi series    

A penguin named Zeppi makes a boy’s wish for a special friend come true. When young Alesdor finds Zeppi amongst the flowers in the garden, they adopt each other and grow in The Adventures of Zeppi series.
Zeppi and his friend have fun and discover a lot about friendship, tolerance and generosity. As Zeppi adapts to his new life with ecological-minded Alesdor, he will learn about taking care of the planet too.

Book 1 – New Friends

When Zeppi’s cage falls off a truck, he’s found by a kind boy named Alesdor, who teaches him that
compost piles are plant food and not penguin food.

 

Zeppi’s Christmas gift: FREE download on December 25 and 26:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Adventures-Zeppi-Friends-ebook/dp/B0094KJK1C/

 

Check out the other books in The Adventure of Zeppi series:

Book 2 – Circus

Now living in Alesdor’s teepee in the garden, Zeppi is overjoyed when a circus parade comes down the street. It’s so much fun, until he realizes some animals are caged. Have his parents wound up in cages at the circus? Zeppi decides to find out.

 

Zeppi’s Christmas gift: FREE download on December 25 and 26:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Adventures-Zeppi-Circus-ebook/dp/B009GMXIFM/

               

Book 3 – Learning

 

Penguins cannot speak human words. Will Zeppi the penguin learn to talk?  

 

http://www.amazon.com/The-Adventures-Zeppi-Learning-ebook/dp/B009QO0984/

 

Book 4 – Greenback Town

During a visit to his favorite toy store, Zeppi decides to snuggle between two plush penguins that remind him of his parents. But everything turns topsy-turvy when a wildlife protection officer wants to take him to the zoo.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Adventures-Zeppi-Greenback-ebook/dp/B00ABEY9NE/

Book 5 – Cackle Island

Zeppi takes his first swim in the sea, when a storm comes up and takes him to an island inhabited by strange creatures.

Available begin January 2013.

 

 

 

 

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2. Masha Gessen Talks About the Reign of Vladimir Putin

The journalist Masha Gessen discusses her new book about Vladimir Putin's rise to power and what he has done with it.

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3. 10 Ways World of Warcraft Will Help You Survive the End of Humanity

Lauren Appelwick, Publicity

Robert M. Geraci is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College. In his new book Apocalyptic AI: Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality, he examines the “cyber-theology” which suggests we might one day upload our minds into robots or cyberspace and live forever. Drawing on interviews with roboticists, AI researchers, Second Life devotees, and others, Geraci reveals that the idea of Apocalyptic AI is strikingly similar to Judeo-Christian apocalyptic traditions. Here, he shares 10 ways World of Warcraft, one virtual reality game, could help us survive the end of the world as we know it.

1. The dangers will be minimal…level 80 priests can provide universal health care.
President Obama plans to insure 32 million more Americans than are currently protected; but the area of effect healing spells of priests can jump from one person to another, healing them as they become sick and injured without need for hospital visits, insurance payments, etc. This approach to medical treatment has obvious benefits over the constant paperwork that federally mandated insurance will require.

2. When aliens come to take over the planet, they’ll get addicted to WoW and forget what they were doing.
Instead of world domination, aliens will hope to complete all four daily cooking quests for The Rokk. After they’ve already eaten Emeril, they’ll spice up their life with Super Hot Stew and realize that people don’t taste all that good after all.

3. Who needs indoor plumbing? You’re already used to peeing into bottles.
Your guild’s “friendly” three day race to level 80 has given you all the continence you need…and the willingness to do what you must when the time comes.

4. After countless hours of farming for minerals, herbs and animal hides, you’re well prepared for life after subprime mortgages collapse the economy.
Let’s face it, the economy is in shambles and no one knows when it will recover. On the other hand, while toxic mortgage securities provide neither housing nor security, a proper skinner can ensure that all the local children stay warm through the winter.

5. Gnomish engineers will program the robots to like you (though they can’t guarantee proper functioning).
It’s not the Gnomes’ fault that Skynet became self-aware…they didn’t think it would defend that off switch so vociferously! And to compensate, they’ll happily upload your mind into one of their inventions so that you can join the robots in their post-apocalyptic future.

6. As the value of the dollar declines, gold and mithril will remain safe investments.
Gold will shine through the darkest of times and foreign governments will always be content to buy it from you at the auction house.

7. Your family pet can take aggro for you while you lay a fire trap to destroy a zombie mob.
A lifetime of treats and petting repaid in one priceless moment.

8. Your potions of underwater breathing will let you grab the a

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4. Settling the Scores: 2010 Oscar Music Predictions

Lauren, Publicity Assistant

Kathryn Kalinak is Professor of English and Film Studies at Rhode Island College. Her extensive writing on film music includes numerous articles and several books, the most recent of which is Film Music: A Very Short Introduction. Below, she has made predictions for the Oscar Music (Original Score) category, and 9780195370874picked her favorites.

We want to know your thoughts as well! Who do you think will win the Oscar for Original Score? Original Song? Send your predictions to publicity@oup.com by tomorrow, March 6, with the subject line “Oscars” and we’ll send a free copy of Film Music: A Very Short Introduction to the first 5 people who guessed correctly.

We also welcome you to tune in to WNYC at 2pm ET today to hear Kathryn discuss Oscar-nominated music on Soundcheck.

This Sunday’s Oscars will recognize an exceptionally fine slate of film scores, and it’s nice to see such a deserving group of composers. The nominees represent a range of films and scores including the lush and symphonic (Avatar), whimsical (Fantastic Mr. Fox), edgy and tension-producing (The Hurt Locker), eclectic and genre-bending (Sherlock Holmes), and beautifully melodic (Up). While there are always surprises, I’ve considered each composer and score, coming to the following conclusions and predictions.

On Avatar:
James Horner has been around a long time, having been nominated ten times in the last 32 years, and receiving Best Score and Best Song Oscars for Titanic. He’s a pro at what he does best: big, symphonic scores that hearken back to the classical Hollywood studio years. Horner’s music gives Avatar exactly what it needs—warmth and emotional resonance—and connects the audience to a series of images and characters that might be difficult to relate to otherwise. If Horner wins Sunday night, look for the evening to go Avatar’s way.

On Fantastic Mr. Fox

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5. 8 Reasons to Unfriend Someone on Facebook

Lauren, Publicity Assistant

If you haven’t already heard, unfriend is the New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year. In honor of this announcement, I surveyed Facebook users across the country about why they would choose to unfriend someone.

1. They’ve turned into a robot.
“People send me Green Patches all the time,” said Jane Kim, a television research assistant in NYC. “It’s annoying. And that’s all I ever get from them. Clearly, they’re not interested in actually being friends.”

That’s because your friends are robots, Jane. Marketing robots. These are the friends you never hear from except when they want you to join a cause, sign a petition, donate money, become a fan of a product, or otherwise promote something. Farmville robots are increasingly becoming problems as well, but are not yet grounds for unfriending.

2. You don’t know who they are.
“A few days ago, Facebook suggested I reconnect with a friend whose name I didn’t recognize,” said Jessica Kay, a lawyer in Kansas City. “She’d recently gotten married, but I hadn’t even known she was engaged. I’ll probably unfriend her later. Along with some random people I met at parties in college.”

“You’re tired of seeing [that mystery name] your newsfeed,” said Jonathan Evans, a contract specialist in Seattle. “You haven’t talked to that person since the random class you took together, and you’ll probably never talk to them again.”

3. They broke your heart.
Jonathan Lethem, author of Chronic City, shared that his number one reason to unfriend someone is “because they just broke up with you on Facebook.”

So, maybe they didn’t break your heart. But if the only reason you were friends on Facebook is because you two were somehow involved, it might be time to play some Beyoncé, crack open the Haagen-Dazs and click “Remove from Friends”.

4. You don’t like them anymore.
In the early years of Facebook, users would  friend everyone their dorm, everyone from high school, and every person they had ever shared a sandbox with. But now, many people are finding they no longer like a number of their friends, and spend time creating limited profiles, customizing the newsfeed, and avoiding Facebook chat.

Teresa Hynes, a student at St. John’s University, pointed out that it’s silly to be concerned one of these people might find out you’ve unfriended them and get angry. “You are never going to see them again,” she said. “You don’t want to see them ever again. You hated them in high school. Your mass communications group project is over.”

5. Annoying status updates.
“I don’t want to see ‘So-and-so wishes it was over,’” said Andrew Varhol, a marketing manager in NYC. “Or the cheers of bandwagon sports fans—when suddenly someone’s, ‘Go Yankees! Go Jeter!’ Where were you before October?”

Excessive status updates are one example of Facebook abuse. Amy Labagh of powerHouse Books admits she is irritated by frequent updates. “It’s like they want you to think they’re cool,” she said, “but they’re not.”

A professor at NYU, agreed, and said he finds a number of these frequent updates to be “too bourgie.” “It’ll say something like, ‘So-and-so is drinking whatever in the beautiful scenery of some field.’ I mean, really?!”

The style and type of each update is also important. A number of users agree that song lyrics, poetry, and literary quotations can be extremely annoying. Updates with misspellings or lacking punctuation were also noted. “I once unfriended someone because they updated their statuses in all caps,” said Erin Meehan, a marketing associate in NYC.

6. Obnoxious photo uploads.
Everyone has a different idea about what photos are appropriate to post , but a popular complaint from Facebook users in their 20s concerned wedding and baby photos. “It’s just weird,” said a bartender in Manhattan. “I know that older people are joining now, but if you’re at the stage in your life when most the photos are of your kids, I mean, what are you doing on Facebook?”

“I think makeout photos are worse,” said his coworker. “My sister always posts photos of her and her boyfriend kissing. Sometimes I want to unfriend and unfamily her.”

Across the board, a number of users found partially nude photos, or images of someone flexing their muscles as grounds for unfriending. Another reason, as cited specifically by Margitte Kristjansson, graduate student at UC San Diego, could be if “they upload inappropriate pictures of their stab wounds.”

7. Clashing religious or political views.
“I can’t handle it when someone’s updates are always about Jesus,” said Robert Wilder, a writer in New York.

In the same vein, Phil Lee, lead singer of The Muskies, said he’s extremely irritated by “religious proselytizing and over-enthusiastic praise and Bible quoting. Often in all caps.”

An anonymous Brooklynite shared that he purged his Facebook account after the last Presidential election. “It was a big deal to me,” he said. “I found it hard to be friends with people who didn’t vote for Obama.” After which his friend added, “I voted for McKinney.”

8. “I wanted a free Whopper.”
In January, Burger King launched the Whopper Sacrifice application, which promised each Facebook user a free Whopper if they unfriended 10 people. It sounded simple enough, but if you chose to unfriend someone via the application, it sent a notification to that person, announcing they had been sacrificed for the burger. Burger King disabled the application within the month when the Whopper “proved to be stronger than 233,906 friendships.”

Since Facebook has made the home page much more customizable than it used to be, you might wonder, “Why unfriend when I can hide?” More and more, Facebook users are choosing to use limited profiles and editing their newsfeed so undesirable friends disappear from view. “I find lately I’m friending more people, then blocking them,” said Gary Ferrar, a magician in New York. “That way no one gets mad, no one’s feelings get hurt.”

Do you have another reason? Tell us about it!

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6. Ponytail Pulling is Bad (but awfully good for women’s sports)

Lauren, Publicity Assistant

Laura Pappano, co-author with Eileen McDonagh of Playing With The Boys: Why Separate Is Not Equal, is an award-winning journalist and writer-in-residence at Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College. She blogs at FairGameNews.com . In the original post below, Pappano discusses  Elizabeth Lambert’s hair-pulling and sportsmanship in women’s athletics.  Read Pappano’s previous OUPblog posts here.

Outrage over New Mexico soccer player Elizabeth Lambert’s dirty play – including her ponytail-yanking an opponent to the ground – is justified given this egregious act of poor sportsmanship.

But as the conversation and video have gone viral – from SportsCenter to NFL pre-game shows to David Letterman – the subtext has become less about comportment and more about the gendered expectations of female athletes.

Guys fighting in sports – whether ice hockey or baseball – is considered a “natural” by-product of intense play and, well, testosterone. They can’t help it. When women get heated in competition (ask any high school female athletes about trash talking and you’ll get an earful) there is a perception that they’re supposed to act…differently.

In a season of throw-backs, you can add this to the list: Just as our grandmothers insisted that girls don’t sweat, they “perspire,” there remains a narrow range of acceptable behavior for female athletes. Such rigidity is not new (in previous eras women basketball players were required to wear makeup in competition and submit to half-time beauty contests), but until Lambert we had thought the rules had evolved – at least a little.

The increasing skill level and intensity of women’s sports even at high school and college levels should not be a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. Problem is, of course, many have not been paying attention. Women’s sports remain poorly covered by the mainstream male sports media. News outlets hardly feel obligated to report on even major events (it took digging to get the result of the WNBA final). And chatter about Lambert on sports talk radio last week on the Boston station I listen to was preceded by the admission that “we have never talked about women’s college soccer on this program and we will probably never talk about women’s college soccer again, but…”

The fact remains that while female athletes have developed skills, hard-charging attitudes and leave-it-all-on-the-field seriousness about their play, we still view them as grown-up girls (in ponytails) who might be doing cartwheels in the backfield if they thought they wouldn’t get caught.

Some little girl-female athlete affinity is purposeful marketing. That’s the justification for Saturday afternoon college basketball games and cheap tickets. And, certainly, why shouldn’t women’s teams, from college basketball to professional soccer build a fan base from those who can relate to them as role models? Isn’t that the NFL’s goal fulfilled when millions of boys paste Ladanian Tomlinson Fatheads on bedroom walls and wear Peyton Manning jerseys to school?

Promoting athletes as role models, of course, is always tricky. But where men get a pass for bad behavior, women draw fire.

We forgive Michael Vick, and gasp when Serena Williams screams at a line judge’s late call at the U.S. Open.

We must get past the notion that female athletes are “nice” first and good second, and women’s games should be peddled as “family fare.” It is tiring to hear enlightened men describe themselves as “supporters” of women’s sports as if they are charitable donors. No one likes dirty play. But if Elizabeth Lambert just made people see that women’s sports are highly intense, competitive, and exciting, well, good for her.

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7. Oxford Word of the Year 2009: Unfriend

Birds are singing, the sun is shining and I am joyful first thing in the morning without caffeine. Why you ask? Because it is Word of the Year time (or WOTY as we refer to it around the office).  Every year the New Oxford American Dictionary prepares for the holidays by making its biggest announcement of the year.  This announcement is usually applauded by some and derided by others and the ongoing conversation it sparks is always a lot of fun, so I encourage you to let us know what you think in the comments.

Without further ado, the 2009 Word of the Year is: unfriend.

unfriend – verb – To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.

As in, “I decided to unfriend my roommate on Facebook after we had a fight.”

“It has both currency and potential longevity,” notes Christine Lindberg, Senior Lexicographer for Oxford’s US dictionary program. “In the online social networking context, its meaning is understood, so its adoption as a modern verb form makes this an interesting choice for Word of the Year. Most “un-” prefixed words are adjectives (unacceptable, unpleasant), and there are certainly some familiar “un-” verbs (uncap, unpack), but “unfriend” is different from the norm. It assumes a verb sense of “friend” that is really not used (at least not since maybe the 17th century!). Unfriend has real lex-appeal.”

Wondering what other new words were considered for the New Oxford American Dictionary 2009 Word of the Year?  Check out the list below.

Technology

hashtag – a # [hash] sign added to a word or phrase that enables Twitter users to search for tweets (postings on the Twitter site) that contain similarly tagged items and view thematic sets

intexticated – distracted because texting on a cellphone while driving a vehicle

netbook – a small, very portable laptop computer with limited memory

paywall – a way of blocking access to a part of a website which is only available to paying subscribers

sexting – the sending of sexually explicit texts and pictures by cellphone

Economy

freemium – a business model in which some basic services are provided for free, with the aim of enticing users to pay for additional, premium features or content

funemployed – taking advantage of one’s newly unemployed status to have fun or pursue other interests

zombie bank – a financial institution whose liabilities are greater than its assets, but which continues to operate because of government support

Politics and Current Affairs

Ardi(Ardipithecus ramidus) oldest known hominid, discovered in Ethiopia during the 1990s and announced to the public in 2009

birther – a conspiracy theorist who challenges President Obama’s birth certificate

choice mom – a person who chooses to be a single mother

death panel – a theoretical body that determines which patients deserve to live, when care is rationed

teabagger -a person, who protests President Obama’s tax policies and stimulus package, often through local demonstrations known as “Tea Party” protests (in allusion to the Boston Tea Party of 1773)

Environment

brown state – a US state that does not have strict environmental regulations

green state – a US state that has strict environmental regulations

ecotown - a town built and run on eco-friendly principles

Novelty Words

deleb – a dead celebrity

tramp stamp – a tattoo on the lower back, usually on a woman

Notable Word Clusters for 2009:

Twitter related:
Tweeps
Tweetup
Twitt
Twitterati
Twitterature
Twitterverse/sphere
Retweet
Twibe
Sweeple
Tweepish
Tweetaholic
Twittermob
Twitterhea
Obamaisms:
Obamanomics
Obamarama
Obamasty
Obamacons
Obamanos
Obamanation
Obamafication
Obamamessiah
Obamamama
Obamaeur
Obamanator
Obamaland
Obamalicious
Obamacles
Obamania
Obamacracy
Obamanon
Obamalypse

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8. When the People Speak

Lauren, Publicity Assistant

This weekend, James S. Fishkin, Professor of Communication and Political Science at Stanford University and Director of the Center for Deliberative Democracy, will conduct a Deliberative Poll® in Michigan. A 9780199572106scientific sample of 200+ people will convene in Lansing to deliberate about the state’s economic future, and in the end, the poll will reveal what the public thinks about these issues, both before and after it has had a chance to become informed.

Fishkin’s most recent book, When the People Speak: Deliberative Democracy and Public Consultation, explains this method of polling. It combines a new theory of democracy with actual practice, and has demonstrated how an idea that harks back to ancient Athens can be used to revive modern democracies. Fishkin and his collaborators have already conducted deliberative democracy projects in the United States, China, Britain, Denmark, Australia, Italy, Bulgaria, Northern Ireland, and in the entire European Union. These projects have resulted in the massive expansion of wind power in Texas, the building of sewage treatment plants in China, and greater mutual understanding between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.

When the People Speak is accompanied by a DVD of “Europe in One Room” by Emmy Award-winning documentary makers Paladin Invision. The film recounts one of the most challenging deliberative democracy efforts with a scientific sample from 27 countries speaking 21 languages. Watch the trailer after the jump.

EUROPE IN ONE ROOM
Courtesy of the Center for Deliberative Democracy

Click here to view the embedded video.

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9. Ammon Shea Digs Into the Historical Thesaurus Historical Thesaurus Week

Lauren, Publicity Assistant

Ammon Shea is a vocabularian, lexicographer, and the author of Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages. In the videos below, he discusses the evolution of terms like “Love Affair” and names of diseases, as traced in the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary, demonstrating how language changes and reflects cultural histories. Shea also dives into the HTOED to talk about the longest entry, interesting word connections, and comes up with a few surprises. (Do you know what a “strumpetocracy” is?) Watch both videos after the jump. Be sure to check back all week to learn more about the HTOED.

Love, Pregnancy, and Venereal Disease in the Historical Thesaurus

Click here to view the embedded video.

Inside the Historical Thesaurus

Click here to view the embedded video.


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10. F is for F*%#

Lauren, Publicity Assistant

Jesse Sheidlower is Editor at Large of the Oxford English Dictionary and author of The F-Word. Recognized as one of the foremost authorities on obscenity in English, he has written about language for a great many publications, including a recent article on Slate. Here, Jesse discusses the criteria for including certain words or obscenities in dictionaries.  Watch the video after the jump.

WARNING: This video contains explicit language.

Click here to view the embedded video.

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11. Rail Travel in The Andes: An Excerpt

Megan Branch, Intern

In his new book, The Andes: A Cultural History, Latin American Literature professor Jason Wilson looks at the dramatic influence The Andes have had on South American history and on literature from all over the world. Since we’re nearing the end of travel season, I’ve excerpted a passage below about the uniqueness of rail travel in the Andes—including altitudes that tend to make most people sick.

Crossing the Andes has always meant building bridges, roads and, more recently, railways. In 1934 a recently-married Victor Wolfgang von Hagen, a naturalist and prolific publicist of Latin America, reached Ecuador by boat to visit Chimborazo and the Galapagos Islands. Before the railways had been built from the tropical disease-ridden coast at Durán, across the river from Guayaquil, to Quito 290 miles away, the journey on horseback had taken eight days. Then the American Harman brothers (Archer and John) built their track, switchbacking up the Nariz del Diablo after the Chan Chan river gorge. Work had begun in 1897 and was completed in 1908 in what was a great feat of railway engineering (until suspended in 1983 and again in 1998). It climbed 10,626 feet in fifty miles and reached a pass at 11,841 feet, which von Hagen likened to the tundra in its bleakness, before descending to the Quito plateau. Theroux had wanted to ride this train, but it was overbooked.

Another railway engineering feat is the pass at Ticlio, on the line from Lima to Tarma in Peru, the highest railway pass in the world built above the Rimac gorge by the “indefatigable” and “unscrupulous” New York-born Henry Meiggs (actually at 15,865 feet). According to Wright, over 7,000 Andean and Chinese labourers died building a railway that has 66 tunnels, 59 bridges and 22 switchbacks. You can ask for oxygen masks on the train that now runs from Arequipa to Puno on Lake Titicaca, where the station of Crucero Alto is 14,688 feet high. The 1925 South American Handbook warned that soroche or mountain sickness was “usually the penalty of constipation”. Paul Theroux felt dizzy and sweated up this line, and the “astonishing” beauty of the landscape from the train window was ruined. Then a molar ached. He later learned that blocked air in a filling creates pressure on the nerve: “it is agony,” he wrote. The passengers started vomiting, until balloons filled with oxygen were handed around before they passed through the highest railway tunnel in the world. As a train enthusiast, Theroux marveled at the engineering, supervised by Meiggs between 1870 and 1877 the year he died, but surveyed by a Peruvian called Ernesto Malinowski. There is a Mount Meiggs near Ticlio.

Another gringo, Dr. Renwick, took a train from Arequipa to Cuzco, spotting the extinct volcano of Vilcanto at 17,000 feet, “one of the best known in all Peru”, and nearby Ausangate, towering over all others at 20,000 feet and visible a hundred miles away. He acutely remarked that Peruvians were so accustomed to these mountain giants seen from the train that they hardly noticed a peak like Huascarán, which “anywhere else would fill the mind with astonishment.” He is still right.

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12. Chop Suey: An Excerpt

Megan Branch, Intern

The only foods that I can think of as being as “American as apple pie” are recipes that have been lifted from other countries: pizza, sushi and, of course, Chinese food. College in New York has meant that I eat a lot of Chinese food. In his new book, Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States, Andrew Coe chronicles Chinese food’s journey across the ocean and into the hearts of Americans everywhere. Below, I’ve excerpted a passage from Chop Suey in which Coe details the earliest written account of an American’s experience eating Chinese food for the first time almost 200 years ago.

Nevertheless, the first account we have of Americans eating Chinese food does not appear until 1819, thirty-five years after Shaw’s visit. It was written by Bryant Parrott Tilden, a young trader from Salem who acted as supercargo on a number of Asia voyages. In Guangzhou, he was befriended by Paunkeiqua, a leading merchant who cultivated good relations with many American firms. Just before Tilden’s ship was set to sail home, Paunkeiqua invited the American merchants to spend the day at this mansion on Honam island. Tilden’s account of that visit, which was capped by a magnificent feast, is not unlike the descriptions Shaw or even William Hickey wrote a half century earlier. First, he tours Paunkeiqua’s traditional Chinese garden and encounters some of the merchant’s children yelling “Fankwae! Fankwae!” (“Foreign devil! Foreign devil!”). Then Paunkeiqua shows him his library, including “some curious looking old Chinese maps of the world as these ‘celestials’ suppose it to be, with their Empire occupying three quarters of it, surrounded by ‘nameless islands & seas bounded only by the edges of the maps.” Finally, his host tells him: “Now my flinde, Tillen, you must go long my for catche chow chow tiffin.” In other words, dinner was served in a spacious dining hall, where the guests were seated at small tables.

“Soon after,” Tilden writes, “a train of servants came in bringing a most splendid service of fancy colored, painted and gilt large tureens & bowls, containing soups, among them the celebrated bird nest soup, as also a variety of stewed messes, and plenty of boiled rice, & same style of smaller bowls, but alas! No plates and knives and forks.” (By “messes,” Tilden probably meant prepared dishes, not unsavory jumbles.)

The Americans attempted to eat with chopsticks, with very poor results: “Monkies [sic] with knitting needles would not have looked more ludicrous than some of us did.” Finally, their host put an end to their discomfort by ordering western-style plates, knives, forks, and spoons. Then the main portion of the meal began:

Twenty separate courses were placed on the table during three hours in as many different services of elegant china ware, the messes consisting of soups, gelatinous food, a variety of stewed hashes, made up of all sorts of chopped meats, small birds cock’s-combs, a favorite dish, some fish & all sorts of vegetables, rice, and pickles, of which the Chinese are very fond. Ginger and pepper are used plentifully in most of their cookery. Not a joint of meat or a whole fowl or bird were placed on the table. Between the changing of the courses, we freely conversed and partook of Madeira & other European wines—and costly teas.”

After fruits, pastries, and more wine, the dinner finally came to an end. Tilden and his friends left glowing with happiness (and alcohol) at the honor Paunkeiqua had shown them with his lavish meal. Nowhere, however, does Tilden tell us whether the Americans actually enjoyed these “messes” and “hashes.”

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13. Five Most Commonly Used Words in the World

The First most Common word used in the world is Incompetent

Definition-not competent; lacking qualification or ability; incapable: an incompetent candidate.

The Second most Common used word in the world is Idiot

Definition-an utterly foolish or senseless person.

The Third Most Common Used Word In The World is ignorant

Definition-lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned: an ignorant man

The fourth most common used word in the world is Honor/Honorable

Definition-High respect, as that shown for special merit; esteem: the honor shown to a Nobel laureate.

The last Most common use word in the world is selfish

Definition-devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.

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14. Five Most Commonly Used Words in the World

The First most Common word used in the world is Incompetent

Definition-not competent; lacking qualification or ability; incapable: an incompetent candidate.

The Second most Common used word in the world is Idiot

Definition-an utterly foolish or senseless person.

The Third Most Common Used Word In The World is ignorant

Definition-lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned: an ignorant man

The fourth most common used word in the world is Honor/Honorable

Definition-High respect, as that shown for special merit; esteem: the honor shown to a Nobel laureate.

The last Most common use word in the world is selfish

Definition-devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.

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15. Brasília

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Brasília

Coordinates: 15 47 S 47 55 W

Population: 3,341,00 (2006 est.)

It will be another 27 months until this modern metropolis can truly celebrate its golden anniversary, but 2007 did give the Brazilian capital two reasons to celebrate nonetheless. First, the famed construction of Lúcia Côsta’s Plano Piloto began here on the plateaus of Goiás state fifty years ago, although work on the airport and the presidential palace had already started in 1956. (more…)

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16. Mickey Edwards on The State of The Union Address

Former Republican Congressman, founding trustee of the Heritage Foundation, and national chairman of the American Conservative Union, Mickey Edwards is the author of Reclaiming Conservatism: How A Great American Political Movement Got Lost- and How It Can Find It Way Back. Last night, Edwards attended the State of The Union address and below he shares his reactions. Read Edwards other OUPblog posts here.

To hear White House spinners tell it, George W. Bush has no intention of drifting quietly into the night. Much to do. Still driven. That sort of thing. And perhaps I might have believed it if I had missed the President’s State of the Union speech Monday night. Sadly, I didn’t; I was, in fact, in the House chambers, where I have watched some 20 previous such speeches. Fortunately, there is a pattern to such events, a ritual that involves standing and cheering whenever anybody of note enters the chamber – members of the Senate (that House members cheer for them is proof of how ritualistic, and meaningless, the ovations really are), members of the Cabinet, members of the Diplomatic Corps, members of the Supreme Court, and . . . the President, for whom the tradition requires sustained applause at entry, sustained applause at podium arrival, sustained applause at the Speaker’s formal introduction of the visitor from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. (more…)

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17. Blindly Following Your Team Captain: Why Republicans Should Stop Clapping

Former Republican Congressman, founding trustee of the Heritage Foundation, and national chairman of the American Conservative Union, Mickey Edwards is the author of Reclaiming Conservatism: How A Great American Political Movement Got Lost- and How It Can Find It Way Back. He attended the State of the Union address Monday night and shared his reaction with us yesterday. Today Edwards wonders why the Republican members of Congress were so enthusiastic at the SOTU Monday. Read Edwards other OUPblog posts here.

For Republican members of Congress, the man who delivered a State of the Union speech Monday night was not merely a President of the United States – the head of one of the other branches of the federal government – but, more importantly, he was their team captain. (more…)

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18. Into The Woods: The Oxford Companion To Fairytales

One of the best things about working at Oxford University Press is finding older books you didn’t know about. A couple of days ago I came across The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales: The Western Fairy Tale Tradition from Medieval to Modern, edited by Jack Zipes. I decided to put the volume to the test. Would it have the modern musical interpretation of fairy tales? It did! Below is the entry about one of my favorite shows, Into the Woods.

(more…)

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19. The Bottomless Bellybutton by Dash Shaw

*****This behemoth of a graphic novel is a new favorite of mine. I have a weakness for attractive book covers (see previous entry for example of unattractive book cover). Exhibit A:  *Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon. I saw this book when it f

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20. The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings by KayLynn Deveney

*****On a trip to Wales to study photography and earn her graduate degree, KayLynn Deveney stumbled across Albert Hastings, and old man who lived alone in an apartment near where she was staying. In getting to know him, she realized that Albert was a

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21. William John Thoms, The Man Who Invented The Word Folklore

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By Anatoly Liberman

All words must have been coined by individuals. This statement surprises and embarrasses not only the uninitiated but also some language historians. We are used to thinking that “people” created ancient language and art, but what is people? (This question, though in another guise, will recur below.) A group of activists working together and producing in chorus meaningful sound complexes like big ~ bag ~ bug ~ bog? Or a committee like those on which we sit, organs of collective wisdom? As a rule, every novelty that does not die “without issue” passes through a predictable cycle: someone has something to offer, a small group of enthusiasts surrounding the inventor adopts it, more adherents show their support, the novelty becomes common property, and (not necessarily) the originator is forgotten. We have no way of tracing the beginning of the oldest words, and even some neologisms remain etymological puzzles, but the names of some “wordsmiths” have not been lost. For instance, Lilliputian was coined by Jonathan Swift, gas by J.B. van Helmont, and jeep (which later became Jeep) by E.C. Segar. As a rule, inventors use the material at hand. Swift seems to have combined lil, the colloquial pronunciation of little and put(t) “blockhead,” a slang word common in the 18th century. Van Helmont was probably inspired by the Dutch pronunciation of chaos. Jeep is sound imitative, like peep. In similar fashion, we have no doubt about the structure of the noun folklore (folk + lore), but the story of its emergence is worth telling.

William John Thoms (1802-1885) began his literary career as an expert editor of old tales and prose romances. He also investigated customs and superstitions. Especially interesting are his studies of popular lore in Shakespeare: elves, fairies, Puck, Queen Mab, and others. They were published in the forties, the decade in which he met his star hour. Special works on Thoms are extremely few (the main one dates to 1946), and the archival documents pertaining to him remain untapped, but he related some events of his life himself. It was not by chance that California Folklore Quarterly printed an article about him (“’Folklore’: William John Thoms” by Duncan Emrich, volume 5, pp. 155-374) in 1946. A hundred years earlier a letter signed by Ambrose Merton appeared in the London-based journal The Athenaeum. Those who have leafed through its huge folio volumes probably could not help wondering how the subscribers managed to find their way through such an enormous mass of heterogeneous materials. Yet that weekly had a devoted readership, and its voice reached far.

The 1846 letter is available in two modern anthologies, but outside the professional circle of folklorists hardly anyone has read it, so that I will quote its beginning and end. “Your pages have so often given evidence of the interest which you take in what we in England designate as Popular Antiquities, or Popular Literature (though by-the-by it is more a Lore than a literature, and would be most aptly described by a good Saxon compound, Folklore,—the Lore of the People)—that I am not without hopes of enlisting your aid in garnering the few ears which are remaining, scattered over that field from which our forefathers might have gathered a goodly crop. No one who has made the manners, customs, observances, superstitions, ballads, proverbs, etc., of the olden time his study, but must have arrived at two conclusions:—the first how much that is curious and interesting in those matters is now entirely lost—the second, how much may yet be rescued by timely exertion…. It is only honest that I should tell you I have long been contemplating a work upon our “Folklore” (under that title, mind Messes. A, B, and C,—so do not try to forestall me);—and I am personally interested in the success of the experiment which I have, in this letter, albeit imperfectly, urged you to undertake.” Not only did the editor of The Athenaeum welcome the letter. He opened a special rubric for “folk-lore,” and “Ambrose Merton” (this was Thoms of course) became its editor.

The letter was followed by an injunction, part of which is so much to the point that it must be reproduced here: “We have taken some time to weigh the suggestion of our correspondent—desirous to satisfy ourselves that any good of the kind which he proposes could be effected in such space as we are able to spare from the many other demands upon our columns; and have before our eyes the fear of that shower of trivial communication which a notice in conformity with his suggestion is likely to bring. We have finally decided that, if our antiquarian correspondents be earnest and well-informed and subject their communications to the condition of having something to communicate, we may… be the means of effecting some valuable salvage for the future historian of old customs and feelings…. With these views, however, we must announce to our future contributors under the above head, that their communications will be subjected to a careful sifting—both as regards value, authenticity, and novelty; and that they will save both themselves and us much unnecessary trouble if they will refrain from offering any facts and speculations which at once need recording and deserve it.”

Thoms may have regretted the fact that he wrote his letter to The Athenaeum under a pseudonym, for a year later, in another letter to the same journal, he disclosed his identity. He more than once reminded his readers that it was he who launched the word folklore. From time to time somebody would derive folklore from German or Danish. As long as he lived, Thoms kept refuting such unworthy rumors (he also suffered from the neglect of his Shakespeare scholarship); after his death others defended him. The word found acceptance both in the English speaking world and abroad. German, Austrian, and Swiss scholars eventually borrowed it with its original spelling (Folklore), though the German for folk is Volk. By the end of the eighties folklore had become an accepted term in Scandinavia, as well as in the Romance and Slavic speaking countries. The British Folklore Society, which was also formed largely thanks to Thoms’s efforts, adopted the title Folk-Lore Record for its journal (now it is called simply Folklore), and Thoms was elected the Society’s director. In the introduction to the first volume he noted, perhaps not without a touch of irony, that the word he had coined would make him better known than the rest of his professional activities.

As we have seen, the “Saxon” term folklore was applied to the vanishing “manners, customs, observances, superstitions, ballads, proverbs, etc.” Thoms did not realize how ambiguous his agenda was. For more than 150 years, researchers have been arguing over whether the subject of folklore is only “survivals” (does modern folklore exist?), who are the people, the “folk” to be approached, and whether folklore is the name of the treasures to be collected and described or of the science (“the lore”) devoted to them. Today folklore is often understood as a study of verbal art, but not less often it passes off as a branch of cultural anthropology. In 1846 folk meant “peasantry,” which excluded urban culture. One also spoke vaguely of common people, of story tellers nearly untouched by the advance of civilization, and of the working people in the “byeways of England” (the phrase, spelling and all, is from The Gentleman’s Magazine for 1885). Railways were the main bugaboo of those who watched the rural landscape disappear under the wheels of the devil, the steam engine. Being run over by a train became a literary motif.

In 1849 an event of great importance happened in Thoms’s life: he began publishing his own weekly that, after rejecting many titles and ignoring the advice of some well-wishers, he decided to call Notes and Queries. His old appeal to the readers to send ballads, tales, proverbs, descriptions of customs, and so forth brought many responses, and Thoms was loath to start a rival periodical, for fear of undermining The Athenaeum, but he received the editor’s blessing. The new journal turned into a main forum for letters that Thoms had invited correspondents to send to The Athenaeum. The rubric on “folk-lore” in both periodicals made the term familiar, and later the derivatives (folklorist and folkloric) emerged. Before resigning as editor, Thoms told the story of his magazine in a series of short essays and published them in Notes and Queries for 1871 and 1872. In 1848 Dombey and Son appeared. One of the novel’s most endearing characters is the one-armed Captain Cuttle. Like so many other personages brought to life by Dickens, the good captain has a tag: he likes to repeat the maxim “When found, make a note of.” Thoms used this catchphrase as a motto for his journal, and it was printed on the title page of each issue.

I have already written about the value and the worldwide success of Notes and Queries. This magazine is one of a kind. Personally, I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to it, for suggestions on word origins were (and still are) common in Notes and Queries, and I have nearly 8000 of them in my database. Some words have been discussed only in its pages, and some first-rate specialists sought no better exposure of their ideas. The man who invented the word folklore and founded Notes and Queries deserves to be remembered, and I am sorry that no one has written a book about him. The reason may be that he was neither a professor nor a madman. Perfectly sane and of humble origin, he was survived by his wife and nine children.


Anatoly_libermanAnatoly Liberman is the author of Word Origins…And How We Know Them as well as An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction. His column on word origins, The Oxford Etymologist, appears here, each Wednesday. Send your etymology question to blog.us@oup.com; he’ll do his best to avoid responding with “origin unknown.”

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22. The Joy of Spooking, Book One: Fiendish Deeds By P.J. Bracegirdle

 ***/5Joy Wells and her brother Byron live with their parents in a ramshackle old home in Spooking, a dying town on the outskirts of a booming suburb called Darlington. For Joy, a rabid fan of famous horror writer, E.A. Peugeot, Spooking is ever

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23. Waves of Woolf: 19th Annual Virginia Woolf Conference

Megan Branch, Intern

In addition to all my blogging and publicity intern duties here at OUP over the past six months, I’ve also been interning for the 19th Annual Virginia Woolf Conference. The Conference is held at a different university every year and this year it just happens to be taking place in New York. The majority of those attracted to the Woolf Conference are Woolf scholars, but this year there is something for the rest of us: there’s going to be a band.

The band is called Princeton and they almost never make their way to the East Coast, so their one-night-only performance at the Woolf Conference is even more special. The band is made up of 3 guys based in Los Angeles who sound like a cross between The Shins, Sufjan Stevens, and a library. Princeton write and perform music based on the lives and work of the members of the Bloomsbury Group that included Virginia Woolf, Leonard Woolf, Lytton Strachey and John Maynard Keynes. One of my favorite songs from Princeton’s Bloomsbury EP, “The Waves”, shows off what they do best. The song pairs heartbreaking lyrics, detailing Woolf’s last thoughts before her suicide, with music so upbeat that it’s practically bursting with sunshine. Princeton’s music makes you happy, and then it makes you think.

For the Woolf Conference, Princeton will be playing all of their songs from the Bloomsbury EP and have collaborated with the Stephen Pelton Dance Theater to produce “Lytton/Carrington”, influenced by Bloomsbury member Lytton Strachey’s unique relationship with the painter Dora Carrington. Also premiering at the Woolf Conference is the dance theatre piece “it was this: it was this:”, choreographed by Stephen Pelton, which uses movement to illustrate Woolf’s use of punctuation in one paragraph of To the Lighthouse.

Princeton and the Stephen Pelton Dance Theatre will be performing in Fordham University’s Pope Auditorium, 113 W. 60th St, on June 5th at 8 PM. Tickets will be available at the door for $20.

You can learn more about the 19th Annual Virginia Woolf Conference here.
See for yourself how awesome Princeton and the Stephen Pelton Dance Theater are.
And here’s the music video for my favorite Princeton song, “The Waves.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

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24. 10 Fun Things to Do When You Hear the Ice-Cream Truck

  1. Eat a pickle
  2. Call 9-1-1
  3. Scream at your cat/dog
  4. Strangle a teddy bear
  5. Run after the ice-cream man NUDE
  6. Put a potato in his exhaust pipe
  7. Look at the ice-cream sales person and yell/scream
  8. While eating a pickle call 9-1-1 and tell them, that the ice-cream man is yelling at a Teddy bear while in the nude
  9. Buy some ice-cream


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25. 10 Fun Things to Do When You Hear the Ice-Cream Truck

  1. Eat a pickle
  2. Call 9-1-1
  3. Scream at your cat/dog
  4. Strangle a teddy bear
  5. Run after the ice-cream man NUDE
  6. Put a potato in his exhaust pipe
  7. Look at the ice-cream sales person and yell/scream
  8. While eating a pickle call 9-1-1 and tell them, that the ice-cream man is yelling at a Teddy bear while in the nude
  9. Buy some ice-cream


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