Reading overload. I thought I was being sly by placing a number of books on hold at the public library, reasoning that they would only become available in ones and twos. So naturally they all became available within a few days of each other. The library allows the user one week to pick up a book on hold, and then four weeks to return it (or ten days if it is a newly-published book). So I'm busy as a beaver (and happy as a clam) with the following titles ~
- Raylan by Elmore Leonard, 263 pages. Just finished.
- Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner, 569 pages. Halfway through.
- South of Broad by Pat Conroy, 512 pages.
- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John LeCarre, 355 pages.
- With Child by Laurie R. King, 275 pages.
Conroy has long been one of my favorite writers. This is the first Stegner book I've read, and it won't be the last. Small wonder that Angle of Repose won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1972. While I don't slavishly agree with all prize selections, Stegner deserved this one.
I'm no stranger to marathon reading. As an undergrad at the University of Arizona, for a time I majored in Womens Studies. My "Women In Literature" course (women as both writers and characters) required students to read well over 6,000 pages of fiction in one semester ~ somewhere between 15 and 20 books ~ and to produce a ten page paper on each reading. I still marvel at receiving an A for the course.
In any event, the substance of today's post isn't reading, but viewing. I've accumulated a number of video links, some funny, some impressive in other ways. Here they are ~
- Happy 49th Birthday, Michael Jordan! Michael's birthday was yesterday. This clip includes highlights from the career of one who was arguably the greatest athlete of the 20th century.
- Wolfman: Howling in Harmony is a brief segment from a National Geographic program about an ex-Marine who studies wolf language, and uses taped howling to assist people in discouraging wolves from their property. A win-win for wolves and humans.
- Dating Service Commercial ~ at first it looks legit, then it looks like a more painful reality, then satire, and finally the ulterior message comes across. Well done.
- Disappearing Car Door is not a magic act. The innovative design has car doors retracting into the floor, challenging the century-old assumption of car doors with hinges and a latch. As I watch the video, I keep coming up with possible complications (weather, power loss), but it remains intriguing. Retract into the roof instead? See what you think.
- Girl Falls in Mall Fountain While Texting. Um, self-explanatory. Some airheads should not be allowed out in public without a leash, it seems. You can bet she does this while driving a car, too.
Lastly, not a video but an interactive website. NPR's Robert Krulwich describes an online device called NUKEMAP, where one can choose a city, choose a nuclear device, and hit "detonate". "The explosion creates a series of concentric circles, color-coded to show the zone where everything is incinerated, the space where most things get emulsified or crushed, the space where radiation is lethal, the space where people are poisoned by radiation, the space where they are badly burned ~ concentric circles of destruction. The effects are chilling and fascinating. When I tried out some of the more powerful bombs, I was stunned by their destructive power. I had no idea."
Nuking My House Online ~ You Can, Too is eerily evocative of the Cold War, under whose nuclear umbrella my generation grew up. The article is brief, includes a link to NUKEMAP, and is very relevant to today. "Since NUKEMAP came online in early February, thousands of people have blown stuff up. So far there have been more than 20,000 'detonations' .... but at the height of the Cold War, 20,000 bombs equaled roughly a third of the world's total nuclear arsenal. Since 1966, the peak, the pile has gotten much smaller. There were roughly 8,000 active nuclear warheads in the world in 2010, and maybe another 22,000 in storage.
"And that's not counting whatever is going on in Iran."