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November 25, 2006

Moon-Annoyed, Cognac's Ashen Thrill — by Thomas Lux

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Moon-annoyed, cognac's ashen thrill
diminishing, irritated by sunlight,
decent sleep, good food, and piles
of money — nothing helps
the heebie-jeebies when they start, like hunger
revving up, when they begin their tossing cruise
beneath the skin, hauling the spine
erect with fear. Nothing. Nothing
helps. What are the origins (embryo,
embryo, where are you going,
what do you know)? Nobody can say,
or will, but it's got to do,
you can bet, with death, which,
some people will tell you, is a part
of life. Right. Personally,
I don't care. It's over you others
I worry, why you worry. How can you fear
what hardly equals the blank wash
of rain on slate shingles,
how can you fear what is not sleep,
what is not quiet, what is sexless,
what has no memory, what lacks
imagination, what does not. . . ?
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November 25, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'Bird Songs' — 250 North American birds sing

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It's a singing book.

Really.

In the new (December, 2006) Scientific American the editors wrote in their review of "Bird Songs" that it's "an audio book that plays, with remarkable clarity, the songs of the 250 birds it profiles. The audio component, built right into the book, has a speaker and an LCD display and is extremely easy to operate."

Sounds like a keeper.

More on the book's website, including three of the 250 songs.

List price is $45; Amazon sells it for $27.

I wonder what my cat Humphrey will think of it.

We'll soon find out, won't we?

November 25, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'Making sense of link counts' — by technorati's Brian Pinkerton

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File under, "All this science I don't understand."

He writes, "We at Technorati are a bunch of geeks, and we're always coming up with new ways to try to measure the blogosphere. Sometimes, we just slap these numbers up on the web site without doing a great job of explaining what they are."

November 25, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

bookofjoe MoneyMaker™ — Hot water bottle with integrated cap

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The other day I was looking at a hot water bottle and the penny dropped: how is it possible that the screw-in cap isn't attached to the bottle's neck, like a bathtub plug on a chain?

Nothing good can happen when the two pieces of a hot water bottle are separated.

So why hasn't anyone done it yet?

There's your million dollar idea for November.

Thought I wouldn't get one in, didn't you?

Ha.

November 25, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Lexical-Gustatory Synaesthesia

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Donald G. McNeil, Jr.'s November 23, 2006 front-page New York Times story about the extraordinarily rare individuals who involuntarily "taste" words when they hear them was fascinating.

Here's the article.

    For Rare Few, Taste Is in the Ear of the Beholder

    To some ears, the following Thanksgiving menu sounds — and tastes — absolutely scrumptious:

    A plump bird stuffed with Stephanie and served with giblet civil, accompanied by marshmallow-topped sweet Londons, a bowl of performs with pearl unions and a serving of steamed microscopes. And, for dessert, city a la mode, followed by a confession.

    If only you were a lexical-gustatory synaesthete, you could savor those words.

    People who have synaesthesia — a rare condition running in families — have joined senses. They may “see” letters, numbers or musical notes as colors — a capital A will be tinged red, or 5 plus 2 will equal blue, or B. B. King will play the yellows.

    A rarer few, said Julia Simner, a cognitive neuropsychologist at the University of Edinburgh, involuntarily “taste” words when they hear them. In a study, “The Taste of Words on the Tip of the Tongue,” published in the journal Nature today, Dr. Simner reported finding only 10 such people in Europe and the United States.

    The condition may sound enviable, but it can be unpleasant. One subject, she said, hates driving because road signs flood his mouth with the flavors of things like pistachio ice cream and earwax.

    And Dr. Simner has yet to spot a pattern.

    For example, the word “mince” makes one subject taste mincemeat, but so do rhyming words like “prince.” Another subject, hearing “castanets,” tastes tuna fish. Another tastes only proper names: John is his corn bread, William his potatoes.

    They cannot say why, she said. There is no Proustian madeleine moment — the flavors just come.

    But not all flavors. When Dr. Simner checked her word list for today’s specialties, she came up with the salivary triggers for the meal above. “Stephanie” linked to sage stuffing, “civil” to gravy, “London” to potato, “perform” to peas, “union” to onions, “microscope” to carrots, “city” to mince pie and “confess” to coffee.

    But, alas, no turkey. Or cranberries.

    “I can give you a whole fry-up English breakfast,” she said apologetically. “But not a Thanksgiving dinner.”

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The best book ever written about synaesthesia — and a superb book by any measure — is the legendary Russian neuropsychologist A. R. Luria's classic, "The Mind of a Mnemonist", first published in English in 1968.

I guarantee you'll enjoy it — or I will cheerfully refund every penny you paid.

As always, the Ferrous-Clad™ bookofjoe guarantee means you can count on it — and take it to the bank.

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Bonus: enjoy the full text of Luria's book in its original Russian — absolutely free — right here.

November 25, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

3-in-1 Emergency Flare

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I'd have sworn I featured this earlier this year but I'll be darned if either I or my crack research team could unearth it.

Of course, it's hard to do anything when you're still in a post-Thanksgiving tryptophan-induced stupor some 36 hours after the event.

Oh, well.

From the website:

    3-in-1 Emergency Flare

    Flashlight converts to an emergency flare to help keep you safe

    In an emergency, use this flashlight to check out the problem, then convert to a flare to warn oncoming traffic.

    Legs fold out from the handle to become a stable 3-point stand, then lock back in place when not in use.

    The red electric flare gives one-mile visibility without the chemicals, sparks and smoke of regular flares.

    Uses 2 C batteries.

    9.5" x 2.5".

....................

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$19.95 (batteries not included).

November 25, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

SAT Prep at bookofjoe

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The penny dropped yesterday (Friday, November 24) after I reread the 2:01 p.m. post about the Brioni pleonasm.

If I were in high school now I'd be a bookofjoe subscriber just for the vocab links.

Can't help but get smarter if you click to the definition/etymology/etc. of all the unlikely words/terms/phrases that pop up here for no apparent reason, out of the quantum foam, as it were.

Nice price, too, compared to Kaplan and the Princeton Review et al.

Where was bookofjoe when I was trudging through high school in Milwaukee back in the day, is what I want to know?

November 25, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Holiday Candy Rings

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Attention pre- and elementary school teachers: your class's holiday gift is in.

Individually wrapped.

Assorted styles.

Fruit flavor.

Kill a whole lot of birds with one stone — as it were.

48 rings originally cost $4.95 but are now reduced to fly off the website for a — dare I eat a peach... or even whisper it? — sweet $3.99.

November 25, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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