May 1st, 2010


Today, A. opened the drawer where we keep the flatware and then yelled at me until I lifted her up. She wanted the toddler fork (with the blunted tines and the red rubber handle), which I got her. Then she wanted to use it, which I figured meant I'd put food on it and she would try to steer it to her mouth, which she is okay at. But no, she wanted to spear the food, too -- she kept taking it off when I put it on the fork. So I cut up her pancake into bite sized pieces and she managed to get a few of them all the way into her mouth, using the fork. Fine motor control wins!

_With Speed and Violence_, Fred Pearce (kindle)

Subtitled: Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in Climate Change

Hardcover 2007, softcover in 2008, based on internal evidence largely written around 2005. Pearce is a science writer who has written related books in the past; in the course of this one, he specifically refers to differences in the science and the world between when he wrote _Turning Up the Heat_ and when he was working on this one.

The structure, or genre, of _With Speed_ is close to my favorite kind of non-fiction: an author gets interested in a topic, figures out who some relevant experts are, tracks them down, follows them around, asks them questions and conveys simultaneously an understanding of the topic and a sense of the people who are working to understand the topic and their relationships with each other and the world at large. Fred Pearce is, obviously, _not_ a climate skeptic.

The high points: the place in the North Atlantic where water gets sucked down, and goes on a long trip called the conveyor; Arrhenius' calculations about atmospheric gases; James Croll's theory about how orbital variations influence climate; 1998 and deaths in the European heat wave; a really great retelling of how we discovered the hole in the Ozone -- and how some old-school equipment and an old-school scientist persisted until the guys looking at the satellite telemetry went back and checked the outliers they were tossing out as measurement errors and realized there was a serious problem; precession, rain and when glaciers grow on mountains in the tropics; methane, specifically, the stuff stored in crystalline formations that might one day fart again; smog, and what it might do to the monsoon; hydroxyl, and how much more of it is left to clean up the atmosphere; the statistics and debate about the hockey stick graph; UV and stratospheric feedback. Any lots more.

The short form: we know a lot -- and we don't know a lot more. But there's more continuity than not, and most of the conflict in the community revolves around linked phenomena and which might be causing which or whether they are both the result of some as yet undiscovered (or poorly understood) other. This treatment is very different from Brian Fagan's _The Long Summer_, which was more about the interaction between human social organization and climate, rather than understanding climate as a mechanical system, but equally as rewarding.

If you have a yen to understand all that climate science stuff that gets thrown around when someone is trying to get some momentum going to address the very real problems that lie in our present and future, this is a plausible place to start.

hey! it only took a month

What a crappy url.

Trachtenberg covers how Amazon isn't selling new release Penguin titles for the kindle because they can't, lacking an agreement with Penguin. So Amazon is pricing those hardcovers at $9.99. Here are the titles that Trachtenberg lists as representative of affected books, after noting they aren't necessarily bestsellers:

"The books include Roger Lowenstein's "The End of Wall Street," Drew Perry's novel "This is Just Exactly Like You," Olga Grushin's novel "The Line" Anne Lamott's novel "Imperfect Birds," and Stuart Woods' novel "Lucid Intervals.""

Notice the _utter_ lack of mention of the titles that so got bloggers attention over the last week(s): Jim Butcher's _Changes_, the latest from JR Ward, and the latest in the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris.

Expect ETAs galore.

ETA the zeroth: R. calls this an interesting case of reading miscomprehension. It is partly Trachtenberg's fault:

"Penguin stopped providing digital editions of new titles to Amazon as of April 1...Since Amazon can't sell the digital editions of Penguin's books"

And those are a full paragraph apart. His phrasing is right, but people consistently misunderstood what he said and what is actually going on.

ETA the first:

Here's an example of how _not_ to explain something. The author has chosen the snappy and incorrect:

"Since there's no deal, since April 1 Amazon's not been permitted to sell any Penguin e-books."

Clause misplaced. Should have been, "Since there's no deal, Amazon's not been permitted to sell any Penguin e-books released since April 1." One extra word. It is so important. It also would have been more accurate to say that the people most affected by this are die-hard kindle readers, rather than die-hard Amazon customers.

It is a little mean to pick on Fast Company for the can't sell Penguin e-books error, since just about all the secondary coverage is making this error.

While most of the articles are noting that these e-books can be purchased for the iPad or through B&N, they aren't necessarily saying what the bloggers have been saying, which is that Penguin is actively redirecting complaining customers to B&N. Which I would _think_ would be newsworthy.

ETA the second: but when you get it wrong, you get it _wrong_!

Yup. _All_ Penguin hardcovers? I think not.

ETA the third: you have to _work_ to screw up this bad:

Highlights include (and these are all _not_ true):

"Coming weeks after Penguin stopped providing Kindle books on April 1st, Amazon has cut the costs of some brand new hardcover books to the same $10 it would normally charge for a digital edition."

Nope -- price cuts have been there right all month.

"Amazon had allegedly tried to threaten smaller publishers into maintaining wholesale deals, but it has since signed deals with independents"

Really? The link they include for the smaller publishers part of the assertion is to an article at NYT about Apple making a deal with Perseus -- nothing about Amazon being involved in that, and to the extent rumor is making it online, it is suggesting that Amazon is still flipping everyone other than the 4 majors already signed (Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette and Macmillan) the bird. So to speak. I don't know -- and maybe the author does. But I won't believe it without some evidence, especially since they got the time frame on the pricing that wrong.

unused plot arc

Wow. So, 4 of the people on Stargate Universe get stuck underground when the ship goes into FTL. 1 stays under, but 3 get out and start gating around and ultimately wind up _back_ on the planet where Rush got dumped and ultimately picked up by aliens. They were trying to gate along the ships path to catch up with it, but went the wrong way.

Meanwhile, a group from the ship gates back to try to find them, picks up the 1 who self-rescued, but didn't catch up with the 3. Which means that someone _really did_ get buried alive and left behind. And the ship's crew _really could_ gate back to pick him up.


Oh, and when Eli is put in a decision making capacity, he's every bit as bad-lucky as Rush.