Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Truth, beauty, you know.

I have conquered a new foe, gentle readers: the Books on Books section! It is now cleaned up, cleared out, and relocated, and material that's been around for a while has received the brutal price slash we love so well. As I mentioned last week, the section was rather a mishmash, but now it has been pared down -- it covers pretty much only books about printing, publishing, book layout, etc etc. There are some somewhat odd items, though; I simply didn't know where to put them, besides Books on Books! One example: this Affordable and Interesting book:

Not only does this book have many nice color illustrations ....

(love that Celtic knotwork!) ... but it also boasts some interesting hypotheses. For instance, as the jacket summarizes: "The author shows how the shape of particular alphabets grew out of the controlling material or tool -- the clay tablets of the Sumerians, the papyrus and reed pen of the Egyptians, the stone-carving of the Romans -- and how these almost haphazard circumstances became turning points in the story of writing up to our own times." So, not only will these pages instruct the reader on making -- say -- a reed pen and some papyrus; they also speculate on how those things led Egyptian writing to develop ... and from there, perhaps the book discusses how methods of writing influenced cultures and the minds therein? I hope so. At the very least, if this book were to fall into my hands (I'd have to come up with $12.50), I would probably spend ages thinking about what various era's writing types indicated about the ways they might consider communication. And then I would write a whole new chapter, for typing on the computer! (There is a chapter on Writing in the Machine Age, but since this book is from 1981, it's not so computery.)

I have wondered before how computers have influenced older groups, such as the Boy Scouts. I once knew a man who got some merit badges designing web sites! With this clumsy segue, I give you this week's Favorite:

This reminds me of our previously listed 301 Things a Bright Girl Can Do (from this entry: click here), though it doesn't seem to contain instructions on how to make colored fire. Regardless, I am sure clever youngsters of both sexes might find this 1940 Boy Scout manual enjoyable, and of course it would likely appeal to Boy Scout historians. This illustrated manual reminds us not only of the respect due the U.S. flag and other issues of citizenship, but covers such broad topics as: correcting common misconceptions about snakes (they cannot form into hoops and roll about!); emergency medical care; and astronomy. It describes merit badges, making me wonder whether the Computers merit badge (I assume that's what it's called, anyway) is entirely new -- or replaced such merit badges as Hog and Pork Production. Hey, there are merit badges in both Reading and Bookbinding! All this enough to make me want to be a Boy Scout.

I also find this Baby Ruth ad hilarious:

"Wholesome, delicious Baby Ruth is the ideal candy for athletes, because it's rich in Dextrose." My, how far we've come. You could show this to your favorite dietitian for only $15.00!

You know who I bet the Boy Scouts admire? Gandhi.

This week's Collector's Item is an item of Gandhi-ish history, though it is mainly about the idea of Dharma: its aim, as described in the introduction, is to "cultivate in individual and collective life the doctrines of Dharma, such as Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truth), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (self-control), Aparigraha (non-acquisition). ... Our new magazine will make a special effort to bring to the West the noblest and best of India where Dharma originated .... The progress of Mahatma Gandhi's spiritual battle for peace and freedom ... will be especially recorded." It's from 1930, and the covers are accordingly rather fragile and brittle, but I think the illustrations are still nice-looking:

Herein we find an article by Gandhi himself, as well as a section on Indian folklore (specifically, legends of the Mahabharata), a discussion of yoga ("Yoga: or, communion with God"), and much more. This is Volume 1, Number 1 of the magazine -- frequently, of course, the very first issue of any magazine is the rarest -- and we're offering it for $300.00. But what price truth and beauty? This I ask you, gentle readers.

Let us all practice non-violence, truth, etc. over the next week -- though certainly if someone or something prevents you from getting your O'Gara and Wilson blog fix, I wholly support violence as a solution to the problem! Anyone who keeps me from a computer deserves whatever they get, I always figure.

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