September 28, 2007

Fiction / Science / Philosophy

I like when more than one of my interests combine, as they did in a 1983 book I recently read by Rebecca Goldstein.

In The Mind-body Problem, Goldstein's heroine is a philosopher / graduate student at Princeton married to a math genuius. She jokingly tells her future husband that she is interested in the "body" of the mind-body problem, and then defends her joke (because he doesn't get it):

" 'Well, if there's a philosophy of mind, why shouldn't there be a philosophy of body? After all, the main question in philosophy is the mind-body problem. Why assume only the mind makes the relationship between them problematic? Why assume only mind needs analysis?' " Kind of a joke, but the story is set in 1976, and in 2007 ... it's closer to truth than it was 30 years ago (see Sandra Blakeslee and Matthew Blakeslee's "The Body has a Mind of Its Own: How Body Maps in Your Brain Help You Do (Almost) Everything Better" (2007) ... about which more soon).

Anyway, the book is a nice blend of philosophy of mind and mid-list women's fiction.

I discovered it by reading Goldstein's recent essay in New Scientist entitled "Science in Fiction" in which she describes her own struggle between reading fiction and "good for you" stuff as a child:

"Every time I visited the library I allowed myself to take out one work of fiction. To balance it, I had to take out a book that was good for me, something I could learn from. I forbade myself from reading the storybook before completing the good-for-me book." Goldstein eventually became a philosopher of science and a novelist.

She's writing a new novel about science and religion.

For More Information
* Goldstein, Rebecca. The Mind-body Problem. New York : Random House, ©1983.
* --- List of works in WorldCat.
* --- “Science in Fiction.“ New Scientist, 8/25/2007, Vol. 195 Issue 2618, p43. Available in EBSCO, LexisNexis and more.

September 11, 2007

Q&A NJ at the VMAs

Awesome video spotted by Stephen Francoeur & posted on his Digital Reference blog.

Apparently Q&A NJ, New Jersey's virtual reference service, purchased air time for a commercial on the MTV Video Music Awards, Sunday, September 9, 2007.

Awesome! That's *definitely* thinking outside the box. Yay, Q&A NJ!!

September 07, 2007

Two of My Favorite Things ...

Football & libraries are RIGHT HERE in the Sept. 7 copy of Entertainment Weekly:

Gosh, that makes me smile.

If I were to quibble ... it would be petty.

Go ALA! Go football! Go “thinking outside the box marketing”!

Blogged with Flock

September 05, 2007

"Infectiously Exuberant [Lexicographical] Talk"

Terrific TedTalk by Erin McKean, editor in chief of the Oxford American Dictionary; on the TedTalks web site, they call her infectiously exuberant, and I'd have to agree. It's 15 minutes, but I could have listened for much longer.

On the word "lexicographical": it's a double dactyl, defined by the OED thusly: "Prosody. A metrical foot consisting of a long syllable followed by two short (or, in modern verse, of an accented syllable and two unaccented)." Heh heh, she said "double dactyl".

McKean suggests that the "book-shaped" dictionary no longer going to be the "only shape dictionaries come in." "No one hugs dictionaries", she asserts (tho' honestly, I have been known to pet a dictionary's pages ...)

Further, she defines serendipity -- known in dictionary-land as well as library-land -- as finding unknown things because finding the original item was "so damn difficult."

One of her favorite words? Erinaceous. From the OED again: "Pertaining to the hedgehog family; of the nature of a hedgehog."

Her metaphors and similes are delightful, and her enthusiasm for words and dictionaries is inspiring. If you use words, you should watch this presentation.

For More Information
* Erin's bio @ TedTalks
* Redefining the dictionary: Erin McKean on Recorded, March 2007 in Monterey Calif. and released online August 30, 2007. Also available via iTunes.

Erin's two blogs:
* Dictionary Evangelist
* A Dress A Day