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Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Writer's Life 4/2 - Looks at Books

Today's NY Post introduces three interesting works of non-fiction. Reed Tucker covers two in separate articles. In one he cites the difficulty of creating a dictionary, which is detailed in Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper. I was surprised to discover that "irregardless" is now accepted by Miriam-Webster. Its inclusion has drawn harsh complaints from many. I've always be fascinated by how language evolves, but I side with the naysayers on that one... In And Then You're Dead: What Really Happens If You Get Swallowed by a Whale, Are Shot from a Cannon, or Go Barreling over Niagara by Cody Cassidy and Paul Doherty, Tucker highlights a myth I remember well from my youth - what happens to a person hit by a penny dropped from the top of the Empire State Building. Friends insisted it would kill instantly. According to the authors, the tumbling effect would reduce the speed so that it would cause only a mild sting. On the other hand, a baseball would be traveling at 95 MPH, the same as an MLB fastball, and cause a concussion. A pen would penetrate the skull and be lethal. The authors also provide the best strategy for surviving an elevator plunge - laying flat, which evenly distributes weight... Here's a brave man - the author of Revolution for Dummies: Laughing through the Arab Spring. In it, Bassem Youssef details his experiences doing political satire on Egyptian TV. Of course, he began by doing five-minute segments on youtube. Al Bernameg became the most popular show in the country's history. As one would expect, the powers that be weren't pleased. Youseff, now 43, was subjected to a six-hour interrogation and accused of insulting the presidency and Islam. He's lucky he's not in prison - or dead. A doctor specializing in cardiothoracic surgery, he is currently living in California. Did he do the talk show because delicate operations weren't enough to keep his interest?

According to an article in the Post, since 2010 the state of New York has experienced the largest population decline, 4.4%, of  all 50 states. Residents are moving to areas of less taxation and milder weather.

The floating book shop hadn't been to Park Slope, which its residents consider the most literate neighborhood in Brooklyn, in five weeks due to weather concerns. I immediately lucked into a convenient parking spot, which allowed me to display all my wares. Novels by James Patterson, Nora Roberts and Danielle Steel were in plain view, as was an Oprah pictorial and other tasty selections. Alas, the session was a disappointment. A woman took a long look at Rising Star, and a young man who works in the financial industry did the same with Exchanges - and both passed. My thanks to the gentleman who bought two Vince Flynn thrillers, saving me from zero return. Another visitor made the effort worthwhile - a Latino who may have had one too many. He asked for books on voodoo, which his wife practices. He claims that her first husband was murdered, his belly sliced open completely so that his guts fell out, and that she threatens to do the same to him - or to cut his bicho off and feed it to him. Why he wanted to get such a gift for such a woman is beyond me. He was probably just spinning a a yarn.
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