Books

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“Book murderer”: Author’s travel hack sparks debate

<p>Carrying books in your trip can be tricky. Some copies may prove too thick, heavy or bulky, taking up precious space in your luggage.</p> <p>While some resort to e-books and audiobooks, Alex Christofi has something else in mind.</p> <p>The British author took to Twitter on Tuesday to share his hack. “Yesterday my colleague called me a ‘book murderer’ because I cut long books in half to make them more portable. Does anyone else do this? Is it just me?”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Yesterday my colleague called me a 'book murderer' because I cut long books in half to make them more portable. Does anyone else do this? Is it just me? <a href="https://t.co/VQUUdJMpwT">pic.twitter.com/VQUUdJMpwT</a></p> — Alex Christofi (@alex_christofi) <a href="https://twitter.com/alex_christofi/status/1219564301029138432?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 21, 2020</a></blockquote> <p>Christofi defended the book cutting as a way to help him keep reading.</p> <p>“The alternative is I just don’t read them because I can’t be bothered to carry them around,” he shared.</p> <p>“If people would just publish in sensible sized volumes I wouldn’t need to take matters into my own hands.”</p> <p>Some fellow readers expressed approval of Christofi’s trick.</p> <p>“I really like this Alex, and am completely ok with it. In fact it undercuts (tish boom) their hubris in writing such a bloody long book in the first place,” one responded.</p> <p>“Why are people so precious about the books they buy? Crack the spine, spill stuff on it, dog ear pages who cares as long as you’re reading,” another wrote.</p> <p>However, most replies were critical of the method. “I’ve never seen anyone do this. It’s definitely a book crime,” one wrote.</p> <p>“Is it just me, he says, posting a murder on the timeline,” another replied.</p> <p>“I’ve been an avid reader since I was 2. Carrying around books was never a burden to me, it was a joy. To mutilate a book to save an inch or two/a few ounces, then criticize the author/publisher for making such large/long/big books. His bindings are loose in more ways than one,” one said.</p> <p>“You’re a monster,” more than one commented.</p> <p>Publishing company Simon &amp; Schuster chimed in with a recommendation, “Can someone get this man an audiobook or e-book?!”</p>

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Margaret Atwood’s new book to remain unseen until 2114

<p><span>Margaret Atwood’s unread manuscript will remain locked away until 2114.</span></p> <p><span>The Man Booker prize-winning novelist is one of the first contributors to the Future Library project based in Norway. </span></p> <p><span>Conceived by Scottish artist Katie Paterson, the project saw a thousand spruce saplings being planted in the forest of Nordmarka outside Oslo in 2014. In a century, the trees will be cut down, turned into paper and used to print an anthology of 100 unpublished books – including Atwood’s. </span></p> <p><span>“The idea is that one author per year is commissioned specifically to write a new piece of work for the forest, with the knowledge that nobody is going to read it until the trees are fully grown,” Paterson told <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-17/the-future-library-norway-wood-margaret-atwood/11783438">ABC RN</a>.</span></p> <p><span>Paterson said Atwood was the first author she and the Future Library Trust approached for the initiative.</span></p> <p><span>“We got a phenomenal response from Margaret,” Paterson said.</span></p> <p><span>“She responded to our letter not only agreeing to write for the Future Library, but giving us advice about what kind of trees to plant and how to plant them because she grew up in a forest herself.”</span></p> <p><span>Atwood, author of T<em>he</em> <em>Handmaid’s Tale</em>, said of <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/sep/05/margaret-atwood-new-work-unseen-century-future-library">her decision to participate</a> then, “It is the kind of thing you either immediately say yes or no to. You don’t think about it for very long.</span></p> <p><span>“When you write any book you do not know who’s going to read it, and you do not know when they’re going to read it. You don’t know who they will be, you don’t know their age, or gender, or nationality, or anything else about them. So books, anyway, really are like the message in the bottle.”</span></p> <p><span>Since Atwood joined, five other authors have come on board: <em>Cloud Atlas </em>novelist David Mitchell, Turkish writer Elif Shafak, Icelandic poet and lyricist Sjón, Man Booker-winning author Han Kang and Norwegian autobiographic novelist Karl Ove Knausgård. Every year until 2114, a writer will be invited to contribute to the collection.</span></p> <p><span>The trust plans to store the manuscripts in a special Silent Room in Oslo’s new public library, and print 3,000 copies of all 100 texts when the time arrives.</span></p> <p><span>Paterson acknowledged that there are “many unknowns” in today’s world. “We’re in a total climate crisis, in a catastrophic moment, and so we can’t predict entirely that the forest will still be there in a hundred years, but we have to do everything we can to ensure that it will be,” she said.</span></p>

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How to send a letter to the future you

<p>As we enter a new year and decade, it is the perfect time to check in on ourselves, look at what we’ve accomplished so far, and reassess our goals for the future.</p> <p>You can do this by writing a letter to your future self as a reminder of where you’ve been in life and your current aspirations as well as a motivating message to go further.</p> <p>There are many tools that can help you send this letter. Apart from the analog time capsule, you can also use note-taking apps or access special websites such as <span><a href="https://www.futureme.org/">FutureMe</a></span> or <span><a href="https://lettertomyfutureself.net/">Letter to my future self</a></span>.</p> <p>After you write the note, set the time you want it to be sent – be it a week or five years from now – and fill out the email address where you want to receive the message.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">Just got my first letter from <a href="https://twitter.com/futureme?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@futureme</a> which I wrote a year ago. <br />Really needed that reminder and a kick up the ass!! 2020 I am SO ready for you 👊🏾</p> — Milo James (@MiloKnowsBest) <a href="https://twitter.com/MiloKnowsBest/status/1213825395503616000?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 5, 2020</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">On New Year’s Day, I received an email from 21-year old me.<br /><br />The email, received on 01/01/2020, was written on 12/3/2015.<br /><br />Judging from the email &amp; from what I remembered, it was the time when I was at a crossroad in my life.<a href="https://twitter.com/futureme?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@futureme</a> <a href="https://t.co/OEee5B1giI">pic.twitter.com/OEee5B1giI</a></p> — Syaza Nazura (@nazu2308) <a href="https://twitter.com/nazu2308/status/1213220010719617024?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 3, 2020</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">Got nostalgic after reading a letter that I wrote 4.5 years ago to my future self and realized how far I've really come.<br /><br />The decade ahead is definitely filled with endless possibilities. Let's make sure that we grab every opportunity to improve and make our past selves proud! <a href="https://t.co/WyNrdrMK25">pic.twitter.com/WyNrdrMK25</a></p> — Tyrone Tan (@iamtyronetan) <a href="https://twitter.com/iamtyronetan/status/1212055856524587008?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 31, 2019</a></blockquote>

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Why words for single women have changed through time

<p>In a recent interview with <em><a href="https://www.vogue.co.uk/news/article/emma-watson-on-fame-activism-little-women">Vogue</a></em>, actress Emma Watson opened up about being a single 30-year-old woman. Instead of calling herself single, however, she used the word “self-partnered.”</p> <p>I’ve studied <a href="https://global.oup.com/academic/product/never-married-9780199237623?lang=en&amp;cc=us">and written about</a> the history of single women, and this is the first time I am aware of “self-partnered” being used. We’ll see if it catches on, but if it does, it will join the ever-growing list of words used to describe single women of a certain age.</p> <p>Women who were once called spinsters eventually started being called old maids. In 17th-century New England, there were also words like “<a href="https://www.whimn.com.au/love/dating/unmarried-and-over-26-theres-a-name-for-women-like-you/news-story/8e72155c24a8fc79719512d7597b4f08">thornback</a>” – a sea skate covered with thorny spines – used to describe single women older than 25.</p> <p>Attitudes toward single women have repeatedly shifted – and part of that attitude shift is reflected in the names given to unwed women.</p> <h2>The rise of the ‘singlewoman’</h2> <p>Before the 17th century, women who weren’t married were called maids, virgins or “puella,” the Latin word for “girl.” These words emphasized youth and chastity, and they presumed that women would only be single for a small portion of their life – a period of “pre-marriage.”</p> <p>But by the 17th century, new terms, such as “spinster” and “singlewoman,” emerged.</p> <p>What changed? The numbers of unwed women – or women who simply never married – started to grow.</p> <p>In the 1960s, demographer John Hajnal <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/115001673/John-Hajnal-1965-European-Marriage-Patterns-in-Perspective">identified</a> the “Northwestern European Marriage Pattern,” in which people in northwestern European countries such as England started marrying late – in their 30s and even 40s. A significant proportion of the populace didn’t marry at all. In this region of Europe, it was the norm for married couples to start a new household when they married, which required accumulating a certain amount of wealth. Like today, young men and women worked and saved money before moving into a new home, a process that often delayed marriage. If marriage were delayed too long – or if people couldn’t accumulate enough wealth – they might not marry at all.</p> <p>Now terms were needed for adult single women who might never marry. The term spinster transitioned from describing <a href="https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/spinster-meaning-origin">an occupation that employed many women</a> – a spinner of wool – to a legal term for an independent, unmarried woman.</p> <p>Single women made up, on average, <a href="https://global.oup.com/academic/product/never-married-9780199270606?cc=us&amp;lang=en&amp;">30% of the adult female population</a> in early modern England. <a href="http://www.localpopulationstudies.org.uk/PDF/LPS68/LPS68_2002_26-41.pdf">My own research</a> on the town of Southampton found that in 1698, 34.2% of women over 18 were single, another 18.5% were widowed, and less than half, or 47.3%, were married.</p> <p>Many of us assume that past societies were more traditional than our own, with marriage more common. But my work shows that in 17th-century England, at any given time, more women were unmarried than married. It was a normal part of the era’s life and culture.</p> <h2>The pejorative ‘old maid’</h2> <p>In the late 1690s, the term old maid became common. The expression emphasizes the paradox of being old and yet still virginal and unmarried. It wasn’t the only term that was tried out; the era’s literature also <a href="https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001911725">poked fun</a> at “superannuated virgins.” But because “old maid” trips off the tongue a little easier, it’s the one that stuck.</p> <p>The undertones of this new word were decidedly critical.</p> <p>“<a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/33875142?q&amp;versionId=41687269">A Satyr upon Old Maids</a>,” an anonymously written 1713 pamphlet, referred to never-married women as “odious,” “impure” and repugnant. Another common trope was that old maids would be punished for not marrying by “leading apes in hell.”</p> <p>At what point did a young, single woman become an old maid? There was a definitive line: In the 17th century, it was a woman in her mid-20s.</p> <p>For instance, the single poet Jane Barker wrote in her 1688 poem, “<a href="http://www.poetryexplorer.net/poem.php?id=10036317">A Virgin Life</a>,” that she hoped she could remain “Fearless of twenty-five and all its train, / Of slights or scorns, or being called Old Maid.”</p> <p>These negative terms came about as the numbers of single women continued to climb and marriage rates dropped. In the 1690s and early 1700s, English authorities became so worried about population decline that the government <a href="http://www.localpopulationstudies.org.uk/PDF/LPS68/LPS68_2002_26-41.pdf">levied a Marriage Duty Tax</a>, requiring bachelors, widowers and some single women of means to pay what amounted to a fine for not being married.</p> <h2>Still uneasy about being single</h2> <p>Today in the U.S., <a href="https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/visualizations/time-series/demo/families-and-households/ms-2.pdf">the median</a> first age at marriage for women is 28. For men, it’s 30.</p> <p>What we’re experiencing now isn’t a historical first; instead, we’ve essentially returned to a marriage pattern that was common 300 years ago. From the 18th century up until the mid-20th century, <a href="https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/families/marital.html">the average age at first marriage</a> dropped to a low of age 20 for women and age 22 for men. Then it began to rise again.</p> <p>There’s a reason Vogue was asking Watson about her single status as she approached 30. To many, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/oct/27/marriage-by-this-age-babies-by-that-age-when-will-we-stop-giving-women-deadlines">age 30 is a milestone for women</a> – the moment when, if they haven’t already, they’re supposed to go from being footloose and fancy-free to thinking about marriage, a family and a mortgage.</p> <p>Even if you’re a wealthy and famous woman, you can’t escape this cultural expectation. Male celebrities don’t seem to be questioned about being single and 30.</p> <p>While no one would call Watson a spinster or old maid today, she nonetheless feels compelled to create a new term for her status: “self-partnered.” In what some have dubbed the “<a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2017/04/the_history_of_self_care.html">age of self-care</a>,” perhaps this term is no surprise. It seems to say, I’m focused on myself and my own goals and needs. I don’t need to focus on another person, whether it’s a partner or a child.</p> <p>To me, though, it’s ironic that the term “self-partnered” seems to elevate coupledom. Spinster, singlewoman or singleton: None of those terms openly refers to an absent partner. But self-partnered evokes a missing better half.</p> <p>It says something about our culture and gender expectations that despite her status and power, a woman like Watson still feels uncomfortable simply calling herself single.<em><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/amy-froide-411337">Amy Froide</a>, Professor of History, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-maryland-baltimore-county-1667">University of Maryland, Baltimore County</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/spinster-old-maid-or-self-partnered-why-words-for-single-women-have-changed-through-time-126716">original article</a>.</em></p>

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A history of loneliness

<p>Is loneliness our modern malaise?</p> <p>Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy <a href="https://hbr.org/cover-story/2017/09/work-and-the-loneliness-epidemic">says</a> the most common pathology he saw during his years of service “was not heart disease or diabetes; it was loneliness.”</p> <p>Chronic loneliness, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/mar/12/duncan-selbie-isolated-bad-health">some say</a>, is like “smoking 15 cigarettes a day.” It “<a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2013/08/dangers_of_loneliness_social_isolation_is_deadlier_than_obesity.html">kills more people than obesity</a>.”</p> <p>Because loneliness is now considered a <a href="http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/08/lonely-die.aspx">public health</a> issue – and even an <a href="http://fortune.com/2016/06/22/loneliness-is-a-modern-day-epidemic/">epidemic</a> – people are exploring its causes and trying to find solutions.</p> <p>While writing a book on the history of how poets wrote about loneliness in the <a href="https://www.britannica.com/art/English-literature/The-Romantic-period">Romantic Period</a>, I discovered that loneliness is a relatively new concept and once had an easy cure. However, as the concept’s meaning has transformed, finding solutions has become harder.</p> <p>Returning to the origins of the word – and understanding how its meaning has changed through time – gives us a new way to think about modern loneliness, and the ways in which we might address it.</p> <h2>The dangers of venturing into ‘lonelinesses’</h2> <p>Although loneliness may seem like a timeless, universal experience, it seems to have originated in the late 16th century, when it signaled the danger created by being too far from other people.</p> <p>In early modern Britain, to stray too far from society was to surrender the protections it provided. Distant forests and mountains inspired fear, and a lonely space was a place in which you might meet someone who could do you harm, with no one else around to help.</p> <p>In order to frighten their congregations out of sin, sermon writers asked people to imagine themselves in “lonelinesses” – places like hell, the grave or the desert.</p> <p>Yet well into the 17th century, the words “loneliness” and “lonely” rarely appeared in writing. In 1674, the naturalist John Ray <a href="http://www.thesalamancacorpus.com/varia_various_1500-1699_ray_a-collection_1691.html">compiled a glossary</a> of infrequently used words. He included “loneliness” in his list, defining it as a term used to describe places and people “far from neighbours.”</p> <p>John Milton’s 1667 epic poem “<a href="https://www.dartmouth.edu/%7Emilton/reading_room/pl/book_1/text.shtml">Paradise Lost</a>” features one of the first lonely characters in all of British literature: Satan. On his journey to the garden of Eden to tempt Eve, Satan treads “lonely steps” out of hell. But Milton isn’t writing about Satan’s feelings; instead, he’s emphasizing that he’s crossing into the ultimate wilderness, a space between hell and Eden where no angel has previously ventured.</p> <p>Satan <a href="https://www.dartmouth.edu/%7Emilton/reading_room/pl/book_2/text.shtml">describes</a> his loneliness in terms of vulnerability: “From them I go / This uncouth errand sole, and one for all / Myself expose, with lonely steps to tread / Th’ unfounded deep.”</p> <h2>The dilemma of modern loneliness</h2> <p>Even if we now enjoy the wilderness as a place of adventure and pleasure, the fear of loneliness persists. The problem has simply moved into our cities.</p> <p>Many are trying to solve it by bringing people physically closer to their neighbors. <a href="https://www.aarp.org/research/topics/life/info-2014/loneliness_2010.html">Studies</a> point to a spike in the number of people who live alone and the breakdown of family and community structures.</p> <p>British Prime Minister Theresa May has set her sights on “combating” loneliness and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/17/world/europe/uk-britain-loneliness.html">appointed</a> a minister of loneliness to do just that in January. There is even a <a href="https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org">philanthropy</a> called the “Campaign to End Loneliness.”</p> <p>But the drive to cure loneliness oversimplifies its modern meaning.</p> <p>In the 17th century, when loneliness was usually relegated to the space outside the city, solving it was easy. It merely required a return to society.</p> <p>However, loneliness has since moved inward – and has become much harder to cure. Because it’s taken up residence inside minds, even the minds of people living in bustling cities, it can’t always be solved by company.</p> <p>Modern loneliness isn’t just about being physically removed from other people. Instead, it’s an emotional state of feeling apart from others – without necessarily being so.</p> <p>Someone surrounded by people, or even accompanied by friends or a lover, can complain of feelings of loneliness. The wilderness is now inside of us.</p> <h2>Populating the wilderness of the mind</h2> <p>The lack of an obvious cure to loneliness is part of the reason why it is considered to be so dangerous today: The abstraction is frightening.</p> <p>Counterintuitively, however, the secret to dealing with modern loneliness might lie not in trying to make it disappear but in finding ways to dwell within its abstractions, talk through its contradictions and seek out others who feel the same way.</p> <p>While it’s certainly important to pay attention to the structures that have led people (especially elderly, disabled and other vulnerable people) to be physically isolated and therefore unwell, finding ways to destigmatize loneliness is also crucial.</p> <p>Acknowledging that loneliness is a profoundly human and sometimes uncurable experience rather than a mere pathology might allow people – especially lonely people – to find commonality.</p> <p>In order to look at the “epidemic of loneliness” as more than just an “epidemic of isolation,” it’s important to consider why the spaces of different people’s minds might feel like wildernesses in the first place.</p> <p>Everyone experiences loneliness differently, and many find it difficult to describe. As the novelist Joseph Conrad <a href="https://books.google.com/books?id=8P99Y2HWGK4C&amp;dq=under%20western%20eyes&amp;pg=PP1#v=onepage&amp;q=true%20loneliness&amp;f=false">wrote</a>, “Who knows what true loneliness is – not the conventional word but the naked terror? To the lonely themselves it wears a mask.” Learning about the range of ways others experience loneliness could help mitigate the kind of disorientation Conrad describes.</p> <p>Reading literature can also make the mind feel like less of a wilderness. The books we read need not themselves be about loneliness, though there are lots of examples of these, from “<a href="https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/tip-sheet/article/69506-10-books-about-loneliness.html">Frankenstein</a>” to “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/aug/24/teju-cole-top-10-novels-solitude">Invisible Man</a>.” Reading allows readers to connect with characters who might also be lonely; but more importantly, it offers a way to make the mind feel as though it is populated.</p> <p>Literature also offers examples of how to be lonely together. British Romantic poets often copied each other’s loneliness and found it productive and fulfilling.</p> <p>There are opportunities for community in loneliness when we share it, whether in face-to-face interactions or through text. Though loneliness can be debilitating, it has come a long way from its origins as a synonym for isolation.</p> <p>As the poet Ocean Vuong <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/05/04/someday-ill-love-ocean-vuong">wrote</a>, “loneliness is still time spent with the world.”<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/91542/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/amelia-s-worsley-443122">Amelia S. Worsley</a>, Assistant Professor of English, <em><a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/amherst-college-2155">Amherst College</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-history-of-loneliness-91542">original article</a>.</p>

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Summer reads: When you can’t travel, let a book transport you

<p>I don’t understand beach reads. And I’m not the only one. There’s <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jun/02/beach-read-summer-books-holiday-vacation">no universal consensus about the category</a>, though the marketing tends to revolve around those books popularly considered disposable, unserious, or at the very least, books “<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/what-exactly-is-a-beach-read-anyway-summery-sexy--or-sexist/2016/08/05/41ea6ea8-58e5-11e6-831d-0324760ca856_story.html?utm_term=.03921e2c51bc">you don’t mind getting wet</a>.”</p> <p>Last year, I toted <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15823480-anna-karenina">Anna Karenina</a> along with me — it got soaked, and I abandoned it in an AirBnB in Dubrovnik, Croatia, after I’d finished reading it. It lasted nearly the whole trip and left a gaping, souvenir-sized hole in my suitcase; it was perfect. So as much as I’d like to dissolve the beach read label entirely, I must also admit I have a type: I want a meaty, absorbing book that takes me further into a vacation by connecting with the cultures that produced it. I want a book that can’t be disposed of, one that will take me somewhere entirely new.</p> <p>What I really want is to decouple the notion of summer reading as a <a href="https://electricliterature.com/what-the-fk-is-a-beach-read-anyway/">lifestyle marker</a> <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/39952655">of class</a> <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/what-exactly-is-a-beach-read-anyway-summery-sexy--or-sexist/2016/08/05/41ea6ea8-58e5-11e6-831d-0324760ca856_story.html?utm_term=.ccc299550f05">or gender</a>. If the “<a href="https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-invention-of-the-beach-read">pursuit of intellectual betterment</a>” feels inaccessible or off-putting, I would like to propose at least the pursuit of expanding our emotional connections.</p> <p>In a cultural climate where the <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-empathy-have-limits-72637">limits of empathy</a> are increasingly under a microscope, forging cross-cultural connections feels like a pressing task. Much has been made of the relationship between <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/342/6156/377">fiction reading</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23383160">empathy</a>, but what happens when the limits of our worldview are bounded by the English language? While <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/census-family-language-highlights-1.4231841">linguistic diversity is growing in Canada</a>, the majority of Canadians still <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/census-wednesday-language-1.4231213">speak only English at home</a>, and <a href="https://www.vulture.com/2019/05/translated-fiction-has-been-growing-or-has-it.html">comparatively few books are translated</a> into English. If, as José Ortega y Gasset proposes, reading in translation should <a href="http://dialogos.ca/2015/09/the-misery-and-the-splendour-of-translation-v-the-splendour/">transport the reader into the language</a> — and therefore the perspective — of the author, then reading translated works may be one of the best ways to expand empathy beyond the boundaries of language.</p> <p>I’m not going abroad this summer, at least not physically. I’ll be staying in Canada, with only my books to pull me to other times and places. While in recent years, I’ve focused on <a href="https://www.vox.com/2015/12/29/10634416/reading-list-books">keeping up with new releases</a>, this year I’m fixated on atmosphere and transportation, in a mix of old favourites and new-to-me classics from around the world.</p> <p><strong>Italy</strong></p> <p>I won’t tell you to read Elena Ferrante, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/apr/30/elena-ferrante-fan-girl-modern-tribes">because you’ve probably heard that before.</a> Instead, I will be delving into the work of Elsa Morante, a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/books/la-ca-jc-elena-ferrante-interview-20180517-htmlstory.html">possible inspiration for Ferrante’s pseudonym</a>. <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40180043-arturo-s-island"><em>Arturo’s Island</em></a>, originally published in English in 1959, has been published in <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/11/books/review-arturos-island-elsa-morante-ann-goldstein.html?auth=login-facebook&amp;login=facebook">a new translation by Ann Goldstein</a> (translator of Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels). The novel promises a mix of the remote island setting steeped in Morante’s preoccupation with social issues and the spectre of war.</p> <p><strong>Poland</strong></p> <p>One of my favourite themes in European literature is that of movement and fluidity, the running sense of unity of purpose amidst myriad diverse pockets of culture. The ubiquity of trains and boats support transcontinental journeys by characters who switch language mid-conversation. Last year’s <a href="https://thebookerprizes.com/international/news/flights-wins-man-booker-international-prize-2018">Man Booker International</a> winner, <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36885304-flights?from_search=true"><em>Flights</em></a> by Olga Tokarczuk takes traveling and travelers as the subject of its interconnected musings, making it an ideal choice for the vacation headspace. This year’s winner, <a href="https://thebookerprizes.com/international/"><em>Celestial Bodies</em> from Oman’s Jokha Alharthi</a>, has an English edition but has not yet been published in Canada.</p> <p><strong>Croatia</strong></p> <p>In my opinion, no contemplation of Pan-European lore can be complete without Dubravka Ugrešic’s <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/baba-yaga-laid-an-egg-by-dubravka-ugresic-1728869.html"><em>Baba Yaga Laid an Egg</em></a>. Once <a href="https://www.questia.com/magazine/1G1-13827983/five-women-who-won-t-be-silenced-croatia-s-witches">labeled a witch herself</a> and driven into exile from Croatia, Ugrešic’s take on Baba Yaga explores the shifting nature of popular folklore.</p> <p><strong>Nigeria</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18749.Half_of_a_Yellow_Sun?ac=1&amp;from_search=true"><em>Half of a Yellow Sun</em></a> by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is not a translation, but it will take you to a place that only briefly existed: Biafra, a West African state founded in 1967. While the brutality of recent war may not make a particularly appetizing subject for vacation, Adichie contrasts the brutality with sumptuous descriptions of pre-war food and luxury, giving her vision of Biafra the aura of a lost dream. Adichie has referred to the war as a <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/hiding-from-our-past">shadow over her childhood</a>.</p> <p><strong>Norway</strong></p> <p>There are no beaches in <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6217.Kristin_Lavransdatter?from_search=true"><em>Kristen Lavransdatter</em></a> and many more Christmases than summers, but if you start Nobel Prize-winner Sigrid Undset’s oeuvre now, it may take you until winter to finish it. Set in Medieval Norway, the book follows the titular Kristen from childhood until death, focusing on her tumultuous love affair and marriage to Erlend Nikulaussøn. Tiina Nunnally’s translation, <a href="https://slate.com/culture/2017/01/why-sigrid-undset-author-of-the-kristin-lavransdatter-trilogy-should-be-the-next-elena-ferrante.html">focusing on plain, stripped-down language,</a> presents a change in philosophy from the first English translation that cut large portions of the text and enforced stiff, archaic language absent from the original Norwegian.</p> <p><strong>Argentina</strong></p> <p>Samanta Schweblin’s <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30763882-fever-dream?from_search=true"><em>Fever Dream</em></a> is slight in length but packs a heavy punch in both atmosphere and psychological investment. The story of a vacation gone terribly wrong, the novel’s Spanish title closely translates to “<a href="https://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-ca-jc-fever-dream-20170112-story.html">rescue distance</a>,” a recurring concept instantly familiar to parents of young children and terrifying as it becomes repeatedly destabilized. Fever Dream is so unsettling that I sometimes hesitate to recommend it, but I’ve found myself repeatedly drawn back to its tantalizing surrealism.</p> <p><strong>Canada</strong></p> <p>I’ve spent much of my life moving around, and as a recent settler on <a href="https://tkemlups.ca/profile/history/our-land/">unceded Secwepemc territory</a>, I want to learn more about the land I live on. In a summer steeped in fiction, <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34733963-secw-pemc-people-land-and-laws?ac=1&amp;from_search=true"><em>Secwépemc People, Land, and Laws</em></a> by Marianne and Ronald Ignace is the only history on my list, but in many ways it feels similar to the others, reaching out to add a new dimension to a place in which I’m still mostly an outsider. <a href="https://globalnews.ca/news/5371282/b-c-fire-season-expected-to-be-busier-than-normal/">For better or for worse</a>, Kamloops feels the most like itself in summer, the climate wants to have its stories told. It can feel intimidating to contemplate a 10,000 year history I know nothing about, but also comforting and necessary to reach back and hear the tales of the land I now call home.</p> <p><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><em>Written by </em><span><em>Amy McLay Paterson, Assessment and User Experience Librarian, Thompson Rivers University</em></span><em>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/summer-reads-when-you-cant-travel-let-a-book-transport-you-119519" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/119519/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p>

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Highly anticipated Naomi Wolf book cancelled after error was discovered

<p>Acclaimed US author Naomi Wolf was left red-faced after a major factual error was discovered on BBC radio.</p> <p>The book,<span> </span>Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalisation of Love<span> </span>has been pulled from publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt after the interview.</p> <p>The publisher announced that they and Wolf have “mutually and amicably agreed to part company”.</p> <p>The book centres on the treatment of gay people in Victorian England and previously offered examples Wolf had discovered of “several dozen executions” of men convicted of sodomy in Britain. The last example of this was back in 1930.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/Bzzmbaxp11-/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/Bzzmbaxp11-/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">‪Major UK based Feminist News and Opinion site, The F Word, calls Naomi Wolf’s Outrages, “a valuable piece that exposes the foundations for the outrages that still exist today when it comes to gay love.” https://thefword.org.uk/2019/07/gay-love-in-victorian-britain/ #feminist #LGBTQ #naomiwolf #naomiwolfbook‬</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/naomirwolf/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Naomi Wolf</a> (@naomirwolf) on Jul 11, 2019 at 11:14pm PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>During a promotional tour for the book in the UK, BBC interviewer Matthew Sweet pointed out to Wolf that she had misinterpreted the legal term “death recorded”.</p> <p>The term, which is found in historical documents, left Wolf interpreting it as men who were executed for being gay.</p> <p>Sweet mentioned that it actually means that the judge abstained from pronouncing the death sentence and that the prisoner was pardoned.</p> <p>“I don’t think any of the executions you’ve identified here actually happened,” Sweet told a stunned Wolf.</p> <p>Wolf took the incident in her stride, saying that she didn’t “feel humiliated”.</p> <p>“I had read death recorded as meaning death recorded. The death penalty was the law of the land until 1861, [but] I misunderstood the phrase,” according to <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jun/21/naomi-wolf-book-outrages-new-york" target="_blank">The Guardian</a>.</p> <p>“The bottom line is that [Sweet] did me a favour by identifying a misreading that I corrected.</p> <p>“I don’t feel humiliated but I’m grateful for the correction. I feel great responsibility and humility about this history.”</p>

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Elton John reveals shocking Princess Diana confession

<p>Elton John has lived quite a colourful life, from getting into an argument with Princess Diana to sharing a joke with the queen, the musician has not held back in his new autobiography,<span> </span><em>Me</em>.</p> <p>Releasing shortly after his musical biopic<span> </span><em>Rocketman</em>, the honest memoir explores every moment of his extraordinary life.</p> <p>But possibly the most anticipated revelation is regarding his relationship with the late Princess Diana, who he first became friends with in 1981 at Prince Andrew’s 21st birthday party.</p> <p>He revealed that her thirst for gossip and company was irresistible, and after her separation from Prince Charles, there was a moment where Hollywood A-listers Sylvester Stallone and Richard Gere competed for her attention.</p> <p>Elton’s husband David found the two “squaring up to each other” and preparing to trade blows.</p> <p>It was then that Stallone stormed off, saying: “I never would have come if I’d known Prince f***in’ Charming was gonna be here.”</p> <p>The 72-year-old also addressed his infamous row with Diana, which he says was over a photography book featuring nearly naked men, by designer Gianni Versace – the proceeds of which were going to Elton’s Aids Foundation.</p> <p>Diana had originally agreed to write the foreword but decided against it at the last minute.</p> <p>The two made up in July 1997 after Versace was shot and killed. It was seven weeks before Diana herself passed away.</p> <p>Elton paid tribute to the royal by playing<span> </span><em>Candle In The Wind</em>, which he admitted to only listening to once since.</p> <p>He also revealed that he felt uncomfortable that the single, which is the biggest-selling UK song of all time, stayed at Number 1 for five weeks as it meant footage of Diana’s funeral was played constantly on<span> </span><em>Top Of The Pops.</em></p>

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How to invent a Tolkien-style language

<p>The success of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies brought the languages that JRR Tolkien invented for the Elves to the attention of a much wider public. There are <a href="http://www.councilofelrond.com/content/elvish-resources/">now numerous books and websites</a> that allow devotees to learn Quenya and Sindarin. The <a href="http://www.oocities.org/petristikka/elvish/tikka.pdf">origins of Quenya in Finnish</a> and the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/z2hthyc">Welsh inspirations of Sindarin</a> have fascinated Tolkien fans, with many learning and expanding on the tongues that were created by the author the best part of 100 years ago.</p> <p>Though enchanting, language invention has also baffled readers and critics alike. Bewildered critic <a href="https://www.ewtn.com/library/HOMELIBR/TOLFAIR.HTM">Robert Reilly exclaimed in 1963</a>: “No one ever exposed the nerves and fibres of his being in order to make up a language; it is not only insane but unnecessary.” But that’s where he was completely wrong.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/6de_SbVUVfA?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <span class="caption">JRR Tolkien recites the Quenya poem Namárië, sung by Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings.</span></p> <p>Language invention for works of fiction has a long history, from <a href="http://www.bl.uk/learning/histcitizen/21cc/utopia/more1/moreutopia.html">Thomas More’s Utopia</a> and <a href="http://www.bl.uk/learning/timeline/item104566.html">Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels</a>, all the way to Tolkien’s immediate predecessors, such as <a href="https://archive.org/details/acrosszodiacsto01greggoog">Percy Gray</a> and <a href="http://www.sacred-texts.com/atl/vril/">Edward Bulwer Lytton</a>.</p> <p>Tolkien himself began composing his Middle-earth mythology at a time when the vogue for artificial languages was at its zenith. At the turn of the 20th century <a href="http://www.omniglot.com/writing/esperanto.htm">Esperanto</a> was taking the world by storm, and it competed with more than 100 other artificial languages, including Volapuk, Ido and Novial. It is also worth remembering too that this same period was a time of language experimentation. Russian zaum, the Dada movement and Modernism (among others) were attempting to break language and make it afresh.</p> <h2>Tolkien’s vice</h2> <p>In <a href="https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780008131395/a-secret-vice">A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages</a>, edited by myself and Andrew Higgins, we present Tolkien’s own reflections on his language invention. In particular, the full publication of A Secret Vice, a paper Tolkien gave in 1931 at Pembroke College, Oxford, where he talked about his engagement with Esperanto and his contribution to nursery languages (codes children use, often for playful communication). Tolkien went on to unveil his many experiments in inventing new languages that would be aesthetically pleasing, including a sketch of a previously unknown imaginary language, published for the first time in the new book. He also commented on the “coeval and congenital” art of creating a world and characters that would speak these languages – the first seeds of the vast secondary world of Middle-earth.</p> <p>The book also includes a hitherto unpublished new essay on phonetic symbolism, in which Tolkien muses on the idea that the sounds of words may fit their meanings. Tolkien’s drafts and notes for both essays are also included. Some of these notes make mention of James Joyce and Gertrude Stein – hardly the literary company one expects Tolkien to be seen alongside.</p> <p>Contemporary popular culture has witnessed a renewed interest in fictional languages. Perhaps the best-known recent examples are <a href="http://docs.dothraki.org/Dothraki.pdf">Dothraki</a> and <a href="http://www.makinggameofthrones.com/production-diary/2014/5/8/high-valyrian-101-learn-and-pronounce-common-phrases">High Valyrian</a>, the languages invented by linguist David J. Petterson for HBO’s Game of Thrones. But they are by no means the only ones. Even non-fans of the Star Trek franchise will have at least heard of <a href="http://www.kli.org/about-klingon/klingon-history/">Klingon</a>, and James Cameron’s Avatar also includes an invented language: <a href="http://learnnavi.org/">Na'avi</a>.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0knxW76bDuI?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <span class="caption">The creators of Na'avi, Klingon and Dothraki explain how to make a language.</span></p> <p>Whether intentional or not, Tolkien’s language creation has been highly influential for this new generation of inventors. In A Secret Vice, Tolkien outlined several rules for constructing imaginary languages, which later inventors appear to have followed.</p> <p>First, invented names and words should be coherent and consistent. Their sounds should both be aesthetically pleasing and fit the nature of the people who speak them. For example, the phonetic make-up of Klingon befits its militaristic speakers (who else would recite <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiRMGYQfXrs">Shakespeare’s “To be, or not to be” as “taH pagh taHbe”</a>?)</p> <p>Second, fictional languages should have a grammatical structure behind them. In <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Living-Language-Dothraki-Conversational-Original/dp/0804160864">Living Language Dothraki</a>, Peterson gives all the grammatical rules you need to form questions such as “hash yer dothrae chek asshekh?” (“do you ride well today?”).</p> <p>And finally, invented languages should be an integral, indeed vital, part of myth-making - as Tolkien said: “Your language construction will breed a mythology”. There are far too many examples to list here, but what may have astounded Tolkien is the central position that language invention has achieved in the building of new entertainment franchises such as Star Trek, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films, and Game of Thrones.</p> <p>Like Tolkien himself, many inventors of today’s fictional languages have been linguists and communicators: <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5Did-eVQDc">Marc Okrand</a>, the inventor of Klingon, has a PhD in linguistics from Berkeley; <a href="http://www.marshall.usc.edu/faculty/directory/frommer">Paul Frommer</a>, creator of Na'avi, is professor emeritus of clinical management communication at the University of Southern California. Tolkien’s legacy also lives on in the many thousands of constructed languages (con-langs) which are invented just for fun and discovery through groups like <a href="http://conlang.org/">The Language Construction Society</a>.</p> <p>What is rarer, and shows Tolkien’s genius, is that the complex interweaving of myth-making and language invention that make Middle-earth feel real was the achievement of a single man. And that is a tough act to follow.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/57380/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Dimitra Fimi, Lecturer in English, Cardiff Metropolitan University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-invent-a-tolkien-style-language-57380" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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I’ll have what she’s having: How and why we copy the choices of others

<p>Imagine you’re dining out at a casual restaurant with some friends. After looking over the menu, you decide to order the steak. But then, after a dinner companion orders a salad for their main course, you declare: “I’ll have the salad too.”</p> <p>This kind of situation – making choices that you probably otherwise wouldn’t make <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucv012">were you alone</a> – probably happens more often than you think in a wide variety of settings, from eating out to shopping and even donating to charity. And it’s not just a matter of you suddenly realizing the salad sounds more appetizing.</p> <p><a href="https://explorable.com/chameleon-effect">Prior research has shown</a> people have a tendency to mimic the choices and behaviors of others. But other work suggests people also want to do the exact opposite to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/317585">signal their uniqueness</a> in a group by making a different choice from others.</p> <p>As scholars who examine consumer behavior, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0022243719853221">we wanted</a> to resolve this discrepancy: What makes people more likely to copy others’ behavior, and what leads them to do their own thing?</p> <p><strong>A social signal</strong></p> <p>We developed a theory that how and why people match or mimic others’ choices depends a lot on the attributes of the thing being selected.</p> <p>Choices have what we call “ordinal” attributes that can be ranked objectively – such as size or price – as well as “nominal” attributes that are not as easily ranked – such as flavor or shape. We hypothesized that ordinal attributes have more social influence, alerting others to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.obhdp.2013.08.007">what may be seen as “appropriate”</a> in a given context.</p> <p>Nominal attributes, on the other hand, would seem to be understood as a reflection of one’s personal preferences.</p> <p>So we performed 11 studies to test our theory.</p> <p><strong>One scoop or two</strong></p> <p>In one study conducted with 190 undergraduate students, we told participants that they were on their way to an ice cream parlor with a friend to get a cone. We then told our would-be ice cream consumers that their companion was getting either one scoop of vanilla, one scoop of chocolate, two scoops of vanilla or two scoops of chocolate. We then asked participants what they wanted to order.</p> <p>We found that people were much more likely to order the same size as their companion but not the same flavor.</p> <p>The participants seemed to interpret the number of scoops the companion ordered as an indication of what’s appropriate. For example, ordering two scoops might signal “permission” to indulge or seem the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1509/jm.11.0261">more financially savvy</a> – if less healthy – choice, since it usually costs only marginally more than one. Or a single scoop might suggest “let’s enjoy some ice cream – but not too much.”</p> <p>The choice of chocolate or vanilla, on the other hand, is readily understood as a personal preference and thus signals nothing about which is better or more appropriate. I like vanilla, you like chocolate – everyone’s happy.</p> <p>We also asked participants to rate how important avoiding social discomfort was in their decision. Those who ordered the same number of scoops as their companion rated it as more important than those who picked a different amount.</p> <p><strong>Examining other contexts</strong></p> <p>In the other studies, we replicated our results using different products, in various settings and with a variety of ordinal and nominal attributes.</p> <p>For example, in another experiment, we gave participants US$1 to buy one of four granola bars from a mock store we set up inside the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz/CBA Business Research Center. As the ordinal attribute, we used <a href="https://doi.org/10.1509/jmkg.65.1.71.18132">brand prestige</a>: They could pick either a more expensive well-known national brand or a cheaper one sold by a grocery store under its own label. Our nominal attribute was chocolate or peanut butter.</p> <p>Before making the choice, a “store employee” stationed behind the checkout register told participants she or he had tested out a granola bar, randomly specifying one of the four – without saying anything about how it tasted. We rotated which granola bar the employee mentioned every hour during the five-day experiment.</p> <p>Similar to the ice cream study, participants tended to choose the brand that the employee said he or she had chosen – whether it was the cheaper or pricier one – but ignored the suggested flavor.</p> <p>Moving away from food, we also examined influences on charitable donations. In this study, we recruited online participants who were paid for their time. In addition, we gave each participant 50 cents to either keep or donate to charity.</p> <p>If they chose to donate the money, they could give all of it or half to a charity focused on saving either <a href="https://www.savetheelephants.org">elephants</a> or <a href="https://polarbearsinternational.org/">polar bears</a>. Before they made their choice, we told them what another participant had supposedly decided to do with their money – randomly based on one of the four possibilities.</p> <p>The results were the same as in all our other studies, including ones we conducted involving different brands and shapes of pasta and varieties and taste profiles of wine. People matched the ordinal attribute – in this case the amount – but paid little heed to the nominal attribute – the chosen charity – which remained a personal preference.</p> <p>These kinds of social cues regarding others’ choices are everywhere, from face-to-face interactions with friends to online tweets or Instagram posts, making it difficult to escape the influence of what others do on our own consumption choices.</p> <p>And if we believe we’re making our companions feel more comfortable while still choosing something we like, what’s the harm in that?</p> <p><em>Written by <span>Kelly L. Haws, Associate Professor of Marketing, Vanderbilt University; Brent McFerran, W. J. Van Duse Associate Professor, Marketing, Simon Fraser University, and Peggy Liu, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, University of Pittsburgh</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/ill-have-what-shes-having-how-and-why-we-copy-the-choices-of-others-122682" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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What makes a book 'good'?

<p>How many copies of <em>Fifty Shades of Grey</em> does it take to make a fort? A branch of Oxfam in Swansea, south Wales, received so many unwanted copies of EL James’s erotic novel, that staff decided to build a fort out of them in the back office.</p> <p>Well, why not? Once the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-18618648">hottest book in publishing</a>, <em>Fifty Shades</em> now can’t be given away fast enough. Relief at last, perhaps, for all those high-brow academics and frustrated authors – myself among them – whose hearts sank when this fan fiction-derived tale became the <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/9459779/50-Shades-of-Grey-is-best-selling-book-of-all-time.html">fastest-selling paperback of all time in Britain</a> and went on to sell more than 125m copies around the world.</p> <p>But was it any good? <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jun/28/what-el-james-grey-success-tells-us-about-future-of-fiction">Critics seemed to think not</a>, but just as publishers will tell you a good review does not necessarily sell books, nor, it seems, does a whole series of bad reviews harm sales of a book once momentum has been achieved.</p> <p>When I was a child listening to the Top 40 countdown on Radio 1 on a Sunday evening, there was no doubt in my mind that the higher up the charts my favourite singles climbed, the better those particular songs were shown to be. In my ten-year-old mind there was a straightforward correlation between commercial success and artistic quality. A single that reached number ten was pretty good, but one that went straight into the chart at number one and stayed there for four weeks was clearly better.</p> <p>At some point I must have given voice to this theory, because my elder sister once told me that “just because one song is higher up in the charts doesn’t make it better than another song that’s lower down.” While I reeled at this news, she did happily agree that Slade’s <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTEGxVDHpGU"><em>Cum On Feel the Noize</em></a> was nevertheless the best song around at the time.</p> <p><strong>Making good</strong></p> <p>So what does make a book – or a film or a song – good? What gives a work lasting value? There are methods of assessment; you can apply criteria. As a lecturer in creative writing, who marks novels written by MA students, I would say that, wouldn’t I? But as a reader – and as an editor for a small publisher – I obviously have my own, subjective views on what’s good and what’s not so good.</p> <p>The lesson my sister taught me has stayed with me over the years and I’ll admit that these days I’m suspicious of anything that seems to be enjoying too much success. Was Zadie Smith’s award-winning <em>White Teeth</em> really that good? How about David Mitchell’s acclaimed <em>Cloud Atlas</em>? <em>Fifty Shades of Grey</em>? I don’t know, because I haven’t read them. There are lots of interesting-sounding books out there, but why should I feel obliged to read the same ones everyone else is reading? Is the culture really nothing but a huge book club?</p> <p>It’s frustrating for publishers working hard to launch new careers (they’ve long given up trying to sustain flagging ones) when they know that only a tiny number of titles will account for the vast majority of sales.</p> <p>One first-time author of my acquaintance whose debut novel was published in 2015 to a small number of enthusiastic reviews and poor sales feels so disappointed by the whole experience he often talks of jacking it all in. Is the <em>Fifty Shades</em> phenomenon part of that problem? Would I rather that great literature was achieving that level of commercial success? Well, yes, but can we as a society agree on what is great literature? I don’t think we can and I even prefer to think that we shouldn’t, being inherently suspicious of <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-tale-of-squirrelling-away-books-that-sparked-a-nutty-row-over-childrens-literature-35442">the exclusivity of the canon</a>.</p> <p>So, let big houses continue to publish bestsellers. They make money and keep people in jobs and maybe, just maybe, there’s a trickle-down effect. Profits from big books may enable risks to be taken on smaller ones. EL James <a href="http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/el-james-fifty-shades-grey-1m-charity-482496">donated £1m of her royalties to charity</a>.</p> <p>And so what if we end up with mountains of unwanted books? As long as we continue to build new roads (and that’s a whole other subject), we’ll continue to need unwanted books. When the M6 Toll opened in 2003, building materials supplier Tarmac revealed that <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_midlands/3330245.stm">2.5m Mills &amp; Boon novels had been pulped and used in the manufacture of the asphalt</a>.</p> <p>Swansea’s red-faced consumers of James’s “mommy porn” may not have donated 2.5m copies of <em>Fifty Shades</em> to Oxfam, but a quick calculation, studying the <a href="http://metro.co.uk/2016/03/22/charity-shop-begs-women-not-to-return-used-copies-of-fifty-shades-of-grey-5767801/">photograph of the house-like construction that has been tweeted all over the world</a>, suggests it takes about 600 copies of <em>Fifty Shades</em> to make a fort.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/57077/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Nicholas Royle, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, Manchester Metropolitan University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/what-makes-a-book-good-57077" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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3 alternative romantic fiction authors that will heat up any beach trip

<p>There’s no better way to escape the stresses than to put your reading into “romance” gear. For summer relief, try instead the question of the heart versus the mind. That is the core problem of much of my very favourite, intellectually inspiring fiction.</p> <p>Chick lit is out, I’m afraid: an avowed literary snob, I like my dilemmas of desire served up in rich, fulsome English, with slowly unravelled plots and textured characters, not two-dimensional patriarchal fairy tales dished up in elementary school grammatical structures (<em>hides under the table</em>).</p> <p>Current favourites are George Gissing’s <em><a href="https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/odd-women">The Odd Women</a></em> and an assortment of Margaret Drabble, the queen of 1970s British letters, and pretty much anything by Iris Murdoch.</p> <p><strong>George Gissing</strong></p> <p>For the tensions and irrationalities of romantic feeling, <em>The Odd Women</em> (1893) is superlative. What it does so brilliantly is take one of the burning sets of issues of the day – women’s rights, particularly in relation to marriage – and pits its intellectual and ideological propositions against the anarchic, intrusive power of dawning love.</p> <p>Let me lure you further. The book’s main characters are two vehement feminists, the excellently named Rhoda Nunn, and her partner in crime, the angelic yet forceful Mary Barfoot. Together – they live together, too – they seek to save single, or “odd” women from the desolate dregs of the old maids’ job market by training them up as clerks on typewriters.</p> <p>Suddenly, Rhoda finds herself in an odd position. An avowed spinster, determined to practice what she preaches, she is also of “strong and shapely” figure and “handsome” feature. So when Mary’s sexy cousin, Everard, begins visiting the house on return from his relaxed bachelor travels around the Orient, he takes an interest in her. Rhoda’s position is the following: “I am seriously convinced that before the female sex can be raised from its low level there will have to be a widespread revolt against sexual instinct.”</p> <p>Catnip for Everard who – as stubborn as Rhoda – begins a woo that is hard to resist, seeming to fall not only for Rhoda but for women’s equality, too. The delicious yet unexpected conclusion to this story is head and shoulders above your usual romance fare, the work of a master stylist who never abandons humour, even as he makes you cry.</p> <p><strong>Margaret Drabble</strong></p> <p>Drabble, 80 years later, gives a softer but equally crystalline gender-aware portrait of relationships. In <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/books/97/10/19/home/drabble-oates.html"><em>The Needle’s Eye</em></a> (1972), reserved Simon Camish goes to a dreadful supper party and is offended by the guests’ vulgarity. But then rough-skinned, makeup-free, and self-dispossessed heiress Rose walks in, and with her genteel delicacy of manner and genuine modesty, immediately entrances Simon, himself married to a minor heiress he can’t stand.</p> <p>Simon gets involved in Rose’s divorce saga; desperate to play the legal knight in shining armour (he is a lawyer) to Rose’s sensitive yet deeply stubborn damsel in distress. Both reveal astonishing integrity of character as Rose is buffeted with extreme violence for rejecting social expectations by insisting on being poor.</p> <p>But if you’re feeling anxious, I recommend <em><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/may/15/the-millstone-the-crucial-1960s-feminist-novel">The Millstone</a></em>, Drabble’s 1965 peach about an adorable unmarried scholar of Elizabethan verse who gets pregnant the first time she has sex, and never tells the father, who she worships from afar. It’s both soothing and sad. The father is a BBC radio announcer, and she merely switches on the radio when she wants to feel reassured by him, which is a lovely bit of romance. It is a very slim book, but it’s perfectly formed: a story of an intelligent, liberated woman leaving the man out while falling in love with the baby everyone told her not to have on any account.</p> <p>Happy ending? Unclear. Like real life, in which convention, rationality and deep emotional drives do not always mesh? Definitely, but sweeter.</p> <p><strong>Iris Murdoch</strong></p> <p>Iris isn’t for everyone. But I have loved her ever since a friend handed me <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/books/98/12/20/specials/murdoch-prince.html"><em>The Black Prince</em></a> (1973) on a rainy holiday in Sicily. Cowering on a deserted beach, I found myself intrigued and amused as ageing author Bradley becomes increasingly caught in a cat’s cradle of deadly desire, starring a striking assortment of women with men’s names such as Christian and Julian.</p> <p>Booker Prize-winning <em><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2009/feb/10/iris-murdoch-sea-booker">The Sea, the Sea</a> </em>(1978) also completely bewitched me: once more, a story of explosive obsession ripping through the reserve of an otherwise orderly, if arrogant, English life of letters.</p> <p>And currently I’m savouring <em><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/books/98/12/20/specials/murdoch-sandcastle.html">The Sandcastle</a> </em>(1957), about a middle-aged Surrey schoolmaster, Bill Mor, who falls ill-advisedly in love with the deliciously named Rain Carter, a nymph-like portrait painter hired to capture the retired headmaster. The parched school grounds, the doe-like yet strong Rain, the prudish ferocity of Mrs Mor and their children’s spectral games cast a magic spell, just as Murdoch – I assume – intended.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/61549/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Zoe Strimpel, Doctoral researcher, History, University of Sussex</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/three-alternative-romantic-fiction-authors-that-will-heat-up-any-beach-trip-61549" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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“Extraordinary permission”: Queen Elizabeth allows close friend to write tell-all book

<p>The Queen’s personal dresser and confidant Angela Kelly has been given “extraordinary permission” from the Queen herself to write a tell-all book that details their working relationship.</p> <p>Kelly has been employed by Her Majesty since 1994 and is the first member of the royal household to be given permission to write about their experiences on the job, according to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://honey.nine.com.au/royals/queen-elizabeth-dresser-angela-kelly-given-permission-to-write-book/72ecda56-bfa1-42e1-9e7d-44737ca321e8" target="_blank">Nine Honey</a></em>.</p> <p>The monarch has "personally given Angela her blessing to share their unparalleled bond with the world", says a spokesperson for the publisher, HarperCollins.</p> <p>Kelly, 51, started at the palace as the Queen’s senior dresser before rising to Her Majesty’s Personal Advisor and Curator, which includes jewellery, insignias and wardrobe as well as in-house designer.</p> <p>She is the first person in history to hold such a job title and shares a uniquely close working relationship with the Queen.</p> <p><em>The Other Side of the Coin</em> will include never-before-seen photographs from Kelly's private collection as well as anecdotes of their time spent together.</p> <p>"Angela Kelly is the first serving member of the Royal Household to have been given this extraordinary permission," the publisher says.</p> <p>Kelly likened her relationship with the Queen as “two typical women” who “discuss clothes, make-up and jewellery” in a 2007 interview with<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1571986/The-Queen-and-I-by-Her-Majestys-PA.html" target="_blank">The Telegraph</a></em>.</p> <p>"I don't know why the Queen seems fond of me - because I don't give her an easy time," Kelly said. "I do think she values my opinion, but she is the one who is in control. I do worry about her and care about her. But we also have a lot of fun together."</p> <p>Australian palace aid Samantha Cohen, assistant Private Secretary to the Queen between 2011-2018, says the book "gives a rare glimpse into the demands of the job of supporting the Monarch, and we gain privileged insight into a successful working relationship, characterised by humour, creativity, hard work, and a mutual commitment to service and duty".</p> <p>"Angela is a talented and inspiring woman, who has captured the highlights of her long career with The Queen for us all to share."</p>

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5 books on work by French authors that you should read

<p>An emerging genre of fiction in France is providing an unlikely brand of escapism. Growing numbers of French writers are choosing work as their subject matter – and it seems that readers can’t get enough of their novels.</p> <p>The prix du roman d'entreprise et du travail, the French prize for the <a href="https://www.prixduromandentreprise.fr/">best business or work-related novel</a>, is testament to the sustained popularity of workplace fiction across the Channel. The prize has been awarded annually since 2009, and this year’s winner will be announced at the Ministry of Employment in Paris on March 14.</p> <p><a href="https://www.placedelamediation.com/">Place de la Médiation</a>, the body which set up the prize, is a training organisation specialising in mediation, the prevention of psychosocial risks, and quality of life at work. Co-organiser <a href="https://www.technologia.fr/">Technologia</a> is a work-related risk prevention consultancy, which helps companies to evaluate health, safety and organisational issues.</p> <p>The novels shortlisted for the prize in the past ten years reflect a broad range of jobs and sectors and a whole gamut of experiences. The texts clearly strike a chord with French readers, but English translations of these novels suggest many of the themes broached resonate in Anglo-Saxon culture too.</p> <p>The prize certainly seeks to acknowledge a pre-existing literary interest in the theme of work. This is unsurprising in the wake of the global financial crisis and the changes and challenges this has brought. But the organisers also express <a href="https://www.prixduromandentreprise.fr/">a desire to actively mobilise fiction</a> in a bid to help chart the often choppy waters of the modern workplace:</p> <blockquote> <p>Through the power of fiction, [we] want to put the human back at the heart of business, to show the possibilities of a good quality professional life, and to relaunch social dialogue by bringing together in the [prize] jury all the social actors and specialists of the business world.</p> </blockquote> <p>What better way to delve into this unusual genre than by reading some of the previous prize winners. Below are five books to get you started.</p> <p><strong>1. <em>Underground Time</em></strong></p> <p>The first prize was awarded to Delphine de Vignan for <a href="https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/underground-time-9781408811115/"><em>Les heures souterraines</em></a>. In this novel, the paths of a bullied marketing executive and a beleaguered on-call doctor converge and intersect as they traverse Paris over the course of a working day. A television adaptation followed, and an English translation was published by Bloomsbury in 2011. Work-related journeys and the underground as a symbol for the hidden or unseen side of working life have proved enduring themes, picked up by several subsequent winners.</p> <p><strong>2. <em>The Man Who Risked It All</em></strong></p> <p>Laurent Gounelle’s <a href="https://www.hayhouse.co.uk/catalog/product/view/id/21204/s/the-man-who-risked-it-all-1/"><em>Dieu voyage toujours incognito</em></a>, winner of the 2011 prize, takes us from the depths of the underground to the top of the Eiffel Tour, where Alan Greenmor’s suicide attempt is interrupted by a mysterious stranger. Yves promises to teach him the secrets to happiness and success if Alan agrees to do whatever he asks. This intriguing premise caught the attention of self-help, inspirational and transformational book publisher Hay House, whose translation appeared in 2014.</p> <p><strong>3. <em>The Reader on the 6.27</em></strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/jean-paul-didierlaurent/the-reader-on-the-6-27/9781509836857"><em>Le liseur du 6h27</em></a> by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent, the 2015 winner, tells the story of a reluctant book-pulping machine operative. Each day, Ghislain Vignolles rescues a few random pages from destruction, to read aloud to his fellow-commuters in the morning train. The novel crystallises the fraught relationship between intellectual life and manual work.</p> <p>It also illustrates the tension between culture and commerce, arguably at its most pronounced in France, where cultural policy has traditionally insisted on the distinction between cultural artefacts and commercial products. <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-reader-on-the-627-by-jean-paul-didierlaurent-book-review-set-to-woo-british-readers-and-become-a-10300236.html">The Independent review of the English translation</a> describes the book as “a delightful tale about the kinship of reading”.</p> <p><strong>4. <em>Undersea View</em></strong></p> <p>Slimane Kader took to the belly of a Caribbean cruise ship to research <a href="https://www.allary-editions.fr/publication/avec-vue-sous-la-mer/"><em>Avec vue sous la mer</em></a>, which claimed the 2016 prize. His hilarious account of life as “joker”, or general dogsbody, is characterised by an amusing mishmash of cultural references: “I’m dreaming of <em>The Love Boat</em>, but getting a remake of <em>Les Misérables</em>” the narrator quips. The use of “<a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/1892853.stm">verlan</a>” – a suburban dialect in which syllables are reversed to create new words – underlines the topsy-turvy feel.</p> <p>Unfortunately, there’s no English version as yet – I imagine the quickfire language play would challenge even the most adept of translators. But translation would help confirm the compelling literary voice Kader has given to an otherwise invisible group.</p> <p><strong>5. <em>Woman at Sea</em></strong></p> <p>Catherine Poulain’s <em><a href="https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/111/1112907/woman-at-sea/9781911214588.html">Le grand marin</a></em>, the 2017 winner, is a rather more earnest account of work at sea. The author draws on her own experiences to recount narrator Lili’s travails in the male-dominated world of Alaskan fishing.</p> <p><em>Le grand marin</em> (the great sailor) is ostensibly the nickname Lili gives to her seafaring lover. The relationship is something of a red herring though, as the overriding passion in this novel is work. But the English title perhaps does Lili a disservice – she is less a floundering Woman at Sea, and more the true <em>grand marin</em> of the original.</p> <p><a href="https://www.placedelamediation.com/prix/?service=la-selection-2017">This year’s shortlist</a> includes the story of a forgotten employee left to his own devices when his company is restructured, a professional fall from grace in the wake of the Bataclan terrorist attack, and a second novel from Poulain, with seasonal work in Provence the backdrop this time.</p> <p>The common draw, as in previous years –- and somewhat ironically, given the subject matter –- is escapism. We are afforded either a tantalising glimpse into the working lives of others, or else a fresh perspective on our own. English readers will be equally fascinated by French details and universal themes – and translators’ pens are sure to be poised.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/112115/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Amy Wigelsworth, Senior Lecturer in French, Sheffield Hallam University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/five-books-on-work-by-french-authors-that-you-should-read-on-your-commute-112115" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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Why do I still write shorthand?

<p>I am frequently asked this question. Often it is prefixed by the statements “I thought shorthand was dead” or “It’s no longer used in business”, and it is usually said with some surprise that I may be unaware of this opinion! I am then quizzed as to my interest in shorthand – a question which I could answer in a number of ways.</p> <p>I <em>could</em> answer by explaining a brief history and the uses of shorthand. Although shorthand dates back to Roman times, it was Sir Isaac Pitman who revolutionized shorthand with the innovation of the phonographic method. Shorthand was developed for the purpose of recording words more quickly than using longhand, whether it was a person’s own thoughts or what others were saying. Pitman shorthand was originally taught to and used by men with positions of status – judges, barristers and businessmen so they could record the proceedings for their own benefit, even if not in complete verbatim form. Others, like Charles Dickens and US President Woodrow Wilson used Pitman shorthand to record their thoughts or works and prepare speeches.</p> <p>Later on, particularly in the early 1900s when many women learned shorthand, they gained employment in offices. Men still studied the skill, especially for court reporting and journalism. As the 20<sup>th</sup> century wore on stenography became known more as a female occupation, being taught in girls’ schools and with girls making up the majority of business college students. (as a stenographer I always wondered how shorthand could in any way be gender-specific!)</p> <p>Once the skill is learned thoroughly, it tends to be retained. I have read countless comments from shorthand writers who say they use it to jot down a thought, a Christmas list, or parts of an interview on TV. My use resembles that of Dickens and Wilson – in meetings I write accurate notes of important aspects and perhaps the discussions leading to decisions. I have a sense of privacy when others cannot read what I’m writing. I’m sure President Wilson felt the same.</p> <p>I <em>could</em> answer by explaining the brain benefits as to why I find shorthand so important. Writing shorthand stimulates the brain in several ways to assist neuroplasticity of the brain, which assists prevention of memory loss. Both the short-term and long-term memories are exercised as we make decisions as to the theory to apply, we store words heard, then we precisely write the outline. As well as memory we are using concentration, decision-making, motor skills and dexterity. This brain health concept lead to a German study conducted over several years on shorthand writers who regularly wrote shorthand. Results showed their memories either improved or suffered no deterioration with the regular writing of shorthand.</p> <p>Needless to say, these achieved benefits to the brain are not only applied to the writing of shorthand – the benefits of sharper thinking spreads across all their other activities. One woman in the study said she felt as if her brain ‘had been freed up’ by participating in the shorthand activities.</p> <p> I <em>could</em> answer the question by asking a range of other questions to justify other popular pastimes – Why do people ride bikes when they have a car? Why do people learn to paint when they could take a photo on their phone? Why do people learn a language when they could use Google translate or are not intending to spend a lengthy period of time in that country? Why learn music when they could just download that piece? – these questions could be applied to so many worthwhile, beneficial leisure activities in which we partake.</p> <p>The answer is that these activities are enjoyable and we do them because we love doing them. We need to stop thinking that shorthand was devised purely for the office situation and to be written by women. In Japan university students form shorthand clubs, whilst in Europe a number of stenography clubs have youth sections where they train for competitions. It is challenging and satisfying.</p> <p>I frequently read opinions online that shorthand is now useless and I generally find these opinions are from people who have not studied it, had difficulty learning it or who didn’t have a choice about learning it. I learned it because I wanted to. Parents, often unaware of the complexity of shorthand, pushed their daughters into the subject as a ‘back up’ skill for employment.</p> <p>For each of these comments, the number of positive comments is multiplied by the people who love it and gain great satisfaction from writing it. Of course, shorthand is not for everyone – no one hobby is. The people who come together at U3A in Melbourne to revise their skill are the ones who love this hobby. So do the members our Facebook group of “Pitman Shorthand Writers of Australasia” where we share history, readings, horoscopes in shorthand and a range of activities to exercise our skill. We are not seeking employment; we are seeking enjoyment. </p> <p>Yes, shorthand is very handy. Yes, shorthand has a unique brain benefit. There are other reasons I could give in my answer to the question, but my main answer is this: I write shorthand because I have a love for it, I find it challenging, and it gives me satisfaction – it is my hobby!</p> <p>Simple as that!</p> <p><em>Carmel Taylor has worked as a stenographer and personal assistant prior to teaching business. Her passion is shorthand and her hobbies are art deco, fashion and sewing. She is a member of the Commercial Education Society of Australia.</em></p>

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10 common sayings that sound way funnier in other languages

<p>‘Nice guys finish last’ means something very different in Spain… have a giggle at some of these international sayings. When you think about it, they’re probably giggling at some of ours!</p> <p><strong>Money doesn't grow on trees</strong></p> <p>Instead of ‘Money doesn’t grow on trees’, try:</p> <p>‘The sky doesn’t throw chicks’. (Arabic)</p> <p><strong>Nice guys finish last</strong></p> <p>Instead of ‘Nice guys finish last’, try:</p> <p>‘A cat in gloves catches no mice’. (Spanish)</p> <p><strong>Don’t count your chickens before they hatch</strong></p> <p>Instead of ‘Don’t count your chickens before they hatch’, try:</p> <p>‘Don’t praise the day before evening’. (German)</p> <p><strong>All talk and no action</strong></p> <p>Instead of ‘All talk and no action’, try:</p> <p>‘If he made 100 knives, none would have a handle’. (Farsi)</p> <p><strong>To beat around the bush</strong></p> <p>Instead of ‘To beat around the bush’, try:</p> <p>‘To walk like a cat around hot porridge’. (Finnish)</p> <p><strong>The grass is always greener on the other side</strong></p> <p>Instead of ‘The grass is always greener on the other side’, try:</p> <p>‘Tasty is the fish from someone else’s table’. (Yiddish)</p> <p><strong>A drop in the bucket</strong></p> <p>Instead of ‘A drop in the bucket’, try:</p> <p>‘Nine cows, one hare’. (Chinese)</p> <p><strong>Out of the frying pan, into the fire</strong></p> <p>Instead of ‘Out of the frying pan, into the fire’, try:</p> <p>‘Fallen from the sky, stuck on a date palm’. (Hindi)</p> <p><strong>To cost an arm and a leg</strong></p> <p>Instead of ‘To cost an arm and a leg’, try:</p> <p>‘To cost the eyes in your head’. (French)</p> <p><strong>Nothing ventured, nothing gained</strong></p> <p>Instead of ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained’, try:</p> <p>‘If you don’t enter the tiger’s cave, you won’t catch its cub’. (Japanese)</p> <p><em>Written by The Bathroom Reader's Institute. This article first appeared in </em><span><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/thought-provoking/10-common-sayings-that-sound-way-funnier-in-other-languages"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a rel="noopener" href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V" target="_blank"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></span></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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Affect or effect?: How to use the terms

<p><span>It is one of the most popular conundrums in the English language. Choosing between the word “affect” and “effect” can indeed be confusing – they are both verbs and nouns, and their meanings overlap.</span></p> <p><span>To help quash any doubt, there is a simple trick. In most contexts, the acronym RAVEN – Remember Affect Verb, Effect Noun – can be applied.</span></p> <p><span>Affect is more often used as a verb, meaning to influence, produce a change, make a difference in something. For example, bad habits <em>affect </em>your health, an argument <em>affects </em>your relationship, and a nightmare will <em>affect </em>your mood. </span></p> <p><span>Effect is generally used as a noun, meaning a result or a consequence. The group warns of the <em>effects </em>of climate change. Cycling has positive <em>effects</em> on your health. The <em>effect</em> of the policies has been overwhelming.</span></p> <p><span>The word can also be used as part of phrasal verbs, such as take <em>effect</em> (rather than <em>affect</em>) and in <em>effect</em>. For example, the new rule may take effect soon and once it does, it is in effect.</span></p> <p><span>Keep in mind that some exceptions apply – affect can be used as a noun, and effect can be used as a verb. In the noun context, affect means a feeling or an emotion: “My friend has a sad affect”. Effect as a verb could be defined as to bring about or cause something to happen: “The government is unable to effect any change”, or “The tax cut is hoped to effect economic growth”.</span></p> <p><span>These cases are less common, but it is good to understand how the two words can be used in different ways.</span></p>

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In praise of the printed book: The value of concentration in the digital age

<p>There is an old saying that anxiety is the enemy of concentration.</p> <p>One of the best pieces of sports journalism I ever read was by <a href="http://spectator.org/archives/2007/02/22/the-man-who-wasnt-there">Gene Tunney</a>, world heavyweight champion of the 1920s, writing about how reading books helped him stay calm and focused in the lead-up to his most famous fight against former champion Jack Dempsey. While members of Dempsey’s camp ridiculed Tunney for his bookishness, Tunney kept calm, and went on to win.</p> <p>Most of us would feel stressed at the prospect of stepping into the boxing ring, but stress-related illnesses, especially depression and forms of anxiety and attention disorder, are becoming increasingly prevalent, especially in wealthy societies. According to a major <a href="http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;ved=0CCIQFjAA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.plosmedicine.org%2Farticle%2FfetchSingleRepresentation.action%3Furi%3Dinfo%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.0030442.sd004&amp;ei=_3mgULrKOoWRigeI6IDoCw&amp;usg=AFQjCNFMmbioHNEqLYDf0H8jduBX-qV_hw">2006 projection of global mortality by Mathers and Loncar</a>, by 2030, unipolar depression will be almost 40% more likely to cause death or disability than heart disease in wealthy societies.</p> <p>Stress can of course have many causes, but in the most general sense, it spreads from factors that impact negatively on focus and concentration. We fear interruption or a surplus of tasks, responsibilities or options to choose, leading to heightened stress levels.</p> <p>The digital age is an age of distraction; and distraction causes stress and weakens concentration. Concentration, as the philosopher <a href="http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/james/">William James</a> argued in his classic 1890 work <a href="http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/James/Principles/"><em>Principles of Psychology</em></a>, is the most fundamental element of intellectual development. He wrote:</p> <blockquote> <p>The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention over and over again, is the very root of judgement, character, and will … An education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence.</p> </blockquote> <p>Concentration is equally important emotionally, as is being increasingly revealed by new research into <a href="http://www.lib.monash.edu.au/collections/monash-authors/2008/9781741667042.html">“mindfulness” and meditation</a>. The inability to focus is associated with depression and anxiety and, amongst other things, an underdeveloped sociability and human empathy. Tests have revealed that people report greater happiness from being effectively focused on what they are doing than from daydreaming on even pleasant topics.</p> <p>How many memoirs include stories of the author surreptitiously reading books by torchlight underneath the blankets, with parents fearful of the child reading too much? (In my case I was reading The Hardy Boys so my mother’s objections were probably justified.)</p> <p>As <a href="http://www.jamescarroll.net/JAMESCARROLL.NET/Welcome.html">James Carroll</a> has argued, at its core, reading is <a href="http://www.commondreams.org/views01/0130-02.htm">“the occasion of the encounter with the self”</a>. In other words, the ultimate object of reading is not to take on information but to absorb and reflect upon it and, in the process, hopefully, form a more developed version of one’s own identity or being.</p> <p>It seems likely that the concentration required and encouraged by books is extremely valuable. Reading books is good for you. And this seems especially so in the case of print books, where a reader is most completely free from distraction.</p> <p>Ebooks, and more pertinently perhaps, the digital reading environment, are unquestionably transformative in the opportunities and experiences they offer to readers. Great oceans of knowledge otherwise only obtainable through tracking down print books or physical archives and records, have become available and, much more easily searchable. <a href="http://websearch.about.com/od/h/g/hyperlink.htm">Hyperlinks</a> mean readers no longer have to read in a straight line, as it were, but can follow innumerable paths of interest.</p> <p><a href="http://www.unimelb.edu.au/copyright/information/guides/wikisblogsweb2blue.pdf">Web2 technologies</a> enable “talking back” to publishers and media, the formation of groups of readers with common interests, easy (sometimes too easy) sharing of files and other information. Stories can be enriched by animated graphics and interactivity. And so on.</p> <p>No-one in their right mind would imagine that the e-reading environment can or should somehow be wound back.</p> <p>Nonetheless, by their nature e-reading devices facilitate and encourage the constant, inevitably distracting consideration of other reading options, more or less instantly attainable. This is probably their main selling point. <a href="http://ase.tufts.edu/epcd/faculty/wolf.asp">Maryanne Wolf</a> has even asked:</p> <blockquote> <p>“if the assumption that ‘more’ and ‘faster’ are necessarily better (will) have consequences that radically affect the quality of attention that can transform a word into a thought and a thought into a world of unimagined possibility?”</p> </blockquote> <p>It is interesting to consider, in light of this possibility that the greatest benefit of reading may come from its capacity to assist in the development of focus and concentration, that the print book may not actually have been superseded or, indeed, be supersede-able.</p> <p>This, I think, is what the novelist, critic, philosopher and communications historian <a href="http://www.umbertoeco.com/en/">Umberto Eco</a> means when he argues: “The book is like the spoon, scissors, the hammer, the wheel. Once invented, it cannot be improved.”<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/9855/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Nathan Hollier, Director, Monash University Publishing, Monash University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/in-praise-of-the-printed-book-the-value-of-concentration-in-the-digital-age-9855"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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“Man-eater:” The man who almost ruined Princess Diana’s reputation

<p>Our beloved Princess Diana had a life that was far from perfect. Afterall, if you were to strip back her beaming smile, elegant clothing and gleaming facade of happiness, the royal was dealing with a crumbling marriage, a world of criticism on her shoulders from the media and the world, and an uncertain future in Britain’s most famous family. </p> <p>However, there were reports that there was one thing – other than her beautiful boys, Prince William and Prince Harry – who brought her comfort and joy, and this was art dealer Oliver Hoare. </p> <p>The dashing, married tycoon was a close pal to both Prince Charles and his wife at the time, Princess Diana, in the early '90s – years before a royal divorce would be announced and fill the tabloids around the world. </p> <p><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7829235/di-1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/750a7c3b900148f99c99fbfc364e46fc" /></p> <p><em>Prince Charles and Princess Diana with Oliver Hoare and his wife Diane behind at Royal Ascot horserace meeting, June 1986. </em></p> <p>Formal protection officer Ken Wharfe wrote in his book, <em>Diana: Closely Guarded Secret</em>, that the princess was “instantly” attracted to Oliver. </p> <p>“Diana later confessed to me that she had felt a little shy when, at Windsor [in 1992], she shook his hand for the first time, and had blushed as she flirted with him,” Wharfe wrote.</p> <p>“That conversation ended abruptly when Charles and the Queen Mother joined them.”</p> <p>Despite the 16-year age difference, Princess Di was said to have become “obsessed” with the married father-of-three. </p> <p>“She needed him at every conceivable moment,” Wharfe wrote.</p> <p>“She confided to me that he was the first man who had ever aroused her physically. That admission did much to explain the humiliating events that followed.”</p> <p>The pair were linked between 1990-1994 and the relationship, according to Chris Dicker in the 2018 book, <em>Princess Diana Biography: The Astonishing Life of the Princess of Wales</em>, was “damaging to Diana’s reputation.”</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7829236/di.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/44ed7c2d26c8480695dd34819196ceac" /></p> <p>"Diana's reputation as a man-eater was derived from her affair with Oliver Hoare. He was a married man and this was damaging to Diana's reputation.</p> <p>"She was convinced he was going to marry her. The press was very aggressive about getting pictures of them.</p> <p>"Hoare started sneaking into Kensington Palace with his head under a blanket. It was degrading to her.</p> <p>"Their affair was all over the tabloids. James Hewitt and Oliver Hoare were such rollercoaster romances for her."</p> <p>Princess Di said in the groundbreaking 1995 <em>Panorama</em> interview, she did indeed call Hoare over a period of six to nine months, however “certainly not in an obsessive manner.”</p> <p>Reports also said the royal was convinced they were going to be married and “daydreamed of living in Italy with the handsome Hoare.”</p> <p>Their relationship came to an end when Hoare’s wife complained about hundreds of nuisance phone calls. </p> <p>An investigation revealed the calls could be traced to the royal’s home in Kensington Palace, her mobile phone, Notting Hill and the home of Diana's older sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale. </p> <p>Wharfe explained he was forced to tell Scotland Yard who was making the numerous phone calls. </p> <p>"I was asked to speak to a senior officer of mine who said to me, 'Somebody is using the princess’s telephone to make phone calls to Oliver Hoare’s household and even spoken to his wife.'</p> <p>"At that point I said to him, 'The Princess of Wales is having a relationship with this man and that she is making telephone calls'."</p> <p>While this relationship is widely believed and a number of close companions of the late Princess Di confirm a number of details, the world will never be able to know with absolute certainty. </p> <p>To the day he died, in August 23, 2018, Oliver Hoare refused to speak about the alleged affair he had with the most famous woman in the world.</p>

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Lisa Marie Presley set to write “shocking” tell-all book about Michael Jackson and Elvis

<p>Lisa Marie Presley is close to signing a blockbuster book deal which is said to reveal “shocking” details about her ex Michael Jackson while also providing a new perspective on her father, Elvis Presley.</p> <p>Reported by the<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://pagesix.com/" target="_blank"><em>New York Post’s Page Six</em></a>, Lisa Marie’s book is allegedly such an explosive piece of work that Gallery Books purchased it for between $4.3 million and $5.8 million.</p> <p>An insider told<span> </span><em>Page Six</em><span> </span>that the book “promises shocking revelations about Michael Jackson and a completely new understanding of Elvis.”</p> <p>The 51-year-old was married to the entertainer from 1994 to 1996.</p> <p><img style="width: 333.99906015037595px; height: 500px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7829147/elvis.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/1ed7c226b3c1412895b43f4d678bd21d" /></p> <p>They wed in secrecy as their ceremony was kept private before unveiling the relationship on MTV and splitting two years later.</p> <p>Lisa sat down with Oprah Winfrey in 2010, providing a cryptic account for why the marriage was destined to fail: “There was a very profound point in the marriage when he had to make a decision. Was it the drugs and the sort of vampires, or me? And he pushed me away.” She then clarified that by “vampires” she meant “sycophants”.</p> <p>She also said, “The one thing that correlates with Michael and with my father on this subject is that they have the luxury of creating whatever reality around them they wanted to create.”</p> <p>However, despite their relationship ultimately not working out, Lisa believes that claims about Jackson’s inappropriate actions towards children are false, telling Diane Sawyer in 1995, “I know that he’s not like that.”</p>

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