The end is silence

h/t Grant Snider

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The America I Love Still Exists

“And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.

So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.” 

― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

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Sometimes in Winter

Gabriele Münter (Berlin, 1877 – 1962) was a German expressionist painter who was at the forefront of the Munich avant-garde in the early 20th century. She studied and lived with the painter Wassily Kandinsky and was a founding member of the expressionist group Der Blaue Reiter. Way back during the last decade I was fortunate to see a marvelous retrospective of her work at the now defunct private museum Pinacothèque de Paris. Her winter paintings capture that certain mood of Europe at this time of the year for me.


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What You Need To Keep Warm

Neil Gaiman has composed his newest written work: a freeform poem to launch UNHCR’s Winter Emergency Appeal for refugees across the Middle East.

What You Need to be Warm by Neil Gaiman

A baked potato of a winter’s night to wrap your hands around or burn your mouth.
A blanket knitted by your mother’s cunning fingers. Or your grandmother’s.
A smile, a touch, trust, as you walk in from the snow
or return to it, the tips of your ears pricked pink and frozen.

The tink tink tink of iron radiators waking in an old house.
To surface from dreams in a bed, burrowed beneath blankets and comforters,
the change of state from cold to warm is all that matters, and you think
just one more minute snuggled here before you face the chill. Just one.

Places we slept as children: they warm us in the memory.
We travel to an inside from the outside. To the orange flames of the fireplace
or the wood burning in the stove. Breath-ice on the inside of windows,
to be scratched off with a fingernail, melted with a whole hand.

Frost on the ground that stays in the shadows, waiting for us.
Wear a scarf. Wear a coat. Wear a sweater. Wear socks. Wear thick gloves.
An infant as she sleeps between us. A tumble of dogs,
a kindle of cats and kittens. Come inside. You’re safe now.

A kettle boiling at the stove. Your family or friends are there. They smile.
Cocoa or chocolate, tea or coffee, soup or toddy, what you know you need.
A heat exchange, they give it to you, you take the mug
and start to thaw. While outside, for some of us, the journey began

as we walked away from our grandparents’ houses
away from the places we knew as children: changes of state and state and state,
to stumble across a stony desert, or to brave the deep waters,
while food and friends, home, a bed, even a blanket become just memories.

Sometimes it only takes a stranger, in a dark place,
to hold out a badly knitted scarf, to offer a kind word, to say
we have the right to be here, to make us warm in the coldest season.

You have the right to be here.

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It’s Quicker By Rail

Between 1920 and 1950, the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) was the second largest rail company in Britain. The railway commissioned a wonderful series of posters to advertise its passenger services and to encourage travel to vacation destinations around the nation. The graphic artwork, which was heavily influenced by posters for the London Underground, offered some of the most impressive posters to come out of the genre.



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Better News From Iran

Before the U.S. media begins flooding the airwaves with propaganda about the Iranian “enemy”, I thought it would be a good time to share this story. Mahdieh Ahmadi is a 23 year-old woman from the city of Arak in the province of Markazi. Last year she decided to convert an old mini-bus into a mobile bookstore. She hoped to encourage reading and literacy for women and children in the city by making books more accessible.

Ahmadi has been involved with books since early childhood. Her grandfather opened the first permanent bookstore in Arak. Currently, her father, sisters and brother run book shops in Arak, too.

Her bookmobile is located at a stationary place at the moment. She has to wait until she qualifies for a license to drive a large commercial vehicle.

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Writing Styles


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Science Fiction Day

Even if you are one of those readers who claim that they don’t like science fiction, it’s more than likely that there are some works in the genre that you have appreciated and enjoyed. When it comes to science fiction there are some many diverse areas in literature, film, and art that even the naysayers probably have some favorites. Whether it’s a classic such as Frankenstein or a campy TV series like Doctor Who, nearly everyone can find some sci-fi to love.

To celebrate National Science Fiction Day the folks at Global English Editing created the infographic below featuring 16 of the “best” science fiction books of all time. Like me, you probably have some quibbles with the list. It’s certainly heavily weighted to favor English language literature and male authors, but the titles all deserve to be on someone’s “best of” list. What books would you add, or delete?


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Happy Public Domain Day

On January 1, 2020, works from 1924 will enter the US public domain, where they will be free for all to use and build upon, without permission or fee. These works include George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, silent films by Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, and books such as Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India, and A. A. Milne’s When We Were Very Young. These works were supposed to go into the public domain in 2000, after being copyrighted for 75 years. But before this could happen, Congress hit a 20-year pause button and extended their copyright term to 95 years.2

Now the wait is over. How will people celebrate this trove of cultural material? The Internet Archive will add books, movies, music, and more to its online library. HathiTrust will make tens of thousands of titles from 1924 available in its digital library. Google Books will offer the full text of books from that year, instead of showing only snippet views or authorized previews. Community theaters can screen the films. Youth orchestras can afford to publicly perform the music. Educators and historians can share the full cultural record. Creators can legally build on the past—reimagining the books, making them into films, adapting the songs.

Here are some of the works that will be entering the public domain in 2020. (To find more material from 1924, you can visit the Catalogue of Copyright Entries.)

h/t to Duke University Law School

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the days slip by

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ezra Pound, Venice  1971

And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
                Not shaking the grass.

Ezra Pound, “And The days Are Not Full Enough”

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