Monday, January 22, 2007

Book Review : Wordgloss : A Cultural Lexicon

The following is our book review of Jim O'Donnell's book, Wordgloss : A Cultural Lexicon , which we have reviewed at

"Was this the wish of the Demiurge? Boston to Washington DC is a conurbation! Cui bono?! Do we live in a lexical dystopia awaiting a thaumaturgic gloss revival? Who today knows that "pleonasms are tautologous and should be avoided"? Errata need not be repetitive - a verisimilitude!

Do you need this book? Do you know the words?

Author Jim O'Donnell (book Foreword by John Banville) writes in his preface that "the extraordinary expansion of modern knowledge and its fission into micro-specialties" has created "a niagara of words and concepts flowing from a wide range of disciplines that we have never explored."

The everyday result is that our increasingly sophisticated modern world of communications is confronted by the Hydra-headed cultural stumbling block of a classics-based "verbal universe" manifesting an erstwhile lexical heritage to which most readers no longer have any personal or educational connection.

Wordgloss is not a quintessential corrective panacea for this problem, but O'Donnell writes that "Wordgloss is full of the words and concepts you always meant to look up. It tells you where they came from and how they acquired the meaning or meanings they now have."

The book is written "associatively", which is "pedagogically" more effective than the "linear" scientific style of dictionaries.

Definitely a fun and educating vade-mecum read.

Fons et origo!

Science a Go Go : Evolution, Astronomy, Cosmology

Science a Go Go ( has a zippy website from down under devoted to "the latest science news, research tidbits and science discussion".

What caught my attention were their science book reviews. See:
Science a Go Go Book Reviews 2005
Science a Go Go Book Reviews 2006
for a good overview of what is going on in science,
through the medium of books.

Online book reviews, still fairly rare outside of e.g. Amazon,
or involving the payment of online fees for viewing, as at Antiquity magazine,
will surely play an increasingly greater role in science and literature,
and we were gratified to see Science a Go Go review our book Stars Stones and Scholars
on the same page as their review of Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory
by legal expert and Pulitzer Prize winning author Edward J. Larson (2006).

Tim Radford in an interview with Larson in the Guardian titled A Life in Writing: A Voyage to the Origin of Species, writes:

"Larson won the Pulitzer Prize for his Summer for the Gods, a book on the Scopes trial, in which American anti-evolutionists challenged science in the 1920s. He followed with Trial and Error, once again about the creation-evolution controversy. Right now, he is contemplating one book on the coming of telegraphy, another on Antarctica. Evolution's Workshop grew out of a preoccupation with the history of ideas, rather than of kings and presidents. In the course of looking at the progress of the great Darwinian idea, it seemed to him that the Galapagos were the Clapham Junction of biology: all sorts of people passed through.

"I believed that ideas in general are the most powerful thing in the world. An idea was more powerful than an army. In the western world it seemed to me that science was the criterion for truth," [Larson] says. "Darwin wrote his Origin of Species in 1859. At that time Queen Victoria was on the throne in England and James Buchanan was president of the United States. Now who has a greater impact on us today? How we think, how we live, who we are?" "

We agree.

Friday, January 12, 2007

New 13-Character ISBN Numbers required as of January 1, 2007

Are You Ready for ISBN-13?
and the fact that:
"Beginning January 1, 2007, all books will be published with ISBN-13s."

Click this link to go the ISBN-13 Online Converter.

Not everyone needs this, but every reader of books should know about it, and most authors and readers out there probably are not yet aware of what is going on, so we alert to it here.

The reason for this posting is that a monumental change which affects the entire world of books on our planet started January 1, 2007 (actually, the sunrise period began in 2005). It is a change in ISBN numbers. ISBN numbers are the unique numbers given to books by publishers and used to order books wherever you order them as a user. The reason for this change was that ISBN was running out of numbers.

Take a look at the following numbers for our book Stars, Stones and Scholars where the ISBN-10 numbers (the ISBN-10's) have been converted by our publisher to ISBN-13 numbers (the ISBN-13's). These will be called ISBN-10s and ISBN-13s.

Stars Stones Scholars (softcover)
# ISBN-10: 1412013445
# ISBN-13: 978-1412013444

Stars Stones Scholars (hardcover)
# ISBN-10: 1412201357
# ISBN-13: 978-1412201353

ISBN-10 Numbers

Prior to January 1, 2007, ISBN numbers had 10 characters.
Those are the ISBN-10 numbers.

ISBN-13 Numbers

Beginning on January 1, 2007, ISBN numbers are 13 characters.
Those are the ISBN-13 numbers.

"Beginning January 1, 2007, all books will be published with ISBN-13s."

Important Links

Below are important links from ISBN for authors, retailers, publishers and everyone interested in books and the book trade:

"Are You Ready for ISBN-13?
  • An overview for publishers with the critical do's and don't and the recommended implementation timeline. Why is this transition taking place and how does it impact your copyright page, your book covers and your bar codes? Find out now.

Pubnet EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) 13-Digit Conversion News
  • If you receive EDI orders via Pubnet, be sure to learn more about changes needed to support EDI transactions.

BISG Resources on ISBN-13
  • The Book Industry Study Group, Inc. (BISG) ISBN-13 Task Force maintains this site as a source of authoritative information and recommended implementation guidelines for ISBN-13.

ISBN-13 Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
  • Brochure from Bowker, the US ISBN Agency

Guidelines for the Implementation of 13-Digit ISBNs (PDF)

A BISAC Briefing on How to Manage the Transition (PDF)
  • Information from BISG on operations planning.
The readability score for this posting:
Gunning-Fog Index: 20
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 12
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 41

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