Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Month: June, 2012

551: Defining the Wind by Scott Huler

551.518: Huler, Scott. Defining the Wind: The Beaufort Scale and How a 19th-Century Admiral Turned Science into Poetry. New York: Crown Publishers, 2004. 250 pp. ISBN 1-4000-4884-2.

Dewey Construction:

  • 500: Natural sciences and mathematics
  • 550: Earth sciences
  • 551: Geology, hydrology, meteorology
  • 551.5: Meteorology
  • 551.51: Composition, regions, dynamics of atmosphere
  • 551.518: Wind

In 1983, Scott Huler was working as a copy editor and happened upon a bit of poetry in the Merriam-Webster Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. It was a scale for measuring the force of wind, with numbered level from 0 to 12. Each level has a name for the type of wind, a rough speed measurement, and then a description that infuses science with poetry at a level that is almost awe-inspiring.

It was the Beaufort Wind Scale.

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629: How to Build an Android by David Dufty

629.892: Dufty, David F. How to Build an Android: The True Story of Philip K. Dick’s Robotic Resurrection. New York: Henry Holt, 2012. 259 pp. ISBN 978-0-8050-9551-7.

Dewey Construction:

  • 600: Technology (Applied Sciences)
  • 620: Engineering and allied operations
  • 629: Other branches of engineering
  • 629.8: Automatic control engineering
  • 629.89: Computer control
  • 629.892: Robots

Of the many things to worry about losing, the android head of the late science-fiction author Philip K. Dick is perhaps the strangest (although, if you’ve read Ted L. Nancy’s Letters From A Nut, this wouldn’t even make it to the top ten). In 2005, a team of engineers was brought together at the University of Memphis to take the next step in human-robot interaction: to build a fully interactive and fully expressive head that could comprehend speech and synthesize its own responses.

They did. It worked. And then they lost it.

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851: Between the Blast Furnaces and the Dizziness by Milo De Angelis

851.914: De Angelis, Milo. Between the Blast Furnaces and the Dizziness: A Selection of Poems, 1970-1999. Translated by Emanuel Di Pasquale. New York: Chelsea Editions, 2003. 193 pp. ISBN 0-9725271-0-9.

Dewey Construction:

  • 800: Literature
  • 850: Italian Literature
  • 851: Italian Poetry
  • 851.91: 20th Century Italian Poetry
  • 851.914: Italian Poetry, 1945-1999

One of the many constants with poetry is that since poems are supposed to be densely packed morsels of language, they tend to portray very short snippets of time, and each person or object in the snippet is mined for emotional resonance. This makes the emotions in a poem more intense than most prose. And when the words are that intense, the reader is left with an overwhelming sense of almost artificial gravitas after encountering a book-length collection of poems. Milo De Angelis’s Between the Blast Furnaces and the Dizziness is no different.

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131: An Outline of Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud

131: Freud, Sigmund. An Outline of Psychoanalysis. Translated by James Strachey. New York: W.W. Norton, 1949. 124 pp.

Dewey Construction:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 130: Parapsychology and occultism
  • 131: Parapsychological and occult methods for achieving well-being, happiness, success

As promised: today’s second review:

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) is the founding father of psychoanalysis, a line of psychological and therapeutic philosophy that aims to understand the disturbed patient, isolate the troubling memory, and release its hold on the subject. His Outline of Psychoanalysis was published posthumously in 1940 and gives the foundation of the science as well as guidelines for its application with patients. In it, he hits all the major hotspots of Freudian philosophy—the tripartite structure of the psyche, the mechanisms by which you can and should interpret dreams, and sexual and psychical development of human beings.

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413: The Man Who Made Lists by Joshua Kendall

413.092: Kendall, Joshua. The Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness, and the Creation of Roget’s Thesaurus. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2008. 284 pp. ISBN 978-0-399-15462-1.

Dewey Construction:

  • 400: Languages
  • 410: Linguistics
  • 413: Dictionaries of standard forms of language
  • +092: Biography

Today, I have a special treat for you: two posts in one day. I stayed up late last night finishing this one and the next one is short enough that I should be able to knock it this afternoon. The good thing is, now that I’ve promised two reviews, I feel a growing desire to ensure I keep that promise. Here goes…

When you encounter the language section of the Dewey, a mild form of anxiety sets in—you have to read about dictionaries and word usage and (gasp!) grammar. But, language is really about people. Without them, there’s no language and no structure and no word for “the smell just after the rain” (which is petrichor). So, inevitably, reading about language leads to reading about people. Today’s first book is just that.

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Unassigned: Panhandling for Paperbacks

So. I’ve been doing some calculating. Looking at all the book left on the list and my library’s availability, I have about 550 books to acquire to flesh out my collection and read all the readable sections. Tromping through bibliographic databases and Amazon for ideas and prices, it will cost me about $6,000 to get all the books I need for this quest.

To help defray some of the costs, I’ve set up a Indiegogo campaign (here) to collect some money to supplement the home collection. I know, trolling the blogosphere for handouts seems gimmicky and even a little sad, but a person has to try.

Now–there are perks to contributing. You’ll have to head over to the campaign website to see them all, but one of the perks is control over which books get read next. I’ll send you the list of books I have on hand and you get to pick the next three on the docket.

This is just an initial campaign to gauge interest and see if I’ll have to find other revenue streams. But, if this first round pans out, then I’ll be able to get about 100 more books for the quest. Honestly, I didn’t think that there would be anyone out there who’d be interested in following my journey, but you first 36 followers are proof of the power of niche groups. I’m glad to have a few friendly faces on this trek. Now–let’s get some more books!

577: The Tapir’s Morning Bath by Elizabeth Royte

577.340972875: Royte, Elizabeth. The Tapir’s Morning Bath: Solving the Mysteries of the Tropical Rain Forest. Boston: Mariner, 2002. 323 pp. ISBN 0-618-25758-6.

Dewey Construction:

  • 500: Mathematics and Science
  • 570: Life Sciences
  • 577: Ecology
  • 577.3: Forest ecology
  • 577.34: Rain forest ecology
  • +0972875: Panama Canal

Every time the news media or a PSA talks about the environment and humankind’s ambivalence, the rain forest is used as an example. Untold thousands of acres of rain forest are destroyed each year and (the TV screen tells us) that has far-reaching effects on the planet. Elizabeth Royte’s The Tapir’s Morning Bath is a quest to find out what exactly the effects are.

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