Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Month: July, 2012

031: Mental Floss’s Forbidden Knowledge

031: Pearson, Will, Mangesh Hattikudur, & Elizabeth Hunt, eds. mental_floss presents Forbidden Knowledge: A Wickedly Smart Guide to History’s Naughtiest Bits. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. 294 pp. ISBN 0-06-078475-X.

Dewey Construction:

  • 000: Computer Science, Knowledge, and General Works
  • 030: Encyclopedias and books of facts
  • 031: General encyclopedic works in American English

There’s one at every get together—some guy or gal who can tell you exactly how Catherine the Great died, can rattle off obscure Polynesian gods, or (right when you’re giving a toast) explain the origins of toasting. I like that person because they’ve devoted the time and energy into reading the source material, committing it to memory, and painlessly transmitting to me. Sometimes, I’m that person. After reading all the books I have, there’s a lot of arcane facts rolling around my head. But today, the good folks from mental_floss have done our work for us.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

146: Darwin’s Dangerous Idea by Daniel C. Dennett

146.7: Dennett, Daniel C. Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life. New York: Touchstone, 1996. 521 pp. ISBN 0-684-8241-X.

Dewey Construction:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 140: Philosophical schools of thought
  • 146: Naturalism and related systems and doctrines
  • 146.7: Evolutionism and process philosophy

What is the meaning of life? That question will get as many answers as there are people on the planet. It’s a heady subject. For this and many other reasons, the Dewey Classification had plenty of subject sections for philosophy and schools of thought. Naturalism—today’s subject—concerns the philosophy that nothing exists beyond the natural (and perceptual) universe. According to this doctrine, there are no supernatural laws, no outside mythical forces, and no “purposes” to nature per se. Seems like fun…

Read the rest of this entry »

262: The Legend of Pope Joan by Peter Stanford

262.13: Stanford, Peter. The Legend of Pope Joan: In Search of the Truth. New York: Henry Holt, 1999. 185 pp. ISBN 0-8050-3910-4.

Dewey Construction:

  • 200: Religion
  • 260: Christian social and ecclesiastical theology
  • 262: Ecclesiology (Study of Church doctrine)
  • 262.1: Governing leaders of churches
  • 262.13: Papacy and patriarchate

While on vacation in Rome, journalist Peter Stanford , watching the people weave in and out of the piazza, came upon a peculiar phenomenon. Every once in a while, a woman would leave flowers at a small gate. Once he looked inside the gate, he saw a small sculpture obscured by the darkness. After consulting numerous travel guides, he discovered that this was the purported site of a very special aedicola (small shrine). The aedicola was the shrine of a woman who, legend has it, elected to be the Bishop of Rome. But the Bishop of Rome has another title—His Holiness The Pope.

Read the rest of this entry »

445: Grammaire Francaise by Mary Stone Bruce

445: Bruce, Mary Stone. Grammaire française a l’usage des élèves de l’enseignement secondaire [French grammar for high school students]. Boston: D.C. Heath & Co., 1904. 290 pp.

Dewey Construction:

  • 400: Language
  • 440: Romance languages: French
  • 445: Grammar and syntax of standard French

Imagine being a high school student of the French language in the early part of the 20th century. While not directly conscious of it, America was in the throes of the Roaring Twenties (ironically referred to by the French as the “Crazy Years”). This was the age of the flapper, Art Deco, and Felix the Cat. But, for Harold and Helen McKinley of 69 Bartley Avenue (city unknown), it was simply the age of French class and, as we will see, a lot of doodling.

Read the rest of this entry »

635: American Green by Ted Steinberg

635.9647: Steinberg, Ted. American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006. 230 pp. ISBN 0-393-06084-5.

Dewey Construction:

  • 600: Applied Sciences (Technology)
  • 630: Agriculture and related technologies
  • 635: Garden crops (horticulture); vegetables
  • 635.9: Flowers and ornamental plants
  • 635.96: Groupings by special areas and purposes
  • 635.964: Ground cover
  • 635.9647: Lawns

On any given weekend, millions of homeowners trudge out to their garages, pull out their lawnmowers, weed whackers, leaf blowers, spreaders, insecticides, fungicides, and various lawn chemicals. They tote their gas-guzzling power mowers out onto their lawns to insure their greenery is just as beautiful as their neighbor’s. And as bleak as all this seems, we keep doing it, week after week, just to make sure America stays green.

Read the rest of this entry »

738: The Arcanum by Janet Gleeson

738.092243214: Gleeson, Janet. The Arcanum: The Extraordinary True Story. New York: Warner Books, 1998. 301 pp. ISBN 0-446-67484-2.

Dewey Construction:

  • 700: The arts
  • 730: Plastics arts; sculpture
  • 738: Ceramic arts
  • +0922: Collected persons treatment
  • +43: Central Europe
  • +2: Saxony and Thuringia
  • +14: Dresden District

Once trade relations were in earnest between Central Europe and the Far East by the seventeenth century, new and wondrous artifacts made their way to Europe. Figurines, paintings, and other objets d’art were prized by collectors and kings. The most highly sought of those collectibles was Chinese porcelain. Until the early 1700s, no craftsman in Europe could duplicate the both the translucent wonder and alarming hardness of true porcelain. No one, that is, until an alchemist named Johann Frederich Boettger came along.

Read the rest of this entry »

168: The Art of Deception by Nicholas Capaldi

168: Capaldi, Nicholas. The Art of Deception: An Introduction to Critical Thinking. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1987.  204 pp. ISBN 0-87975-424-9.

Dewey Construction:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 160: Logic
  • 168: Argument and persuasion

So much of our discourse nowadays (and especially during an election year) is focused on convincing people that your point-of-view or opinion is better or more valid than someone else’s. The ability to break down an argument into its logical pieces and understand whether it is fundamentally sound is a precious one to have. Luckily, Nicholas Capaldi is here to help.

Read the rest of this entry »