“The Knowledge, it fills me… it is neat!”

I don’t want to make this a link blog, however there are occasions where there’s something I really feel compelled to point out for just how cool it is. As it stands, there are quite a few things I’ve been geeking out over lately, so I thought I’d share:

DIY Kodachrome Manufacturing Equipment:

Occasionally something iconic goes the way of the dodo. In June, we lost Kodachrome, the iconic film, and inspiration for a Pual Simon song of the same name. Many professional photographers, and long time photography enthusiasts, lamented this decision, but the demand just was no longer there. However, for those who live only for their Kodachrome exposures, there is hope. An article on BoingBoing has brought to the attention of the masses one intrepid enthusiast who’s taken his art in to his hands and set up his own equipment to continue manufacturing Kodacrhome film. I salute this whole heartedly. It’s wonderful to think we live in a world where someone can take the time, effort, and know-how and keep an aging icon from dying completely. Here’s to the makers of the world!

“A Christmas Carol” manuscript photographed in total for the first time:

I am not ashamed to admit the fact that I loathe Charles Dickens. He bores me. My reaction may not be as violent as it was to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” (which I finished, and then threw across the room is disgust). It’s more akin to my reaction to Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre”, which I simply gave up on after fifty or so pages (and got the Cliff Notes to pass the test I had on it in my high school English class). It’s not that I don’t acknowledge the importance of these authors and their works. I do. However, the subject matter of both “The Scarlet Letter” and “Jane Eyre” bores me beyond tears and right in to nausea (and I have a burning hatred for the way Brontë constructs everything from her narrative right down to her prose). What bothers me so about Dickens is that, as far as the narrative content of his books go, I should enjoy him. However, his long winded construction of that narrative and fascination with unimportant details (for the sake of filling pages, not continuing the story) makes me want to drive a fork in to my leg.

This is what’s so nice about “A Christmas Carol”. It’s short. Written to try and pad his pockets after some tough financial times it is wonderfully devoid of the unnecessary detail plaguing so much of his other work. He progresses through the story adeptly, and ends up with a heartwarming tale of Christmas good will and cheer.

Now, I’ve come to find out, that for the first time, the Morgan Library and Museum, which posses the original penned manuscript of this holiday tale, has finally allowed the full manuscript to be photographed and published digitally. This is not only cool for history buffs, but for anyone interested in the process of writing. The manuscript contains all of the edits Dicken’s made to the story as he went along, including some interesting cuts and rearrangements to help draw the dramatic tension to it’s proper height. There’s even a quite notable omission near the end. It seems that Dicken’s did not feel the need to make clear that Tiny Tim lives at the end until after the manuscript had been submitted to the printer.

This is an interesting look at the tale. Click over to the article at the New York Times to find more about the manuscript, and a link to the digital images of it.

Data-mining Classic Literature:

Continuing in the vein of literary geekery, Wired has a short article about someone who is attempting to do data mining on classic literature. It’s short enough that I’m not going to summarize what’s being done there. By tracking things like word choice and sentence construction, and correlating them to cultural trends at the time, I think this research could have some very interesting ramifications on how we look at literature in the future.

NaNoWriMo Stat-gasm:

Since I’ve got you this far, I’d like to take a moment to offer kudos to the Office of Letters and Lights for running a fantastic NaNoWriMo this year. How amazing was it? Just take a look at the post NaNo stat dump. Between the 19.2% win rate, and the cumulative 2,427,190,537 words written during the event, it’s easy to see why this year was so great.

And now, until I have something interesting to say again, I bid you farewell.

– B

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