I’m slightly dyslexic, so putting things in proper alphabetical order has always  been an unduly arduous task for me. I’d never thought of it as something that had to be discovered though. Apparently so.

 From Ann Blair’s Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age

Indexing notes raised the same kinds of questions as choosing headings, since each passage would be entered into the index under a keyword. In calling for an index to be drawn up for each notebook, Drexel recommended alphabetizing a passage under its principal thing (caput rei), for example, “the incredible growth of divine grace” under G for grace. Drexel explained that the index should be drawn up on sheets corresponding to each letter of the alphabet (with one sheet devoted to little-used letters like K, Q, X, and Z to save paper), with references to the notebooks that contained the excerpts (though Drexel does not specify the form of these references, possibly by page number). Since the sheets would receive new headings over time, the index or list of headings would be alphabetized only by first letter. To find a given heading would therefore require browsing the headings beginning with the same letter to find a particular one.

What a system. I wonder what Drexel would think of Google, or even the more primitive early search engines. Or hell, even the Find function in a text document.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies


In what’s described as an “expanded edition” of Pride and Prejudice, 85 percent of the original text has been preserved but fused with  “ultraviolent zombie mayhem.” For more than 50 years, we learn, England has been overrun by zombies, prompting people like the Bennets to send their daughters away to China for training in the art of deadly combat, and prompting others, like Lady Catherine de Bourgh, to employ armies of ninjas. Added to the familiar plot turns that bring Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy together is the fact that both are highly skilled killers, gleefully slaying zombies on the way to their happy ending.

Going to go ahead and forcefully assert that my girlfriend is a whole different league of awesome for buying this.

Literally Screwed

According to a Harris Poll taken of 2,400 adults of their favorite books, of the top 10 books I’m supposed to read before I die, two of them are penned by that no-talent -ass-clown Dan Brown, another was the Harry Potter series, which is great but not exactly a necessity to read before I depart this mortal plane, and a third insult-to-injury was The Stand by Stephen King. Holy hell.

Ok, so our country’s literary taste is somewhat lacking, but even more alarming in my mind is the serious absence of substance in a bout 50% of that list. Dan brown isn’t exactly pondering the great imponderables.  Most of these are beach books in the extreme — pretty telling for our national intelligence of late.


A list, from the man who read the Oxford English Dictionary, of his favorites.

An example, he says, is “petracore,” a word for the scent that rises from pavement after rain has begun to fall. “It’s a beautiful smell,” Shea said. “I’ve always loved that smell, when it first starts raining.”

I also liked debag – to strip the pants from a person.

Jews With Swords

One of my all-time favorite slingers of the written word, Micheal Chabon, privately refers to his new book Gentleman of the Road as Jews with Swords.

[It] was usually good for a laugh. I guess it’s like saying ‘pigs in space’ or something. There’s a kind of incongruity there in most people’s minds.”

In classic Dickensian tradition it’s been serialized in the New York Times.

Tom Robbins

I just finished Jitterbug Perfume which discusses life, death and the smells in both places.
One of my favorite lines:

The rich are the most discriminated-against minority in the world. Openly or covertly, everybody hates the rich because, openly or covertly, everybody envies the rich. Me, I love the rich. Somebody has to love them. Sure, a lot o’ rich people are assholes, but believe me, a lot o’ poor people are assholes, too, and an asshole with money can at least pay for his own drinks.”

Not sure if I agree with the sentiment, but in terms of a quality rant, it excels in its awesomeness.