The Absence Of Serendipity…

…Or, Why Tim Worstall Hates Shopping At Amazon.

It’s an intensely irritating way to buy a book, he writes in Forbes.

Cheap, yes, convenient, most assuredly, but intensely irritating. For I’m almost never going out to buy a book that I know that I want to read. I am, rather, browsing to try and find one that I do want to read. And that is something fueled almost entirely by serendipity and in my case it’s what makes second hand bookshops near to nirvana.

Being able to flip through the first couple of pages of twenty to forty books, spotting the pile of mouldering 50s sci-fi pulps, shying from the radioactive evil of the chick lit shelves, it is this browsing that has done more to introduce me to new and interesting authors and or genres than anything else. And try as I might I cannot gain that same experience from Amazon…

Amazon and the Absence of Serendipity

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A Box of Otherworldly Notes

A friend of Reddit user TramStopDan found a box discarded on the street next to the trash. When he managed to open it, Dan found a mind-boggling collection of posters, illustrations, text, maps, technical drawings and personal belongings.

So let’s take a peek at what he found…

Found in the box“It seems that the artist saw something in Tampa, FL in 1977 that changed him … This appears to be an early sketch of the event”.

Apparently the guy went slightly insane over finding extraterrestrials in the bible, TramStopDan says. He was obsessed with “living creatures” described in Ezekiel 10 that are described as having four faces: ‘the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.’ I guess he really wanted for that to be an alien encounter.

A mysterious box

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Maya Angelou the star at National Book Awards

Accepting the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community, Angelou dazzled the crowd, Ron Hogan reports for Shelf Awareness.

For over 40 years, I have tried to tell the truth as I understand it,” she said. “I haven’t tried to tell everything I know, but I’ve tried to tell the truth.” And, she noted, “easy reading is damn hard writing.”

James McBride, who won the award for Fiction, recalled a moment several years ago when E.L. Doctorow had spoken out against the war in Iraq during a commencement speech and was booed. To his regret, McBride said, he had done nothing. He then cited one of the key figures in his novel, the 19th-century radical abolitionist John Brown, as a “great American,” and added: “E.L. Doctorow, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou… they’re our John Browns.”

E.L. Doctorow received the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Mary Szybist won the National Book Award for Poetry, George Packer for Nonfiction, and Cynthia Kadohata for YA Literature.James

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Atlantis Found?

Giant Pyramids and Sphinxes have been found in The Bermuda Triangle, a story at Altering Perspectives claims.

Two scientists using a robot submersible say that a gigantic city exists at the bottom of the ocean off the coast of Cuba. The story says “evidence points to the city being simultaneously inundated with rising waters and the land sinking into the sea. This correlates exactly with the Atlantis legend.

Artists interpretation AtlantisArtist’s rendering of the ‘city’

The disaster may have occurred at the end of the last Ice Age. As the Arctic icecap catastrophically melted it caused sea levels to rise quickly around the world, especially affecting the Northern Hemisphere. Coast lines changed; land was lost; islands (even island continents) disappeared.

Atlantis found?

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Is the Internet Conscious?

Where consciousness come from is a question that’s perplexed philosophers for centuries and scientists for decades. How it arises from chemistry and electricity in our brains is an unsolved mystery.

Neuroscientist Christof Koch, chief scientific officer at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, thinks he might know the answer, according to a story in Wired. According to Koch, consciousness arises within any sufficiently complex, information-processing system. All animals, from humans on down to earthworms, are conscious; even the internet could be. That’s just the way the universe works.

Is the Internet Conscious?

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World’s Biggest Bookstore to close

Chapters World’s Biggest Bookstore will close in February because the downtown Toronto site is being sold to a developer, Shelf Awareness reports.

World's biggest
Biggest bookstore closing

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Frescoes may show early women priests

The Vatican has unveiled frescoes in the Catacombs of Priscilla said by some to show women priests in the early Christian church, Nicole Winfield reports for the AP.

The labyrinthine cemetery complex stretching for kilometers underneath northern Rome is known as the “Queen of the catacombs” because it features burial chambers of popes and a tiny, delicate fresco of the Madonna nursing Jesus dating from around 230-240 A.D., the earliest known image of the Madonna and Child.

More controversially, the catacomb tour features two scenes said by proponents of the women’s ordination movement to show women priests:

Woman priest?One features a group of women celebrating a banquet. Another fresco in a richly decorated burial chamber features a woman, dressed in a dalmatic — a cassock-like robe — with her hands up in the position used by priests for public worship.

Early women priests?
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Alma Alexander

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