The three Bs of summer | LitBash 32

Summertime means rivers of cold beer. You're spending dearly to quench your thirst. But summer also means plenty of good reads. Yet, as John Lubbock observed: "How little our libraries cost us as compared with our liquor cellars." You can balance out your summer spending budget with the three Bs: a beach, a beer, and a book. Start with authors who were:

Born this week:

Elias Canetti, Austria
"The great writers of aphorisms read as if they had all known each other very well."

Ambroise-Marie Robert Carré, France

Andre Maurois, France

"Revolt against a tyrant is legitimate; it can succeed. Revolt against human nature is doomed to failure."

Aldous Huxley, UK
"Too much consistency is as bad for the mind as it is for the body. Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead."

Vladimir Korolenko, Russia

Guido Piovene, Italy

Alexandre Dumas, France

"Sleeping on a plank has one advantage - it encourages early rising."

Malcolm Lowry, UK
"What beauty can compare to that of a cantina in the early morning?"

Eyvind Johnson, Sweden
"One should think that you're someone living in the future and that you have to judge - approve or disapprove - the I that acts today, the I that keeps up or fails."

Ernst Glaeser, Germany

Emily Bronte, UK
"I'm now quite cured of seeking pleasure in society, be it country or town. A sensible man ought to find sufficient company in himself."

Aasmund Vinje, Norway

Primo Levi, Italy

"A country is considered the more civilised the more the wisdom and efficiency of its laws hinder a weak man from becoming too weak and a powerful one too powerful."

Walter Vogt, Switzerland

Died this week:

Mikhail Lermontov, Russia
"Many a calm river begins as a turbulent waterfall, yet none hurtles and foams all the way to the sea."

Gertrude Stein, USA
"Ladies there is no neutral position for us to assume."

Cyrano de Bergerac, France
"You are now bearing the punishment for the shortcomings of your world. Here, as in your world, there are benighted people who cannot tolerate thinking about things they are not accustomed to."

Erich Kastner, Germany

Helge Krog, Norway

Denis Diderot, France

"From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, France
"Here is my secret. It is very simple. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye."

Death of book publishing conglomerates must not mean the end copyright

"Digitization has transformed both the work of the writer and the distribution of the book. Technological changes have called into question the principle of copyright: digital content is expected to be free for all, without compensation or remuneration. In the world of printed books and printed information, few would expect to obtain a work for free. In the information society, however, access to information, the arts and culture is sometimes referred to as the citizen's fundamental right, the right to get this information for free. It would seem that a new technological imperative has emerged: if it is possible to copy files for one¹s personal use and to distribute them, it must also be permissible and legal – and without charge. 

Even though digitization does transform the world there are still various reasons for the maintenance of copyright:"

Continue: http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2011-07-26-hiidenmaa-en.html

Invisible ink formula


How the French cracked the secret of German invisible ink formula:


The healing power of literature

"Dr. Barager is a champion of the healing power of literature who from time to time “prescribes” specific novels to patients to help them cope with their burden of illness. He has engaged the medical community at large in this endeavor via The Literary Doctor, a blog devoted to the use of literary fiction to help patients and physicians alike explore the meaning of human illness in a way scientific method cannot. He has long believed the two finest callings in life are doctor and writer, the one ministering to the human condition, the other illuminating it, both—when performed with compassion and knowledge—capable of transforming it."

More: http://frontpagemag.com/2011/07/25/altamont-augie-2/

Civil War Espionage: Spies & Codes

“Both sides in the Civil War set up espionage systems and both sides thought theirs was the best ... Both used codes to encrypt messages, and today we will be breaking some original coded messages from the Civil War.”

Who made the best spies during the Civil War?

"Women and black servants were at the top of the list."

This and more: http://arnold.patch.com/articles/civil-war-espionage-spies-codes

Corporate Intelligence Manipulation

"Concerned members of the intelligence community have told me that if a corporation wanted to insert items favorable to itself or its clients into the PDB to influence the US national security agenda, at this time it would be virtually undetectable. These companies have analysts and often intelligence collectors spread throughout the system and have the access to introduce intelligence into the system.

To take an extreme example, a company frustrated with a government that's hampering its business or the business of one of its clients could introduce or spin intelligence on that government's suspected collaboration with terrorists in order to get the White House's attention and potentially shape national policy. Or, more subtly, a private firm could introduce concerns about a particular government to put heat on that government to shape its energy policy in a favorable direction.

To get us into the Iraq War, intelligence regarding alleged weapons of mass destruction had to be very artfully manipulated to short-circuit a formidable bureaucracy designed to prevent just such warping of intelligence. Due to the shift toward wide-scale industrial outsourcing in the intelligence community, even that fallible safeguard has been eroded. Sources like "Curveball," the Iraqi informant who wrongly asserted the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and upon whom the CIA relied, are no longer needed. This is particularly frightening when one considers that the "war on terror" is fought by a $100 billion-plus industry that has a vested interest in its continuation. "

Source: Outsourcing Intelligence, The Nation, July 24, 2007


Government can cause you to disappear without a trace | LitBash 31

"Governments can cause you to disappear without a trace." It will be lonely out there, so be sure to prepare yourself - collect books to help pass the time. Start with authors who were...

Born this week:

William Makepeace Thackeray, UK

"Dare, and the world always yields: or, if it beat you sometimes, dare again, and it will succumb."

Ramon de Mesonero Romanos, Spain

Ferenc Mora, Hungary

Archibald Cronin, UK

Claude Aveline, France

Robert Pinget, France

Leonid Sobolev, Russia

Ernest Hemingway, USA

"God knows, people who are paid to have attitudes toward things, professional critics, make me sick; camp-following eunuchs of literature."

John Gardner, USA

Sandor Brody, Hungary

Raymond Chandler, USA

"Don’t ever write anything you don’t like yourself and if you do like it, don’t take anyone’s advice about changing it. They just don’t know."

Alexandre Dumas, France

"It is sometimes essential to government to cause a man’s disappearance without leaving any traces, so that no written forms or documents may defeat their wishes. It has always been so and always will be. Governments change yet they remain all alike."

Nikolay Chernyshevsky, Russia

Henrik Pontoppidan, Denmark

Edward Dunsany, Ireland
"I hope that when London is clean passed away and the defeated fields come back again, like an exiled people returning after a war, they may find some beautiful thing to remind them of it all; because we have loved a little that swart old city."

Died this week:

Jane Austen, UK
"Here I am once more in this scene of dissipation and vice, and I begin already to find my morals corrupted."

Gilberto de Melo Freyre, Brasil

Curzio Malaparte, Italy

Rene Bazin, France

Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Italy

"If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change."

Witold Gombrowicz, Poland
"I thought that this auction with other nations for geniuses and heroes, for merits and cultural achievement, was really quite awkward from the point of view of propaganda tactics because with our half-French Chopin and not quite native Copernicus, we cannot compete with the Italians, French, Germans, English, or Russians. Therefore, it is exactly this approach that condemns us to inferiority."

Isaac Bashevis Singer, Poland / USA
"A story to me means a plot where there is some surprise… Because that is how life is — full of surprises."


Why, oh why, do I have to read this book?!

'If you've ever been in a literature class and wondered, "Why do I have to read this book?" one Purchase professor provides a very simple answer: Reading is exercise for the brain.

Neurologically, the more complexity the brain can handle, the more alive and acute it is," explains Professor of Literature Nina Pelikan Straus. "The novel is like living a life you can experiment with. It sharpens your brain, and the more connections you make in your brain, the stronger it is."

The secret world of Amazon reviewers

'But there is some new evidence suggesting that Amazon’s customer reviewers—particularly the top 1,000 reviewers—do not always make independent decisions about which books and other products they write about. According to anew Cornell study
 that we previewed last week, the reviewers in many cases acknowledge that in order to maintain their high rankings and continue to receive free products (one of the perks of being a top reviewer), they have to make surprisingly calculated decisions about what to review and what to say about those products. 

The author of the study, Cornell professor Trevor Pinch, says the fundamental problem is that people reading the reviews probably naturally assume that the Amazon reviewers are regular shoppers just like them—when, in fact, their relationship to the products they review can be a little more complicated. “The issue of the ‘customers’ not really being customers needs to be addressed,” says Pinch, who surveyed 166 of Amazon’s top 1,000 reviewers for his study.'


Jack King

Spies can use Google as a tool of espionage

Use of Google search engine in espionage:

'Google Suggest works by listing up to 10 suggestions each time a letter is added to a search term, based on the most popular searches made by other Google users that begin with the same letters. The words offered change as each new letter is added.

Some of the options that appear as your search term takes shape can often seem quite strange: "runescape", "rotten tomatoes" and "rock and chips" for "r", "ro" and "roc" in "rocket", for instance. This is the key to how Mazurczyk's team adds its own search suggestions to the list to encode secret messages. '


Espionage terms explained here.

Bugs in espionage

'In 1946, Soviet school children presented a two-feet wooden replica of the Great Seal of the United States to the American ambassador. He hung the seal at his residence. A bald wooden eagle, which was part of the seal, had been bugged. In 1952, an inspection revealed that the eagle contained a microphone and a passive resonant cavity that could be stimulated from an outside radio signal. The equipment had no power source or transmitter making it much harder to detect. The cavity had a metallic diaphragm that moved in unison with sound waves from a conversation in the room.'

Espionage terms explained: http://www.spywriter.com/terms.html


Writers and society

"The real writer decides by himself. He is a loner. And he must assume his solitude,“ advised Lyonel Trouillot", who took part in the conference "on the idea of the commitment of the writer and the impact of literature on society.

Contrarily to misinterpretations of the role of the writer, literature which many consider as "the faithful mirror of society thus implying and expecting change and transformation to come from these,” Lyonel Trouillot, thinks and states otherwise.

"It is not for the writer to change the world, it is rather for the citizen to do so." "For, he says, literature is just showing things, such as the situation of the world and is not changing things”.

"Literature uses language for aesthetic purposes like fine arts... " And while evoking the real or denouncing the unacceptable, revolting, situations, "we (the writers), write because we have something in ourselves for which we need a channel of expression."

That's the goal of literary creation. “So we're not going to change reality by literature but going to show what reality is.""



The greatest treasure | LitBash 30

You may be surrounded by true riches if Vissarion Belinsky is right: "A good library is the greatest treasure." You can amass your own treasure; start with authors who were:

Born this week:

Leon Bloy, France

Max Jacob, France

"When you get to the point where you cheat for the sake of beauty, you're an artist."

Gustav Freytag, Germany

Arijiris Eftaliotis, Greece

Isaak Babel, Russia

"If the world could write by itself, it would write like Tolstoy."

Wole Soyinka, Nigeria
"The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny."

Gustavo Sainz, Mexico

Anne Louise Germaine de Stael-Holstein, France

"We cease loving ourselves if no one loves us."

Irving Stone, USA

Iris Murdoch, Ireland
"All art is the struggle to be, in a particular sort of way, virtuous."

Died this week:

Fritz Reuter, Germany

Boris Polevoy, Russia

Kostas Uranis, Greece

Gabrielle Roy, Canada

Anton Chekhov, Russia
"People who live alone always have something on their minds that they would willingly share."

Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Austria

Konstantin Fedin, Russia

Edmond de Goncourt, France
"A book is never a masterpiece: it becomes one. Genius is the talent of a dead man."

Rene Arcos, France

Heinrich Boll, Germany
"Artists and women are particularly well suited to be exploited, and each agent is ninety-nine per cent a pimp."

Hector Malot, France


Cold War spy stole cancer cells

"Intelligence documents recently unearthed in Prague reveal that in the 1980s Jiri Bartek, then a researcher at London’s Imperial Cancer Research Fund, worked for the StB, Czechoslovakia’s secret intelligence service.
Operating under the code name Raki, Bartek used his position at the clinic to purloin scientific material and equipment then unavailable in communist Czechoslovakia. Having stolen the items, he gave them to secret agents in London who smuggled them out of the UK.
Medical equipment was stashed in sports bags and living tissue packed into Thermos flasks filled with ice.

Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/czechrepublic/8623408/Czech-spy-stole-living-tissue-from-London-cancer-clinic.html

Writing makes writers antisocial

"It has become increasingly clear to me over these last 10 years, in which I have written more regularly than before, that the more I write the worse I become. More self-absorbed, less sensitive to the needs of others, less flexible, more determined to say what I have to say, when I want and how I want, if I could only be left alone to figure it out.
Alan Hollinghurst has recently observed a similar phenomenon in himself, and used it to explain why he lives alone. "I'm not at all easy to live with," he says. "I wish I could integrate writing into ordinary social life, but I don't seem to be able to. I could when I started. I suppose I had more energy then. Now I have to isolate myself for long periods."
Read more:


How to transform your life (in the comfort of your bedroom): LitBash 29

If "writing transforms" then it follows that so does reading. Let these authors change your life:

Born this week:

Nathaniel Hawthorne, USA
"Amid the seeming confusion of our mysterious world, individuals are so nicely adjusted to a system, and systems to one another and to a whole, that, by stepping aside for a moment, a man exposes himself to a fearful risk of losing his place forever."

Francesco Chiesa, Switzerland

Felix Timmermans, Belgium

Jean Cocteau, France
"I am a lie who always speaks the truth."

Ludwig Fulda, Germany

Lion Feuchtwanger, Germany
"Asking the author of historical novels to teach you about history is like expecting the composer of a melody to provide answers about radio transmission."

Jean de la Fontaine, France
"People must help one another; it is nature's law."

Gerard Walschlap, Belgium

Died this week:

Francoise Rene de Chateaubriand, France
"Take away the art of writing from this world, and you will probably take away its glory."

Georgette Heyer, UK
"I comfort myself with the reflection that your wife will possibly be able to curb your desire--I admit, a natural one for the most part--to exterminate your fellows."

Georges Bernanos, France
"Money-crimes have an abstract quality. History is laden with the victims of gold, but their remains are odourless."

Guy de Maupassant, France
"I entered literary life as a meteor, and I shall leave it like a thunderbolt."

Henri Meilhac, France

William Faulkner, USA
"Even a liar can be scared into telling the truth, same as an honest man can be tortured into telling a lie."

Giuseppe Dessi, Italy

Claude Simon, France

"To begin with, our perception of the world is deformed, incomplete. Then our memory is selective. Finally, writing transforms."

Arthur Conan Doyle, UK
"I should dearly love that the world should be ever so little better for my presence. Even on this small stage we have our two sides, and something might be done by throwing all one's weight on the scale of breadth, tolerance, charity, temperance, peace, and kindliness to man and beast. We can't all strike very big blows, and even the little ones count for something."

Louis Hemon, France

Karl Vaclav Rais, Czech

Osman Lins, Brasil