Round up #155: taxes in Europe, whispering to Alexa
The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.
“Let me whisper in your microphones…”
Did you know you can whisper to your
Sometimes, I go to bed after my Significant Other, and that means I’ll be turning off “Everything” (as I’ve taught our Echo to refer to the lights). If I speak normally to my Echo, it might be too loud and disturb my SO’s sleep. So, one night, I just tried whispering…and it worked! Of course, Alexa responded, but that wasn’t too bad…and I can just turn the volume down before bedtime.
Alexa is quite robust in understanding voices and decent at accents. One of the things that voice assistants will eventually learn is to recognize individual voices…but for now, it’s better that it is less precise (and therefore, able to understand more people).
11 Well-Read Facts About the Library of Congress
This was a fun “listicle” on mental_floss about the Library of Congress
It’s about the Library of Congress…and notes something I recently covered about Thomas Jefferson reinvigorating the LoC after it was burned by British troops in the War of 1812. By the way, that war (and future history) would have been quite different if they’d had modern communications tech (like cellphones). As I recall the story, the famous Battle of New Orleans (“In 1814, we took a little…along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississipp”), which helped make Andrew Jackson a future President, took place after a peace treaty had been signed…but the combatants didn’t find out about it in time.
It Can’t Happen Here
There is often talk about whether or not a particular science fiction novel “successfully predicted the future”. I sometimes see it written as the novel having “gotten it wrong”. Well, first, science fiction isn’t futurism…it’s fiction. It usually isn’t trying to predict. It may be trying to extrapolate, but it isn’t like Criswell, proclaiming what will happen.
There is a type of novel, though, which is a cautionary tale…and there couldn’t be a much clearer title than
a 1935 work by Sinclair Lewis.
This was during the rise of fascism, and the book explored the idea of a charismatic politician gaining power in the USA.
The Kindle edition is selling quite well right now…with some people seeing it as predictive.
There are books that have predicted some things…I would say one of the most fascinating is Morgan Robertson’s book, which I wrote about here:
Undervaluing teen books?
I read books intended for lots of types of audiences, including children and teenagers. I think some of the best writing I’ve ever read was putatively for children.
Teen book author Lauren Oliver wrote:
in Bustle. It presents a rational argument that there are so many teen books, they shouldn’t all be condemned as the same.
It reminds me of Sturgeon’s Law, which is presented a lot of ways, but the story goes that someone said to famous science fiction author that “90% of science fiction is trash”, and Sturgeon responded, “90% of everything is trash.”
I do with Oliver hadn’t used a (very mild) obscenity towards the beginning of the article…most people wouldn’t mind, and I’ve read some quite strong words in young adult novels.
No tax cut for e-books in Europe
The European Called of Justice ruled that a lowered Value Added Tax on paperbooks needn’t also be applied to e-books.
The intent of the recently lowered taxes was to promote reading…but the court says that e-books are different enough that it doesn’t apply.
I had fun with these 17 rebuses that are clues to famous book titles:
I got them all, but a couple of them were a bit challenging.
Here, I’ll throw in one myself: what book title does this represent?
Youngest, Y-O-U-N-G-E-S-T, Youngest
I thought this was really cool!
Edith Fuller has qualified for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Edith is the youngest person ever to qualify.
Would you believe 5?
Yep, five years old!
Many five year olds aren’t even reading smoothly…and yet, here is one who may outspell competitors three times as old.
HarperCollins celebrates an anniversary
While Edith Fuller gets credit for youth, HarperCollins, one of the Big 5 publishers, is celebrating a milestone…200 years!
Congratulations to them! They’ve been a leader in a lot of ways, and I think some people underestimate the robustness of some of the tradpubs (traditional publishers). They’ve seen many, many changes…not all of them will survive, and they may have to seriously adapt…but I think that some of the Big 5 will still be significant companies twenty years from now.
The publisher has an interesting anniversary site:
I particularly liked looking at the archives. 🙂
Have any thoughts on these stories? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.
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