January 24th, 2011

agent

Kindling

So I bought myself a Kindle. I'm a little amazed/creeped out by Amazon's message that I can buy books for it, which will be delivered wirelessly to the dingus inside its box as it makes its way through the postal system.

Anyway, I ask the greater hive-mind, particularly those with Kindle experience... What free or near-free books should I pack onto it? I see there's plenty of nearly free Lovecraft. But I assume many of these texts are just ripped from dagonbytes.com complete with typos (rather than ripped from hplovecraft.com). Which of the many alternatives will cause me the least pain? There's lots of free or nearly so Poe, Dunsany, Machen, Wells, and just about anything Project Gutenberg or similar projects have touched. Any advice on how to tell a well-formatted version that plays nicely with Kindle from a badly formatted one?

Any other advice from the Kindle experts? I see that the greatest work of English literature is available, but reviews of the Kindle edition are excoriating. How can this crime against humanity be amended?

And it is also annoying that you can't(?) separate reviews of the Kindle edition from reviews of the physical book and the audio version that all seem to be mashed together.

How can you tell if the Kindle version will be well Kindle-ized?

Sing to me of the Kindle, O Internet, the dingus polytropos...
agent

In SciAm

There's some thought provoking language about how language provokes thought (alas only two paragraphs for free). A couple details...

In the Kuuk Thaayorre language, all directions are given with reference to the cardinal diretions. There is no 'left' and 'right', only north and south. When asked to put a series of pictures in time-order (e.g. pictures of banana being eaten), English speakers tend to put them left to right, Hebrew speakers tend to put them right to left, and Kuuk Thaayorre-speakers tend to put them east to west, regardless of the direction they're facing. That is, when facing south, they put them left to right, when facing north, they put them right to left, when facing east, they arrange them toward their body. [I hypothesize their time direction is 'following' the sun.]

In English, the agent is usually explicit, even if the action is accidental. John broke the vase. According to the article, in Spanish and Japanese, reports of accidental actions are less likely to mention the agent. 'The vase broke [itself].' After watching videos of people breaking objects intentionally and unintentionally, Spanish and Japanese speakers performed similarly to English speakers when describing and remembering intentional acts, but "were less likely to describe the accidents agentively than were English speakers, and they correspondingly remembered who did it less well than English speakers did."