Fun at Foster's blog

THE PHYSICS AND SOCIAL CONSCIENCE OF SCIENCE FICTION continued.

Fahrenheit 451: Ray Bradbury

   451 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature at which books burn. This is the physics of heat and entropy. And this is a tale of censorship and defiance. “The system was simple”, Bradbury begins his story.  “Books were for burning along with the houses in which they were hidden”.

     Burning books is the central premise upon which the story unfolds. Guy Montag is a firefighter. However, in this day and age, firefighting has taken on a whole different meaning. Guy is charged with the socio-political responsibility of burning books wherever they may be found. There are still all the lights and sirens that we associate with being a firefighter — they even have a pole to slide down on — but now, when the fire engine pulls up outside your door, it is met with trepidation not relief. Whereas water used to be the fluid of salvation, kerosene has become the liquid of suppression. Guy goes about his duties with the typical verve that a firefighter must have and he never thinks twice about lighting a match to save people from themselves. That is, until a new neighbor moves in next door to him.

      “Have you ever read any of the books that you burn?” The neighbor asks him. “Of course not,” he returns. “Books are illegal”. But such begins a change in the man. One that causes him to question what he is doing. It infuriates his boss and worries his wife who persists that he watch “the people in the wall” referring to huge television screens placed into the wall. Of course, the shows on television are antiseptic and shallow. They are meant to be, because keeping the flock ignorant means that you can control their minds and behavior. It is quite Orwellian.

     Media consumption is an underlying theme and it smacks of the silly mindlessness of so many TV programs today. What better way to control information than by not allowing it to disseminate freely. Instead, give the people what they want, harmless, shallow mindlessness. Part of what makes this story seem real is that Bradbury has connected his story with our current media trends.  

        Nothing is ever mentioned about the totalitarian government that has decreed these laws about books. It is simply “understood”. This is because Bradbury doesn’t want his characters striking back at the Regime politically. He wants them making self discovery choices that transcend the socio-political turmoil that this society reflects. Choices that cause Guy Montag to find a secret society of people who choose a book and then memorize it, taking on the name of the title as their own to preserve the book from the fiery Gates of Hell.

     This is the way you fight the Unseen Monster, with defiance. The Regime IS the true “monster from the Id” in Bradbury’s book. And like the creature in Forbidden Planet, it is illusory and unnatural. It can be defeated, but not in any conventional way. Both situations in these books are confrontational. They must supply a moral paradigm. And they became that way because of the misuse of science.

Resident Philosopher - Doug Taylor

Guess the mystery..


Guess the Mystery theme!!!

Books displayed all share a Mystery theme. Can you guess what it is?

Submit your response on the provided form found in the library.

Correct submissions will be entered into a drawing to win a Mystery Prize!!!

 

Rocket Scientist @ Foster

 

 

NASA rocket scientist, Dr. Rayman, will be at Foster Library
for a special talk this Sunday, June 23, at 3:00pm.

He will give an exciting presentation full of images and stories
about Dawn's mission to space.

You don't want to miss this opportunity!

Garlic!

 

Well, three or four weeks ago I did my annual harvest of one of my favorite plants in my garden, garlic. I know this may strike many as unusual, but it is a delightful plant to grow. I’ve been growing garlic for five years. This year was a very successful garlic growing year in the size and quantity of the garlic bulbs.

The process of growing garlic is one of patience, having the ability to suppress one’s curiosity, more patience, plus having a great sense of timing. Patience is needed at the beginning of the garlic growing process, for a month or so there will be no indication of the plant growing on the surface, once it starts, all is well. As the plant grows one will become interested in the size of the bulbs growth, but put this out of your mind, for the bulb to reach full growth it will take six to seven months, curiosity suppressed. Where more patience and timing come into play are near the end of the growing cycle, pull the garlic too early the bulbs won’t reach their full size, too late and the garlic will decay. What needs to be observed is approximately one third of the lower stems brown in color, then it is time to dig up the garlic. If you timed it right nice large bulbs will see their first light of day and the cleaning, trimming, and curing will begin. One thing I did not mention, it is best not to water a week prior to pulling the garlic, less soil will stick to the roots and bulbs. Shake off the loose dirt, trim the roots, and hang the garlic in a well ventilated dry covered area.

This year I was lucky to have the very crafty SMS braid the garlic, her sage advice and display designs are invaluable to the “Dish”. The “Dish’s Kitchen” now sings with rusticness and possesses the lovely aroma of curing garlic.

One garlic book available at E.P. Foster library that I really enjoy is The Official Garlic Lovers Handbook, by Lloyd John Harris, it is a 1980’s era book, but I love it all the same. The Official Garlic Lovers Handbook, is a gem of a book with history and recipes, including the hungrily sought after garlic ice cream recipe, poems, and a very risqué illustration on page 101. Parents and sensitive types please be well advised of this. Another book near and dear to my heart is A Garlic Testament by Stanley G. Crawford it’s the book that inspired me to grow garlic. I hope many of you read this book and come October, decide to plant some garlic.

*****David’s Dish

Check out the book at Foster Library, or put a hold on it - we will send it to you!

If there are any cookbooks in Foster Library’s collection that you would like me to try out, please leave the title on our Facebook page and I’ll get cooking. 

THE PHYSICS AND SOCIAL CONSCIENCE OF SCIENCE FICTION

THE PHYSICS AND SOCIAL CONSCIENCE OF SCIENCE FICTION:

      There are basically two kinds of Science Fiction themes that are preponderant within this genre. One looks at the Science that influences the stories and the other investigates the moral and social implications within a story. Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov and A.J. Deutsch are among those who did the math and physics within their storylines, while H.G. Wells, Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury tended to ponder the social and moral implications of their futuristic novels.

      On rare occasion, an author would combine both into a story line with great effect. One such was Forbidden Planet by W.J. Stewart. He combined elements of physics and psychology known to an advanced alien civilization (the Krell) that was experimenting with the “ID”. It subsequently created a mental monster of such magnitude that it destroyed their civilization thousands of years before the arrival of earthlings to their planet. The term “Monsters from the ID” became a household word back in the 1950s for adventurers of Sci-Fi. It was devised in the mind of the Krell and became as real and ferocious as any creature here on earth. So the story was a moral parable as well.

       The two authors chosen for this expose are Deutsch and Bradbury because they represent these two themes in fascinating and compelling ways, much like Stewart did with Forbidden Planet. Deutsch looks at what can happen to a subway system from a postulate about systems connectivity in A Subway Named Moebius, while Bradbury postulates what can happen to a society when it is denied the availability of reading books in Fahrenheit 451. I will begin with Deutsch and later return to write about Bradbury’s tale of woe.

  A SUBWAY NAMED MOEBIUS: A.J. Deusch 1950

        The principles of connectivity state that as a system makes more connections to other parts of itself, the connectivity of that system increases in an exponential fashion to staggering levels. The subway under Boston had been growing in complexity for years. When the Transit Authority entered a new line into the system, it became so complex, that the best mathematicians could not calculate its connectivity. The topology of the system became overloaded.

      Then the first train disappeared. The system was closed, so it couldn't have gone anywhere, but when all the trains were pulled, the transit Authority still couldn't find it. The searchers would see a red light, wait curiously, and hear a train passing in the distance, sometimes so close that it appeared to be just around the next bend. Where was the train? What happened to the passengers?

      This is a cautionary tale of what could happen if you make your subway system too complex. And it revolves around the idea of a moebius strip; a twisted plane that goes from having two sides to just one in a closed system. Deutsch was a U.S. astronomer who understood the math of complex systems and made an example of  extreme complexity to the degree that a moebius was created causing two parallel planes within a singular closed system. The mathematical connection with a moebius band is tenuous but the story is still intriguing.

      The danger became real enough when two trains were found traveling within the same space but in two separate planes. At any time, the one train traveling within the other dimension created by the moebius could return to the plane and the track that the other train was traveling and cause an accident.

    The whole idea is quite “Frankensteinian” . Deutsch seems to want to suggest that a Quantum Monster has been created underneath the city of Boston. These are not Monsters from the ID however, but rather monsters of Mathematical Complexity. And he is pondering the moral prerogative of examining the responsibility involved with making decisions about interacting too much with exponentially complex systems. Is he suggesting perhaps, that we “look before we take that quantum leap” accidentally into another dimension? Intriguing stuff, indeed…

--Doug Taylor, Resident Philosopher

Summer Reading for Adults at Foster

 

This week's prize is $15 gift card to B. on Main. B. on Main has some of the most unique items in Ventura. Men, women and children can find something at this great local shop. So get reading, and enter online for a chance to win. Want to know more about our summer reading program at Foster? Read about it here.

Summer Reading for Adults: Why Should Kids Have all the Fun?

Remember how much fun it was to get a prize for reading? O the joy of filling out your reading sheet, turning it in and getting something in return!!! Well, now you can experience that joy as an adult. Starting today, June 9th, adults aged 18 and above can enter our summer reading contest. All you have to do is read a great book, enter once a week, and wait for the call saying you won!

We will have 6 weekly prizes ranging from chocolate donated by Trufflehounds, to gift certificates to fabulous local businesses. And seriously, all you have to do is read. The grand prize, donated by the Friends of the Library, is a Kindle. Then you can read even more!

 

 

Enter online, and keep reading for next week's entry.

Rules:

Must be age 18 and over

Must have a valid library card

One entry per week

Weekly entry may be submitted in the library, or online

Contest runs June9th-July20th

Sounds of Second Sunday at Foster

 
 
 
6/9 Ventucky String Band 2:00-4:00 - Free music in the Topping Room! The very popular Ventucky String Band joins the Second Sunday series. Jazz meets bluegrass in the sweet sounds of Ventucky: "Typical sets can vary from 1930’s Jazz & Bluegrass, to cowboy ballads & honky-tonk—all seamlessly woven together with original songwriting that draws inspiration from the deep well-spring of American roots music."
 
Foster library is proud to be a part of Ventura Music Week. See the site for more information!
 
Free and open to the public. Call (805)648-2716 for more information.

Anime!

For those intrepid few who wish to step outside the graphic novel circle, there is also anime. Anime, if you aren’t familiar with it, is the name for Japanese animated programs. They’re not exactly like the cartoons you’ll find on Saturday morning television, although they are becoming more prevalent in the U.S., especially the Toon Network and Adult Swim. Anime typically has a continuing storyline, usually of a season or two, about 12-13 episodes per season. Some however, like Bleach, go on for what seems like forever.

A couple recently added anime titles are among my favorites, and they couldn’t be more different. The first is Samurai Champloo, which literally means Samurai Mash-up. Set in the Edo period of feudal Japan, it’s the story of Fuu, a young girl looking for the samurai who smells of sunflowers, possibly her father. On her journey she brings two very different samurai: Mugen, a wild child with a crazy, mixed up samurai style, and Jin, a traditional samurai, more reserved, but just as deadly with a sword. When they’re not trying to kill each other, they help Fuu in her search throughout Japan. The show is a crazy blend of modern and historical references. It’s like nothing you’ve seen before. I absolutely love it!

The second anime is a modern slice-of-life school story. Bamboo Blade tells the story of a high school kendo club and it’s coach, Kojiro (who seems to be perpetually starving and broke), as he tries to assemble a winning kendo team. When he meets Tamaki it seems he may be off to a good start. Tamaki is a crazy-good kendo enthusiast who makes grown men cry with her skills. Outside of kendo, her only other fascination is an anime called Blade Braver (think Mighty Morphin Power Rangers). As the anime progresses, you’ll see the players perfect their skills (or try to) as they go from tournament to tournament. Some will actually surprise you. I’ve watched the entire series at least twice, and I enjoy it more and more with each viewing.

Both series are welcome additions to anyone interested in manga or graphic novels who wish to try something new. Give them a try. You might just like it.

Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess (and Ambassador of Anime)

Reading is sooo delicious

Ventura County Library's Summer Reading Program “Reading is so Delicious” has a new format this year.

Children just need to read 5 hours to complete the reading program and earn a prize. 

You can get a copy of the reading log from the library, on our website, from the newspaper or at certain local businesses.  Color in one strawberry for each hour you read or are read a library book.  Once you have completed the five hours, bring the form to your library and pick out your prize.  You will also get a chance to win your very own Nook HD at the end of the summer.  Participants up to grade 12 can enter once a week for the Nook HD, up to twelve times during the summer.

Come on in and gobble up books like The Sweet Life of Stella Madison by L. Zeises, Gross Grub by C. Porter (641.5), or an all time favorite, How to Eat Fried Worms by T. Rockwell. 

 

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