Sunday, September 30, 2012

Death at Sea World: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity by David Kirby

As the subtitle of this book explains, this is an examination of the dark side of keeping highly intelligent and social creatures like killer whales in captivity.

Award winning investigative journalist David Kirby goes behind the scenes of the captive marine mammal industry to unravel the carefully constructed fantasy that the industry has spun, and we meet all the humans involved in capturing them, studying them, displaying them, and training them.  He takes you to the center of an international controversy where public sentiment, science, business and government concerns clash over the use of killer whales in entertainment.  Contrasting the lives of wild orcas at sea with orcas in confinement dealing with the stress of capture as well as confinement (which can turn them into sick, unstable, aggressive animals) we look at the true costs of holding the ocean's top predator in captivity.

Kirby also details the deaths of trainers like Dawn Brancheau (a beloved and experienced trainer at SeaWorld Orlando) in 2010 and Alexis Martinez, a young spanish trainer who died in 2009.   It is a fascinating and shocking book that will help you decide where you stand on the issue of whales and dolphins in captivity.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Library Date Stamp artwork

Italian artist, Frederico Pietrella uses the art medium to illustrate the concept of time.  He uses library date stamps and takes a considerable amount of time to produce these images.  This link shows you some of his artwork and includes a short video about him as well.  Truly amazing stuff.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Doc by Mary Doria Russell

I loved this book from the very first sentences..."He began to die when he was twenty-one, but tuberculosis is slow and sly and subtle.  The disease took fifteen years to hollow out his lungs so completely they could no longer keep him alive. In all that time, he was allowed a single season of something like happiness."

The story takes place in 1878 (three years before the shootout at the O. K. Corral).  Dodge City, Kansas, is a cow town where after the long, hard drive was over and the herds were delivered, weary cowboys could find entertainment that involved gambling, drinking, and hookers.  Violence is random and routine and it's all a part-time policeman named Wyatt Earp can do to keep it in check.  Then the burned body of a boy named Johnnie Sanders is discovered and the death seems of special importance to Doc Holliday, a frail dentist who has just started his practice in town.

The ALA gave this book its top pick in historical fiction for 2011, and Russell was also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize with Doc--and now I see why.  Whatever your image of Doc Holliday was before diving into this book, I guarantee you will come away from this reading with an admiration and respect for Russell's depiction of the educated Southern gentleman who formed an unlikely friendship with the Earp brothers and was so much more than the gunman and gambler that most of us remember from the O.K. Corral. 

Russell has a knowledge of 5 or 6 languages and it is refreshing to see some of that language facility used as dialogue for her characters.  Doc's "roommate," a high-strung Hungarian whore spouts Magyar, German, French, and Latin.  The writing is superb, the research is thorough, the characterizations are rich.  The book is full of humor and just soars with beautifully written and engaging dialogue.  You really must read this book!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Librarian tattoos

Thanks to Mental Floss, here are 11 Amazing Librarian tattoos.  If I had a tatt, I'd probably do a literary quote in some obscure place, but I admit I was amazed by these...especially the one with the card catalog.  Wow!

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