Generation Decks

This “unofficial history” of Magic: The Gathering has one of the more clever book titles I’ve seen in a long time.

Generation Decks tells the story of the mould-breaking fantasy card game, Magic: The Gathering. The brainchild of misfit maths genius Richard Garfield, Magic combines complex gameplay with collectability. When it came out in 1993 it transformed the lives of quiet braniacs who had longed for a way to connect and compete. It made millionaires of its creators, and it kick-started the era of professional gaming.

Titus Chalk tells the game’s story – from its humble origins to its continued success in today’s digital age. Prepare to meet Generation Decks, a community like no other.

Sam Harris and The Number of Books Translated Into Arabic

I was watching a video where Sam Harris was criticizing Islamic views of the Quran in which Harris made the same claim as this Tweet of his from 2015:

A quick Google search suggests that Spain’s current population is about 47 million, while there are about 366 million Arabic speakers, so that would an amazing statistic, if true. But is it true?

The source for this is Arab Human Development Report 2003 ?Building a Knowledge Society (2mb PDF)  which was spearheaded by Dr. Rima Khalaf Hunaidi, director of the Arab regional office of the UN Development Program. According to that report,

Most Arab countries have not learned from the lessons of the past and the field of translation remains chaotic. In terms of quantity, and notwithstanding the increase in the number of translated books from 175 per year during 1970-1975 to 330, the number of books translated in the Arab world is one fifth of the number translated in Greece. The aggregate total of translated books from the AlMa’moon era to the present day amounts to 10,000 books – equivalent to what Spain translates in a single year (Shawki Galal, in Arabic, 1999, 87)3 . This disparity was revealed in the first half of the 1980s when the average number of books translated per 1 million people in the Arab world during the 5-year period was 4.4 (less than one book for every million Arabs), while in Hungary it was 519, and in Spain 920. (Figure 2.9.)

The Alma’moon era refers to the seventh Abbasid caliph who reigned from 813-833. So Harris appears to have good grounds for his claim.

In the United States, there are roughly 300,000 new and re-issued books published every year. Roughly 3 percent of those are translations, or roughly 9,000 translated books per year for a country that has roughly the same population as Arabic speakers.

Part of the issue in the Arab world is that it isn’t just that there are relatively few translations published, but that there are few books published in general. Accurate statistics are hard to come by, but the Arab Human Development Report 2003 and other sources estimate that only 7,000-8,000 books are published in the entire Arab world annually. This is due, in part, to high levels of illiteracy,

Literary production faces other major challenges. These include the small number of readers owing to high rates of illiteracy in some Arab countries and the weak purchasing power of the Arab reader. This limited readership is clearly reflected in the number of books published in the Arab world, which does not exceed 1.1% of world production, although Arabs constitute 5% of the world population. The production of literary and artistic books in Arab countries is lower than the general level. In 1996 it did not exceed 1,945 books, representing only 0.8% of world production, i.e., less than the production of a country such as Turkey, with a population one quarter of that of Arab countries. An abundance of religious books and a relative paucity of books in other fields characterize the Arab book market. Religious books account for 17% of the total number of books published in Arab countries, compared to 5% of the total number of books produced in other parts of the world.

 

Star Trek Redshirt’s Little Book of Doom

It looks like IP holders are picking up on the Little Books-style pop culture mockups that have been making their way around the Internet the past few years. Star Trek’s entry is the Redshirt’s Little Book of Doom, available July 2016. You’re probably better off spending your money on this than Star Trek Beyond.

 

 

Star Trek: Redshirt's Little Book of Doom

Warlock Holmes: A Study In Brimstone

I have no clue (get it) whether this is any good, but the title alone made me laugh.

Sherlock Holmes is an unparalleled genius. Warlock Holmes is an idiot. A font of arcane power, certainly. But he’s brilliantly dim. Frankly, he couldn’t deduce his way out of a paper bag. The only thing he has really got going for him are the might of a thousand demons and his stalwart companion. Thankfully, Dr. Watson is always there to aid him through the treacherous shoals of Victorian propriety… and save him from a gruesome death every now and again.

Warlock Holmes Cover

Banned Book Trading Card Project

In order to highlight Banned Books Week last September, the Lawrence Public Library in Lawrence, Kansas, solicited submissions from local artists that focused on banned books. It selected seven of those submissions and created this awesome set of Banned Book Trading Cards. The back of each card includes details on the book and instances where it has been banned, as well as information about the artists and their inspiration for the particular image.

The library gave away 450 sets of the trading cards at the library and other affiliated organizations. It also did a second print run and sells sets of the cards for $7 + 2.95 shipping and handling.

 

Animal Farm by George Orwell
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Run Rabbit Run by John Updike
Run Rabbit Run by John Updike
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
Little Red Riding Hood
Little Red Riding Hood
1984
1984 by George Orwell