Tuesday News: Obama on books, chatbots, Ladybird climate change book, and new Marilyn Monroe video
Transcript: President Obama on What Books Mean to Him – If you can’t (or don’t want to) get this article from the New York Times website, Quartz has a partial summary – in particular Obama’s book recommendations to his daughter, Malia. The full interview contains a number of interesting exchanges with Michio Kakutani, including Obama’s own fiction writing aspirations and his appreciation of reading for multiple reasons: “Sometimes you read fiction just because you want to be someplace else.” Heh. He is a science fiction fan, and mentions Liu Cixin’s The Three Body Problem. As for the books he recommended to Malia as she leaves for college (from the Quartz piece):
They included a couple of revered staples of 20th-century literature: Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. But Obama also suggested some lesser-known classics that have served as rallying cries for feminists.
“Then there were some books I think that are not on everybody’s reading list these days, but I remembered as being interesting, like The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, for example. Or The Woman Warrior, by Maxine [Hong Kingston],” Obama said. – Quartz and the New York Times
Watch out publishers: the chatbots are coming – Oh, boy. Just what we need. Author chatbots. Did you know there is already a Robbie Williams chatbot for music fans? Initially attached to consumer product brands like Domino’s, chatbots make sense when you think about how much more personal and individually targeted advertising is becoming. And I guess you could even have dead author chatbots, so the options are quite, uh, extensive. I wonder how receptive readers will be to these (assuming there is transparency in their application).
The opportunities for publishers and authors are huge, but the industry has been slow to invest in the bot pot to date. Digital agency BAM Mobile is hoping to lead the way with AuthorBot, a new service for book publishers, agents and authors that creates author bots on platforms including Facebook Messenger, Slack and Telegram, and delivers voice-activated book discovery and reading services for Amazon Echo and Google Now. The team has created a basic Alice in Wonderland bot as a demonstration piece, and is already working on a project with a major UK publisher, due to launch soon. – The Bookseller
Prince Charles co-authors Ladybird climate change book – On the heels of its satirical books for adults, Ladybird books, which are published by Penguin, has created a new line of adult books aimed at explaining complex subjects in a simplified context. Sort of like Dummies meets kid lit. The line is getting a significant boost from Prince Charles, who has co-authored a book on climate change, one of his longtime concerns.
The other books in the series are Quantum Mechanics by Jim Al-Khalili, and Evolution by Steve Jones.
Asked how the book might be received in the academic community, Dr Phillip Williamson, an associate fellow at the University of East Anglia’s School of Environmental Sciences, said: “There’s the obvious danger that this won’t be taken seriously.
“But if the style is right, and the information is correct and understandable, the new Ladybird book with royal authorship could be just what is needed to get the message across that everyone needs to take action on climate change.” – BBC News
New images of Marilyn Monroe – The discussion yesterday around men writing women made this story even more poignant to me, and because you can read about it (and watch the video footage) in either the Times or A.V. Club, I decided to link to Lainey Gossip’s summary, which includes both links. The footage is of Marilyn Monroe and the billowing white dress, and it was taken by New York furrier, Jules Schulback, who lived in the area and loved to take home movies. You can read the fascinating backstory on Schulback in the Times article, but in regard to the footage itself, Lainey’s summary is particularly good because it hones in on one of the most important points: the leering objectification of Marilyn Monroe by both men she knew and absolute strangers.
It happening during filming of The Seven Year Itch. And The New York Times this weekend published a piece about the man, an ordinary citizen, who went out that night with his camera to see what he could get. Hundreds of men were gathered on the streets of New York to perv at the sexiest woman alive. As A.V. Club notes, the footage “reminds us (that) dudes have always been kind of gross”. The NYT also reminds us what that shot cost her. Marilyn was married to Joe DiMaggio at the time. And along with all those dudes, he also showed up to set that day. Joe was obsessive and possessive. And he was so angry at seeing his wife being leered at by so many men that they ended up having a huge fight that resulted in bruises all over her face. – Lainey Gossip