Reclaiming ConversationIf you got to a meeting or to lunch and place your cell phone on the table (even if it’s turned off) you send certain signals to those at the table with you according to Sherry Turkle a professor at MIT and the author of Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. The visible presence of that cell phone says that your attention is not wholly on those you’re with, and it actually decreases you empathy for people. Turkle discusses this and much more in an interview on The PBS Newshour.

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In a recent post I praised the Amazon Echo, and I stand by what I said. But now I’ve read an article which explores the idea of privacy in a world where our apps and web surfing may be feeding information to retailers and who knows who else about what we say, write, or look at on the world wide web. The Guardian has a thought provoking article about the issues that is a must-read.

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ComicsWhen you look in the Sunday paper you probably look to see what’s new in the comics. People have been doing that same thing for 100 years according to a segment on CBS Sunday Morning.

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“The next desideratum [requirement] was a pretext for the continuous use of the one word ‘nevermore.’ In observing the difficulty which I had at once found in inventing a sufficiently plausible reason for its continuous repetition, I did not fail to perceive that this difficulty arose solely from the presumption that the word was to be so continuously or monotonously spoken by a human being – I did not fail to perceive, in short, that the difficulty lay in the reconciliation of this monotony with the exercise of reason on the part of the creature repeating the word. Here, then, immediately arose the idea of a non-reasoning creature capable of speech, and very naturally, a parrot, in the first instance, suggested itself, but was superseded forthwith by a Raven as equally capable of speech and infinitely more in keeping with the intended tone.”

Most authors leave us to figure out, if we can, why they wrote what they wrote, but Edgar Allan Poe, in the case of his famous poem “The Raven,” tells us exactly how he came to write it. It’s all there in his 1846 essay “The Philosophy of Composition.”

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“Southern literature” is distinctive enough that it has its own, unique name. And, according to author Margaret Eby, southern comedy is also different from simple comic literature. An article that features examples of southern comedy in Book Forum also contains a link to a reading of the short story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by its author, Flannery O’Connor.

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The next edition of the live author interview program In-Depth on Book TV (C-SPAN2) will air Sunday, December 6, 2015 from noon to 3:00 p.m. ET. The featured guest will be author and commentator Cokie Roberts. Her books include Ladies of Liberty and Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation.

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Let’s go back to Thanksgiving Day and see what was going on around one particular dinner table. You might also enjoy seeing what was going on behind the scenes.

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