“The GigaLaw: Guide to Internet Law” by Doug Isenberg (Random House, 2002)


Have you ever felt guilty about stealing pictures from some site on the Internet and either using them on your own site without giving the person credit, or using them for some project for school?  Perhaps you’ve questioned yourself over whether it is okay to do what you’re doing.  Here’s a book that will finally answer all of your Internet questions: The GigaLaw.

With an extremely extensive contents list split into sections such as: Copyright Law, Domain Names and Trademarks, Patent Law, and Privacy to name a few, there are then specific chapter headings that will get you to the page you want and the specific answers you need in no time.  Together with a full index and lists for websites pertaining to each chapter, this is a book that pretty much anyone can’t do without.

In a small paperback form, The GigaLaw is a book that will get used every day no matter what you’re doing online, because you’ll always be asking yourself whether you what you’re doing violates the rights of a certain site, or whether you are perfectly without your own rights to be doing what you doing.  The answers are all here.

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Originally published on December 9th, 2002.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.

“A Dictionary of African Mythology” by Harold Sheub (Oxford University Press, 2002)

A Dictionary of African Mythologystarstarstar

There are not many people who know a lot about African countries today, and there are far less who are aware of the immense mythology that exists on this ancient continent.  A Dictionary of African Mythology changes this.  In paperback form and being not that long, this edition serves as a handy reference tool, with a thorough index, for anyone writing papers on this subject.  But it also serves as a most interesting book about a giant continent whose mythology is not really known about.  In an easy-to-read dictionary form, you can either start at the beginning, or flip to a random page.  Whatever you choose to do, it will ultimately open new worlds to, and tales of countries you were never even sure existed before.

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Originally published on November 25th, 2002.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.

“English as a Second F*cking Language” by Sterling Johnson (St. Martin’s Press, 1996)

Cult Fact!

English as a Second F*cking Languagestarstarstar

Warning: this review contains graphic language.

While not new to publishing (release in 1996), this book is a necessary swear word compendium for any English lover.  Author Sterling Johnson, a professor who has been teaching English as a second language for over twenty years, brings us a complete breakdown of swearing in the English language: each chapter begins with the particular swear word, gives a rundown of the various forms it may be used in, as well as full examples of how specifically to use said swear word.  Johnson also goes to great odds to prevent “lay” swear word users from misusing certain words, rendering them stupid sounding or just plain confusing.

“Great f*cking book!” says Stephen King.

And now for some examples:

“The Basic Seven”: shit, fuck, piss, cunt, asshole, motherfucker, and cock-sucker.

“How to use the F-Word”:

Sigmund: “How come you’re mad Carl?”

Randolph: “The no-good fuck fucked me out of ten dollars.”

Some chapter titles include: Fuck, Sodomy, His (swear words to do with males), Hers (swear words to do with females), Everybody’s, Farts, Blasphemy, Family Matters, Hands-on Experience.

Only 88 pages long , this book nevertheless has it all.  If you’re one not to be offended by blatant swearing, this book will amuse you to no end; there’s even “The Final F*cking Exam” to test you at the end.

It is also possible to contribute any new and unusual swear words you happen to know.  Simply send them to: Sterling Johnson, St. Martin’s Press, Room 1700, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.  Or email the author at: rokaco@redshift.com.

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Originally published on January 28th 2002.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.

“Bryson’s Dictionary For Writers and Editors” by Bill Bryson (Broadway, 2008)

Bryson's Dictionaries For Writers and Editorsstarstarstar

Bestselling author Bill Bryson has already amassed quite a career for himself with successful travel writing books like A Walk in the Woods and In a Sunburned Country, as well as books on literature and language like The Mother Tongue and Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words, and even attempting to present a concise history of science with A Short History of Nearly Everything; Bryson now returns with Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors.

He admits in his preface that it is a personal collection, “built over thirty years as a writer and editor in two countries,” and that some of the obscure references and definitions may not be useful to many, like the name of the Sydney district Woolloomooloo, or that the residence of the Danish Royal Family in Copenhagen is the Amalienborg Palace. Nevertheless, Bryson addresses many of the common issues that make a writer hesitate – amoral or immoral? Effect or affect?  He dispenses with the dictionary’s phonetic alphabet, instead providing pronunciation help where necessary; as well as cross indexing so that in the example mentioned above, the entry can be found filed under both amoral and immoral for the writer’s and editor’s ease.

Bryson’s Dictionary is filled with innumerable references and spellings for authors, book titles, series, philosophers, scientists . . . you name it, making them even easier to find than looking up on the Internet.  Bryson also includes appendices of punctuation and its definitions, words ending in –able and –ible, a list of the world’s airports and their codes, the different currencies of the world, conversion tables, and an extensive glossary on grammar.

Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors is the ideal book for most people who do any sort of reading and writing, whether it is the freshman heading off for college for the first time, the freelance writer looking to get published, or the retired crossword addict looking for exact spelling at their fingertips.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on July 11th 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.

“The Pessimist’s Guide to History: An Irresistible Compendium of Catastrophes, Barbarities, Massacres, and Mayhem — From 18 Billion Year Ago to 2007” by Doris Flexner and Stuart Berg Flexner (Harper, 2008)

Pessimist's Guide to Historystarstarstar

Optimists have ruled the world in popularity since the first optimist made a comment about the beautiful weather, leaving the pessimists behind, ignored, and looked down upon; but now that’s all going to change with the “freshly updated” Pessimist’s Guide to History.  For every happy comment, witty repartee, and overly-positive statement, pessimists will now have the fodder to fight back with this reference manual.

The book begins with the most catastrophic event in the history of the universe: the big bang which started all life and everything as we know it.  Then a few entries are dedicated to mass extinctions, destructive meteors, volcanic eruptions, and massive climactic changes.  With the advent of humanity beginning its slow but thorough conquest of the planet, authors Doris Flexner and Stuart Berg Flexner don’t hold back in presenting every horrible, destructive, plague-ridden event throughout history.  The entries vary in length from short quick events: “217 B.C.: One Hundred Cities Destroyed by Killer Quake.  A deadly quake rocked much of North Africa in 217 B.C., demolishing one hundred cities and killing more than fifty thousand people”; to longer entries spanning a couple of pages as more setting, detail, and information is needed about specific horrific events like: “1812: Moscow Burns,” and “1888-1891: Jack the Ripper Terrorizes Whitechapel,” and “1902: Mount Pelée’s Deadly Eruption.

The first third of the book covers the beginning of the universe up to the end of the nineteenth century.  The rest of the book is dedicated to the last hundred-and-seven years bringing the book up to the present with the many terrible events of the last hundred years.  Whether you want to read the book cover to cover, or simply flip through and reference different dates and times, different events, The Pessimist’s Guide to History will have all the horrible and detailed answers you crave.  At the end of the book there is even an extensive index of each event, categorized by the type.  The adamant pessimist will never again be without a horrific comeback.

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Originally written on May 10th 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.