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11 Ironic and Puzzling E-Books

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There are lots of valid reasons why electronic books have been soaring in popularity over the last few years: they’re easier to transport than conventional books, often less expensive, and offer a variety of ways to heighten the reading experience (the ability to record notes, look up words, and so on). However, there are some cases in which a simple good old paper book probably would have made a bit more sense.

1. Living off the Grid
Numerous guides for living off the grid can be had for the popular Kindle or Nook reading devices. And, while some may argue that e-books are ultimately more environmentally friendly since no trees are cut down to create them, I’m sure the irony of a new type of energy dependence isn’t lost on those trying to recharge their e-readers with their own homegrown energy source.

2. The Unabomber Manifesto

When Unabomber Ted Kaczynski penned his 35,000-word manifesto – officially titled Industrial Society and Its Future – it probably wasn’t his aim that it would one day be available in an easily downloadable version for digital consumption. After all, Kaczynski spends most of the essay railing against the “industrial-technological system” and trying to incite a “revolution against technology.”

3. Nook Guides for the Kindle
As with any new technology, there are tons of guides available for Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader. In fact, a lot of them are available as Kindle books. The audience for those seems awfully specific: people that own a Kindle and a Nook, know how to use the Kindle but not the Nook, really want to learn how to use the Nook, refuse to read a paper book and don’t mind how odd they look holding one of each device and repeatedly glancing back and forth from one to the other.

4. Kindle Guides for the Kindle
How do those people described in the previous example learn the Kindle in the first place? Well, they read a guide to the Kindle, of course. And like the Nook guides, these helpful step-by-step Kindle instruction manuals are also available as Kindle books. The question then is: How do you buy the Kindle version of a Kindle guide, open it, and read it so that you can learn how to buy it, open it and read it? It’s a real modern day chicken or egg scenario.

5. Coloring Books
Every child loves a good coloring book. That is, of course, if they’re allowed to actually color in it. I can’t imagine that many parents are handing off their Kindle and a box of crayons to their kid. That means the strangely large number of coloring books available as e-books – like Jeremy Winslow’s Hours of Coloring Fun with Shapes and Patterns – don’t seem like much fun at all.

6. Origami
The e-book version of Origami Kit for Dummies is really appropriately named – considering what actually makes the hardbound version a “kit” and not just a “book” is the fact that it comes complete with “25 sheets of 5x5" origami paper in five fun colours”. They’ve come a long way with digital downloads but somehow I doubt those vibrant paper squares make it to your home – meaning your beautiful paper swans are most likely going to be made out of lined notebook paper.

7. Technophobia
If you suffer from Technophobia – defined as the “abnormal fear of or anxiety about the effects of advanced technology” – and you want to learn more about your condition, you can always download Marc J. Brosnan’s aptly-named book Technophobia right to your Kindle, Nook, iPad, computer or smart phone.

8. The History of the Printing Press
Sit back, relax and enjoy The Story of Gutenberg and the Printing Press via the very technology seeking to make it obsolete.

9. Touch & Feel Books
The Cloth Book Buzzy Bee, Bright Baby Touch & Feel Baby Animals, and Baby Touch & Feel Easter Bunny are among the wonderful books designed to teach toddlers through texture and touch. For some odd reason, they are available in various e-book formats – ensuring that any child that grows up using them will think every animal on Earth feels like glass.

10. A Pocket Guide to Amish Life
While the specific attitudes toward modern technology can vary greatly from one Amish community to another, the vast majority of them would probably agree that a book describing their simplified lifestyle might not best be read on a device that can also scour the internet, make phone calls, play games, and hold thousands of songs.

11. The Office 2012 Day-to-Day Calendar
Sure, Michael Scott, Dwight, Jim, Andy and the rest of the team at Dunder Mifflin aren’t real. But if they were, they would surely implore you to go with the trusty, reliable paper version of this calendar.

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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
Can’t See the Eclipse in Person? Watch NASA’s 360° Live Stream
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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Depending on where you live, the historic eclipse on August 21 might not look all that impressive from your vantage point. You may be far away from the path of totality, or stuck with heartbreakingly cloudy weather. Maybe you forgot to get your eclipse glasses before they sold out, or can't get away from your desk in the middle of the day.

But fear not. NASA has you covered. The space agency is live streaming a spectacular 4K-resolution 360° live video of the celestial phenomenon on Facebook. The livestream started at 12 p.m. Eastern Time and includes commentary from NASA experts based in South Carolina. It will run until about 4:15 ET.

You can watch it below, on NASA's Facebook page, or on the Facebook video app.

Cephalopod Fossil Sketch in Australia Can Be Seen From Space

Australia is home to some of the most singular creatures alive today, but a new piece of outdoor art pays homage to an organism that last inhabited the continent 65 million years ago. As the Townsville Bulletin reports, an etching of a prehistoric ammonite has appeared in a barren field in Queensland.

Ammonites are the ancestors of the cephalopods that currently populate the world’s oceans. They had sharp beaks, dexterous tentacles, and spiraling shells that could grow more than 3 feet in diameter. The inland sea where the ammonites once thrived has since dried up, leaving only fossils as evidence of their existence. The newly plowed dirt mural acts as a larger-than-life reminder of the ancient animals.

To make a drawing big enough to be seen from space, mathematician David Kennedy plotted the image into a path consisting of more than 600 “way points.” Then, using a former War World II airfield as his canvas, the property’s owner Rob Ievers plowed the massive 1230-foot-by-820-foot artwork into the ground with his tractor.

The project was funded by Soil Science Australia, an organization that uses soil art to raise awareness of the importance of farming. The sketch doubles as a paleotourist attraction for the local area, which is home to Australia's "dinosaur trail" of museums and other fossil-related attractions. But to see the craftsmanship in all its glory, visitors will need to find a way to view it from above.

[h/t Townsville Bulletin]


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