Friday, October 28, 2011

Bedbugs and Star Trek


On Saturday, Vancouver resident Brian King was reading in his living room when a bedbug crawled out of the book and onto his hand.
"Out of the spine walks this little red creepy-crawly thing and I said to my wife, 'Hello what's this?'" King told CBC News on Wednesday.

King said a Google search informed him it was a bedbug, and a quick search of the book turned up several more.

"So I squished two or three of them. I caught a couple of them live and put them in a pill bottle securely, and there were also in the spine maybe two or three already dead."

. . . .

Vancouver Public Library spokesperson Jean Kavanagh says it's the first report of a live bedbug in the Vancouver system. Staff are in contact with Vancouver Coastal Health and continue to monitor the situation.

But because of the size of the Vancouver Library system, they haven't decided yet whether to mount a full-scale inspection for bedbugs, and they have no plans to close any library branches, said Kavanagh.

"We have over 10 million items, so I think we have to look at the situation seriously, but also practically."

Meanwhile, King said it appears his home is bedbug free.

"No sign of any bug infestations at all. There hadn't been and there still isn't," he said.
- Bedbugs found in Vancouver library book
When I read this article my first thought was: Of the list of positive things about ebooks I would never have have thought to put "bedbug free" on the list!

Reading this over I'm worried that I come across as being rabidly pro-ebook or, worse, against paper books. I love books of any description, but I must admit I think ebooks are cool in a way that paper books aren't. Perhaps it's the Star Trek dweeb in me (Trekkie? Trekker?)

When I first watched Start Trek: The Next Generation the idea of a holodeck and the portable hand-held computer/readers Picard used captivated my imagination. "One day humanity will have things like this," I thought, but it never occurred to me that I'd be alive to see it happen.

Okay, we don't have a holodeck (yet!) but my iPad seems pretty close to Picard's hand-held tablet.

I remember watching the episode, from the original series -- I think it was called Court Martial -- where Krik is falsely accused of negligence in the apparent death of one of his crewmen, Ben Finney. It's a great episode, one of my favorites, but what stayed with me was Kirk's lawyer's refusal to use digital books in his law practice.

In one scene, Kirk walks into his lawyer's office, one Samuel T. Cogley, and looks around. Bookcases laden with dusty tomes line the walls. I remember feeling that if I ever had an office, that was the kind of office I wanted. Kirk is surprised by all the paper books. He says something like, "You can have all these books on your computer, why keep them around?"

His lawyer replies that books, real books, have soul. I loved this! "Yes!" I thought. It was wonderful to think that people in a technologically advanced future world would think that in some ways our society was better. I know, I know, it was a fiction, a fantasy, but still.

I still think Kirk's lawyer's speech was magnificent. That said, my skin tingles when I think about my iPad being able to hold thousands of books. Think about it! Any electronic reader or tablet can hold an entire library and it's weightless. Portable. It's like having the library of Alexandria in your hip pocket! If that's not some kind of spooky magic I don't know what is.

I guess this rambling post has been a stab at an explanation of why I am enamored of ebooks, why I write about them, why I'm tickled by unexpected new qualities (for instance, immune to bedbug infestations). It's not that I want to put down or belittle paper books -- I still love paper books -- it's just that the geek in me thinks that ebooks are so darn cool.

3 comments:

  1. E-readers are great until you have a critical battery situation and can't access that fantastic book you were reading which is what happened to me the other night! My kindle was so low it didn't even boot up when I put it on charge and for the first time I went to bed with nothing to read! Have you read Earth Abides? I loved that post apocalyptic novel for the way Isherwood, the main character, turns his local library into a shrine. I think in our post apocalyptic future there may not be any libraries left.

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  2. Oh no! I hope you get the battery fixed soon. I haven't read Earth Abides, but it seems like just the sort of book I love to read. Thanks for your comment! :)

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  3. I want some eBook skins made of a high quality silicone material that enhances durability and protects your device from nicks and scratches. I think your sharing is best for me. I must use this skin case for my ebook.

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