Friday, July 21, 2017

A Quote For Our Time

Or perhaps for all time. Today's Google Doodle honors Marshall McLuhan (whom I had never heard of before) "a Canadian professor, philosopher, and public intellectual." What a job title! Can I be a public intellectual? I think I would be good at it. How much does it pay?

Anyway... There are several quotes listed. This one seems particularly relevant.

A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding.

I'm sure Mr. McLuhan had a point of view also but I suppose he was qualified. After all he was a public intellectual.

Don't know why I'm being so snarky this morning. I really don't know anything about the man. (I think the words "public intellectual" set me off.) Anyway, I like the quote. It seems like an awful lot of people these days are substituting viewpoints for understanding. I think most people don't know the difference.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

This 'n' That

Okay, let's get this one out of the way first. Does It Fart? Haven't you always wanted to know which animals fart? Well, actually, I never gave it much thought. I just always assumed that everything that has a digestive system occasionally expels gas. But that's not always the case? Some of the Notes are, as you might expect, hilarious.

[ahem] How about something pretty to clear the air before we move on:

Cheese on apple pie? Yes, of course! Always. And only cheddar. (or maybe gouda)

The Concealed Revealed looks interesting. A blog but set up kind of weird. "Home" instead of being the most recent posts is a "About the Project" page then you have to go to the archives and recent posts links on the sidebar.

Dumpster Honey - the problems of urban bees

Owl Cabins - tiny, minimalist inside, so cute outside

86 percent of Americans draw circles in the counterclockwise direction. 80 percent of people in Japan draw them in the clockwise direction.

Insects, snails, flowers and more - Beautiful photography by Vyacheslav Mishchenko

Autochromes - Early color photographs. Here's one to finish up this post:

Genre scene, woman in kitchen peeling vegetables

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Books Books Books!

So I have been putting off blogging about my reading for months! It's not an obligation, of course. Nobody is obligated to blog daily, but see, I want to share this. I just haven't. So anyway, I've mostly forgotten what I wanted to say about all but the most recently read of these so I'm just going to put them all in one post and just to do something different I'm going to stick some completely unrelated photos in here as dividers. (These are not all of the books I've read this year, just some highlights.)

Earlier this year, thanks to Amazon's recommendations for me, I read two books with similar subject matter. Both are set during the Civil War era, including the pre- and post- Civil War years. Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim is about a young plantation owner's daughter's warm, loving relationship with her nurse, a slave woman named Mattie who is separated from her own son in order to nurse the white infant.

In the other book, Sister of Mine by Sabra Waldfogel, Adelaide is given a slave girl named Rachel to be her personal maid when they are both still children. The two get along well and soon discover that they are actually half-sisters. The story follows them through adolescence to young adulthood.

I highly recommend both of these books. The stories are interesting and the characters are fully developed and realistic. Both books manage to illustrate the tragedy and injustice of slavery without beating the reader over the head with brutality at the expense of the story. I don't want to give away the endings but I will say that both are satisfying though the ending of Yellow Crocus seems the more plausible of the two.

Of course one of the highlights of my reading year was Amongst the Stars, the third book in Kelly Sedinger's Song of Forgotten Stars series. This is the kind of fun and exciting adventure story that got me hooked on reading science fiction in the first place. While I now love a great variety of science fiction it's great that someone is still writing this kind of purely fun story.

I am a huge fan of fantasy writer China Mieville. His novella This Census-Taker is quite different from the other books of his that I have read. In it a young boy witnesses his father killing his mother. The authorities (and most other adults) choose to believe his father's version of events, that his mother abandoned them, but there are other hints that Dad is "not right." There are elements of fantasy in the story but they are so subtle they almost don't matter. This Census-Taker reads almost like a mainstream novella.

I have started reading Three Moments of an Explosion, a book of short stories by Mieville. They are also very different from the Mieville that I'm used to and I like some better than others. I have taken a break from it to read some other books though. The nice thing about a book of short stories is that you can spread them out, reading them one at a time between other books.

For some reason a lot of authors follow me on Twitter. I figure they're just trying to get attention, which is fine, but mostly I haven't paid much attention to them. I'm not sure what was different about S.E. Smith. Maybe the titles, maybe the cover art. Whatever it was, I followed her and followed her links to her books on Amazon and discovered A FREE KINDLE BOOK! A Warrior's Heart. Free. So I didn't even bother to read any reviews; I just downloaded it.

I am so glad it was free. Oh! My! Gawd! As I have already said on Twitter, it's pornographic. But dammit it's still science fiction and there was actually a bit of a story and I really hate to not finish a book; I mean like a Sheldon level have to finish so, quickly skipping over certain scenes, I kept reading. Turns out there were really only a couple of explicit (very explicit) scenes near the beginning and a couple more near the end.

Aside from that there was a lot in the book that just seemed silly to me. Two brothers who were kidnapped from Earth and enslaved as children grow up and fall madly in lust with two sisters from an alien warrior race. (Think Klingon but even meaner and cuter and purple) Anyway, in spite of the fact that these sisters are perfectly capable of kicking anyone's butt and feeding it to them, and the brothers really are not, the brothers constantly feel the need to "protect" their alien girlfriends.

Overall the story is pretty simplistic. The only real action (other than the aforementioned [ahem] "action") is a pretty standard escape. That's really unfortunate because the races and civilizations mentioned in the story seem like they could be interesting if the author would concentrate more on those and less on the "romance" and interpersonal [ahem] activities. But, you know, I guess some people are into that sort of thing. I won't judge. Or at least I'm trying not to judge.

Photos taken by me over 10 years ago.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Could Stores Please Just Behave?

You've probably heard that Hobby Lobby is in trouble again. I don't normally boycott anything. It's ineffective unless a really massive number of people do it and it just seems like a kind of childish temper tantrum or pouting. But it really bothers me to think about shopping at Hobby Lobby since the insurance thing and now this reinforces my instinct to not shop there. At the same time I really hate all this because, apart from their politics, I really like Hobby Lobby.

The take on this among people here in Oklahoma will be something like, "liberal judges picking on good Christian business owners," so they may actually see an increase in sales. So, much as I would like to see them suffer for their bad decisions, it's not going to happen whether I shop there or not. Still, the idea of shopping there makes me extremely uncomfortable.

Oh, and just to be clear, I am not anti-Christian but I do not believe that Hobby Lobby's business decisions are driven by Christian principles, rather they are using religion to justify illegal actions taken merely to save or make money.