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review 2018-11-25 02:01
Hikaru no Go (manga, vol. 21) story by Yumi Hotta, art by Takeshi Obata, supervised by Yukari Umezawa (5 Dan), translated by Naoko Amemiya
Hikaru no Go: Great Expectations, Vol. 21 - Yumi Hotta,Takeshi Obata

[When I added this to my LibraryThing, it notified me that there was a duplicate ISBN in my collection. I checked, and apparently I own this. Huh. I have no idea when that happened.]

 

Ochi beats Waya, qualifying for the Hokuto Cup, but when he sees Hikaru and Yashiro's game, he knows it's several levels above his and Waya's. He asks to extend the Hokuto Cup qualifiers so that the can play against

Yashiro, who lost against Hikaru, and prove to himself and others that he deserves to be at the Hokuto Cup. Unfortunately for him, Yashiro wins and becomes part of Japan's Hokuto Cup team. Yashiro, Hikaru, and Akira stay at Akira's currently empty home for a while, playing nonstop practice matches against each other until they drop. Meanwhile, Akira's dad is playing as an "amateur" in Korea, attempting to become stronger for a rematch against Sai (that's never going to happen *sob*). Also, one of Korea's professional Go players, Ko Yong Ha, disses Shusaku, resulting in Hikaru seeing him as someone who must be beaten.

(spoiler show)


Another fun volume, although, again, I deeply miss Sai. It hurt my heart that Akira's dad was working towards a rematch that he didn't know could never happen. I'm not sure that even a match against Hikaru after he's had a few years to acquire some experience would be good enough.

Oh man, Ochi. If it hadn't been

for his pride, he'd have gone to the Hokuto Cup. That said, I think Hikaru, Akira, and Yashiro were a more fun group than Hikaru, Akira, and Ochi would have been.

(spoiler show)

I liked that Yashiro's unsupportive parents made Hikaru more aware and appreciative of his supportive mom. She may not understand Go in the slightest, but she does her best to make sure he has the time to concentrate on it.

One quote I liked from this volume: "...it must be lonely to be the God of Go. You'd have no equal, no rival." (Hikaru to Akira and the people at Akira's Go salon) I still wonder about Sai. Did he disappear because he'd finally found his perfect rival (Toya Meijin?), or did he disappear because he'd helped lead Hikaru down the path of playing his own kind of Go? Considering the series title, the latter seems likely, although maybe there's an element of both.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-11-07 06:19
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Great Expectations - Arthur Pober,Charles Dickens,Eric Freeberg,Deanna McFadden

This is possibly the oldest book in my to-read pile. My copy of it has "28 Mar 2008" scribbled on the title page, so it had been sitting on my shelf unread for over 10 years (I even found the Goodreads thread where I told a friend that I had just bought it at a discount). Finally crossing it off my list after all these years feels like a huge accomplishment.

I must say the story dragged a bit for me. Every once in a while something interesting happens but then it goes back to its plodding manner, until the third and final part of the book where things really run along. However, some details or minor characters which didn't really interest me earlier or didn't seem like they really matter turn out to be important in the end, so credit is due to Dickens for that. I also liked the comical touches which provides a nice balance to the dramatic plot and Gothic elements of the novel.

The orphan Philip Pirrip (Pip) as the central character of the book—I wouldn't call him a hero—is not exactly a sympathetic personality. He starts out innocently enough but after meeting the rich Miss Havisham and her adopted daughter Estella, he becomes ashamed of his simple country boy upbringing and of his brother-in-law/father figure, the kind but uncouth blacksmith Joe Gargery. Pip is then adopted by an anonymous patron with the promise of making him a gentleman and giving him a large inheritance. Instead of becoming more humble and using his relative prosperity to even better himself, he takes on an extravagant lifestyle and ends up accumulating debt. He can't stand Joe's unmannerly ways and basically cuts off contact with him. He also seems to have a low opinion of servants, errand boys and other people he now considers to be beneath him. Except for him reciprocating his best friend Herbert Pocket's kindness by secretly providing him with a livelihood, Pip's behavior makes it rather hard to root for him as a main character.

While Pip assumes all along that his benefactor is Miss Havisham, I had already been aware prior to starting the book that his true benefactor is the former convict Abel Magwitch, so that part didn't surprise me. What did surprise me, though, was Pip's persistence in his misguided idea that Miss Havisham as his supposed patron intends for him to marry her ward Estella, when he already knows from Herbert that Miss Havisham raised Estella to carry out revenge on all men. She even bluntly tells Estella, in Pip's presence, to break his heart. Maybe his love for Estella just makes him blind. Speaking of Miss Havisham, she is the most bizarre character with the strongest presence in the whole novel, and therefore the most interesting for me. Another favorite character of mine is a supporting one: Pip's ally Wemmick, who maintains a strict, cold demeanor at work as a lawyer's clerk but loosens up and unleashes his eccentricity at his tiny castle-like home.

Dickens is known for his improbable coincidences—which I had felt in A Tale of Two Cities—but some of the coincidental twists in this novel seem rather pointless. That Estella's birth mother is the housekeeper of the attorney Mr Jaggers, Pip's guardian, and that her father is in fact Magwitch don't seem to be very important in the grand scheme of things, since these facts are never revealed to Estella herself. Magwitch being her father also doesn't serve to endear him to Pip, as Pip's opinion of his true benefactor has already softened before he finds out about this. Magwitch's archenemy Compeyson being Miss Havisham former lover who scammed and jilted her years earlier is another revelation which doesn't go anywhere, since Miss Havisham never finds out about it and their relationship happened before Magwitch met Compeyson, so the former had no part in ruining Miss Havisham's life. It just felt like some the coincidences are purely for the shock factor and in order to have the characters connected in some way.

Despite his shortcomings Pip redeems himself near the end, as he comes to appreciate how much Magwitch has done for him and realize how badly he has behaved towards Joe and Biddy, his faithful childhood friend. The most delicious twist in the book happens when Pip, who has given up on Estella and intends to go and propose to Biddy, assuming she has been waiting for him all these years, returns home only to find that Joe and Biddy have just married. It's what Pip deserves, really.

The ending has him reunited with Estella, now a widow after having been ill-treated by her late husband, but it remains vague whether he and Estella truly end up together. Dickens actually wrote that ending after revising the original one, where they meet again after Estella has remarried and there seems to be no hope of them being together. In my opinion there has never been any romance between them to begin with as Pip's sentiments are entirely one-sided throughout the novel, and any feelings Estella might have developed are more likely to be regret borne from her suffering rather than love. But it's left to each reader's imagination whether they will end up together or it is just another one of Pip's great expectations which doesn't turn into reality.

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review 2018-04-03 15:25
The long history of "tomorrow's car"
The Electric Vehicle: Technology and Expectations in the Automobile Age - Gijs Mom

The relative novelty of the electric vehicle today can obscure the fact that it has a history dating back to the beginnings of the automobile itself. For while most people still drive cars and trucks fueled by gasoline, electricity was a motive power adopted by quite a few vehicle manufacturers in Europe and America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In this book, Gijs Mom explores issues of technology, infrastructure, and consumer culture to explain why it was that electric vehicles failed to become the dominant vehicle type in the early years of automobile development.

Mom divides the history of the electric vehicle into three "generations." In the first, which spanned from 1881 until 1902, automobiles were primarily toys of the wealthy and the enthusiast. The technological limitations facing electric cars — the limited rage and lack of places to replenish their motive energy — were shared by their gasoline and steam-powered counterparts. While gasoline-powered vehicles began developing an advantage in range by the end of this period, the zero emissions and overall cleanliness of electric vehicles still made electric cars a preferred option for many drivers in cities, where distance driving was less of an issue.

By the beginning of the 20th century, a consensus had formed that poor battery performance was the main constraint holding back the development of the electric vehicle. During the second generation, which Mom dates from 1902 until the mid-1920s, improved battery designs helped to address this by improving their capacity. Electric cars continued to enjoy a place in the automotive market, particularly for urban fleet usage, the well-to-do, and women. The key appeal for the latter group was the ease of starting electric vehicles, which did not require the physically demanding cranking required of early gas-powered vehicles. It was the adoption of the electric starter by the early 1920s (in essence, the partial "electrification" of the gasoline-powered vehicle) which Mom sees as cementing the dominance of the gasoline vehicle, though he notes the persistence of electric vehicle usage for some organizations well into the post-World War II era, long before the late-20th century revival of interest in electric vehicles asserted itself.

Mom's history of the electric vehicle is a fascinating study of the factors at play in the adoption of technology, in this case one the ramifications of which are still being addressed today. Though his prose is painstaking and occasionally burdened with conceptual jargon, his assiduous research and detailed analysis provides a well-reasoned explanation for the early failure of electric cars to become the dominant automotive technology. With its account of technological cul-de-sacs and cultural headwinds, readers will find within its pages a story with some echoes of the issues facing electric vehicles today, one that gives a new meaning to Faulkner's adage about the past not being dead or even past. For this reason alone it deserves a wide audience among everyone interested in its subject.

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text 2017-12-18 21:02
Reading progress update: I've read 67%.
Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

I tried to collect my thoughts, but I was stunned.

 

 

Me too, Pip, me too.

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text 2017-12-17 14:07
Reading progress update: I've read 63%.
Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

Look at her so hard and thankless, on the hearth where she was reared!

 

Miss Havisham sounds like my mother! :)

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