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text 2019-01-16 17:33
Reading progress update: I've read 311 out of 460 pages.
The Penguin Classics Book - Various Authors,Henry Eliot

Les Miserables is the 2nd longest novel in the collection - only Clarissa is longer. I've read the former but not the latter; I wimped out and decided to try the shorter Richardson novel, Pamela, first, but even that is staring at me from the shelf, disapproving of the neglect it is suffering... 

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text 2019-01-16 11:51
Reading progress update: I've read 300 out of 460 pages.
The Penguin Classics Book - Various Authors,Henry Eliot

George Bernard Shaw takes up a heap of space but not as much as Shakespeare.

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text 2019-01-15 17:25
Reading progress update: I've read 31 out of 391 pages.
The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements - Sam Kean

Well, let's just say Mr. Kean clearly isn't Helen Czerski (and that is not a good thing).

 

He either has no clear conception of who his target audience is, or he doesn't know how to talk to his audience.  Someone with an average to advanced training in science obviously wouldn't need any explanations as to the structure of the periodic table, to begin with.  The rest of us might need one -- but (and it speaks volumes that I even have to emphasize this) a clearly structured one, please, not an assortment of anectdotes that blows any explanatory structure clean out of the window.  Also, if you're writing a book subtitled (in part) "...Tales of ... the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements", wouldn't it be a good idea to give your readers an idea when and how the periodic table itself made its first appearance in the history of the world?  Just a paragraph or so, for reference in conjunction with its basic structure, so we know where we are, both in chemical terms and the history of science?  (Ms. Czerski did just that.  But as I said ... Mr. Kean clearly isn't Helen Czerski.) 

 

So far, he's managed the feat that only one of my school teachers ever managed, and that was my physics teacher, who, like Sam Kean, presented his material full of enthusiasm as to the magic of it all, or the big joke associated with a given scientific fact / discovery, or some other reaction clearly warranted in his eyes, while completely failing to transport to the rest of us -- and hence, leaving us entirely mystified -- what all all of this had to do with any of us and why it was actually important (other than in a way that only the initiated would be able to appreciate).  I used to actually like chemistry in school (unlike physics), and I believed I had a fairly good grip on the subject -- an impression my teachers seemed to share, judging by my grades.   A major reason for this was the fact that (unlike in physics class) I never had a moment's doubt as to why what I was learning mattered, and how it all fitted together in the grand scheme of things.  But if I didn't at least have this distant reservoir to rely on, I'm pretty sure I'd be entirely baffled already.  And I can only hope that this state of affairs is going to improve, because otherwise I'm either going to throw in the towel or it's going to take me eons to finish this book (and it won't earn a particularly high rating, either).

 

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review 2019-01-15 04:46
A Short History of Drunkenness by Mark Forsyth
A Short History of Drunkenness - Mark Forsyth

TITLE:   A Short History of Drunkenness

 

AUTHOR:  Mark Forsyth

 

DATE PUBLISHED: 2017

 

FORMAT:  Hardcover

 

ISBN-13:  9780241297681

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DESCRIPTION:

" Almost every culture on earth has drink, and where there's drink there's drunkenness. But in every age and in every place drunkenness is a little bit different. It can be religious, it can be sexual, it can be the duty of kings or the relief of peasants. It can be an offering to the ancestors, or a way of marking the end of a day's work. It can send you to sleep, or send you into battle.

A Short History of Drunkenness traces humankind's love affair with booze from our primate ancestors through to Prohibition, answering every possible question along the way: What did people drink? How much? Who did the drinking? Of the many possible reasons, why? On the way, learn about the Neolithic Shamans, who drank to communicate with the spirit world (no pun intended), marvel at how Greeks got giddy and Romans got rat-arsed, and find out how bars in the Wild West were never quite like in the movies.

This is a history of the world at its inebriated best.
"

 

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REVIEW:

 

This is a very short, completely irreverant, highly entertaining, "spot" history of people getting drunk.  The writing is witty and the book amusing, but rather shallow in terms of substance.

 

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review 2019-01-14 22:16
ELIZABETH WARREN: THE PEOPLE'S ADVOCATE & CHAMPION
Elizabeth Warren: Her Fight. Her Work. Her Life. - Antonia Felix

This is a biography of one of the most remarkable political leaders in the United States to emerge in the past decade.

 

Elizabeth Warren, born into a working class family in Oklahoma, is the embodiment of what has come to be known as the American Dream. By dint of sheer hard work and scholarship, she earned a university degree and a law degree, all while raising a family. She went on to teach law at Rutgers University, the University of Houston, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1995 was offered a position to teach law at Harvard, where she went on to become a tenured professor.

I first became aware of Elizabeth Warren in 2011 when her work in the establishment of what became the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was highlighted by President Obama's naming of Richard Cordray to head that bureau. I was impressed with her knowledge of consumer and economic issues and when she decided to challenge in 2012 the Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) for the Senate seat previously held by Ted Kennedy and John Fitzgerald Kennedy, my interest in her began to grow. 

Antonia Felix has done a wonderful job through this biography in making real the manner of person Elizabeth Warren is. Unlike a significant number of politicians on Capitol Hill today who came into elective office (many of them from privileged backgrounds) to derive some benefits for themselves by currying favor with the corporate lobbies that have an inordinate and excessive influence in the shaping of legislation relating to policies and practices in the marketplace, Elizabeth Warren won election in 2012 to the Senate as an outsider willing to work on the inside for the public interest. She has proven to be the real deal. She's got grit, spunk, compassion, and saavy to get things done. And now that she has declared herself a candidate from the Democratic Party for President of the United States in 2020, I am hopeful that Elizabeth Warren will prevail against her detractors and critics, while inspiring millions across the nation to support her campaign and make it successful.

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