logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: the-islands
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-01-16 04:34
More entertainment than science.
 Atomic Adventures: Secret Islands, Forgotten N-Rays, and Isotopic Murder - A Journey into the Wild World of Nuclear Science - James Mahaffey,Keith Sellon-Wright

That is, the author was more interested in telling amusing stories than explaining science, though he had a go at it ever so often, but didn't leave me feeling notably enlightened. Which is fine. I'm more interested in amusing stories than knowing what a proton does, and for the most part the stories were pretty good. He did some times get sidetracked into non-science stuff that was less interesting, and he was perhaps a little to flippant about serious matters that might kill us all.

 

The highlights of the book were the nuclear rocket experiments and other adventures that mostly weren't likely to kill us all, but hit the amusing mono-focus that science/engineering types can get into, and also explosions! The assassination part was less intrigue-laden and interesting than I thought it would be, and was mostly very sad. I'm never going to understand quantum entanglement. As far as I can tell, it's witchcraft. Liked the interstellar travel bit at the end, even if none of it works.

Like Reblog Comment
text 2018-01-15 05:56
All about buying property in the islands of Greece

Is the time right to invest in Greece real estate? This is the question on the minds of people who are interested in buying property in Greece. The Greek island property for sale prices are at rock bottom right now and have the potential for giving excellent returns in the medium term. Greece has 6ooo islands which are clustered into seven groups.

 

Of these, the smaller island properties are priced higher than the properties on the larger island. The development work on the island of Crete is pushing up the prices slowly there. Due to Government easing of rules and offering residential visas for investing more than $250,000 has resulted in growing demand for property for sale Greek islands.

 

Investors from the UK had invested earlier before the economy of Greece went bad. Many of these properties are up for sale for a fraction of the price that was sold for due to overdue payments on the mortgages. The Turkish investors have shown a keen interest in buying which is a good sign for appreciation of property value.

 

This may just be the right time to invest in Greek homes for sale as the prices are probably at the lowest and can move only upwards from hereon. Due to the low prices, the tourists have been coming in larger numbers in recent times which is also a good sign for real estate appreciation. Investing in Greek holiday homes at this low rates is a smart move. Owning a holiday home in Greece is a dream of many people.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-01-14 03:39
Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones
The Islands of Chaldea - Diana Wynne Jones,Ursula Jones

Aileen is a young girl and comes from a magical bloodline. It is her destiny to follow her aunt and late mother as a Wise Woman of the Islands of Chaldea. There are four islands to the world, three of them cut off from the largest because of a spell cast a little over a decade before. The feel is generally Celt-ish.

There are shortages of certain goods and some political turmoil because of the division of the islands, but Aileen's biggest worry is that her magic has not revealed itself yet. She is apprenticed to her aunt but she worries she may never be a capable leader.  The worries are pushed aside when she finds herself, her aunt, a handsome prince, and an orphan are sent out on a quest to end the division of the islands.

Diana Wynne Jones was a fantastic author and Islands of Chaldea has many elements of her successful stories. We'll never know what the final novel would have looked like, but this was a fun diversion. I'm glad to have read it, but it doesn't stand out of the pack of her other, finer, work.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-12-29 23:57
The Gebusi by Bruce Knauft
The Gebusi: Lives Transformed in a Rainforest World - Bruce M. Knauft

I am not the intended audience for this book; I read it looking for something set in Papau New Guinea from which I would learn a bit about the country and its people, while the book seems intended for assignment in undergraduate anthropology classes as a supplementary textbook. It did fulfill my goal of learning about the lives of the Gebusi, a small tribe living in the rainforest of Papau New Guinea’s huge Western Province. On the other hand, it’s a shame that academic texts aren’t written or edited with the goal of satisfying the reader; the author’s goal seems to be more about teaching students about anthropology and the realities of ethnographic work than answering the reader’s curiosity. In other words, the gulf between this and popular ethnographies like $2.00 a Day or City of Thorns is huge.

Knauft is an anthropologist who initially lived with the Gebusi for two years, from 1980 to 1982, accompanied by his wife Eileen (whether she is also an anthropologist is unclear; though he discusses his feelings about developments among the Gebusi and relationships with individuals among them, this is definitely not a memoir). Despite sporadic contact with Australian officers, during the time that they colonized the country, the Gebusi at the time retained a very traditional culture, including a tradition of spirit mediumship, all-night dances and séances, and elaborate initiation rituals for young men. They were easily able to provide for their material needs with crops that require little effort in cultivation, and enjoyed leisure time and “good company,” along with a cultural flourishing that resulted from the Australians' subduing a nearby tribe with a habit of raiding their longhouses and massacring their people. But it wasn't an ideal life: while they had enough to eat, nutrition was poor, illness rife and few people made it to the age of 40; the society was patriarchal and women excluded from many aspects of it; and execution for sorcery was rampant. The Gebusi believed that all deaths were caused by humans, so deaths by sickness or accident led to sorcery inquests and often more death. Nevertheless, they weren’t the stereotype of a cannibalistic rainforest people (though there is cannibalism in their past): due process was important, including a waiting period after the death and finding a neutral spirit medium to preside over the inquest.

After his initial stay, Knauft returned to the Gebusi in 1998, at which point their culture was transformed: many had moved to a nearby town with an airstrip and government services. They converted to various forms of Christianity, sent their children to school, and gave up sorcery inquests and executions entirely. Men’s leisure time now revolved around local soccer leagues, while women sold produce (usually with little success) in the local market. The several tribes inhabiting the town mocked their own traditional cultures in Independence Day celebrations, and Gebusi practices such as dancing and initiation rites seemed to be dying out as young people attempted to embrace the modern world.

But then in 2008, everything had changed again: loss of funding meant government services had largely vanished, and the Gebusi were reviving their traditional culture, including building longhouses and conducting initiation rites; as they retained their land and ability to sustain themselves, they didn’t seem to miss the government or markets much. But spirit mediumship had died out, so that despite lingering suspicions of sorcery they were no longer able to conduct inquests, and many of the Gebusi continued to attend Christian services.

It is fascinating material, and the author seems to have made personal friends with many of the Gebusi and to respect them and their culture. He is aware of his own fallibility and works to distinguish unique incidents from those typical of the culture. And he spends enough time with Gebusi to get to know them and to be able to tell stories in context about incidents that occur in the community.

However, for all the author’s talk about how this is intended to be less formal and more personal than typical academic writing, and for all that the writing is clearer and more engaging than in most textbooks, the content is still basically that of a textbook. Sometimes its information is incomplete, as if the author has made his point and is ready to move on, regardless of whether readers have more questions. For instance, for all that Knauft mentions sorcery executions frequently, I still don’t know how most of these deaths occurred. Both in the book and on his website (which for some reason includes entire stories in pictures that aren’t in the book but deserved to be), he describes instances in which the accused is killed in the forest by a relative of the deceased, which the community accepts because of the “spiritual evidence” against the accused. How common is this, as opposed to public or formal executions? Is everyone given the opportunity to exonerate themselves via trial by cooking, or only some people? In one case described, the sorcerer purportedly comes from another village and the searchers lose the trail; is this unusual, or common?

In other cases, it can be vague in a way typical of academic writing, obscuring specifics behind general language. For instance, a boy and later young man with whom the author is close leaves his community due to “a dispute” and travels to the nearest city, where he works for two years. This is after he and his younger brother are orphaned when he’s about 12. Who raised the boys after that, and what was the dispute? These are human interest questions, but their answers also speak to Gebusi culture. And despite telling us about their terrible life expectancy in the early 80s, the author has nothing to say about how having and then losing a local medical clinic affected the Gebusi. Their lifespans are still much shorter than Americans’, but were there improvements?

And bizarrely, he mentions only on his aforementioned website, in a caption to a longhouse diagram, that rigidly separate sleeping areas for men and women mean that sexual relations happened in the rainforest rather than in bed. Doesn't this deserve to be in the book, rather than only the "alternative sexual practices" (i.e. adolescent boys giving blowjobs because swallowing semen was supposed to help them become men)? But in the book he does mention a couple caught having an illicit affair in a house, so maybe the rainforest sex only applies to those few families who actually live in the longhouse? Knauft isn't too shy to include a scene of a young man propositioning him, so why isn't this in the book?

Overall, I learned from this book, but I think it would be a little off-base for most non-academic readers (the “Broader Connections” bullet point summaries of key ideas in anthropology at the end of each chapter, with much bolded text, are definitely eyeroll-worthy). While it’s not as short as the page count would have it – there’s a lot of text on each page – it was worth my time.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-07-02 15:24
Review of the Conquering Tide by Ian Toll
The Conquering Tide: War in the Pacific Islands, 1942-1944 - Ian W. Toll

Ian Toll is one of my favorite writers of history.  His book Six Frigates on the founding of the United States Navy rans of one of my all timers.  This book is the second of what will be a trilogy focusing on the U.S. war in the Pacific during World War II.  I liked the first book better because I think I enjoyed the background stories of the major players and the countries more than I enjoyed the descriptions of the military battles.  Also, Pearl Harbor and Midway were very interesting stories for me.  I enjoyed this book, but felt that most of the battle blended together and it was difficult to distinguish them in my mind.  The writing was still outstanding, and the background stories were still the best part, but there were fewer of them as most of it was covered in the first book.  Still highly recommended and I am looking forward to the final book in the trilogy in the next year or two.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?