Paradise: Too bright and too noisy. Not my choice for a good retirement spot. I have decided to settle for the Earthly Paradise atop Purgatory, with itParadise: Too bright and too noisy. Not my choice for a good retirement spot. I have decided to settle for the Earthly Paradise atop Purgatory, with its meadows, light music and pleasant breeze. Seems like the best long term investment at the end of this cosmic tour....more
Tunnel through. Stretch the line to the limits of the possible. It will be hard, and it will be a torment, but that is the writing life.
It’s easy, afTunnel through. Stretch the line to the limits of the possible. It will be hard, and it will be a torment, but that is the writing life.
It’s easy, after all, not to be a writer. Most people aren’t writers, and very little harm comes to them. —Julian Barnes, Flaubert’s Parrot
The writing life is tough and you will often hate it, but choose it if no other life will make sense.
A day spent reading/writing, cooped up in this silent struggle, while life passes you by might not be considered by many as a good day, but a life spent reading and writing - that will be a good life. ...more
More fun than the cliff notes. Good Illustrations. Useful to read ahead a few cantos here, so that the reader can focus on the poem itself instead ofMore fun than the cliff notes. Good Illustrations. Useful to read ahead a few cantos here, so that the reader can focus on the poem itself instead of worrying about teasing out the meaning. Recommended.
The valuable notes provided with translations are generally limited (due to lack of space) to brief presentationRaffa’s Pitch
The Pitch goes like this:
The valuable notes provided with translations are generally limited (due to lack of space) to brief presentations of background information and concise explanations of difficult passages.
Danteworlds takes a different approach. The project grew out of a desire to meet two basic challenges facing college students who read and discuss the Divine Comedy, in most cases for the first time, in the Dante course Raffa teaches one or more times each year: first, to become adequately familiar with the multitude of characters, creatures, events, and ideas—drawn from ancient to medieval sources—that figure prominently in the poem; second, to become adept at recalling who and what appear where by creating and retaining a mental map of Dante’s postmortem worlds.
Danteworlds therefore provides entries on major figures and issues arranged so as to help you connect your textual journey through the poem with Dante’s physical journey through the realms of the afterlife. This arrangement allows you to proceed geographically as well as textually, not only canto by canto but also—as Dante and his guides do—region by region through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise.
Sounds like a good deal? Yeah. And makes good sense too.
That is how good Hollander’s footnotes were. However, if you are reading for School, Danteworlds is probably more useful. So again, my vote is for the Hollander translation, if you are looking for a good place to start with Dante. ...more
Discusses in some detail the geo-politics of the South-China sea and tries to show the world that is brewing in that cauldron - one where an assertiveDiscusses in some detail the geo-politics of the South-China sea and tries to show the world that is brewing in that cauldron - one where an assertive China will draw the U.S and its neighbors into conflict. This has echoes of Huntington in that a culturally assertive China is intent on creating a world of concentric circles of power, whereas the U.S overtly subscribes to a balance of power world order. These modes of thinking about global power does not sit well with each other and neither country can accept each other's system, leading to inevitable conflict, unless one falls off the economic ladder. According to Kaplan, it seems that China will win this tussle in the East, simply due to its Geographic location.
The book is not as good as Kaplan's previous works. Firstly, it needed a good editor - certain key ideas like how the South China sea is to China what the Caribbean was to the U.S is repeated so often using the exact same lines, that it seems like Kaplan's notes were converted to chapters without real organizational or editorial oversight. The book feels lazy for the most part and new ideas are introduced early and repeated often, without much supporting arguments.
However the book is a still a good introduction to the strange mix of ingredients that go to make the potent and volatile brew cooking here. ...more
One can see how this would easily be a fun exercise, trying to explain some complicated “things” using only the limited set of the “ten hundred” or soOne can see how this would easily be a fun exercise, trying to explain some complicated “things” using only the limited set of the “ten hundred” or so most commonly used words in the language. This, along with the xkcd-honed drawing skills, can convert what would otherwise have been quite a nondescript mini-encyclopedia into a quaint and publishable book. Munroe’s cult following, wit, and knack for packaging a book beautifully, makes it a bestseller (?).
But as far as reading it is concerned, the novelty wears off around the 4th or 5th “thing”. There on out, we might find ourselves having to reverse translate the strange gibberish of too-easy words. Can’t really see who this book is meant to help. It is not the words that make a book easy or difficult to read, is one thing Munroe manages to demonstrate. The same book without the gimmick might have been genuinely helpful to some college students at least… ...more
Dawkins fanboy tries to dress up an ideological book as a scientific one. Tries to show that Darwin's theory of evolution is just a byproduct or a speDawkins fanboy tries to dress up an ideological book as a scientific one. Tries to show that Darwin's theory of evolution is just a byproduct or a specific version of the general theory of evolution proposed by Adam Smith about the emergent order that will prevail bottom-up in any free society of selfish actors. In the process ends up unwittingly using just another"skyhook" - that of benevolent evolution - throughout, by arguing endlessly that all the good things happened bottom-up and all the bad things happened top-down.
Except that, as per the core argument, all top-down things also must have been products of evolution. If Everything Evolves, all things good or bad, bottom-up or top-down evolved too. Hence the concept of evolution cannot in itself justify just let everything play out - including economics, institutions and even climate change, for that matter. There is really no guarantee things will always play out well if 'bottom-up' - just look at the latest elections!
Just "Let Everything Be" can't be the ultimate policy outlook unless Ridley truly believes The Invisible Hand to be the Hand of God directing everything as if by providence towards the good of mankind. And if that is not so and Evolution indeed is blind, then perhaps the occasional nudges in the right direction may work too?
As with most left vs right debates, the book only enforces for me the fact that pure free market is not the solution, nor is a command economy - evolution can take us to either side and we need to intervene to keep the balance, and that continuous self-correction is part of our social evolution too, as is the occasional over-correction. No Skyhooks needed, we just need to be less in thrall of 'Men of System'.
There, I have used enough pointed references for one review. Now enjoy the historic day.
A nice and simple, perhaps simplistic, translation. Rooted firmly in Shakaracharya's commentary but failing to convey the depth and power of the actuaA nice and simple, perhaps simplistic, translation. Rooted firmly in Shakaracharya's commentary but failing to convey the depth and power of the actual Upanishads. Just good enough to wet your feet before the swim. Ideally should not be the first read - shortcuts are not good here.
The raw verses are presented with barely any commentary, let alone on the interpretations, but even on the translation itself. I bet the new reader would be quite suspicious halfway into the book whether this easy stuff is really the much hyped Upanishads.
Best presented verse:
The sacred syllable is the bow, the Self is the arrow, Brahman is declared the target. Undistracted, one should pierce it, and like the arrow, become united with it.
Armitage imagines more petulant heroes - and since the cast of characters is massively curtailed, every character stands out even more. It is fun. EspArmitage imagines more petulant heroes - and since the cast of characters is massively curtailed, every character stands out even more. It is fun. Especially Odysseus and Hector takes on interesting new attitudes towards the war, Odysseus becoming even more scheming + quite blunt, and Hector a bit less noble + war-thirsty. Helen becomes even more ambiguous and is usually in conversation with Andromache about stuff like "So your husband will slay your husband, then you’ll be carried off in your husband’s arms. Tell me, who else but the immortals could have plotted that?" Good fun read. Read only after multiple readings of original though.
ODYSSEUS Look at those ships – they’re so stuffed with gold and silver they’re barely afloat. Do you really think Greece risked its life to haul home an unfaithful wife?
ODYSSEUS The horse wasn’t made out of wood and nails, it was real – made out of flesh and blood. You opened the gates of Troy. My queen.
As for the gods, they are the best part.
The gods had little inkling that by meddling so much and dooming their believers to civilizational death, they were dooming themselves. Over time, the worshipers died out or adopted less interfering gods who let the free market of human abilities operate and determine victors. Gods that did too much top-down control are now paupers peddling wares in their old haunts while the free-market laissez faire gods now rule the roost thereabouts. (No, the book does not take the economic or ideological viewpoints, just some spice added by my imagination during the reading).
Zeus (now a peddler of antique wares) And the rest, as they say, is history. Hera (still a Xanthippe) In fact these days they say it’s mythology....more
Ryan presents a series of representative snippets from most of the chapters of the two volumes. However, the introduction is the more interesting partRyan presents a series of representative snippets from most of the chapters of the two volumes. However, the introduction is the more interesting part of the book and any reader who intends to read the original can skip the snippets if required. The introductory essay is pretty good and is a good primer for reading Tocqueville - Ryan discusses the major influences on Tocqueville's thought and throws interesting light on the motivations that colored his observations. Overall, well worth the short read....more
Can Physics account fully for the mysteries of Biology? This is what Schrödinger wants to know. He ends up writing something half-mystical, half-radicCan Physics account fully for the mysteries of Biology? This is what Schrödinger wants to know. He ends up writing something half-mystical, half-radical and fully-confusing, as Manny says in another review to this book. Now the beauty of any sufficiently confusing book by a good/great scientist is that it is capable of triggering inspiration many times over.
These lectures which are mostly musings on a nascent new branch of science (genetics) in the light of another nascent new branch of science (quantum physics) inspired Haldane, Watson, Crick, Wilkins, etc. to take some of the greatest scientific leaps of the modern world. We shouldn't bet against it inspiring more even today - perhaps the next round of disciples will come from among the ones who pursue AI today? Just a hunch....more
In these essays which attempt to recreate the mystery of the creation of Moby Dick, Philbrick recreates for us the strange magic of reading Melville aIn these essays which attempt to recreate the mystery of the creation of Moby Dick, Philbrick recreates for us the strange magic of reading Melville as well. The book's aim is to convince a reader who has not read to read. I don't think anybody who has not read Moby Dick should read this - too much is laid bare. Instead, the book should be read a year or two after the novel. Then you will see strange visions resurfacing, new meanings in the mist, and a rekindling of love for the characters you left behind. The vastness of the book requires distance to appreciate. Philbrick wonderfully captures the majesty and the ambition that was Moby Dick, and in the few hours it will take to read this book, you can take the voyage of the Pequod again, and start thirsting for another go at the original. ...more