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Thread: What are you reading?

  1. #4021
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    Chet Raymo’s Walking Zero: Discovering Cosmic Time and Space Along the Prime Meridian. It’s nice in and of itself, but you can tell the author is really trying to be Connections or Cosmos but doesn’t quite manage to say anything as deep and unexpected.
    The greatest journey of all time, for all to see
    Every mission makes our dreams reality
    And our destiny begins with you and me
    Through all space and time, the achievement of mankind
    As we sail the sea of discovery, on heroes’ wings we fly!

  2. #4022
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    I've often wondered if a nice place for a space elevator might be zero lat, zero long.

  3. #4023
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    Quote Originally Posted by publiusr View Post
    I've often wondered if a nice place for a space elevator might be zero lat, zero long.
    This is just about visiting sites related to scientific history along or near the prime meridian in England. (Although there isn’t as much travelogue as I was expecting for a book about visiting historic places— just a page or so at the beginning of each chapter and then straight into the history.)
    The greatest journey of all time, for all to see
    Every mission makes our dreams reality
    And our destiny begins with you and me
    Through all space and time, the achievement of mankind
    As we sail the sea of discovery, on heroes’ wings we fly!

  4. #4024
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    I have just finished reading 'Marconi' (unsurprisingly a biography of Guglielmo Marconi) by Marc Raboy, a Professor at Montreal's McGill University. It was a very interesting read.

    It deals deeply with the arguments about Marconi's right to be credited as 'the inventor of radio'. What the books comes down to in that regard is that while he may have not been the creator of much of the processes and equipment used in radio transmission he was the one who put it all together and made it work. And he was also the only one able to do that efficiently for a number of years. It also points out that the emergency radio messages from the RMS Titanic was not the first time that such a system had saved a large numbers of life at sea. In 1909 some 1,500 lives were saved after the RMS Republic was in a collision and sunk. I was unaware of his involvement in the development of Shortwave radio and research into microwaves. He certainly seemed to be an incubator for new ideas. The author claims that he foresaw the networking of the world.

    His idealisation of Mussolini is also extensively covered. He was a strong supporter before Mussolini came to power and joined the Fascist Party. He played an important role as the face of the Fascist regime to the outside world. While it seems almost certain that Marconi himself was not at all anti-semitic he never spoke up as Italy moved towards oppressing its Jewish population. He also acquiesced to a policy of not recognising the scientific achievements of Jews when he was the leader of various scientific organisations. It appears that he may have been drifting away from Mussolini in his last year or so but his death in 1937 left that unclear. He was given a full-scale fascist funeral with Mussolini present and the largest wreath being from Adolf Hitler.

  5. #4025
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    Anyone read Beowulf lately? (It's been 2 years for me.) Harvard has an interesting take on how many people wrote it.

    https://phys.org/news/2019-04-beowul...e-english.html
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  6. #4026
    Just finished David Darlings Teleportation, an impossible leap, nothing on tonight there is some sports ball thingy.
    From the wilderness into the cosmos.
    You can not be afraid of the wind, Enterprise: Broken Bow.
    https://davidsuniverse.wordpress.com/

  7. #4027
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    Anyone read Beowulf lately? (It's been 2 years for me.) Harvard has an interesting take on how many people wrote it.

    https://phys.org/news/2019-04-beowul...e-english.html
    I'll have to get my copy out and reread it Roger.

    It's interesting to see J.R.R. Tolkien mentioned in the article as he researched many of the older Celtic and Norse sagas, myths and legends (which had many similarities apart from the dragons) in his novels. As many of the ancient Celtic myths were oral traditions they were first recorded by the early Christian monks who usually kept most of the original content intact and only made minor changes. As someone with both Irish and Scandinavian heritage, who also has scientific qualifications and has worked in the mining industry, I find this all very fascinating.

    Per Beowulf, dragons usually circled their gold hoards 3 times before coming in to land, so it's not surprising that there are modern day similarities. I remember reading about Dragon Mining many years ago when they first applied for their gold mining lease in Finland. The authorities were worried that their operations would disturb the reindeers and Dragon Mining responded that they were just going to drive in with trucks and load them up straight off the ground with end loaders as their first stage was open cut.

    http://www.dragonmining.com/jokisivu

    I also wouldn't be surprised if the 3 iron meteorites taken off the Inuit in Greenland by Robert Peary in 1894 were the '3 hags' with long hair of ancient Celtic myth (probably the precursor for Macbeth's 3 witches). Sorry about the FB video link below the quote. I only use it as it is linked from the INSH page link below and it tells an interesting story. I didn't know previously that the meteorites can still be seen in New York today.

    And as for the fate of the meteorites: Josephine Peary sold them to the American Museum of Natural History for $40,000 in 1909, the equivalent of just more than $1.1 million in 2018 U.S. dollars. Ahnighito, the largest one, is on display at the Arthur Ross Hall at the museum in New York City.
    https://www.facebook.com/INSH/videos/1688306047918660/
    https://insh.world/history/robert-pe...of-meteorites/

  8. #4028
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    I am currently ploughing through C.E.W. Bean's "Official history of Australia in the War of 1914-19" Volume VI (April to November 1918, I'm up to page 910 of 1099 in this volume) as ANZAC day is on the 25th of this month.

    It is fascinating to read about how General John Monash (a civil engineer), when appointed as head of the first official Australian Army group in May 1918, planned and managed the operations that led to the German army being driven from Villers-Brettonneux all the way back to the Hindenburg line. He was the first general who successfully used Airplanes, Artillery, Tanks, Communications, Supply and Infantry in modern warfare and he has a place on our $100 note.

    It's also interesting to note that, while all the Australian troops were volunteers and many were ANZAC veterans, they were keen to advance because they would get first pick of military souvenirs like pistols, medals and pikehaub (spiked) helmets etc (the official German Regimental records, regularly quoted by Bean, mentioned this many times). This volume also describes how the Queensland (my home state) battalions captured the only existing German WWI tank 'Mephisto' as a war trophy.

    https://www.awm.gov.au/about/our-work/projects/mephisto

  9. #4029
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaurieAG View Post
    I am currently ploughing through C.E.W. Bean's "Official history of Australia in the War of 1914-19" Volume VI (April to November 1918, I'm up to page 910 of 1099 in this volume) as ANZAC day is on the 25th of this month.

    It is fascinating to read about how General John Monash (a civil engineer), when appointed as head of the first official Australian Army group in May 1918, planned and managed the operations that led to the German army being driven from Villers-Brettonneux all the way back to the Hindenburg line. He was the first general who successfully used Airplanes, Artillery, Tanks, Communications, Supply and Infantry in modern warfare and he has a place on our $100 note.

    It's also interesting to note that, while all the Australian troops were volunteers and many were ANZAC veterans, they were keen to advance because they would get first pick of military souvenirs like pistols, medals and pikehaub (spiked) helmets etc (the official German Regimental records, regularly quoted by Bean, mentioned this many times). This volume also describes how the Queensland (my home state) battalions captured the only existing German WWI tank 'Mephisto' as a war trophy.

    https://www.awm.gov.au/about/our-work/projects/mephisto
    Wasn't Bean a bit "down" on Monash because of his Jewish origins and worked with Keith Murdoch (the father of the infamous Rupert Murdoch) to discredit his achievements?

    Edit: On hunting around I see that Bean definitely made play of Monash's Jewish origins and plotted against his promotion. He was , to quote, often 'churlish' in discussing Monash's abilities. He is however said to have accepted later in life that his remarks were wrong and he also supported the idea of a Jewish refuge in Australia.
    Last edited by ozduck; 2019-Apr-10 at 05:35 AM.

  10. #4030
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozduck View Post
    Wasn't Bean a bit "down" on Monash because of his Jewish origins and worked with Keith Murdoch (the father of the infamous Rupert Murdoch) to discredit his achievements?

    Edit: On hunting around I see that Bean definitely made play of Monash's Jewish origins and plotted against his promotion. He was , to quote, often 'churlish' in discussing Monash's abilities. He is however said to have accepted later in life that his remarks were wrong and he also supported the idea of a Jewish refuge in Australia.
    He kept his official histories reasonably professional as he would refer to the actions of other war correspondents such as Murdoch but would leave any criticisms to the official documents of the officers senior to Monash. He was painstakingly detailed to the extent that, apart from all the mission details and many maps, he also recorded the ages, birth dates and places, date of death, even sometimes their real names, final military rank and awards of anybody mentioned in the official dispatches. It was a real pity that his history of 'the war to end all wars' took so long to write that WWII broke out and he had to rush the last sections.

  11. #4031
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaurieAG View Post
    He kept his official histories reasonably professional as he would refer to the actions of other war correspondents such as Murdoch but would leave any criticisms to the official documents of the officers senior to Monash. He was painstakingly detailed to the extent that, apart from all the mission details and many maps, he also recorded the ages, birth dates and places, date of death, even sometimes their real names, final military rank and awards of anybody mentioned in the official dispatches. It was a real pity that his history of 'the war to end all wars' took so long to write that WWII broke out and he had to rush the last sections.
    I must admit that I haven't read the official histories (I almost got a volume out of the library the other day and now am going to do so) but I am glad that his views were tempered by later reflection. However in his diaries and other earlier writings he was very biased. To quote this review of Volume 6 of his history on the Australian War Memorial site - "So he, Keith Murdoch and others plotted in May-July 1918 to replace Monash with Brudenell White and for Monash to take Birdwood’s place as commander of the A.I.F. It was a reprehensible affair (condemned by White) which Bean describes frankly and apologetically and came greatly to regret" So it is to his credit that he eventually came to see the errors in his early views and actions. https://www.awm.gov.au/official-hist...I_introduction

    The same review also makes a similar point about WWII overwhelming his histories as you. I was surprised that "There was not one serious critical review by a military historian" and that "He once confided to Gavin Long (My note:general editor of the official history series Australia in the War of 1939–1945) that he had never met an academic historian who had read any of his volumes". That is pretty sad considering the amount of work, care and time he invested in them.

  12. #4032
    Just finished Dragons of Eden and for some reason I feel like reading Looking for Earths again.
    From the wilderness into the cosmos.
    You can not be afraid of the wind, Enterprise: Broken Bow.
    https://davidsuniverse.wordpress.com/

  13. #4033
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    Elizabeth Peters’ The Curse of the Pharaohs— the second in the Amelia Peabody series. I’m trying to read them in order but it took me until now to find the second after I read the first last year. It’s a reminder of why I’ve always loved the mystery genre.
    The greatest journey of all time, for all to see
    Every mission makes our dreams reality
    And our destiny begins with you and me
    Through all space and time, the achievement of mankind
    As we sail the sea of discovery, on heroes’ wings we fly!

  14. #4034
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    I finished Pratchett & Baxter's The Long Earth a few days ago and am now a bit into The Long War. Not wild about them but I'll at least finish this one.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  15. #4035
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    I finished Pratchett & Baxter's The Long Earth a few days ago and am now a bit into The Long War. Not wild about them but I'll at least finish this one.
    Wow. I read a little further and it's spookily reminiscent of a current situation we can't talk about on this forum.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  16. #4036
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    ^ My wife and I had each just finished reading Ken Follett's A Dangerous Fortune when the Barings Bank scandal and collapse happened in 1995. We thought that was a weird coincidence. Years later I learned that an 1892 bail-out of the same bank is what inspired Follett to write the book.

  17. #4037
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    I finished Pratchett & Baxter's The Long Earth a few days ago and am now a bit into The Long War. Not wild about them but I'll at least finish this one.
    Yeah, I only read one of those.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

  18. #4038
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    I picked up The Three-Body Problem. Fascinating. I love the call out to Six Easy Pieces.
    Solfe

  19. #4039
    Empire Of the Stars, by Arthur l Miller.
    From the wilderness into the cosmos.
    You can not be afraid of the wind, Enterprise: Broken Bow.
    https://davidsuniverse.wordpress.com/

  20. #4040
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    I finished The Three Body Problem the day after it got it. I picked up Sleep Over by Alistair Reynolds. Nice and quick read (and free on google play books). Interesting premise, I could have used a bit more.

    I went back to Revelation Space on Friday. I've read it twice already. I like the characters and the setting.
    Solfe

  21. #4041
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    Having finished Notes on a Small Island a couple of days ago, I've started on Bil Bryson's The Road to Little Dribbling. Mr. Bryson hasn't aged well. He seems to think it was highly clever of him to give a minimum wage McDonalds minion a bad time for asking "Do you want fries with that?" as required by the management. In reality, he was just being a jerk.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  22. #4042
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    Yeah, that part really bothered me. Of late, his books about things are more interesting than his books about himself, because he's a bit of a surly old man these days.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

  23. #4043
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    Educated, a Memoir
    , by Tara Westover.

    True story. Wow. Majorly recommended. I went to reserve it at my local library. They have 8 copies. I was number 168 in line! I ended up listening to it on audible, which my wife subscribes to.
    Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

  24. #4044
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cougar View Post

    Educated, a Memoir
    , by Tara Westover.

    True story. Wow. Majorly recommended. I went to reserve it at my local library. They have 8 copies. I was number 168 in line! I ended up listening to it on audible, which my wife subscribes to.
    Double wow. I'm No. 857 in line at my local library - for an e-book!

    Looks like a very compelling story.

  25. #4045
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cougar View Post

    Educated, a Memoir
    , by Tara Westover.
    Strange quote from Vogue on that page - "Beautiful and propulsive." What meaning of propulsive is the review writer reaching for?

    Grant Hutchison

  26. #4046
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Strange quote from Vogue on that page - "Beautiful and propulsive." What meaning of propulsive is the review writer reaching for?

    Grant Hutchison
    The full quote is not much help. Quickly purchased by the public perhaps?

    Westover has written about her evolution in a beautiful and propulsive new memoir, Educated. When the manuscript circulated in 2016, it was bought within 24 hours in the U.K. and sparked something of a book-world frenzy in the U.S.

    “Everybody wanted to publish this book,” says Westover’s editor at Random House, Hilary Redmon. It is being printed in 20 countries.
    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.vog...2018-issue/amp

  27. #4047
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Strange quote from Vogue on that page - "Beautiful and propulsive." What meaning of propulsive is the review writer reaching for?
    Good question. Meaning to push forward and propel through the book? It refers to the Memoir, not Tara, who nevertheless pushed forward through a childhood with a batty religious fundamentalist father, a childhood without education, without doctors, a reckless father preparing for the Second Coming, etc., etc., a girl who did finally get educated, but not without challenge.....
    Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

  28. #4048
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Strange quote from Vogue on that page - "Beautiful and propulsive." What meaning of propulsive is the review writer reaching for?
    I'm totally guessing, but I think they might have meant to say that it was "enthralling," in the sense that once you start reading, you get a feeling of being propelled and you read through the whole book?
    As above, so below

  29. #4049
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I'm totally guessing, but I think they might have meant to say that it was "enthralling," in the sense that once you start reading, you get a feeling of being propelled and you read through the whole book?
    Yeah, it has the feel of someone trying to avoid perfectly good words like "compelling" or "enthralling" because they're seen as overused, and grabbing for something that sort of does the job but pretty much doesn't.
    To me, "propulsive" produces one of two images:
    1) Someone throwing the book away, hard;
    2) The gut activity produced by peristalsis
    I wouldn't have welcomed such a review of anything I wrote.

    I just wondered if "propulsive" had experienced a recent usage shift I'd missed, which wouldn't be the first time something like that happened to me. (As witness the "when the zombies rise up" fiasco.)

    Grant Hutchison

  30. #4050
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    A candidate for “ pseuds corner “ in private eye magazine.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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