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Old 8th September 2015, 05:14 AM   #201
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What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Never a sensible question to ask, especially if you're a time travelling historian. It's teh sixth book in the Chronicles of St. Mary's series by Jodu Taylor.
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Max is back! New husband, new job, and a training regime that cannot fail – to go wrong!

Take one interim Chief Training Officer, add five recruits, mix with Joan of Arc, a baby mammoth, a duplicitous Father of History, a bombed rat, Stone Age hunters, a couple of passing policemen who should have better things to do, and Dick the Turd.

Stir well, bring to the boil – and wait for the bang!
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Old 12th September 2015, 06:50 PM   #202
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_Billie Holiday -- The Musician and the Myth_ -- John Szwed

This has a lot of valuable information, and it shows how intelligent Holiday was, as well as how brilliant she was as a musician, despite not being able to read music. (!)

Szwed is the former director of the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia U., according to the little bio on the dust jacket in the back of the book.

So, can I manage to convey my brief excitement and then disappointment upon finding a page of actual notation, and a few pages of actual meat -- where Szwed talks about Holiday singing "behind the beat"?

Actual discussion of musical substance, with accompanying notation, is almost extinct in mainstream publications. Analysis is extremely rare. Good analysis* is almost non-existent. Sadly it doesn't exist, here.

It's on pages 118 and 119, with What is This Thing Called Love as the object lesson. (YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhu7x94kbzk )

The discussion is a complete shambles. This is too bad, because Szwed has done the work of finding an example and notating it -- though I'm not sure the notation is strictly accurate.

It's a shambles because it makes what Holiday is doing sound conceptually complicated. It's not. Virtuosic, yes, but complicated, no. It's simple enough to understand, and pretty damn hard to do, unless you have the knack.

She's displacing notes rhythmically so they fall in different slots -- basically a form of well-understood syncopation.

And, she's singing a little bit -- a tiny, tiny, tiny bit -- "behind" the beat, or after the beat, so the rhythm section is sort of pulling her along; or there's a kind of tension or propulsion generated. It's not sloppy. She knows exactly where the beat is, and where she wants to put the melody in relation to it. It's sublime, actually.

Good jazz players have their signature style of timing. It's sometimes called, simply, swing. Or feel.

All this is well-understood (otherwise musicians wouldn't be able to play with each other), and Szwed would probably agree with the above.

Then why the pretentious and nonsensical discussion involving "dual-track time", or whether this is properly called rubato, or the influence of West African Music? None of these things have anything to do with it.

It's simple to understand: Displacement/syncopation and very subtle behind-the-beat placement. Frank Sinatra did it too, not to take anything away from Holiday.

There are a few possible explanations:

1) He's used to talking in a vacuum to people who don't understand what he's talking about, so no one has challenged the substance of what he has to say, so he confabulates.

2) The section got edited down into some kind of incoherence or the editor suggested making it "more interesting".

3) He's the one trying to make it sound more complicated than it is, with a little dash of multicultural reference to make it seem more...whatever.

4) Musicology favors pretentiousness, perhaps. Sad, but probably true. Musicologists are rarely the best musicians, anyway.

What Holiday was doing wasn't mysterious, wasn't "dual-track time", it was just masterful.

Heh. Here's some P.C: Trombonist George Lewis objecting to any use of the word "master", in his lecture at New England Conservatory many years ago.

Ok, George: Holiday wasn't "masterful." She was supremely skillful.

Oh, jeez. Probably can't say "supremely."

So, the book is still the sum of its fascinating anecdotes, even if it has no conceptual light. That's something.





* The last book I can recall that had decent analysis and insights is Charles Rosen's _The Classical Style_. That was published a long time ago.

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Old 13th September 2015, 06:08 AM   #203
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Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
_Billie Holiday -- The Musician and the Myth_ -- John Szwed

... Analysis is extremely rare. Good analysis* is almost non-existent. Sadly it doesn't exist, here.

...
It's a shambles because it makes what Holiday is doing sound conceptually complicated. It's not. Virtuosic, yes, but complicated, no. It's simple enough to understand, and pretty damn hard to do, unless you have the knack.

She's displacing notes rhythmically so they fall in different slots -- basically a form of well-understood syncopation.

And, she's singing a little bit -- a tiny, tiny, tiny bit -- "behind" the beat, or after the beat, so the rhythm section is sort of pulling her along; or there's a kind of tension or propulsion generated. It's not sloppy. She knows exactly where the beat is, and where she wants to put the melody in relation to it. It's sublime, actually.

....
Ok paper here, making these points (mostly) straightforwardly.

http://theory.music.temple.edu/~cind...ay.article.pdf


They do mention the infamous "dual-track time" that I objected to. But they only mention it, and the value of the paper is in their original work.

Quote:
...Whitney Balliett’s description (1997, p. 100) of Billie’s rhythmic sense serves as an apt introduction to her interpretations of “All of Me”, especially the later versions:

Quote:
Billie was a rhythm machine. No jazz instrumentalist has had a more flexible sense of time, and it was infallible... she disconnects each song from its chump- chump-chump rhythm, and, for the two minutes or so that her vocal lasts, makes the song float along somewhere behind the beat, thereby setting up an irresist- ible, swinging tug-of-war between the original tempo and her version of it.

Another singer who did that: The late lamented Amy Winehouse.
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Old 13th September 2015, 12:35 PM   #204
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https://books.google.com/books?id=Xf...20time&f=false
A link to partial access to the Huang and Huang "Dual-Track Time" paper. Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish.



The complete paper is behind a paywall, as they say, but I was able to see enough excerpts of the Huang and Huang paper on "Dual-track time" to get the gist.

This paper, and the thinking behind it, is even worse than I feared. Talk about an over-ingenious resolution of a problem that doesn't exist.

It's nearly shocking, except there are no standards in musical analysis, in these journals.

My gut, my ears, and my fairly extensive exploration of polyrhythms with computers (going back to the early 80's, even before Midi, and continuing to the present day) tells me that this paper is completely wrong.

It's wrong as analysis. It's wrong as description. It's wrong as a method for any performer. It's actually anti-insightful, it's so wrong.



For a tempo to exist perceptually -- especially, especially if there is another unrelated tempo present -- it has to be articulated by more than a few beats, and those beats need to have a clear beginning -- not the usually rather soft attack of a Billie Holiday syllable. And even if that "second tempo" is actually present -- which it isn't in What is This Thing Called Love -- it will be subsumed by the more dominant tempo -- here the chug, chug, chug. There are also some good rules of thumb about ratios of tempos, and the resulting combination, which I can't go into here fully.

If Holiday were actually trying to sing in another tempo in some complex ratio-relationship -- and actually faster, as Huang and Huang claim -- she'd be the first person in the history of the world to do it, and she'd be a martian, and it wouldn't even sound good.

Again, if there were standards in music theory journals, I'd be a bit outraged. As it is, I'm annoyed.

This is just like looking at maps of the ocean and finding Atlantis, or ancient canals.

I'd thought that the authors were merely talking about a pull between prosody and musical tempo and meter, which would be an interesting approach if discussed intelligently. Instead, they're talking complete and utter bollocks, as the Brits say.

In this tune, her phrases float momentarily, and the tension is resolved in each phrase. She's completely dependant on the 4/4 meter and the 4-bar phrase structure, and the tempo. It would sound like crap if this were not so. I've been there, done that.

This isn't Elliott Carter, or Brian Ferneyhough we're talking about here. This paper is practically a nerdish insult to a great artist, it's so bad.

Unless I'm wrong. But I've checked it out, and all my experience now tells me that further inquiry would be a complete waste of time.

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Old 15th September 2015, 06:24 AM   #205
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The Glamour Chronicles consisting of Royal Blood, Big Bang Generation, and Deep Time).
Over the Top - Alternate Histories of the First World War, edited by Peter Tsouras and Spencer Jones
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Old 19th September 2015, 03:08 AM   #206
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Seth Dickinson's The Traitor (Baru Cormorant) a fascinatingly realistic take on the 'lone hero out to overthrow the evil government' trope. Right up there with Perry's Matador trilogy.
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The Traitor Baru Cormorant is the story of a young woman trying to tear down a colonial empire, avenge her fathers, and liberate her home. The Masquerade wants to rule the world, so that they can fix it. Baru can’t beat them from the outside, killing them one by one with a sword the way Luke Skywalker or Aragorn might — unlike most evil empires, they’re smart people who take sensible precautions. Baru wouldn’t stand a chance against a single Masquerade marine.
Probably not suitable for puppyfans; it contains ideas and a minority/female/gay protagonist. Also it's published by The Evil Empire Tor and mentioned by The Evil One John Scalzi.

Excerpt here. Also possibly of interest is this:
How Baru Cormorant Would Overthrow Emperor Palpatine, Kill Voldemort, and Stop Sauron.
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Old 20th September 2015, 10:49 AM   #207
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Churchill's life of Marlborough. Over a million words, all about his famous relative! I don't think he published that many about WW2. Just finished it, and I freely admit I skimmed an inch or so of the second volume (my edition is two tomes, incorporating the orig. 4). The history of Tories and Whigs and Queen Anne was fascinating to Churchill, but after Malplaquet I lost interest. Then on to

The Anatomy of Courage by Charles Wilson, later Lord Moran. A very good read, with a whopper on almost every page. I had to remind myself that large parts of it, taken from his WW1 diaries, are now 100 years old, and the book as a whole was first published in 1945. Some of his attitudes are staggeringly quaint. He wrote for officers, i.e., members of the officer class, and the enlisted men are gaping yokels (his word) or degenerate "products of the town." Once, coming under German MG fire, a companion "subsides into a ditch." Oh, I say! Not quite the thing, old chap! Later, the same man walks through shell fire "as if on parade." Good show, jolly well done!

IOW, it's unmanly to take cover! Jesus Christ on a stick! If the 20th. century has any coherent motto, it's "Hit the dirt!"

We know much more now.
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Old 21st September 2015, 03:06 AM   #208
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Trigger Mortis the new James Bond novel by Anthony Horowitz. The first directly commissioned by Fleming's estate.
Not bad and it's interesting to see the continuity with Fleming's novels rather than another modern-day reboot.
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As human right is always something given, it always in reality reduces to the right which men give, "concede," to each other. If the right to existence is conceded to new-born children, then they have the right; if it is not conceded to them, as was the case among the Spartans and ancient Romans, then they do not have it. For only society can give or concede it to them; they themselves cannot take it, or give it to themselves.
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Old 21st September 2015, 07:53 AM   #209
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Rupert of Hentzau - the sequel to the Prisoner of Zenda

https://play.google.com/books/reader...J&pg=GBS.PA387
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Old 28th September 2015, 10:30 AM   #210
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Snake pilot by Randy Zahn,
Based on audiotapes he recorded during the war and sent home to his family, Snake Pilot recounts his experiences flying AH-1 Cobra helicopters
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Old 6th October 2015, 10:08 PM   #211
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For fans of The Martian, you might look into Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein, which was released today. Sandford is famous for his bestsellling 'Prey' series featuring Detective Lucas Davenport. This is his first sci-fi venture, and it's is getting good reviews already.
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Old 7th October 2015, 03:35 AM   #212
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Originally Posted by PhxHorn View Post
For fans of The Martian, you might look into Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein, which was released today. Sandford is famous for his bestsellling 'Prey' series featuring Detective Lucas Davenport. This is his first sci-fi venture, and it's is getting good reviews already.
It's on my pile, I'm a Sandford fan and I was interested by the foray into sci-fi.

I'm currently reading:
Val MacDermid's latest Tony Hill/Carol Jordon book Splinter the Silence. Interestingly topical given the upsurge in online misogyny/Gamergate.
Barbara Hambly's Renfield
James Lowder's Madness On The Orient Express. A collection of fiction inspired by the CoC scenario.(ed)
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As human right is always something given, it always in reality reduces to the right which men give, "concede," to each other. If the right to existence is conceded to new-born children, then they have the right; if it is not conceded to them, as was the case among the Spartans and ancient Romans, then they do not have it. For only society can give or concede it to them; they themselves cannot take it, or give it to themselves.
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Old 7th October 2015, 09:31 AM   #213
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Childhood's End, for the nth time, but the first time for many years.
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Old 7th October 2015, 09:46 AM   #214
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Reading Hell's Angel by Ralph "Sonny" Barger for the second time, I got to meet Sonny years ago before he passed away and had him sign my book. Contrary to what most people think, he was just a regular guy that with a love for riding motorcycles and being with his Family and Friends. At book signings and public appearances he would tell little kids never smoke cigarettes and then point to his hole in his neck and say, see this hole don't smoke. I got this because I smoked and if I knew this was going to happen I would never have started.
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Old 7th October 2015, 06:49 PM   #215
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1.
"Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman. A summary of the research on intuitive thinking and more arduously rational thinking which won him the Nobel Prize for Economics. So far not, as I feared, a difficult read and anything but dull. Here's a snippet from the review in The Guardian:

"It is an outstanding book, distinguished by beauty and clarity of detail, precision of presentation and gentleness of manner. Its truths are open to all those whose System 2 is not completely defunct; I have hardly touched on its richness. Some chapters are more taxing than others, but all are gratefully short, and none requires any special learning."


2. "Hydriotaphia or Urne-Buriall" by Sir Thomas Browne. Luscious. Complex. Arcane. I am reading my way very, very slowly through the works of this C17 polymath.


3. ¨Watch Your Back!" by Donald E. Westlake. One of the last of his Dortmunder books and he must have had a lot of fun writing it.


I'm also listening to lots of podcasts - mostly of radio broadcasts. As I fall asleep about 30 minutes into a podcast I miss a chapter or two here and there when I listen to books. I'm currently falling asleep to an early Wodehouse (The Little Nugget) and "A History of the Four Georges" both worth staying awake for really.
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Old 9th October 2015, 03:32 AM   #216
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Originally Posted by PhxHorn View Post
For fans of The Martian, you might look into Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein, which was released today. Sandford is famous for his bestsellling 'Prey' series featuring Detective Lucas Davenport. This is his first sci-fi venture, and it's is getting good reviews already.
I've started this, excellent. There's a Big Idea post on it that might be of interest.
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As human right is always something given, it always in reality reduces to the right which men give, "concede," to each other. If the right to existence is conceded to new-born children, then they have the right; if it is not conceded to them, as was the case among the Spartans and ancient Romans, then they do not have it. For only society can give or concede it to them; they themselves cannot take it, or give it to themselves.
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Old 11th October 2015, 11:59 PM   #217
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Originally Posted by COLONEL View Post
Reading Hell's Angel by Ralph "Sonny" Barger for the second time, I got to meet Sonny years ago before he passed away and had him sign my book. Contrary to what most people think, he was just a regular guy that with a love for riding motorcycles and being with his Family and Friends. At book signings and public appearances he would tell little kids never smoke cigarettes and then point to his hole in his neck and say, see this hole don't smoke. I got this because I smoked and if I knew this was going to happen I would never have started.


Yeah right! That's the airbrushing of their history and practices that Hell's Angels like to try to put over… it's a lie.

I guess he just doesn't mention the criminal empire, the gang wars, the random violence… just a regular guy, head of the whole thing… just believe what you read cos you met him once and he was a charmer. Just wait until you accidentally insult his "colours", or any other Hell's Angel's colours, and see them close ranks and become a mob looking to lynch someone.

Admire a gangster all you want, but don't pretend he isn't a sociopathic and dangerous lying macho ass.



PS I've just read the Mammoth Book of Time Travel Stories, edited by Mike Ashley. Mind stretching, intriguing, startling! Amazing! Wonderful stuff. Just now reading the first novel in Neil Asher's latest series The Owner. So far not very inspiring or gripping. I loved his Splatterjay stories, and the Polity books with Agent Cormac McCarthy, especially Brass Man, one of the most spectacular and satisfying space operas I've read, with artifactual ancient alien tech resurrecting itself and hijacking the universe! I persist in the hopes that the scope opens out a bit more and we get beyond the dull brutality that is the main scenario so far (120 pages in…not looking too promising so far.)
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Old 12th October 2015, 12:20 AM   #218
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Slasher Girls and Monster Boys just the thing for an October treat.
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Space Force.
Because feeding poor people is socialism.
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Old 12th October 2015, 04:12 AM   #219
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Finally venturing into Damon Runyon with his short story collection "More than somewhat". Wonderful stuff.
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Old 12th October 2015, 04:38 AM   #220
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Last week I finished "We are all completely beside ourselves", which I loved.

This week I've started "To Kill a Mockingbird"
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Old 12th October 2015, 01:23 PM   #221
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Originally Posted by asydhouse View Post
Yeah right! That's the airbrushing of their history and practices that Hell's Angels like to try to put over… it's a lie.

I guess he just doesn't mention the criminal empire, the gang wars, the random violence… just a regular guy, head of the whole thing… just believe what you read cos you met him once and he was a charmer. Just wait until you accidentally insult his "colours", or any other Hell's Angel's colours, and see them close ranks and become a mob looking to lynch someone.

Admire a gangster all you want, but don't pretend he isn't a sociopathic and dangerous lying macho ass.



PS I've just read the Mammoth Book of Time Travel Stories, edited by Mike Ashley. Mind stretching, intriguing, startling! Amazing! Wonderful stuff. Just now reading the first novel in Neil Asher's latest series The Owner. So far not very inspiring or gripping. I loved his Splatterjay stories, and the Polity books with Agent Cormac McCarthy, especially Brass Man, one of the most spectacular and satisfying space operas I've read, with artifactual ancient alien tech resurrecting itself and hijacking the universe! I persist in the hopes that the scope opens out a bit more and we get beyond the dull brutality that is the main scenario so far (120 pages in…not looking too promising so far.)
I haven't read the Owner series, as the reviews suggested that - and that he tended to go off on one as far as political rants were concerned (that is detectable IMO in The Polity series but not that intrusive).


As an aside, there is a later Polity book, Dark Intelligence, which is the start of a new series, and a bit of a sequel to The Technician.
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OECD healthcare spending
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link is 2015 data (2013 Data below):
UK 8.5% of GDP of which 83.3% is public expenditure - 7.1% of GDP is public spending
US 16.4% of GDP of which 48.2% is public expenditure - 7.9% of GDP is public spending
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Old 14th October 2015, 02:04 AM   #222
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Originally Posted by jimbob View Post
I haven't read the Owner series, as the reviews suggested that - and that he tended to go off on one as far as political rants were concerned (that is detectable IMO in The Polity series but not that intrusive).


As an aside, there is a later Polity book, Dark Intelligence, which is the start of a new series, and a bit of a sequel to The Technician.
hey, thanks for the info! In fact I have managed to get into The Departure, although it's less interesting than anything else I've read by him. About page 170 the book came alive sfnally, hinting at something science fictionally more worthwhile, for about a page or so, as the main character spent a moment in existential puzzling which engaged with the nature of a human consciousness melded with an AI, which is the principle issue in the book. It's pretty narrowly focused on the mechanics of armed rebellion taking over a space station, which is mildly compelling enough for me to persist, but really as science fiction it's pretty dull, and I wouldn't recommend it if you want the literature of ideas, instead of the war porn school of sf.

By the way, the "political rants" are just info dumps at the start of each chapter purporting to explain how the world devolved into such a pit of despair and fascism. It doesn't do much, and isn't really a propaganda mouthpiece… Asher is a bit of a libertarian/anti-socialist, but I only garner that from some article I read by him a few years ago… the book isn't really pushing that… he even hints that his view of human nature is not completely negative.

I'm going to read Kim Stanley Robinson's new novel Aurora next, something of an antidote to Asher's unrelenting darkness. Good old Stan will refresh my heart and mind with his humanist intelligence and creative, positive thinking heart.
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Old 15th October 2015, 06:31 AM   #223
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Well I finished it. Only a few tantalising passages touching on the existential and functional aspects of melding with AI, and a bit of moral angst over mass murder and questioning motives. A short story would have been a better form for the contents of this 500 page "novel".

Unfortunately for me, the conclusion of the book promises an interstellar expedition, and Asher's past work dangles a carrot of potentially cosmic developments… now that Saul is fully in control of himself and the huge space station which is now departing for mars with a huge fusion engine strapped onto it. So, I am thinking I might just give the next book a try, and then I'll be able to report back here whether it's worth reading. And if it is, I'll be recommending skipping this first book in the series. It may be some time, however, as I really don't want to plunge straight back into the unpleasant world of this book.
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Old 15th October 2015, 06:50 AM   #224
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Command and Control, about a specific nuclear bomb silo accident, and lengthy details of the nuclear development program and the incidents that have happened since then. Quite alarming. Living through those times I never knew how close we were to total annihilation through mismanagement and lack of oversight.
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Old 15th October 2015, 07:05 AM   #225
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Originally Posted by alfaniner View Post
Command and Control, about a specific nuclear bomb silo accident, and lengthy details of the nuclear development program and the incidents that have happened since then. Quite alarming. Living through those times I never knew how close we were to total annihilation through mismanagement and lack of oversight.
An excellent book.
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Old 25th October 2015, 06:04 PM   #226
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Originally Posted by catsmate View Post
An excellent book.
Is this about the 1980's Titan II silo explosion or a fictional one?
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Old 26th October 2015, 02:03 AM   #227
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Originally Posted by Hans View Post
Is this about the 1980's Titan II silo explosion or a fictional one?
The historical one; the book is non-fiction and covers numerous accidents and near catastrophes with nuclear weapons.
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Old 28th October 2015, 03:36 AM   #228
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Originally Posted by Hans View Post
Is this about the 1980's Titan II silo explosion or a fictional one?
On the subject of nuclear weapons "incidents" this story is pretty horrifying.
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Old 3rd November 2015, 03:35 PM   #229
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I'm currently reading some of the earliest known fan fiction.

Edgar Alan Poe wrote The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. The story comes to an end in a way that naturally suggests it could continue.

Jules Verne decided that, since Poe wasn't going to write more of Pym's story, he would, and produced An Antarctic Mystery. As a result, Verne basically created an entire genre of story that would entertain and enrage readers on the Internet generations later.
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Old 3rd November 2015, 05:14 PM   #230
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'Infinitesimal: How a Dangerous Mathematical Theory Shaped the Modern World'
by Amir Alexander (Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014).
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Old 4th November 2015, 03:57 AM   #231
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Weber's latest Safebhold book, Hell's Foundations Quiver.
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Old 5th November 2015, 03:31 AM   #232
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I'm reading Caesar, Life of a Colossus, which is amazing.

Looking forward to Augustus next.
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Old 5th November 2015, 02:50 PM   #233
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The Song Machine - behind the scenes look at the music biz
Raw Talent - bio of porn star
Fortunate Son - Joh Fogerty bio
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Old 8th November 2015, 05:32 AM   #234
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Well, I read the final chapter Sir Thomas Browne's Hydriotaphia or Urne Buriall tonight - footnotes in Latin, Italian and, unfortunately, Ancient Greek (thankyou Google Translate, which will actually speak the Greek for you to emulate).

I so happens that I'm recording Browne's most famous works for an audiobook and, because I've fallen in love with him, I am tracking down every last one of the arcane references and every one of the numerous footnotes (thankyou Internet) to do it as much justice as I can. For me, his essays are deep immersion courses in the world of C17 England and embryo modern science, human psychology, medical horrors and religion - related by an erudite medical doctor of unbounded curiosity and broad sympathies who was born when Shakespeare was in his prime. The final chapter tonight was a joy to read out loud - “the longest piece, perhaps, of absolutely sublime rhetoric to be found in the prose literature of the world.” as one of his critics said.

Though it builds up to a magnificent peroration (is that the word?) it is full of well-known quotations:

"The long habit of living indisposeth us for dying."

"What song the Syrens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, though puzzling questions, are not beyond all conjecture."

"But the iniquity of oblivion blindly scattereth her poppy, and deals with the memory of men without distinction to merit of perpetuity. Who can but pity the founder of the Pyramids? Herostratus lives that burnt the Temple of Diana, he is almost lost that built it."

"But man is a Noble Animal, splendid in ashes, and pompous in the grave, solemnizing Nativities and Deaths with equal lustre, nor omitting Ceremonies of Bravery, in the infamy of his nature".


"Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible Sun within us."


Now for his next essay: The Garden of Cyrus

....

It's been a good day for reading because I'm continuing Donna Tartt's "The Secret History". Which, by a nice co-incidence is also rife with references to the classical world. It's the most engaging, bemusing, promisingly complex and stylistically delightful novel I've come across for a long time. Took me over 20 years to even hear of it.

....

I always have a mystery novel on the go and the current one is Reginald Hill's "A Cure for All Diseases". Sir Thomas Browne again! Reg took the title from Browne's "We all labour against our own cure, for death is the cure of all diseases.'


It's very satisfying to have a good rave.

Last edited by jenspen; 8th November 2015 at 05:35 AM. Reason: Punctuation error
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Old 8th November 2015, 05:03 PM   #235
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The Italian Renaissance, by J. H. Plumb.

I'm liking it so far - finished the meat of the book (the first 3/5 or so), which I wish was longer, and am plowing through the rest, which is a collection of essays by various historians on some of the major figures of the period; Petrarch, Machiavelli and Michelangelo already tackled with Julius II next. Petrarch and Michelangelo were very enjoyable reads. Machiavelli's coverage was a little less so - the author seemed to not be able to reach a conclusion on him, and left the reader without enough information to form one of their own, especially when the man's character as described didn't seem to ring true compared to Maurizio Viroli's Niccolo's Smile.

I admit I got into the subject after revisiting Assassin's Creed 2, which I knew took gigantic leaps with the times and persons involved*, and wanted to go from general to specific to really specific, with The Civilization of Europe in the Renaissance by John Hale, the aforementioned Plumb, Roger D. Master's Fortune Is A River (about the friendship between Machiavelli and da Vinci) and Rudolph M. Bell's How to Do It (regarding sex, family and child-rearing during the Italian Renaissance). I'll return to Hale once I finish Plumb, though I found his book to be on the dry side so far.



*For instance, Lucrezia Borgia is portrayed as a backstabbing harpy - where she seems much more accurately played in the Showtime program The Borgias, as she is described by Plumb as "really a bland, vapid creature with nothing remarkable about her except a cowlike disposition and long blonde hair." Caterina Sforza however remains a fascinating woman - more so even than as she was portrayed in the video game - after having read about her in historical non-fiction.
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Old 9th November 2015, 01:43 PM   #236
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Originally Posted by Polaris View Post
The Italian Renaissance, by J. H. Plumb.

I'm liking it so far - finished the meat of the book (the first 3/5 or so), which I wish was longer, and am plowing through the rest, which is a collection of essays by various historians on some of the major figures of the period; Petrarch, Machiavelli and Michelangelo already tackled with Julius II next. Petrarch and Michelangelo were very enjoyable reads. Machiavelli's coverage was a little less so - the author seemed to not be able to reach a conclusion on him, and left the reader without enough information to form one of their own, especially when the man's character as described didn't seem to ring true compared to Maurizio Viroli's Niccolo's Smile.
My mistake - it was Pius II.
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Old 9th November 2015, 06:33 PM   #237
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Some tomes about SQL, mass spectrometry, low-carb diets, and Bonsai. I come here for my dose of woo.
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Old 10th November 2015, 01:21 PM   #238
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
I'm reading Caesar, Life of a Colossus, which is amazing.

Looking forward to Augustus next.
Just started S.P.Q.R , A history of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard,one of the foremost experts on the topic. It got rave reviews,and Beard is one of a vanishing breed: an Academic Historian (professor at Cambridge) who can write really well .
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Old 12th November 2015, 08:46 AM   #239
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
Just started S.P.Q.R , A history of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard,one of the foremost experts on the topic. It got rave reviews,and Beard is one of a vanishing breed: an Academic Historian (professor at Cambridge) who can write really well .
Ever read any of her stuff on Pompeii? I just added SPQR to my Amazon wish list and noticed she had written one on Pompeii more recently and an older book on everything Vesuvius took out.
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Old 3rd January 2016, 09:35 AM   #240
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Just finished "Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms - Journeys Into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East" by Gerard Russell.

A good review by another author I like.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/201...liam-dalrymple
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link is 2015 data (2013 Data below):
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US 16.4% of GDP of which 48.2% is public expenditure - 7.9% of GDP is public spending
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