Book Review #18

Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds

Extraordinary Popular Delusions & The Madness Of Crowds

I am ticked off…. or rather, this book is ticked off the reading list challenge that I don’t follow.

It was originally published before I was born – more than a century before. It was first printed in 1841. The copy that I got on an inter-library loan was reprinted in 1980. It had 3 prefaces – the original, a slightly revised version when the author had it reprinted 30 years later, and yet another from the 1980 re-release.

The 1980 instigator was taking a University Psychology course, when he thought he heard the instructor speaking of an old book about The Madness Of Krauts. He didn’t realize that Germans were called Krauts, that far back. A check of the University library showed him his mistake, but since the copyright had long expired, he felt that he could make a little money by having it reprinted.

This book was a disappointment, yet also a delight to me. Even since the ‘70s, there have been great changes and improvements in psychiatry and psychology, but since I only knew of the 1980 publish date, I hoped to get some fairly up-to-date insights into mob behavior. The 1841 composer rendered none of that. He only provided recountings of historical events which were notable for mass delusion.

These included the likes of the monetary bubble, collapse of the Louisiana Investment scam/scandal, the sad failure of the earliest attempt at a German Crusade, and the ongoing hysteria of the witch hunts. While the historical details were interesting enough, he delivered them all with the long-winded panache of someone reciting a Life Insurance actuarial table.

With the German Crusade, 100,000 young men were said to have started out, but only a handful survived, even to reach Constantinople, because of fighting among themselves, and with the armies of states and countries they marched through and denuded for food and drink.

As usual, the section on the witch hunts provided the worst atrocities. It was both a Church and State viewpoint that, “Because of the seriousness of this offence, none who are accused of this horrid crime shall escape torture to make them confess their sins. It is better that a million shall die, than that one witch shall be allowed to escape.”

Even while trying to do good, the well-intentioned did bad. As the witch-hunt frenzy was ebbing, a minor member of British Nobility tried an experiment. He was unconvinced that torture-induced confessions, and especially the naming of other witches, was valid.

He was acquainted and friends with, two Jesuit priests who acted as judges at the torture trials. To convince them of his viewpoint, he used a woman accused and imprisoned as a witch. They all attended the torture chamber, and he acted as interrogator. He had the woman stretched on the rack, and afflicted with the gamut of horrible tortures. Within a day, she admitted that she was a witch. Skillfully using leading questions, he also had her claim that the two Jesuits were wizards, calling them by name.

As they left the building, leaving the poor woman to her undeserved fate, the senior priest said, “It is well that this was done by a friend, rather than by an enemy.” And so, the witch-hunt frenzy slowly died, but not before thousands of innocent people also suffered and died.

This book is old enough to display some of the some of the English language’s spelling shifts. Words like ‘showed’, and ‘shown’ were printed as shewed, and shewn. While it was not what I thought I was getting, still it was an interesting read.

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Three – Two – One-liners

Comedy

When you’re down by the sea
and an eel bites your knee….
….that’s a moray

Life without music….
….would b Flat

Decaf coffee is depresso

Reading while sunbathing….
….makes you, well, red

I had a Wookie steak last night….
….It was a little Chewy

Don’t let anyone call you average….
….That’s just mean

Kleptomaniacs always take things….
….literally

Huge fight at the local seafood diner….
….battered fish everywhere

Last week my doctor told me that I was going deaf….
….I haven’t heard from him since

Try resistance training….
….Refuse to go to the gym.

Whenever I feel blue….
….I start breathing again

I named my IPod Titanic….
….It’s synching now

The four seasons are all different….
….Summer warmer than others

A book hit my head….
….and I’ve only my shelf to blame

Bad puns….
….That’s how eye roll

Looking back….
….I really hurt my neck

If you are in it up to your ears….
….keep your mouth shut

Police toilet stolen!….
….Cops have nothing to go on.

Shenanigans….
….because life is more fun when you’re up to something

Can’t get up to vote?….
….You may have electile dysfunction

Do people in Australia….
….call the rest of the world ‘Up Over?’

I can’t believe it’s been a year…
….since I didn’t become a better person

I don’t have a Fit-Bit….
….but I do have some fat bits

’19 A To Z Challenge – F

AtoZ2019Letter F

First, I gave you several ‘Seinfeld’ posts, each with 6 or 8 unrelated points, but, essentially about ‘Nothing.’ Then I published several posts titled ‘Shotgun,’ like a shotgun blast, with multiple vignettes, but nothing in the way of a single, solid theme.

I got creative, and coined the word ‘Triviana’ to describe these fractured offerings, because it sounded better than Cheap Smarm and Gossip. I stole researched a theme from an American blogger with the right last name, added a photo of Canadian coinage, and called it Smitty’s Loose Change, because my grip on reality is loose, though I don’t really like change.

Eventually, of course, I found that those with more couth and language capability than me, have a word for my weird submissions. They call them

FACETIAE

humorous or witty sayings
obscene or coarsely witty books

It is NOT related to facet, which is a flat surface on a gem or something similar. It Is related to facetious, which means

facetious

adj.

1590s, from French facétieux , from facétie “a joke” (15c.), from Latin facetia “jest, witticism,” from facetus “witty, elegant, fine, courteous,” of unknown origin, perhaps related to facis “torch.”

It implies a desire to be amusing, often intrusive or ill-timed. Related: Facetiously ; facetiousness . “ Facetiæ in booksellers’ catalogues, is, like curious, a euphemism for erotica.” [Fowler]

So, as you can see, I am very serious about not being very serious. I have faced the challenge of A To Z – F. Now I gallop onward, toward the letter G. See you there.  😀

 

’19 A To Z Challenge – E

 

Letter E

AtoZ2019

 

Canada’s entertainment has (almost) caught up to the USA’s.

First, we dumped cable TV, as content deteriorated, and prices soared. Later we ditched satellite TV, when their charges approached Cable’s. We have YouTube as part of our internet package. The wife signed up for Netflix – considerably cheaper than either of the other two. Later, she enrolled in Amazon Prime, which not only gives us advantages with the increasing number of things that we purchase online, but provides another cheap platform for videos.

I watched episodes of Babylon 5 on TVs in Detroit hotels, five years before it became available on Canadian television. About 3 years ago BrainRants made me aware of an epic series, on SyFy in the US. We couldn’t access it here, but I began reading the 7-book series about The

Leviathan Wakes

Expanse

I have read the first three books, with the 4th on order. Each book becomes a year’s series. So far, the first 3 seasons are available on Amazon Prime. Pleasantly, the wife finds that she likes it. We have watched though the first season, and into the second. They are big, 700-page books. I’d better get reading, to stay ahead of the Canadian video releases.

Are there any other sci-fi fans out there, also watching this series? What do you think of it? Many TV series, including science fiction are consecutive; what happens in this week’s episode occurs after what happened in last week’s, but usually has no direct connection. This series, like many European series, is sequential. There are some flashbacks, but you can’t miss an episode, or you don’t understand what’s happening next.

I am ecstatic that I finally get to watch The Expanse. Thanx Rants! 😀

WOW #44

Kyle's Scrimshaw

This is MY definition of ‘Griffonage.’

Doctors have learned to use computers, and no longer hand-write prescriptions. Pharmacists give thanks for modern technology. That brings us to the Word Of this Week

GRIFFONAGE

Careless handwriting: a crude or illegible scrawl

The art of cursive writing is going the way of the Dodo VCR. Generally, the more someone writes, the more rushed the writing is, and the worse – the more illegible – it becomes. If you are fortunate enough to get a celebrity to autograph a book or a program, they vaguely wave a marker over it.

What results, could not be proven in a court of law – or anywhere else – to be an actual signature. You might as well have had one of the roadies scribble something. You could sell it at a neat profit, and no-one would be any the wiser.

This old –but new-to-me – word, brought me to another new-to-me synonym…. Cacography, who is related to cacophony, which means
harsh discordance of sound; dissonance:
a discordant and meaningless mixture of sounds

So, where one infects the ears, the other afflicts the eyes. Give your eyes a rest on Monday, with a post with a few jokes.   😉   😆

’19 A To Z Challenge – C

Letter CAtoZ2019

 

The unusual English word for the Ides of May Ass-end of April is

COSTERMONGER

Costermonger is the quieter, poorer, green-collar, green-grocer brother of the Monger family. Their trade is

Chiefly British: a dealer in or trader of a commodity (usually used in combination with a specific material)
a person who is involved with something in a petty or contemptible way (usually used in combination)
Verb: to sell, to hawk

Our friend costermonger is; a hawker of fruits, vegetables, fish, etc., often from a cart, barrow or street stall

The Monger children are quite numerous. They include
Iron-monger, who is the roughneck of the family
Fear-monger, who works for Trump in the Immigration Department
War-monger, who flies back and forth between Washington and North Korea
Cheese-monger, the back-to-the-Earth, family Hippie
Gossip-monger, the sister who just can’t keep her mouth shut

Gossip

Almost no-one who becomes an author, can support themselves on book royalties, at least in the beginning. It takes a lot of time, and a lot of books sold, which usually means multiple titles. Not everybody can be a Dan Brown, a Lee Child, or a Tom Clancy.

I know a lovely lady author who has published three small books – with more on the way. As a pay-the-bills job, at one point she was the manager of the sea-food section of a supply warehouse. She delighted in telling people that she was a fish-monger.   😆

Fish

There’s nothing fishy about my claim that my next post will be even more interesting. C U soon.

A To Z - Survivor

Book Review #17

Dark Matter

It is no paradox that I like to read stories about paradoxes. In my list of books read in 2016, I included several time-travel novels. More recently, my Book Review #16 – The Whenabouts of Burr, was not really about time travel, but a voyage across parallel, but slightly different versions of Earth.

I recently read another alternate Earth novel. It was

The book: Dark Matter

The author: Blake Crouch

The review: This book is also about alternate Earths/Universes. The narrator is a man who might have been a great physicist, married to a woman who might have been a great artist. Instead, he is a university science professor, and she runs a graphic design studio out of their home, as they raise a beloved 10-year-old son.

He is kidnapped by Himself from a parallel existence, who never married or had a family, but instead invented/designed a device to make this transposition possible. He is thrust into the other’s frenetic life, while the imposter takes over his peaceful existence.

The ‘Burr’ book makes inter-dimensional travel possible by an electronic device that limits which realities are available. It is largely a discussion about social and political alternatives – USA vs. Russia vs. China – disguised in a roman a cléf.

This book is about infinity, quantum entanglement, and the definitions of ‘reality.’ The device is mostly an elevator-car-sized sensory deprivation chamber, because quantum theory says that merely observing an action, changes the outcome. Essentially, the traveller becomes Schrödinger’s cat. He got some help from a biologist friend who developed a serum that shuts down the section of the brain that accepts the remaining input.

Instead of electronic controls, where you end up when you open the door is controlled by the psyche, the subconscious. You go where you unconsciously want or feel to go. It takes him several months, in and out of the box, to train his mind to return to where he started from.

Just when the reader thinks that it is “Happily Ever After” time, the writer throws another curve-ball at reality. While there is only one ‘his world’, and ‘his wife’, and ‘his son’ to return to, decisions that he made during the months that he was gone, caused other versions of him to split off, and 110 of them return, most of them ready to kill to get the prize. How do you surprise, outthink, and win out over yourself??

I found that this was a great, thought-provoking Science Fiction novel, about something that may become science fact in the all-too-near future. What are you reading? 😕