Book Review #21

Once upon a time, a man purchased a book. It was

A Brief History of Time

The book: A Brief History Of Time

The Author: Stephen Hawking

The Review:
Through luck, and association with a particular social group, the man who purchased the book, later got to actually meet the great man, Stephen Hawking himself. He informed him that he had bought and read the book. Largely through Hawking’s handler, the man who guided his wheelchair and who had learned to interpret his minuscule movements, he was asked what he thought of the book.

He replied that he had not understood a word of it. Well…. He got words like a, to, at, the, and, but the rest were over his head like an umbrella. Hawking was surprisingly pleased by this, because it proved that the man had actually read it, even if he didn’t get it.

I tried to get a copy of this book from the library thirty years ago, when it was first published, but it was too popular, and I finally gave up. Recently I thought I’d have another go at it. Hawking’s writing style is pleasantly clear and easy. He claimed that he wanted to provide this information for the ordinary person. Your ‘Ordinary Person’ may vary. MAGA-hat-wearing Trump supporters won’t be forming book clubs to discuss it, nor will it be a hot topic at truck stops.

Even though I’m retired, I’ve kept up my dues to the United Nerds International Union. I was a good halfway through this small (214 page) book before I had to start checking terms and concepts. After the body of the book, Hawking included 2-3 page bios on the likes of Einstein, Galileo, and Newton, to show how their works and discoveries have provided the foundation for modern understanding of the universe.

For a book on time, Hawking spent the first several chapters discussing/explaining matter. Matter and Time are interwoven. You can’t have time without matter. When I was born, scientists had only recently discovered that molecules were made up of atoms. The Second World War brought us the A-Bomb – the atom bomb. A few years later, the thermonuclear hydrogen H-Bomb was produced. These showed that the atoms could be torn apart, and jammed together, made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons.

More powerful and delicate devices, like the CERN Collider, have shown that even these tiny building blocks are made of even tinier bits. Like strange little trouble-making Gremlins, they have names like quarks, muons, pions, mesons, leptons, tachyons, baryons, gravitons, and bosons. While they are too small to reflect light, fun-loving physicists label them as red, blue and green, and insist that they have ‘spin,’ based on how they react with each other, and reality.

Hawking eventually got around to explaining time – how it (so far) only flows in one direction, from past to future. He showed how it is subjective, and is influenced by mass, and speed of travel. I’ve run into most of these terms and concepts before, but it was nice to see them laid out so completely and clearly.

Ordinarily, with a book so nicely written and presented, I’d be recommending it, but not this one. For most of you, your only concern with time is that you arrive at work before the boss gets grumpy about your ETA. If Hawking’s successors are successful at using black holes to reverse the flow of time, you’ll never have to worry about that again.

There was a young lady from Bright
Who could travel faster than light
She set off one day
In a relative way,
And returned the previous night

This book is different – a niche market. Unless the checkout clerk down at Geeks R Us knows you by name, I suggest giving it a pass. Don’t pass up the chance to read my next post. It will be available in no time at all.

2019 List Of Books Read

Take Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,, stir well, blame it on Shakespeare, and claim you read it all, last year.

In no particular order:

Abaddon's Gate

One of the big books that ‘The Expanse’ TV series is based on. They broadcast one book per year, so I have to read two, to get ahead of the story arc, and stay ahead.

 

A Brief History of Time

It’s been available for several years, so I thought that I would educate myself. It’s not Dr. Seuss level, but Hawking does a good job of making a complex theory comprehensible to non-mathematicians.

 

alien-earth

Possibly only ever published as a pulp fiction, not paperback, I didn’t have a copy of this, along with my other Hamilton books. I found this, perhaps inadvertently attached to another article that I was researching..

 

Ballistic

A men’s’ action/adventure book, good for passing time in retirement. This is the third in a series. The first was terrible. The second was so-so. The story arc is improving. If I hadn’t already bought this one, I might never have.

Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven

Mark Twain, making fun of Christians’ beliefs about heaven. I’ll post a book-review later.

 

Chromosome 6

Like John Grisham’s work, Robin Cook’s is also dense. I read Coma, and liked it, but this one took me a while to struggle through.

 

Cibola Burn

This is the second of the Expanse books that I read last year. The next TV series became available on December 18/19, but I’m saving it till summer.

 

Duty And Honor

Tom Clancy’s ghost keeps pumping these out, and I keep reading them.

Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness of Crowds

Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds

I’ve already done a book-review on this one. Interesting enough, but too old to be relevant.

 

Fledgling

Fun but formulaic Science Fiction. The daughter of a University professor grows up with enhanced cognitive powers.

Galileo Goes to Jail, And Other Myths

Gilileo Goes To Jail

Research into Christianity vs. Secularism.

 

Jesus Interrupted

more research into Christianity vs. Secularism. The author has more than 20 books about the New Testament. I just can’t believe that he points out all the mistakes and contradictions…. yet says that he still believes.

 

Magic Stars

One of two I that I read, that are the last in this series. Magic in Atlanta. I’ve already started on another series by the same authors, Magic in Red Deer, Texas.

 

Monster Hunter Memoirs Saints

One well-known author butted into another’s series, and wrote two books. It took the first as much time and effort to edit them, and assure that they fit in the canon, as if he’d written them himself. The other title is Sinners, which I’ll read this year.

No Middle Name

A collection of Jack Reacher short stories.

 

Origin

Dan Brown’s latest – unless he’s released another one while I was publishing this list.

 

Paradox Bound

This author likes to play with alternate timelines & realities.

 

People Named Smith

It wasn’t as interesting as I’d hoped – but then, perhaps people named Smith just aren’t interesting.

 

Recruit

A story about space marines. The blurb sounded good, but the book was Young Adult – nothing wrong, just nothing right.

Redshirts

A book about how the original Star Trek was real…. or was it??!

 

Small Magics

The last in this sword and werewolves series – unless the rabid fans convince the author couple to write another. They are quite prolific, with four concurrent series, and a couple of stand-alones.

 

The Bone Labyrinth

Not “Great Literature,” but a great time passer.

The Midnight Line

I’m reading these faster than Lee Child can write them. I will regret when the series ends. There are still two more ahead of me.

 

The Psychology Of Time Travel

Science Fiction and time travel from a woman’s point of view. More suspense than action, but interesting.

 

True Faith And Allegiance

I started this in Dec. but the need to read and return that next big Expanse book to the library in Jan. means that I’m just finishing it now.

Why Are You Atheists So Angry

Yet more Christians vs. Atheists research. Christian Apologists can be so irritating – unintentionally amusing and interesting – but irritating.

Even if you don’t have the time/energy to list all the books you read last year, do you have any specials that you’d like to mention?

’19 A To Z Challenge – W

AtoZ2019letter-w

 

 

All right everyone, put down your Magic Potions texts, grab your Butter Beer, and we’re off to visit Harry Potter’s friends

Butter Beer

Witch

a person, now especially a woman, who professes or is supposed to practice magic or sorcery; a sorceress. Compare warlock
a woman who is supposed to have evil or wicked magical powers:

Wizard

a person who practices magic; magician or sorcerer.
a conjurer or juggler.

Also whiz, wiz. a person of amazing skill or accomplishment:

Warlock

a man who professes or is supposed to practice magic or sorcery; a male witch; sorcerer.

a fortuneteller or conjurer.

Wyvern

a two-legged winged dragon having the hinder part of a serpent with a barbed tail.

It is one of the vagaries of the English language, that many of the things in Harry Potter’s world begin with the letter W. Aside from the examples above, there are also his magic Wand, his friends and support, the Weasley family – whose forebears came from the village of Westleigh – one of whom, Ginny, (Virginia) became his wife.

Want to know what I’ve dreamed up for the letter X?? You’ll have to wing back over in a couple of weeks. Don’t make me get out my Attraction Spells scroll. 😉 😀

***

Last year, for my Q for quilts challenge post, I showed a picture of the winner in the local Mennonite Relief Auction.  While complex and impressive, I much prefer the recently announced winner of this year’s contest. I like bold blues and geometric shapes, and this one has both.  It’s called Fire Island Hosta Queen.  Here’s a picture of it – do you like it too?

’19 A To Z Challenge – R

-+

AtoZ2019Letter R

 

 

Raven

My grandson asked, When is raven a verb? (With all due apologies to Edgar Allen Poe) When it’s pronounced (rah-ven),
verb (used without object)
to seek plunder or prey.
to eat or feed voraciously or greedily: to raven like an animal.
to seize as spoil or prey.
to devour voraciously.
Noun; rapine; robbery.
plunder or prey.

and it’s a homograph
noun; a word of the same written form as another but of different meaning and usually origin, whether pronounced the same way or not, as bear “to carry; support” and bear “animal” or lead “to conduct” and lead “metal.”

I will read the same book today, that I read last night.

The nurse wound the bandage around his wound.

I had to polish my Polish aunt’s end table.

I demanded that he produce the produce from his farm.

We should refuse to throw refuse out our car windows

He would not desert her, out here in the desert.

We did not present her present last night, so we have to do it today, in the present.

Don’t play your bass while you’re fishing for bass.

She finally had to bow to the inevitable, and buy her son a toy bow and arrow set.

When he dove into the lake, it startled the dove.

I would not object, if that ugly object were removed.

They had a big row over who had to row the boat.

His claim to be an invalid, was proven to be invalid.

Are you close enough to the front door to close it firmly?

After he would mow the lawn, he would mow into a big lunch.

All the deer who came to feed were does. Why does that matter?

The sewer managed to repair the shirt that he had ripped in the sewer.

The old sow had eaten all the seed wheat that he had planned to sow.

If the wind gusts any stronger, it will wind that flag right around the pole.

I just took a real buffet. Some guy almost body-checked me, on my way to the buffet.

If you tear down the sidewalk, you might fall and tear your pants. Then you’ll shed a tear.

I had to scuttle downstairs to add a scuttle of coal to the old furnace, because I didn’t want to scuttle the great party.

I can’t even write a short simple sentence for the word founder. As a noun, it might be a person who starts a town, or a business. Or, it may be a metal-worker who toils in a foundry. As a verb, it means to become wrecked, fail entirely, sink, or fall down.

You cannot subject the Queen’s subject to this kind of questioning.

The author was trying to intimate that the butler had been intimate with Her Ladyship.

I don’t think that most husbands want to converse with their wives during a hockey game. Rather, I believe the converse, that they just want quiet.

Why doesn’t Buick rhyme with quick? For that matter, why isn’t imply pronounced like limply? If a male sheep is called a ram, and a male donkey is called an ass, why is a ram-in-the-ass called a goose?

Somebody goosed me, so I’ll have another post ready in a couple of days. C U   😀

Book Review #19

Paradox Bound

Paradox Bound

It is no paradox that I like to read stories about paradoxes. Oh, wait – I already published that, here.

Are you folks ready for some social and political commentary and satire?? Well, seat belt in. Here we go.

The book – Paradox Bound

The author – Peter Clines

The review – IN THE BEGINNING, was the United States of America. The founding fathers had a dream, a dream of what they had created, a dream of what it could be, a dream of what they wanted it to be. They wanted their dream to be real, solid, physical. Being (mostly) good Christians, they prayed to the Egyptian god Ptah.

Ptah’s father was an older, greater god. Ptah was a carpenter. He died, and came back to life after three days. Maybe they never noticed the difference – or the similarities. Ptah created a real, physical dream for them. It was stored in a safe place…. then one day, the dream was gone – Lost? Stolen? Went to North Korea with some crazy basketball player and forgot to come back?

Most Americans didn’t notice, or didn’t care, but there were many who did care, and they became the Searchers. 48 men had been created with no faces, only plastic Halloween masks. The faceless men’s mission had been to protect the Dream, but when it disappeared, they only protected their own existence. Their greatest strength was “Certainty.” They knew everything around them. They mined the almost 250 years of records of the entire United States. They hunted down and killed any Searcher who might re-establish the old status quo. These faceless bookkeepers were The Bureaucrats.

Is any of this roman a clé beginning to feel familiar? As a Canadian, it took me a few chapters.

Since this entire story is about the United States, there is no “Time” Travel, only about 250 years of History Travel. Like the Back To The Future movies, a vehicle is required. No speed is needed, only the ability to navigate the slick spaces on the roads and trails of America, to slide from one period or era, to another. Travel up-time beyond 2036 is impossible. If The Dream is not recovered and re-installed by then, American history will unravel, and the world will exist without all the wonderful things it has created.

Older vehicles were preferred, because they were stronger, and simpler, able to be repaired with a hammer, pliers and some string, if they broke down. Horse and wagons were mentioned, but usually early 20th century technology was chosen. The author mentions an Indian motorcycle, and apparently John Henry was a real person, riding the rails in a train he assembled himself.

The writer seems to love classic automobiles. He has different characters riding around in a 1929 Ford Model A Business Coupe, a 1940 Cadillac Sixty Special in factory Oxblood Maroon, a 1953 Hudson Hornet, a 1958 Edsel Corsair, a 1961 Ford Fairlane, a 1967 Chevrolet Impala, a 1969 Ford Mustang, a 1970 Dodge Lancer, a 1975 Dodge Dart Sport, and a 1978 Chrysler Newport. Without specific dates, he also mentions ‘tail-finned‘ Cadillacs, which would be from about 1953 to 1960.

Tailfin Cadillac

Since Ptah’s spell only covers the USA, all vehicles must be “American steel.” As an ex-autoworker, I know of American workers, assembling cars in the U.S. with parts produced in Canada, made from German or Pakistani steel. I guess when they cross the border, and get paid for with greenbacks; they become “American.”

Our hero and heroine are the ones driving the ’29 Model A. The author doesn’t know as much about old cars as he lets on. At one point, they make a run for the car. She whips open the passenger door, and “slides across the rumble seat.” I had a mental image of Starsky (or was it Hutch?) sliding across a smooth hood. You don’t do that with a rumble seat! There’s a large, protruding, steel T-handle that could ruin your whole weekend.

SDC10136

There’s the T-Handle that you wouldn’t”t want to slide across.

SDC10135

This car had the ‘rumble seat’ removed, so that the space could be used as a small trunk.

After a few more pages, he began to use the terms ‘bench seat’ and ‘rumble seat’ interchangeably. (Click above) A rumble seat is exterior to the small, enclosed passenger compartment of a coupe. It’s like a small trunk, set on the sloping rear deck, that opens to an exposed, upholstered, double seat.

It must be confusing for the History Travelers, to have the paradox of speaking to a person that they have never met, yet who has known them for years of their time-line – to speak to someone they’ve watched die – to observe the same occurrence from two – or three – different perspectives – and get it.

The ultimate paradox was that, since the Searchers had been trying to find the American Dream through 250 years of history, chronologically, the Dream hid itself, in 1963, so that they could all achieve their dream of locating it. It was never really ‘lost.’

the-fold

I liked Cline’s The Fold novel last year, about parallel time-lines. Despite its ‘Made In America’ plot line, I really liked this one too. I rate it two cheeseburgers. I’d give it three, but I’m trying to lose some weight again (still). 🌯 Tell me what you’re reading.

Time Travel

I read about time travel. I am intrigued by the paradoxes of time travel. I just LOoove time travel…. except when Daylight Saving Time rolls around. Remember, tonight’s the night. At 2:00 AM, we need to turn all our clocks back one hour, to 1:00 AM. Then we get an extra hour of sleep. (Sure we do. We just party an hour longer.) We’ll probably spend that extra hour trying, and failing, and cursing, to turn all the clocks and watches in the house, back. Thank the mystical gods of silicon, that computers, tablets and the like, are smarter than we are, and do this automatically.

For those who are as chronologically challenged as I am, I have obtained a graphic to aid you with this task.

Daylight time

I hope this helps. I’ll see you tomorrow…. or was that yesterday??! 😳

One-Liners Rub off On You

Comedy

I got a new dry-erase board at work….
….It’s remarkable

People who can’t distinguish between etymology and entomology….
….bug me in ways that I cannot put into words

I could tell you about my addiction to reading books….
….but that’s another story

If you boil a funny-bone….
….you get a laughing-stock
….This is humerus.

I didn’t think that my orthopedic shoes would work….
….but I stand corrected

Why did the coffee file a police report?….
….It got mugged

A toothpick saw a hedgehog….
….”Oh, wow, a bus.” it said.

How do you teach schoolchildren about God?….
….Gather them all in a classroom, and then don’t show up.

I swallowed a laxative with Holy water….
….I’m going to start a religious movement

I nearly bought a hill today….
….but it was too steep

Some people think my puns are juvenile….
….but I like to think of them as full groan

I once had a job prospecting for gold….
….but it didn’t pan out

I got a job in a guillotine factory….
….I’ll be heading there soon

I had amnesia once….
…or twice???

They told me that I was gullible….
….and I believed them

You shouldn’t try to write with a broken pencil….
….It’s pointless

I was addicted to the Hokey-Pokey….
….but I turned myself around

Never argue with a fool….
….they will lower you to their level, and beat you with experience

How do you seduce a fat woman?….
….piece of cake

I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way….
….so I stole a bike, and asked for forgiveness

Practice makes perfect….
….but nobody’s perfect, so why practice?

The floor was so dusty….
…. that it seemed to be suffering from sweep deprivation.