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May 27, 2005


Actually, I misspoke. The book I am reading is itself quite interesting; it just seemed like a dull suggestion for beach reading etc.

waiting for David Neiwert's latest to arrive - figured buying his book was more interesting than making a PayPal donation. just finished Jonathen Lethem's Men And Cartoons - a slim collection of short stories that were cut from the same cloth as his recent novels.

waiting patiently for Jeff VanderMeer's upcoming Duncan Shriek

I'm not vacationing, but for my loooong commute into the big city, I have picked up a thick trade paperback of all ten of Zelazny's Amber novels.

Rilkefan will, I think, never be at a loss for words, so he will not need the Victorian Sex Cry Generator (via Amygdala), but someone else might, so I post it here.

OK, rilkefan, I dare ya -- I double dog dare ya! -- to use one of those ejaculations on your wedding night. Being a poor penniless grad student I have naught to give you but my eternal, undying admiration and public declarations that you have the greatest cojones ever. And who on earth could possibly refuse that?

Actually, I misspoke. The book I am reading is itself quite interesting


I've started reading

Looking Like the Enemy:
My Story of Imprisonment in a Japanese-American Internment Camp
By Mary Matsuda Gruenewald

The author is someone I've known for a few years now.

Rilkefan: try and keep your sense of humor, both in your wedding and your marriage.

I feel distinctly lowbrow: I'm re-reading an old favorite, Ann Crispin's Starbridge series. Good clean fun, interesting aliens, and a universe profoundly more optimistic than my other favorite, Brin's Uplift series.

Add a couple of desperate calls from my lab, a low-velocity fender-bender on my fiancée's part, and a variety of hurt feelings at the (delicious) rehearsal dinner to the day's adventures.

Anarch, I suspect the wedding night is going to feature tooth-brushing and asleep-falling.

We're going to the Galapagos - I'm thinking about taking The Origin of Species but I'm not sure (even without easier reading material to turn to) that I'll manage to finally get through the pigeons.

Thanks for the good wishes, everybody. Now I have to go write down the poem I'm reading to my bride tomorrow so if you see me on line shoo me off.


I just finished Ponzi's Scheme, by Mitchell Zuckoff, and recommend it highly. He does a great job setting the social context of finance, scam, power politics, and a genuinely competitive newspaper market, among other things, and has an eye for the good biographical detail. I learned a lot.

I'm reading The Gulag Archipelago, which I don't recommend as beach reading, and when I can't bear it any more I'm dropping into The Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy, which I am re-reading for the nth time.

Congratulations to Rilkefan and Rilkebride. Long life and every happiness!

I'm in the middle of Blink, Compass and The Kite Runner. Freakonomics was very good.

We're going to the Galapagos

How cool. Take no books. Look not through a camera's lens. Let the land and your betrothed imprint themselves on your mind for now and ever.

to Rilkefan and Rilkebride

I hope it's Rilkefan and Rilkefan-fan, though I think I am a Rilkefanfan as well, so perhaps the name is not really good to use as a unique identifier.

As for Darwin, if you have an ipod, download OoS (Don't dare bring your laptop on the honeymoon)

I don't really keeep up with the latest stuff, but I'd suggest "Roughing It", which I consider to be Mark Twain's most entertaining book.

For those with short attention spans, I think that William Kotzwinkle's "Elephant Bangs Train" is one of the best collections of short stories ever. Then you might want to read "The Fan Man", although it's a little dorky, to say the least.

liberal japonicus: I hope it's Rilkefan and Rilkefan-fan, though I think I am a Rilkefanfan as well, so perhaps the name is not really good to use as a unique identifier.

I hope it's Rilkefan-fan and Rilkefan-fan-fan!

I am both a Rilke fan and a Rilkefan fan, so it seems easier to say Rilkefan and Rilkebride, even though my keyboard keeps wanting to type Rilkebridge.

even though my keyboard keeps wanting to type Rilkebridge.

Could be worse. I've been typing "Rilkedude".

I've got four going: The Ancestor's Tale, Confident Hope of a Miracle, Collapse, and Slave Nation. The thesis of the latter is that to a very considerable extent, the American Revolution was driven by reaction to, and fear of, judicial activism. Specifically, fear that Lord Mansfield's decision in Somerset v. Stewart, Lofft 10, 98 E.R. 499 (K.B. 1772), that slavery was too odious to arise at common law, would be applied in the colonies.

See, this is why I can't keep up with the political/history geeks. I'm reading The Cognitive Neuroscience of Music and the latest (for me, at any rate) P.D. James. I can tell you all about the anterior cingulate cortex, or the history of the 4-3 suspension, but the geopolitical ramifications of [Name That Treaty]? I got nothin'.

Congrats, rilkefan! Much joy to you and your bride through the years! My wife is in San Francisco right now for the Red Cross national convention. It's amazing to me how, even after 15 years together, you can miss them like new young lovers do when they're apart.

Reading two at the same time right now: Chuck Palahniuk's Diary, just published in trade paper; and the book on the making of Revenge of the Sith, being as I am both an unapologetic SW fanboy, and always interested in stories of motion picture production. Both quite downmarket, I know, but I never claimed to be the brightest.

Congratulations, Rilkefan! I'm so envious of your honeymoon voyage. The Mark Twain suggestion is a great one.

Just finished Peter Straub's homage to Lovecraft, Mister X, just picked up Jonathan Coe's novel about Birmingham (England) in the 1970s, The Rotters' Club. Less fun is the dissertation reading, but we won't get into that.

go get 'em, rilkefan! Bring back one of those kimodo dragons for us.

As for books, I'm finishing The Commanding Heights at the moment. Recommended to all.

Congratulations to both Rilke and Bride of Rilke. Where are they going for their honeymoon?

I'm reading a nice feel good southern novel about race relations called "The Secret Life of Bees" after finishing Rev. Spong's autobiography, which was wonderful. Summer reading is always lighter for me than the winter books.

Brother Rail Gun got his open thread, so use it Brother!


Warmest wishes to you and RilkeBride for a joyous ceremony, a rockin' reception, and some serious down time during your honeymoon!

My light summer reading, unfortunately, is de Tocqueville. Some traveling Twain work sounds the perfect transition though.

and i know what you mean Phil, my bf is in Belgium this week and after 12 years i'm still missing him like crazy while he's gone. If he gets transferred and we have another commuter relationship i'll be beside myself.

All best wishes for your wedding and marriage, rilkefan and rilkefanfan.

Currently reading: To Green Angel Tower, by Tad Williams, which is the tail-end of a very good fantasy trilogy. Not a Tolkein attempt, and good writing. Also attempting to wade through your book, hilzoy, which I definitely don't recommend for your beach reading, you already having labored through the thing and all. And, having misplaced the former of these two books, I started cracking Cryptonomicon, which is I believe the third copy I've bought. This one I'm going to chain to my bookshelf. Long enough chain to reach the bed, of course. Just a couple of excerpts from the first ten pages or so:

Let's set the existence-of-God issue aside for a later volume, and just stipulate that in some way, self-replicating organisms came into existence on this planet and immeditiately began trying to get rid of each other, either by spamming their environment with rough copies of themselves, or by more direct means which hardly need to be belabored. Most of them failed, and their genetic legacy was erased from the universe forever, but a few found some way to survive and to propagate. After about three billion years of this sometimes zany, frequently tedious fugue of carnality and carnage, Godfrey Waterhouse IV was born, in Murdo, South Dakota, to Blanche, the wife of a Congregational preacher named Bunyan Waterhouse. Like every other creature on the face of the earth, Godfrey was, by birthright, a stupendous badass, albeit in the somewhat narrow technical sense that he could trace his ancestry back up a long line of slightly less highly evolved stupendous badasses to that first self-replicating gizmo - which, given the number and variety of its descendants, might justifiably be described as the most stupendous badass of all time. Everyone and everything that wasn't a stupendous badass was dead.

As nightmarishly lethal, memetically programmed death-machines go, these were the nicest you could ever hope to meet.

This is just a character introduction and not part and root of the plot. It's this sort of thing that makes Stephenson highly entertaining without being overly heavy; there's enough there to stimulate thought and wonder, but there's also enough inconsistency (if not outright contradiction) that you're not pushed to contemplate too hard. The humor is frequent, articulate and dry to the point of dessication.

'Nother excerpt:

One day a couple of weeks later, as the two of them sat by a running stream in the woods above the Delaware Water Gap, Alan made some kind of an outlandish proposal to Lawrence involving penises. It required a great deal of methodical explanation, which Alan delivered with lots of blushing and stuttering. He was ever so polite, and several times emphasized that he was acutely aware that not everyone in the word was interested in this sort of thing.

Lawrence decided that he was probably one of those people.

Lawrence is the son of Godfrey, and he's one of the main characters. Alan is Alan Turing, and this novel (like the Stephenson's Baroque Cycle) is tightly wound around a slightly modified-for-convenience-and-literary-effect version of history. This, I liked. I'm not anything close to a literary critic, but I liked this book about as much as I've liked any piece of fiction.

I'd also like to co-recommend Roughing It, which I found highly entertaining as well as historically interesting. It's at least supposed to be a factual account of Twain's journey into the West.

If you want a complete change of pace, I'm going to suggest Ferrol Sams' trilogy Run With The Horsemen, The Whisper Of The River, and When All The World Was Young. It's a series about a young man growing up in rural Depression-era Georgia, and winds up with him in college during WWII. Excellent; I think Sams is one of the more talented Southern writers to have laid a pen to paper.

Finally, I highly recommend anything at all by Pat Conroy. I'm not from the South, but Pat makes you fall in love with it, warts and all, and at the same time more deeply loathe the more wart-y parts. My Losing Season is his most recent effort, and it's one of two he's written that are autobiographical (although nearly all of his protagonists are some modified version of him). His books have been made into movies such as Conrack, The Prince of Tides (in my estimation, a simply awful adaptation of the book), The Great Santini and The Lords of Discipline. None of the movies is even a scratch on the book they're made from.

Best wishes, rilkefan and Bride of Rilkefan!

Galapagos tortoises love to have their necks skritched, BTW :)

What am I reading? I just picked up 3 books at the Third Place Books booth at Seattle's Folklife festival: "The Canary Trainer" (another Holmes pastiche by Nicholas Meyer, who wrote "The Seven Per Cent Solution" and "The West End Horror"); "The Toughest Indian in the World" (Sherman Alexie); and "True Notebooks" (Mark Salzman). I've begun "The Canary Trainer" and will likely burn through that and the other two this weekend.

"Not a Tolkein attempt...."

Pray back up: Tolkien. Tolkien. Tolkien.

Tolkein is a friend of Izaac Azimov and some Ghandi guy.

Among books part-read around here just now are Stefan Kanfer's Groucho and Michael Howard's The Invention of Peace & The Revinvention of War, along with a couple of others.

for beach reading, i'm an unabashed sci-fi reader, but i'm looking for new material. Besides the classics (asimov, heinlein, niven, pournelle etc.), the modern authors I've most enjoyed are probably Brin (Uplift Series), CS Friedman (just finished This Alien Shore -- highly recommend it), and KS Robinson (although the Mars series got too long.)

besides Friedman, I'm also slogging through a number of books about water in the Western US, but that's mostly for work. The one that I highly recommend is Cadillac Desert.

His books have been made into movies such as Conrack, The Prince of Tides (in my estimation, a simply awful adaptation of the book), The Great Santini and The Lords of Discipline.

I would add that the book Conrack was made from was entitled _The Water is Wide_. I don't think it surpasses the book, but it is a very very good movie, directed by Martin Ritt, a blacklisted director who did a number of socially conscious films.

Well, if anyone wants to know more about the Argentinian debt crisis, I can definitely recommend this, which I finished last night. (Sort of a celebration of the end of term and its associated responsibilities.) Now I'm reading his previous book, on the Asian/Russian economic badness of the late '90s, which I can't think of the catchy or usual name for just now. And I am going to an actual beach soon, to see red knots, whose numbers are declining precipitously, probably due to too much -- "fishing" is the wrong word -- of the horseshoe crab, whose eggs it eats to regain weight after flying all the way from Tierra del Fuego.

Interesting bird fact of the day -- did you know that some Ruby-Throated hummingbirds, during migration, cross the Gulf of Mexico? (Yucatan-Florida.) Ruby-throats are tiny, tiny birds. According to the link, they weigh 2-6 grams. And like all hummingbirds, they beat their wings very fast, and use a lot of energy. Obviously, there is no food for them, and no place to stop and rest, over the Gulf of Mexico. It's a complete mystery to me how they do it. They are tiny heroes.

The Galapagos are great. Hope you get to see albatrosses. I disagree with Crionna, though. It would be disgraceful not to have a camera. Just one good photo of sally lightfoot crabs crawling around some rocks makes hauling the camera worthwhile.

Make sure you have it in a waterproof bag, though. And most important for the trip - bring dramamine, and bonine, and get those ear patches. You'll be glad you did.

As for reading, I just finished Freakonomics, interesting but not up to the hype, I thought. Am now reading Jared Diamond's Collapse.

For those interested in debt crises - a topic it might be wise to brush up on - an excellent book is Bankers and Pashas, by David Landes. This tells the sad tale of events in Egypt during the 1860's. The American Civil War led to a huge increase in cotton prices, which should have profited Egypt enormously, but instead produced enormous waste (the ruler of the time is known as Ismail the Profligate) which ultimately led to British control of the country.

Oops -- senility.

Congratulations and best wishes -- to rilkefan and your bride! May you have many offline hours of happiness.

Congrats, Rilkefan!

Reading: Just finished Nabokov's "Lolita" in which I browbeat my book club to NOT solipsize Lolita the book like Humbert Humbert solipsized Lolita the child/nymph.

Will start "ADA" soon.

Also, some early Updike stories and rereading Thomas McGuane's "Ninety-two in the Shade".

Last non-fiction was "Sisters", a biography of the Mitford sisters. What a family! Talk about hard feelings over seating at the rehearsal dinner.

No beach in sight.

Again, long life to the Rilkefans.

Continuing the chain - congratulations! Have a good time on your honeymoon.

I just finished 'My Life as a Quant', suggested on some blog. The author was one of the earlier physicists to go to Wall Street (~'84). He gives an interesting account of studying physics at Columbia and Oxford, among other places, in the 60's and 70's, going to AT&T, and then to Goldman Sachs/Salomen/Goldman Sachs (for the perceptive, two guesses as to how he like Salomen). He talks about the differences and similarities between doing phsyics research and financial research.

The other book I'm trying to start is 'SAS Proc Tabulate by Example', which is about as exciting as it sounds :(

rilkefan: if, through the years, you can be as imaginative and creative in celebrating that which brought you and your bride together as you've shown yourself to be as a poet, a thinker and a mensch on this blog, i predict a very fruitful and deeply satisfying life ahead for both of you.

best marriage advice i ever got: if you must fight (and surely you will) you both have to get naked first. tends to de-fuse things quickly. also, laugh at yourselves and at each other, just don't point and laugh.

congratulations and very, very best wishes.

"I just finished 'My Life as a Quant'...."

"Quant Suff!"

Two points to the winner. (No more, because it's a classic I need to reread, lacking a copy in my present divested state.)

Oh, Gary! Drat, I can't find my copy, but, from memory (and confirmed by Google, this is the 21st century after all)...

Gully Foyle is my name
Terra is my nation
Deep space is my dwelling place
The stars my destination.

I wanted to write the rest of the chant... you know, ammonium nitrate, citric acid, etc.

Random reactions:

I don't feel acquainted enough with Rilkefan to offer an informed comment, but from the depths of admiration known only to those who can't get a date for those who managed to get married, congratulations indeed.

I think every book by Pat Conroy is autobiographical, and very thinly disguised at that. He paints a scary picture of both himself and the South, but there's genius in it. As for the movies, I thought Great Santini, at least, was an excellent adaptation of its book, and a great movie to boot (one of Robert Duvall's best roles, and that's saying something). Bizarrely, Conroy recently published a cookbook, of all things, with recipes interspersed with reminiscences of various kinds (that's right - it's an autobiographical cookbook). It includes a moving story of how he got the inside dope from his ex-pilot father for the plane-crash scene in The Great Santini - Conroy says it is the only time they really understood one another. (His father, in creating the scene for Conroy, refused to crash the plane, sweating and yanking on the imaginary control stick while shouting "I can make the airfield!" as Conroy tried to talk him back to reality: "Dad! You're in a chair! It's just fiction!")

Freakonomics - and its author/subject - are interesting, but more "provocative" than "great". Levitt is a clever and skilled "quant" who's unafraid to rush in where lesser quants fear to tread, but he tends to assume correlation=causation, which is both surprising and dismaying.

Speaking of "quants", anyone interested in the Wall Street variety owes it to themselves to read Moral Hazard, by Kate Jennings - another autobiographical novel about a woman trapped by financial need into a job serving the machinery of a high-powered investment firm at the height of the 1990s stock bubble. Jennings has an almost crushingly-sensitive feel for the human side of the destruction wrought by institutions with no human dimension to them. (Anyone who agreed with hilzoy's post on the latest Enron outrage will feel a dismal solidarity with Jennings.)

And, finally, for hilzoy, if she will permit the liberty of a suggestion: if you find Argentinian finance interesting, you will probably like The Man Who Stole Portugal, the amazing true story of a con artist who managed to convince the official printer of Portugese currency to print, for him personally, over $100 million worth of real Portugese money - in the process pumping enough currency into the economy to rescue it from recession! (Absurdly enough, his last name was "Reis", which is also the name of an old, small, Portugese monetary unit. This is pretty much like having a man named "Johnny Halfpence" show up at the National Mint, request $100 million worth of currency . . . and get it!) He became one of Portugal's leading pre-war financiers and very nearly managed to gain control of the national bank before being caught by a fluke accident and spending most of the rest of his life in jail. Not of much contemporary interest, but one of the few fun reads on the subject of national monetary policy.

I find one web entry that says it's "ammonium bromide"... probably right, I wish I could look it up.

I'm reading Obsidian Wings comment threads, which are longer than most novels.

Other than that, finishing "Master and Margarita." And my roommate, a Conflict Resolution specialist, has picked up some really fascinating books about personal sexual revolutions among Muslim women. I may steal one or two.

And congratulations, Rilkefan. I hope all those letters you wrote to that poet guy pay off.

Two points to ral! (Alfred Bester once threw a chair at me; great writer, not such a nice old drunk.)

A little late, and Rilkefan will probably not read this before the nuptials, but gratulere med dagen! (That would be Norwegian for Congratulations on your day).

Anyway, just finished Nickel and Dimed by Ehrenreich, which was really fascinating. I am beginning a book called Culture of Fear by Frank Fureti which looks interesting. I also just started reading A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (who grew up in my hometown!). I am also in the middle of the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin (The first fantasy I have actually enjoyed since high school) and I am also reading Space by Stephen Baxter.

Not sure how I keep all those books straight reading them at the same time but I have always done so.

Gary, please attribute the misspelling of Tolkwhatshisname to impending senility. Ditto my failure to well-wish rilkefan. Congrats, rilefan, and my best wishes. I have no advice, because after over a dozen years of being married, it continues to stymie me.

Re Kevin's comments, it doesn't surprise me at all that Conroy wrote a cookbook. Just one pass through Beach Music will assure you of his love for all things food. And, as I attempted to allude to, his fiction is all autobiographical, albeit with events added, edited, exaggerated or deemphasized to make a somewhat new story. I think he made some comments near the end of My Losing Season how he eventually reconciled with his dad, but that that reconciliation was somewhat disappointing in that his dad didn't remember things being all that out-of-place. I'll have to reread and excerpt.

The best to you and Bride of Rilkefan.Pat an iguana for us.
I seem to be the only mystery fan on the thread. My favorite mystery writer is James McClure. He writes police procedurals set in Apartheid South Africa. Good mystery writing is more about setting and character than plot, and his stories are picaresque journeys through the social strata of an imaginary city in Transvaal. All of the books are studies of the effects of repressive politics, fundamentalist religion, and racism on character and relationships. Plus he writes well in a spare, vivid, and oddly funny style.

lily, you most assuredly are not the only mystery fan on this thread.

Two continuing series I love but that aren't being written anymore are Gregory MacDonald's "Fletch" and "Flynn" books.

Two more were written by people who had the bad grace to die a few years back: Ngaio Marsh and Ellis Peters. I loved Marsh's dry drollery and characters enough to overlook her classism and pre-WWII anti-Semitism. Marsh knew and loved the theater, and artists generally, and my favorites of her books take place in those milieus. Peters' Brother Cadfael very nearly rehabilitated medieval Catholicism for me, and also offered wonderful glimpses into early 12th C England, with its ongoing civil war and returned Crusaders.

Another very good historical-novel-cum-mystery series is the Sigismondo books, which take place in Renaissance Italy. They were written by two women under the pseud Elizabeth Eyre. The wealth, romance, sensuality, amorality, deadly family feuds, even deadlier intrafamily plotting, casual violence, and Papal politics/Church corruption, and brilliant artists (!) who made Ren Italy so fascinating are all on display here. Plus, a lot of humor: In "Curtains for the Cardinal," there's a French farce of bodies being buried and dug up and buried again in an estate that already has a reputation for being inhabited by a dead man (who is not, in fact, one of the bodies that keeps getting moved around).

I used to buy any of Martha Grimes' Richard Jury books the minute they hit the shelves. I still like her very much, but she does have a "schtik," and I've gotten a little tired of it. (Jury's morosity comes off as self-pity after long-term exposure.) But Grimes comes up with great continuing secondary, tertiary and even bit characters; it's a treat to see them develop over the course of her books.

Most mystery writers who write continuing series do fall into characterization or plot ruts - Robert Parkers' Spencer novels being for me Exhibit A; I got really, really bored with Spencer, Susan, and even Hawk, and don't read those books anymore.

One mystery writer I recommend unreservedly is Thomas Perry, whose books defy easy categorization. There's the former mercenary and his merry band of rogues who bring Los Angeles to a screaming halt, using a stolen CIA scenario for undermining other countries ("Metzger's Dog"); the sympathetic hitman and equally sympathetic Justice Department investigator tracking him down (the main characters in "The Butchers Boy" and "Sleeping Dogs"), the conman who accidentally creates a nation ("Island"), and the Native American woman who helps people escape killers by giving them new identities (the Jane Whitefield series).

His most recent books are one-offs which feature very varied plotlines: a small town populated entirely by thieves, embezzlers, and murderous con artists; and a "self-defense" camp that turns out thrill killers. And, in one book, he used the themes from the Butcher's Boy books and the Jane Whitefield series but turned them on their heads: a profiler who hunts down a hitman with an elaborate psych-out sting operation.

*sigh* I adore mysteries.

ALthough I wouldn't call myself a mystery "fan" so much, I do enjoy the occasional potboiler. I always enjoyed Asimov's Bailey/Olivaw mysteries -- thought the Book-A-Minute summary can be deadly accurate sometimes -- as well as the Sherlock Holmes stories by Doyle. I also, a couple of years ago, got into Anne Perry's William Monk and Thomas Pitt series of novels, at first because I was curious as to what kind of mystery novels a real-life murderess would write. I'm not a history buff, but I enjoy the Victorian-era post-Crimean milieu of the books, and the main characters in both series are pretty appealing: Pitt is a London police detective who, through the circumstances of the case in the first novel, falls in love with and marries the daughter of an upper-class family, and thus is constantly rubbing up against the class barriers of the time; Monk is an amnesiac, injured in a carriage accident, who remembers little of his prior life except that he was kind of an ass and people hated and feared him. Each mystery allows him to learn more about his own past while solving the crime at hand. Trifling diversions, but fun to read.

If you want to understand the intelligence services, and what happens when an agent's cover is blown, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré. Does this count as a mystery? I saw the BBC production before I read the book. My wife is the big mystery fan in our marriage so our library includes many le Carré novels.

Science nerd fun: Surely You're Joking, Mr.Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard Feynman and Ralph Leighton.

I don't consider myself to be particularly a mystery fan, but there are quite a few mystery writers I love: Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham, Michael Innes, from what one might call the "classics"; Sarah Dreher, Barbara Wilson, Barbara Hambly, Ellis Peters, Laurie R. King, Katherine V. Forrest, among the moderns.

Congrats to Rilkefan. Speaking as a recent convert to the ranks of the married myself, I hope you enjoy wedded life as much as I am.

As far as recent reading goes, I just finished Freakonomics and give it a thumbs up. I also just finished Rational Mysticism and strongly recommend it. I'm also almost to the end of Write Great Code: Understanding the Machine, which is very well written, but probably doesn't have much interest for non-programmers.

I haven't visited this site often but allow me to get a plug in for Adam Ferguson's An Essay on the History of Civil Society. Ferguson was a friend of Adam Smith and the book is a wonderously wise and learned study of the development and parts of Civil and political life. A brilliant book on history,culture and humanity. Please give it a read if you can.

ral's mention of Feynman reminded me of this story which leads me to suggest all of Edward Tufte's books. They aren't take to the beach sort of books, but are fantastic.

Let me second lj -- Tufte's books are great. A tiny example: in Envisioning Information he contrasts Euclid's proof of the Pythagorean theorem with the beautiful ancient Chinese demonstration.

Everything went wonderfully.

Everything went wonderfully.

She's purty :)

She's purty :)

Agreed, and if RF's experience is anything like mine has been, she'll just get purtier.

Everything went wonderfully.


Best thing about weddings is that they officially mark the end of wedding planning and last minute wedding worries.

Worst thing is that it officially marks the start of thank-you card season.

Congrats and best wishes.

re: vacation reading...I have a couple weeks still to go before the end of the quarter, so I am currently deep in Listening to the Cicadas by G.R.F. Ferrari for a seminar paper. Then I have a presentation to prepare for a conference two weeks after the quarter.

Then it's Pattern Recognition time. Gotta love Gibson.

Fever Pitch or How to be Good by Nick Hornby;
fairly short but very funny.

Ferrol Sams' trilogy Run With The Horsemen, The Whisper Of The River, and When All The World Was Young.

When I was in college I adored the first two books, partly because the school was a little like Porter Osborne Jr.'s and partly because my mom's family isn't too dissimilar from his. The third never grew on me, maybe because I've never been to medical school. The books cloy a bit in parts, but they're still entertaining--and a good read for anyone who wants to know how southerners like to think of themselves.

I once lived in the building Pat Conroy's brother jumped from.

This weekend, I finished re-reading Robert Fitzgerald's translation of The Iliad. Considering my relative helplessness in the middle of this vile decade, I'm trying to develop a little Greek stoicism. Yesterday, I picked up the new NYRB collection of Simone Weil's and Rachel Besparoff's essays on the poem, newly reprinted, just to make my life easier.

The new Ian McEwen is still on the floor, Jeff Chang's Can't Stop Won't Stop, and there's an Odyssey to do, too.

Wow, not a single Memorial Day post. Kind of sad...

Busy weekends, I am sure.

I've been out of town and blog-free for a week, and I don't have the stamina to read this whole thread, but I just want to toss in my tardy congratulations to Rilkefan and his new spouse.

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