Sunday, Three Weeks Post-Washington DC Trip

Self still hasn’t figured out how she is to get from Heathrow to Edinburgh (for her residency at Hawthornden), but she’s sure the answer will come to her, soon.

Now it is hot, and self has to keep lugging buckets of water around her yard, and she is also steeling herself for everything to die while she is away in Scotland.

She’s still two months behind in her Economist readings.

But here are two books she is interested in reading, after perusing the Books and Arts section of the 10 March 2012 Economist.

  • Various Pets Alive and Dead, the latest book by Martina Lewycka (who also wrote the bestselling A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian):  VPAD “features a group of sharply drawn and sharp-tongued characters.  Marcus and Doro, elderly ex-hippies from Solidarity Hall, a left-wing commune, still wear their slogan T-shirts and crave the “non-bourgeois non-private non-nuclear non-monogamous community of their past.  To make the present bearable, Marcus is writing a never-ending history of the left-wing movement, while Doro looks after the Down’s syndrome child they are raising.”  Excellent plot!  Sounds almost like something by Nick Hornby! (And self quite adored this bit she found on Hornby while trolling the internet)
  • Turing’s Cathedral:  the Origins of the Digital Universe, by George Dyson:  The digital computer was developed at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University; since, then, its design has  been “distributed and widely copied; one of its many offspring was the IBM 701, the first commercially successful computer.” According to the (always anonymous) Economist reviewer, “the computer let humans play God, creating life in the digital realm while devising new ways to destroy it in the real world.  That same year (1953) James Watson and Francis Crick revealed the digital nature of life itself, with the discovery of the structure of DNA.”  The author of this book, Mr. Dyson, “relishes such ironies,” observing “that the digital ecosystem of the internet has now assumed biological complexity.”  This book “offers fascinating detours into the histories of science and mathematics, the origins of weather forecasting, the development of nuclear weapons and the earliest work on artificial life.  This wide-ranging and lyrical work is an important addition to the literature of the history of computing.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Died May 5, 1821: Napoleon

This has nothing to do with the book self is reading, or the Saturday self has just lived through, or the movie self saw with husband earlier (“Safe”).  But everything to do with:  Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power!

Once again, self does the random-page-selection thing, and lands on — tara!  p. 106.

Here’s what she reads:

Information is critical to power, but just as you spy on other people, you must be prepared for them to spy on you.  One of the most potent weapons in the battle for information, then, is giving out false information.  As Winston Churchill said, “Truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”  You must surround yourself with such a bodyguard, so that your truth cannot be penetrated.  By planting the information of your choice, you control the game.

(By the by, Nicholson Baker in Human Smoke has very little good to say about Winston Churchill.  Let’s see if self can remember a few key points:  He was child-like.  He looked 10 years younger than his age.  He had intensely blue eyes.  What else?  Churchill’s obssession with Narvik, a seaport in Norway, led Hitler to conduct a pre-emptive strike by invading Belgium and Holland!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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