From Away by David Carkeet

Librarian Jane asked me to let her know what I thought of this book when I checked it out. Said it had some good reviews but nobody told her what they thought…
I thought it was great!! But then I have raved about Confederacy of Dunces, and a few people I’ve lent it to, wouldn’t even finish it… From Away has some interesting humor, and a couple other themes that appealed to me: Set in Vermont, 40 miles from where I sit. And references to Model Railroading which I rarely see in novels. The really different murder plot was particularly well done…. Have to read some more Carkeet.
The 2nd book I borrowed from Schroon Lake library was also interesting for setting in the late 1940’s…: The Hotel Dick by Axel Brand (Pseudonymous!!) Entertaining, although I almost gave up after a chapter or two… glad I didn’t. I think the author might even have a point: some human foibles don’t change with the decades…

Two weeks in Schroon Lake

I’m 5 days into my 2nd week… of giving Liz a brief vacation… and she’s off to backfill Carolyn in East Hampton who is off to California to backfill for Liz who has been helping over at Newburgh… who is recovering…

While up here, I’ve spent too much time on the internet and reading…. but I’ve enjoyed it.. And kept the Franklin full to help out our geothermal funrnace; which has a hard time during these cold snaps: Rarely above 10; one day it didn’t make it above 0! Supposed to be warming up since yesterday (for Chris’ family Gore skitrip this w.e.). It is now 24 at 10:26am.

Some internet time spent on figuring out Context Free programming… always thought there must be something out there that intersects my interest in art, math & programming: Interesting. Also spent time on R ;more later on that and other items mentioned in this post.

Meantime, must mention my Reading: Finished David McCullough’s 1776. SO Many gave so much to found this country…. I think they’d be disappointed in the State of this Union today…. And an interesting novel by a Spanish author (Zanfor?) who splits his residence between Barcelona and L.A. Title to come.. ;). I brought home Leon Uris’s Trinity (copyright 1976) to brush up on my Irish history… Found out I had a pocketbook copy sitting over the Franklin; returned the library’s copy. Now on page 109. I recall reading Uris’s Exodus decades ago…

Trying to get back to blogging… as you can see. Will blog on my recent interest in Symmetry, and not just the book by Du Sautoy. I’ll probably have to introduce a new Category: Esoterica ….. The interesting free application that deals with the mathematics of symmetry is GAP (Groups, Algorithims, & Programming). This is a good place to mention Carolyn’s Christmas gift which she let me pick out: The Math Book by Clifford Pickover. I’m enjoying the one page descriptions of the most important discoverys in Math…

3 Books: 1 Heavy, 2 light.

Ruby For Rails by David Black was tough slogging, but I made it through to the end. (Well I must admit skipping 20 pages of regular expressions; they just never stick… at least at my usage rate.) I really like the way Rails makes quick work out of serving a light Data Base application. I was disappointed that the book never got beyond the DB aspects; I thought I had seen examples of form and CGI manipulation. I was going to make a small “Group Info” server application; but I stumbled across Pimki….. which can easily do much of what I was looking for… Not sure what my next step will be. Anyway, the book is well worth the money. The examples helped immensely with the difficult Ruby/Rail combination.

The library supplied me with an entertaining thriller: Ricochet by Sandra Brown. Judicial arrogance, sex, some mystery too; a fun read.

But I really enjoyed Carl Hiaasen’s newest: Nature Girl. My daughter said I’d be LLOL (that’s literally LOL); and I did. Reminds me of the first book I read by Carl: Accidental Tourist which was one of the three funniest books I’ve ever read. I think these are the only books I’ve ever reread. In fact I do believe I’ve thrice read Confederacy of Fools. CF actually has a “cult-like” following; and it was an author singleton. I’m trying to remember the title of the 3rd funny book.. Storyline/setting was a couple attempting to startup a remote Carribean resort.

Rationals, Cantor, ALEPH

The Mystery of the ALEPH, Mathematics, the Kabbalah, and the Search for Infinity. by Amir D. Aczel.

I picked up the book on one of Barnes & Nobel’s elCheapo bargain tables for only $7.99. It was a real buy as I thourghly enjoyed the entire read. The central theme was infinity and it’s place in Mathematics History from Greek times through the present. Brief descriptions of the contributions of many important mathematicians are woven together with emphasis on basic principles, and especially the contributions and tribulations of Georg Cantor. The author makes a good case that “the intensity of actual infinity” caused Godel, Cantor and perhaps others to descend “into madness from the intense introspection that studying the continuum hypothesis entailed.” I had never understood that there were multiple orders of infinity.

I liked the review of classifying numbers (and their understanding through history): integers, reals, irrationals, etc. I was particularly taken with the ideas on pages 111-113 where he talks about the countablility of integers and rationals. Cantor’s Diagonalization Proof of the Denumerability of Rational numbers. For the hell of it entered the “infinite” “table” of rational numbers on page 112 to an Excel spreadsheet. It helped me see the relations between some fractions and “repeating decimal” numbers… (I’ve always been taken with the fact that such very common fractions (eg. 1/7 (.285714….) have a small number of digits that repeat for ever) )
I will be amazed if somebody both reads this esoteric Blog entry AND takes the trouble to look at this spreadsheet. Ah, the journey of it all….

Bleeding Navy Blue by Christopher R. Smith

In general, I don’t like science fiction. My preference is for mystery. One exception is “time travel”. I especially like Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose. There was another nice “travel back to Medieval time; and don’t screwup the timeline” book; but BriefSM; I can remember neither author or Title. And now for another tease that has mystery and TT. I haven’t yet finished this book by Chris Smith; but since it too starts out so great, I thought I’d mention it… Bleeding Navy Blue. Time bangs back from the future with the first time tactical use of an impressive new weapon in the Navy Seal’s arsenal…. Sorry; I’ve got to go finish the book…
And I will finish it before my sister goes back to Buffalo this month: she MUST carry back her Grandson’s FIRST copy of his FIRST novel; as she certainly would not entrust it to the USPS.

further update: I was so busy with Jean, Jerry and then Bill & Robin; that I only got to page 120. Jean took the book back to Buffalo, so now I’ve got to order one to see how the story ends… It is a rather interesting yarn.

The Victory of Reason by Rodney Stark

How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success

The book is so good, I gotta write about it before I even finish it!! He makes a convincing case the Dark Ages really were NOT DARK. And also why it was only Europe (and not China or Islam) that made so many advances….; eyeglasses in Italy by 1284!, and a big industry too. And the rest of world had none even when Chris Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

And I’m only on page 44.. 😉

7/24 Edit:  Been busy; but I finally finished it.. And it was worth the read. New ideas; at least to me.  He credits Christianity as a needed prerequisite for Capitalism; and make a case for why any monopoly undermines innovation. This includes Catholicism when it’s the only game in town; thereby explaining the lack of development in South American and the earlier fall of the Spanish empire.  The last paragraphs make a case for why this explains China’s successful turn to it’s form of Capitalism.. and some religious tolerance.

In common with Levitt’s Freakonomics and Tom Friedman’s The World is Flat, the ideas are very broad; and to me, very interesting interpretations of mankind.  All three books were worth reading… ain’t retirement great?!?!

Alexander Hamilton by Willard Randall

I finally finished this last week. Gonna try and make comments on my reading. I really enjoyed the book. I thought he had something to do with (personally) financing the Rev. War. He financed it AFTER the war as our first Treasury Secretary. Washington had to listen during the war to him bitch about congress not properly financing war efforts; so George made him fix it! Interesting how much politics General Washington had to contend with during the fighting. Many thought his tentative efforts and few successes would NOT win the day. They wanted to replace him! But he hung on by his eyeteeth… with Hamilton’s help and others..

Jefferson took political advantage of Hamilton’s daliances…. and now this century we find old Thomas had his own involvements.. Nothing new about polical cheapshots!! But they did connive to make sure that Washingtons (VP running mate A.Burr) did not inadvertantly become President because of the way the electoral college working according to the (unAmended) constitution.

My next Biography will be George Clinton… one of Hamilton’s arch enemys.. who lived about a mile from my Poughkeepsie home. I had not realized that NY (led by Gov. Clinton) almost didn’t join the union… Quite the battle here in the Poughkeepsie courthouse before Hamiliton prevailed with positive vote… Clinton’s minions really didn’t like the setup..

professional review: http://www.willardsternerandall.com/hamilton.htm