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arbieroo

Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

More Letters of Charles Darwin, Vol 2
Francis Darwin, Charles Darwin
Progress: 56/501 pages
Hainish Novels & Stories, Vol. 2
Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 107/789 pages
Too Brave to Dream: Encounters with Modern Art
R.S. Thomas
Progress: 50/96 pages
The Essential Shakespeare
Ted Hughes
Progress: 61/259 pages
Tales from Watership Down
Richard Adams
Progress: 112/262 pages
Canaletto: Bernardo Bellotto Paints Europe
Andreas Schmacher
Progress: 130/360 pages
Introduction to Topology
Bert Mendelson
Progress: 10/224 pages
Basics of Plasma Astrophysics
Claudio Chiuderi, Marco Velli
Progress: 58/250 pages
A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians
Patrick Hamill
Progress: 7/180 pages
Complete Poems, 1904-1962
E.E. Cummings
Progress: 1000/1102 pages

Reading progress update: I've read 26 out of 789 pages.

Hainish Novels & Stories, Vol. 2 - Ursula K. Le Guin

1971: Lathe of Heaven
1972: The Word for World is Forest
Le Guin was very interested in dreams back then!

 

Little known fact: Le Guin's original title for The Word for World is Forest, was Little Green Men! (Harlen Ellison persuaded Le Guin to change it for original publication in the magazine he edited at the time. Darn shame the hilarious original title, that Le Guin ony changed reluctantly, wasn't kept. Instead we have the clunky TWWF.

Reading progress update: I've read 17 out of 789 pages.

Hainish Novels & Stories, Vol. 2 - Ursula K. Le Guin

Davidson is a truly horrible character. This is established on the first page - he just gets more repulsive from then on.

Off-Topic, GR Reader

OFF-TOPIC: The Story of an Internet Revolt by G.R. Reader - G.R. Reader

What happened next? (September 2013 feels like a long time ago.)

 

A backlash against protest activity started.
Protestors eventually left or ceased protesting.
Occassional stories of further deletions surfaced in the ensuing months, after significant protest activity had ceased.
Some people who had left the site returned. Most did not.
Entire rival websites arose and died.
A major re-vamp of the site's basic appearance rendered the site useless for the purposes of those who wanted a social network of readers. Only aggressive use of AdBlocker allowed restoration of a useful service. So aggressive as to almost entirely remove all the changes that had been made, making the changes ineffectual. Amazon never realised that the point of Goodreads was that people would find friends whose opinions they trust and their reviews would drive book sales. Adverts and algorithmic recommendations are exactly what users want to avoid.
The corporate grip on the internet tightened. People's data were commodified even further. Privacy and security stopped being a joke and instead just stopped existing.
Over-population and climate change run rampant. Nobody attempts signifcant change. Or stops having children.
Trump was elected POTUS and the rule of sanity in human affairs entirely evaporated.
Some guy called Otis sits in obscurity, still counting his ill-gotten gains.
Meanwhile, the surest sign of the existance of extra-terrestrial intelligence remains that they have not attempted to contact us, as Bill Watterson pointed out.

Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 789 pages.

Hainish Novels & Stories, Vol. 2 - Ursula K. Le Guin

Despite the obvious resemblance to The Word for World is Forest, Le Guin did not have any involvement in the making of [film that's obviously Avatar] ... so she was just ripped off, then? Of course, the resort to warfare is the antithesis of what Le Guin was doing in her novel.

Reading progress update: I've read 28 out of 144 pages.

Collected Poems For Children - Ted Hughes

A squirrel, dragonfly, otter, crow, robin...

Reading progress update: I've read 116 out of 818 pages.

The Complete Stories of Robert Louis Stevenson: Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Nineteen Other Tales (Modern Library Classics) - Barry Menikoff, Robert Louis Stevenson

More mysterious goings on.

Junk DNA, Nessa Carey

Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome - Nessa Carey

Carey follows up her book on epigenetics (essentially the effects of parts of DNA that aren't the base-pairs that make up genes) with another that looks at the 98% of your DNA that doesn't code for proteins, generally referred to as "junk" because it was believed it had no biological function.

 

This model, that all you need to understand cellular life is a list of the protein-coding segments of DNA, has completely colapsed. Numerous DNA sequences that have nothing directly to do with protein manufacture have been found to be essential to the proper functioning of cells in complex life. You can learn about many of them here, in a very clear, fair and balanced way.

 

I have become interested in the actual chemistry of the various processes Carey describes in her first two books at the level of metaphor. I'm not sure where to find out about that, short of an academic text. Similarly, although the references to the academic literature are all present and correct, Carey glosses over the details of the experiments used to reach the conclusions expressed. A book about that would go down well, too.

Carey has a book about gene editing and CRISPR - I'm looking forward to reading that, too.

Reading progress update: I've read 278 out of 352 pages.

Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome - Nessa Carey

RNA as drug therapy.

Peter Pan and Other Plays: The Admirable Crichton; Peter Pan; When Wendy Grew Up; What Every Woman Knows; Mary Rose (Oxford World's Classics) - J.M. Barrie, Peter Hollindale

Mary Rose

 

What an odd little play! Themes of magic, islands and suspended aging re-appear but the brevity leads to thin characterisation, thus making it less moving than perhaps it should be.

Reading progress update: I've read 237 out of 352 pages.

Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome - Nessa Carey

Even cock-ups in the non-coding regions of your messenger RNA can kill you! E.g. one cause of motor neuron disease (aka ALS) is attributed to the marker indicating the start of the protein coding region being in the wrong place due to a mutation.

Reading progress update: I've read 59 out of 360 pages.

Canaletto: Bernardo Bellotto Paints Europe - Andreas Schmacher

Royal courts were using vedute paintings of the domains as a display of power.

Reading progress update: I've read 204 out of 352 pages.

Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome - Nessa Carey

Polydactylism can be caused by a variation in just one base pair in a regulator region of junk DNA.

Reading progress update: I've read 268 out of 384 pages.

Peter Pan and Other Plays: The Admirable Crichton; Peter Pan; When Wendy Grew Up; What Every Woman Knows; Mary Rose (Oxford World's Classics) - J.M. Barrie, Peter Hollindale

Well, if it's not a mysterious, magical island!

Reading progress update: I've read 57 out of 360 pages.

Canaletto: Bernardo Bellotto Paints Europe - Andreas Schmacher

Canaletto got around a bit, painting e.g. Rome, Turin, Munich, Warsaw, London, often for Royal Houses.

The Boggart Fights Back, Susan Cooper

The Boggart Fights Back - Susan Cooper

Boggart and friends vs Donald William Trump Trout. Can they save Stalker Castle Castle Keep, the Appin coastline and its wildlife from becoming a huge holiday resort for the rich?

Well, it's a book for kids, so you guess.

 

It's a charming adventure involving the afore-mentioned shape-changing trickster spirit of Scottish folklore, the Boggart of Clan MacDevon and the youngest human members of the Clan - Jay and Allie Cameron (long story). Various other creatures from Scottish folklore also show up, playing into Cooper's strengths as illustrated by her famous Dark is Rising sequence.

American Monsters, Derek Landy

American Monsters - Derek Landy

And so Landy's love-letter to the TV show Supernatural comes to an end - rather abruptly! Some of it is predictable, most of it not. It's an amusing read.