Friday, July 24, 2020

A few reads in the last few days

Finished three books the last couple of days. A serious one, a serious short one, and a quick fun one.

Starting with the serious one, I listened to Foundation by Peter Ackroyd. My wife raves about Ackroyd's histories of England, so figured I'd try the first one. And she was right. It was great. Foundation takes us from Roman times up to but not including Henry VIII. Unsure if I'll read any more of them; my favorite historical time frame is Medieval and earlier. Foundation takes us through and beyond the Middle Ages. I think my favorite part of this book is when the speaker reads out letters written by the English back then, to include their comments about shitting. People are people, no matter when. 

The serious short one is Serendipities by Umberto Eco. Damn that guy could write. This book is so much fun, especially for language lovers. Most of the five essays were about the philosophical language movement, Descartes, Wilkins & Co., and their attempts to divvy knowledge into manageable chunks, and turning that into a language. Quite interesting and one of my areas of interest. (For a couple good reads on this subject, check out The Artificial Language Movement by Andrew Large and Universal Language Schemes in England and France, 1600-1800 by James Knowlson.) There's also the search for the Adamic language, for many years thought to be Hebrew, and he reminds us of the not-always-theoretical experiment from hundreds of years ago: What language would a child speak if they never had any linguistic input? 

And finally, the family book club picked False Assurances by Christopher Rosow. This book is a fast read with short chapters along the lines of Dan Brown. Action on every page, story that pulls you in, that sort of thing. Fun read certainly, and I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 only because the author fell for the same trap that every author (and screenwriter, for that matter) does when writing these kinds of stories: cell phones and uncleared people are NOT allowed in secure areas! 

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots)

Tre bona rakonto, pri pli ol robotoj. Pri amo. Pri homoj. Milito kaj paco. Certe ĉi tiuj maŝinoj bezonis la tri leĝojn de Asimov!

Mi trovis ĉi tiun libron senpage sur la paĝo "eLibro" ĉi tie:, do miaj libraj elspezoj por 2020 ankoraŭ estas $351.37.

Monday, July 13, 2020

War Stories (and Language)

I have an interest in languages, as dear reader(s) know, but a subject some readers may not know that I love is: war. Well, I don't love war. But I love the intersection of war and language.

Years ago I discovered the website Languages and the First World War, and on that website, a post about Esperanto and the First World War. The post is a must read if you have interest in the International Language and its use during the Great War. The post's author was also the author of a great book entitled Antaŭ unu jarcento. Esperanto kaj la granda milito. I ended up ordering the book and reading it and Wow. So great. (I must note the website hasn't had anything new since mid-April. I hope the authors are okay and will be back soon!)

As part of my love for this combined subject, I'm always on the look-out for books. Thus my awesome find months ago of the Vade-Mecum for the use of officers and interpreters in the present campaign: French and English technical and military terms. Didn't even pay too much. 

I could go on about my love of military and language topics. But the real point of today's post is: How the hell did I not know about the site Militrakonto: Literaturo kaj rakontoj pri la dua mondmilito (War-Story: Literature and stories about the Second World War)? My goodness, they've been around at least a year. And I'm just now find it?

And one of the first posts I read is about an Esperanto translation of a crime novel (spy novel?) called The Moment of Truth and, yes, concerns Soviet soldiers. Another area of interest for me. 

Suffice it to say, I'll be subscribing to Militrakonto's newsletter!

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Esperanto Sumoo starts today

I've been doing the Esperanto Sumoo religiously for a few years now. What, perchance, is an Esperanto Sumoo? Well, dear reader(s), let me tell you.

Six times a year, we Sumoistoj (those taking part in the Sumoo) commit to a set number of pages to read in an Esperanto book over a 15-day period. When I started years ago I'd read 3-5 pages a day. As my Esperanto has gotten better, I've increased the page count. When I started I rarely finished the book I committed to (not a requirement). For the last year or so, I've managed to start and finish a complete book during each Sumoo.

Why Sumoo? Well, you'll have to ask the founder and organizer. He's Japanese, so maybe that's why? 

I decided for the July 2020 Sumoo to read Karel Čapek's R.U.R. I'd heard about this book years ago. Thankfully, it's really old and available free in Esperanto from eLibro. 

Some words I learned in my reading today:

epruveto: test (?? I wonder if this was a typo?)
meduzo: jellyfish
lumbriko: earthworm
finfuŝi: to end up messing up
teksi: to weave
adicii: to add
sindona: devoted, generous
krevi: to crack
fasono: fashion ("Darling, you need a new fashion!")
lanugo: down, fluff
trompi: to deceive
hepato: liver (duh! Makes sense)

I'm about 24 pages in and it's 160-something pages total, so on track to finish the book before the 26th.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Two recently finished books

Finished a couple good books recently.

First off, for our family book club, was Their Eyes Were Watching God. What can I say about this book but Wow. Zora Neal Hurston sure could write. Every sentence a gem. Her dialectal dialogue was perfect. The story, sad. I won't say more except: if you haven't read it, do. It's very short. If you listen to Audible books, definitely get it, the one that Ruby Dee. She has incredible vocal range and her voices for different characters were spot on. Brava!

The other was The Medieval Machine by Jean Gimpel. This book is old (~45 years) but solid. It helps dispel the myth of the years 500-1500 being dark ages. So much technology developed during that time. The hydropower innovations themselves could (and probably do) fill a book. Incredible ingenuity. You can find this book used and cheap; I advise you pick it up. For more up to date books on medieval times check out the Gies couple's books, especially Cathedral, Forge and Waterwheel

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, by V.E. Schwab

 Great book. I'm on a roll.  Spoilers : Adeline "Addie" LaRue has a problem. She's being forced to marry. This is 1600s Fr...