Monday, November 16, 2015

Breakfast, Books

     A delightful cheese omelet (Manchego, Jarlsberg and a crumbled strip of bacon: outstanding!) for the first.

     As for the second, my reading's been all over the block, including Tim (Network Neutraility) Wu's* fascinating The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, in which he considers that communications media tend to evolve from open, innovative systems to closed and very stable systems.  You can disagree with Tim's proposed solutions, but he makes a very strong case for the cycle from wide-open and disruptive to centralized, consolidated and tightly-controlled, using the telephone, broadcast and motion pictures as his main examples.

     That's on my Kindle; in the bath, in used softcover, I'm reading The New Yorker Book Of War Pieces, covering 1939 to 1945.  It is engrossing, with the level of writing you'd expect from New Yorker and an immediacy nothing written after the war can quite capture.  Fighter pilots Brendan "Paddy" Finucane (d. 1942, in action) and Philip Cochran (survived the war to die while fox-hunting at the age of 69; model for a character in Terry and the Pirates and at least one of the sources for "Steve Canyon")  are among the many people profiled, along with events from 88 days on a raft in the South Atlantic to an escape from Occupied France to (so far) the invasion of Italy.  In the early going, resolve is greatly apparent, but there's uncertainty, too -- can the Allies win this war? This is history as you rarely get it, but should.

     For the discursive mind, these books and Internet access are a heady combination, at least as addictive as reading footnotes. 
* Rannie Wu says "No relation." It's a name about like "Smith," after all.


fillyjonk said...

I read a book of collected "Mass Observation" pieces (diaries people kept between 1939 and 1944 or so) from Great Britain.

One of the things that was striking to me - and made me kind of slap my forehead and go "I should have realized that" was at the beginning of the era, there was genuine concern, and in some cases, fear, that the "good guys" would not win - that there was the real possibility of a Nazi invasion of Britain. I think we tend to forget that those who live the history don't know it's eventual outcome.

(I hope, some 70 years hence, a great-grandniece of mine has a similar "headslap" moment when she reads accounts of what life was like before ISIS was defeated....)

Anonymous said...

"That's on my Kindle; in the bath, in used softcover, ..."

Enjoy your Kindle in the tub:

And here are a bunch more:

Or be a cheapskate like myself and put it in a new one-gallon freezer bag. :)

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

I think my next house is going to have a combination library/kitchen. Books behind glass, of course; wouldn't want cooking odors to infuse them with...well, come to think of it, maybe not.

But there would have to be a very good ventilation system to keep the grease factor down.

By the way, may I just say that I truly hate the Google picture reCAPTCHA thing? Thanks. Know it's not your fault.

Roberta X said...

Look, I tend to nod off in the tub. Paperbacks are great, "trade sized" softcovers like the New Yorker collection are okay, but otherwise, no. Plus, there are plenty of things not on Kindle and if I don't read them in the tub, when will I? The Kindle on a mic boom is great for reading in bed, so good that I've been spoiled for paper books in bed.

Anonymous said...

"The Kindle on a mic boom is great for reading in bed,..."

Oh, I *like* that idea!

Consider it stolen...


Roberta X said...

Anonmyous: Here you are, details.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Thanks for posting that link. As it happens, I was telling my wife about it the other night, and she wants one, too :)

Anonymous said...


Yes, McMaster-Carr has an excellent website, all the better as unless you spend a *lot* of money with them you'll likely never get a paper copy.

I had a few-year-old copy I lost in a house fire a while back...