Wednesday, September 21, 2011

That’s how I used to title all of the entries in the original weblog. Well, not exactly like that. But you get the idea.

It was easier to be rambling and stuff with titles like that, since they don’t even hint at subjects or anything. And/but you can really only post once a day…

I thought today, since the list of random books lying around in a previous entry was so wildly popular with our readership, I would post a list of random books that are lying around on the iPad.

It’s very book-oriented, in some sense. It’s the size and shape of a rather thin book, it opens book-like (’cause I have a cover of that kind on it), and it has all too many apps (“apps”) for reading books (none of them really as good as one might expect, but there one is).

So anyway!

In the “Kindle” app:

The Quantum Thief, by Hannu Raganiemi. I’m about twenty percent through this; pretty good if not wildly original (so far) vaguely singularitarian SF. I think I saw it recommended in one of the magazine digests below, and prodded at the screen until I had my own copy.

Parmenides, by Plato. zomg what a random collection of meaningless statements! Of course that’s what they may say in (um) a couple thousand year-equivalents about anything a philosopher (or even me) might write today.

And the one that is not, being altered, becomes and is destroyed; and not being altered, neither becomes nor is destroyed; and so the one that is not becomes and is destroyed, and neither becomes nor is destroyed?

True.

I find the easiest way to read this is as Plato showing that if you get overambitious and reify things like “The One”, you end up all tangled up in knots. But that doesn’t seem to be the general consensus interpretation.

Anyway, I finished reading that, as it is a quick read once you stop trying to figure out how to read it as actually saying anything.

Fantasy & Science Fiction, Free Exclusive Digest, Sep 1, 2011. I haven’t figured out how to subscribe to any SF magazines on the actual iPad (Amazon has a bunch, but they are downloadable only to actual Kindles, due to evil). But I can get this free Digest of F&SF, which has most of the non-fiction columns, and like one short story. (The short story in September is a kinda fun if sorta obvious “being an imperfect human is good” thing.)

Griftopia, by Matt Taibbi. See previously. This is contributing to the current turmoil in my economic and political theories, as mentioned.

The Celtic Twilight, by W.B. Yeats. This was in the pile of books in the basement, as mentioed also previously, and as speculated there there is indeed a digital version (of at least this part). Free, even, I think. I ain’t read in it to speak of yet.

“The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Seventh Annual Collection, Gardner Dozois (ed). Some pretty good SF, all of which I have now read.

Treasure Island, by R. L. Stevenson. Famous! I may eventually read this.

Retro Demonology, by Java Oliver. I’m not sure why I have this, it looks awful, um, that is, not really my thing. It’s one of the Enormous Raft of popular “soap opera with some magic or vampires or something for spice” books that seem to exist, and having read a few pages I don’t see any reason to continue. Maybe it’s just a sample, or it was free for some reason or something. I think it’s like book 4 of 9 or something, like these usually are.

Aesop’s Fables, tr. George Fyler Townsend. “A Wolf, meeting with a Lamb astray from the fold, resolved not to lay violent hands on him, but to find some plea to justify to the Lamb the Wolf’s right to eat him.”

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. One of my favorite books ever, only partly because I first read it while riding in trains in England, a situation in which I very seldom find myself.

In the “iBooks” app:

Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days, by Alastair Reynolds. Two longish short stories or novellae or somefing. “Diamond Dogs” was a well-written but somehow shallow “big alien plot device posing puzzles to the characters” story; “Turquoise Days” was more interesting, if rather apocalyptic.

Pellucidar, by E. R. Burroughs. “The roar of our rifles was constantly shattering the world-old silence of stupendous canyons upon which the eye of man had never before gazed. And when in the comparative safety of our hut we lay down to sleep the great beasts roared and fought without the walls, clawed and battered at the door, or rushed their colossal frames headlong against the hut’s sides until it rocked and trembled to the impact.”

Songs of Innocence and Experience, by William Blake. Tyger, Tyger, burning bright!

Writings of Thomas Paine — Volume 1 (1774-1779): the American Crisis. Free I think, and I haven’t read much of it. People did go on so back then! But Paine’s always been a favorite, the ol’ heathen.

The Manga Carta. In case of emergency.

A Goodly Apple: Narrative desire and the problem of truth in The Good Soldier and La vida breve, by the little daughter. “Regenerative truth, then, takes place within the framework of the events handed us by life; its function is to make that life bearable as far as possible.” I greatly enjoyed this short but incisive essay, even though significant swathes of it are in Spanish, which I don’t strictly-speaking speak.

Desire is Death and Fulfillment: The fear of women in Light in August, by the little daughter. In this altogether admirable paper, Ms. Daughter claims, and thoroughly convinces us, that in Faulkner’s novel “the fear of women is an indication of the primal conflict between the heart and the heart’s flesh, between immortal volition and the finite vessel of the body.” Also it is entirely in English!

(The reader may not have an easy time acquiring the latter two pieces, at least until the little daughter’s Complete Collected Works are published.)

The Future of the Internet and how to stop it, by Jonathan L. Zittrain. Ironically or fittingly, this book which I am reading on the iPad is largely about why “tethered appliances” (like say iPads) are bad in various ways compared to more “generative” devices like ol’ fashioned general-purpose PCs, and what we might do about this. I’m about half-way through this, and while I think Zittrain is wrong about various things (how important viruses and malware are in the move toward appliances, how well-defined the notion of “generativity” is, and some others), it’s still an interesting overall thesis, and I’m eager to see what solutions he’s actually going to propose.

In the British Library 19th Century Collection app:

Em, or Spells and counter-spells, by Mary Bramston. I’m not actually sure whether or not I have this locally on the iPad; the app sometimes implies that I do, but then sometimes won’t let me read it if I don’t have a network connection. Another disadvantage of appliances! Anyway, this is (so far) a heartwarming love story about loyalty and patience and stuff, written in 1878, and containing lots of cultural references that I don’t get at all, but in general it’s possible to tell what is going on and why.

And that is probably about it, he said, frowning at the iPad ummmm desktop-analog, wondering if there might be some things sufficiently like books filed away in some ummmm folder-analog besides the one called “Books”. Probably not.

Of course thousands and millions of other books could be caused by be on the iPad with minimal poking at the screen and expenditure or zero or more dollars or pounds or quatloos, but that’s what I’ve got at the moment.

Maybe I will go read the Magna Carta…

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One Comment to “Wednesday, September 21, 2011”

  1. M points out that I wrote “Manga Carta” up there, which is actually pretty funny. :)

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