Should we ban poetry writing?

Hi,
so I was reading a lot of books for my school lately, roughly one a week which was quite a marathon for me. Of course since it is for literature, there are all kinds of books which I read. They were usually published in 19th century because my Czech class is learning about romanticism, naturalism and all kinds of Czech stuff (I do not want to say “weird shit” because that might be simply too offensive :D).


There were certainly good books and I do not even have time to review them (it would be quite boring), for example Pride and Prejudice (I had quite a prejudice against this one), Cosmic songs (best representative of poetry (Písně kosmické)), Wuthering heights and Boule de Suif were quite good.

What I want to get to, is poetry. From my perspective poetry does not really have much of a value, which should probably teach me something when I think that.

You know, when I read poetry I feel kinda dumb. My Czech is on quite fine level (as a native speaker) but it can so easily happen that I do not understand the poets, why would anyone write that if they can just tell the story in novel? Then, next level comes with poems in English that are FILLED with non-existing words, you will quickly accustom to “thou” and “thee” even though people probably seriously used it few decades back, but then it will step quickly on next level. I bet that if you copied them to Word and tried to check for grammar mistakes, your computer would break down.

Now lets go back to the lesson. I am pragmatic person, of course I would reduce it, so that it becomes more easily understandable but I know that for some reason lot of people like to read that stuff, people that definitely understand languages more than I do.. maybe they are just sentimental!

The thing is that I would gladly reduce all grammar in any language, even better, make a global language that does not have any exceptions, has 3 tenses and no y/i (that is really annoying in Czech).

Again people who actually understand this stuff and have the feeling for languages disagree with me, I have tried more than once and always got skeptical looks saying basically “you are cancer, go home”.

So it seems I should be more skeptical of my radical approaches to things regarding simplifying languages, as of now I am not in the position to change it, when I will be there will be some need for education. As with the poetry, I am almost done with what I have to read anyway!

Dragallur

PS: It might happen that I do not post next week because I am going to Berlin (and then Czech Republic!)

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Book review 14) Grimms’ Fairy Tales

Hi,
so apparently I have to read lot of books for my school in Czech Republic. Just about a week back I finished Grimms’ Fairy Tales. They do not really have much to do with science but here you go, next week something different.Grimm's Kinder- und Hausmärchen, Erster Theil (1812).cover.jpg


Grimms’ Fairy Tales

Grimms’ Fairy Tales (GFT) are collected tales by Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm. For the first time they were published in 1812 and in the next editions more and more tales were added. In 1857 GFT included 211 tales. Thats helluva of stories. In the internet version that I read was only 62 and it was not very short book.

The stories repeat in a way. Kingdoms with princesses and princes. Dwarfs are usually bad. Maidens are beautiful, foxes are smart (except the one where fox dies), people want to kill their pets (Bremen Musicians and others), random forms of magic, dumb people are lucky, step mothers are nasty wenches and on and on.. the themes are simply quite similar.

In the case you think that all of them are happy and tell a tale like Hansel and Gretel or Ashputtel.. no way. Lot of them are quite brutal and throughout the editions they somewhat changed. For example in Hansel and Gretel it was their own mother who wanted to kill them and not their step-mother.. then there is this tale where the step-mother kills her son and mixes him in pudding, I am not kidding.

The Straw, The Coal and The Bean

That one is extremely random tale. Some woman wants to cook and one straw, coal and bean escape. They decide to go together and then they have to cross a stream. Straw lays itself across and the coal starts to walk over it. It is still hot though so both of them fall into the stream and die, the bean starts to laugh and bursts out. Luckily tailor walks around and sewes the bean together … thats why beans have black seams.

Overall because of fairy tales like these, it was great book, nice for relaxation. Bit too long, I would not be able to read 211 of those since as I said, they repeated in the main points.

Dragallur

Picture source: Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=471797

Book review 13) Dangerous women

Dangerous Women 2013-1st ed. cover.jpg

Hi,
when I was on winter vacation I finished another book. This one as you can see higher is called Dangerous women.

Book: Dangerous women

Author(editors): George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

Genre: Science fiction/Fantasy

Pages: 784


This is book that was edited by the two people above. Otherwise it is written by 20 people who contributed with their short stories. While all stories revolve around different time and different people they have one thing in common, they are about how women are dangerous.

The book was great. I can pick about 1 or 2 stories that were kind of weird and I did not really understand them but otherwise, good job.

For example 1st story is about young woman who is trying to escape because there is lot of money promised for her head. 3 men catch up with her in streets of empty village, the poor guys end up horribly.

Other story is about women that has Alzheimer and her son wants to put her in old folks home, that one was quite impressive. One speaks about queen in exile or post-apocalyptic world where most women can not have children due to some virus.

My most favorite one was by George R. R. Martin.. he also wrote Song of Ice and Fire which is my favorite series and this short story was about Dance with Dragons, war that happened way before SoIaF did (130 years or so). The one that I will share with you is different one though, it is called Shadows for Silence in Forest of Hell (translated by me).

It tells story of a widow that takes care of her children and owns inn that is very important place for anybody moving around that area. She lives in Forest of Hell which is a place that is full of shadows, everybody seems to become shadow when they die. These shadows are scary but harmless if you do not break one of three rules:

Do not run
Do not make a fire
Do not spill blood

If you provoke them you will probably die. Once they touch you, your flesh dries and dies. Only thing that works against them is silver and silver has HUGE value. If it is not late you can even cure the wounds using silver dust.

This inn is of course protected by silver because the shadows are everywhere. At the same time Silence (the widow) does not have much money and she is in debt to one guy from outside of this creepy place. To feed her children and keep guests save she catches thiefs and criminals and then through the person that she is in debt with she brings them to justice earning part of the money for their head.

Once such a group of well-known criminals comes into her inn. She lets them eat there but mixes potion that will make them weaker into their meal. (The Forest is a good place for such people to live in since there are not many authorities) In the night she tracks them down and with the help of one of her older daughters she takes them all down without catching attention of any shadow, though it is quite close. When they move the bodies, mostly suffocated people, they clash with a group that steals these bodies which is basically fatal for Silence as she knows that she is basically out of money. With trick she gets them back but one of the enemies scratches softly the neck of her daughter which makes the shadows crazy. In the end the daughter almost dies and she needs amputation of arm and leg.. Silence is also able to get rid of the person that was blackmailing her.

Amazing, I loved the plot.

The only thing that I found a bit annoying was that there were two stories with basically the same setting, the one with Alzheimer and one with old women taking care of their mum who has dementia.. but hey, you can not have all stories bringing completely new stuff!

Dragallur

The picture source: By Uploaded by TAnthony, from Amazon.com. Digital scan of book cover; copyright maintained by publisher or artist, as applicable., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41143558

 

 

 

Book review 12) Thing Explainer

Hi,

Cover of the book Thing Explainer

Randall Munroe is a great guy. Creator of XKCD (totally free nerd comics) and the author of What If which you can also read on the internet maybe only some parts… Now one day about two weeks ago I noticed in our school library that they bought his “new” book Thing Explainer. I wanted to buy it earlier but I found out that it costs like almost two new books and was quite discouraged (and I did not have the money anyway). So for some reason the people in the library bought it and I have read it in few days.


Book: Thing Explainer

Author: Randall Munroe

Genre: Science

Pages: dunno

Rating: 10/10


Thing Explainer is a book that explaines complicated stuff in simple words, simple means ten hundred most used words. Great idea I admit. Randall says that when he was younger he purposefully used complicated words so that nobody thought about him, that he did not know them, but in this book he does not need to care about it.

Inside you can find explanations of: Saturn V (Up Goer Five), Keyhole (Shape Checker), Periodic table, Sun, Washing maschine, Car and many many more. There are I think two or three double pages which extend the books already giantic size to double and the page about Skyscraper (Sky toucher) is of the format A2

1000 words is not much. Most technical terms do not exist and even if you know them IRL (in real life) you may find yourself wondering what some things mean. “Fire water” took me some time indeed. Or helium is “kind of air that makes your voice funny”.

Basically there is no objection from me, hopefully the author will write 2nd part since there is lot of stuff outhere that still needs to be covered!


Here is in the same style Einstein and Theory of Relativit explained.
Here is Up Goer Five.

This video is from Minute Physics about getting to space:

Dragallur

Book review 12) Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone

Hi,
I have read this book already in Czech and heard it many times on audio and I have seen the movie couple of times. Now in Germany I have finished it in German so I decided to leave it a review here. Of course everybody knows Harry Potter so I will make it little bit different.


Rant against Qudditich.

Despite the fact that the game is awesome, its rules do not make any sense. The obvious part is the snitch which gives 150 points and ends the game. There is no point in catching the snitch if the difference between your team and the other one is more than that. Viktor Krum in the national game in the Goblet of Fire for example, catches the snitch and they lose, good job 😀

Rant against Defence against Dark Arts.

While whole Harry Potter series shows us extremely low number of spells which part of are completely useless, Defence against Dark Arts is the best joke. Most of the time they are actually learning about some random creatures and how to fight with them or what is their weakness (this is not what happens in Philosophers Stone) while in 6th year you will learn how to apparate anyway, which is basicall,y how you can escape anything. There might be something said in the upcoming movie about magical animals so we might find out that it is actually useful a bit.

Rant against other stuff.

Somebody killed unicorn, very strong animal which is extremely fast and its blood has unique attributes. What are we going to do? Send bunch for 1st year students, dog and guy who is not allowed to do magic!
Did Hermione, Harry and Ron really thought that it is good idea to go after Snape/Quirell? They must have known that teacher would be able to wipe them out in matter of moment from the Earth’s surface.
The points for the Cup kind of lost most of its meaning after Harry, Hermione and Ron getting 160 points and next year Ron and Harry getting each 200, people would really hate Dumbledore for doing this (not mentioning the 250 in 5th year).
Quirell could use Avada Kedavra on Harry right when he came to the mirror instead of talking about stuff. Or use Legilimence or use Imperius to get the information, not so hard really..

I like this book still of course, though I have read or seen it so many times that I just can not unsee some paradoxes that are there.

Dragallur

Book review 11) Secret diary of chinese empress

Výsledek obrázku

Czech edition of the book

Hi,
today in my week plan I finished this book above. It is called the Secret diary of chinese empress though I guess that this book does not even exist in english version.


Book: Secret diary of chinese empress

Author: Johannes Fabricius

Genre: Diary, historical

Pages: 231

Rating: 8.7/10


This book is simply diary of empress Cixi who lived from 1835 to 1908.[1]

Cixi was borned in lower class in China. She was lucky enough to be selected as a concubine for new emperor Xian Feng. Her friend was selected too and soon she was getting lot of attention from emperor.

After a while she was heavy with child and it was clear that emperor will die soon enough since he spent most of his time in brothels and opium dens. He was weak and sick.

After he died she and his wife took the role of regents before her son was 17 years old. That was huge turning point in her reign. She now got most power because her co-regent was not so strong. Of course problems soon appeared. Western fleets and armies took China by attack. With much better technology and tactics they soon overhelmed China that had to agree upon their terms.

There was huge amount of intrique before she was able to get rid of all her enemies which were for example Xian Feng’s brothers.

About 40 years later, again the court had to escape Forbidden City because of what is called Boxer Rebellion, event that was action against various western countries to stop their “expansion” in China. Boxer Rebellion stopped as a fiasco because again, western technology was far better than Chinese.

The painting by Katharine Carl of Cixi.

Cixi died at the age of 72 years and she was called the Old Buddha.


This book was great really. From her diary you do not get much of what is happening in the world. This I think nicely shows that she really did not care and even hated everything that was not traditional. Basically it was her who started the last unnecesarry war that had to lead to her defeat. In the book, though of course she does not say it, she lives very opulently. Rebuilding palaces when Chinese treasury is almost empty. At the same time, she was quite good in what she was doing, like it or not, she reigned for 47 years.

If you can find this book, read it. Quite good to get the idea of how it looked like in China before the WWI.

Dragallur

[1]I guess that the author, Johaness Fabricius only put the book together and made first transletion.

Book review 10) The Night in Lisbon

The.Night.In.Lisbon.cover.jpg

Cover of the 1st English edition.

Hi,
as promised, today I will write about one of the books I have just finished. It is The Night in Lisbon which is classic written by Erich Maria Remarque.


Book: The Night in Lisbon

Author: Erich Maria Remarque

Genre: Novel, War theme

Pages: 244

Rating: 9/10


The narrator is a German refugee who is waiting in Lisbon with his wife Ruth. They want to go to USA because WWII started and they would be persecutated by the Nazi regime. When he wanders through the city after he lost the rest of his money in gamble game he meets guy who wants to give him not only money but also visa with only one condition: that he listens to his story for one night.

It was great book to say at least. I really liked when both characters emerged from the story and interacted with people in Lisbon. Both had quite similar and unique way of looking on the world and it was interesting and very realistic as they discussed it. Most often happiness, hope, despair.. the kind of things you could except from two refugees who were last few years stagnating on the border of death and life.

Spoiler alert


The story of the guy who has the visa and wants to give it to the narrator starts when he decides to return to Germany, even though he barely escaped. Already here something almost “unnatural” drives him because as he says, he knows that his wife could long be married or dead since it has been 5 years from the moment he escaped. I like how from his point of view it could seem as a great love story (yes it is mostly romantic setting anyway). He deeply loves his wife whom he finally finds but at the same time she deceives him with other man showing that it is clearly not going to end very well. Author does his best in describing the huge difference in the man’s (Josef) and the wife’s (Helen) thinking. Josef is hardened by the years on the run where he knew he could be cought at any moment and Helen, quite naive woman.. at least before her cancer is too strong, just read it. My most favorite part is when Josef, very confidently changes his clothes and acts as electrician just to get to know what is going on with his wife.


Though it was thrilling I give it 9 because I thought that some parts were unnecessary long (in Paris for example) and it seems to me that Remarque could bring more characters into the story.

Dragallur

Book review 9) 10 Physicists who transformed our understanding of reality

Hi,
today I will do the review of 10 Physicists… bla bla. I started to read this book right after Christmas when I got it(but I read only one chapter finishing it last week). I actually wrote post about the first one in the list: Galileo Galilei.


Book: 10 Physicists who transformed our understanding of reality

Author: Rhodri Evans, Brian Clegg

Genre: Science, Physics

Pages: 258

Rating: 9.2/10


10 Physicists.. is a book that takes ten most important physicists in last 400 years and dissects their life and their impact.

Of course this list can not be very objective since you do not have any clear scale for something like this. I think most people would probably agree on the first four definitely:

  1. Isaac Newton
  2. Niels Bohr
  3. Galileo Galilei
  4. Albert Einstein

So sure, I would definitely from my perspective agree with those four though I was quite surprised that Bohr was rated so high. The problem is of course that most people will tend to remember Einstein and his theory of relativity but completely forget that Bohr did similar type of work but on quantum mechanics (plus many other things). Galileo may be surprising but when you consider his work on heliocentric system, well I would maybe swap him with Einstein though it is quite hard to compare people that lived in totally different times.

5.    James Clerk Maxwell
6.   Michael Faraday
7.   Marie Curie
8.   Richard Feynman
9.   Ernest Rutherford
10. Paul Dirac

In the first chapter the authors have quite good discussion about this list since they used some resources that already made similar ones. Maybe Schrödinger or Heisenberg should be there.. or Fermi?

Well we have to stuck with this one.

In my opinion the chapter that was done best was Marie Curie, I wrote about her in the last post and I must say that it was kind of thrilling, her work with pitchblende and the years that radioactivity was “adding” up in her and her husband’s body.

I guess that they could have done more work on Rutherford for example. Probably because he was so down in the list they did not want to give him so many pages but when I look back I do not remember much about him.

Otherwise I can dearly recommend this one if you do not know much about these people.

Newton who spent about the same amount of time on physics as on teology.
Bohr who was dismissed by king since he was correcting what he said.
Galileo with his: throwing stuff from Pisa tower.
Einstein who never got over the quantum theory and its probabilities.
Maxwell who finally made the theory that unified electrism and magnetism.
Faraday with his famous lectures that were attended sometimes attended by more than 1600 people.
Curie:

This had to be

Feynman playing his bongos:

That is whole new style

Rutherford and his new model of atom (as always for atom models, proved wrong).
Dirac with his serious social problems but pretty cool mathematical skills.

Dragallur

Book review 8) The Picture of Dorian Gray

Hi,
today I will do another book review, this time not very scientific book but otherwise very good one, the novel by Oscar Wilde. Also I was nominated for Liebster Award but it wont fit in this post so I will probably do separate one.


Book: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Author: Oscar Wilde

Genre: Philosophical fiction

Pages: 165

Rating: 9.5/10


The Picture of Dorian Gray is dark classical novel with an amazing idea that may left you shivering.There is also amazing scene where chemistry is involved (they are getting rid of dead body 😉 )

So this is story of young man who as you probably guessed is walking by the name Dorian Gray. He is quite handsome, apparently innocent and unspoiled by the modern society. (The story takes place in late 19th century England). In the first chapter Basil Halward who is painter, talks to Henry Wotton who later becomes Dorian’s best friend. He describes Dorian and says that he is inspired by him for his artwork.

Basil soon finishes portait of Dorian, it is definitely his best work which becomes somehow deeply connected with Dorian.

As the story advances Dorian’s personality changes. He is greatly influenced by Henry and his world views, when he does something he soon forgets and one of his mottos is not be disturbed by things that happened in the past and actually completely ignore them.


I really liked the idea in this book. The only thing that I think could be different was the time lay out. When the story starts, it describes day by day but then after one act there is big jump about 13 years later. I do not know why but it kind of destroys the first part of the book. The end follows few weeks or months and I would probably like it more if it was not jumping so much. It could even be thicker so the change in Dorian’s personality would be even more graduall.

Dragallur

Also do not forget to check out my facebook page: Science and Rationality

 

Book review 7) No Country for Old Men

Hi,
today I will continue with the book that I finished last week, it is another McCarthy’s novel.

Book: No Country for Old Men

Author: Cormac McCarthy

Genre: Neo-western, thriller

Pages: 309

Rating: 9/10


This has been special experience since it was my first book of such genre. It is novel that meets its purpose, to be: thrilling, bloody and unique.

The story starts when guy named Moss finds $2.4 million when he goes hunting. From this event on, the story speeds up and as the events take turn. There are more and more victims of this “innocent” act because somebody wants the money back and he is willing to do it in the “hard way”.

There are other character paths alongside Moss, those are Anton Chigurh who is the hunter that is trying to get the money and Ed Tom Bell, the sheriff who has to protect Moss but at the same time he is always step back.

I think that you wont regret it and read it in one breath as me. Though I must say that in the end, there were some to me unnecesary parts that were not very important for the main story.

Dragallur