One Sentence

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Keira Knightley, Anna Karenina UK Film 2012
Featured Image: Keira Knightley, Anna Karenina, UK Film 2012

ORT_Logo   Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony, 1 June 2018

One Sentence: a story about great sentences and great first sentences

This article on one sentence may veer in an entirely different direction, or not! I don’t always want to be predictable.

Journalists and newspapers often write articles on the first lines or one sentence of novels in holiday periods and the best of them are marvellous. Jane Austen and Tolstoy are always the first cabs off the rank.


Great opening sentences in fiction

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, 1813

Comment: This one sentence isn’t a bad summary of the novel. Underlying it is an indictment of late 18th Century inheritance laws and the inability of women to make their own way in the world, of which Jane Austen was painfully aware. She covers this topic in all her books on 18th century county life and manners.

The Story: David Bader’s Haiku barely does a better job than Jane’s sentence.

Single white lass seeks,

landed gent for marriage, whist, 

No parsons, thank you.

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What is history 7: EH Carr Causation in history

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ORT_Logo   Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony, 1 May 2018

What is History? by EH Carr: The next three Lectures (Chapters 2 to 4)

Society & the individual; History, science & morality; Causation in history

Introduction

I covered Lecture 1 or Chapter 1 (pp 7-30) in What is History, quite comprehensively in What is History 5: Historians and their facts. This was a very satisfying process because it was easy to tease erudite and incisive answers from Carr’s wonderful sentences and quotations from other historians.

The remaining lectures on initial reading tend to be slightly less incisive and a little more difficult in interpretation. However, there is still a large amount of fascinating material and the content Carr is grappling with, that is, defining a new way of looking at historical method (historiography) is too important to ignore.

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The Second Coming WB Yeats

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Featured Image: WB Yeats, Poetry Foundation from Chicago History Museum
Featured Image: WB Yeats, Poetry Foundation from Chicago History Museum

Featured Image: WB Yeats, Poetry Foundation from Chicago History Museum

ORT_Logo   Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony,  4 February 2018

The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats — a muse on literature

Prologue

Cast a cold Eye
On Life, on Death.
Horseman, pass by!

Epitaph on Yeats grave, Drumcliff, County Sligo

When I was living in Derry, I stopped at Yeats’ grave a couple of times on my way down the west coast. My memory of it was coloured by the season — terribly cold, grim and isolated.

We passed by in 2014, travelling up the west coast in an unlikely Indian summer. The grave was no longer isolated, nasty strip developments along the highway had almost caught up with it. The site was pleasant, warm and sunny with stunning views of the escarpment.

William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was born in Ireland and died in France. His remains were exhumed and moved to Ireland in 1948.

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The Humble Percent & Food Labels

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Sugar Frosty Feature

ORT_Logo   Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony,  24 November 2017


The Humble Percentage and Food Labels

Introduction

Percent or (percentage) used to be spelled per cent (and sometimes still is). It comes from the latin per centum meaning by the hundred.

What percent means is changing any list of numbers that add up to an irregular total into a modified list that adds up to 100. Once you get used to it reading a table of percentages becomes familiar and comfortable. Percentages can also be expressed as fractions and odds (think racecourses).

For example, 50% is a half, or odds of 2 to 1 in racecourse parlance (still meaning 1 chance in 2, but expressed this way because you get $2 profit for every $1 bet). 33% is about one third, 25% a quarter, 20% one fifth and 10% one tenth. Continue reading “The Humble Percent & Food Labels”

What is History 6: Religion

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Featured Image Sapiens Yuval Noah Harari

ORT_Logo   Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony,  2 October 2017


What is History 6: The Development or Evolution of Religion

Preamble

Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens: A brief history of humankind Harper 2014 (first published in Hebrew in 2011).

I feel guilty delving into Harari before embarking on Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel 1997 a much more profound book and one I have spent an enormous amount of time with, by reading and delving into Diamond’s sources. Harari himself acknowledges Diamond. He says:

Special thanks to Jared Diamond, who taught me to see the big picture.

Yuval Noah Harari’s book Sapiens: A brief history of humankind is a brave and ambitious enterprise, but he doesn’t quite carry it off. In some ways, he reminds me of Marvin Harris a popularising anthropologist who wrote Cannibals and Kings in 1977, which I also like immensely. For all his faults, Harari takes us on a great journey.

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Classic SciFi 9: Isaac Asimov I, Robot & Killer Robots

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iRobot Feature

ORT_Logo   Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony,  1 April 2017


Isaac Asimov I, Robot & Killer Robots Today

Introduction

The killer robots come later. I bought two novels at Asia Books in Bangkok in late February and was offered, as part of a promotion, one book free from a remainder pile. I dithered between a beginners guide to Nietzche (not a Belgian — Google it!) and The Robots of Dawn.

The Robots of Dawn is a ‘whodunit’ science fiction novel by Isaac Asimov, first published in 1983. It is the third novel in Asimov’s Robot series (Wikipedia). The first novel is I, Robot (1950).

I, Robot is not really a novel but a collection of previously published stories with linking text, by a fictional researcher cum writer.

The Robots of Dawn I found to be incredibly tedious and lacking in action. I must grudgingly admit though that it contained some interesting ideas about robots and humans. I would only recommend these novels and the additional robot stories beyond those in I, Robot to an Asimov scholar. I, Robot is quite sufficient to gain an understanding of Asimov’s approach to and ideas on robots. Continue reading “Classic SciFi 9: Isaac Asimov I, Robot & Killer Robots”

Atoms, Bytes, Genes

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Genetic Drift feature: Tony Stewart 2004

 

Featured image: Detail from Genetic Drift 1, Tony Stewart, July 2004

ORT_Logo   Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony,  3 February 2017


Atoms, Bytes & Genes: Science in the 21st century

Preamble

I made a political statement about science in a recent article 1984 The Way We Were.

We also needed someone in the 1990s and in the twenty-first century to remind us that science and technology drove the development of affluence in the twentieth century. The current ‘age of ignorance’ and of antagonism towards science, will eventually stultify innovation.

However, despite the depressing times, I’ve become more optimistic. Science and technology power on regardless.


The three dangerous ideas of twentieth century science

On the first day of 2017 I read a quote in Siddhartha Mukherjee The Gene: An Intimate History Bodley Head 2016, which I received for Christmas from Denise’s sister Julie who thoughtfully reads reviews.

In his Prologue, Mukherjee mentions the three streams of science and technology that dominated the twentieth century and whose convergence will dominate the twenty-first. He says:

Three profoundly [dangerous] destabilizing ideas richochet through the twentieth century, trisecting it into three unequal parts: the atom, the byte, the gene. Each is foreshadowed by an earlier century, but dazzles into full prominence in the twentieth. Each begins life as a rather abstract scientific concept, but grows to invade multiple human discourses — thereby transforming culture, society, politics, and language. But the most crucial parallel between the three ideas, by far, is conceptual: each represents the irreducible unit — the building block, the basic organizational unit — of a larger whole: the atom, of matter; the byte (or “bit”), of digitized information; the gene, of heredity and biological information.

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