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8 years Ago

Capsule Movie Reviews Vol.2011.2

Published by marco on

Goodfellas (1990) — 8/10
I finally saw this mob movie after all these years of hearing it quoted again and again and again. Though it was nice seeing the origins of the quotes, it kind of took the edge off of the surprise a bit. I don’t know what I was expecting and the film wasn’t bad, but it didn’t blow me away like The Departed. In a way, I felt like I’d already seen part of it in Blow.
Cop Out (2010) — 5/10
Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, with a nice smaller part by Seann William Scott... [More]

Capsule Movie Reviews Vol.2011.1

Published by marco on

Late December/early January are what I call “guy movie month” here because the wife is away.

Inception (2010) — 9/10
Fantastic film from start to finish with an exceedingly interesting storyline and well-put-together concept. Excellent effects, excellent cast and challenging material make for a film that you’ll want to watch again.
Zombieland (2009) — 8/10
Woody Harrelson is always entertaining, but the kid doing the Michael Cera schtick of being absolutely pathetic and neurotic got old... [More]

Books read in 2010

Published by marco on

  1. Foucault’s Pendulum (1988) (second half) – Umberto Eco
  2. The Great War of Civilization (2005) – Robert Fisk (second half)
  3. Naked Pictures of Famous People (1998) – Jon Stewart
  4. The Drought (1965) – JG Ballard
  5. Drowned World (1962) – JG Ballard
  6. Spook Country (2007) – William Gibson
  7. Free Lunch (2007) – David Cay Johnston
  8. Stardust (1999) – Neil Gaiman
  9. Heat (2006) – George Monbiot
  10. Unbowed (2006) – Wangari Maathai
  11. Grieche sucht Griechin/Mister X macht Ferien/Zeitungswesen in der Steinzeit... [More]

Struggling through the Lost Symbol

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It was the start of the long week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve and it was time to start a new book. A quick scan of the book shelf revealed many interesting candidates, but most of those were a bit more challenging than a week of this kind warranted. But look who’s hiding on one of the shelves: good ol’ Dan Brown.

This copy of The Lost Symbol had been obtained from the local Salvation Army secondhand shop for only a couple of bucks. I’d gotten Brown’s two other books in the same way,... [More]

9 years Ago

Notes on Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod by Bastian Sick

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In an effort to continue improving my German, I read the book mentioned in the title, which is a rollicking guide to the finicky nuance of the German language. A few years back, I read Eat, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss, which effects a similar service for the English language. Another absolutely wonderful essay on the issue of usage and grammar is Tense Present: Democracy, English, and the wars over usage by David Foster Wallace (a few citations of which are documented on earthli News),... [More]

Citations from Heat by George Monbiot

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Heat is a very accessible book on the state of the world’s climate, energy and heating needs today and going into the future. The author sets himself the task of coming up with a plan for our planet that is economically, socially and climatologically viable. His express goal is to keep convenience and freedom as much like it is now as possible while reducing CO2 emissions by 90% across the board—domestic usage, air travel, industrial, transports, construction and so on.

He will not... [More]

Books read in 2009

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  1. The Omnivore’s Dilemma (2006) – Michael Pollan
  2. Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1995) – Gregory Maguire
  3. Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture (1992) – Jeremy Rifkin
  4. The Great War of Civilization (2005) – Robert Fisk (partial)
  5. Armed Madhouse (2006) – Greg Palast
  6. The Tales of Beedle the Bard (2007) – J.K. Rowling
  7. Rough Music (2005) – Tariq Ali
  8. Fahrenheit 451 (1953) – Ray Bradbury
  9. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (2004) – John Perkins
  10. The Good... [More]

Citations from Tense Present: Democrac...glish, and the wars over usage by DFW

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The full text of the article can be downloaded in PDF at In memoriam by David Foster Wallace (Harper's Magazine). All of the articles he published for that magazine are available there.

“A Democratic Spirit is one that combines rigor and humility, i.e., passionate conviction plus sedulous respect for the convictions of others. As any American knows, this is a very difficult spirit to cultivate and maintain; particularly when it comes to issues you feel strongly about. Equally tough is a D.S.‘s criterion of 100 percent intellectual... [More]”
Pages 41-42

10 years Ago

Citations from "Ein Tag im Leben des I...issowitsch" by Alexander Solschenizyn

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These are just rough notes to accompany the citations; the book was in German, but yours truly does not yet feel comfortable enough with his grasp of that language’s grammar to formulate the accompanying notes and thoughts in it. So, English it is. Apologies to all those who can only read half.


This small book quickly—so quickly—establishes the gulag life as normal that one hardly notices how restricted and miserable the lives of the inmates actually were because Schuchow’s[1] attitude was... [More]

Fabio Viale’s Unique Marble Sculptures

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Fabio Viale’s Hyper-realistic sculptures are all marble, but of everyday objects and with exquisite detail. Click on the images for more detail. Check out the site for much more. (Including a marble boat!)

Citations from A Supposedly Fun Thing ...ever Do Again by David Foster Wallace

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“A problem with so many of us fiction writers under forty using television as a substitute for true espial, however, is that TV “voyeurism” involves a whole gorgeous orgy of illusions for the pseudo-spy, when we watch. Illusion (1) is that we’re voyeurs here at all: the voyees behind the screen’s glass are only pretending ignorance. They know perfectly well we’re out there. And that we’re there is also very much on the minds of those behind the second layer of glass, the lenses and monitors via... [More]”
From E Unibus Pluram, television and U.S. fiction, page 24

Citations from Siddharta by Hermann Hesse

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“[…] fern und leise rauschte die heilige Quelle, die einst nahe gewesen war, die einst in ihm selber gerauscht hatte. Vieles zwar, das er von de Samanas gelernt, das er von Gotama gelernt, das er von seinem Vater, dem Brahmanen, gelernt hatte, war noch lange Zeit in ihm geblieben: mäßiges Leben, Freude am Denken, Stunden der Versenkung, heimliches Wissen vom Selbst, vom ewigen Ich, das nicht Körper noch Bewußtsein ist. Manches davon war in ihm geblieben, eines ums andre aber war... [More]”
Seite 63

Citations from A Connecticutt Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain

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“Seven-tenths of the free population of the country were of just their class and degree: small “independent” farmers, artisans, etc.; which is to say, they were the nation, the actual Nation; they were about all of it that was useful, or worth saving, or really respect-worthy, and to subtract them would have been to subtract the Nation and leave behind some dregs, some refuse, in the shape of a king, nobility and gentry, idle, unproductive, acquainted mainly with the arts of wasting and... [More]”
Page 81

Four Short Book Reviews

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Rough Music: Blair, Bombs, Baghdad, London, Terror by Tariq Ali
Ali’s scathing recap of the Blair/New Labour era in British politics reminds the world that the British have just as much to answer for as the Americans when it comes to picking absolutely corrupt leaders. It’s a very short book, but packed with a very succinct rundown of the depths of Blair’s moral depravity – depths which brings him to the nadir once monopolized by good old “iron balls” Maggie Thatcher.
Beyond Beef: The Rise... [More]

Books read in 2008

Published by marco on

  1. A Widow for One Year (1998) – John Irving (second half)
  2. Bleachers (2003) – John Grisham
  3. The Glass Castle (2005) – Jeannette Walls
  4. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) – C.S. Lewis
  5. Tuesdays with Morrie (1997) – Mitch Albom
  6. Die Weisse Massai (2000) – Corrine Hofmann (de)
  7. The Kite Runner (2003) – Khaled Hosseini
  8. A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007) – Khaled Hosseini
  9. The Book of Saladin (1998) – Tariq Ali
  10. The Great Gatsby (1926) – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  11. More Tales of the City (1980) –... [More]

11 years Ago

Citations from A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

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“The world breaks everyone and afterwards many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break, it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these, you can be sure it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.”
Page 178

'It is the body that is old. Sometimes I am afraid I will break off a finger as one breaks a stick of chalk. And the spirit is no older and not much wiser.‘

‘You are wise.’

‘No, that is the great... [More]

Page 187

Citations from the Human Stain by Philip Roth

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“It was time to yield, to let this simple craving be his guide. Beyond their accusation. Beyond their indictment. Beyond their judgment. Learn, he told himself, before you die, to live beyond the jurisdiction of their enraging, loathsome, stupid blame.”
Page 64
“Nor was he a radical or a revolutionary, not even intellectually or philosophically speaking, unless it is revolutionary to believe that disregarding prescriptive society’s most restrictive demarcations and asserting independently a free personal... [More]”
Page 155

Books read in 2007

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  1. Cell (2007) − Stephen King
  2. The Essential Ghandi (second half) (1962) − Mahatma Ghandi (edited by Louis Fischer)
  3. Zwischen Krieg und Terror (2006) − Ulrich Tilgner (de)
  4. A Man without a Country (2005) − Kurt Vonnegut
  5. Wild Fire (2006) − Nelson DeMille
  6. Das Parfum (1994) − Patrick Suskind (de)
  7. Cobweb (2005) − Neal Stephenson & J. Frederick George
  8. The New Rulers of the World (2002) − John Pilger
  9. Thud! (2005) − Terry Pratchett
  10. Count Zero (1987) − William Gibson
  11. Infinite Jest (1996) − David Foster... [More]

12 years Ago

Books read in 2006

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  1. Song of Susannah (2004) − Stephen King (second half)
  2. The Dark Tower (2004) − Stephen King
  3. Things Fall Apart (1959) − Chinua Achebe
  4. Blink: the Power of Thinking without Thinking (2005) − Malcolm Gladwell
  5. No Longer At Ease (1960) − Chinua Achebe
  6. ‘Tis (1999) − Frank McCourt
  7. Teacher Man (2005) − Frank McCourt
  8. City of Light (1999) − Lauren Belfer
  9. Night Watch (2002) − Terry Pratchett
  10. Der große Boss: Das Alte Testament, Unverschämt fromm neu erzählt (1992) − Fred Denger
  11. Going Postal (2004) − Terry... [More]

14 years Ago

Books read in 2005

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  1. Monstrous Regiment (2005) − Terry Pratchett
  2. Die Vergessliche Nation (2004) − Gore Vidal (de)
  3. Fight Club (1996) − Chuck Palahniuk
  4. Bush in Babylon (2003) − Tariq Ali
  5. The Poisonwood Bible (1998) − Barbara Kingsolver
  6. Across the Sea of Suns (1984) − Gregory Benford
  7. America (The Book) (2004) − The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
  8. A Small Death in Lisbon (1999) − Robert Lisbon
  9. Deception Point (2001) − Dan Brown
  10. Darwin’s Children (2003) − Greg Bear
  11. Amerikas Kreuzzüge (2005) − Claus Kleber (de)
  12. Gravity’s... [More]

Books read in 2004

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  1. Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix (2003) − J.K. Rowling
  2. Das Rennen Zum Mars (1999) − Gregory Benford (de)
  3. A People’s History of the United States 1492-Present (1980) − Howard Zinn
  4. Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective (2002)- Ha-Joon Chang
  5. Vitals (2002) − Greg Bear
  6. Inventing a Nation (2003) − Gore Vidal
  7. Understanding Power: the Indispensible Chomsky (2002) − Noam Chomsky
  8. Practical File System Design: The Be File System (1998) − Dominic Giampaolo
  9. Illuminati... [More]

Books read in 2003

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  1. Mort (1987) − Terry Pratchett
  2. The Light Fantastic (1986) − Terry Pratchett
  3. Equal Rites (1987) − Terry Pratchett
  4. The Hogfather (1997) − Terry Pratchett
  5. Drug Crazy (1998) − Mike Gray
  6. Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace (2002) − Gore Vidal
  7. Dreaming War (2002) − Gore Vidal
  8. Rogue States (2000) − Noam Chomsky
  9. XML In a Nutshell (2001) − Harold and Means
  10. Fortunate Son (2001) − J.H. Hatfield
  11. Interface (1994) − Neal Stephenson
  12. Echt Zauberhaft (1994) − Terry Pratchett (de)
  13. Der Kleine Hobbit (1999) − J.R.R.... [More]

Books read in 2002

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  1. Culture Jam (1999) − Kalle Lasn
  2. Black House (2001) − Stephen King
  3. Need and Desire in the Post-Material Economy (1998) − James Heartfield
  4. Ordeal of Change (1963) − Eric Hoffer
  5. Age of Access (2000) − Jeremy Rifkin
  6. God’s Debris (2001) − Scott Adams
  7. Count of Monte Cristo (1844) − Alexandre Dumas
  8. Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot (1996) − Al Franken
  9. Voltaire Stories (Candide, Micromegas, Zadig, Ingenu, White Bull) (1759) − Voltaire
  10. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997) − J.K. Rowling
  11. Harry... [More]

17 years Ago

Notes written during reading of the Dune books

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“A ‘code’ of ethics is a myth. It is only in the most convoluted of circumstances that ethical dilemmas arise. Up to that point, there is no moral quandary. Simply because there exist cases for which a simple, straighforward, common-sense ethics has no answer is no reason to doubt its validity where it does apply. Social interaction is not mathematics; one example does not suffice to disprove its correctness. Therefore, for most matters, there is only one ethics to which all can adhere − that... [More]”

God Emporer of Dune Notes

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Page 130 − “It was not until the instant of this experience that I understood what he had meant by the ‘wordless truth’. It happened, yet I cannot describe it.” − Chenoeh

Page 162 − “[The military] believe that by risking death they pay the price of any violent behavior against enemies of their own choosing. They have the invader mentality. [They] don’t believe [themselves] responsible for anything done against aliens.” − Leto II

Page 196 − “The mind imposes this framework which it calls... [More]”

Heretics of Dune Notes

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Page 123 − “At the quantum level our universe can be seen as an indeterminate place, predictable in a statistical way only when you employ large enough numbers. Between that universe and a relatively predictable one where the passage of a single planet can be timed to a picosecond, other forces come into play. For the in-between universe where we find our daily lives, that which you believe is a dominant force. Your beliefs order the unfolding of daily events. If enough of us believe, a new... [More]”

Chapterhouse: Dune notes

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Page 68 − “All of us are descendants of people who did nasty things, Rabbi. Remember, it is the victors who breed. … victory is sometimes acheived at a moral price. … Barbarism is not even the proper word for some of the evil things our ancestors did.” − Jessica, Jewish Wild Reverend Mother

Page 78 − “Rules are often an excuse to ignore compassion” − Odrade

Page 103 − “Many things we do naturally become difficult only when we try to make them intellectual subjects. It is possible to know so... [More]”