Blogging the Bookshelf

Blogging my bookshelf – one book at a time

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Entries from November 30th, 2010

Cigarettes = Man’s Progress? – “Atlas Shrugged” – Ayn Rand

November 30th, 2010 · Comments Off on Cigarettes = Man’s Progress? – “Atlas Shrugged” – Ayn Rand · Conservative Politics, Politics, Quotes

I like cigarettes, Miss Taggart. I like to think of fire held in a man’s hand. Fire, a dangerous force, tamed at his fingertips. I often wonder about the hours when a man sits alone, watching the smoke of a cigarette, thinking. I wonder what great things have come from such hours. When a man […]

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Friends of Global Progress – “Atlas Shrugged” – Ayn Rand

November 30th, 2010 · Comments Off on Friends of Global Progress – “Atlas Shrugged” – Ayn Rand · Conservative Politics, Elitism, Politics

“I am trying to raise money for Friends of Global Progress.” Rearden had never been able to keep track of the many organizations to which Philip belonged, nor to get a clear idea of their activities. He had heard Philip talking vaguely about this one for the last six months. It seemed to be devoted […]

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Linnaeus’s Preoccupation With Sex – “A Short History of Nearly Everything” – Bill Bryson

November 29th, 2010 · Comments Off on Linnaeus’s Preoccupation With Sex – “A Short History of Nearly Everything” – Bill Bryson · Description, Science

Linnaeus’s other striking quality was an abiding—at times, one might say, a feverish—preoccupation with sex. He was particularly struck by the similarity between certain bivalves and the female pudenda. To the parts of one species of clam he gave the names vulva, labia, pubes, anus, and hymen. He grouped plants by the nature of their […]

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The Lisbon Earthquake – “A Short History of Nearly Everything” – Bill Bryson

November 29th, 2010 · Comments Off on The Lisbon Earthquake – “A Short History of Nearly Everything” – Bill Bryson · Religion, Science

For pure, focused, devastation, however, probably the most intense earthquake in recorded history was one that struck—and essentially shook to pieces—Lisbon, Portugal, on All Saints Day (November 1), 1755. Just before ten in the morning, the city was hit by a sudden sideways lurch now estimated at magnitude 9.0 and shaken ferociously for seven full […]

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Physics or Stamp Collecting – “A Short History of Nearly Everything” – Bill Bryson

November 29th, 2010 · Comments Off on Physics or Stamp Collecting – “A Short History of Nearly Everything” – Bill Bryson · Elitism, Humour, Science

Physicists are notoriously scornful of scientists from other fields. When the wife of the great Austrian physicist Wolfgang Pauli left him for a chemist, he was staggered with disbelief. “Had she taken a bullfighter I would have understood,” he remarked in wonder to a friend. “But a chemist …” It was a feeling Rutherford would […]

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Einstien – “A Short History of Nearly Everything” – Bill Bryson

November 28th, 2010 · Comments Off on Einstien – “A Short History of Nearly Everything” – Bill Bryson · Science

This was the background against which he produced the special theory of relativity in 1905. Called “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies,” it is one of the most extraordinary scientific papers ever published, as much for how it was presented as for what it said. It had no footnotes or citations, contained almost no mathematics, […]

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Serendipity and Phosphorus – “A Short History of Nearly Everything” – Bill Bryson

November 28th, 2010 · Comments Off on Serendipity and Phosphorus – “A Short History of Nearly Everything” – Bill Bryson · Science

Perhaps nothing better typifies the strange and often accidental nature of chemical science in its early days than a discovery made by a German named Hennig Brand in 1675. Brand became convinced that gold could somehow be distilled from human urine. (The similarity of color seems to have been a factor in his conclusion.) He […]

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The Perfect Universe – “A Short History of Nearly Everything” – Bill Bryson

November 28th, 2010 · Comments Off on The Perfect Universe – “A Short History of Nearly Everything” – Bill Bryson · Humanism, Philosophy, Religion, Science

What is extraordinary from our point of view is how well it turned out for us. If the universe had formed just a tiny bit differently—if gravity were fractionally stronger or weaker, if the expansion had proceeded just a little more slowly or swiftly—then there might never have been stable elements to make you and […]

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Be Careful of the Hygiene in America – “Rumpole of The Bailey” – John Mortimer

November 27th, 2010 · Comments Off on Be Careful of the Hygiene in America – “Rumpole of The Bailey” – John Mortimer · American, Culture, Humour

“There’s one thing you’ll have to be careful of, you know, living in America.’ ‘What’s that?’ ‘The hygiene! It can be most awfully dangerous. The purity! The terrible determination not to adulterate anything! You will be very careful of it, won’t you, Nick?’

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She Who Must Be Obeyed – “Rumpole of The Bailey” – John Mortimer

November 27th, 2010 · Comments Off on She Who Must Be Obeyed – “Rumpole of The Bailey” – John Mortimer · Humour, Marriage, Quotes

It was my wife Hilda, She Who Must Be Obeyed, and I moved towards the source of the shout, muttering, ‘Being your slave, what should I do but tend, Upon the hours and times of your desire?’

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