Sci-Phi: Science Fiction as Philosophy with Dr. David K. Johnson

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on December 14, 2020 @ 5:14 pm

This is a lecture series by The Great Courses. It uses science fiction, specifically science fiction movies, to illustrate philosophical concepts. In 24 lectures, he discusses science fiction movies and how the relate to ideas in philosophy.

In each lecture, Dr. Johnson asks you to watch a movie. Then in the next lecture he discusses the movie and ties it in to philosophy.

The movies selected are enjoyable for the most part and offer interesting ideas to consider. These include Inception, The Matrix, The Adjustment Bureau, Arrival and such. He also covers Star Trek and Doctor Who. He ends with 2001 and a discussion of Nietzche, comparing the star child at the end to the idea of the ├╝bermensch.

Composition by David Friend

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on December 4, 2020 @ 11:59 am
Composition by David Friend

Composition discusses some of the finer points of painting composition not well understood by casual artists. Most sections consist of two parts. The first is a light introduction to the section’s topic and includes exercises. The second section (usually) takes a famous painting and compares it to an initial sketch. The pair demonstrate the section’s topic and the artist’s solution to the problem.

The book is well done and very informative. My only issues is that some of the exercises can take several days and makes the book more of a workshop than just a read. I wasn’t prepared for that and ended up skipping or rushing the exercises. If you go in with the time and preparation, the book would probably be a good workshop. Even without taking the exercises as seriously as I should, I found the book very informative and useful.

Hashi: The Bridges Puzzle by Alastair Chisholm

Filed under:Games and Puzzles,Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on October 13, 2020 @ 3:54 pm

Hashi are puzzles where you need to form connections between all the bubbles on a page. Each bubble shows the total number of connections to that bubble and no two bubbles can share more than two connections. Then, all connections are simple orthogonal.

I found the puzzles a lot of fun. It is engaging enough to keep you occupied and the complexity seems right. Except for the simple introductory puzzles, they can be solved in less than about 20 minutes.

The one problem I felt, was they did not get more complex. The puzzles are rated delicious (fairly trivial), pernicious, malicious and vicious. But other than the delicious puzzles being trivial, the others did not get more difficult. They increased in size which provided more places to make an error, but they did not require more thought or problem solving.

They are fun. Now that I’ve solved the book, I don’t feel I need more of them, unless they can truly become more difficult.

ABC’s of Leatherwork by Tandy Leather Company

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on December 26, 2019 @ 12:28 pm

This is a minimal primer for leatherworking. It introduces the reader to a few basic tools and techniques, that’s about it. It doesn’t mention maintenance or care of the tools, nor safety. It may be decent for a user who needs a quick introduction and has access to a teacher or someone who can help through any difficulties. It is cheap and a quick read. The company has several better books. Better is Leather Crafting: http://books.randolphking.com/?p=1647.

Behold a Pale Horse by Peter Tremayne

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on November 25, 2019 @ 10:32 am

This is the 22nd book in the Sister Fidelma mystery series. Set in 664 AD, Sister Fidelma is returning from a trip to Rome. She finds herself on an island where she encounters an old mentor who is dying. But he had stumbled onto something that opened the door to murder, intrigue and conspiracies.

Not speaking the language, Fidelma is limited and manipulated but unknown agents. The story is very well told and compelling to the end.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on October 17, 2019 @ 3:31 pm

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss that is a grammarian with quite a sense of humor. The book is both informative and funny as it discusses various points of grammar and of style.

The book covers different points of grammar, focusing on punctuation and its use. She grabs examples from her surroundings and compares the actual stated with the intended meanings.

Although she uses the British style, she often notes differences between American and British English, then pokes fun at everyone. Any ready will find a thoroughly enjoyable read and will learn a few points of grammar in spite if himself.

The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on September 11, 2019 @ 7:34 am
The Obelisk Gate on LibraryThing.com

This is the second book in the Broken Earth fantasy trilogy by Jamison. This book continues from where the first one ended seamlessly as if part of the same book.

This book follows Essun, who is [still] looking for her daughter and Nassun, the daughter, who is growing in strength and facing personal doubts. This book also follows the guardian Shaffa, who is undergoing his own transformations. Through his eyes we learn a lot more about the guardians.

Essun and How find themselves in a comm named Castrima with its own unique marvels telling of a former vast technology that is related to the obelisks. Essun is trying to come to terms with saving the world by capturing the moon as indicated by Alibaster at the end of the first book.

Through How, we learn a lot more about the stone eaters. How reveals a lot more of himself as we see him grow (?) or maybe just reveal more of himself.

The story is written well as Jamisin takes the reader through the well-developed world she has created. The series is enjoyable and compelling. I strongly recommend reading it in order.

Impressionist Painting for the Landscape: Secrets for Successful Oil Painting by Cindy Salaski

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on April 11, 2017 @ 12:07 pm

Impressionist Painting for the Landscape: Secrets for Successful Oil Painting by Cindy Salaski

The book got off to a weak start for me. When describing materials, he describes what he has and insists it is the BEST available. He doesn’t give adequate information as to why it is the best and what you can do if his choice isn’t available or is too expensive for the reader. This doesn’t address why the best wouldn’t change over time. Everything he has is the best.

The book got a lot better when he got down to painting techniques and composition. However, the authors didn’t really address impressionism very much. The book includes some step-by-step painting examples, again, there is a discussion of techniques, but not as to why they would support an impressionistic feel.

There are a lot of references at the bottom of alternate pages to a website for additional material. This is just a blatant attempt to get you to a website to view ads. the extra materials consist of two pages, one of very basic suggestions already covered in the book, the second page is a nice painting with a few words about its composition. This could have been included on one page in the book. Instead there are three pages about the two authors and two pages that are selling a video.

The book does have value, don’t expect to come through it with any understanding of impressionism and you can enjoy it.

Moscow Rules (Gabriel Allon) by Daniel Silva

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on January 17, 2016 @ 8:28 am

Moscow Rules (Gabriel Allon) by Daniel Silva

Gabriel is on his honeymoon, when a Russian journalist insists on meeting with him. Gabriel reluctantly accepts the invitation, but when the man is killed before the meeting, Gabriel is drawn into a mystery involving a very powerful weapons dealer with dangerous plans.

Gabriel’s art plays a bigger role than in some of the stories, it has always felt it should be a bigger part of this stories, so this was refreshing.

This is a very well-told story with a lot of intensely interesting characters. The story has a good pace and will keep the reader involved.

Reality Check by David Brin

Filed under:Science Fiction,Uncategorized — posted by Randolph on May 3, 2015 @ 8:32 pm

Reality Check by David Brin

A rather dull, short story. It didn’t have time to develop anything of interest.


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace