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October 25th, 2013

11:22 am: Cannot resist book meme
Author you’ve read the most books by: Shakespeare, for sizzle. Though Samuel Delany John LeCarre, and an embarrassing number of thrillers writers are also up there. I’m a completist. If I like an author, I’ll read everything they wrote.

Best sequel ever: The Odyssey

Currently Reading: I’m reading two books currently. The Sports Gene by David Epstein. This book is basically a collection of scientific studies on sport performance and it rules. Think Malcolm Gladwell, style, but actual science as opposed to fuzzy behavioral psychology. There is lots of fascinating stuff in here about gender and race in sports. I highly recommend it.
I am also reading A Secret History of the IRA by Ed Moloney. Moloney is creepily obsessed with Gerry Adams, but that obsession has lead to a minutely reported history of the Provos leading up to the Good Friday Agreement. The problem is that because so much of this book is based on anonymous sources and inferences Moloney is deriving from disparate sources it is impossible to know how accurate it is as a history. It’s a compelling read none the less.

Drink of choice while reading: Coffee or scotch, depending on the time of day.

E-reader or physical book: The only e-book I have ever read is Charm’s instant classic, Is the Pope Catholic? I have so many unread physical books in my house, I really do not need another way to purchase things I don’t have time to read.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School: I don’t know what it says about me that I cannot answer this question, but there you go.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance: The Art of Fielding. I’m generally not reading Brooklyn white dude fiction anymore, but this book is absolutely wonderful.

Hidden Gem Book: I continue to maintain that a hundred years from now Dhalgren will be considered one of the seminal books of late twentieth century American fiction.

Important Moment in your Reading Life: I’m dyslexic and didn’t learn to really functionally read until very late. There isn’t an exact moment when it clicked for me, but somewhere in elementary school, I started catching up with my classmates in reading ability and my life changed.

Just Finished: Yet another Lee Child novel. This is middle age -- done with Brooklyn literary fiction, reading dude trash novels.

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read: I will read basically anything. The older I get, the more I realize I have no taste.

Longest Book You’ve Read: Infinite Jest? Executioner’s Song? Who knows. I have a soft spot for really long books.

Major book hangover because of: What is a book hangover?

Number of Bookcases You Own: Counting wine crates stacked in a rustic yet elegant manner? Six I guess.
One Book You Have Read Multiple Times: The Iliad. I’m looking to read it for a third time sometime next year.

Preferred Place To Read: Our fucking awesome and huge new couch.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read: “try, fail, try again, fail better”. I think Beckett and I disagree on what this quote means, but whatever. I am the reader, I have agency?

Reading Regret: That I cannot quit my job and read full time.

Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series): I am a ridiculous series completer. As mentioned above, if I like an author, I’ll read everything. Currently, I’m reading my way through all of the Bard’s work. I’m about halfway there. I need to finish that project someday.
Does that count as a series? Probably not. I also want to finish Charles Stross’s Merchant Princes series someday.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books: Dhalgren, Moby Dick, Executioner’s Song

Unapologetic Fan For: John LeCarre

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others: With all the great reviews, I’m pretty excited for Donna Tartt’s the Goldfinch

Worst Bookish Habit: Buying far more books than I will ever have time to read.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book: I am at the office right now, so that would be “McKinney’s New York Rules of Court, State”

Your latest book purchase: Letter to a Young Stoic, Seneca, and The Big Book of Basketball by that insufferable guy from Boston.
ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late): This never happens to me, I like sleep.

April 8th, 2013

01:48 pm: The old days
I miss secrets monday.

August 31st, 2012

04:33 pm: For now,  I've abandoned this livejournal to the spambots. I do read those of you who still post - last writers of LJ, I salute you! Something tells me villagecharm is going to be the last person writing on here, but who knows, maybe never_the_lesswill prove me wrong.

Anyway, if  you care to read about the stuff I am currently interested in, like working out and learnign hebrew, you can check me out at the latest in my long line of blogs, miloandthecalf   

January 13th, 2012

12:23 pm: Radio! Radio!

Continuing my long decent into total fucking loon, I got a short wave radio. I am just beginning to figure the damn thing out. Turns out the world of shortwave is more complicated than I expected. The truly foreign or weird is much more elusive than I naively thought. Stations don’t broadcast 24 hours a day and reception is generally poor. This probably has something to do with the fact that it is an antiquated technology  no one uses anymore. I am excited about it.

For reasons that are beyond my scientific understanding but that have  something to do with solar rays and other stuff, the best time to listen to foreign broadcast shortwave on the east coast of America is the middle of the night. This just adds to the crazy factor when my wife finds me toying with the radio at one in the morning.

“Find any spies?” she asks, knowing about my mission to track down a numbers station.

“Not yet, but I found a station in Korean!” I respond.

“Oh how interesting.” She says with the level of sarcasm only attainable by those who have grown up in the caldron of sarcasm known as the island of Manhattan.

Won’t she be surprised when I find UVB-76!

I might need a more powerful antenna. I am considering stringing one up to our fire escape. Is that the behavior of a crazy person?

 For now my initial observations are:

  • The vast majority of shortwave in English is about Jesus.
  • Alex Jones has a pretty extensive presence  on shortwave and he is pretty upset about the future of America.
  • Almost all of what I have heard is talk radio in various languages. This is a disappointment. I was hoping for some good African music, but that now seems unlikely. The languages I have heard in order of frequency are: English, Chinese, Arabic and Korean. I wish my Arabic was better because twice I have come across a station with a very pissed off sounding woman shouting in Arabic.  
  • The only music I’ve heard is traditional Chinese.
Stay tuned for more reporting from the fringes of the dial. 

January 11th, 2012

09:02 pm: The Books of 2011

I read exactly 40 books last year. Only four less than last year. That is surprising since I was definitely much busier this year. The numbers are a little juiced because I got sucked into the Walking Dead graphic novel series, but all in all, not a bad year. Still somehow Cosma read roughly 160 more than I did while also being a math genius and shit. I’ve listed all the books below with a note on whether or not I would recommend them for the average reader, the reader with a preexisting interest in the subject matter or not at all. 


Best Book? – Probably a tie between the Windup Girl and Nazi Literature in the Americas. Nazi Literature is no doubt a better book, technically, the Windup Girl’s plot is a bit silly, but the images of a world where calories are scarce and Thailand is fighting to stay above the rising seas has stuck with me through this year of unseasonable temperatures. 
1. The Passage, Justin Cronin - Recommended

2. Henry VIII Part 3 (Folger), William Shakespeare – Not Recommended

3. Discourses and Selected Writings,  Epictetus - Recommended

4. The Quiet War,  Paul McAuley – Recommended for the Enthusiast

5. Maimonides: Reason Above All, Israel Drazin – Not Recommended

6. Richard III (Folger), William Shakespeare - Recommended

7. Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke

8. The Long Fall, Walter Mosley – Recommended for the Enthusiast

9. The Cold Six Thousand,  James Ellroy – Recommended for the Enthusiast

10. Aristotles Children: How Christians Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Middle Ages,  Richard Rubenstein - Not Recommended

11. The Comedy of Errors (Folger), William Shakespeare – Not Recommended

12. The Double Life of Alfred Buber,  David Schmahmann – Not Recommended

13. When Jesus Became God: The Struggle to Define Christianity During the Last Days of Rome, Richard Rubenstein – Not
Recommended

14. Titus Andronicus (Arden), William Shakespeare – Recommended for the Enthusiast

15. Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness, Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein - Recommended

16. The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi - Recommended

17. 91/2 Mystics: The Kabbala Today, Herbert Weiner – Recommended for the Enthusiast

18. The Taming of the Shrew (Arden), William Shakespeare – Recommended for the Enthusiast

19. The Hunter, Richard Stark - Recommended

20. The James Deans,  Reed Farrel Coleman – Recommended for the Enthusiast

21. The Chosen,  Chaim Potok - Recommended

22. Red April,  Santiago Roncagliolo – Not Recommended

23. Death in a City of Mystics,  Janice Steinberg – Not Recommended

24. Old Mans War,  John Scalzi – Recommended for the Enthusiast

25. Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome,  Anthony Everitt – Recommended for the Enthusiast

26. The Two Gentleman of Verona (Arden),  William Shakespeare – Not Recommended

27. Divine Madness, Celia Bertia – Recommended for the Enthusiast

28. Nazi Literature in the Americas, Roberto Bolano - Recommended

29. Running on Empty: An Ultramarathoners Story of Love, Loss and a Record Setting Run Across America, Marshall Ulrich – Recommended for the Enthusiast

30. Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President,  Ron Suskind – Recommended for the Enthusiast

31. Back to the Sources: Reading the Classic Jewish Texts,  ed. Barry Holtz – Recommended for the Enthusiast

32. Love’s Labor’s Lost (Folger), William Shakespeare – Recommended for the Enthusiast

33. The Interpretation of Murder, Jed Rubenfeld – Recommended for the Enthusiast

34. The Walking Dead: Book One,  Robert Kirkman - Recommended

35. Walking Dead: Book Two, Robert Kirkman - Recommended

36. Will Power: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength,  Roy F. Baumeister, John Tierney - Recommended

37. The Walking Dead: Book Three,  Robert Kirkman - Recommended

38. Reamde, Neal Stephenson - Recommended

39. The Magicians,  Lev Grossman – Not Recommended
40. The Abominable Man,  Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo – Recommended for the Enthusiast


November 14th, 2011

08:48 am: For old times sake
I was out to dinner a couple of weeks ago with an old time LJer and our partners and the subject of Secrets Monday and what an odd and wonderful internet thing it had become. I thought maybe it would be fun to dust it off and see if there was still any life in it. Is there?

TELL ME A SECRET

1) Post anonymously, I have no way of knowing who it is, IP logging is off.
2) Tell me anything you wish, it can be directed at me or it can be
completely random or just something you need or want to get off your
chest. Silly or serious.

November 1st, 2011

12:16 pm: NaNoWrimo?
Are any of you nerds doing NaNoWrimo?

July 20th, 2011

01:54 pm: Look! A Book Review!

Aristotle's Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Middle Ages

Richard Rubenstein

 

 

I have for some time been interested in the interplay between classical Greek philosophy, rabbinic Judaism, and early Christian thought. Neo-platonic thought and early Christian doctrine share a lot in common, and Aristotle had a clear influence on the codification of the Talmud. So when I saw the subtitle of this book, I was excited for an overview of that area of history. I guess I should have read the back cover before I purchased this one, because the title is highly misleading. This book has almost no information about the early Christian era; it is a book about the rediscovery of classical thought in the high middle ages and Renaissance. Think Thomas Aquinas and Peter Abelard, not Rabbi Akiva and Augustine of Hippo.

 

Though this book turned out to not be at all what I was looking for, it was interesting. As a theology buff, I enjoyed the arguments regarding the nature of the trinity, the infighting between the competing monastic orders, and the turn towards Aristotelian logic in theological debate. You can look down your nose at monks arguing over the question of how many angels fit on the head of a pin, but the rigor that people like Aquinas and Abelard brought to the discussion of theological questions is the foundation for the logistical thinking which brought us the scientific revolution. And the scientific revolution brought you the iphone, so shut up.

 

Aristotle’s Children may not have been what I was looking for, but as a piece of popular religious history, it’s a good read. Recommended for the curious.

 

 - Sean

 

    



May 20th, 2011

10:59 am: Saturday

Think of how freeing it would be to believe that the world is ending tomorrow. You can quit your job, stop paying into your kid’s college education fund, and know that by Sunday, the mundane troubles that make up modern life will be over. As I write checks to my student loans, or send another threatening letter to another government agency screwing another one of my clients, I can definitely relate to wanting to just give up on it all. Perhaps believing in these apocalyptic prophesies is rooted in deeply held beliefs, but I think it is also tied to a very common modern angst.

 

Life is often soul crushingly boring. The rapture is a nice way to spice up your day. But if you have stopped paying your credit cards, mortgaged your house to pay for billboards, and told your children they aren’t going to heaven with you, I imagine you will wake up on Sunday with a hell of a spiritual hangover.



March 15th, 2011

10:34 pm: RBG



Born 78 years ago today in the Flatbush, Brooklyn, you remain an inspiration to progressive lawyers everywhere. You were a Jew in a law school of wasps, a woman in a field of men, and you remain a principled and brilliant justice. You inspire me to work harder, do more, and never let them see you sweat. Happy birthday, Mrs. Ginsburg, I hope you have many more.

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