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Member: bertilak

CollectionsYour library (16,167), Read but unowned (767), Read in 2014 (186), Currently reading (5), KANE Collection (10), Challenging books (20), Darwiniana (89), Philadelphia (48), En français (84), Fascism (114), Works owned by H. P. Lovecraft (275), Favorites (33), To read (11), Wishlist (82), 500 Essential Cult Books (133), Read in 2011 (247), Read in 2012 (297), Read in 2013 (333), Cyberpunk 101 (36), All collections (17,010)

Reviews55 reviews

Tagsunread (7,006), science fiction (3,354), source=Impact (1,454), fantasy (1,075), stories (942), mooched (901), illustrated (718), 1st ed (694), philosophy (688), history (666) — see all tags

Cloudstag cloud, author cloud, tag mirror

Recommendations1,197 recommendations

About meRetired Oracle and SQL Server DBA and Java, Python, shell, Perl, C++, C, Modula-2, Pascal, FORTRAN, AED, Algol-60, MAD programmer.

My personal philosophy: MYOB.

About my libraryMy library is best described by a Feynman diagram: it is surrounded by a cloud of virtual books. Some are tagged 'borrowed from library' or 'get this'. Some have been annihilated: they are tagged 'deaccessioned' or 'discarded'. Some are bosons: they are tagged 'dup'. Also see those tagged 'moochable' or 'for sale on'.

"A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up reading them". -- Lemony Snicket, The Ersatz Elevator

"But my true glory lies within my books: printed or anciently written, bound or unbound, there are near four thousand of them. ... But I need not tell you that there are also marvels within my books -- among them wonderful and rare works by Zoroaster, Orpheus, and Hermes Trismegistus, as well as the sheets of old ephemerides. ... These are not to be found for money at any market or in any stationer's shop, since in truth they are works for secret study." -- Peter Ackroyd, The House of Doctor Dee

"In Chymicis versanti Natura, Ratio, Experientia et lectio, sint Dux, scipio, perspicilia et lampas." -- Michael Maier, Atalanta Fugiens Fuga XLII

GroupsBanned Books, BannedBooksLibrary, Book Collectors, BookMooching, Edgar A. Poe, Entheogens, Evolve!, Fforde Ffans, Forteana & Strangeness, French Connectionshow all groups

Favorite authorsPeter Ackroyd, Charles Addams, Matsuo Bashō, Jorge Luis Borges, Eleanor Cameron, Gregory J. Chaitin, Raymond Chandler, Joseph Conrad, H. S. M. Coxeter, Theodore Dalrymple, Edwidge Danticat, Charles Darwin, Erasmus Darwin, Daniel Defoe, Samuel R. Delany, John Derbyshire, Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs, John Dunning, Lord Dunsany, M. C. Escher, Willard R. Espy, Richard P. Feynman, Jasper Fforde, Jeffrey Ford, Benjamin Franklin, Martin Gardner, Edward Gibbon, Robert van Gulik, Dashiell Hammett, Jennifer Michael Hecht, Zenna Henderson, Christopher Hitchens, Matthew Hughes, Johan Huizinga, Thomas Henry Huxley, Max Jammer, S. T. Joshi, Friedrich von Junzt, Franz Kafka, Michio Kaku, Desmond King-Hele, Tessa Kiros, Donald Ervin Knuth, Wangari Maathai, Michael Maier, H. L. Mencken, Robert K. Merton, China Miéville, Hope Mirrlees, Richard Mitchell, Hayao Miyazaki, Barry Moser, Eadweard Muybridge, Thomas Nashe, Joseph Needham, Charles Nicholl, Joe Nickell, Hesketh Pearson, Edgar Allan Poe, George Pólya, William Hickling Prescott, John L. Ruth, Dr. Seuss, William Shakespeare, Bob Shaw, Charles Stross, Amy H. Sturgis, Jonathan Swift, Raymond Tallis, D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, Silvanus P. Thompson, R. Gordon Wasson, Robert J. White, Gene Wolfe, Austin Tappan Wright (Shared favorites)


Favorite bookstoresAreopagitica Books, Big Jar Book Store & Cafe, Book Trader, Half Price Books - North High, Robin's Book Store Inc, The Cranbury Bookworm, The Next Page, Whodunit?, Wolfgang Books

Favorite librariesBibliotheca Alexandrina, Free Library of Philadelphia - Central Library, Library of Congress, The Library Company of Philadelphia

Also onBookCrossing, BookMooch

Membership LibraryThing Early Reviewers/Member Giveaway

LocationLansdale, PA 19446, USA

Account typepublic, lifetime

URLs /profile/bertilak (profile)
/catalog/bertilak (library)

Member sinceJun 27, 2006

Currently readingLucid: A Collection of Experimental Flash Fiction by FictionBrigade
The unreal and the real: Outer Space, Inner Lands by Ursula K. Le Guin
Vale of stars by Sean O'Brien
Space Magic by David D. Levine
Deathday by Peter F. Hamilton

Leave a comment


We have quite a few books in common.
Excellent haiku for The Lady or the Tiger!
Thanks for reminding me that Caitlín R. Kiernan wrote the Beowulf novelization.
Noticed you liked Clockwork Orange, and I was wondering if you'd be interested in reviewing my new novel and posting your comments here as well as a few other book-related sites. Thought you might like my book since it's also about a group of violent kids (and also a bit dark). I could e-mail you the novel in an e-book format if you'd like (I'm out of physical copies at the moment). Let me know if you're interested. Here's a link to a summary (and a sample chapter) in case you'd like to read more about the book before you commit:


The critic and erstwhile blogger Lee Siegel, in Against the Machine, a polemic against online habits, makes a list of "five open supersecrets" about bloggers:

1. Not everyone has something valuable to say.

2. Few people have anything original to say.

3. Only a handful of people know how to write well.

4. Most people will do almost anything to be liked.

5. "Customers" are always right, but "people" aren't.

The above is quoted from

Late Spring in Philly
Sees migratory oysters
Back on Sansom Street.
Saw your comment in the "LT names" thread re: hapax legomenon. Don't suppose you're a Dinosaur Comics fan? There was one recently on the subject:
Hello! Thank you for your suggestion about the Merton title Our system doesn't own it, so I've requested a copy thru ILL.

Your library here looks VERY interesting. I am very new at this. Seeing your library gives me something like a goal to shoot for: Can my interests and my reading result in a library that might be equally as broad and (I hope) as interesting to other readers.

Thanks again!

Best -- jt (traderj -- the "handle" I go by in my offline life is jt)

I see that you are interested in books about religion and atheism. So am I. By far the best I have read recently in that area is "Atheism Advanced" by the anthropologist David Eller. You should really take a look at it on amazon!

Not the angry type of book like Dawkins or Hitchens. None of the boring refutations of the proofs of God's existence. But a very interesting analysis of religion as a cultural/socialogical/psychological phenomenon by an anthropologist.


PS: We are also sharing other interest, like cosmology and and evolution.
Dropping by to mention that I really liked your review of Nashe's Unfortunate Traveler AND your reply to the earlier reviewer on the Tosches book! Having visited, I also enjoyed the quotes you've posted.
"Coal will run out one day – that much is certain. So a forced idleness will impose itself on the entire world's machinery, unless some new fuel replaces carbon." --
Jules Verne, 1877:
The Underground City
Hello to Bertilak in Lansdale!

We share 32 books, although that's not really a lot considering you have almost 9,000 books listed! Still, I had to stop by and say hello, since you live in Lansdale, and I pass that exit every time my family drives the NE extension of the turnpike from Chester County on our way to the Poconos, where we have a vacation home at Jack Frost Mountain.

Our shared books include some of my favorite authors -- Bujold, Zelazny, Willis, Pratchett, McDevitt, and Tepper.
"Love is a sweet essence that burns before God, but it is so secret a mystery that few can describe it or tell by what inward affections it is conveyed to the heart. Few know that content and gladness, when the powers of man and woman leap in the bowels of the body for joy at the instant of recognition." -- Peter Ackroyd, The House of Doctor Dee
“The Nothing is a big place,” I said without fear of understatement, “and mostly empty. Theoretical storyologists have calculated that the readable BookWorld makes up only twenty-two percent of visible reading matter – the remainder is the unobservable remnants of long-lost books, forgotten oral tradition and ideas still locked in writers' heads. We call it 'dark reading matter.'”
Jasper Fforde,
Thursday Next: First Among Sequels
"My first heresy says that all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated. Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models. Of course, they say, I have no degree in meteorology and I am therefore not qualified to speak. But I have studied the climate models and I know what they can do. The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics, and they do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields and farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in. The real world is muddy and messy and full of things that we do not yet understand. It is much easier for a scientist to sit in an air-conditioned building and run computer models, than to put on winter clothes and measure what is really happening outside in the swamps and the clouds. That is why the climate model experts end up believing their own models."

Freeman Dyson,
Quantum fluctuations are the monkeys that program the universe.
Seth Lloyd,
Programming the universe : a quantum computer scientist takes on the cosmos
Saying that we often manage to work around shortages is not the same as saying that "natural resources are basically infinite." We've staved off the calamaties of Malthusian prediction through an extraordinary explosion of scientific endeavor. We'll see how things stand in a century or two, with fossil fuel depletion, topsoil erosion by cash crops (and growing corn for fuel), increased environmental pollution (especially the loss of food fish in the oceans), global warming, unrestricted population growth, etc. (the usual progressive litany). Survival may well depend upon a cooperative model rather than the competition of the marketplace. Food for thought, as it were.
"To me, the Internet is as basic a thing for humanity to be doing as cities have been. It’s that primal."
William Gibson
Internet “wakes up?” Ridicu -
no carrier.
- Charles Stross

Very Short Stories
"... prescriptions are futile. One can't tell writers what to do. The imagination must find its own path."

Saul Bellow, Nobel Prize Lecture, 1976.
"Imagine a child playing in a woodland stream, poking a stick into an eddy in the flowing current, thereby disrupting it. But the eddy quickly reforms. The child disperses it again. Again it reforms, and the fascinating game goes on. There you have it! Organisms are resilient patterns in a turbulent flow—patterns in an energy flow.... It is becoming increasingly clear that to understand living systems in any deep sense, we must come to see them not materialistically, as machines, but as stable, complex, dynamic organization."

Carl Woese quoted by Freeman Dyson
The late economist Julian Simon was in the habit of claiming that natural resources are basically infinite. His refrain: "A higher price represents an opportunity that leads inventors and businesspeople to seek new ways to satisfy the shortages. Some fail, at cost to themselves. A few succeed, and the final result is that we end up better off than if the original shortage problems had never arisen."
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