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Hugh's 2019 reading and notes, part 4

This is a continuation of the topic Hugh's 2019 reading and notes, part 3.

The Green Dragon

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Nov 1, 7:39am Top

So here's the new thread.

Nov 1, 7:47am Top

I seem to have developed the habit of starting a new thread with a picture (must admit, I was beginning to get tired of that barbel). So here's an elephant instead.

Seen at the dam in front of the restaurant of the main camp at Hlane Royal National Park, Swaziland (Eswatini), in 2015. The "Royal" indicates that this area used to be the King's hunting preserve -- until all his hunters could find here was a solitary cane rat. The then king (Sobhuza II) called in the legendary Tony Reilly of Mlilwane fame, and the reserve has been resurrected into a very pleasant place to visit.

Nov 1, 9:17am Top

I love your pictures. That looks like a lovely elephant. Looks like there might have been a mud bath shortly before the photograph.

Edited: Nov 1, 10:16am Top

>3 pgmcc: Thank you! I dimly recall watching the mud bath.

Nov 1, 10:16am Top

And further to the earthquake. The geologists in Pretoria describe it as "the groan of an old continent". Apparently the centre was some 10 km underground, roughly between Alan Paton country and the coast. The only damage reported so far is a broken school fence near Port Shepstone.

Nov 1, 10:38am Top

Nice picture. I love how different from each other the places we all live in are.

On the earthquake: a boken school fence seems acceptable. When I think earthquake I imagine villages and roads swallowed by the ground, houses in ruins, people buried beneath rubbish, fires from broken power lines, no water... even though I do know that the standard quake barely registers in the minds of people.

Nov 1, 10:56am Top

>6 Busifer: Thank you. Indeed, that's why I enjoy looking at other Dragoneers' pictures.

The earthquake only managed 3.7 on the Richter scale, which AFAIK is only just noticeable.

Nov 1, 11:02am Top

>7 hfglen: We had a 3.2 back in the 1980s. My wife was still in bed and thought a truck has passed by. I was driving and did not notice it at all.

I hope you do not have follow-on tremors and that this was a once off.

The Richter scale goes up exponentially, so 3.7 is a lot stronger than 3.2.

I liked the description to said the Pretorian geologists used, "the groan of an old continent".

Nov 1, 12:54pm Top

>7 hfglen: >8 pgmcc: Earlier this year there was a 2.5 quake about 350 kilometres north of me. Epicenter quite close to the surface, only about 3 km down. People reported hearing a boom, somewhat like artillery.
I personally have never experienced one, so have no idea what to expect.

I too liked the description that the geologist used. Makes it sound more normal, less like impending doom.

Nov 1, 9:07pm Top

>2 hfglen: Love your photos :)

Nov 2, 12:11am Top

Southwestern Iran is quite seismically active (there’s a tectonic plate boundary running through the Straits of Hormuz) and the quakes are sometimes felt here. I vaguely recall one a few years ago that was strong enough for buildings to be evacuated.

Edited: Nov 2, 5:38am Top

>10 Narilka: Thank you! (Thinks: how to give me a warm, fuzzy feeling in three words!)

>11 haydninvienna: The Kaapvaal Craton, which underlies most of South Africa -- but not Kwazulu-Natal -- is said to be one of the oldest and most stable areas of crust on Earth. The really old bits crop out on the road between Barberton and Swaziland; the area has recently been declared a World Heritage Site.

Nov 2, 7:19am Top

>12 hfglen: You sent me to Wikipedia, where I discovered that there is a postulated supercontinent called Vaalbara which was the union of your Kaapvaal Craton and the Pilbara Craton in NW Australia. Long before there were any baobab trees though.

Nov 2, 10:32am Top

>13 haydninvienna: Indeed, before there was any multicellular life!

Nov 2, 10:34am Top

Sorry (not very) to rub it in to our English Dragoneers, but I have to repeat the top news item of the day. South Africa won the Rugby World Cup (32-12 against England, who were fancied -- especially in the northern hemisphere -- to win) this afternoon, and the whole country is celebrating!

Nov 2, 11:34am Top

>15 hfglen: Congratulations! My husband stayed up to watch it (aired here at 1:30 am), but I was long asleep. :) He is still in bed, so I hadn't heard the results.

Nov 2, 11:44am Top

>15 hfglen: Yes, we know, thank you. The BBC considers it "breaking news" and has been reminding me all day....

Congratulations, Springboks!

Nov 2, 11:50am Top

>15 hfglen: congratulations from Oz also. Every Australian follower of {any sport that both Oz and England play at international level} has 2 teams: the Australian one and whichever national team England is up against.

Nov 2, 11:58am Top

Thank you, all. DD tells me that local social media are overrun with photoshopped pictures of springboks eating lions and (often rather tired) red roses. But I like the joker who posted that the Sprongboks have arranged an early Brexit!

Nov 2, 12:09pm Top

>18 haydninvienna: Yeah, it's that attitude that makes us feel really welcome everywhere.... :-(

Nov 2, 1:18pm Top

>15 hfglen:. Well done to The Springboks. I am not a great sports fan and know precious little about rugby but I hear it was a good game and I am not referring to the result.

Whatever people think or say about England the English team did get to the final. Well done to all involved.

Nov 2, 1:19pm Top

>20 -pilgrim-:
I thought perhaps you might be Scottish.

Nov 2, 1:47pm Top

>20 -pilgrim-: I'm not a sports fan of any kind.

Nov 3, 5:03am Top

Seeing haydninvienna and I were discussing the Kaapvaal Craton and the long-gone continent of Vaalbara, here is a picture of the Barberton Mountain Land, some of the oldest scenery on Earth.

The vantage point is a hill near Berg-en-Dal camp, Kruger National Park, looking roughly southwards. The Crocodile River (hidden from view) is the Park boundary here; it is between the curve of the hill and the canefields beyond (on the left, where the road disappears).The mountains are some 40-60 km away, as the crow flies.

Nov 3, 10:43am Top

Rugby registers somewhat above cricket and lacrosse and baseball when it comes to sports - football definitely is my game. European football.
I think the only real reason that I know something about the sport is because an old friend of mine switched from playing football to playing rugby, and because, well - who can be on the internet and NOT know about the All Blacks?!

I feel congrats is in order, anyway, so - congrats!

Nov 5, 5:54am Top

Recently haydninvienna and I were discussing ancient scenery (#12-14 and 24). It dawned on me that there is another ancient structure that he might find interesting. The Vredefort Dome is, apparently, the world's largest verified meteorite impact structure, and the second-oldest, at 2023 ± 4 million years, so rather later than the breakup of Vaalbara. Despite Wikipedia's assertion that the structure is in the Free State, parts are in North-West, Gauteng and possibly even Mpumalanga provinces -- it's a big place. The splash-cone is, however, in the Free State, though the best views and the most spectacular evidence are in North-West.

Wikipedia tells us that there are few multi-ring craters on Earth, and goes on immediately to compare this one to craters on our Moon and one of the moons of Jupiter. Here you see two of the rings from a vantage point overlooking the hamlet of Venterskroon, North-West. The rings are very clear on Wikipedia's space picture, and the shape of the structure is easy to pick up on a map showing the Witwatersrand, Klerksdorp and Free State goldfields. Do I need to add that much of the structure is a World Heritage Site, if a rather neglected one.

Edited: Nov 5, 10:19am Top

>26 hfglen: Yes. I remember an article in Analog Science Fiction some time in the 1960s called "Giant Meteor Impact" that discussed the consequences of a strike by another Vredefort-size object. As I remember, the predicted consequences for life on Earth were not happy. That article was published before the discovery of the Chixulub crater (the one left by the strike that wiped out the dinosaurs). The Vredefort object seems to have been larger than the Chixulub object. Make of that what you will.

Nov 5, 10:36am Top

>27 haydninvienna: Yes indeed. This picture comes from a Botanical Society (!) weekend led by a well informed, more-than-articulate geologist (!!) to see the evidence. A kid on the outing asked what one would have seen from the location of, say, Potchefstroom, as the meteor came in. The answer was, to say the least, thought-provoking: "You wouldn't. You'd be dead first. But you get your choice of being suffocated or incinerated." I gather this one was at least several times the size of the Chicxulub object. And produced the folds you see in about ten minutes. If there had been any life bigger than bacteria around at the time, it would have been scared out of its wits, anywhere on the planet.

Nov 5, 12:37pm Top

>26 hfglen: That space picture is very good.

Nov 5, 2:09pm Top

Into the Black. Not finance but space exploration. The story of the Space Shuttle, from virtually the start of NASA to the first landing of Columbia, seen mostly from the point of view of the participants in the story. There is an epilogue on what happened later, more or less up to the time of writing. From time to time the book suffers from the TMI plague -- who cares about the brand name of some of the obscurer kit? The epilogue goes into the two Shuttle disasters, but not in detail, and Feynman's brilliant demonstration of the ultimate cause of the Challenger disaster is not mentioned at all. This may be tactful, but makes the cynical wonder whether some of the TMI in the main body doesn't perhaps come close to misdirection. Nevertheless, this is a fascinating, gripping and immersive tale, well told on the whole. Recommended.

Edited: Nov 5, 3:25pm Top

>30 hfglen: Is that title a Firefly reference? Or vice versa?

Nov 5, 9:31pm Top

>26 hfglen: That's awesome. Can you link to any satellite views of the impact site?

Nov 6, 5:59am Top

>32 clamairy: Try this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vredefort_crater#/media/File:Vredefort_Dome_STS51I...
The town in the top left is presumably Potchefstroom, and the river cutting through the structure is the Vaal. That should suffice to get your bearings on a decent map.

Nov 6, 6:56am Top

>32 clamairy: >33 hfglen: It shows up quite well on the satellite view on Google Maps, but if you just search for "Vredefort" you get a very large-scale view that looks like nothing much. Go to the satellite view and then zoom out until you see Potchefstroom to the north-west of the crater, and you'll get some idea of how big it is. According to my "measure distance" on the map, the rim is about 30 miles across. A bit more from Wikipedia: "The original crater was estimated to have a diameter of roughly 300 km (190 mi), but that has been eroded. It would have been larger than the 250 km (160 mi) Sudbury Basin and the 180 km (110 mi) Chicxulub crater. The remaining structure, the "Vredefort Dome", consists of a partial ring of hills 70 km (43 mi) in diameter, and are the remains of a dome created by the rebound of rock below the impact site after the collision. ".

Fun fact: the $2 word for such craters is astrobleme: "star-wound".

Nov 6, 7:25am Top

Just a thought: if you have Google Earth, try looking at it there. There's a page here for which you need to be able to read French, at least a bit, but it has an amazing image capture from Google Earth.

Nov 6, 8:01am Top

Thanks, guys. I'll wait until I'm on my desktop later in the day. Doubt I'll be able to see much on my tablet.

Nov 6, 8:49am Top

>35 haydninvienna: Many thanks for that. My French is essentially nonexistent, but I could read the localities and say "been there, done that!" IMHO the shatter cones they showed us were better than the ones the French authors saw.

These are on a boulder on a farm next to the first drift west of Venterskroon; I have it flagged as Schmidtsdrift, but it's a long way from the place Google knows by that name.

Considering that these structures were formed in a few seconds, can you imagine the force with which the rocks around here were hit?

Nov 6, 9:41am Top

Fascinating stuff here.

>34 haydninvienna: What a lovely name for such a horrific event. :)

Edited: Nov 6, 10:01am Top

I just took my own advice and looked at it on Google Earth in 3D. Just wow. It’s officially on my bucket list for when I win the Euro Millions (any day now ...).

What a place to float over in a hot air balloon.

Nov 6, 8:47pm Top

>33 hfglen: That was wonderful, thank you. It's even more impressive than I was expecting.

Nov 7, 1:03am Top

>33 hfglen: that's lovely! I think seeing it should go on my bucket list, along with the witwatersrand. I've seen the shattercones at Sudbury, but there really isn't anything else visible of the crater on the surface there.

Edited: Nov 7, 10:23am Top

>41 NorthernStar: Hmmmmmz. Having grown up on the Witwatersrand, I am convinced that the best sight it has to offer is the road out of the place. Still, I suppose you could go from the airport to Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden in about 1 1/2 hours, and see more-or-less what the place looked like before becoming overpopulated. The next day it would be about two hours' drive to Venterskroon, where there is accommodation and where guides to the Dome can be hired -- important, as many of the sights are on private property and are not marked. The good news is that IMHO the best steaks in South Africa are to be found at a restaurant in Potchefstroom, only half an hour's drive from Venterskroon. After Venterskroon I'd strongly suggest recuperating in Mokala National Park, which is about 5 hours' drive away and has two rest camps with everything, including wildlife. A trip to Kimberley (less than an hour from Mokala) will give you the world's biggest hand-dug hole, diamonds, interesting museums and atrocious traffic (in this case mostly because the city centre was never planned). There are flights from Kimberley to Johannesburg and Cape Town, both of which have international airports that host flights that will get you home.

Nov 7, 11:41am Top

>42 hfglen: Kimberly featured in my Geology education with the diamond bearing kimberlite.

Nov 7, 1:05pm Top

>43 pgmcc: De Beers Mine does guided underground tours, which you might find interesting. I believe Premier Mine at Cullinan also does. Either will show you real kimberlite.

Nov 7, 1:24pm Top

>44 hfglen: Yes, the closest we got to Kimberley or kimberlite would have been photographs. It was always one of those geological sites that inspired "Ooooo"s and "Aaaaaaa"s when we saw pictures of it and discussed its formation, and the scale of work by the miners.

Nov 7, 1:38pm Top

>45 pgmcc: It is indeed amazing to consider that before diamonds were discovered there, the Big Hole was a hill. You may also be interested in the 280-million-year-old glaciated pavements nearby. (There is another fragment of pavement from the same glaciation in Westville (Durban suburb), just 20 km down the hill from where I live.)

Nov 7, 6:43pm Top

>42 hfglen:, >43 pgmcc:, >44 hfglen:, I was thinking about the witwatersrand gold deposits, but an underground tour of the diamond mines would be pretty interesting too. I've seen actual rocks from both places, back in my university days in geology. I spent several years after graduation as an exploration geologist, mainly looking for gold, but also various base metals. I'd pretty much moved on to other things before the diamond rush in Canada's Northwest Territories hit, so the only kimberlites I've seen in the field were on a field trip to Montreal in my student days.

Edited: Nov 8, 5:10am Top

>47 NorthernStar: The Gold Reef City theme park does underground gold mine tours in an otherwise disused mine shaft, and so is relatively genuine. They also have decent hotels on site, and probably do airport transfers, which would be a relatively gentle introduction to Johannesburg traffic.

In my final year at school, we were subjected to a Tour of Industry (why go to the abattoir and the rubbish disposal works, for Pete's sake?!) As I have always had a fear of heights, the other site I couldn't handle was Libanon Gold Mine on the Far West Rand. They kitted us up in non-fitting overalls and marched us off to the headgear, where the guide gleefully told us that we would now go 6000 feet straight down. And there was a large gap (6000 feet straight down) between the lip of the shaft and the hoist. And 6000 feet of steel cable is, with the best will in the world, springy. So when the hoist gets where it's going it oscillates. A lot. And you have to jump for Mother Earth. AAAARRRRRRGGGGHHHH!

Nov 10, 5:41am Top

Just like bookmarque, we've been having lots of mist; ours keeping the early summer temperatures down as moist air is forced up over the first series of ridges on its way to the interior.

This is almost the view from the bathroom window towards our street (but I went outside!) a week or 2 ago.

Nov 10, 1:04pm Top

Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology. The Master's retelling of the traditional Norse stories, and very well re-told they are too. Though at this point in the 21st century, I kept hearing echoes of Wagner (the "Ring" cycle man) and Tolkien.

Nov 10, 1:10pm Top

>49 hfglen: I love fog. Some people get depressed by it, but it makes me feel cozy and safe.

>50 hfglen: I think I have that on my Kindle, looking forward to reading it.

Edited: Nov 10, 4:41pm Top

>50 hfglen: Were you already familiar with Norse mythology? I admit that I gave up on Neil Gaiman's version because it seemed very weak in comparison with the first version that I read when I was seven: Myths of the Norsemen by Roger Lancelyn Green. I was amused to read in the introduction to his Norse Mythology that that had been Gaiman's introduction to those myths also.

Nov 11, 4:36am Top

>52 -pilgrim-: "Familiar" is, of course, a relative term. So yes, I was aware of at least some of the stories, but had long forgotten any details, if I ever knew them. I was hearing cadences as of a storyteller around a fire at night, which made Gaiman's version more than acceptable to me. It is also possible that I was subliminally remembering some of Credo Mutwa's African tales (also read long ago), which I would recommend to you if you haven't encountered them already. Indaba my Children is the locus classicus.

Nov 11, 5:34am Top

>53 hfglen: I think one is always affected by how one first comes to a cycle is tales. I have read more direct translations from the Eddas since, of course, but the rhythms of the Lancelyn Green version have stayed with me, and made Gaiman's feel flat by comparison. So I was wondering what version, of any, you had lurking in the back of your mind...

And thank you for that recommendation; it looks wonderful!

Nov 12, 6:09am Top

Galileo's Daughter. Curious title. To be sure, Suor Maria Celeste is never far from the action (at least until she dies), but the lead character is undoubtedly Galileo himself. Of him, this is a good biography, and shows the key role he played in inventing modern science. Unfortunately (and here I have to tread warily around the sign in the foyer) Ms. Sobel also shows all too clearly how jealous, reactionary elements in the Roman Catholic hierarchy did their best to destroy Galileo's life. A timeline at the end of the text shows how they succeeded in handing leadership in Western civilization to Protestant northern Europe, gave the Papacy an image problem that bedevils it still, nearly 400 years later, and caused the hierarchy to have to spend the following 350 years (at least) backtracking on "infallible" positions. I found it interesting that since the middle of the 19th century the Papal line on the boundary between science and religion has been almost verbatim the same as Galileo's -- without admitting as much, of course.
A good read if the topic interests you.

Nov 12, 6:22am Top

>55 hfglen: I read and enjoyed Sobel’s Longitude so am favourably disposed to reading any of her books. I have noticed this book a few times but never picked it up. Your post has increased the likelihood of my picking it up the next time is see.

Yes, I have been grazed.

Nov 17, 10:18am Top

This week I have for you a pair of lions trying to look like lovable, loving kitty-cats.

I am not convinced.

Edited: Nov 17, 10:27am Top

The Rough Guide to Weather. From which you may deduce that the selection available in the library was dire that day. However, this is a good-enough account of the subject, with numerous (the book claims over 200) summary charts of what to expect in various more-or-less desirable destinations around the world. Acapulco is a no-brainer, but Verkhoyansk as a tourist destination? Hardly. The text is good, but marred from time to time by sloppy proofreading; presumably the excuse is the pressure that guides like this to rapidly-changing places / phenomena are produced under.

Nov 17, 10:47am Top

>57 hfglen: Sweet iddle pussy-ums!

Edited: Nov 17, 11:31am Top

>58 hfglen: Hugh, your mention of Verkhoyansk sent me to Wikipedia. It’s probably no coincidence that most of the Wikipedia article is about its climate.

ETA love the lions. At a suitable distance.

Nov 17, 12:55pm Top

>57 hfglen: But they're so cuddly!

Nov 17, 2:08pm Top

>61 Narilka: I am sure they would just love to cuddle you too. VERY tightly...

Edited: Nov 17, 2:53pm Top

>57 hfglen: - >62 -pilgrim-: Thank you, all!

>62 -pilgrim-: Have you ever read Memories of a Game Ranger by Harry Wolhuter? It should be relatively easy to find, though it was written a long time ago. I ask because Wolhuter had arguably the most famous encounter with lions in what is now the Kruger National Park. One night in 1903 he was riding back to his camp (on horseback) when his party was attacked by a pride of lions. He was dragged some distance by the male; fortunately his assistants, horse and dog all scattered and got away. Eventually he remembered and could get hold of his knife, and stabbed the lion in the heart. Before he passed out he climbed a tree, and tied himself to a branch with his belt. The next day his staff retrieved him, his dog and his horse (the latter two unhurt) and saw him safely to HQ at Skukuza. From there he could be transferred safely to the nearest hospital (in Barberton at the time, but since then they have built nearer ones), where he almost died of blood poisoning. The hide of the lion and Wolhuter's knife and belt are on display in the museum / library in Skukuza.

And that, Narilka, is why one rather doesn't stick one's nose out of the car while there are lions about, far less try to cuddle them.

Nov 18, 12:52am Top

>63 hfglen: No, I had not heard of him before. They don't make them like that any more!

Nov 18, 9:45am Top

>64 -pilgrim-: Hmmmmz. I wonder if they really don't. I rather suspect that if you look in a mirror you'll see someone just as brave when push comes to shove.

Nov 18, 9:52am Top

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs. The library redeemed themselves with this one. It's a great read and certainly appears to take into account the latest research, often Prof. Brusatte's own. And the pictures of reconstructed dinosaurs often show feathers, making the animals look like hoboes. Prof. Brusatte is obviously very keen on his subject (good!), but occasionally so keen that his writing becomes jarringly informal. Nonetheless, it's a pleasure to recommend a book by an expert and enthusiast, who clearly knows everybody worth knowing in his field.

Nov 18, 9:28pm Top

>66 hfglen: I really liked that one too.

And thank you for the lion pictures. Lovely to see in a picture or from a safe position. Although there are a few cougars and lots of lynx around here, the bears are much more of a risk than wild cats in this area. Sometimes I shudder when I see tourists out of their vehicle taking pictures of a "cute" bear at the side of the road. Often they are much too close to the bear and much too far from the safety of their vehicle. I'm sure tourists in your area are sometimes as foolish around the wildlife.

Nov 19, 4:40am Top

>67 NorthernStar: Sadly, our National Parks and other reserves are stuffed full of stories of damfool tourists and, unforgivably, locals. The stories all end badly.

Nov 19, 6:05am Top

>67 NorthernStar: >68 hfglen: Sounds like a self-solving problem to me, in line with Darwinian evolution.

Nov 19, 6:46am Top

>69 haydninvienna: Except that the eejits breed faster than they are eliminated.

Nov 19, 7:14am Top

>70 hfglen: Resulting in well-fed wildlife?

(And yes, I know that once they have tasted human, they can become more aggressive and so more dangerous.)

Nov 19, 8:02pm Top

>70 hfglen: Not only that, but they are often eliminated and take some of the animals with them. :o(

>71 -pilgrim-: Happens here all the time. People go jogging in a wildlife refuge, run into a bear who gets frightened and gets aggressive. Then the joggers report the bear*, and the officers from DEP shoot the bear*.

* substitute coyote, mountain lion or whatever.

Nov 20, 7:01am Top

>72 clamairy: Or they eliminate innocent wildlife and bystanders. In the latest incident, a taxibus travelling much too fast ran into a giraffe, which fell over on to a car driven by a visiting Swiss couple, coming the other way. The Swiss driver later died of his injuries, but the taxibus driver escaped unscathed. Give or take charges of culpable homicide, speeding and an assortment of other things.

Nov 20, 11:53am Top

>73 hfglen: How horrible. :o(

Nov 24, 10:10am Top

So let's have some very much alive wildlife instead. Red Duiker are among the smallest of our antelopes, standing no more than half-a-metre (18-20 inches) tall.

Seen in Umlalazi Nature Reserve just after sunset on 6 June 2009.

Nov 25, 9:46am Top

How long is Now?. Apparently the latest in the series of New Scientist "Last Word", and no less fascinating than any of its predecessors. As the questions and answers are generally in the range of 1--2 pages long each, one can recommend this book for MrsLee's bathroom (once she's recovered from the loss of her mother). For everybody else, recommended as you're bound to learn something, probably something useful, from the discussions here.

Nov 27, 4:04pm Top

Great Scientific Discoveries. Translated from a French original, and so French scientists and technologists are heavily emphasised. Seeing how badly garbled the account of the living coelacanth is, I can't help wondering how inaccurate other accounts (except those of French discoveries, naturally), are. Considering the number of participant accounts of the discovery of the coelacanth are still in print, I find the account of this one unforgiveable. But then the French original was published in the late 1980s, and the sources were published in English (shame!) in South Africa (double shame!). Here ends the political rant. For the rest this one is too old to be current and not old enough to be historical; the pictures are few and poor. No idea why the library keeps this one when more worthy, more recent books are withdrawn.

Nov 28, 10:21am Top

Happy Thanksgiving to all USAnian Dragoneers. Extra hugs to MrsLee, recognising that the wish in the first word is inappropriate (to say the least) this year.

Nov 28, 11:14am Top

Verdigris Deep aka Well Witched. Somebody in the pub grazed me with a BB (more accurately an Author Bullet) for Frances Hardinge. Many thanks to whomever it was. This wasn't the recommended book, but stands as a sample of the author's work, which is well worth pursuing. Three kids of an age that I think of as just entering high school get snared by the spirit of a wishing well, and mayhem ensues. They grow up fast, and deal with the problems they and the spirit cause, learning a lot about human nature on the way. A good read for all ages, though clearly aimed at about 11-13 year-olds.

Nov 29, 6:34pm Top

>78 hfglen: Thank you, "happy" does seem somewhat of a fickle word, doesn't it? And yet, there was laughter around our table and in our home yesterday. I would say that Joyful describes it better. A deep sense of knowing that one is loved, even though we are missing someone important. That is my family's gift to me. From those who are gone and those who are present. I am blessed.

Dec 1, 10:15am Top

This week's picture is an African Jacana seen in the Kruger National Park in 2015.

The bird has given its name to a worthwhile publisher of wildlife and other books in Johannesburg.

Dec 1, 11:48am Top

>81 hfglen: My, what long toes!

Dec 1, 12:46pm Top

>82 MrsLee: But what a good way of spreading the weight as it walks around on floating vegetation!

Dec 2, 10:43am Top

Reality is not what it seems Now this is what a translation should be! As opposed to the mess that the one in #77 is. Prof. Rovelli is positively lyrical about his beloved physics, and it comes through clearly in the translation. As one LT review puts it, he does not "hide behind the equations", but the vital ones are there for born-again mathematicians. For the rest of us, he draws vivid word-pictures of what the equations actually mean (which makes him unusual, if not unique). There is a brief history of physics, and sympathetic pen-portraits of the makers of quantum physics; the former makes me wish one could travel backwards in time about 2000 years and retrieve the writings of the pre-Socratics, though he explains why this is not possible. His speciality, which takes up roughly the last 1/3 of the book, is Loop Quantum Gravity, which he explains so clearly that one could almost believe one understands it ... at least until one closes the book. There are one or two Dragoneers who would probably enjoy this one.

Edited: Dec 2, 11:37am Top

>84 hfglen: Enthusiastically seconded. Hugh, I don't know if you had me in mind as one of the "one or two Dragoneers", but if so you were spot on; if not no matter. It's a terrific book and I agree with everything you said.

ETA Much better than anything of similar kind by Stephen Hawking.

Edited: Dec 2, 1:06pm Top

>85 haydninvienna: You, Pete, drneutron and JPB if he's still around.

Dec 2, 1:17pm Top

>86 hfglen: I’ll take that as a compliment thanks Hugh. But I haven’t seen drneutron in here for quite a while either. I suspect he has rather a lot to do work-wise at the moment.

Dec 2, 1:20pm Top

I have to smile. The summer school holidays start on Wednesday. Durban is known to many South Africans as Holiday City. The weather, at least since Friday, has been gorgeously supportive of that perception. So from Wednesday for as far as the Weather Underground forecast period runs, the forecast is cold, wet and miserable. No wonder my mental image of school holidays in Durban is a pair of blue, shivering Gautengers getting soaked above and sandblasted below as they stride grimly along a deserted beach. (Though I have to say in all fairness that between Christmas and New Year you can't see the beach for people. Or the sea, close inshore.

Dec 2, 4:10pm Top

>86 hfglen: It is an honour to be included in that list.

Now I have to go an attend to a BB wound.

Dec 2, 11:17pm Top

>84 hfglen: >89 pgmcc: Just to add a bit of return fire, Rovelli’s earlier book Seven Brief Lessons in Physics is worth a look too. This one is made up of a series of essays written for an Italian newspaper, and shows what an excellent populariser of science he is.
And in view of previous discussions in the Pub we ought to show some love for the translators, Simon Carnell and Erica Segre (same for both books), who appear to have done a first-class job.

Dec 3, 3:53am Top

>90 haydninvienna: Indeed. I intended my first sentence in #84 as a compliment.

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