Mary Barton Book Review + Junk journal pages and new felts

I hadn’t read anything by Elizabeth Gaskell before, and picked Mary Barton to accompany my investigations of the Industrial Revolution because both Nineteenth Century innovation and this book took place among the textile and steel mills of Manchester in the North of England. Continue reading Mary Barton Book Review + Junk journal pages and new felts

Book Review: The Most Powerful Idea in the World

The “most powerful idea” in question is that of intellectual property, and the book traces the dual history of steam engines, which had previously been invented by mechanical entertainers in ancient Greece, with similar preliminary discoveries in medieval China — and of patent law, which had seen a significant shift in English common law that paved the way for the invention boom that was to follow. Continue reading Book Review: The Most Powerful Idea in the World

Book Review: The Art of Loading Brush

Berry writes relentlessly about particularity and locality in the broadest, least informative way possible. The best sections are about specific farmers and ecologists he has known and admires, who have worked particular plots of land or investigated specific practices, such as farming with trees or replacing standard wheat fields with perennial grains. Write more on that and less on those wicked, greedy, mean industrialists who want nothing but to rape and pillage the countryside, filling the streams with toxins and the air with poison! Continue reading Book Review: The Art of Loading Brush

Book Review: The Fourth Turning

Strauss and Howe argue for the importance of the saeculum — a natural century of roughly 80-100 years — as a unit of historical time. They argue that societies tend to take on a large scale historical rhythm defined by distinct generational moods, that can be described through seasons and archetypes. Each “season” lasts roughly 20 – 25 years, and has a characteristic mood, overlaying this pattern onto 600 years of Anglo-American history. Continue reading Book Review: The Fourth Turning

Books and Blogs 2017

This past year I’ve been reading a fair bit of science writing, especially chemistry and biology, and a smattering of different blogs. Most fun novel: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (2017) Epic fantasy set in the same universe as Sanderson’s other novels Mistborn and Warbreaker, among others. It’s a lot of fun — he’s a fast writer but not too formulaic. Best popular science book:  The Disappearing Spoon by Sam … Continue reading Books and Blogs 2017

A Christianity Worth Believing by Doug Pagitt

Quick summary: Pagitt has totally valid concerns about the strain of Christianity with which he is primarily interested, and a really wonky understanding of the history of the Faith, which is  difficult to get past. I’ve got to say, right from the start, that I am not the ideal audience for this book. The main thrust is that the author has been told or believed … Continue reading A Christianity Worth Believing by Doug Pagitt

The Naked Now by Richard Rohr

Somewhat against my own tastes, I read about 30 pages of The Naked Now by Fr. Richard Rohr. I think I’ve read enough of it to know that it probably won’t do me any good. Which isn’t to say that it doesn’t do anyone good — it is basically Christian and contemplative, encouraging prayer and silence, after all. However, I can’t recommend this book. It seems … Continue reading The Naked Now by Richard Rohr

History of the Christian Church

Yesterday I read the first 70 pages of A History of the Christian Church (Williston Walker, 1918. Revised 1956). It’s a solid enough textbook, and, perhaps for that very reason, not an enjoyable read unless you happen to be interested in “names and dates” more or less for their own sake. It’s obvious that Mr Walker (and editors) is trying very hard to be as … Continue reading History of the Christian Church

Intro to Orthodoxy, pt 1

I went to Ideamensch in Albuquerque last night, a group of people gathered by a couple of friends who have been road-tripping through the entire continental US, organizing a little entrepreneurial/inspirational event in each state. I am not an entrepreneur, nor do I ever want to be. As the speakers there put it, a good one has to be very energetic and “all in” about … Continue reading Intro to Orthodoxy, pt 1