Glenn A Knight

Glenn A Knight
In my study

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Reading List: February 2013

So what was I reading early last year?

I continued re-reading the NIV Study Bible, finishing the books of Leviticus and Numbers, and starting Deuteronomy.

So here's the bare list:

NIV Study Bible
Simon Winchester, editor, The Best American Travel Writing 2009
May Sjowall and Per Wahloo, The Locked Room
George R. R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
Ron Chernow, Washington: A Life
Antonella Ansani, Complete Italian: The Basics
Poul Anderson, Rise of the Terran Empire (Compiled by Hank Davis)
The Economist, The World in 2013
Lee Child, A Wanted Man
Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, Cop Killer
Marcel Proust, A l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs
Allan Nevins, The Emergence of Lincoln: Douglas, Buchanan, and Party Chaos 1857-1859
Dorothy Sayers, Unnatural Death

As you can see, some history, some biography, some mysteries, and a bit of science fiction.

From the sidebar, I'll remove the ones I finished in January 2013, and add the ones I started in February, 2013.

August 23, 2014

Years ago, my sister Nancy gave me A Book of Days for the Literary Year.  Here's an example of what the book contains.

August 23 Virgo - the virgin - begins (through September 22)

1799 William Blake writes to Dr. John Trusler: "You say that I want somebody to elucidate my ideas. But you ought to know that what is grand is necessarily obscure to weak men."

1851 Honore de Balzac's Mercadet le Faiseur, his most successful play, opens at the Gymnase in Paris, one year and five months after his death.

1869 Edgar Lee Masters, author of Spoon River Anthology, is born in Garnett, Kans.

I just happen to have a volume of Blake's poems handy, so here's a famous example of his verse.

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was they brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Reading List: January 2013

These are the books I was reading during January 2013. Some of them had been started in an earlier month, and some were not completed until after the end of January. A few were started and completed during the month. They are also listed in the Current Reading sidebar on this blog.

For 2013 I am once again following a reading program which will complete the Bible in the course of the year.

The NIV Study Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995. xxviii + 2,172 pages. ISBN 978-0-310-92588-6. $19.99. Begun January 3, 2013.
Genesis. Begun January 3 and completed January 17, 2013.
Exodus. Begun January 17 and completed January 31, 2013.
Leviticus. Begun January 31, 2013 and finished February 9, 2013.

Anderson, Poul. David Falkayn: Star Trader. Compiled by Hank Davis. Riverdale, NY: Baen Books, 2008. xi + 492 pages. ISBN 978-1-4165-5520-9. $22.00. Begun December 22, 2012 and finished January 9, 2013.

Ansani, Antonella. Complete Italian: The Basics. Edited by Suzanne McQuade. New York: Living Language, 2008. xxviii + 308 pages. ISBN 978-1-4000-2415-5. $10.95. Begun November 30, 2012 and finished March 24, 2013.

Chernow, Ron. Washington: A Life. New York: The Penguin Press, 2010. xxi + 904 pages. Acknowledgments. Notes. Bibliography. Index. ISBN 978-1-59420-266-7. $40.00. Begun January 13 and finished April 13, 2013.

Crais, Robert. The Monkey's Raincoat. New York: Bantam Books, 1987. 201 pages. ISBN 978-0-553-27585-2. $7.99. Begun December 28, 2012 and finished January 7, 2013.

Harvey, Greg. Excel 2010 for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing Company, 2010. xviii + 390 pages. Index. ISBN 978-9-470-48953-6. $24.99. Begun December 18, 2012 and finished January 21, 2013.

LeCarre, John. A Murder of Quality. New York: Bantam Books, 1991 [1962]. 151 pages. ISBN 0-553-26443-5. $4.95. Begun January 13 and finished January 16, 2013.

__________. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. New York: Ballantine Books, 1963. 248 pages. ISBN 0-345-37737-0. $6.99. Begun January 20 and finished January 31, 2013.

Mantel, Hilary. Bring Up the Bodies. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2012. xix + 411 pages. Author's Note. ISBN 978-0-8050-9003-1. $28.00. Begun December 5, 2012 and finished January 1, 2013.

Martin, George R. R. A Game of Thrones. New York: Bantam Books, 2011 [1996]. 835 pages Appendix. ISBN 978-0-553-59371-6. $8.99. Begun January 13 and finished February 9, 2013.

Proust, Marcel. A l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs. Paris: Gallimard, 1988 [1919]. xxvii + 568 pages. Notes.

Sayers, Dorothy. Clouds of Witness. New York: Harper Paperbacks, 1927. 279 pages. ISBN 0-06-104353-2. $4.99. Begun January 20 and finished January 23, 2013.

____________. Whose Body? New York: Harper Paperbacks, 1923. 212 pages. ISBN 0-06-1043575. Begun January 19 and finished January 20, 2013.

Sjowall, Maj, and Per Wahloo. The Abominable Man, with an Introduction by Jens Lapidus. New York: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 2009 [1972]. x + 215 pages. ISBN 978-0-307-39090-5. $14.00. Begun January 24 and finished January 26, 2013.

____________. The Locked Room, with an Introduction by Michael Connelly. New York: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 2007 [1973]. xii + 311 pages. ISBN 978-0-307-39049-3. $14.00. Begun January 31 and finished February 4, 2013.

Smith, Jean Edward. Eisenhower In War and Peace. New York: Random House, 2012. xx + 950 pages. Acknowledgments. Notes. Bibliography. Illustration Credits. Index. ISBN 978-1-4000-6693-3. $40.00. Begun December 12, 2012 and finished January 14, 2013.

Winchester, Simon, editor. The Best American Travel Writing 2009. Jason Wilson, series editor. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009. xxvii + 351 pages. ISBN 978-0-618-85866-8. $14.00. Begun January 25 and finished February 18, 2013.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Note on the "Harm Principle"

Harold E. French, Jr., has written a book called Anarchist Solidarity.

According to Harold French's statements on Facebook, and elsewhere, one of the most important concepts in this book is what Mr. French calls "the harm principle." Oddly, for such a critical concept, the "harm principle" is mentioned only three times in the index to Anarchist Solidarity (page 277). There are references to pages 203 and 204, to page 245, and this item: "explained, 22." Therefore, one would expect to find, on page 22, an explanation of the harm principle.

When one looks at page 22 or Mr. French's book, one finds that the index is incorrect. There is a section entitled The Harm Principle, but it begins on page 21 and continues on page 22. This section reads, in its entirety:

The Harm Principle

                Individuals grow, develop, and mature in a variety of ways. We do this because of our genetic make up[sic]. All healthy human babies develop the capacity for language at approximately the same time. Children are able to separate reality from fantasy at approximately the same age. They develop the capacity for moral reasoning at approximately the same age. The exact onset of puberty, the exact end of physical growth, and the exact psychological growth and development curve of all humans is approximately the same. * All of this is grounded in genetics, and the study of human growth and development is a science. In order to flourish[,] a plant requires a certain type of soil, the right amount of water, light, humidity, temperature, et cetera; in the same way, all human beings need certain things to live well. The theoretical point I am trying to make is that, like the plant, what constitutes full psychological and biological development of a human individual is genetically determined. You need to ask yourself whether you agree, or at least ask yourself if you see what I am pointing to. Basically, I am saying the process of growing from an infant into a physically and emotionally mature adult requires certain things. Those things are called goods.** Anything that interferes with this natural process of growth into an emotionally and physically mature adult is said to cause harm.

                Please bear in mind that there is a distinction between stress and harm. Exercise stresses the muscles, but this is what makes them grow strong. A plant's roots grow deeper because of water stress. The absence of harm does not mean the absence of stress; however, too much stress is harmful.

That is all Harold French says about the "harm principle" at this point in his book, Anarchist Solidarity. I think it is obvious that, far from explaining this principle Mr. French does not even state a principle regarding harm. Rather, he has merely strung together some statements about what might be considered harmful in relation to normal human development.

*Why, then, does Mr. French state that individuals grow in a variety of ways? All of his examples point to all individuals developing in very much the same way.

**If natural growth is genetically determined, in the strict sense, then no goods are required. In fact, maturation and development occur as a result of a complex interaction between genetics and the environment, and genetics alone are not determinative.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Principle Principle

One of my correspondents likes to refer to what he calls the "harm principle." I think it offends him that some of us find this so-called principle incoherent and unintelligible. What is a principle? Are there criteria something ought to meet so that it can be called a principle and not a slogan?

I always like to start with the dictionary. What is a principle? According to The American Heritage Dictionary, Third Edition (Office Edition) (1994), a principle is:

n. 1. A basic truth, law, or assumption. 2.a.A rule or standard, esp. of good behavior. b. Moral or ethical standards or judgments. 3. A fixed or predetermined policy. 4. A rule or law concerning the functioning of natural phenomena or mechanical processes. 5. A basic source. Page 658.

Webster's College Dictionary (2003) gives us this:

n 1 a: a fundamental law or doctrine b: a rule or code of conduct c: devotion to right principles d: the laws or facts of nature underlying the working of an artificial device (trying to grasp the principles of radar) 2 a: a primary source : ORIGIN b: an underlying faculty or endowment (such principles of human nature as greed and curiosity) 3: a constituent that exhibits or imparts a characteristic quality (quinine is the active principle of cinchona bark)

The New Roget's Thesaurus in Dictionary Form, Revised Edition (1976), at page 324, has the following entry:

principle, n. regulation, law prescript (RULE)

All of which goes to this point: A principle is similar to what Kant called a maxim, a rule of behavior, a guide to practice. We are, thus, in the realm of practical reason, and we would expect to find guidance. The form of a statement of such a principle should be along the lines of "One should always act in such a way as to ...," or "One should never act so as to ...," and so on.

An example of a principle might be: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."

A principle, looked at another way, is a statement which could serve as the major premise of a practical syllogism.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Death of a Blog

I maintain a little list of blogs on the sidebar of this site, and I probably need to check on them more often. I looked at Anthony Bourdain's blog on the Travel Channel site, for example, and found that the last post was in November 2012. It appears that No Reservations has been cancelled, and Mr. Bourdain will no longer be blogging on that subject.

There was another blog called Apocaloopsis, and I found that the last post on the site was in May of 2012, with the last previous one in November 2011. Doesn't seem very active, does it?

Finally, I went out to Cafe Third Edition, another home for old Great Books Cafe habitues, and found that no one had posted there in almost three years. And the last post was mine!

So, in the interest of diminishing clutter, I've removed those three blogs from the list.

Suggestions for new blog to which I might link are always welcome.

Reading List: December 2012

During the month of December 2012 I finished two books that I had previously started, continued reading in one books that was underway, started and finished two books, and started five books that I did not complete by the end of the month.

H. V. Morton, A Traveller in Italy (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2002). H. V. Morton was a fine travel writer, and his book on Italy, originally published in 1964, is very good on the northern part of the country. (He has another book which deals with Rome.) I started this book on the fourth of November and finished it on December twenty-third.

Antonella Ansani, Complete Italian: The Basics Edited by Suzanne McQuade. (New York: Living Language, 2008). If I keep at it long enough, I'll actually learn some Italian. Magari! I started this book on November thirtieth, and I'm still working on it.

Christopher Duggan, The Force of Destiny: A history of Italy since 1796. (Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Compnay, 2008). The title, taken from a Verdi opera, indicates Duggan's thesis that the risorgimento, the unification of Italy, was really a conquest of the regions of Italy by Piedmont, under the leadership of Camille Cavour. Most of Italy was never enthusiastic about being taken over by the Piedmontese, and resentment still rankles. Together with Gilmour's book, The Force of Destiny paints a rather pessimistic picture of the prospects for a united and prosperous Italy. I started The Force of Destiny on September fifteenth and completed it on December ninth.

Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2012.) The first book of Hilary Mantel's trilogy on Thomas Cromwell, Chancellor to Henry VIII, won the Man Booker prize. So did Bring Up the Bodies. This is a rare double triumph, and a very, very good historical novel.

David Drake, The Road of Danger. (Riverdale, NY: Baen Books, 2012.) By my count, this is the ninth in Drake's Royal Cinnabar Navy series starring Daniel Leary and Adele Mundy (Mundy of Chatsworth). Space opera, nicely done.

Jean Edward Smith, Eisenhower in War and Peace. (New York: Random House, 2012.) I found this one-volume biography of General Eisenhower both readable and informative. Smith takes Stephen Ambrose to task for his literary sins in various biographies of Eisenhower and Nixon, and he may make too much of the Kay Summersby affair (take that however you like). But he is thorough and even-handed, and I've seldom found 950 pages so easy to read.

David Sanger, Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power. (New York: Crown Publishers, 2012.) This is a very interesting book, and one which gave the Republicans in Congress and opportunity to criticize the administration for letting Sanger know too much. One supposes that President Obama's Machiavellian ways are partly natural and partly due to the financial and political constraints he faces.

Greg Harvey, Excel 2010 for Dummies. (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing Company, 2010.) I found this very helpful in my work, as proficiency in Excel is one of the mainstays of keeping my customers happy.

Poul Anderson, David Falkayn: Star Trader, compiled with an introduction by Hank Davis. (Riverdale, NY: Baen Books, 2008.) This is a collection of stories, including one short novel, by the late Poul Anderson. Baen Books have now put out an extensive array of Anderson's work in about seven volumes. Many of the stories in this set were first published in magazines, largely Astounding/Analog, but including Boy's Life, and then previously collected in The Earth Book of Stormgate.

Robert Crais, The Monkey's Raincoat. (New York: Bantam Books, 1987.) I first heard of Robert Crais on National Public Radio. NPR aired a series of interviews with authors talking about how their work related to the cities they lived in. Crais, like Michael Connelly, is a Los Angeles writer. I was sufficiently impressed with Crais that I looked him up at Barnes & Noble. The Monkey's Raincoat may be his first novel; it was the earliest I could find. I believe we'll be reading more of Robert Crais.

Marcel Proust. A l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs (Paris: Gallimard, 1988 [1919]). The second volume of Remembrance of Things Past. A long-term project. I didn't get any reading done in this book during December 2012.