Books and literature

The first industrial revolution, centered in Flanders, happened almost entirely because of the arrival from the Arab world of a new, horizontal loom, equipped with foot pedals to lift the warps. This innovation left the weaver’s hands free to throw the shuttle back and forth, which made weaving much faster and more profitable and, above […]

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Previously, we discussed whether inequality of wealth or income is a problem in and of itself, or only insofar as it produces other undesirable consequences. Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century has received a huge amount of attention, and focuses precisely on the question of inequality. He has some interesting things to say […]

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Given this dialogue of the deaf [between experts with opposing views about inequality], in which each camp justifies its own intellectual laziness by pointing to the laziness of the other, there is a role for research that is at least systematic and methodical if not fully scientific. Expert analysis will never put an end to […]

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One neat thing about J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is the way in which the story is set within multiple frames. The Hobbit, for instance, is sometimes presented as the account written of his adventures by Bilbo Baggins. It is also presented as part of the Red Book of Westmarch: […]

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The trouble with obsessing over collapse, though, is that it keeps you from considering other possibilities. … The rest of this book will be devoted to another possibility – that we might choose instead to try to manage our descent. That we might aim for a relatively graceful decline. That instead of trying to fly […]

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Lyra’s Moment of Heroism

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Last night, I got some photos at the launch of Ryan O’Connor’s book: The First Green Wave: Pollution Probe and the Origins of Environmental Activism in Ontario. Following it was a dinner in honour of one of the founders of Pollution Probe.

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Language is not a protocol legislated by an authority but rather a wiki that pools the contributions of millions of writers and speakers, who ceaselessly bend the language to their needs and who inexorably age, die, and get replaced by their children, who adapt the language in their turn. Pinker, Steven. The Sense of Style: […]

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My copy of Randall Monroe’s What if? book arrived from Amazon today, and I spent a pleasant couple of hours in the Upper Library going through it. Right from the disclaimer it is quite entertaining: The author of this book is an Internet cartoonist, not a health or safety expert. He likes it when things […]

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But here’s the point. He had made another choice too. He had decided to cast himself as the victim, the wronged, the deceived, the rightly furious. He had persuaded himself that he had said nothing to me about the laundry basket. The memory had been erased, and for a purpose. But now he didn’t even […]

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