Monday, June 23, 2014

This week at the library: American colonies and apes

Dear readers:

Last week saw another entry struck from the To Be Read list, as well as the completion of The Odyssey. I've been meaning to read the full story properly for years.  I've mostly been reading the first entry in my annual Fourth of July set since,  Joseph Ellis' American Sphinx: the Character of Thomas Jefferson.  In previous years I've read biographies of George Washington, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton, so it's past the red-headed Virginian's turn.  The other two books in this year's set are The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of an Empire as well as The American Tory, a collection of first-hand dissenting arguments from the revolutionaries' contemporaries who had no interest in severing American bonds from the English homeland.  The fourth is still two weeks off, though, so they won't be immediate reads.  For the moment, I'm unsure as to where to go;  a weekend spent watching The Planet of the Apes (original), The Planet of the Apes (2001) and The Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) might see me read Good Natured, on the origins of morality in primates, but then too there's The Last of the Mohicans which I am trying to get into. We shall see!


"The more history I learn, the more the world fills up with stories. Just the other day I, I was in my neighborhood Starbucks, [...] enjoying a chocolatey caffê mocha when it occurred to me that to drink a mocha is to gulp down the entire history of the New World. From the Spanish exportation of the Aztec cacao, and the Dutch invention of the chemical process for making cocoa, on down to the capitalist empire of Hersey, PA, and the lifestyle marketing of Seattle's Starbucks, the modern mocha is a bittersweet concoction of imperialism, genocide, invention, and consumerism served with whipped cream on top. No wonder it costs so much."

p. 42, The Party Cloudy Patriot, Sarah Vowell

"Dogs! You have been saying all the time I never should return out of the land of Troy; and, therefore, you destroyed my home, outraged my women-servants, and --I alive -- covertly wooed my wife, fearing no gods that hold the open sky, nor that the indignation of mankind would fall on you hereafter. Now for you and all destruction's cords are knotted!"

p. 279, The Odyessy. Homer; translated by George Herbert Palmer 1884

"For him democracy was to politics as agrarianism was to the economy or health was to the human body. It could never be completely perfect, but the more of it, the better." 

p. 262, American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, Joseph Ellis

To Be Read Takedown Challenge

  1. Antifragile, Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  2. The Vikings, Robert Ferguson (6/7/14)                                       
  3. Power, Inc; David Rothkopf (6/14/14)
  4. An Edible History of Humanity, Tom Standage
  5. Small-Mart Revolution, Michael Shuman
  6. The World Until Yesterday, Jared Diamond (5/29/14)
  7. Fighting Traffic: the Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City, Peter Norton
  8. Earth, Richard Fortey
  9. Good Natured, Frans de Waal
  10. Galileo's Finger, Peter Atkins

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