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Category Archive: Books

Feb 01 2013

Bertie Wooster and the n-word

At the risk of beating a dead horse, I want to come back one more time to the question of when the use of the n-word might be appropriate. I am a huge fan of English humorist P. G. Wodehouse, especially enjoying his Jeeves and Wooster series. If you have read Wodehouse, you know that …

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Oct 15 2012

The annual exposure of my ignorance of literature

I like to think of myself as fairly well read but the season of Nobel-prize winning announcements has just ended and of all the prizes, the literature prize is the one that reminds me each year of how wrong my self estimation is because I have never even heard of almost any of the winners. …

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Aug 01 2012

Gore Vidal, 1925-2012

Gore Vidal, a class traitor of the best kind, died yesterday. Born into a well-connected and politically influential family that could have opened doors to a patrician life, he became instead a populist outsider and a scathing critic of the politics of the US. He had wide-ranging interests, writing novels, essays, and screenplays and also …

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Jul 20 2012

Sherlock in love

When you read classics like Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, A Study in Scarlet, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and The Three Musketeers, I am sure the thought crosses your mind, “These books have great stories, excellent writing, and strong characters but there’s something missing. What they need to be really great are some …

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Jun 25 2012

The problem with memoirs

A new book by David Maraniss titled Barack Obama: The Story (that I have not read) apparently challenges certain features of Barack Obama’s life story as recounted by him in his memoir Dreams From My Father (which I have also not read) and says that the reality “was less dramatic — and more routine — …

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Jun 08 2012

Introducing the Malcolm Gladwell Book Generator

Malcolm Gladwell has made a name for himself by publishing superficial books that basically promotes a simple theory for everyday phenomena and cherry picking data to support it. He is a good writer and when you read his books his argument initially sounds plausible and it is only later you discover that things are a …

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Apr 26 2012

Book Review: God and the Folly of Faith by Victor J. Stenger

Victor Stenger has had a long career in experimental high-energy physics. He has become a prolific writer on the intersection of science and religion and I have referred to him frequently in past blog posts, especially to material in his 2007 book God: The Failed Hypothesis. Stenger is an unabashed ‘new atheist’ who thinks that …

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Mar 15 2012

Encyclopedia Britannica ends print editions

When I returned to Sri Lanka after competing my doctorate, I splurged some of our meager savings on my dream of owning a full set of the Encyclopedia Britannica, although it was really expensive. I used to enjoy looking things up and skimming through the pages. Unfortunately the turmoil in Sri Lanka in 1983 caused …

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Feb 04 2012

Gore Vidal on Ayn Rand

I made the mistake of reading Ayn Rand’s book The Fountainhead before her more celebrated work Atlas Shrugged that supposedly provides the clearest articulation of her philosophy of objectivism. After a promising start, The Fountainhead degenerated into a dreary polemic, with two-dimensional stereotypical characters behaving in utterly predictable ways, the whole thing written in melodramatic …

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Jan 27 2012

Maurice Sendak

I was tempted to not watch Stephen Colbert interview children’s book author Maurice Sendak, thinking it would not be interesting. I was wrong. Sendak turns out to be a funny and feisty guy, one of the few who can match wits with Colbert. (To get hints on how to view clips on The Daily Show …

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