My Own Devices

Mobile devices are on my mind at the moment. I have an iPad 2 that recently turned 6 years old. And I have a new Android phone, because my previous phone just bricked.

I didn’t expect the iPad 2 to last this long. I didn’t think that Apple products were meant to last, but to be cast aside for fresher Apple stuff. My iPad 2 hasn’t always had the gentlest of treatment.

But on it goes, insisting that its software–iOS 9.3.5–is up to date. What it really means is that it can’t go beyond that version of iOS. That’s a good thing. I don’t want it to go to iOS 11, under which some of my favorite apps will not run.

As long as it holds up, I will continue to use it for apps such as Polyhedra, Card Thief, Through the Desert,… and many more. I’ll also use it for email. It seems to struggle most with web browsing, although that may be the fault of the Guardian’s site.

My Android phones have been rather less long-lived. My Motorola Droid Maxx turned into a brick a few days ago. It was itself a replacement for a similar phone that suffered from terminal boot-loop.

I now have a Samsung J7 V (for Verizon, I think). So far, so good.

But I’m wondering whether the 6 year old iPad 2 will outlive the new phone…

Washington: From General to Statesman

Washington, Ron Chernow’s biography of America’s first president, is tremendous. I’m just over halfway through it. I’ve just finished the third and longest of its six parts: The General. Part Four is The Statesman: hence the title of this post.

Chernow deftly sums up a couple of striking things about Washington the General.

Throughout history victorious generals had sought to parlay their fame into political power, whereas Washington had only a craving for privacy…

He was that rare general who was great between battles and not just during them.

Indeed, maintaining the Continental Army, given the lack of resources, the differences among the thirteen colonies, and other obstacles is as impressive as any specific victory.

I’m looking forward to the last three parts: The Statesman! The President!! The Legend!!! Those are Chernow’s titles, but my punctuation. There’s a great cast of characters: not only Washington himself, but also Martha, Lafayette, and of course Hamilton. That said, I may spend some time with shorter and more fictional reading before I read the next 360-ish pages.

I’ve been reading Common Sense…

by Thomas Paine, and I’ll quote from it in this post. But hey, I just quoted Angelica Schulyer! Here she is, with her sisters, and other members of the Hamilton company, at the White House.

Now to quote T Paine himself. There’s a wonderful passage from toward the end of Common Sense. Here’s the setup.

We ought to reflect, that there are three different ways, by which an independancy may hereafter be effected… By the legal voice of the people in Congress; by a military power; or by a mob

And here’s the payoff.

Should an independancy be brought about by the first of these means, we have every opportunity and every encouragement before us, to form the noblest purest constitution on the face of the earth. We have it in our power to begin the world over again.

Feel free to share your own favorite quotes from Thomas Paine, Lin-Manuel Miranda, or…

What I Learned at Mount Vernon

Toward the end of the eighteenth century, a rebellion arose in America. It was provoked by the imposition of a tax on a beverage. George Washington was the most important single individual involved.

Washington put down the rebellion with a show of armed force. It was 1794, so he was President Washington at the time. I wasn’t aware of the whiskey rebellion until today.

We spent an interesting day at Mount Vernon. One of our party wanted to go down onto the sand near the wharf. That was not permitted. I had to break the news that we do not have freedom of beach.

Nevertheless, she persisted

Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. Tor is marking the day with a festival of flash fiction, in the form of stories inspired by the phrase “Nevertheless, she persisted”.

I’m about to read the contribution of Catherynne M. Valente: The Ordinary Woman and the Unquiet Emperor. I’m looking forward to the other contributions.

I hope that the day goes well for you.

Seven Surrenders on the Seventh

My most eagerly awaited book of 2017 is Seven Surrenders, by Ada Palmer. It is the sequel to my favorite book of 2016, Too Like the Lightning. 7S will be published on the 7th (of March, 2017). So it’s just a few hours away as I edit this post.

What does the title Seven Surrenders mean? I suspect that it means that each of the seven Hives in some sense surrenders. But if so, to whom? To Bridger, the remarkable kid we met early in TLtL? And why, and how, and…

Or the number seven might refer to days of the week. The narrator, Mycroft Canner, tells us toward the end of TLtL that it takes two books (presumably TLtL and 7S) to tell a seven-day story. TLtL covered Monday to Friday. I expect 7S to describe a wild weekend!

These books make me want to write as well as to read:

Future Countries in Favorite Fiction

The world currently consists of about two hundred countries: sovereign states, most of which are members of the United Nations (UN). They tend to be durable entities with rather stable borders.

The world of the future isn’t divided up in this way. At least not according to a couple of recent novels I enjoyed very much. I refer to:

Continue reading “Future Countries in Favorite Fiction”

Favorite Photo: Path in the Snow

Of the photos I’ve taken, this is my favorite. Well, I might like some kid photos even more, but such photos don’t go on this public site.

The path winds through the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. I used to live near there. That winter was particularly photogenic, as this online album shows.

I see that I took it with a Canon digital camera, which has a far lower resolution than the phone with which I currently take photos. You can click on the image to see the full 1600×1200 photo! I’ll get another camera sometime, when the technology/price combination is right.

Presidents’ Day Was Literally Fine

On Presidents’ Day, we took advantage of the free admission to visit Great Falls Park in Virginia. In previous years, I might have been grumpy about the crowds drawn by the fine weather. The photo (or at least the full-size version of it) shows that the Maryland side was also popular, so we certainly wouldn’t have avoided the crowds by taking our walk on that side.

This year, I was uncharacteristically happy to be among a crowd. It was good to see so many people enjoying and appreciating the National Parks. The Park system is one of the many great things about the USA.

Reading Matters: Fiction and Links

Reading matters a lot to me. This post is about some current fiction and about some related websites.

A Conjuring of Light is the just-published novel by V.E. Schwab. It’s a fantasy set in Londons: yes, there is more than one London, and there is travel between them, and there is magic. Like many fantasy novels, it’s part of a series. The Kindle edition of the first novel in the series is currently on sale, and the cover illustration is wonderful, so a graphical link to that book seems in order.

I’m looking forward to Seven Surrenders, by Ada Palmer. It’s a sequel to Too Like the Lightning, my favorite novel of 2016. I recommend you sample the first few pages of TLtL (follow the link and look inside the book). If you like the the narrator’s voice, and the way in which he “gazes back” to the 18th century from the 25th, you’ll probably love the novel (or novels, since I don’t think that the forthcoming one will disappoint).

Now for those reading-related websites.

  • Goodreads, where I keep track of my reading, write the occasional review, and see what other people are reading.
  • Tor.com, “a site for science fiction, fantasy, and all the things that interest SF and fantasy readers”. Tor is a publisher, but the site tries to engage interest, rather than to sell books directly. And it often gives books away!
  • Amazon. Yes, those links above are affiliate links, and I’d love to cover my hosting costs from such links. But if you get the books elsewhere, that’s great, because books are great, and so are bookstores and libraries.