Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Miscellaneous recent things

Been doing interesting (to me, at least) things at work and home, which has translated to not doing much by way of the blog. Some of those activities will translate to blog entries one of these days. For now, some odds and ends of thoughts.

I've just finished Dante's Inferno (the Ciardi translation). I'm more than a little puzzled about how this is supposed to be great literature. Any ideas?

A little farther back, I finally read my copy of Copernicus' On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres -- his 1543 book that contributed so much to the intellectual revolutions of the next couple centuries. It was interesting on a number of counts, and I'll be blogging about some of them. Shortly after that, I read Jack Repchack's Copernicus' Secret, which gives an interesting biography of Copernicus and context he was working in.

I've had an interrupted return to my running this year, calf complaints off and on. But Sunday I did make my first run of 30 minutes with no walking. Good news, as the 30 is a major fitness point and means I can go to a local 5k and finish it ok. Not fast, but ok.

Day job:
I'm officially moving in to working on sea surface temperature. That's been under way for a while, but recently took up some new bits. So expect some entries about what sea surface temperature is (turns out there are multiple answers), how it's measured, and the like.

Ok, I know that on April 1 I am supposed to write some kind of a joke or spoof. But I'm just not feeling creative today. At least not that sort of creative.


P. Lewis said...

You might like to read this and catch the world tour, if it hasn't passed your way yet (which I think it has).

Perhaps it's down to the translation you have. Around 40% of Italians have seen Benigni's The Divine Comedy show, according to a stat he issued on the BBC's The Graham Norton Show programme last night. They can't get enough of it ... apparently.

Chaucer isn't easy either. So perhaps it's something to do with the writing styles/thought processes of the times.

Prefer something like Barbour's The End of Time or Asimov's The Gods Themselves myself than I do Dante, or Chaucer. And don't call me Ishmael!

P. Lewis said...

I should have added that perhaps all becomes clear once you've gone through the Inferno, to Purgatory and thence to Paradise. But perhaps not. You could try comparing with Longfellow's Inferno translation, but perhaps life's too short.

Penguindreams said...

Chaucer, I enjoyed. I don't read these older books because someone makes me. Very often, they turn out to be wonderful (as Canterbury Tales mostly is) and interesting. Inferno just left me cold. But since you say that things become clearer after the Purgatorio and Paradisio, I'll continue the tour. (Interleaved, as usual, with other reading. Currently Einstein's Telescope.)

Won't call you Ishmael, nor will I invite you to carry my lance as I charge windmills (er, giants). Have never gotten anywhere with those two.

From the SF side, probably my favorite single book as writing is Zelazny's Lord of Light.

Maybe there'll be a dvd of Benigni? His Life is Beautiful was a tremendous movie. Thanks for the heads up.

Paul said...

If you are on a Copernicus trip, don't miss "The Book Nobody Read" by Owen Gingerich. He has some interesting things to say about the book's impact on science pre Galileo.

Paul Middents

Penguindreams said...

What did you think of it Paul?

I've heard somewhat conflicting stories about it. All agree that the writing is good, so I'll probably get there at some point.

Anonymous said...

I think Arthur Koestler wrote a book about Kepler that might interest you.


Paul said...

I believe this a fair review though not at a scholarly level:
Strangely, I don’t find a review in Isis.
I am not aware of conflicting views of Gingerich work in “the Book Nobody Read”. This might give some folks discomfort with his views on Intelligent Design:
I believe Gingerich’s thesis in the above has some bearing on the debate of science vs. advocacy currently going on RC.
The book is indeed well written and reveals a lot about the dissemination of knowledge during the period. It shows that a few scholars actually worked through the technical part—probably in aid of almanac construction and maybe even a little astrology. Copernicus’ whole picture seems to have had a profound effect on Kepler.
Finally, if you are any kind of old book nut, the checkered stories of theft, detection and restoration can’t fail to appeal.

I believe it was Arthur Koestler's off hand comment that no one actually read the book that prompted Gingerich to go on his 30 year search of annotated copies.

Penguindreams said...

Koestler is famous for The Sleepwalkers, which occasioned, ultimately, the Gingerich book Paul mentions (see also the review he links to). But I see in checking sources that he also wrote a biography of Kepler. Should be interesting.

Paul, this review is typical of the favorable ones I've seen. I'm thinking the less favorable might have been put off by the bibliophilia. Since I'm a bibliophile myself, that is no problem. Thanks.