Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘science

Just Reviewed Mario Livio’s “Brilliant Blunders” at SBR

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Folks, I’m a bit behindhand on letting you all know what I’ve been doing over at SBR lately.  This is partly because I’ve been dealing with the sinus infection from Hell (TM), and partly because I’ve been trying to get everything caught up by the end of the year.  (Yes, I’m still playing catch-up from that bronchitis I suffered in the spring.)

Anyway, today’s review over at SBR is for Mario Livio’s excellent BRILLIANT BLUNDERS, a scientific history that deals with the five biggest mistakes of five eminent scientists — Charles Darwin, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin to thee and me), Linus Pauling, Fred Hoyle, and Albert Einstein — and discusses these mistakes in the context of both the history of science and the particular scientist’s career.  Livio’s writing is clear and concise, and is accessible to the layman without being shallow or stupid, a neat trick.

I also interviewed novelist and rocket scientist Stephanie Osborn for SBR a few weeks ago.  This was a wide-ranging, no-holds-barred interview where Ms. Osborn discussed literacy and panic attacks right along with her own work, and talked a great deal about how she comes up with her plots for good measure.  Do go take a gander at that, then read her books as soon as you can, too.**

Aside from that, my plans for this Black Friday are to stay far, afar away from any store (except maybe for the grocery store, as that should be safe) as I’m not interested in fighting with anyone over a toaster.  Or a TV.  Or even something I would really like to have, like a book card . . . no, life is just too short for such silliness.

(Besides, I can always go get the book card tomorrow, and the lines will be far shorter, too!)

Stay safe, everyone.


**BTW, I’d meant to get up something about the interview a few weeks ago, but this sinus infection from Hell (TM) is just not allowing me to do much, as I haven’t had the energy to do it with.  I figured actually finishing the interview, then posting it was much more important than me coming over here to my own blog and discussing it — but as I always had intended to discuss it, today seems to be the day.

So if you haven’t already read the interview with Ms. Osborn, please go ahead and do so at your earliest convenience.  You may learn something . . . or better yet, you may both learn something and find a new favorite author.  (Stranger things have happened.)


Just Reviewed “The Great Partnership” at SBR

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Folks, this morning I was pleased to be able to review a very different type of book by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, THE GREAT PARTNERSHIP: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning over at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short, as always).  Sacks’ thought is clear, compelling, and extremely interesting . . . but some of what he says will almost certainly annoy you as well.

That’s the main reason I call this a very different type of book, because religious scholasticism very rarely is either this understandable or with as many points of contention.  Sacks explains things so well that most readers should get the gist of what he’s saying, but of course this particular book will work best for scholars of comparative religion and/or people who believe science and religion are far from incompatible.

Mind you, as I said in my review, Sacks is not the first to make many of these arguments.  The author of many of them as revised for 20th Century thought is Mircea Eliade, who died in 1986.  But Sacks is the first to do these ideas justice in a way that many people will find comprehensible, as Eliade’s thought processes are sometimes so opaque that other religious scholars and philosophers (as Eliade was both, just as Sacks himself is both) are still arguing over it all these years after Eliade’s death.

But Sacks is the first to make the argument that some of the odd dichotomies in the Christian New Testament are due to one thing: that the thought behind the New Testament was obviously Hebraic in origin (from the Hebrew language, in short), but the New Testament was actually written and popularized in Greek.  What that means in the shortest form possible is this: Anyone who reads the Christian Bible In English (or any other contemporary language) is reading a translation of a translation.

For that insight alone, you should read Sacks’ THE GREAT PARTNERSHIP.

But be warned: Sacks does not like many aspects of contemporary life, and he’s not shy about saying so.  Sacks is against same-sex marriage.  He’s against what he persists in calling “abortion on demand,” a highly inflammatory statement.  And he’s against assisted suicide, even if done by doctors on terminally ill people, calling it “euthanasia.”

Still, this is an important book that allows people who believe in science and religion to feel good about their beliefs.  And as such, I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Now, will you please go read my review?  Then, if the book intrigues you, go to the library and get it.  (Or better yet, buy a copy, as it’s now out in paperback.)

And do let me know what you think of it, once you’ve read it.  (Either one.)