Books I Want to Read

I am going to try out something I just found a couple weeks ago that a friend of mine, Angel Rivera, does at Alchemical Thoughts. He calls it “Items about books I want to read.” Seems he has been doing it a while now. He frequently has a link to a review from the media or something similar. Sometimes it’s just what he has to say about why he’s interested in reading it and a link to the record for the book in WorldCat.

It is to help remember why I marked something as “to read.” Seeing as how some things sit for years on the “to read” list, recording more about how I came across something in the first place might help. Hopefully, if I continue this in the future, it will be a bit more timely.

I really have no idea why many of the following books are on my list but some have been for a while. In most cases I do not know for sure how they came to my attention. Some came via Angel above. Many from Goodreads. Some as modern classics (Berlin & Kay).

Many of these are in my Reading goals for 2015 post; some are not.

Beer and Brewing

John J. Palmer and Colin Kaminski – Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers (Brewing Elements) I have read two of the four books [Hops; Malt] in this series and they were both excellent. Looking forward to this and a bit intimidated by Yeast also.

Max Nelson – The Barbarian’s Beverage: A History of Beer in Ancient Europe Not sure where I first heard of this but I have several citations to it marked in multiple sources. That is, lots of people have cited it; some heavily. I got it for my birthday last year from my son and daughter-in-law.

“… presents a large amount of the evidence for beer in ancient Europe for the first time, and demonstrates the important technological as well as ideological contributions the Europeans made to beer throughout the ages. The book provides a fresh and fascinating insight into one of the most popular beverages in the world today.” [back cover blurb]

Ian Hornsey – Alcohol and its Role in the Evolution of Human Society Same for hearing about this one. Although in this, I have read some by the author so I know I want to read it. Besides, isn’t that a fascinating title? Bought self a copy late May 2014.

“This book, Ian’s fourth to be published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, unites archaeology and anthropology, plant breeding and industrial process, together with so many other disciplines besides. It is nothing short of revelatory and thoroughly up-to-date in our fast-moving world; this represents a Herculean effort on the part of the author.” [from Foreword by Arthur Edward Guinness, Earl of Iveagh (vii)]

Terry Foster – Brewing Porters and Stouts Two of our favorite styles. I want to design and brew an incredible Imperial stout, amongst other beers. But that is my ultimate aim. Well, something particular is what I have in mind.

Language and Related

Berlin & McKay – Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution This is a modern classic in several fields. It has wide-ranging applicability and has been cited far and wide. Cannot begin to say when I first heard of this but probably finishing up my undergrad (after retiring from the Army) in one of my cognitive science or philosophy courses.

Literature and Literary Theory

J.R.R. Tolkien – Tolkien on Fairy-stories This was recommended by Candy Schwartz to Sara and I a couple years ago. We were in Sioux City at the time and it came via Twitter, I believe.

Western World History / History

William H. McNeill – The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community I have been aware of this book since I read and reviewed The Pursuit of Power and have owned a copy for a couple years now perhaps.

Roy Porter – The Creation of the Modern World: The Untold Story of the British Enlightenment Recommended by Dr. Matthew Pangborn who I took Enlightenment Literature from at Briar Cliff my second-to-last term there before moving to Bend.

Certain Kinds of Histories

Urling C. Coe, M.D. – Frontier Doctor: Observations on Central Oregon and the Changing West My friend Jon Abernathy of Bend Beer, Hack Bend and The Brew Site recommended this as have several other sources (people & paper). To better understand life in Central Oregon in the earliest parts of the 20th century. Purchased a copy.

Hanne Blank – Straight: The Surprisingly Short History Of Heterosexuality No idea where I found this but here’s a review I came across sometime.

Elizabeth Abbott – A History Of Celibacy This and the rest in this group were probably suggested by Goodreads recommendation engine. Why not? They could be a lot of fun. Most will come via libraries.

Hanne Blank – Virgin: The Untouched History

Elissa Stein – Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation

David M. Friedman – A Mind of Its Own: A Cultural History of the Penis

Marilyn Yalom –  History of the Breast

Stephanie Coontz – Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage

Karen Essex – Bettie Page: The Life of a Pin-Up Legend


Alex Wright – Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age I had Boyd Rayward for a couple classes in library school (eat your hearts out!) so I know who Otlet was. Also have read many of Boyd’s writings. Looking forward to this. Lest you wonder why I’m going on about Rayward regarding Otlet, here’s his entry from the index: 12-13, 57, 71-72, 104, 177, 225, 301. Rayward also shows up in other entries such as:

Otlet, Paul

as Rayward’s dissertation subject, 12

Just a tad important in bringing Otlet to light.

[Boyd was one of my angels at GSLIS. Might not be here if not for his gentle care.]

Robert J. Glushko, ed. – The Discipline of Organizing I think I learned of it when Ed Summers marked it “to read” in Goodreads in late April 2014. I got a copy for Christmas 2014 from my son and his dear wife. This is definite geek material for me. I hope I enjoy it.

Susan Cheever – Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction I believe I found this at a used/antiquarian book shop in Omaha. One of downtown Omaha’s finest features actually, in two librarian’s opinions.


So. Maybe this will happen again. Hopefully in a more timely manner so I can do better at knowing where/how a title came to my attention. I am trying to do a better job recording them but not convinced succeeding.

Quadbeck-Seeger – World of the Elements: Elements of the World

World of the Elements: Elements of the World, 1st ed., by Hans-Jürgen Quadbeck-Seeger, with kind support from BASF; translation by ??

Date read: 16 January – 08 February 2015

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Cover of Quadbeck-Seeger's World of the Elements

Hardback, 111 pages

Published 2007 by WILEY-VCH

Source: COCC Barber Library (QD 466 .Q3313 2007)

Let me just start with saying this book is crap. There. Out of the way.

No idea who the translator is as I cannot find any translation note; I must assume the author did the translation. There is a German-language edition, with a blue cover, which I found at the Deutschen Nationalbibliothek. The translation is fine, although at times it seems to vary between British and American usage and there is at least one “und” that the proofreader missed.

My main gripe is just who is the intended audience for this book? It is an odd mix of fairly serious science which attempts to give us some of the chemistry and physics of the periodic table and of the individual elements, while also educating us on other schemes for laying out the elements in a meaningful order; these efforts still go on, by the way. Not only do I not know who the intended audience is, I do not think there is one. The easy material can be found most anywhere and the more difficult material is only of use to a completely different set of readers. It is a really mixed bag of content.

Nowhere does the author ever define just what is an element. I have no real understanding as to why I am supposed to accept that some man-made by-product of a nuclear bombardment that has a half-life of 2.6 seconds is an actual element. I believe that the author attempted to educate us about such things with talk of periodicity and other issues but, in my opinion anyway, the important dots are never connected. I do know that there are perfectly good theoretical reasons why these man-made elements qualify but this author does not make it clear.

The entries for each element show: where it is located in a color-coded periodic table, its abbreviation, atomic number, atomic weight, images of things made from the element, an info box on discoverers, derivation of the name, and a list of properties. But most of these properties, although ostensibly written in English, contain so many other terms from physics and chemistry that are never defined that you really are just caught in a web of words and learn little about the actual properties of the elements. And if you already knew enough to fully understand most entries then this would not ever be a book you would need.

Some other editing problems: Under Curium (96) Pierre Curie’s dates are listed as (1958-1906) (p. 80). OK, I know Pierre died gruesomely but it wasn’t 52 years before he was born gruesome. Element 77, Proactinium, has Properties text that just runs out mid-sentence.

Throughout some of the discussions of topics, and even within some Properties for various elements, issues of philosophy of science arise and are generally brushed off as “spooky,” which they kind of are. Also, this book is not the place to try and address those as the author (correctly) acknowledges. But then we get near the back of the book…

In the section, “The Elements and Life” we get a list of the three criteria that most “definitions” of life require. These criteria will not tell us whether something is alive but can help us rule out that which is not. But then the author adds a fourth criteria: “All life wants to live!

Um. No. No fucking way! Until we get a much better grip on what “life” is or isn’t this kind of talk is utter nonsense and a category-mistake of the highest order. Life wants nothing. Life is not the kind of thing that can want. Now if he was to say that “All individual life forms want to live” he would get some credit. Of course, we are well aware that this is also not the case as many humans and other animals simply do give up their will to live. Perhaps we could claim “The exception … blah blah.” But life wants not a goddamned thing!

Two pages later same section, there is a breakout box talking about how the number 4 (and 5, and 6) occur over and over in nature. The author ends with

“We can only take note of these facts, and even partly explain them. But we must be careful not to draw any deeper conclusions. Or did someone have an idea to combine arithmetic and life?”

WTF?! So much for no “spookiness.” Seriously though, these two entities are simply things that cannot be combined. Mathematics is a descriptive language and can be used, in many ways, to describe living entities. But it does not describe life and they cannot be combined either. And just who was supposed to do this combining? Spooky.

In the boxes for the discoverers there are often two entries with different dates. Seemingly willy-nilly sometimes the oldest is on top and sometimes the most recent date is on top. Often the descriptions in these boxes leave one wondering at the actual “discovery” of the element.

I think the author did a reasonable but mostly ineffectual job as I do not think either the author or publisher (or between them) ever had a good idea who the audience was. The proofreaders did OK but missed a few glaring things. The book designer/layout folks completely and utterly blew the design of this book.

There are so many books for the general public about chemistry and particularly the periodic table and the elements that this book should be skipped. In fact, I have another book on the elements geared to a popular audience that I checked out the same day; I am hoping I can give it a better review.

Leave this book alone except in a dire emergency. And then, good luck!

This is the 9th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Harris – Integrationist Notes and Papers 2013

Integrationist Notes and Papers 2013 by Roy Harris

Date read: 03 February 2015

My rating: 3 of 5 stars*

Content: 4 of 5 stars

Fastidiousness of scholarly apparatus: 2 of 5 stars

Cover of Integrationist Notes and Papers 2013 by Roy Harris

Paperback, v, 109 pages

Published 2013 by Bright Pen

Source: Own; acquired from amazon

Let me say right off the bat I did enjoy this book immensely, in a way. Most of its content resonates with me but there are a couple problems that have arisen in this volume that, while possibly understandable, are nonetheless unacceptable.

I mentioned in my review of the previous volume that a few citations did not make it into the references list. That even happens in major press books so, while I never appreciate it, I do understand it. Let me take a small sidestep to fill you in on how I read journal articles and books (that I own) like this. These are usually on topics that are of immense interest to me, or those in a discipline or area of a discipline that I am trying to “work my way into” intellectually, if you will.

I read with pencil in hand or near enough [STOP! These are books I own and articles I have printed or copied. DO NOT do this to library materials!]. As I read, for every citation (or should be citation) I come to I mark the page number(s) for it in the reference section. If there are footnotes or endnotes and those contains cites then they get “indexed” as well. I get that this is seemingly quite anal. I do not do this for everything I  read, although I will frequently mark/index interesting (questionable, interested myself, intriguing, …) citations in other sources so that I can track those sources down at my whim and pleasure.

What does this do for me?

First, as seen above—and soon for this volume—I easily determine the level of attention to detail in this aspect of scholarly fastidiousness. Did all citations get listed? It is a seemingly simple question. This does not tell us that much but it is one indicator that something may be amiss in the argumentation.

Second, and far more importantly, this is, at least to me, critical to find one’s way into a literature; whether the lit of a single author or that a broader “topic.”

If it is a book you will quickly determine who the author uses for support and who they are reacting against. You will know whether Freud was cited only once or sixty times. Now one book does not constitute a literature so this is a single author perspective. Also, I’d caution against the one book perspective as a global overview of an author’s citing practices. Definitely look at more by the same author, if available and applicable. By looking at several items you will get a better feel for individual uses.

The same goes for journal articles but it is far easier to read multiple articles and see any similarities and/or differences in practices between authors or within the same author.

I am here to tell you that—assuming you are not a slow reader—this is an amazing way to find out who is citing who. Who are the big authors, theories, and works in this area? If most everybody you are reading is citing such-and-such then perhaps you best acquaint yourself with it/them. This is not actually about citation practices as such but of sketching the outlines of a much larger “conversation.”

This method slows one down considerably and it also makes following the development of the author’s ideas a bit more difficult. But the way I see it, the kinds of sources that I treat this way are quite possibly something I am going to re-read, at least once. Thus the effort pays off in the long run. This is not a pleasure reading tactic, folks. Not to say that this kind of reading is incapable of being pleasurable. If that is your argument then grow up or go away now, please.

In this slim volume of seven papers there are two entire essays whose citations are not listed in the references. All of the other papers are missing an assorted but generally much lower amount. I ended up writing in so many that there truly is little room left to write on every page of the reference section. And as you can imagine, my attempt at trying to get them added somewhat alphabetically went to hell quickly.

A photo of the references section of a book with lots of penciled in entries

Last page of final paper and 1st of references section showing lots of penciled in entries. The other pages of the references are just as full. Look at the page numbers behind entries though to get an idea of my method. In essence, it’s a popularity contest.

The second issue which may be even bigger occurs in paper 51, “Normality and Neuroplasticity.” On page 100 Harris writes:

“But can this be right? Not according to proponents of neuroplasticity. Bloomfield ignores or is unaware of the kind of evidence presented by neuroscientist Norman Doidge. According to Doidge, we have ‘a brain that survives in a changing world by changing itself’ (Doidge 2007: 26)” (100).

But how in the hell was Bloomfield supposed to be aware of any neuroscientific evidence. OK, if  we take “neuroscience” quite broadly then perhaps Bloomfield, writing in the 1910s-1940s, might be able to take into account some evidence. But when the author cites a book from 2007 as not being cited by another author who died in 1949 I begin to get quite cranky. I savaged Hope Olson for similar crap in The Power to Name.

This is an excerpt from the Modern Neuroscience section of the Neuroscience article at Wikipedia:

“The scientific study of the nervous system has increased significantly during the second half of the twentieth century, principally due to advances in molecular biology, electrophysiology, and computational neuroscience. This has allowed neuroscientists to study the nervous system in all its aspects: how it is structured, how it works, how it develops, how it malfunctions, and how it can be changed” (emphasis mine).

The plasticity of the brain, also included in that section, has a citation date of 1999, it appears. Again, no idea how Bloomfield was supposed to be aware of these developments. Now, certainly, we had all kinds of “neuroscientific” evidence before the mid-20th century but that is when it truly exploded as a discipline and science. If Harris means to critique Bloomfield for not citing evidence available to him in the early decades of the century then he needs to be far clearer in his critique. Bringing neuroplasticity into a discussion of Bloomfield’s faults as a theorist is a major lapse though. According to the Wikipedia article, evidence for neuronal plasticity was discovered in Rhesus monkeys in 1923. But this research was ignored by almost everyone until the 1960s. Bloomfield may not get a complete pass and while his theories can certainly—and fairly (depending on use)—now be critiqued using what we know from neuroscience I feel Harris’ critique was extremely poorly worded. He needs to better tie the specific evidence available to Bloomfield into his argument or he needs to be much clearer than he is in applying a temporally aberrant requirement.

Harris is getting up in age and, as usual, he has credited his wife for “her meticulous editorial work.” I do not know the circumstances and I do not want to falsely attribute any particular reasons for these two lapses but they are fairly serious. I am kind of dreading reading INP 2014 which is queued up next. I sure hope it “meticulous” compared to this volume. [By the by, I have read 100s of 1000s of words—many books and articles, several multiple times—by Roy Harris and have not seen such “sloppiness” until now.]

Screen cap of the Roy Harris items I have read in Zotero

Screen cap of the Roy Harris items that I have read in Zotero

I do so love the ideas in these papers but I am concerned there may be some “slippage.” I am beginning to wonder if I am missing any other howlers of the Bloomfield-nueroplasticity kind. And that concerns me greatly.

But I still love the ideas contained in it.


  • Preface
  • 45 Ordinary Language Again
  • 46 Empiricism and Linguistics
  • 47 Why There Are No Languages
  • 48 On Relativism
  • 49 Much Ado About Nothing
  • 50 Languages and Politics
  • 51 Normality and Neuroplasticity
  • References

This is the 7th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Harris – Integrationist Notes and Papers 2012

Integrationist Notes and Papers 2012 by Roy Harris

Date read: 01-02 February 2015

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover of Integrationist Notes and Papers 2012 by Roy Harris

Paperback, v, 103 pages

Published 2012 by Bright Pen

Source: Own, via amazon

“These papers address questions at the junction between philosophy of mind and philosophy of language.” (Preface, 1)

“In the study of mind, words are vague shapes emerging unbidden from swirling mists. Many theorists seize gratefully upon them. For without them the terrain is dark and nebulous, with no clear landmarks.

The integrationist, on the other hand, takes the presence of a word to indicate always the presence of other signs, even if they are not appartent.” (Preface, 2)


  • Preface
  • 36 Russell Revisited
  • 37 Minds, Brains and Language Machines
  • 38 Logic and Babel
  • 39 Reason and Truth
  • 40 Laws of Thought
  • 41 Ordinary Language
  • 42 Forms of Talk and Forms of Action
  • 43 By Any Other Name
  • 44 Any Questions?
  • References

Similar to previous volumes, the papers fairly straightforwardly address the topics of their titles. One small production note, there are five citations missing from the References. That is not horrible but it is not good, either.

I enjoyed it immensely.

This is the 5th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Harris – Integrationist Notes and Papers 2009-2011

Integrationist Notes and Papers 2009-2011 by Roy Harris

Date read: 29 January – 01 February 2015

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover of Roy Harris' Integrationist Notes and Papers 2009-2011

Paperback, iv, 104 pages

Published 2011 by Bright Pen

Source: Own, bought from Amazon

It has been far too long since I read any integrational linguistics. The preface states “This publication is the third in the collection of Integrationist Notes and Papers that began in 2003, and completes the series.” The 1st clause is true but the 2nd is not. There are currently three more (INP 2012, 2013, 2014) that I acquired recently at the same time as this one.

Others in the series:

I am truly looking forward to reading the remaining volumes (began INP 2012 yesterday; finished it early today). I have read the first two a couple times already, but then I have owned them for several plus years now.

I am not going to do a “proper” review but will provide you the table of contents and a small excerpt from each paper. Perhaps you’ll be enticed to have a further look. [If you are new to integrationism I would suggest you start elsewhere; feel free to ask. Then again, if you already have some linguistics, philosophy, cognitive science, etc. these may give you something to “wake you from your dogmatic slumbers” and provide something to react to.]

At paper 34 The Translation Myth, I give a few thoughts on where all this was heading with my never-completed CAS project. I was actually attempting to do something much bigger—it was required due to the nature of integrationism and the sad state of philosophical awareness, theory critique, and knowledge of language and linguistics within librarianship and information science. See what I say at 34; that is the gist / the nub / the rub of why I embraced integrationism. It could begin to explain lots of difficulties which seemed to arise because of other views of language.

I am not suggesting that the kind of work subject analysis takes could ever be easy or even easily theorized. But it should be doable and, to me, language gets in the way. Something is wrong with our thinking and talking about language and the many and highly varied ways that way of thinking creeps in and impacts areas folks are not even aware of. Much of the work of subject analysis and of indexing and abstracting is metalinguistic, amongst other meta-s. Our talk about language best be sorted if we are to talk about the metalinguistic. And it isn’t. It is so far out of sorts that the problems reverberate pretty much everywhere. Thus, theoretic descriptions of translation, indexing and abstracting, subject analysis, and any other primarily metalinguistic activity (what is a description? what is a good description? It isn’t going to get any better.) are bound to obscure, in some manner, the doing of the actual activity.


  • Preface
  • 26 Language Myths, East and West
  • 27 On ‘Primitive’ Languages in Linguistic Theory
  • 28 Linguistic Relativity
  • 29 Saussure and Logic
  • 30 Sentences and Systems
  • 31 Theory of Mind
  • 32 Mental Misrepresentations
  • 33 The Quest for Qualia
  • 34 The Translation Myth
  • 35 On Ultimate Questions
  • References


“Integrationism is perhaps best known for its most heretical tenet: that linguistics can dispense with the concept of ‘a language’. … It follows directly from the broader semiological principle that no sign is contextless. This applies as much to linguistic signs as to any. … Context is an intrinsic part of communication.” (Preface, 1)

26 Language Myths, East and West

“The two principal components of the Western language myth – the fallacy of telementation and the fixed code fallacy – are dual aspects of the myth of semantic invariance. Telementation guarantees semantic invariance as between speaker and hearer on a given occasion. The fixed code guarantees semantic invariance as between all members of a linguistic community at all times. … I have always regarded these as myths for the simple reason that there is no non-circular evidence in support of either” (4/5)

27 On ‘Primitive’ Languages in Linguistic Theory

“Chomsky’s primitive language is that famous idealized system which enables speakers in ‘a competely homogenous speech-community’ to communicate, without interference due to ‘memory limitations, distractions, shifts of attention and interest, and errors’ (Chomsky 1965: 3). In short, the ghost operates in what appears to be a communicational vacuum.” (20)

28 Linguistic Relativity

“The notion that an argument is either inherently sound or inherently defective, without reference to grammar or to any external criteria, is amongst the most confused in the history of the subject. Arguments must be judged by their context.” (27)

29 Saussure and Logic

“One of the more conspicuous gaps in Saussure’s linguistic legacy is his failure to provide any clear account of the relations between logic and language.” (35)

30 Sentences and Systems

“The term sentence is a metalinguistic expression. What we think of as exchanging verbally with others in the course of our daily affairs are not “sentences” but questions and answers, remarks and observations about the past, present or future. Whether or not any of these happen to coincide with what a grammarian defines as a “sentence” (under any of the many definitions of sentence that have been proposed) is simply irrelevant.” (53-54)

31 Theory of Mind

“Knowledge, in integrationist epistemology, is always a form of activity.” (63)

32 Mental Misrepresentations

Behaviourism vs. mentalism

“The immense damage which generativism has done to the academic study of linguistics is not merely to resuscitate a language myth that goes back to the days of Plato, but to resuscitate it in a form where it sounds like the product of the latest psychological research.” (75)

33 The Quest for Qualia

“It was only ever a belated attempt to resurrect the ancient concept of intrinsic essences and make it psychologically respectable.” (84).

34 The Translation Myth

“A well-known paper entitled ‘The theory of translation’ begins with the observation:

     To translate is one thing; to say how we do it, is another. The practice is familiar enough, and there are familiar theories of it. But when we try to look more closely, theory tends to obscure rather than explain, and the familiar practice – an ancient practice, without which Western civilization is unthinkable – appears to be just baffling, its very possibility a mystery. (Haas 1962: 208)

The interesting notion here is that theory obscures rather than explains the practice of translation. An integrationist would say that the reason why it does is that, throughout the Western tradition, translation theory – like linguistic theory in general – has been predominately segregationist in its assumptions.” (85-86)

This! This is what I had hoped to address in my CAS thesis. That never got written. That description of the act of translation versus the theory sounds exactly like the relationship between the practices of indexing and abstracting, and of subject analysis, and of their respective theories. That is the gist of what I wanted to address.

35 On Ultimate Questions

“The reason for the elusiveness of initial postulates, like ultimate questions, resides in the (epistemological) fact that the concept of ‘a language’ is not a given, waiting to be described, but is constructed – and can be differently constructed – in the course of inquiry.” (97)

If you got this far I hoped you found something thought-provoking. I just love this stuff but wish I had a better foundation of all the theories integrationism critiques. At least I have exposure to much of it and better than that in some cases.

This is the 3rd book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Morton – Tortillas: A Cultural History

Morton, Paula E. 2014. Tortillas: a Cultural History. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

Date read: 16-31 December 2014

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cover of Paula Morton's Tortillas: a Cultural History

Cover of Paula Morton’s Tortillas: a Cultural History

Paperback, xxiii, 157 p

Published 2014 by University of New Mexico Press.

Overall I enjoyed this book. Throughout it kept me exceedingly hungry for “proper” nixtamilized corn tortillas made completely from hand. Of course, the horrifically gendered work that went into them is a non-starter. The work that went into them—no matter who’s doing it—is a non-starter.

Despite being on an academic press this is definitely a general audience book. There is a notes section in the back with a couple of paragraphs per chapter but not proper notes. There were one or two claims made that I wanted to look into but could find no references to them.

I chose a lot of categories for this post as the author does cover issues of gender, language and word issues, pop culture, technology, and so on.

The book is an easy read but I really wanted more out of it. A bit more scholarly, perhaps, but not enough to throw most people off. The author is a journalist so it has some of that feel. My biggest gripe is the easy nonchalance in which the author reported on wholesale cultural genocide. “Aw, shucks. It happens eventually to everyone [paraphrase].” The sheer bloodiness of European expansion into Central America and Mexico is enough to make us sit up and reconsider our own cultural heritage. At the least. And as European expansion was pretty much bloody everywhere, it simply cannot be “Aw, gee shucks” awayed.

Near the end as she’s wrapping up loose ends (somewhat) and bringing us fully up-to-date, the author provides some statistics. I believe they are completely and utterly incorrect and highlight an utter fail of editing (on everyone’s part):

“In 2002 in Mexico the average daily consumption of corn tortillas per person was 548 pounds. In 2010 the daily consumption was 346 pounds, according to the Mexican National Household Income Expenditure Survey (ENIGH in Spanish)” (124).

Um, No one, I say no single person, is (or was) eating either 346 or 548 pounds of tortillas per day! Not even once on one day. That figure could be the annual total per person perhaps or it could be the weight eaten by all Mexicans in a day but for that it seems way low. Either way, that last cock-up sealed the feeling I’d had about the book all along. I wanted—I expected—more. So I only gave it 3 stars.

Still I learned a fair bit and will be on the lookout for much better tortillas on occasion.

Books read in 2014

So I read a boatload of books in 2014. I gave up on quite a few and a few are on hold to pick back up another time. I am not even going to try to account for those in the last two categories this year. It seems I read and finished 80 books this year.

[Updated 31 December 2014 – see bottom]

As for those finished I was hoping to link to my 2014 Goodreads Challenge shelf but it seems only Goodreads members can see my pages. This goddamned job of listing books has never really gotten any easier or any better. Can I just get a righteous “Fuck me!” here? Zotero and Open Library all have their (major) issues for this task. Open Library so much so that I stopped using it after last year.

Yep. I was correct. It started out as a nightmare but I got it whipped reasonably. After a goodly break away from it.

Here is the list of books I read in 2014 by title, author(s – not complete) and date finished. Almost all are in Goodreads but there are a couple I have not yet entered, as in added the book to the catalog. I am definitely growing disillusioned with Goodreads too. Not directly because of Amazon but they are now in charge of maintenance and updates so it is their boat to float or not. My biggest gripe right now is the damnable conflation of editions. I haven’t quite nailed down exactly what it is doing but I do not like it. It may be new too; I’m not sure.

I divided the list up by broad topics and listed the books in the order finished within a group.

Title, Author(s), Date Finished

Graphic Novels
Raise The Dead Hardcover (Raise the Dead), Leah Moore & John Reppion, 1/1/2014
Atomic Robo and the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne (Atomic Robo, #1), Brian Clevinger & Scott Wegener, 2/26/2014
Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War (Atomic Robo, #2), Brian Clevinger & Scott Wegener, 2/27/2014
Transmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the Street (Transmetropolitan, #1), Warren Ellis, Darick Robertston & Garth Ennis, 3/12/2014
Transmetropolitan, Vol. 2: Lust for Life (Transmetropolitan, #2), Warren Ellis & Darick Robertson, 3/15/2014
Transmetropolitan, Vol. 3: Year of the Bastard, Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson & Rodney Ramos, 3/18/2014
Transmetropolitan, Vol. 4: The New Scum (Transmetropolitan, #4), Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson, Rodney Ramos & Keith Akin, 3/25/2014
Transmetropolitan, Vol. 5: Lonely City (Transmetropolitan, #5), Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson, Rodney Ramos & Patrick Stewart, 3/26/2014
Transmetropolitan, Vol. 6: Gouge Away (Transmetropolitan, #6), Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson & Rodney Ramos, 4/9/2014
Transmetropolitan, Vol. 7: Spider’s Thrash (Transmetropolitan, #7), Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson, Rodney Ramos & Darren Aronofsky, 4/10/2014
Transmetropolitan, Vol. 10: One More Time (Transmetropolitan, #10), Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson& Rodney Ramos, 4/20/2014
Transmetropolitan, Vol. 8: Dirge (Transmetropolitan, #8), Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson & Rodney Ramos, 4/21/2014
Transmetropolitan, Vol. 9: The Cure (Transmetropolitan, #9), Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson & Rodney Ramos, 5/7/2014
Transmetropolitan, Vol. 0: Tales of Human Waste (Transmetropolitan, #0), Warren Ellis, et al., 5/13/2014
Age of Bronze Volume 1: A Thousand Ships, Eric Shanower, 7/17/2014
Planetary, Vol. 2: The Fourth Man, Warren Ellis & John Cassaday, 7/26/2014
Planetary, Vol. 1: All Over the World and Other Stories, Warren Ellis, John Cassaday & Alan Moore, 7/26/2014
Planetary Vol. 4: Spacetime Archaeology, Warren Ellis & John Cassaday, 7/27/2014
Planetary, Vol. 3: Leaving the 20th Century, Warren Ellis & John Cassaday, 7/27/2014
Planetary: Crossing Worlds, Warren Ellis, et al., 7/30/2014
Crossing Midnight, Vol. 1: Cut Here, Mike Carey, et al., 11/10/2014
The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice, Mike Carey & Peter Gross, 11/14/2014
The Unwritten, Vol. 8: Orpheus in the Underworld, Mike Carey, Peter Gross, & Dean Ormston, 11/16/2014
Crossing Midnight, Vol. 2: A Map of Midnight, Mike Carey, et al., 11/18/2014
Crossing Midnight, Vol. 3: The Sword in the Soul, Mike Carey, et al., 11/20/2014

Beer and Brewing
Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer, Maureen Ogle, 1/9/2014
Short Course in Beer: An Introduction to Tasting and Talking about the World’s Most Civilized Beverage, Lynn Hoffman, 2/27/2014
Extreme Brewing: An Enthusiast’s Guide to Brewing Craft Beer at Home, Sam Calagion & Kevin Fleming, 2/18/2014
Vintage Beer: Discover Specialty Beers That Improve with Age, Patrick Dawson, 3/9/2014
A Year in Food and Beer: Recipes and Beer Pairings for Every Season, Emily Baime & Darin Michaels, 3/13/2014
Brewing 2nd ed., Ian S Hornsey, 4/22/2014
Beer: A Quality Perspective, Charles W. Bamforth, et al., 6/25/2014
Dinner in the Beer Garden, Lucy Saunders, 6/27/2014
Beer and Skittles, Richard Boston, 7/4/2014
Beer, Michael James Jackson, 7/17/2014
Beer: The Story Of The Pint: The History Of Britain’s Most Popular Drink, Martyn Cornell, 8/20/2014
The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer – A Rant in Nine Acts, Max Bahnson & Alan McLeod, 8/25/2014 (ebook)
Three Sheets to the Wind: One Man’s Quest for the Meaning of Beer, Pete Brown, 9/15/2014
Evaluating Beer, Publications Brewer, Elizabeth Gold, 9/23/2014
Beer and Brewing (National Conference on Quality Beer and Brewing #8), Virginia Thomas, 10/28/2014
Red, White, and Brew: An American Beer Odyssey, Brian Yaeger, 11/9/2014

Literature / Language
The Best American Poetry 2013, David Lehman, 1/19/2014
Dog Songs, Mary Oliver, John Burgoyne, 1/21/2014
13 Ways of Happily, Emily Carr, 4/23/2014
Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote, 4/27/2014
Thomas Sebeok and the Signs of Life, Susan Petrilli, 5/2/2014
These Mountains That Separate Us: An East/West Dialogue Poem, Jack e Lorts, 11/4/2014
The Next American Essay, John D’Agata & Guy Davenport, 11/10/2014
The Romantic Dogs, Roberto Bolaño, Laura Healy, 11/22/2014

Technology and Software
Take Control of 1Password, Joe Kissell, 2/12/2014 (ebook)
Take Control of Scrivener 2, Kirk McElhearn, 10/14/2014 (ebook)
Take Control of Upgrading to Yosemite 1.0 and 1.2, Joe Kissell, 10/30/2014 (ebook)

Erotica / Sex & Gender
Hurts So Good: Unrestrained Erotica, Alison Tyler, 2/26/2014
Mommy’s Little Girl: On Sex, Motherhood, Porn, and Cherry Pie, Susie Bright, 4/7/2014 (ebook)
Sexual Fitness: The Ultimate Guide to Pump While You Hump, Tone While You Bone and Shred in the Bed, D.J. Gugenheim, et al., 6/23/2014
Candy, Terry Southern, Mason Hoffenberg, 6/24/2014
Wetter, Harper Bliss, 7/24/2014 (ebook)

Richard Renaldi: Touching Strangers, Richard Renaldi, 6/16/2014
Focus on Food Photography for Bloggers (Focus on Series): Focus on the Fundamentals, Matt Armendariz, 6/16/2014
Dancers Among Us: A Celebration of Joy in the Everyday, Jordan Matter, 9/30/2014
Portraits of Time: Ancient Trees from Around the World, Beth Moon, 12/15/2014

YA and Children’s
How the Stars Fell into the Sky: A Navajo Legend, Jerrie Oughton, Lisa Desimini, 3/18/2014
Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors, Hena Khan & Mehrdokht Amini, 3/21/2014
Godless, Pete Hautman, 9/8/2014
Between the Spark and the Burn (Between, #2), April Genevieve Tucholke, 9/21/2014
The Daylight Gate, Jeanette Winterson, 10/24/2014
Collected Children’s Stories, Sylvia Plath, 10/29/2014

Atlas of the Pacific Northwest, Philip L. Jackson, 3/3/2014
The Age of Wonder, Richard Holmes, 4/23/2014 (ebook)
The Foods of the Greek Islands: Cooking and Culture at the Crossroads of the Mediterranean, Aglaia Kremezi, 4/27/2014
Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, & Other Typographical Marks, Keith Houston, 10/13/2014
The Body: An Essay, Jenny Boully, 10/19/2014
Copyflow: Typesetting Procedures for Book Composition, George Z. Kunkel, 11/1/2014
A Pocket Philosophical Dictionary, Voltaire, 11/1/2014 (ebook)
How to Think More About Sex, Alain de Botton, 11/2/2014
Really Big Numbers, Richard Evan Schwartz, 11/4/2014
How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer, Sarah Bakewell, 11/14/2014 (ebbok / together)
Francis of Assisi and His World (IVP Histories), Mark Galli, 12/2/2014
Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings: Save Money, Save the Earth, Jennifer Thorne Amann, Katie Ackerly & Alex Wilson, 12/16/2014

Currently Reading
Tortillas: A Cultural History, Paula Morton
Take Control of Automating Your Mac, Joe Kissell
Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, Syliva Martinez (ebook)
A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams, Michael Pollan (reading to Sara)
Craft Beer World, Mark Dredge

I don’t expect to finish any of these but something else could possibly be read. No worries, I say. I’m calling it books read this year. Not perfect but very close.

31 December 2014 Update

I did finish a couple more books. Sara brought home a new(er) Warren Ellis, et al. graphic novel, Moon Knight (v. 1): From the Dead with which I wasn’t too impressed. I finished (or as much I am going to) Craft Beer Beer by Dredge. And just this morning I finished Morton on Tortillas. Goodreads now says I have read 81 of 75 books for my 2014 Challenge but again there are at least three that are not in Goodreads.


Friday night at BTBS I had Dr. Evelyn Crook read my tarot. My question was “How will DigiWriMo go for me?” She decided to do one card with the possibility of more. [See my previous post for more context.]

I drew the Temperance card. We did not draw more.

Temperance tarot card [little processing]

Temperance tarot card [little processing]

Temperance in Emily’s deck was the Blue Heron, which got her excited. She said it was about self-determination and self-reliance and progress through evolution and compromise. [OK, that’s what my couple words of notes say when I reconstruct them.] I asked her about the water drops (tears?) and fire and she said it represents the calm in the midst of the two extremes. This is echoed in Pollack below [not quoted].

Looking in Mistress Quantum Sum’s books:

Pollack: Seventy-eight Degrees of Wisdom 105-

“Temperance, appearing below the Chariot, shows a person whose behaviour [sic] is once again connected to the real world but in a way more meaningful than ever before. … Temperance indicates the ability to combine spontaneity with knowledge.” 105

“The divinatory meanings, like the card’s ideas, begin with moderation, balance in all things and taking the middle path.” 108

Bartlett: The Tarot Bible 112

Keywords: Self-control, compromise, moderation, virtue

Key phrases: The blending of ideas, harmony and understanding, Alchemical process

My interpretation/commentary:

Moderation seems to be a key to staying away from the [what the fuck do I call one of my “attacks”?] pain and long-term elevated stress levels. Moderation is often a good guiding principal whether of natural, right action or as an ethics-backing one. In this case, it is focused on bringing opposites/dualities into balance/inseparability.

Compromise: between ambition and desire, between others and myself in the production of ‘writings,’ and between the many others that will arise.

Blending ideas, alchemically or otherwise, is definitely one of my goals and desires. Always a desire.

As I said at the end of my last post, “Temperance. Am going to have to spend some time with that concept.”

This is a slippery one; eel-like. More like chameleon eel-like. Slippery and changing its “appearance.”

DigiWriMo 2014

I have committed to participating in Digital Writing Month 2014, more commonly known as DigiWriMo, this November. I did it its first year in 2012 and made my goal of 50,000 digital words. Most people who know November as a writing month know it as National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo. There is also Academic Writing Month, AcWriMo. Wikipedia says there’s an Academic Book Writing Month, AcBoWriMo but that’s a new one on me. Well, on Twitter there is no #AcBoWriMo but there is plenty of #AcWriMo.

I have been driven to write lately—perhaps driven by the mysterious and as yet undiagnosed illness; which is neither here nor there. I have so many ideas and there are tons of old ideas not finished, or ever even fleshed out, to work with.

Preparation has involved recording these ideas as they occur and corralling old recorded ones too, prepping my Scrivener project file (my writing tool), and spending more time learning to use it well.

This year my goal is ≥ 1k words/day, with a total of ≥ 25k words/November. Yes. I am aware of the missing 5 days. I am trying to be gracious with myself. [If this illness can possibly help teach me that idea then, OK, I’ll take the rest. I’m not counting on this being an actual lesson, though.]

I do not know how much I will do with the, thankfully, re-expanded DigiWriMo folks’ official efforts but I will be “playing along at home” at a minimum. I certainly hope and plan to interact a fair bit. I just have to manage my stress triggers and adding a #digiwrimo twitter search window to my already overflowing two twitter accounts for a month ….

I also recently acquired a new phone making the leap from an iPhone 4S to a 6. I had been eligible for an upgrade for well over a year and $200 was the most they were ever going to give me anymore for my 4S. Or that anyone was going to give me. For a lot of hoops and a delay of several weeks, I got to pay roughly $100 and a $35 activation fee to move from a 16GB 4S to a 64GB 6. I took that deal.

It was particularly tempting as I use both TextExpander and 1Password on my computer. They have also both been on my phone but were basically useless. Finally iOS 8 allows them both to be useful. [Sadly, I will not be putting iOS 8 on my iPad 2. It is struggling already.]

The point of all this is that having those 2 programs actually doing good work on my phone may let me use it to do just a couple more tasks than I would’ve before. Also, the bigger screen isn’t to laugh at with my old eyes. They will also allow me to more productively write digitally even though what I “write” on my phone will still be pretty damned minimal.

Some of what I write will be public, much as now although even more will be. Much will be kept private. I really want to start doing a better job of journaling, in a couple senses of ‘journal.’ I hope DigiWriMo will spur me to do so, or at least take advantage of the illness’ urging me to do so. I hope to get a few more blog posts up here and definitely more written on By the barrel.

Poetry, 2015 goal planning, book reviews, tweeting, and all sorts of other writing endeavors are on the docket. Some of the topics I hope to address, whether public or not, include Facebook, gender labels (as language), gender on labels (as in depiction of on beer labels), sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, body image, altered consciousness, and many others. We will see what happens.

If any of you are participating in some kind of writing month in November let me know if you would like some support and hopefully we can find a mutual venue.

We never know how high we are. 420 humor.

I get a Poem-A-Day via email from If you like poetry then you should sign up for the free poem-a-day from the Academy of American Poets and be sure to check out the rest of the site if you are not familiar with it. It is a great resource!

I think someone there was having a little 420 fun yesterday when I saw the following subject line in my email: We never know how high we are (1176) by Emily Dickinson, which actually discplayed as:

We never know how high we are

I saw that first thing in the morning when I checked my email and just cracked up and wondered who at The Academy had such a sense of humor.

On that note, Emily Dickinson:

We never know how high we are
   Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
   Our statures touch the skies—

The Heroism we recite
   Would be a daily thing,
Did not ourselves the Cubits warp
   For fear to be a King—