Ramsey – New Era

New era : reflections on the human and natural history of Central Oregon by Jarold Ramsey

Date read: 07-26 February 2015

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover of  Ramsey's New Era

Paperback, 154 pages

Published 2003 by Oregon State University Press

Source: COCC Barber Library (F 876.5 .R36 2003)

I found this while verifying that there is a second copy of the previously reviewed Atkeson book on the library shelves.

I truly enjoyed this book and will be acquiring a copy to own: there are several stories, some useful leads in my local history question, and some intriguing points of view that I want to revisit.

Ramsey’s language is of the common person, yet fluid and often beautiful. We heard the author speak at our public library just two days after I checked out the book. He told us a very schematic Native American folktale from the Central Oregon region and then proceeded to embellish it by looking at it academically and following up leads and sources until it is was fleshed out as it can be. It was wonderful exercise. “The Farm Boy, the Homesteader, and the Old Indian: Conserving a Story” is a similar sort of exercise that he undertakes in this volume.

Contents:

  • Introduction
  • New Era: Growing Up East of the Cascades
  • The Farm Boy, the Homesteader, and the Old Indian: Conserving a Story
  • Going Around the Mountain
  • The Kiln
  • Opal City
  • Quincey’s Ladders: A Fishing Tale
  • The Canyon
  • Two Homesteads
  • An Impromptu on Owning Land
  • Notes

“New Era” tells of growing up in Central Oregon and of the one-room schoolhouse he attended. I already mentioned “The Farm Boy, …” above. “Going Around the Mountain” tells the story of a family trip in the summer of 1949 to circumnavigate Mount Jefferson. “The Kiln” and “Opal City” are about just what they say there are. “Quincey’s Ladder” is about a prime fishing spot and so much more. “The Canyon” is indeed the story of a canyon, while “Two Homesteads” is a comparative study of two ranches. “An Impromptu …” is also well-advertised as to topic.

Highly recommended for lovers of Central Oregon history, Ramsey’s other literary endeavors, or fans of stories of the homesteading era.

This is the 12th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Stavans and Alcaraz – A Most Imperfect Union

A Most Imperfect Union: A Contrarian History of the United States by Ilan Stavans and Lalo Alcaraz

Date read: 18-20 February 2015

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Image of cover of Stavans and Alcaraz - A Most Imperfect Union

Hardback, xv, 269 pages

Published 2014 by Basic Books

Source: Deschutes Public Library (STAVANS ILAN)

I wanted so much more from this.

There is so much sarcasm here, at different levels, that it becomes an obstacle to knowing how to take much of it. The author, Stavans, jumps right in in the five-page Foreword. He doesn’t need to sell me on the “immigrant perspective”—I value such critiques—but he does on some of his stereotypes of Americans throughout the book. I agree in most cases, but I sometimes want a little support. Also, I despise broad-brush generalizations as a simplification device; or, for most any reason.

Sadly, though, I think they are mostly preaching to the choir. Anyone who truly needs this book will probably never read very far in it; that is, if they ever even pick it up.

Give it a try and see how you relate to it. I guess I wanted sharper, more pointed critique that was not simply stereotypes being thrown around.

This is the 37th book in my GN2015

This is the 11th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

Atkeson and Miller – Ski & Snow Country

Ski & Snow Country: The Golden Years of Skiing in the West, 1930s-1950s by Ray Atkeson; essay by Warren Miller

Date read: 11-12 February 2015

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cover of Ski & Snow Country: The Golden Years of Skiing in the West, 1930s-1950s by Ray Atkeson

Hardback, 120 pages

Published 2000 by Graphic Arts Center Publishing

Source: Deschutes Public Library (796.93 ATKESON RAY)

Another excellent collection of 100 black & white images of Atkeson’s ski and snow pictures. Based on technique alone these images ought get 5 stars but as the title suggests the focus is narrower than in Oregon, My Oregon and skiing is not something I ever took up. In fact, this book has been quite educational to see how short of a period of time good equipment for the masses has actually been available. I must admit the tug of some of the action shots but I think it’s beyond the time I might take up downhill skiing. Perhaps cross-country at some point but we need to use our snowshoes more first. Not that we’ve had much opportunity this winter whether we wanted to or not.

The introductory essay is by Warren Miller, famous skiing filmmaker. The two became friends in 1949, meeting in Squaw Valley. The essay was written in 2000 and as the note to readers says on the title page verso:

“There are undoubtedly some errors in dates, time, and places in this book due to most events happening fifty or more years ago. I have tried to be as accurate as my memory of the events and the occasional phone call for verification allows. — Warren Miller”

Highly recommended, especially for fans of skiing, skiers, those interested in the early decades of skiing in the western US, and anyone who simply enjoys black & white photos of snow (and often other things along with the snow).

This is the 10th book in my Traditional Chesterfield armchair

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

Robertson – Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker

Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker: 200 Ultra-Convenient, Super-Tasty, Completely Animal-Free Recipes by Robin Robertson

Date read: 02-08 February 2015

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover of Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robertson

Paperback, 324 pages

Published 2012 by The Harvard Common Press

Source: Skimmed initial copy from public library (641.5636 ROBERTSON ROBIN) and then bought us a copy via amazon

We recently—mostly at my behest—acquired a slow cooker of a size manageable to just us two. Thus, I grabbed a stack of slow cooker books from the public library. Browsing through this one, about halfway in, I decided I wanted my own copy. A few days later I ordered it. I browsed some of it again the day I received it and made our first dish from it the very next day, Barley Orzotto with White Beans and Vegetables. Quite tasty. Also a record by several orders of magnitude for time from acquisition to making 1st dish.

The book is one of the most up-to-date and it includes lots of tips for using various specific ingredients, on the potential need for assorted sizes of crock pots, etc. I also identified quite a few recipes I would like to try for us and when I asked the wife to look through it she filled more than two sides of a piece of paper with things she was interested in trying. I would call this a “Score!”

Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Slow Cooker Basics
  • Snacks and Appetizers
  • Soups That Satisfy
  • Stews and Chili
  • Beans and Grains
  • Hearty Main Dishes
  • Simply Stuffed
  • Vegetable Love
  • Condiments from the Crock
  • Don’t Forget Dessert
  • Breakfast and Bread
  • Hot Drinks
  • Measurement Equivalents
  • Index

Lots of good information on how to best use one’s slow cooker and to best use various ingredients to make amazing food easily. If you are looking into using a slow cooker more this is a good book. Yes, it is for vegans but neither of us are; although Sara is vegetarian. We can always ignore the “use vegan” this-that-or-the-other-thing notes about keeping it vegan. The content—seemingly like 85-95%—of most other slow cooker books that are not specifically for vegans or vegetarians primarily only include meat recipes. It is far easier to add meat (or other protein) than it is to “remove” it. I greatly appreciate the focus on things I can make for both of us.

And no worries on the meat front. I already turned 3 lbs of pork shoulder into tasty shredded pork in the slow cooker. And before that I made Saison Dupont shredded chicken from chicken breasts in it. I just didn’t get those recipes from this book. 😀

The freezer is a wonderful place. I wonder how soon it’ll be before we need a small chest freezer.

This is the 8th 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.

Contents:

  • 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

Atkeson – Oregon, My Oregon

Oregon, My Oregon by Ray Atkeson; essay by Catherine Glass; compilation, photo editing & printing and research by Thomas Robinson

Date read: 05 February 2015

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover of Atkeson's Oregon, My Oregon

Hardback, 128 pages

Published 1998 by Graphic Arts Center Publishing in cooperation with the Oregon Historical Society

Source: Central Oregon Community College Barber Library. (F 877 .A797 1998) My wife has checked it out.

I discovered this gem of a portrait of my adopted state by one of its preeminent photographers because my wife has it checked out along with other Oregon/Central Oregon books.

The photos are all black and white and are from the late 1920s to the 1960s, past the time Atkeson had become famous for his color photography too. The photo captions were researched and written by photo compiler, printer and historian Tom Robinson and provide a fair bit of context. Photos from Atkeson’s commercial work, his freelance work and work he simply shot for his own pleasure are all represented. Together they paint a fascinating portrait of several decades of industry, travel, sport, portraiture and landscape in Oregon.

“Tom Robinson researched the photos included in Oregon, My Oregon by reviewing hundreds of thousands of Photo Art Studio negatives housed in the collections of the Oregon Historical Society and the more than ten thousand negatives in the Atkeson family collection. Examining each negative on a light table with a television camera set up to reverse the image from a negative to a positive on the monitor, Tom selected four hundred. Then he took the negatives to his darkroom and printed them. His circa 1940s enlarger, which he describes as “a behemoth Saltzmann that weighs almost as much as a small car,” is generally regarded as the finest large-format enlarger. He had it fitted with new Nikkor lenses and a multicontrast light head.

His mission was demanding and complex: modern printing techniques do not apply to old negatives, the old negatives do not fit modern paper, their very sensitive emulsions are often on the crumbling edge of disintegration, and they require darkroom gymnastics to address their density ranges. Nevertheless, Tom Robinson met these and other challenges, in addition to researching and writing the captions” (from “Ray Atkeson in Black and White” by Catherine Glass, 16).

My favorites:

  • Farm Photo, circa 1947-1948. Young boy carrying big bag of hops to the barn in Marion County (17).
  • Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, April 17, 1940. PBR truck, cases of beer and salesmen in front of the distributors (1537 Southeast Grand Ave., Portland) (20).
  • Desert Road, 1944-1945. Near Burns, Oregon (30).
  • Windstorm at Timberline, 1955. Shot by his wife, Mira (37).
  • Columbia Steel Casting, Machinery and Operations, July 25, 1944 (Portland’s Montavilla neighborhood) (53).
  • Mary Carroll, 1942 (May’ve been one of the two first women to work in America’s maritime shipyards) (55).
  • Threshing Grass, circa 1945, Grande Ronde Valley (62).
  • 301 Restaurant, April 28, 1943 (African-American club; now the I-84 eastbound entrance from I-5 northbound) (68).
  • Jacksonville Cemetery, 1945. Jacksonville, Oregon (70).
  • Horse-seining, 1945. Using horses to seine for salmon at Astoria (86).
  • Smith Rocks and Crooked River, circa May 1936 (94).
  • Vanport Flood, May 31, 1948. What was Vanport, Oregon (102)
  • Eagle Creek Punchbowl, early 1940s. (111).
  • Art and Howie Doing a Double Geländsprung, circa 1948. Resort at Anthony Lakes (117).
  • Herringbone Tracks, circa 1940. Salmon River Canyon on Mount Hood (119).

Many of the photographs, whether favorites or not, are technical masterpieces based on a keen eye, an intimate study of light, and a willingness and determination to be in the right spot at the right time. Many are testaments to times and places no longer here, while also making strong social statements. Granted those statements may be vastly different than the ones they may’ve made when shot decades ago but that does nothing to lessen the impact of a photo such as 301 Restaurant or Vanport Flood then and today.

I can only begin to imagine what stories are told in the 100,000+ extant photos held by the Oregon Historical Society and those of the Atkeson family. I am looking forward to checking out more of his books.

May be my 2nd favorite book of photography by a single artist. Elliott Erwitt’s Personal Exposures is probably my favorite.

Highly recommend for fans of Oregon and fans of individual photographers who excelled at most every form of photography extant during their career.

This is the 6th 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)

Contents:

  • 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

Boak and Bailey – Brew Britannia

Brew Britannia: The Strange Rebirth of British Beer by Jessica Boak and Ray Bailey.

Date read: 26 December 2014-23 January 2015

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover of Brew Britannia: The Strange Rebirth of British Beer by Jessica Boak and Ray Bailey

Paperback, 298 pages

Published 2014 by Aurum Press

Source: Own. Purchased from Amazon

Brew Britannia is eminently readable (except for the ultra-tiny endnote numbers) and highly enjoyable. The authors cover the last 60 years of brewing history in Britain and while there are parallels with the growth of craft beer in the US over the last 30 or so years there are also huge differences.

I believe it to be well-researched and well-written, and having read Boak & Bailey’s Beer Blog for over a year now I know that they interact enough with folks who would call BS that we can take it as a reasonably accurate portrait.

In the past two years or so I have read at least seven other British beer books and this was my favorite. This is a partially unfair judgment as some of those read are quite simply historical pieces now. They are also vastly different genres of book so it is perhaps unfair to compare them. [Mark Dredge – Craft Beer World, Pete Brown – Three Sheets to the Wind, Martyn Cornell – Beer: The Story of the Pint, Richard Boston – Beer & Skittles, Michael Jackson – The English Pub (am aware of authorship issues) and Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion, Melissa Cole – Let Me Tell You About Beer. Ian Hornsey’s Brewing, 2nd ed. is probably my overall favorite but that truly is unfair as it is a fairly technical book on the state of brewing knowledge. I do own a couple more Hornsey and RSC books that I hope to read soon (e.g., Hornsey’s Alcohol and its Role in the Evolution of Human Society).

If you are interested in the history of the British beer industry (and prior) then you should read both Cornell’s Beer: The Story of the Pint and Boak & Bailey’s Brew Britannia. Cornell begins in prehistory and comes up to around 2000 but the recent material focuses mostly on industry consolidation (breweries, pub cos) and government legislation (Beer Orders, …). Boak & Bailey are looking at only the last 60 years or so and while they certainly address the above topics they also cover the various consumer movements in far more depth. SPBW is not even in the index in Cornell (although it does appear, at least once, in the book), while CAMRA has 3 entries. In B&B, CAMRA (in multiple name variants) and sub-topics has 6.75 column inches (17 cm) of entries and SPBW has 3 entries but they cover ~11 pages. B&B also focus far more on the independent, smaller, newer breweries. Together they do a great job covering the history of British beer.

If you are more interested in the recent past or want more of a consumer focus or more on the rise of “craft” beer in Britain then definitely read Brew Britannia. It is available in both paperback and ebook and from Amazon US and UK, along with other vendors, of course.

Most of the beer books I read do not necessarily make me want to have a beer with the author/s, and often make me not want to, but between Brew Britannia and their blog these folks are the authors I would most love to have a beer (or three) with.

[Cross-posted at Bend Beer Librarian since it is a beer book.]

This counts as my 4th book for the 2015 Nonfiction Reading Challenge and for the “A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit” criterion for the 2015 Reading Challenge

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.

Contents:

  • 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

Preface

“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