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justine Elitist Beer Lover
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I have so many books to read, but i think my next one will be The Girl On The Train.
Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson (2010).

This is a weird book.

Most of this novel is a straightforward chronological retelling of the story of Galileo from his mid-30's when in a market in Venice he was told by a stranger who had recognized him about how there was a Dutch lens maker who had lined up a pair of his lenses to make the first primitive telescope, to the time of his death nearly 40 years later. Of course this includes the period when he was held by the Vatican for questioning the stability of the Earth by arguing for the Copernican model of the universe. These parts are interspersed with period writings--most by Galileo himself though translated into English (though according to Robinson most of such texts that Galieo wrote remain untranslated out of their original Tuscan Italian or period Latin)--that were contemporaneous with the story. Included with this is a partially humorous look at his daily life having to deal with the fights between his mother and his longtime mistress, his largely unsuccessful brother and the payment of the dowry for his sister, his illegitimate children from said mistress (a boy who Galileo was able to set up a marriage, and two girls whom he had sent to a nearby nunnery). While this look is likely largely made up by Robinson, they do help humanize Galileo.

Interspersed through this is his "Dream": I do not know this to be true, but in this book Galileo was subject to long periods when he would lay in something like a coma for up to hours at a time. Robinson explains this by describing how in some bodily form--Galileo's body still remained in the 17th century--Galileo was visiting the 34th century having been sent by the "entangler" which was sent back into time from around that future time so that the people of that future date could take advantage of advice from the man whom they regard as the First Scientist. These people are also living on/in what Galileo had called the Medicean Stars: our Galilean satellites of Jupiter of Io, Callisto, Ganymede and Europa (that collective name bringing a mixture of disappointment and pride to Galileo, the first being that the name he had proposed didn't stick). The people of the 34th century recognize "proto-scientists" before Galileo like Archimedes, but they still revere Galileo as the First Scientist because he had been burned at the stake by the Vatican but whose death was fundamental to the reduction of the importance of the Roman Catholic Church.

Hang on, you are saying, Galileo was NOT burned at the stake. Well, that is true in OUR universe, and I think this is partially where Robinson loses me: if ALL things are possible in the multiverse as it is explained to Galileo, then while this particular me may not be in the best of all possible worlds, should I celebrate anyway? At one point Galileo asks if it would be possible for him to convince Pope Urban to the Copernican view, but one of the people in the 34th century who befriends Galileo tells him basically no because that way would lead to science becoming an assisting "little brother" to the Church which would not help the next time learning required a paradigm shift. Science would then be just another branch of the Church which would help stifle such shifts (AND--within the multiverse--that HAD happened along with ALL other possibilities).

Especially interesting to me was the argument at Galileo's time of how atomism (the view that there were fundamental particles that made up all matter) was considered heresy in view of the transubstatiation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ (meaning that such actually became the Body and Blood ALL the way down forever). The politics within and outside the Church REQUIRED a confession from Galileo and he HAD to suffer some punishment. In "Dream" if Galileo had persisted in his claim that his "Dialogues" which contrasted the Aristolean and Copernican views actually were arguments for the former despite it being supported by the character Simplicio, then he would have been brought up on charges of heresy due to his support of atomism (which was one of the charges that got Giordano Bruno burned at the stake within Galileo's adulthood). I do not know how true this argument was, and any of Galileo's papers which survived certainly would NOT include any of this as he had been forbidden by the Church to even speculate on such matters.

"Galileo's Dream" is an unsettling book. Certainly required reading if Robinson is among your authors, but I am hard-pressed to say that I had enjoyed this.
Old Yoda agitator
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'Anthropocene or Capitalocene?
Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism'
(Open access book) http://arena-attachments.s3.amazonaws.com/772469/2f4f13a96536be79f602f1906d5d5660.pdf

“A revolutionary new phase of earth history, the Anthropocene, has been unleashed by human action, and the prospects for this blue sphere and the mass of humanity are not good. We had best start thinking in revolutionary terms about the forces turning the world upside down if we are to put brakes on the madness. A good place to begin is this book, whose remarkable authors bring together history and theory, politics and ecology, economy and culture, to force a deep look at the origins of global transformation. In short, the enemy to be met is not us, dear Pogo, but capitalism, whose unrelenting exploitation of (wo)man and nature is driving us all to the end(s) of the earth.”
—Richard Walker, professor emeritus of geography, University of
California
TOS
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Old Yoda posted:
'Anthropocene or Capitalocene?
Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism'
(Open access book) http://arena-attachments.s3.amazonaws.com/772469/2f4f13a96536be79f602f1906d5d5660.pdf

“A revolutionary new phase of earth history, the Anthropocene, has been unleashed by human action, and the prospects for this blue sphere and the mass of humanity are not good. We had best start thinking in revolutionary terms about the forces turning the world upside down if we are to put brakes on the madness. A good place to begin is this book, whose remarkable authors bring together history and theory, politics and ecology, economy and culture, to force a deep look at the origins of global transformation. In short, the enemy to be met is not us, dear Pogo, but capitalism, whose unrelenting exploitation of (wo)man and nature is driving us all to the end(s) of the earth.”
—Richard Walker, professor emeritus of geography, University of
California


hm, nice, looks mighty interesting
Galileo's Revenge: Junk Science in the Courtroom by Peter Huber.

Not very well written but very influential book on the use and abuse of expert witnesses in courts of law.
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Doing any recreational reading? v.5.8

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