What literature lurks in the hearts of men? The library knows...
This is Bibliophile.
Here we are once again, going to a random university library, and briefly commenting on their newest and brightest books. This week around, we'll be traveling to Maritimes, with the University of Prince Edward Island. Now, as far as I can tell, they don't actually have a new books page, so we'll do the next best thing, and look for books published in 2012. Hmm. It seems their search function doesn't allow that, either. You have to enter at least a subject, author, or title for the search to start. All right: we'll do key words, starting with "philosophy."
Peeling potatoes or grinding lenses : Spinoza and young Wittgenstein converse on immanence and its logic / Aristides Baltas.
My knowledge on Wittgenstein is somewhat limited to what I learned about him in Logicomix, and that was really more about one of his "mentors," Bertrand Russell, than Wittgenstein, per se. I started reading one of those "Cambridge Companion"-type books on him once, but didn't get very far. And for Spinoza, I know even less, other than he's some European philosopher. But I am not here because I know about the subjects; I'm here because I thought "peeling potatoes" was an interesting thing to put in a title. The title comes from a quotation from Wittgenstein, where he declares that peeling potatoes is, for him, what grind lenses was for Spinoza, a way of distracting the body so the mind could think. Baltas argues that there is a core similarity between the two's greater works, in that both believe on an immanence of logic, that, at the root, logic permeates the world in general, from language to God. Baltas' method is a close reading of both texts, alongside a contextual situating in the period they were published. I think you might get more from this book if you came into it knowing something about those two issues. Personally, as it stands, I already have enough confusing European philosophers in my reading pile.
Next key word: technology.
Sir James Dewar, 1842-1923 : a ruthless chemist/ John Rowlinson.
I love the subtitle here. It sounds like it should be a character description in a steam-punk play. Dewar is probably best known for being the founding father of cryogenics, for his discovery of a method of freezing hydrogen. He also invented one of the first applications of such technology, the thermos--which was apparently originally called the vacuum flask. He was known for getting into heated contests with other scientists, and had a protracted patent battle with Alfred Nobel over the invention of explosive cordite. Explosions, battles with other scientists, vaccum flasks, and cryogenics. Seriously, this is a steam punk novel waiting to happen. Actually seriously, I know a lot of these "science-master" type biographies get published, but I don't think I've ever read one. It's a bit of an oversight on my part; the whole reason that science is accused of being ahistorical sometimes is that no one bothers to read books about its past when they do come out. Judging purely by the title and Rowlinson's blurb on Amazon, this book has at least a bit of a sense of style behind it, so it may be worth a perusal.
Securing the Virtual Environment : How to Defend the Enterprise Against Attack / Davi Ottenheimer
I thought this was an interesting title, because while it's using siege and military rhetoric to discuss the Internet, it's rather vague on who or what we're protecting our digital domains from. And the answer comes fairly quickly. Essentially, it's a business book, explaining to would-be IT managers how to protect data from hacking or obtrusive snooping. The author is the president of an online security firm called flyingpenguin. According to flyingpenguin's site, there's an actual point to the name: first, it's based loosely on Linux developer Linus Torvalds' adoption of the flightless fowl for Linux's mascot. Second, Ottenheimer read somewhere or other that a penguin can swim through water at great speed--in other words, it moved away from the traditional use of its wings, to find transportation in another medium. And that's the metaphor Ottenheimer thought appropriate for an online security group. Depending on one's perspective, that's either a slightly clever thing from a business that has a reputation for being humorless, or a slightly dumb thing that's of the usual sort that management types come up with that sounds better in concept than practice. Your mileage may vary.