
Content by Joseph Barry G...
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Reviews Written by Joseph Barry Garner (Agassiz, Bc, Canada)





3.0 out of 5 stars
Fascinating but frustrating, Aug. 13 2014
Review of 'Struck by Genius', by Jason Padgett and Maureen Seaberg
My wife and I listened to Jason Padgett being interviewed on CBC radio. He came across as articulate, enthusiastic and personable. As a young adult, Jason had been 'mugged' and had received a brain injury. One bad outcome was that he had become a person with 'Obsessive Compulsive Disorder', (OCD), which can be very debilitating. Another outcome was that his vision had changed so that he no longer saw continuity, such as a ball making an arc through the air or the drawing of a circle, but saw events/objects discretely. We disagreed with each other on how he described what he actually saw. So we purchased this book to try to understand what Jason 'sees'. Jason has a coauthor since apparently another outcome of his injury is an inability to express himself in writing, although clearly his conversation could be recorded!
Unfortunately, the book never really defines what Jason 'sees', although there are several careful diagrams, drawn by Jason over many months, of how he sees various items. Apart from the circles, the drawings are not helpful since we do not know how these items appear to ordinary people for comparison.
Jason has become fascinated by some aspects of mathematics and physics, especially quantum mechanics (I think). He is fascinated by the number 'pi', and gives a formula on page 110 to describe 'pi', which is based on subdividing a circle of radius 1 into '2x' equal triangles with lines drawn from the centre of the circle to the perimeter, as an approximation. I assume he uses the simple formula ' ab sin(C) /2' for the area of each triangular portion, which gives the result ' x sin(180/x) ' for the total area of the circle. [This is a simpler version of the formula given by Jason on page 110.] If we take x to be very large, say 100000, then the result gives 'pi' accurate to 8 decimal places. As Jason states, 'As x approached infinity, [the expression] approached pi.' Here, Jason is employing what is called a 'limiting argument', namely, as (1/x) approaches the limit of zero, the area of each triangle approaches zero, but the number of triangles gets larger and larger, in such a way that the total area of all the triangles approaches pi.
However, when one of his instructors in physics attempts to discuss instantaneous velocity by a similar argument, Jason objects. Apparently, in physics there is a length, labelled the 'Planck length', = 1.62 times 10 to the power (35) meters. Below this length, ordinary NewtonEinstein formulas do not work and people have to use quantum mechanics. So Jason objects to the limiting argument, but he has just used it himself in defining pi. No wonder the instructor growled at him, I would too!
The book recounts Jason's life up to the present, but it becomes very repetitive with many retellings of Jason's remarkable story to various interested parties. But, never could I understand what Jason actually 'sees', which was our purpose in purchasing the book.







5.0 out of 5 stars
ALL of Gary Larson's cartoons  what joy!, Oct. 1 2013
This comes in two, heavy, beautifully bound, tall volumes in an illustrated slipcase; heavy paper, heavy, heavy books. That's the only drawback. It includes every Larson cartoon produced including unpublished cartoons. They are bound in sequential order so one can observe how Larson's drawing improved over the years. Some letters to the editor and comments from Larson are included. If someone likes Larson's cartoons, than this is a marvelous gift. My wife had each volume on the table reading them at every meal time, and in between. Now we can look up ' a discouraging word', or 'there for three points, Rex ' etc. Wonderful fun!







5.0 out of 5 stars
My granddaughter 'loved it'., Oct. 1 2013
The only Lego Duplo product recommended for 1.5 years old children. I purchased it for my granddaughter of that age. Her father reported that 'she loved it'.







1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars
The book is very little for the money. Much better books are available., Oct. 1 2013
Review of: 'Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting', by John F. Carlson, published by Dover.
This book was first published in 1929, and black and white reproductions of some of Carlson's paintings were added in a 1973 reissue.
This book contains some helpful diagrams and discussions in an overall disappointing whole. Carlson's style is verbose and repetitive. His information about palette colours is naturally dated, and essentially useless. He advises beginners to use oil rather than watercolours, which, he suggests, require an expert to use successfully. But the remainder of the book could have been helpful whatever medium one uses.
The remaining chapters: (3) 'Angles' is helpful. The light comes from the sky, the ground being flat gets most light, trees being upright get the least (hence darkest), and mountains are inbetween. (4) 'Design' has a illuminating series of sketches on designs based on the same viewpoint, but that's all. (5) 'Light' is a discussion of the effects of diffraction, that's all. This is a fine point which I was unable to detect Carlson using in his own paintings. (6) 'Aerial perspective' discusses the gradation of colours due to distance. His discussion of sky colour is curious, quite at odds with James Gurney's demonstrations and my own observations. I suspect that industrial processes, and coal and wood burning, may have caused the results reported by Carlson. (7) 'Linear perspective' has some very helpful diagrams, and is quite the best chapter. (8) 'Color' is not helpful at all, in any way. (9) 'Trees' does not include conifers, and the whole topic is covered much better, at the same level, by Ted Kautzky, 'Painting Trees and Landscapes in watercolour', Dover. (10) 'Clouds', just chat. (11) 'Composition', really not helpful. (12) 'Main line and theme', some diagrams of bad designs. (13) 'Extraordinary and bizarre', some (obvious) examples of poor design, and warnings. (14) 'Painting from memory', exhortations to do just that.
The reproductions are inserted with quotations from the text at appropriate places, but suffer enormously by being in blackandwhite. Colour would have improved the value of the text immensely.
The book is very little for the money.
Any student of painting should buy, 'Color and Light', by James Gurney. Pigments are assessed on P. 218/9, for oil, acrylic and watercolour. Use this advice whatever other books you read. On P.92, pigments are placed on the colour wheel. The word 'gamut', used and not explained by Carlson, is explained and well illustrated in Chapter 7. The best introductory book for painting, I have found, is ,'Ways with watercolor', by Ted Kautzky, Dover; suitable for any medium.







1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars
Well written, disappointing selection, Dec 15 2012
This book offers a review of western art from Egyptian tomb painting of 1200 BC to George Lucas, Revenge of the Sith, 2005. Twentyeight works of art are discussed in separate chapters. The format is a reproduction of the artpiece followed by about four pages of discussion. The author writes extremely well, but the selection of art pieces was, for me, very disappointing. Twelve out of the 28 pieces chosen were completed after 1900, and the 20th century was the century of ugly art. Art that may send a message but not art with which to live. Imaginative realism is still alive and well. Robert Bateman in Canada, James Gurney in the US, and almost any issue of the International Artist magazine would provide examples of beautiful contemporary art with which one could live with delight.







1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Satisfying and compelling, Jan. 8 2012
Review of P.D.James: 'Death comes to Pemberley'. This mystery novel is set as a sequel to Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice'. It opens with a very brief account of the Bennet family from the view point of an envious gossiper from Meryton, and then moves smoothly into the married life of Elizabeth and Mr Darcy, six years after the close of P &P. The family continues to be dogged by the improvident, malicious, sly and envious George Wickham, Darcy's playmate from school days, who remains irresistibly attractive to bored young ladies. The author has absorbed the characters and added some interesting additional persons. She writes this novel in a style similar to that of Ms Austen and manages to tie together all the loose ends. The novel reads very smoothly and is a real 'pageturner'. I read it twice on one rainy weekend day! Very satisfying and highly recommended! The author's intellectual vigour at the age of 90 is remarkable







3.0 out of 5 stars
Good coverage, poor demonstration, Dec 29 2011
Statics is a branch of Applied Math dealing with engineered structures in equilibrium. This 11th edition of Hibbeler, (''H''), is a 656 page book covering a first course in Statics. At U of Alberta, ''H'' is used in the first semester of the engineering degree. ''H'' is clearly printed with diagrams and photos in colour. At the close of the chapters there is a very good Review section, there are many worked examples and problems and there is considerable additional support material available, if the student has time to access it. I did not examine this latter material. Essentially all the results of Statics were known 200 years ago. The contribution of the 20th century was the gradual introduction of the vector notation and algebra, which greatly simplifies 3D problems. This text serves as a student's first introduction to vectors, as Math typically introduces them in secondyear Calculus. ''H'' has poor and opaque initial explanations of theory. Results need to be proved rather than just stated. The algebra of vectors is the algebra of 'free' vectors. ''H'' ignores this terminology until page 152. A force is not a free vector since it and its scalar multiples have a unique line of action. So, one of the major problems in statics is the addition of skew forces, the subject of Chapter 4. ''H'' does not give a demonstration of the distributive law for vector products: a x (b + c) = a x b + a x c. The result is absolutely basic to the text, the proof is nontrivial (see Beer & Johnston, 'Statics') and is set as a problem without a solution. Determinants are used without any explanation, and yet school trig results are carefully reviewed in Appendix A. The 'scalar triple product' is used in section 4.5, {Moment of a force about an axis}, without development of its properties. Use of these properties would show that this moment may be expressed as 'Fd sin(A)', where F is the size of the force, d is the signed minimum distance between force and axis, and A is the angle between force and axis; a standard result (not given). The vital sections on couples are marred by notational problems. The forcevectors F and F cannot form a couple, since F + F = 0, by definition (they have the same line of action). So the demonstration of the moment of a couple is without content. Possibly for the sake of brevity, the notation F is often used when what is meant is a forcevector having the Cartesian components of force F but a different line of action. The sections would be correct if scalar methods were used, lines of action represented by the arrows and the letters indicating size of the force. These notational problems occur again in sections 6.1, 6.4, and 7.2, in which force vectors with the same lines of action but opposite senses are given the same label. The writer seems to relax in the later chapters, which are generally in 2D and simpler. The worked examples on virtual work are interesting and varied, but an example in 3D with vectors would be instructive. All the worked examples in the text which use vector methods can be solved quite as simply by scalar methods. So the power of vector methods is not demonstrated.







1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
A thorough introduction to calculus, April 1 2011
Calculus is required for engineering, physics, chemistry and scientific statistics, besides mathematics. It is so important that in some universities, physics begins their first semester covering basic calculus. Differential calculus gives rules for the slopes or rates of change of general expressions or functions. These rates of change are called derivatives. Integral calculus shows that the rate of change of an area under a curve is given by the formula for the height of the curve and so the area itself is found by the inverse operation of differential calculus or the antiderivative. A knowledge of basic differentiation and integration would be so straightforward to impart at high school and so useful, but usually it is not. Ontario used to cover calculus in Grade 13 which I believe is now defunct.In BC over the last 20 years, simple ideas on calculus seem to drift in and out of Grade 12. So why do some physics departments cover calculus in the first semester? Because the large majority of first year math courses on calculus take so long to get to the actual calculation of rates of change: so long that often integral calculus is reached only in the second semester, and this is what the physics programs need. There are a great many good texts on single variable calculus available. Robert Adams' text is certainly one of the most thorough and complete of these. I have not taught from this text, but I was very favourably impressed by the companion text on Calculus of Several Variables which I consider the finest text on this topic that I have ever seen. I only wish it had been available when I was an undergrad 56 years ago. Anyway, the single variable text covers the usual first year material including series and power series, a very good chapter on ordinary differential equations, and brief but useful introductions to Fourier Series and complex numbers. The examples in the text are interesting and seem to cover most of the difficult points that I can remember. The presentation is very careful and yet very readable and the author attempts to prove every result. It is a wonderful text for a mathematically inclined student. A weaker student would require direction on which sections to study, in my opinion. There is no mention of vectors in this sixth edition which was a disappointing surprise since my 3rd edition of the several variables text refers to vectorvalued functions of a real variable as being covered in the single variable text. A significant omission from a practical view point.







5.0 out of 5 stars
Enjoyable, relaxed reading, March 31 2011
A collection of short stories from a very small prairie town, Tuckahoe, at varying times in the twentieth century. The stories are not about the earnest hard working farmers and homesteaders who formed the backbone of those types of communities but about the loungers, the drifters, the children, the pastors, the teachers, who attach themselves willy nilly to any congregation of humans. The stories are offbeat with usually a great sense of underlying humour. The author catches characters deftly with a few words and each of us can soon imagine the domestic scenes he is describing. The book is just perfect for bedtime reading or during a flight. A great story with which to start is my favourite, 'Proud not feed chickens', a happy love story. Sometimes the behaviour of the characters may seem 'American', but, of course, many inhabitants of those towns came from the States. My wife grew up in the southern Alberta town of Raymond, founded by the Knight family from Utah. She finds the book very true to life. Emile Slidebottle is a character in one of the stories, but otherwise the book title is not helpful, nor is the cover art. The 'Books in Canada' review is very condescending and does not reflect the pleasure given by the tales.







5.0 out of 5 stars
The world of the Full Professor, March 8 2011
Professor Dr MoritzMaria Von Igelfeld is a Full Professor at the Institute of Romance Philology (essentially the structure and syntax of languages, past and present, spoken in Europe), Regensburg, Germany. Although intelligent, erudite and talented, he takes himself and his subject very seriously. The tales follow his progress to academic conferences and invited visits to academic institutions in other countries as well as the usual academic plotting and backbiting at his own institute. McCall Smith skewers the pomposity of many academics and the pettiness which pervades bureaucratic institutions. Almost all the tales are hilarious and so true to life. In 'On being light blue', von Igelfeld goes to a Cambridge college where the German pedant meets English obliqueness. The atmosphere reminded me of my brief career in an English private boarding school in the late fifties. McCall Smith has a wonderful understanding of the human heart. The only tale which rang a false note was 'A leg to stand on', in which von Igelfeld feels that he has to impersonate a veterinary surgeon because of an earlier misunderstanding, forgetting his family motto of 'Truth Always'. Otherwise I highly recommend this collection for reading and rereading for laughter and for a deeper understanding of our fellow human beings.


