I started perusing this book yesterday when a library patron brought it upstairs for me. That never happened before, so I thought I should at least check it out. It’s compiled from entries to an annual question Edge.org releases. I never heard of the site or the series. It’s an interesting idea for a book, and the book itself bring up interesting concepts. That is not to say it is a good book. Quick 1-4 paragraphs emailed back from professors and scientists around the globe to the question “What is the most important invention of the past 2,000 years?” Nothing really in depth, hence me calling is ‘perusing’ – like looking through a magazine. The questions from other years, and answers from global smarties are on the website.
What I would consider common ones came up – the printing press, Indo-Arabic number system, papermaking, the harnessing of electricity, penicillin, the scientific method, computer networks etc. Other responses were new to me in thinking about how they changed the world – hay, the plow, waterworks, anesthesia, the mirror. It also covers more intellectual, or theory driven, inventions; the concept of education, disbelief in the supernatural (as in more independent thought, no more rule by divine right), or the non-implemented 33-year English Protestant Calendar, etc.
And of course television…
“Television has changed status and prestige criteria, created instant celebrities, hastened the downfall of leaders, increased the importance of physical appearance, and accelerated the intensity of intrasexual mate competition — all of which have acutely transformed the nature of sexuality and mating and perhaps forever altered the evolutionary course of our species.”
‘A Museum of Early American’ Tools by Eric Sloane.
I picked this up on vacation and it’s great. A skinny little book covering a large history of tools and how they were / are used. The drawing a very details and the descriptions and summaries are great.
In fact, most of the book is available online. So turn through a few pages now…
The other book I’m reading right now it ‘A Handmade Life; In Search of Simplicity’ by William Copperwaite.
Part scrapbook, part philosophies of education, non-violence, designing, teaching, building.. in part a ‘how-to’ book, but also a ‘why-to’.
And here’s a video bringing together excellent beardmanship and educational workmanship.
This weekend Amber commented on how it’s pretty funny that I can just sit and read a book on furniture. I’ve typically always liked reading non-fiction, maybe more so than fiction… I don’t know. If so, it might have something to do with me reading enough fiction getting my BA in English. But I think the real reason is that I like doing things more than I like reading about things. During those odd lunch breaks or time before sleep or mornings just waking up – I can’t be doing much. At least nothing with regard to much active or creative activity ie woodworking, music, photography, bicycles…
Since I have to eat breakfast, lunch, and wind down before I go to sleep, I usually try to read about things that make my active time better served. (Or I write on here during my lunch break, you’re welcome.)
Anyway, here’s how I spent some recent breakfast, lunch, and pre-dreams time.
The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking. I’m actually not done with this, but so far it’s great. Of course, in a way, I hope I’m never done with it. I hope it’s something I refer back too when I’m making a wooden convex hand plane for a coopered door. Maybe now I’m just turning non-fiction into fiction. We’ll see. The book has much more writing that pictures – almost a blend of theory and practicality. Very nice. It makes thinking about a single board of wood seem very important. I guess it is. It’s written by a man who preferred to word ‘composing’ over designing when it came to projects. That should clarify whether you’d ever want to read it or not.
The Antique Hunters Guide to American Furniture. I didn’t read this one so much as peruse (speaking of college…) – and I’m continuing to do so. It’s been helpful to get a handle of the different types and styles of furniture. As well as the basic time period they were introduced etc.
Which made it sort of funny when I ran across this post from Chris Schwarz about simplifying furniture into 4 basic types. In terms of ornamentation and construction quality.
Dr. Suess, keeping it real.
So you may have noticed in the past week I’m not just posting about family stuff and woodworking, but also the occasional single picture. These are from my phone and pretty quick to do. That is, as opposed to sifting through the hundreds I’ll take over a the span of just a few hours to find 10 to post. I love my real camera and I plan on posting things both ways. Posting pictures from the phone just allows me to keep the blog regularly updated with (I hope) something interesting, without dedicating a few hours every week to sift through pictures and write stuff out. Sometimes I use these few hours of blog creation to read instead.
Since I’ve relegated some of the posts here to being shorter, why not occasionally brief you on what I’ve enjoyed reading recently?
New York Times “Let’s Be Less Productive”
A great article about, in part, the value of human services being worth more than material production. “it is the time spent practicing, rehearsing and performing that gives music, for instance, its enduring appeal. What — aside from meaningless noise — would be gained by asking the New York Philharmonic to play Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony faster and faster each year?” I’m sure nearly every business faces this dilemma. Less resources, less people. And yet the graphs for production, stats – however it is you measure doing good in the field – must be better, more, faster etc that the year previous…
“The Workbench: A Complete Guide to Creating Your Perfect Bench.”
by Ron Schleining
I got this at the library of course. If you are at all interested you can scan a good third of it at the ‘click to look inside’ on Amazon.com here. Naturally if you like it, resort to your library. A read this because of the sea of workbench books I’ve been reading about lately. Mostly from Christopher Schwarz and Scott Landis. I think the Youtube channel of ‘The Wood Whisperer’ doing a multi-part workbench build for a ‘guild build’ (something you pay for) also got the modern ‘internet woodworkers’ all chatting about building workbenches.
Anyway, my library didn’t have the other ones (don’t worry, I will Inter-Library Loan them) – so I read this one. It’s a good mix of how they work, why they work, and the history of the different types. Actually the history is a bit hidden in the text, as it’s not divided up into chapters by bench type, but instead by bench attributes. Also, one chapter is dedicated to premade benches, and an exciting twenty five or so pages review bench styles and goes over plans to make them. A seriously great book to read about workbench design.