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Cycles of Life
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The Forbidden Universe by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince
 - The Occult Origins of Science and the Search for the Mind of God

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Children's Encyclopedia vol. 3

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The Analects by Confucius, translated by Annping Chin

I ordered this book from my local library because it is mentioned a few times in the Four Sister’s of Hofei (see below)… actually I ordered a different version, not by Annping Chin (the same author), but this is the one they sourced.

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Four Sisters of Hofei by Ann-ping Chin


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Paper Money Collapse by Detlev S. Schlichter


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Voltaire in Exile by Ian Davidson


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The Martian by Andy Weir

I happened upon the film trailer for the Martian and I was keen to read the book before the film is released.

I found the author's humour as the stranded astronaut to be fun:

p.127 He takes a laptop outside on the red planet...

"Each crewman had their own laptop. So I have six at my disposal. Rather, I had six. I now have five. I thought a laptop would be fine outside. It's just electronics, right? It'll keep warm enough to operate in the short term, and it doesn't need air for anything

"It died instantly. The screen went black before I was out of the airlock. Turns out the 'L' in 'LCD' stands for 'Liquid.' I guess it either froze or boiled off. Maybe I'll post a consumer review. 'Bought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.'"

p.133 There are a number of acknowledgements to the cost of space missions. Here is one:

"[Get out of bed!] Uncle Sam paid a hundred thousand dollars for every second we'll be here."

Having some German friends I immidiately realised Vogel is German (it was confirmed in a later chapter):

"[What'll you have for breakfast] Vogel, your usual sausage?"

"Ja, please," Vogel responded.

"You know you're a stereotype, right?"

"I'm comfortable with that," Vogel replied, taking the proffered breakfast.

p.175 "By the way, the name of the probe we're sending [with food] is Iris. Named after the Greek goddess who traveled the heavens with the speed of wind. She's also the goddess of rainbows."

..."Gay probe coming to save me. Got it." [Watney replied.]

p.303-4 "If there were no storm, I'd be going directly southeast toward my goal. As it is, going only south, I'm not nearly as fast. I'm traveling 90 kilometers per day as usual, but I only get 37 kilometers closer to Schiaparelli because Pythagoras is a dick."

If you don't want me to reveal whether he survives his ordeal on Mars or not, then don't read these final passages:

Throughout his ordeal Watney had millions of people from around the world (Earth) watching his efforts play out like a reality TV show.

p.368-9 "I think about the sheer number of people who pulled together just to save my sorry ass, and I can barely comprehend it. My crewmates sacrificed a year of their lives to come back for me. Countless people at NASA worked day and night to invent rover and MAV (Mars Asscent Vehicle) modifications. All of JPL busted their asses to make a probe that was destroyed on lauch [costling 100's of millions of dollars]. Then instead of giving up, they made another probe to resupply Hermes. The China National Space Administration abandoned a project they'd worked on for years just to provide a booster [but also get a Chinese astronaut into space on NASA's next mission to Mars].

"The cost of my survival must have been hundreds of millions of dollars. All to save one dorky botanist. Why bother?

"Well, okay. I know the answer to that. Part of it might be what I represent: progress, science, and the interplanetary future we've dreamed of for centuries. But really, they did it because every being has a basic instinct to help each other out. It might not seem that way sometimes, but it's true.

"...Yes there are assholes who just don't care, but they're massively outnumbered by the people who do."

Nice positive words to end on.

Oh and the Americans sure do seem to swear and throw insults at each other a lot!

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Byron in Love by Edna O'Brien

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Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock
 - A quest for the beginning and the end

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A Clergyman's Daughter by George Orwell

It was last year that I read Nineteen Eighty-Four, which was the reason I bought this collection of Orwell's work, but I was in the mood to read another novel about a female character - the previous one being Dickens' Bleak House which I read over two years ago.

A Clergyman's Daughter is about Dorothy (rather than Esther), who is in her late 20s. The novel is set in the 20th century and Dorothy is the clergyman's daughter, daughter to the Rector of Knype Hill, a small town in East Anglia.

We begin with her on a typical day as she wakes up and organises the house and things for her father (similar to Esther would do in Bleak House for her guardian, John Jarndyce) - the things her mother used to do before she passed. Dorothy is the woman of the house and keeps things together, and in order, more so than her father gives her credit for, and he doesn't make it easy for her - running up debts and brushing them off as being of little consequence - really there seems little love between them.

Then just as things are getting on top of Dorothy (or perhaps because of), she finds herself on the streets of London (some one-hundred miles away) suffering from amnesia.

She promptly meets and befriends a young lad who is with a couple of other girls and they go off to find work hop-picking, begging, scrounging, stealing and sleeping rough along the way in order to survive.

When the hop-picking work comes to an end she regains the memory of her past (but not about what happened to her on the last night in Knype Hill) and all the stories that have been in the newspapers, about 'The Clergyman's Daughter' who ran away with a man, she realises, were about her.

Due to these stories about her she can't immediately return home, but she writes to her father and tries to get him to send her some money. In the meantime she ends up sleeping rough on the streets of London until a relative finds her and sorts her out with a job and lodgings as a school teacher.

This is a further experience of subsistence, but at first she finds a good way to teach the children in her care (I am again reminded of Esther in Bleak House). The children had never been taught as such, they were only trained to impress their fee-paying parents by returning home with neatly written work copied out of books, for example, but at first Dorothy changes all of this and holds affection for the children, that is until the dragon of a head-teacher puts a stop to it.

In the end the school term ends and Dorothy is laid off, but just as she is heading back out onto the streets again the guy from her home village (the one who she supposedly ran away with) rolls up in a taxi to take her back home, where her life returns to how it was before she left.

As I followed Dorothy on her ordeals I witnessed how she changed and when she returned home we read of her acceptance of her now lacking faith in God - she was naturally strongly devout in the beginning. For a short time upon her return she is aware of her changes, but comments that her soul is still the same, she questions things and looks deep within, that is until she busies herself with her commitments and her mind gives in and returns to the monotony of her life as it was.

"...mere outward things like poverty and drudgery, and even loneliness, don't matter in themselves. It is the things that happen in your heart that matter... Beliefs change, thoughts change, but there is some inner part of the soul that does not change. Faith vanishes, but the need for faith remains the same as before... And given only faith, how can anything else matter? How can anything dismay you if only there is some purpose in the world which you can serve, and which, while serving it, you can understand? Your whole life is illumined by the sense of purpose. There is now weariness in your heart, no doubts, no feeling of futility, no Baudelairean ennui waiting for unguarded hours. Every act is significant, every moment sanctified, woven by faith as into a pattern, a fabric of never-ending joy."

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Then Again by Irma Kurtz
 - Travels in search of my younger self

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Self Mastery and Fate with the Cycles of Life by H. Spencer Lewis
 - Better than astrology or numerology

Written by H. Spencer Lewis, the "late imperator of the Rosicrucian Order for North and South America."

This book caught my attention at a carboot. Really to me it does read like an astrology/numerology-based self-help book, for which I have read a few in years gone by, including Life Signs by Claire Petulengro back in 2009, and Zolar's Book of Dreams, Numbers and Lucky days back in 2003. I suppose I was more open to these things back then - I do still glean an insight into people through their star sign, but I no longer bother going all numer-mad over their name.

The author of this particular book, writing on behalf of the philosophical secret society, the Rosicrucian Order, claims this book is "better than astrology or numerology", although my particular issue dates to 1960 and really just gives similar guidance without the backing of where the particular advice came from, such as the myths of ancient Greece or beyond.

I mention this because astrology has links to many cultures throughout history (although it's still classed as a pseudoscience), including the Indians (with their Jyotisha), the Chinese, and the Maya. Numerology, or rather the idea that everything has a numerical relationship, is also classed as a pseidoscience but was of interest to Pythagoras and other philosophers of that time. Indeed, certain numers were considered sacred, holy or magical by the ancient Egyptians, and has close links with astrology.

Nonetheless, Cycles of Life was an informative read and if I was prepared to make my life revolve around the system explained I would perhaps get more from it. Beyond this, there are some insights into dreams and consciousness (page 38-39), the idea that each generation is brought to a higher degree (page 59), and the concept of an inner person vs. an outer person (page 176).


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Buy Now, or find out more.......

Uriel's Machine by Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas
- The Prehistoric Technology that Saved the Flood.

I last read this book in 2003 and I decided to re-read it.

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The Old Straight Track by Alfred Watkins

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The Non-Logical Universe by Robert Nadeau and Menas Kafatos
- The new physics and matters of the mind

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Schott's Quintessential Miscellany by Ben Schott

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Because some of my reviews on books have increasingly included vast notes and quotations, I would like to point out that I do recognise that these books are protected by the Copyright act. I put my views online to share with other internet browsers in the hope that little snippets of information may be useful and my views interesting. I have always included links to the online retailer Amazon and encourage anyone that finds any title particularly interesting (thanks to what I have to say) to either buy a copy or borrow one from their local library.


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