I consider myself the odd man out of the group.  Not only am I the oldest with 4 grandchildren and the only one fortunate enough to be an avid golfer, but how did a person that has probably read less than 50 books in his lifetime end up in a book club with a bunch of guys that read voraciously?  Me of all people, a guy that absolutely hated English language and literature in high school back in England. I’m not talking hate like green beans, but hate like a root canal without an anesthetic while sticking needles in your eyes. The only reason I took English language and literature back then was they were mandatory subjects to enter University and study something useful like maths, physics and, the ultimate, engineering.  Ahhhh Engineering, a profession that has correct answers: I mean, no matter what language you choose or how flowery you say it 2+2 is always 4. A is A. Get 10 questions like that correct and bingo bango you get 100%. English on the other hand, you can write a short story that is deemed a fantastic piece of work in one person’s eyes and a Godforsook festering piece of *&^% in another’s.  So depending on your reviewer’s mood that day you get can get an A+ or F. How phony is that?… it kills me.

So here I am trying to get my head around reading books voluntarily, my brain mixing the abstract nature of literature and precision of science, an alchemist trying to come up with that perfect combination. All of this self examination is what led me to choose the “Chrysalids” for my first book selection, the first book I can safely say I read seriously at age 17 because it was our High school reading material for that elusive English ‘O’ level I needed to get into University. I kept telling myself, all you need is a pass mark and I would be on my way, leaving reading fiction behind me, like pavement rushing under a speeding truck.  So in July 2009, Bob was 54 and 17, reading the “Chrysalids”. The good news is thanks to that six toed freak I got my pass mark and was on my way.

So back to my original question how did I end up joining a book club which makes me read books by choice? I think I finally figured it out. Just like English ‘O’ levels were a rite of passage to go to University to do what I really wanted to do, joining this book club is also a rite of passage to do something I really want to do now: drink scotch in the company of a great bunch of guys. So while I am now reading books for pleasure and still trying to find that elusive book the critics always rave about — you know, the one that “I couldn’t put down” or the one that “makes me laugh out loud” — it does come with the fringe benefit of drinking some tasty scotch that I just couldn’t put down and conversation with a bunch of golf starved literature junkies that makes me laugh out loud.

 Posted by at 10:23 pm

  8 Responses to “Robert”

  1. Couple of points from one who is younger than you but nevertheless shares the ‘O’ Level thingie.

    (a) You only had to do one book? Which high school did you go to, buddy? I had to do all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays, and I want my money back so I can go to your place.

    (b) given the variegated nature of our group, I think it’s safe to say that everyone’s an odd man out in some fashion. You just happen to be oldest odd man out.

    (c) As a man of the sciences, how can you subscribe to the fallacy that 2+2 is always =4, or A is always A? I thought that after the discussion on mathematics and quantum theory, we established beyond any doubt the [i] Godel’s theorem showed mathematics cannot have a definitive answer for everything [ii] Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle says you can never know everything about anything and [iii] Shroedinger’s cat is both alive and dead at the same time.

  2. @Lance

    Lance, oh Lance. You just made my point perfectly.

    A math junkie answers 2+2=4 Correct 100% A+

    A literature junkie gets asked the same question, debates it for 2 hours and as a result can’t decide if a cat is dead or alive. Sorry Buddy, F

    Don’t get me started on Shakespeare. What’s the point of language?? It’s to communicate. So Shakespeare writes some festering pieces of *&^%.. that requires people to study for hours, days and even weeks while someone is trying to explain it to them. What we have with Shakespeare is a failure to communicate. So he gets an F too.

    Yeah, I think I was supposed to read all those Shakespeare things too but I choose the root canal and needle in the eye option.

  3. Bahaha!!!

    “And since you know you cannot see yourself,
    so well as by reflection, I, your glass,
    will modestly discover to yourself,
    that of yourself which you yet know not of.” (Shakespeare)

    Sorry, Robert…you are indeed now one of those ‘literature junkies’. This Brave New World for you now means that 2+2≠4.

  4. I’ve never managed to get entirely past Godel and Heisenberg myself: I understand them perfectly, but wrestle with the inherent contradiction of the 2+2 truism.

    With respect to language as noting but a tool for communication, do we need to restrict ourselves to the lowest common denominator of “See Spot run”? Language and its use is the highest expression of our intellect and artistry, of our ability to communicate abstract ideas and ideals, beyond the merely physical. It’s like saying sex is just for procreation and not something to be enjoyed for its own sake.

    I think too many teachers just hammered literature into our heads for us to ever truly enjoy it, and it’s taken this long for us to get past that roadblock.

  5. I just found a seeming perfect answer where 2+2≠4

    We are using ordinal, basic mathematical computations. So some fool saying “2 quarts plus 2 pints is not = 4 quarts” is an idiot since the units are not the same.

    Therefore 2x+2x=4x under all systems. In the first computation above, 2+2=4 can be expressed as (2x)+(2x)=4 where x=1. And this is perfectly acceptable in math.

    But what happens when x=i^2 (where i=square root of -1)?

    Then the equation becomes 2x + 2x = -4

    and therefore ….

  6. Ahhh…but now you’ve changed the equation. It is no longer 2+2=4. It is now a qualified equation.

  7. Yep, Lance is blurring the difference between ‘a relationship between variables’ and ‘an instance of that relationship evaluated’.

    So 2x + 2x = 4x in fact describes a relationship between integer numbers that is universal, hence the x.
    2 + 2 = 4 is an instance of that calculation evaluated, where x=1.
    All it really says is that numbers add ‘linearly’.

    In the case where x=i^2 and i = root(-1) (why didn’t he just say x = -1 ?)
    Then all he is saying is that -2 + -2 = -4

    No, this doesn’t prove anything more than the ‘relationship’ is sound and will survive the substitution of x with negative numbers

    He is trying to confuse us with complex numbers, even complex numbers add linearly, so long as x remains a single unique vector.

  8. This whole page…from the bio on down through the conversation following…still makes me chuckle.

    Awesome. This is what it is all about.

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