Hobbies - Books
When I was 22, I spent the month of June travelling around the Balkans by myself. I was trying to heal a broken heart, having been unexpectedly dumped by a boyfriend. Night after night, I ate supper alone in a taverna with just my book for company. The book in question was not only one of the longest in the English language (which was lucky, because it easily lasted me the whole trip), but is also often perceived as one of the most difficult. But what else was I going to do? Re-read the rakia menu?
And this is what became clear to me over a series of seafood spaghetti dishes. Ulysses is one of the funniest books you will ever read, as well as the very definition of ‘un-boring’. A silly, absurd, hilarious outpouring of all that is miraculous about the English language, the key is not to take it seriously, ever, in any way, at all. This is one reason why the book should be read during the most joyous of months, June, which always feels so marvellously full of potential. The other reason is that the entirety of Ulysses is set on a single day in June: on the 16th, to be precise, in 1904, which also happens to be when James Joyce first stepped out with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle.
James Joyce was born in Dublin in 1882, the eldest of ten children. He spent most of his adulthood living a precarious existence travelling between Paris, Zurich and Trieste with Nora and their two children, Giorgio and Lucia. He worked on Ulysses throughout the course of the First World War; it was published in 1922 on his 40th birthday.
It is entirely permissible and even sensible to skip some bits of Ulysses. In a way, that is its wonder.”
Ulysses was inspired by the ancient Greek writer Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. Joyce changes the name of the wandering hero from Odysseus to Leopold Bloom, re-imagining him as an Irish Jew going about his ordinary day. At the same time, Joyce eschews literary convention in order to invent an entirely new way of expressing himself, mainly through putting streams of consciousness on paper. There are parallels to be found in the emergence of new forms of music such as rock ’n’ roll or grime: it is still music, but unlike anything that has gone before. The way to read Ulysses, therefore, is to come at the text more for the general feel of it than the specifics of plot or character. For Ulysses offers the ultimate expression of the power and beauty of the English language; to seek out narrative is somewhat to miss the point.
It is, therefore, entirely permissible and even sensible to skip some bits of Ulysses. In a way, that is its wonder: structured into 18 ‘episodes’, each differs hugely from the others, including in terms of appeal and accessibility. It opens in a jolly fashion as two young men, Buck Mulligan and Stephen Dedalus, chat, argue and scoff breakfast, building beautifully to Episode 4, which draws the reader in with its glorious description of Bloom’s breakfast, then zips along around the streets of Dublin until we meet Bloom’s wife Molly, who is still in bed and thinking about her lover.
The best episodes? Well, I adore Episode 14 for the silliness of its language, especially towards the end when Leopold is in the pub getting roaringly drunk: ‘Come on, you winefizzling ginsizzling booseguzzling existences!’ is how I, too, persuade my friends to hurry up and finish their drinks before the chip shop closes. Episode 17, meanwhile, is an exquisite feat of linguistic invention: Leopold muses on everything from the advantages of shaving at nighttime to what he admires most about water. It is verbose, overblown and ridiculous, and I love it with a passion.
But it is the last episode in the book, Episode 18, that will always be closest to my heart. The reader is invited to eavesdrop on Molly Bloom’s interior monologue as she lies in bed next to her husband. The writing style closely mimics Nora Joyce’s in her letters to her husband, in particular the unpunctuated meandering of passionate feeling as well as the unsurpassable turn of phrase, for example her mockery of an erect penis as ‘sticking up at you like a hatrack’. Molly also illustrates more vividly than almost any of the other characters what is, in my view, the central theme of Ulysses: the heroism in the everyday. Just getting through is enough, right?
Extracted from The Literary Almanac: A Year of Seasonal Reading (Greenfinch, September 2021)
Francesca Beauman spent a decade as a TV presenter and is now a writer, historian and part-time bookseller at Persephone Books in Bath. She has published seven books, including a history of the pineapple, The Pineapple: King of Fruits (Chatto & Windus, 2005), and a history of personal ads, Matrimony, Inc. (Pegasus Books, 2020). She was born in London, studied History at Cambridge, and now lives in Bath. The Literary Almanac is published on 23 September in hardback and eBook by Greenfinch, an imprint of Quercus Books.
Pre-order from Bookshop.org
More info at Quercus Books
Author portrait © Kris Keevers
A new edition of Ulysses (above), edited by Danis Rose and John O’Hanlon and with a preface by Patrick McGuinness, restoring the changes to the text that were approved by Joyce during his lifetime, is out now in paperback and eBook from riverrun editions.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
A Navy fighter pilot faces accusations of crimes against humanity after a short and bloody war between the United States and China and must decide the true meaning of heroism in author Craig DiLouie’s “The Aviator: A Story of the Sino-American War”, the first in THE AVIATOR: STORIES OF FUTURE WARS series.The Synopsis
In the near future, the United States has fought a short, bloody war with China in the Pacific. The fighting is over, but the U.S. Navy maintains a blockade. Some call it the First Sino-American War. Others worry it is the start of World War Three.
In a prison cell in Beijing, Navy fighter pilot Jack Knapp tells his story about the victory in the Battle of Taiwan and how he ended up in a Chinese show trial, accused of crimes against humanity.
With his life in the balance, Jack will have to choose between survival and participating in his captors’ lies, and ultimately learn the true meaning of heroism in a war between superpowers where even stories are weapons.The Review
A truly engaging and harrowing journey, the author has created a truly realistic and chilling look at what the future of our world could be, highlighting the very real divide and possible conflict that could arise between the United States and China. The atmosphere and setting really add to the stakes set up within the narrative, feeling both like a historical fiction read and a futuristic dystopian novel.
The character of Jack Knapp is a phenomenal protagonist and a great way of highlighting the struggle between these two nations. The author does a great job of balancing the intricate look into the protagonist’s rise to becoming a Navy pilot and his relationships with his fellow soldiers and superiors as they spent months at sea, and the hardships and struggles he had to endure as a prisoner after a bloody war, and facing the might of an entire government as he fought to find the most heroic path available to them. It’s a psychological and emotional struggle that readers will instantly feel for.The Verdict
Engaging, shocking, and easy-to-read, author Craig DiLouie’s “The Aviator” is the perfect first book in a new, near-future dystopian series of military novels. The author perfectly captures the lingo and the behavior of soldiers living together on a Navy carrier and flying together into battle, while crafting a protagonist that brings the heart into this global conflict of the future that readers can get behind. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!About the Author
Craig DiLouie is an author of popular thriller, apocalyptic/horror, and sci-fi/fantasy fiction.
In hundreds of reviews, Craig’s novels have been praised for their strong characters, action, and gritty realism. Each book promises an exciting experience with people you’ll care about in a world that feels real.
These works have been nominated for major literary awards such as the Bram Stoker Award and Audie Award, translated into multiple languages, and optioned for film. He is a member of the HWA, International Thriller Writers, and IFWA.
'The Maidens' is the newest release from Alex Michaelides, bestselling author of the debut sensation 'The Silent Patient.' A psychological thriller housed within St. Christopher's College, Cambridge, the author binds mystery and murder to themes of classic Greek mythology.
Told primarily through the narrative of Mariana, a group psychotherapist who's a year into mourning for her late husband, the woman is drawn back to the place where their love story began by what is quite likely the only thing that could motivate her to set foot there. A call for help from her niece, Zoe, regarding her best friend's murder.
Drifting between the memories of their courtship haunting her still and the secrets stacking up around her that seem to be held tightly by both the students and faculty members, Mariana struggles to put the pieces together. Strangeness is afoot amongst a select group of students referred to as The Maidens and their darkly charismatic professor, Edward Fosca.
From the opening pages, Michaelides captures grief exquisitely, affixing it to the page with the expertise of a collector.. as if it's a butterfly pinned neatly under glass for the rest of us to study. Above all else, it's the ability to convey those emotions.. so richly textured, that inextricably bound me to this story through its end.
It certainly doesn't hurt that the author himself seems to be well-read. More than once, though I was loathe to put the book down, I found myself pausing in search of referenced writings that I'd never cared enough to read prior. His romantic description behind Tennyson's grief drove me to read the 3,000 line masterpiece, 'In Memoriam.' I researched theses for Antigone, dissertations on Euripides, and though Aristotle is one of my favorites.. this book had me viewing 'The Poetics' through a different lens entirely.
Periodically, snippets of another narrative appear throughout the book. Snippets of what could be diary entries from an individual who has known great suffering and may in fact be inflicting the same on others. Interestingly enough, there are so many choices presented by the author, that it's difficult to even stick with a guess as to who it might be.
Eloquently penned, the story moves at a steady pace, weaving.. labyrinthine through the lives affected by the murder. Those ripples reaching in some cases much farther than we might anticipate, creating more difficult situations on top of the first.
Though Michaelides did keep me guessing to the end, my only complaint is that I felt almost cheated. I felt robbed of the moment where I might look back and say to myself, "I should have seen that," because it wasn't there. It wasn't just subterfuge and misdirection, it was a blank canvas. I like to call it the 'Saw' treatment.. and never have I been so infuriated by a film.
Don't get me wrong, I loved the book. In a lesser writer's hands that feeling would have won out, but it's just so beautifully crafted and so emotionally driven.. that I forgive him for taking a path that just personally displeases me. I'm truly grateful for having read this story, I haven't been so immersed in a long time.
If you like tense thrillers with a psychological bent and an elegant, artistic approach.. this is the book for you.
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17 June 2021Photography Blogs
17 June 2021
What do we desire and hunger for? An ever feeling of expansion, growth, fullness, and augmentation of physiological power and well-being.
How is this achieved? Great sleep, nutrition (meat), fresh air and bright sun, physical and physiological well being and strength in your muscles, a zen stoic sense of calm, fearlessness, bravado, strong and thick black coffee in the morning, brisk walks during the day, a clear mind, and an insatiable hunger to do more, experience more, and become more.
17 June 2021
Leica has released a smartphone. Well, technically, Japanese multinational conglomerate, SoftBank Group has released a “new” smartphone with Leica branding. But for all intents and purposes, it will obviously become known as “the Leica smartphone”. If the name sounds familiar, SoftBank is the company with which Leica invested $121 million in Light in 2018. While […]
The post Leica has release a “new” smartphone with 1″ camera sensor that comes with its own lens cap appeared first on DIY Photography.
17 June 2021
You thought you can escape from ads on Instagram? No way, they’re now officially everywhere. After initially testing ads in Reels in four countries, Instagram has now rolled them out worldwide so all of us can see even more of them. Instagram started testing Reels ads in India, Brazil, Germany, and Australia earlier this year. […]
The post Instagram Reels adds rolled out globally, who’s surprised? appeared first on DIY Photography.
17 June 2021photo-eye Gallery New Work by Mitch Dobrowner: Storm over Sierra Nevada photo-eye Gallery
photo-eye Gallery is excited to present a new image by Mitch Dobrowner, Storm over Sierra Nevada.
Mitch Dobrowner, Storm over Sierra Nevada, 2021, archival pigment print, 14" x 20," edition of 15, $1500
By waiting for the light and atmosphere to paint the landscape to his liking — accented by his custom-modified camera and long hours in the digital darkroom — Dobrowner has developed a poetic style in the tradition of photography masters such as Ansel Adams and Minor White.
Mitch Dobrowner reflects on his Sierra Nevada work:John Muir once wrote "this grand show is eternal".
I first went into the Eastern Sierra Nevada in the winter of 1981; it was then that I realized that its otherworldly, intimate and intense beauty had been calling me my entire life.
The Sierra Nevada has always represented my belief in the exemplary value of the Earth and its extraordinary landscapes.... landscapes that define the shape and meaning of life.Like any photograph this image is an attempt to convey the experiences and the moods derived from my close association with this region, if only because the Sierra Nevada has helped me define the shape and meaning of my life.
Crowned with bald rocks and everlasting cold,That melts not underneath the sun's fierce glance,Peak above peak, fixed, dazzling, ice and stones.- Kate Seymour Maclean (1829-1916)
My hope is that mankind learns to humble itself and respect these vast, beautiful, wild places.— Mitch Dobrowner
And, to coincide with the presentation of Dobrowner's new work, we would also like to share one of our favorite images from the flat files by this outstanding artist.
Working with professional storm chasers since 2009, Dobrowner has traveled throughout America to capture extreme weather and landscapes, making stunning images of tornados and supercell storms like Helix and Trees. See below!
Mitch Dobrowner, Helix and Trees, 2017, archival pigment print, 20" x 30," edition of 40, $2500photo-eye Gallery is proud to represent Mitch Dobrowner. To learn more about the artist and view his work, click on the links below.
• • • • •All prices listed were current at the time this post was published.
17 June 2021
The wait is over, and by now, you all have now heard the news! Magmod just announced the release of seven new products: two upgrades and five all-new additions to the MagBox lineup. So, let's jump into them.[ Read More ]
17 June 2021
Doing what you love is the dream for many and a reality for some. However, it comes with its own difficulties and pitfalls along the way — perhaps even more — and it's not for everyone.[ Read More ]
17 June 2021
Photo By Yvonne Baur
Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Blooming Meadow” by Yvonne Baur. Location: Mount Rainier National Park, Washington.
“In summer, the area around Mount Rainier explodes in wildflowers,” says Baur. “I went on a hike and enjoyed the colorful sight of lupine and paintbrush in a lush meadow. It was such a pretty sight with snow-capped Mount Rainier in the back.”
Want to get your images in the running for a Photo of the Day feature? Photo of the Day is chosen from various galleries, including Assignments, Galleries and Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the website homepage, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.
17 June 2021
Photographer Eric Smith was photographing a whale migration last year when he captured this humorous photo showing a sneaky whale popping up right next to a group of unsuspecting whale watchers.
Smith, a Los Angeles-based documentary photographer, was in Baja’s San Ignacio Lagoon in March 2020 just before COVID-19 lockdowns to document the migratory gray whales there. The area is also popular with tourists, who board small motorboats called “pangas” to see and photograph the whales from up close.
For this photo, Smith had watched a mother gray whale and her baby approach a panga loaded with tourists. When the calf appeared near the bow of the vessel, the tourists began looking forward, causing them to miss the crazy sight of the mother whale popping up from out of the water just a foot behind the stern.
This behavior is known as spyhopping — the whale rises and stays partially out of the ocean to look at something above water. Depending on how curious it is, whales may spyhop for minutes at a time.
“Spyhopping often occurs during a ‘mugging’ situation, where the focus of a whale’s attention is on a boat, such as whale-watching tours, which they sometimes approach and interact with,” Wikipedia states.
Luckily for the tourists and photographers on the panga, they noticed the mother whale just a moment after Smith captured the photograph.
“And the winner of hide and seek is… My fellow whale enthusiasts from Campo Cortez in Baja wait for an appearance at the front of their boat while this awesome spy hopper snuck up behind everyone at super close range,” Smith wrote when sharing this photo on Instagram. “This shot is the second before everyone caught on and cheers erupted.”
“I was in another panga a few dozen feet away and caught the moment right before everyone realized she was so close,” Smith tells Digital Photo Pro. “When everyone turned around, she quickly sank below the surface. Cheering and hysterical laughter ensued.”
Image credits: Photograph by Eric Smith and used with permission
17 June 2021
Ricoh has announced the WG-7 waterproof compact camera that it touts as capable of continuously recording for two hours underwater at a depth of up to 20 meters (65 feet). Ricoh also positions it as a webcam and it even comes equipped with a built-in ring light. Unfortunately, it appears exclusive to Japan.
Spotted by Pentax Rumors, The WG-7 is touted as a “high grade” tough and rugged camera that is both waterproof, dustproof, and freeze-proof down to -10 degrees Celcius. As noted, it can continuously record video for up to two hours at a depth of 65 feet, survive drops of up to 2.1 meters (about 6.9 feet), and can sustain up to 100 kilograms (about 220 pounds) of force. That tough body has what Ricoh calls an easily gripped shape that makes it easy to hold both bare-handed as well as gloved, and the operation of the camera supposedly follows suit.
The 3-inch, 1.04 million dot rear LCD has adjustable brightness and designed to allow monitoring in any weather condition. It also has an anti-reflective coating applied to reduce glare.
The 20-megapixel 1/2.3-inch sensor has a maximum ISO of 6400 and is equipped with what Ricoh calls “super-resolution” technology that it claims will result in clear, high-quality images with better resolution by combining multiple images that are taken in quick succession and combining them in-camera to create an image with “less blurring.” It also features a handheld night view mode.
That sensor is capable of capturing 4K video at up to 30 frames per second that can be stabilized with digital shake reduction. Ricoh says that it is possible to reduce shake even when the camera is experiencing intense movement, “like a gimbal.”
The variable 28-140mm lens (five-times zoom, and focal length is a 35mm equivalent) is comprised of 11 elements in nine groups and is surrounded by six large variable ring lights that are designed for close-up photography. These are designed to allow for faster shutter speeds to reduce camera shake when photographing subjects that are close or at a very short distance away. Additionally, Ricoh says that the amount of LED light is more powerful by a factor of 10 compared to the standard WG-70 model.
Ricoh positions the WG-7 as great for not only adventure and use in tough environments like construction sites, but also for standard office use thanks to its built-in webcam functionality. The camera is currently supported for Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Cisco WebEX, and Facebook Messenger.
The Ricoh WG-7 is available in black or red for 49,800 yen, or approximately $450, from Ricoh Japan. It does not appear as though the camera will be available outside of Japan at the time of publication, but it may come to international markets at a later date.
17 June 2021
This may sound like something straight out of a sci-fi movie, but Canon has rolled out new AI cameras that use “smile recognition” technology to ensure that only happy employees are allowed into its offices.
Back in 2020, the China-based Canon subsidiary Canon Information Technology introduced an “intelligent IT solution” for corporate offices that includes 5 different functional modules, one of which is “smiley face access control.”
“In addition, based on the corporate culture of ‘moving and always being’, Canon has always advocated the concepts of ‘laughing’ and ‘big health’, and hopes to bring happiness and health to everyone in the post-epidemic era,” Canon wrote in a press release. “Therefore, in the […] intelligent IT solution, a new experience of smile recognition is specially incorporated. It is hoped that smiles can let everyone relax and get healthy, so as to create a more pleasant working atmosphere and improve efficiency.”
In a new report about tech workers in China being subjected to surveillance tech, Nikkei Asia writes that Canon Information Technology has deployed these AI cameras at its Beijing headquarters to only allow smiling employees to enter the offices or book conference rooms.
Some workers, however, are speaking out about the intrusiveness of such technology.
“So now the companies are not only manipulating our time, but also our emotions,” one worker wrote on Weibo (the popular Chinese microblogging service), according to the report.
Canon China is defending the tech, reiterating that it’s designed to promote a positive atmosphere.
“We have been wanting to encourage employees to create a positive atmosphere by utilizing this system with the smile detection setting ‘on’,” a spokesperson tells Nikkei. “Mostly, people are just too shy to smile, but once they get used to smiles in the office, they just keep their smiles without the system which created a positive and lively atmosphere.”
Canon’s use of AI cameras for enforcing happiness may feel strange, creepy, or alarming, but it’s just one of many ways surveillance technology is creeping into the workplace in countries all around the world.
“AI-enabled smile recognition cameras are in many ways the least dangerous types of surveillance technology,” The Verge writes. “They have the benefit of being obvious. Other systems of control are much more subtle, and probably coming to an office near you sometime soon.”
Face recognition and detection technology has come a long way in consumer cameras in recent years, but as these new AI cameras show, the technology has a wide range of applications beyond making sure photo subjects are well-posed.