Friday, May 22, 2015

Rotring Dublin

I recently acquired a Rotring Dublin fountain pen. It sports a "Schmidt Iridium" nib, not one of the traditional Rotring nibs. It's probably of the same generation as the
Rotring Lissabon which feels like a good Chinese fountain pen. But whereas the Rotring Lissabon handles like a good Chinese fountain pen. The Dublin exudes nothing but cheapness. The clip is loose. The body, made of aluminum reminds of a throw-away pen. The cap is flimsy and does not fit well on the body of the pen: no click, for instance. It inspires no confidence. This is just the kind of pen that makes one glad that Sanford ceased to exploit the Rotring name.

I have resolved never to ink it up because I feel it won't stand up to any use at all. For a slightly more positive review see here.

Not recommended!

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Really Bad Idea for a Reading Plan

In my "research" for hoarding, I also found this:
You should first guess how many years you have left to live. Then estimate how many books you can read in that time. Then go to your book collection and sort the books in the order that you wish to read them (including those you have already read that you will read again) until you have equaled the number that you estimated you could read in your entire life. Then sell/give away all the other books. Then do not buy any books unless you come across a book you really want to read and only if you want to read it imminently.[1]
It struck me as a really bad idea or rather as the idea of someone who is not a reader. One of the things that makes reading interesting is that one book may stimulate new interests and lead you to the reading of other books. It is therefore difficult--I would say "impossible"--to predict what you are going to read next. It's the kind of advice someone would give who would ask "Have you read all these?" when entering your office.[2] Someone with this view does not understand that books are, among other things, tools. Some tools are not used very often. Some tools, like reference books, for instance, are used frequently. And you never really know when a book will become a reference book for you.

On the other hand, there are (still) libraries. If I had to thin out my book collection--and I do--I would use a different criterion, namely how useful do you think a book will be for the rest of your life. Obviously, the person who wrote the quoted passage has no real use for any books.

1. See here.
2. See also Have You Read All These?.

Hoarding versus Collecting, Again

A quote:
Hoarding is not the same as collecting. In general, collectors have a sense of pride about their possessions, and they experience joy in displaying and talking about their possessions and conversing. They keep their collection organized, feel satisfaction adding to it, and budget their time and money.

Hoarders generally experience embarrassment about their possessions and feel uncomfortable when others see them. Their clutter often takes over functional living space, and they feel sad or ashamed after acquiring additional items. Also, they often incur great debt, sometimes extreme.[1]

This is worth considering--or so it seems to me!

1. From the Anxiety and Depression Association of America; see also this article. I particularly like the expression "ego-dystonic".

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mavericks Rocks!

Well, I downgraded upgraded to Mavericks. It was not easy. Apple obviously does not want you to do this. While you can download the installation package from the App Store, clicking on it, tells you that it won't run under Mavericks because it was designed for an older operating system. There is all kinds of advice on the Internet, but nothing really worked--at least not directly from Yosemite.

How did I do it? I installed it to a virtual machine in Parallels. The idea was that once I had the right operating system I could install it to a different disk (you know I mean SSD). No dice, the install failed. After the third trial I gave up. What did work was to clone the virtual drive by Carbon Copy Cloner to another disk, not an SSD, mind you (as that also always failed). But I did get it to clone to a hard drive, and THEN I could clone it to an SSD.

Mavericks has now been running for a few hours from the SSD without any of the problems that I had with Yosemite. I hope it will stay that way.

I suspect that Apple will close this hole soon as well. They seem to want everyone to march in lockstep!

Update at 10:00 on Monday. May 4: So far, so good.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Yosemite and SSD

After experiencing crashes at regular intervals since installing Yosemite-—of late, at least two times a day-—I have stopped using an external SSD as the boot disk in my Mac Mini. In fact, it seems that using any external drive as a boot disk no longer works. Nor can I reliably run my virtual Windows machine from a SSD. It's back to the slow internal drive of the machine.

It works (and I have not had a crash for two days), but I do feel cheated. Something that worked for at least three has been taken away by Apple for no other reason than more profits-—or so it seems to me! As I said in an earlier post, my present Mac Mini will probably be my last Apple computer.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Hoarding or Collecting?

There is a highly interesting article in the New Republic on collecting books. It is called, "Object Lesson: Why we need physical books." I am not sure the author, William Giraldi, makes his main point, but he makes a number of different points along the way that I find worth considering.

It may well be that "forgoing physicality, readers of e-books defraud themselves of the communion which emerges from that physicality." He thinks that smelly books further that communion. I have always found that this particular physicality is standing in the way of any kind of "communion," but I may well be idiosyncratic here.[1] Mind you, I like--no love--books, but there is nothing wrong with electronic books either. I love them as well. He just seems to think they are very useful when traveling.[1]

But there is one point where I find he is just wrong:
Cram your home with books, and you’re lovingly called a collector; cram it with old newspapers, and you’re derisively called a hoarder. But be honest: The collector is a hoarder, too—a discriminating and noble-minded hoarder, perhaps, but a hoarder just the same.
What is the genus and what is the species? Are all hoarders collectors or are all collectors hoarders? One might be tempted to argue that it's either the one or the other, but I would like to resist that temptation. I would want to argue that a hoarder "collector" in the relevant sense. "Collection" has many meanings, of course. Just think of the "garbage collector," or of the coffee grimes "collecting" in the drain. A "hoarder" is collecting things in that way, but a "collector" of books (or pencils) is discriminating. He selects according to some principle(s) what will become part of his collection and what won't. That this principle is not always conscious presents a problem, and it may lead to the collector becoming a hoarder, but it does not negate the difference. The collector is not a hoarder.

By the way, the same holds for "information" or knowledge. There are those who are or would describe themselves as information hoarders. See here and here, for instance.

1. There are many others, like markings with ball point pens or highlighter, crumbling spines, stains, for instance.
2. "The e-reader is a godsend to those travelers who want to carry all eight volumes of Gibbon with them. (Although you can question if a traveler would really make use of Gibbon’s dreadnought while traipsing through foreign climes."

Ayn Rand on C. S. Lewis

As a footnote to the last post. I don't like C. S. Lewis very much simply because he is a simplificateur terrible. My dislike is thus very different from Ayn Rand's. "She called the famous apologist an 'abysmal bastard,' a 'monstrosity,' a 'cheap, awful, miserable, touchy, social-meta­physical mediocrity,' a 'pickpocket of concepts,' and a 'God-damn, beaten mystic.'"[1] Indeed, all but the last epithet would have applied to her with just as much justification. She and C. S. Lewis are one of a kind, and they both appeal to the adolescents of spirit.

There is one difference, though: I can still read some things by C. S. Lewis, but I find there is nothing in Ayn Rand's mediocre work that would deserve further attention.

1. See here for more, if you dare.