A shout-out to Aaron Gacs for teaching me what a character alignment chart is! That was four or five years ago. If he hadn’t done that, I would never have understood the title of this captivating novel. If, as the… Read More ›
Month: August 2021
Fake news! (Is it clickbait? Or have archaeologists discovered the Trojan Horse? Judge for yourself!)
Did you believe in Santa Claus when you were a kid? How about the Bible? God? The Norse gods? Satan? Zeus? Evolution? Grimm’s fairy tales? The quadratic formula? The Trojan War? Everything your parents told you? Everything your teachers told… Read More ›
A Prime Mistake
To be sure, nine, along with three and seven, are great favorites of European folklore. No one knows for sure why just those numerals achieved such prominence. The reference to the fact that all of them are primes does not go far. So says… Read More ›
Visiting all 2563 train stations in the UK!
We all know now that Dorchester’s own Maya Jonas-Silver is the new world record holder for visiting every single station on the Green, Blue, Orange and Red Lines in the shortest time; it took her 7 hours, 4 minutes, and… Read More ›
Easttown? Where’s that? And what (or who) is Mare? And what’s so special about the Philly accent?
Four questions in that headline—and it isn’t even Passover. You may or may not know that the distinguished linguist John McWhorter’s wonderful podcast Lexicon Valley recently moved from Slate to BookSmart. Not that you care. But what you do (or… Read More ›
A return to Venice: Transient Desires, by Donna Leon
Venezia! La Serenissima! Two and a half years ago was when I most recently reviewed one of Donna Leon’s many Venetian novels. That was The Temptation of Forgiveness. Somehow I had missed Unto Us a Son is Given, which came… Read More ›
A Meh Landmark
After a couple of friends had enthusiastically recommended the pizza at the Landmark Public House in Adams Village, a.k.a. Adams Corner, Barbara and I decided to try it. We lucked into an open parking space right on Minot St. at… Read More ›
Fake news? Or not? Jigsaw puzzles improve cognitive functioning in seniors!
Not high-school seniors. Not college seniors. Seniors as in senior citizens—old people—like me. We all know (don’t we?) that solving crossword puzzles and playing games like Scrabble can supposedly help stave off Alzheimer’s by keeping the left side of the… Read More ›
Infinity is not a number. (Or is it?)
Yes, students have trouble with infinity. And with zero. The great James Propp has written an in-depth essay about conceptual and linguistic issues with infinity and zero. Concrete examples are always best. Propp offers eight ways in which a student… Read More ›
Fortune Favors the Dead, by Stephen Spotswood
No, this is not another Nero Wolfe pastiche that lamely tries to follow Rex Stout’s formula. In Fortune Favors the Dead, written in 2020, author Stephen Spotswood has created two new and very original characters who vividly come to life… Read More ›