I finally finished this book after perhaps 5 years. It is drafts and old notes of the tales that ends up as Silmarillion, collected and commented by Christopher Tolkien.
It is perhaps an interesting study of (J.R.R) Tolkien's authorship. You get to see how the stories and different parts of mythology developed, and get a view into the piles of notebooks involved in the thorough hand written authorship that is only so few years past but difficult to imagine today.
Only it is terribly boring. It is boring in a nice "when I take time to read this, I have absolutely nothing important to do" way. But it is boring and I can only read it in small doses without falling asleep.
For real fans, off course, it is a necessity to read everything the man ever wrote. My advice in this case it, practice reading fast before you start on this one.
This book is different from the two predecessors "The Selfish Gene" and "The Blind Watchmaker" in the sense that their target group was lay people, whereas this one requires quite some knowledge about biology, or being good at guessing from context...
It was hard to get through, mostly because the book is dominated by excuses and explanations and defenses against specific points of criticism that people have made. This might be necessary because he needs to meet that criticism, but it is really rather a trial reading through.
It strikes me that this cannot be the same man who has written "The God Delusion" - but it is. In this book he is one big pile of excuses for actually proposing something a tiny little bit controversial. In "The God Delusion" he doesn't hold back on controversial topics. Something must have happened along the way. Like, he had enough...
Maybe it's because the book is 30 years old and some things has happened in the mean time that I don't find his ideas all that controversial today. Or perhaps he just succeeded, while dragging me through the boring part of the book, in showing me the background he wanted against which the picture would stand clear in the end.
The book illustrates, in short, how a gene inside something/someone can produce an effect on things or organisms in it's environment, and thus be said to code for a phenotype outside the body, an extended phenotype, where the phenotype and the level on which we define it is arbitrary an depending on what we happen to find interesting in a given context.
I think he made that last part a lot clearer to me - the question of an arbitrary definition of at which level we look for expression. Still I am left with a feeling that quite a shorter text would have done it for me.
We used to have an old HP Officejet 7410 All-in-one which used to work as the boss' private printer, scanner and the department's fax. Since the sheet feeder is broken, we bought him a HP OfficeJet Pro L7580 in september 2007.
We never should have done that. I spent long hours not being able to get the fax to work, and in the end, I simply had to give up.
Here I should mention that we have IP telephony, and the fax is connected through a converter box called Ericsson DRG22i.
It can receive faxes. I cannot send faxes. It never even dials. It sounds like it does but when I try to make it dial my phone, it never gets that far. It has some Fax Test one can select in the Tools menu, which shows a Dial Tone Detection FAILED. The manual says that sometimes it works anyway. It doesn't in our case. The old fax works, on the same line, but with the sheet feeder broken, it is really no good.
So I gave up, fine, I hate giving up but the boss accepted it and I had other things to do, and I really had no idea what to do.
But now our new secretary needs a printer/scanner and we want to have one that can also be the fax. One that works. So here I stand again.
I talked to the my colleague and the institute's IT - soon to be the faculty's IT, after which I expect no help ever again. But he's nice and I asked him if he knew anything about faxes, and we went through the whole test again. We even brought it downstairs and connected it to another fax line down there (still IP telephony, identical converter box). No luck. It does not work and it is not just me being stupid. The downstairs fax, which works, is a Brother 7820N. The easy thing would be to buy one of those, but it is a b/w laser and the sec wants a colour printer.
So the facts are:
- HP Officejet 7410 All-in-one works
- Brother 7820N works
- HP OfficeJet Pro L7580 does not work
- I need a new colour inkjet which works
- My vendor frankly couldn't care less (even though I bought the HP OfficeJet Pro L7580 from them, too, and now offer to buy a new one, if only they would find me one that works.) Perhaps they are my ex-vendor, really.
Where do I go from here?
Update: The tale of the working fax
Built this, in case anyone else needs it:
Use on your own risk, I am probably breaking every rule on package maintenance.
I tried to use the cran repository on new Lenny installation, it has newer versions of everything than Lenny, but the binaries was only i386.
I installed the source from
deb-src http://ftp.sunet.se/pub/lang/CRAN/bin/linux/debian lenny-cran
apt-get source r-base-core
and built it with
debuild -us -uc
without making any changes at all. Found method here: http://www.debian-administration.org/articles/20
I probably should add something in a change log somewhere? Well I didn't. Teach me and I shall do better next time.
I think there used to be 64 bit R cran packages? Perhaps I should offer to compile them... but then I better learn the rules first.
"500 a year and a room of one's own, with a lock on the door".
That is what women should have had, according to Virginia Woolf, in order for a woman to to have been able to write "War and Peace" or the works of Shakespeare.
The book is about Women and Fiction, mostly about women writing fiction - or not.
Much has changed since this book was written. Women has got the 500 a year now, or at least the possibility of economic independence, since we can make our own money. And we can travel and go out alone in the evening (in some places) and we are not denied from the universities.
But have we got a room of our own? Perhaps even with a lock on the door? If we want it enough to live alone, we probably do, but many women stills want a family. And how many women with a family has a study of their own where they can close the door? Compared to how many men?
When would she go there, anyway, when would she have free time after work, housework and family management, with someone else looking after the children and leaving behind bad conscience about things undone? In two or three generations? Would she go then?
I'm not very much into feminism as such, at least not a way any traditional feminist would recognize, but it's an interesting observation to make, about one self and others.
Perhaps it's because we're still lousy carpenters :-) (apologies to women for whom the last sentence does not apply).