His Dark Materials

I just finished reading the last book in Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy. Just for yuks, I did a Google search on “cheerful instead of surly”, part of a key line at the end of the book. I found a few interesting pages, including this one, along with some odder stuff.

The line, in part, is: “…showing them how to be kind instead of cruel, and patient instead of hasty, and cheerful instead of surly, and above all how to keep their minds open and free and curious.” I particularly like the cheerful/surly part, partially because it’s just a nice turn of phrase, and in part because it’s something I seem to be having trouble with lately.

Microsoft Reader

I’m very frustrated with Microsoft Reader. I wanted to start reading The Subtle Knife, book two of Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy, today. My little Pocket PC would not cooperate. First, MS Reader would just give me errors. Uninstalling, reinstalling, reactivating — nothing worked. Eventually, the device wound up getting stuck in such a way that I could not reset it, no way, no how. I’ve got it going again, after flipping the “last-ditch” switch that wipes the memory completely, restoring it to factory defaults. I’ve got it working again, but really I shouldn’t have to spend more than an hour just trying to get to the point where I can read a book. Back to paper, dang it.

The Modern Word

I just discovered an interesting book site, The Modern Word, while looking for information about Jorge Luis Borges. Some great Borges quotes there:

“There is no intellectual exercise which is not ultimately useless.”

“The history of the universe…is the handwriting produced by a minor god in order to communicate with a Demon.”

“To die for a religion is easier than to live it absolutely.”

Just great, great, stuff.


I’ve been trying to do what I can to help my Dad, who has very poor vision, get started with the new computer he got at Christmas. For a while, I’ve had the idea that I should find him a couple of good large-print computer books. I went looking today, but it turns out that apparently no one has ever printed a computer book in large print. At least, that’s the way it seems, doing a search on “large print computer” or “large print Windows” on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The only thing I’ve found is a large print computer dictionary, which might be helpful, but not much.

William Gibson

Stumbled across William Gibson’s web site tonight. Pretty cool. And he’s got a new book coming out! I remember reading, and loving, Neuromancer when it first came out. I’ve read most of his other books, and they’re all pretty nice, too, especially The Difference Engine. The front page of the site looks a little like it was designed by Dave McKean.