Smithy Flies Again…

June 9, 2009

peterfitzsimmons290.jpg … in vaulting stories and in our imagination as author (and former Australian Rugby rep) Peter FitzSimons regales us with anecdotes about Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, from the volume he is launching about the life and times of this Australian (and global) aviation legend.  The lunchtime crowd were mainly, well I think mainly retirees, who normally would be hiding in the newspaper section of the library. Ah, to be fair there were a large number of aviation buffs who were hanging off every word – most of them still 12 years old in their imagination. Heck, I think I was one of them. Though I groaned when one “old boy” shuffled up to Peter’s researcher and asked if she had used “this book” and thrust a blue cloth bound hardback under her nose. Looked like an early edition of Biggles I thought as I fled the crush of retirees angling for the orange juice and working themselves into line to get a volume signed.  (There never is a good sheep dog around when you need one).

The Smell of A Book

April 8, 2009

readerovershoulder290.jpgSir Ernest Barker, clearly part of “the establishment” if his Wikipedia entry is any guide, thought The Reader Over Your Shoulder is ‘a national service.’ Only a knight would judge a book on writing to be so. Actually a knight who was also a don at Oxford and a professor at Cambridge, which may or may not mean something other than the possibility that he had to support two opposing teams in the Boat Race. I wonder where his allegiance really lay? I digress however, evidence that I have purchased the correct book if my writing needs are to be met!

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1421 (to be repeated?)

March 22, 2009

type052b_luyang_01.jpgThe style is a little didactic but the account (1421) by a former British naval officer (didactic therefore explained) of his search for evidence that the Chinese bounced around the globe in their massive ships and fleets in the early fifteenth century is surprisingly compelling. His proposition seems to have survived wide peer review which is perhaps the acid test for such disruptive claims. That being the case I read with incredulity the likely wrecks of Chinese junks off the Australian coast, evidence of Chinese settlements on  the US New England coast and pervasive evidence of their settlements along California and down into South American. Under the leadership of Admiral Zheng He  the Chinese were sent around the globe on missions of trade, diplomacy and exploration. And not in tiny vessels or in small numbers but in 400 foot ships, hundreds of hulls and tens of thousands of sailors and others. Read more

Books as Art

June 6, 2008


Over the years I have envied family and friends who have been settled in one place and who have libraries shelved. Mine have travelled with me for years, most tucked away in boxes packed with moth balls. Over the last few months I have been slowly getting some floor to ceiling shelves built and a small library has started to come together, giving long denied ready access to those boxed books but also turning the room into its own art form. Read more

eBook Surprises

May 8, 2008

us-newspaper290.jpgThe Internet is a pretty amazing place. But you all know that. Still, every now and then you get a pleasant surprise which is a change from the usual “shock and awe” that attempts to penetrate our dulled www senses. This surprise was a Sony PRS-505 eBook which landed on my desk today. But the  story about the device can come in the next post. How the thing landed on my desk in the first place is an intriguing little vignette. In more ways than one. Read more