Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Month: February, 2014

213: God, the Devil, and Darwin by Niall Shanks


213: Shanks, Niall. God, the Devil, and Darwin: A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. 246 pp. ISBN 0-19-516199-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 210: Philosophy and theory of religion
  • 213: Creation

It is almost impossible to mention evolutionary theory without hearing echoes of the creationist ideology. In a country where opinions and ideas are tragically polarized, so too are theories on the creation on the universe and the beginnings of the human race. The interesting middle ground of the evolutionary debate is the rise of the idea of intelligent design. The central tenet of intelligent design is that the existence of Earth, its inhabitants, and the universe around it are best explained by the presence of some intelligent creator or cause. Traditional science holds that life emerged from an interesting, fortuitous, and random combination of proteins in the primordial soup of Earth around a billion years ago which then developed over the ages into the variety we see all around us. Intelligent design does not hold to the randomness of evolutionists, but rather to ascribes the origin of life to a guiding hand. Niall Shanks’s God, the Devil, and Darwin takes a look at the arguments of those who support intelligent design and argues for a different interpretation of their beliefs.

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996: The Bounty by Caroline Alexander


996.18: Alexander, Caroline. The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty. New York: Penguin, 2004. 410 pp. ISBN 0-14-200469-3.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 990: History of other areas
  • 996: History of Polynesia and other Pacific Ocean Islands
  • 996.1: Southwest central Pacific, and isolated islands of southeast Pacific
  • 996.18: Isolated islands of the southeast Pacific Ocean

In December of 1787, the HMS Bounty, under the leadership of commanding lieutenant William Bligh, set out for the island of Tahiti to obtain breadfruit plants to grow in the West Indies. It was a routine trade mission. But Bligh’s return trip to England was far from routine. On the morning of April 28, 1789, ship’s mate Fletcher Christian led a mutiny against Bligh and took the ship. Bligh and 14 crewmen were placed on a small 23-foot launch and sent to go back home while the mutineers steered towards Tahiti. Without charts or a chronometer, Bligh still made it over 4,000 miles to Australian shores and eventually got home. The story of the infamous mutiny and aftermath are the subject for Caroline Alexander’s The Bounty, a complex and nuanced tale of leadership, loyalty, and love.

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088: As Others See Us by Goran Palm

088.7: Palm, Goran. As Others See Us. Translated by Verne Moberg. Indianapolis, IN: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1968. 242 pp.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 000: Computer science, information, and general works
  • 080: General collections
  • 088: General collections in Scandinavian languages
  • 088.7: General collections in Swedish

Goran Palm may not be known to a lot of reader in the United States, but in Sweden, he has been ranked highly over the last four decades. He has won the Samfunder De Nio Grand Prize (1985), the Selma Lagerlof Prize (1998), and the Stig Dagerman Prize (2005) (just to name a few). His writings in Sweden have championed the causes of society equality, free speech, and literary activism. In As Others See Us, he forces the reader to view other countries at their level, almost taping your eyes open as a lowlight reel of social ills is projected in front of you.

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718: Last Landscapes by Ken Worpole


718: Worpole, Ken. Last Landscapes: The Architecture of the Cemetery in the West. London: Reaktion Books, 2003. 199 pp. ISBN 1-86189-161-X.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Arts
  • 710: Civic and landscape art
  • 718: Landscape design of cemeteries

“Architecture in Western Europe begins with tombs,” Ken Worpole tells us. His Last Landscapes is a prescient look into the proliferation and metamorphosis of graveyards, cemeteries, churchyards, and burial sites over the last two millennia. From the simple burial mounds of England’s early inhabitants to the ornate sculptures of Victorian graves, Worpole’s discussion of Western cemeteries is complex, nuanced, and beautiful. To understand places like these, you have to see them, and there are plenty of photographs of modern and classical graveyards and mausoleums included in this book. The author writes about death, burial, and landscapes from many angles—cultural, social, artistic, and personal. While his travels to various cemeteries are centered around England, he goes to the Netherlands, North America, and Italy to look at burial architecture in a more global light. Journeying into Eastern architecture would have made this volume a great deal larger, but I think that contrast would have made the book that much richer. All in all, though, this was quite an interesting book.

107: Experimental Philosophy by Knobe and Nichols


107.2: Knobe, Joshua and Shaun Nichols, eds. Experimental Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. 239 pp. ISBN 978-0-19-532325-2.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 100: Philosophy and Psychology
  • 107: Education, research, and related topics of philosophy
  • 107.2: Miscellaneous research topics of philosophy

Experimental philosophy is defined as a field of inquiry that uses data gathered through surveys to inform research on philosophical questions. The philosophy we all know and love has traditionally been done behind closed doors: one person puzzling through the questions of the universe and existence. Experimental philosophy uses traditional thought experiments to understand the intents, motivations, consciousness, and origins of certain concepts, but then tries to see if the analysis done by the thinker matches that of the population being studied. In this way, it more closely resembles psychology or sociology. In Experimental Philosophy, Joshua Knobe and Shaun Nichols bring together eleven different philosophical experiments to show how we can better understand ourselves by asking more people important questions.

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357: Chariot by Arthur Cotterell


357.1: Cotterell, Arthur. Chariot: From Chariot to Tank, The Astounding Rise and Fall of the World’s First War Machine. New York: Overlook Press, 2005. 298 pp. ISBN 1-58567-667-5.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 300: Social Science
  • 350: Public administration and military science
  • 357: Mounted forces and warfare
  • 357.1: Horse cavalry

There are two great inventions in the early history of humanity: writing and wheels. While writing helped transmit information from place to place faster, the wheel actually got people from place to place faster. Attach newly domesticated horses to the front of a basket with wheel and you have yourself a chariot. Early chariots were invented in Mesopotamia around 3000 BCE and they are seen in mosaic reliefs dated to five hundred years after that. They served as parade vehicles, battle taxis for archers, and used in races for public spectacle. For a while, they were the greatest weapons used in large-scale warfare, but strategists and inventors found ways around them. Forcing the battle onto uneven terrain or immobilizing the horses left the chariots unable to effectively take the field. Arthur’s Cotterell’s Chariot is a spectacular look into the history of, uses for, and stories about the first great war machine.

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