Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category

The Secret Lives of Leonardo da Vinci


(New Yorker::Books) – Claudia Roth Pierpont:

Walter Isaacson’s biography portrays a man obsessed with knowledge and almost impossible to know. …

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Walter Isaacson: Leonardo da Vinci


Marie Curie: War Hero


(Discover Blogs::The Crux) – Timothy J. Jorgensen:

At the start of World War One, X-ray machines were still found only in city hospitals, far from the battlefields where wounded troops were being treated. Marie Curie’s solution was to invent the first “radiological car” – a vehicle containing an X-ray machine and photographic darkroom equipment – which could be driven right up to the battlefield where army surgeons could use X-rays to guide their surgeries. …

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Marie Curie in mobile X-ray unit

How I Became an Agnostic


(FTB Geeky Humanist) – Dr Sarah:

This is the fifth in a short series of posts I’m writing about the subject of why, after investigating reasons for theism, I ultimately became a non-believer (first an agnostic, ultimately an atheist). …

Was there a god or wasn’t there? I thought over all the reading I’d been doing. All the inconclusive arguments, each one of which seemed to have its possible counter-argument.

If there was such a thing as conclusive proof that God did or didn’t exist, by this time I would have found it. We didn’t have such proof. I certainly didn’t rule out the possibility of it showing up at some unspecified time in the future, but what we had right then was what we had right then. Right then, we simply couldn’t prove the matter either way. There was, in short, only one sensible recourse; to become an agnostic. …

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Hi Ho The Glamorous Life


(Good Tickle Brain) – Mya Gosling:

Being a full-time Shakespearean comic artist and author is pretty much the best thing in the world, but the creative process is not always straightforward. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the ups and downs of my chosen career. …

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Mya Gosling: Waiting For A Funny

What Happened


(Atlantic Politics) – James Fallows:

Hillary Clinton‘s What Happened is the rare interesting work by a politician – and it offers an important critique of the press. …

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Hillary Rodham Clinton: What Happened

The Hardcore of Yore: Mary Sherman Morgan


(FTB stderr) – Marcus Ranum:

Mary Morgan wanted to learn stuff and was smart and curious – which was not exactly an advantage for someone growing up in rural America in the 1930s. Rural electrification was just happening, and schools were a hit-or-miss affair. In the case of young Mary Morgan, aged 12, that equated to the sheriff having to go out and tell her drunkard father that he had to let her go to school, and couldn’t just keep her as free farm-labor. Then Betty Manning, from the school board, solves Mary’s school busing problem. …

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Mary Sherman Morgan

The Ungrateful Refugee


(Guardian::long read) – Dina Nayeri:

Dina Nayeri was just a child when she fled Iran as an asylum seeker. But as she settled into life in the US and then Europe, she became suspicious of the idea that refugees should shed their old identities and be eternally thankful. …

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Dina Nayeri: Refuge

Al Franken: Giant of the Senate


(New Yorker) – David Remnick:

Recently, Franken published “Al Franken: Giant of the Senate,” a tale that spins from a witty recounting of his upbringing, his show-business career, his election battles, and his time on the Hill, to a dead-serious look at his political influences, his wife’s early struggle with poverty and, later, alcoholism, and his hopes for American politics. It is an honest and funny piece of work, a real book, by a real person, not one of those staff-assembled products for electoral use. Franken writes movingly about political heroes like Paul Wellstone, scathingly about Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell, and mercilessly about Donald Trump. …

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Al Franken: Giant of the Senate

Priest of Nature: The Religious Worlds of Isaac Newton


(FTB) – Mano Singham:

Isaac Newton (1642-1727) is one of the great enigmatic characters in scientific history, an extremely reclusive and private man with a fascinating array of foibles and personality quirks. I just finished the newly released book by Rob Iliffe, professor of history at Oxford University, that looks closely at the religious studies of this famous physicist and mathematician, based on a detailed examination of his vast collection of private notes, papers, and correspondence. …

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Rob Iliffe: Priest of Nature: The Religious Worlds of Isaac Newton (2017)

Most Likely to Succeed


(New Yorker::Books) – Zoë Heller:

His Royal Highness Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales, K.G., K.T., G.C.B., O.M., A.K., Q.S.O., P.C., A.D.C., Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland, is a deeply unpopular man. Writers in both the conservative and the liberal press regularly refer to him as “a prat,” “a twit,” and “an idiot,” with no apparent fear of giving offense to their readership. …

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Sally Bedell Smith: Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life