Archive for March, 2008

Bible reading – John

I hope I can make it through the “Book of Books” this year. Recently I made less progress then planned but anyway, I have completed John yesterday. As mentioned before, I have started with the New Testament and will later switch to the Old Testament.

What I find slightly annyoing is the repetition. Jesus reminds his disciples a couple of times that he will leave them soon, he talks about faith etc. As a reader I think the point has been made and John can go on to tell the rest of the story. Maybe it’s time to pray for inspiration to be able to ignore such flaws…

The good thing is that once I am through  I can focus on passages that are interesting and have left their traces in my mind. Or whenever someone cites a verse from the bible I know the context and can deal better with it. My current reply would be “Well, just another piece from the bible.” but now I can argue if I don’t agree. It’s not so rare that a verse is picked out of context (historical or textual) and stretched so that it fits the personal opinion. Without proper background knowledge it’s impossible to see through such attempts.


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When I was young and low on money, I used to pick the cheapest version of a book. The German editions were not so bad, but when I started to read English books I found out that there are big differences in quality between the publishers. There are books that fall apart during reading, other books have tiny font sizes that are hard to read and in other books the letters start smearing when you accidentially touch them. I am still able to enjoy the books but the poor impression of the cheap layout and bookbinding must be put aside first.

This is different when I hold a hardcover or a good trade paperback edition in my hands. It feels better, the eyes are pleased as well, the mind is open and the sensors are ready for whatever the book is going to provide. In my opinion the whole experience is improved, which makes reading much more enjoyable.

Recently I bought some books from Subterranean Press, a small publisher that produces valuable, limited (numbered or signed) editions. It’s a pleasure to own such a book. The quality is superior and I often take the book to hold it, to check if the author’s signature is still there 🙂 and to look at the illustrations. No need to fear that the book will fall apart – it won’t. The only drawback is that the books are quite expensive. With usual prices around $35 and shipping costs from the US to Europe of another $8 you must order them early to save 30-40% to get a reasonable price (fortunately the Euro is very strong at the moment). Oh, and you must be careful that the total sum doesn’t exceed €22 in Austria or you have to pay customs (the custom itself is not much but they will charge you €6 something just to handle the payment!).

By the way, if I would order the same book in Germany, I would have to pay €5 more, so I rather wait longer and buy some ice cream for the kids.

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Recently I have bought the book “Modern Chess Analysis” (good review here). The author Robin Smith explains how to use the computer to analyze games. He points out the areas where computers are inferior but also where they shine. For a beginner like me this is essential. Programmers tell their customers that their programs got better, have more knowledge – but how do you judge it? On the other hand, strong players smile at weird, non-human moves that computers sometimes make.

Robin Smith provides an interesting approach. He shows examples, compares human and computer analysises and concludes when to use human intuition and when to let the engines fight it out. This will be most valueable for me as it gives more confidence in the daily work with the computer. I was always afraid that relying solely on it is a mistake. After reading this book, I know how to use it as my sparring partner. For instance, when comparing moves and the difference is one pawn it’s easy to see which move is better. But what about 0.5 pawns? Or 0.3? Which positions can be handled by computers and which not?

I wish I would have more time that I can invest in improving my chess. Right now I cannot concentrate enough so I rather skip any chess lessons at all. Too bad.

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