Critical Pages

Arts, Society, Mathematics, Politics, Religion, Economics, Science, Anthropology...Absolutely Anything
Critical Pages

Critical Pages is…

Critical Pages is a collection of essays, observations, opinions, notes, prose pieces and maybe a few poems on a variety of subjects. The website has been around for a number of years and had changed, vanished, reappeared, had bursts of growth, gone dormant, and at times has apparently joined the Choir Invisible. So, here it is, back again, more or less.

Just run your cursor over the images below and you'll get a chance to read more...
Nos-tal-gia [fr. Gk nostos +algia]
It turns out that the word nostalgia means homesickness. Some of us weren’t in class the day the teacher talked about nostalgia. Some of us thought the word referred to...
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Happy Birthday, Catullus!
No one knows the exact date of Gaius Valerius Catullus's birth, but as the weather is glum today and as the pandemic grows longer and deadlier, and as we need...
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Garlic
Americans are using more garlic than ever in the history of the Republic, so we’re going to talk about garlic. There are many types of garlic, but essentially they come...
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Washing Hands With Paul Revere
We’re all doing a lot of hand washing these days. I was taught to wash my hands a long time ago, but back than it wasn’t a matter of life...
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Phi: A Popular Little Number
Books about science are popular. The physicist Brian Greene wrote a best seller untangling string theory and the cosmologist Hawkings gave us a lavishly illustrated coffee table tome, compressing the...
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When Did We Begin To Cook?
Cooking is astonishingly important. It's amazing how much caloric energy we use up chewing and digesting raw food. In fact, people on a diet of raw food generally don't get...
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Our hard-working scribes…

 

 

Most of our posts are short, but a handful are considerably longer. Among the longer pieces is Beebe Bahrami’s Cafe Neandertal, about a dig in France uncovering Neandertal (or Neanderthal) bones. Neanderthals were our ancestors who came before homo sapiens and populated the globe for far longer than we late comers. Cafe Neandertal is unlike any other book you’ll read on paleoanthropology. Superintelligence, by Nick Bostrom, is about artificial intelligence and machine learning, a rather dire book when it talks about our future, but fascinating. Ada’s Algorithm is about Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter, the young woman who wrote the world’s first computer program. The author, James Essinger, gives us a deft portrait of this remarkable woman. Click on the book titles to see the reviews.

By the way, you’ll notice that our scribes are working on pages, not on long scrolls. Writing on pages and then gathering those pages into books was the new technology of the Middle Ages. The newly invented book gave readers the amazing opportunity of going from the beginning of a text to the middle or the end or to anyplace in between just by turning a few pages! No more having to unwind a long scroll and then rewind it back. (Just how tedious this could be was rediscovered in the early years of the computer when magnetized tapes were used to store data; to find things on the tape, you had to wind or rewind back and forth, much as you would on a scroll.)  Furthermore, the pages were flat, not rolled up, so you could paint gorgeously colored illustrations on the pages. Indeed, the paintings, often done with gold leaf, were so brilliant and glowing they were called, as they still are today, illuminations. A book with pictures —  just like the illustration up there right now. It was wonderful! What would they think of next?