Bill’s Blogs

Review: Holt’s Why Does the World Exist?

Jim Holt, Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story, 2012 — One chill Paris night shortly before the turn of the millennium, Jim Holt stood on the Ponts des Arts smoking, looking down at the Seine, and pondering Leibniz's old question "Why is there...

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Review: Hawking’s A Brief History of Time

Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time, 1998 — This book puts me in mind of the story about how a Harvard number theorist, through some malfunction of the scheduling computer, got assigned to teach an introductory course in pre-calculus. Being one of those...

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Review: Helprin’s Winter’s Tale

  Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale, 1983 — Mark Helprin once wrote a short story about a young diplomat posted to Great Britain in World War II and assigned to assuage the plight of refugees in that conflict. After one of many long days at this thankless task, he arrives...

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Review: Herbert’s Whipping Star

Frank Herbert, Whipping Star, 1969 — To spell it out right up front, Frank Herbert’s sf novel Whipping Star is based on a very, very, very silly premise. At the risk of repeating myself, did I mention that the premise is silly? Well, it is. Here’s a partial synopsis —...

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The Why of Stories: Part IV

The Why of Stories: Part IV

 "And by the way, you know, when you're telling these little stories? Here's a good idea -- have a point. It makes it SO much more interesting for the listener!" -- Steve Martin as Neal Page to John Candy as Del Griffith,  Planes, Trains, & Automobiles Well, then...

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The Why of Stories: Part IV

The Why of Stories: Part III

Last time we left off with the story of a seasoned naval officer, in command of several hundred million dollars worth of missile cruiser, and responsible for Lord knows how many lives, steaming straight into a powder-keg confrontation, and what does he do? He makes up...

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The Why of Stories: Part IV

The Why of Stories: Part II

Stories about Stories — This first story harks back to the era of the Iran-Iraq war. As recounted by sociologist Gary Klein in his Decision Making in Complex Military Environments,[1] it goes like this: In an incident in which Iranian F-4s had taken off and were...

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The Why of Stories: Part IV

The Why of Stories: Part I

Introduction — In recent years, fueled at least in part by the burgeoning growth of the self-publishing sector, how-to manuals for the aspiring author have become something of a cottage industry. Needless to say, these How-To-Write-The-Next-Bestseller bestsellers tend...

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