Winter Vacation Summary

February 28, 2009

I can’t remember how many books I read last summer vacation. A dozen during 3 months? Anyway, this time the quantity and efficiency are more optimistic. 10 books, featuring 3 different subjects. I’d keep a record yea!


λModern Robotics

Before the highly anticipated optional course robotics, I already can’t wait to learn a little about my technologically immature friends, how they were developed, which level they’ve reached. After reading this book by Harry Henderson, I realize what I’m interested in most is neither industrial nor mobility-focused robots, I don’t care the performance of Asimo before many worldwide leaders that much. But I highlighted on the brain of robots. Research on mental development of robots- the way they think- much concerns with the cybernetics, neuroscience, computer science. Watching an electronical & machanical creature undertaking a learning process that much resembles that of a mankind baby is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating experiences!


Pitifully, this is not a book providing with technical details but rather introductive. Still it kindly gives some external links and sources, allowing me for further reading. And it also raised some view points that blow my mind, like the importance of a comprehensive knowledge of motion in animation production; and viewing the relationship between human and robots in a philosophical, or rather, religious way. Anne Foester’s God of Robots is really thought provoking.


Btw, iRobot is supreme. I saw the little caterpillar-tread-based soldiers carry out missions once in a mag and i fell…


λIsaac Asimov-The Robots and The Empire

λIsaac Asimov-Pebble in the Sky

λIsaac Asimov-The Robots of Dawn

To be frank, for 6 years, i never know i’d one day open a classic novel once again. But the miracle happened. I’m entirely conquered by Daneel & Giskard. They are, in a sense, fortunate that they can communicate with a robot partner via electromagnetic wave in such an honest, sincere, perfectly co-operative, definitely logical way, with such devotion and concentration! I am, in that sense, unfortunate. I’m lonely in this human world. I dont try to have efficient communication with sophisticated human beings in vein anymore……


Daniel is an android, but i love Giskard more. I’m clear all those what i think are Giskard’s virtues are just some programs pre-inserted in his chip. But i dont see differences between virtues nurtured in ways of ‘INSERTING’ and ‘TEACHING’ if you like.


As to say the ethics and the Three Laws of Robotics, i’ll discuss them later this semester. I see them seriously, enn…



I admit i didnt read this book- i scanned it, and cannot say how much i learned


λThe New Weapons of the World Encyclopedia

I dont see any point in investigating on tiny and many variations in stones that original people used as weapons. But i identified my focal points. Aerial bombs, guided missiles and especially guns. Before that i knew nothing bout components of a gun, how it works and its classification etc. But now i’m not who i was lol~


As an encyclopedia, the density of info is certainly satisfactory. And the reading process was full of chances that i used what i learned last semester to help me comprehend these working principles.


I always cherish this speck of thankfulness that i found for my university life. (and it’s this speck of thankfulness that i count on to keep me somewhat hopeful on this campus)


λB-1 Lancer: the most complicated war plane ever developed, by Dennis R. Jenkins

B-1, nicknamed Bone, seems graceful rather than aggressive as a bomber, who initially was developed for the purpose of carrying nuclear weapons. I’ve never experienced reading a book on one plane. The development, R&D, manufacturing, technical details, systems, analysis, stories-all bout B-1, whatever you expected or unexpected to know! I’m not here to output all the info i previously input to my memory. And my english proficiency doesnt allow me to do so. Just wanna say i really enjoy reading it. It also helped me recognize that my difficulty comes from the insufficiency of knowledge of avionic devices like DOS/OOS ,and others for aviation and navigation. On the other hand, i felt easy when reading bout the structural design related to aerodynamics.


And to add one thing, m so grateful that the book led me to the way of discovering my fav bomber currently. No no, it’s not B-2. That is XB-70, tho never was it put into mass manufacturing.



For me it’s another recreational one. It collects a package of famous actions conducted by Mossad and Shin Bet throughout the last 50 years. Somehow i felt proud everytime they claimed sheer victory as i had to remind myself now and then that i was only an outsider.


I read a piece of news(from Haaretz) just now: many believe that Mossad & CIA has had a series of actions since Iran was suspected of stepping towards nukes. And they are likely to be involved in the assasination of the top Iranian nuclear scientist in 2007, tho it seemed only an accident. Smiling reading it, i hope someday they will uncover this and finally compile it into this book, then we’ll have a chance to see another legend w/z Israeli intelligence!


λMy Life, by Golda Meir

Maybe the 4th PM of Israel is not an excellent writer, but i deeply engaged in reading every line to discover first hand materials. I’m able to replay those impressive scenes, of Meir requesting Arabs not to flee not to be afraid on the beach of Haifa in 1948; of Meir’s secret meeting with Jordan’s King. I spent my Spring Festival Eve alone @home with Golda Meir’s stories, in the living room, with some classic trance CDs playing loud in stereo. I treasure that moment really.


And she also responded to some heatly controversial issues misunderstood by the rest of the world, offering statistics and facts. I copied some important materials for later use


And i’d say i dont think Golda Meir would cheat her readers, but i did find some contrary descriptions and narrations on the same historical issues in the following book-


λPalestine: the Arabs and Israel, by Henry Cattan

It’s wise enuff not to read any of the 2 books in separate periods of time. Often, the 2 were both open on my desk, with pages referring to one issue. When i found it’s hard to decide who’s more reliable or persuasive, i’ll write the questions down as memos. For example, Cattan believed Arabs were forced to leave their homes and became refugees while what Meir did on her own as i’ve mentioned above is surely telling the opposite. She insisted Arab residents left for fear of being censured as traitors to the Arab nation. Actually, their departure would destroy the state’s economy. Meir told me Arab leaders encouraged Palestinians to flee, while Cattan quoted a journalist’s conclusion, who checked all the radio station records and found no evidence of that saying, that Arab leaders never did it. These things drove me crazy!


The most outstanding feature of this book is that the author discusses things from a law angle. He doubted the legitimacy of Israel by challenging the authority of the UN. 1947 resolution no.181 is not that valid, which should be submitted to International Court. I dont think i can fully understand him in some points since i’m not expert in law, but inside my mind i felt the sorrow and burden that something’s indeed illegal @that time, which i tried to avoid thinking of in the past. And he forced me to admit again and again that what make Israel is today include series of fait accompli!


Yes, i hate most of what he says, they’re miserable. But i’ll thank him politely for reminding me two important issues i neglected or never realized before, one of which is the refugee problem, and the other is the deforcement of Arab possessions.

 I disagree with his inflated number of refugees and his one-sided narrative on Israeli terrorist activities in those early days before the foundation of the state, which convinced his readers he wrote the book with hatred. However, i absolutely agree w/z one sentence he wrote that one should always be mindful of the history in Palestine’s early years and see what happened at present and in the past as a whole, only in that way can one comprehend current affairs in Mid-East and probably judge who’s right or better

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