About me and comics, comic books, and movies

This is a website and blog about culture , science , and related subjects , and it is supposed to be a serious website . But then again , as one famous jester and villain said :”Why so serious?”

Comics and comic books ( and movies ) are nowadays part of general and popular culture , and they have a place in this blog , given also the fact that I’ve been reading comic books ( and watching movies about them ) for many years.

I started reading comic books when I was a little kid.I read them in Arabic , in French and in English.
I read comics by DC Comics (Superman , Batman , the Flash ,and others) and Marvel Comics (Spiderman ,Fantastic Four ,Thor , and others) .Maybe I read a little more DC than Marvel Comics , but I read both , and I also read other types of comics.One series of comic books I bought and read years ago was about The Death and Return of Superman.
I also read a number of Franco-Belgian comic books , especially the Adventures of Tintin , and Asterix and Obelix.

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From a sociological point of view , comics and comic books reflect in general the beliefs , customs , conventions and accepted ideas of the society which produced them , as well as the sociopolitical milieu and period in which they were created.
Some comics about historical events, historical figures or adventures taking place in the past may be enjoyable but may also be fanciful and inaccurate (which can also be true of a number of historical novels).

Comic books such as those by DC and Marvel Comics display a good amount of facts related to or borrowed from science and physics.Sometimes these comics present stories and fiction with scientific insights and interesting information about physics , astrophysics ,chemistry and the exact sciences , but these stories also contain what could be called ‘technobabble’ , things and statements revolving around science but imprecise , unrealistic or unexplainable according to the known laws and rules of physics.At times the reader has to allow for exceptions to existing scientific and physical laws in order to continue reading the fictional tales presented to him.

One relationship or pairing I liked in DC Comics is the following:

Superman and Wonder woman

Some may prefer Superman staying with Lois Lane and marrying her , others like this new relationship and even imagine Superman and Wonder Woman getting married or having kids  . I think one possible  way to resolve the issue would be  to connect two storylines .In the movie ‘Superman Returns‘ , Superman had a son with Lois Lane , so if this fact could be used as an ending to the relationship between Lois and Clark , and the beginning of the relation between Diana and Clark considered as a continuation of that storyline , then this could be satisfactory for all fans and readers , and  the affair between the Son of Krypton and The Amazon Princess can go on to its completion.

Concerning one particular aspect of fictional science in comic books and movies ,and based on my own readings and analysis of scientific rules and facts , I think that although time travel is an interesting  idea or concept , it is  not possible and will not happen in reality. Perhaps I will write more about this subject in the future.

The Adventures of Tintin are all entertaining ,with two comic books in the series (Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon) anticipating the first human trip to the Moon before it actually happened.It was a good piece of science fiction , although it contained a few errors.One book in the series , Vol 714 Pour Sydney or Flight 714 , which dealt with the existence of UFOs and Extraterrestrials , was in my opinion scientifically unverifiable and somewhat unrealistic.

Other Franco-Belgian comics I have read include :
Gaston Lagaffe , Spirou and Fantasio , Barbe Rouge , Iznogood , Ric hochet , Lucky Luke , Les Tuniques Bleus , Chick Bill , Les Schtroumpfs (the Smurfs) , Benoît Brisefer , Johan et Pirlouit (Johan and Peewit) , Alix , Les Petits Hommes …

Additional reference work related to this post:
The Physics of Superheroes : Spectacular Second Edition , by James Kakalios.

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About books I started reading but haven’t finished yet

This is probably another consequence of the fact that I read a lot. I usually start reading a book and go on reading until I finish it after a few days or weeks . Reading a science book obviously requires more concentration and rational analysis  , and occasionally making calculations or solving some equations . But a number of times I began reading a book and finished some chapters or about half of it , then I lost interest or got busy and moved on to another book or another field of study. I always keep a bookmark or write down where I stopped reading in order to finish the book at a later date. I started to read a few of these books a few years ago without finishing them.Other books I began reading a few months or weeks ago. I have already listed books  I have completely finished in my various book pages , and I’ll give here a list of books I have not completed reading to date ( December 2014). I will add these books to my books pages when I finish reading them. So here is a list of books I already began reading  .This is not an exhaustive list:

  • Fearful Symmetry : Is God a Geometer?  ( by Ian Stewart and Martin Golubitsky). fearful-symm
  • Carl Friedrich Gauss: Titan Of Science ( by Guy Waldo Dunnington).

  • Ideas And Opinions ( by Albert Einstein).
  • Avicenna, His Life and Works ( by Soheil Muhsin Afnan).
  • A history of Medicine , Second Edition (by Lois N. Magner).
  • The Cambridge Companion to Newton  ( by  I. Bernard Cohen and George E. Smith , editors).
  • Great Experiments in Physics: Firsthand Accounts from. Galileo to Einstein (Edited by Morris H. Shamos). great-experiments-phys
  • The Psychology of Intelligence ( by Jean Piaget).
  • On the Nature of Things (also translated as On the Nature of  the Universe ,  by Lucretius). nature-of-things-lucretius
  • The Justice of Zeus (by Hugh Lloyd-Jones)
  • The Aeneid ( by Virgil).
  • Black Athena , Volume 1 ( by Martin Bernal).
  • A Modern View of Geometry ( by Leonard M. Blumenthal). modern-view-geom
  • St. Thomas Aquinas on Politics and Ethics (translated and edited by Paul E. Sigmund). st-thomas-aquinas
  • Traité d’électricité et de magnétisme ( A treatise on electricity and magnetism by James Clerk Maxwell). mawell-traite-sm
  • Les fondements de la géométrie The Foundations of Geometry by David Hilbert).
  • De la démocratie en Amérique  Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville ).
  • Le Livre noir de la psychanalyse (a book critical of psychoanalysis with articles by various authors and psychologists , Edited by Catherine Meyer). livre-noir-psycha
  • Les lois du chaos (a science book  by Ilya Prigogine). lois-chaos-prigogine
  • Le temps et sa flèche ( a science book edited by Etienne Klein and  Michel Spiro).
  • Oeuvres , Tome 2 (works by Mikhail Bakunin).
  • The Muslim Jesus: Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature ( by Tarif Khalidi).

 

About languages I know and languages I’m getting to know

I have a problem. Could be a problem , or not.The thing is , I read a lot , and in more than one language.

At present I know three languages very well , and I’ve read literary books and various kinds of books in these languages.But I have also other books and coursebooks for learning other languages , some are in print form and others are ebooks along with online learning material I’ve downloaded . Audio files are generally  helpful while learning a new language.The three languages I know best are English , French and Arabic . I’ve studied and learned other  languages intermittently , depending on the circumstances or on how much free time I had.

For example , a few years ago I met a Russian girl and I had a relationship with her , and that gave me the incentive to learn Russian.Then I met a German girl , and that encouraged me to start learning German using a coursebook I had bought two years earlier.I have a Spanish language coursebook as well , so I’ve studied recently the first few chapters of this book.Of course the Spanish language is interesting and useful since it is spoken not only in Spain but in most of Central and South America and in many countries around the globe.

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I have additionally a Portuguese language coursebook waiting to be read ,  and a Chinese language textbook for beginners and a Chinese language learning software I haven’t used yet . Now  the Portuguese and Spanish languages are more or less related to each other , but learning Chinese could be more difficult as it is a non-alphabetic language and uses characters such as logograms , pictograms and ideograms . I’ll have to see if or when I will have enough time to start learning these languages.

Moving to another group or type of languages , I’ve been using and working with the Mathematica software and the (Wolfram) Mathematica programming language for more than fifteen years , and I have occasionally used in the past programming languages such as QBasic and the BASIC-like language of the TI-92 Plus calculator. I have also studied web programming for a certain period of time  , and I got to know well a number of programming (and scripting ) languages. These include HTML , PHP (and the MySQL database management system which uses the SQL query language) and JavaScript.

However , I have to say that among the languages I know the most important one is a language called Mathematics.This is the essential and fundamental language of the exact sciences , and according to good old Galileo , the mathematical language is the one in which the great book of Nature and the Universe is written.

And if you are of the opinion that Mathematics is not as important as other languages for communicating and connecting people , think again.
From Astronomy and Astronautics to Physics and Chemistry to electronic devices and components (which use disciplines such as solid-state physics , circuit and signal analysis , differential and difference equations , Fourier analysis , etc) , to computers (which use fields such as Boolean algebra , binary logic ,  and combinatorics)  , to Biology , Psychology , Economics and business studies , Mathematics and applied math are indispensable to any  study or research in science and engineering . Programming languages are more or less related to applied , discrete and computational math and to mathematical logic. Even the social and human sciences use math and statistics to  get a reputation for exactness , precision and scientificity .

About two book series

Throughout the years of reading and studying I have read many books of the French
encyclopedic series  “Que sais-je?” . Each book of the series consists of about 128 pages
and deals with a particular subject or field of study and is written by a specialist . The number
of books I’ve read in this series amounts to about one hundred , books related to various
subjects : science , mathematics , physics , astronomy , history , philosophy , religion ,
education , psychology , etc , or sometimes a combination of these subjects.

The first two books I read (and worked out) in the series were ‘Histoire de l’astronomie
classique ‘ (History of classical astronomy) and  ‘La Relativité’ (Relativity) by the late
astronomer Paul Couderc. I was 15 years of age at that time.

The history of astronomy book contains interesting information , but I remember  what
impressed me most was the author’s praise of the achievements of Isaac Newton and of his
great work “Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica” or “Mathematical Principles of
Natural Philosophy”.
Here are  sample images of some of the books I have read in the “Que sais-je ?” series:

I have also read a few books of  the more recent  “Very Short Introductions” series.

The “Que sais-je ?” series has more than 3500 titles in 2014 , whereas The “Very Short
Introductions” has between 300 and 400 titles .
Another difference I have noticed between the two collections is that when it comes to
scientific subjects  the  “Very Short Introductions” series gives a  general introduction and
a good overview of the subject  ,  while the “Que sais-je?” series delves deeper into the
subject and gives more advanced details with mathematical proofs and equations when
necessary.

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About ‘The Cleft’ and Doris Lessing.

I’ve had the intention of  reading The Cleft by Doris Lessing  for over  a year  , but it so happened that I started reading it a few days after I sadly learned she had passed away.

Doris LessingIt’s a story about the origins of humanity told by a Roman historian ,supposedly taken from old forgotten records.
Lessing claimed that she was inspired by a scientific article which said that female humans came first before males.Some would consider this as an inversion of the biblical creation narrative, but anyway it’s a good story to read , although  scientific evidence for it is doubtful or lacking.The story tells that first women were lonely creatures living by the sea who used to give birth to baby girls by some sort of parthenogenesis , until one girl gave birth to a baby boy.The women  were perplexed  and got rid of that first baby boy , but then more boys were born and with time they formed a tribal group of their own . Some of the women  went to meet them and got to know them despite the ban from the older females , so afterwards babies were  born as a result of sex and a normal pregnancy.With time (perhaps a long time) the females and males ( who are called respectively ‘clefts’ and  ‘squirts’, imagine why) learned to know each other better and lived together , and started exploring their surroundings.

Since I’m writing about Doris lessing I’ll take this occasion to say something related to her and to the education post I wrote earlier.
According to her biography , Doris Lessing left school at 14 years of age , and was self-educated from then on.This is an example of a famous and important writer who had to be an autodidact for a (large) period of her life and who won many important literary prizes , including the Nobel prize for Literature , without having a formal higher education or a university degree.
It’s not the (existing) educational system that makes the great writer (or great man or woman). More often than not  great thinkers or intellectuals are the ones who create , manage or reform educational systems , either by getting personally involved or by influencing that creation or transformation through their actions , teachings and writings.
Doris Lessing may have received an honorary degree at an older age , but this happened after she had to be self-educated and had to struggle and publish many books and novels in order to be recognized as a significant writer.

I’m going to mention suppositional events that could have been or could have happened , but in any case I want to note that  if (for example) Lessing had had  the possibility as a young girl to receive a convenient accelerated education and to go to college or to the university at the age of ten or eleven , she would have left formal education at the same  age of 14 but with a degree  in literature instead of no degree at all.This could be applied to many bright and able youngsters who get stuck in the educational system because of their fast intellectual development or have to leave it early for different reasons , and   I think that is one of the advantages of an adequate accelerated education.

This also reminds me of something that happened to me about a year ago . My main fields of interest tend towards science and math , and I have sometimes taught private science lessons, but have  also taught private English language lessons to students of various ages who needed it .Once I saw an ad about a school who needed an English teacher , so I called them to ask about the job requirements . I wasn’t  sure I wanted it or had the time for it but just wanted to ask . The woman started asking me if I had a degree in literature , I tried to tell her I had a good experience in teaching private lessons and a very good knowledge of English , but she  wouldn’t let me speak and insisted that I had to have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature, and then we had to end the conversation . While I appreciate  people  who have college degrees and BAs , and I don’t presume to know everything ,  and there are always new things to be learned or discovered ,  I think my personal studies and readings allowed me to know English as much as someone having a BA degree , or even a little more ( you can take a  look at a list of English literary books I have read in here).

I ‘m not comparing myself to a writer such as Doris Lessing , but I couldn’t help thinking that if  Lessing or a writer of her importance (and her educational background) had had the idea to call that school like I have done , and had told them only that he or she had a very good teaching experience  and very good knowledge of the English language but no degree , they would have rejected her or would have probably hung up.

Degrees and academic credentials are useful and important but sometimes it depends within which educational system or framework they are given , and too much insistence on diplomas alone without taking other variables and factors ( experience , the age factor in education  being  relevant ones among others)  into account may turn out to  be counterproductive and inadequate.

Some personal facts

Born in the 1970s.

As you will notice in the books page , I read a lot, and I have read many books of all sorts (including  important books) since I was 14-15 years of age.

Don’t worry , I have also many other hobbies and interests .

I could place additional personal facts in a number of future posts.You can take a look at them by following the ‘about me ‘ tag link in the tags list or tag cloud .