Gondor has arrived!

Found a small file called Isildur.pdf on the LAN … and opened it out of curiosity! It seems to be just what the doctor ordered! Had been missing Fantasy for some time now … this is the story of Isildur, that was never published because “Professor Tolkien”, according to the author, did not permit spin-offs on his work.

He was a man of contradictions and paradoxes: a valiant and merciless warrior but also a loving husband and father; esteeming virtue and honor above all things but intolerant of the weaknesses of others; of noble lineage and demeanor but also comfortable with his subjects and beloved by them. Even the great error that doomed him and marred the age that followed was not due to weakness on his part. It was his very nobility and virtue, his confidence in his ability to control Sauron’s Ring that brought about his downfall.

His contemporaries heaped all praise and honor on him as a paragon of royal virtue, but his heirs had reason enough to curse his name. What sort of man was Isildur, the only Man to wear Sauron’s One Ring? We decided to concentrate our research on this remarkable figure.

From the Preface to:
by Brian K. Crawford
with Gary D. Crawford

deep thought

Currently reading a wonderful article by Marvin Minsky – Why people think computers can’t. Got caught up in one point that he puts forth:

We tend to think of learning as something that just happens to us, like a sponge getting soaked. But learning really is a growing mass of skills: we start with some but have to learn the rest. Most people never get deeply concerned with acquiring increasingly more advanced learning skills. Why not” Because they don’t pay off right away! When a child tries to spoon sand into a pail, the child is mostly concerned with filling pails and things like that. Suppose, though, by some accident, a child got interested in how that pail-filling activity itself improved over time, and how the mind’s inner dispositions affected that improvement. If only once a child became involved (even unconsciously) in how to learn better, then that could lead to exponential learning growth.

Each better way to learn to learn would lead to better ways to build more skills ­ until that little difference had magnified itself into an awesome, qualitative change. In this view, first-rank “creativity” could be just the consequence of childhood accidents in which a person’s learning gets to be a little more “self-applied” than usual.

Pretty insightful concept – learning to learn. But what made me sit up and want to talk about it to someone was this footnote:

Notice that there’s no way a parent could notice ­ and then reward ­ a young child’s reflective concern with learning. If anything, the kid would seem to be doing less rather than more ­ and might be urged to “snap out of it “.

Could this be what happens to most people? Being distracted by overbearing parents when they are just about to hit the zone? Does anyone remember something like this happening to them? Is this what makes a geek out of a child … entering that phase of learning to learn, ever so slightly, not really reaching genius level?

The crownless shall be king …

Nothing has been as memorable as discovering Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy when I first joined IIT! I have read it quite a few times already … savouring the excellent language and the elegant descriptions. Got my own copy back in my hands after being circulated among a few friends. How I wish I could go back to the time when I first came across it, and read it “again for the first time!” 😉

Transcribing my favourite passage in the whole book …
Continue reading “The crownless shall be king …”