Kullervo's tale is just one of 50 songs in the Kalevala, an epic of 22,795 verses telling the story of the Sampo, a magical object that bestows power on whoever possesses it. Tolkien used numerous plot elements from the Kalevala in his own novels - a powerful magical object, incest, battles between brothers, and orphan heroes setting out on quests.
"Kullervo is the origin story for Shakespeare's Hamlet - a young man whose uncle kills his father and on whom he wreaks a terrible vengeance," says Verlyn Flieger. "It is likely that Tolkien knew that Shakespeare had used this tale."
In The Silmarillion (begun in 1914, but only published after his death), Tolkien turns Kullervo into Turin Turambar, the warrior hero.
"I think he liked the Kalevala because it has both high and low elements," suggests Tolkien-biographer Prof John Garth from the University of Nevada. "There are clodhopping idiots, treated in a really down-to-earth, anti-heroic way. In Tolkien's own fiction, he creates totally different moods. The hobbits are very relatable, very friendly; and then the elves are much more remote."
A guest post on Kory Merritt's children's books by Sukie:
When I first found Kory Merritt’s work I felt just like I suspect I would have felt had I found Chas Addams early in his career. I knew that I was watching the budding of genius.
Strong words? Kory Merritt’s work is quirky, at times spooky without being too scary for grade school kids, and he can make even the most improbable characters multidimensional and endearing in his art work, wording, and plots. Besides, he has managed to come up with many of the most amazing ice cream flavor names ever devised, and some of the strangest characters. To see some of those characters just go to
Although I am a lot older than 14 and some of our relatives are younger than 11, we and they already have preorders for the book which will come out in early October.
So, if you enjoy moving characters with strange appearances, fun stories, and seeking unexpected hidden gems then definitely give _The Dreadful Fate of Jonathan York, a Yarn for the Strange at Heart_ a try!
If you want to share info on a fun book with people who have children, classes, libraries, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, or others who are young at heart then pass along this post to them. Feel free! I do not mind being quoted about how marvelous Kory’s work can be and has been. With a first issue of 5,000 copies I expect them to sell out fast and do not want to wait for the second printing so have already ordered, an action I recommend.
But this success story is beginning to look more complicated: some hospitals have been unable to replicate the impressive results of initial trials. An analysis of more than 200,000 procedures at 101 hospitals in Ontario, Canada, for example, found no significant reductions in complications or deaths after surgical-safety checklists were introduced2. “We see this all the time,” says David Urbach, a surgeon at the University of Toronto who led the Ontario analysis. “A lot of studies that should be a slam dunk don't seem to work in practice.” The stakes are high, because poor use of checklists means that people may be dying unnecessarily.
A cadre of researchers is working to make sense of the discrepancies. They are finding a variety of factors that can influence a checklist's success or failure, ranging from the attitudes of staff to the ways that administrators introduce the tool. The research is part of the growing field of implementation science, which examines why some innovations that work wonderfully in experimental trials tend to fall flat in the real world. The results could help to improve the introduction of other evidence-based programmes, in medicine and beyond.
First is the New Horizons Pluto flyby. This is likely to be the last first encounter of a well-known body space that happens in my lifetime. I've been lucky enough to have been witness to all of them so far. JPL has a visualizer for Macs and Windows machines to give a better sense of the mission. There will be a lot of news online as well as in conventional media.
We haven't been seeing many new images for a few reasons. The distance means it takes over four hours for a light to travel from the spacecraft to rather sensitive antenna on Earth. The weakness of the signal dictates a very low data-rate. Most of the images have to be stored on the spacecraft and then transmitted over time. A lengthy feast for planetary science.
Second is the release of Frank Wilczek's new book A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature's Deep Design. I've seen pieces and it should be wonderful - an exploration of the cosmos as a work of art and a mediation on the beauty we perceive.
Soon, the maker of the Kindle is going to flip the formula used for reimbursing some of the authors who depend on it for sales. Instead of paying these authors by the book, Amazon will soon start paying authors based on how many pages are read—not how many pages are downloaded, but how many pages are displayed on the screen long enough to be parsed. So much for the old publishing-industry cliche that it doesn't matter how many people read your book, only how many buy it.
For the many authors who publish directly through Amazon, the new model could warp the priorities of writing: A system with per-page payouts is a system that rewards cliffhangers and mysteries across all genres. It rewards anything that keeps people hooked, even if that means putting less of an emphasis on nuance and complexity.
Sure signs that Burgis is no knee-jerk apologist for African elites arrive early in the book, beginning with his fascinating and lengthy account of “the Futungo,” a shadowy clique of Angolan insiders who he claims control their country’s immense oil wealth, personally profiting from it and also using it to keep a repressive ruling regime in power. The country’s leader, José Eduardo dos Santos, has been president since 1979, and in 2013, Forbes magazine identified his daughter, Isabel, as Africa’s first female billionaire. “When the International Monetary Fund [IMF] examined Angola’s national accounts in 2011,” Burgis writes, it found that between 2007 and 2010, “$32 billion had gone missing, a sum greater than the gross domestic product of each of forty-three African countries and equivalent to one in every four dollars that the Angolan economy generates annually.” Meanwhile, according to Burgis, even though the country is at peace, in 2013 the Angolan government spent 18 percent of its budget on the Futungo-dominated military and police forces that prop up dos Santos’ rule—almost 40 percent more than it spends on health and education combined.
Those who tend to blame Africa’s woes on elite thievery seize on such examples with relish. But Burgis tells a much fuller story. Angola’s leaders may seem more clever and perhaps possess more agency than other African regimes—and indeed, other African states seem to be eagerly adopting the Angolan model. But the regime relies on the complicity of a number of actors in the international system—and the willful ignorance of many others—to facilitate the dispossession of the Angolan people: Western governments, which remain largely mute about governance in Angola; major banks; big oil companies; weapons dealers; and even the IMF. They provide the political cover, the capital, and the technology necessary to extract oil from the country’s rich offshore wells and have facilitated the concealment (and overseas investment) of enormous sums of money on behalf of a small cabal of Angolans and their foreign enablers. Because Angola’s primary resource, oil, is deemed so important to the global economy, and because its production is so lucrative for others, Angola is rarely pressed to account for how it uses its profits, much less over questions of democracy or human rights. Burgis shows how even the IMF, after uncovering the $32 billion theft, docilely reverted to its role as a facilitator of the regime’s dubious economic programs.