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What are you reading?

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Damn, Ed, do you ever read novels? Maybe even a comic book? My lips get tired just reading the titles of the books you like.

 

I rarely read novels, I'm not really sure why, but the attraction of a book that will teach me something new, especially in the life-sciences, is too strong...it's almost an addiction.

 

Of course that's not to say you can't learn a lot from a good novel, but I prefer the mainline source.

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Volume Two of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cyle, The Confusion, came out the beginning of the month, and I've just found out.

 

Actually, this is one novelist I do read. But Quicksilver has been sitting in my house for 6 months, I really need to crack it. I didn't know the second one was out already...all the more pressure to get through the first!

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Originally posted by FreakTornado@Apr 26 2004, 10:21 AM

I rarely read novels, I'm not really sure why, but the attraction of a book that will teach me something new, especially in the life-sciences, is too strong...it's almost an addiction.

 

Of course that's not to say you can't learn a lot from a good novel, but I prefer the mainline source.

I used to be this way until I went to graduate school. That much nonfiction in so little time makes one appreciate novels for a good 10-20 years afterwards. :)

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Originally posted by stencil@Apr 26 2004, 12:48 PM

I used to be this way until I went to graduate school. That much nonfiction in so little time makes one appreciate novels for a good 10-20 years afterwards. :)

The irony is that I was never a big reader as a kid, I can count on 2 hands the number of books I read before age 12 (yes, I did very poorly in school). Then when I started college I really started to read more, and ended up majoring in philosophy, where you read endlessly...in fact I credit my philosophy curriculum with effectively teaching me to read.

 

But since around 1991 I've read a more of less continuous stream of science books, starting with neuroscience and philosophy of mind (the dam burst came with "The Emperor's New Mind", by Roger Penrose...a book I now dislike a great deal), and on to evolution, genetics, linguistics, and so on.

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Finished Utopia by Lincoln Child. My oh my, what a piece of crap. Stay away.

 

Next up: Flatland by Edwin Abbott Abbott.

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I'm currently reading through Cryptonomicon, though very slowly.

 

My favorite book is either Shogun or The 13th Valley.

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Flatland by Edwin Abbott Abbott

An interesting short story. I read it quite simply because I enjoy math and this is supposed to be a classic in the category. I didn't find it as profound as those who left feedback at amazon did, but it was certainly original.

 

Next up: 1984 by George Orwell.

Yep, I've never read it. Maybe now I'll understand the Apple commercial and have a new appreciation for a certain CBS show.

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Originally posted by xPieter@May 8 2004, 02:54 PM

Next up: 1984 by George Orwell.

Yep, I've never read it. Maybe now I'll understand the Apple commercial and have a new appreciation for a certain CBS show.

I've seen the Apple commercial but what's the tv show?

 

I'm in the middle of reading Imaro by Charles Saunders. It's a heroic fantasy novel set in a fanciful version of Africa. I find that fantasies that aren't rooted in European, especially western European, cultures are more stimulating to me. Just not as worn out, I guess. You can tell this is Saunders's first book because it's a little clunky in places but it's still a fun, brisk read.

 

Next on the list, I'm trying to decide between The Magic Wagon by Joe Lansdale or The Grand Cham by Harold Lamb.

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Originally posted by Covak@May 4 2004, 03:18 PM

I'm currently reading through Cryptonomicon, though very slowly.

This was probably my favorite of Stephenson's books, just barely edging out Snowcrash. I loved the blend of history, computer geekiness, math, and cryptography in this.

 

I still have to finish Quicksilver. Now that the 2nd book in the trilogy is out, I should get off my ass and get into it.

 

Currently re-reading the Harry Potter books, what with the new movie coming out soon.

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Originally posted by Andy Sheets@May 8 2004, 06:52 PM

Next on the list, I'm trying to decide between The Magic Wagon by Joe Lansdale or The Grand Cham by Harold Lamb.

I haven't read either of those, but Joe Lansdale is one of my favorite authors. Can't go wrong with anything of his.

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I'm currently reading the Wingman series by Mack Maloney. It entails the years after WW III,which we had won,but lost after the VP turns traitor & sides with the Russians.

 

Hawk Hunter,known as the greatest fighter pilot ever,flies the last F-16 in the battle to reunite a ravaged America! :)

 

Seriously, a lot of the books are way out in the idea realm,but it is a fun read.

I'm also looking forward to the comics Astonishing X-Men (Joss Wheldon is writing) & the DC miniseries Identity Crisis.

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Originally posted by adamsappel@May 9 2004, 01:00 AM

I haven't read either of those, but Joe Lansdale is one of my favorite authors. Can't go wrong with anything of his.

Yeah, I've been trying to get ahold of a copy of this one for the past 10 years or so, and then I found out that it had quietly been brought back in print not too long ago. I love his work but some of his books are very tough to find, especially outside of Texas :)

 

I'm also looking forward to the comics Astonishing X-Men (Joss Wheldon is writing)

 

I'm trying to make up my mind on that one. I'll probably skim it in the store. I'd like to read it because of Joss's involvement, but OTOH, the X-Men were ruined for me a long time ago and I'm skeptical that anyone can really get the spirit of the characters back.

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Dude, Where's My Country? by Michael Moore

More of the same after reading Stupid White Men, but still entertaining and still capable of getting me riled up. I know no work of non-fiction should be taken as gospel, but even if a small percentage of the book is true...

 

I enjoy Moore's ideas on how to change what is wrong with the world. And I can't wait for Disney to realize how ass-backward they look by not releasing his new film "Fahrenheit 9/11."

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Guest Bryan

I think Pieter and Jeff should swap books once they're done.

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I think Pieter and Jeff should swap books once they're done.

 

Yeah, I need to get my hands on a good right-wing book to hear the other side of the story. Any recommendations? Gotta try to be fair and balanced. I read Lies... by Al Franken and he seemed the most pissed off at Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reily and either Hannity or Colmes - I can't remember which. I'm pretty sure all of them have books out, whose should I tackle?

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Originally posted by xPieter@May 10 2004, 01:58 AM

Yeah, I need to get my hands on a good right-wing book to hear the other side of the story. Any recommendations?

Personally, I'd stay away from popular "right wing" book as much as I'd stay away from a "left wing" books. They both seem to be full of half-truths designed to mobilize voters and dehumanize people.

 

-j

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Coulter presents a very sound argument backed up with tons of references, but she can weaken it with her raw sense of humor which at times borders on offensive. I prefer to keep the discussion elevated above personal attacks.

 

Hannity is the pure definition of black and white, which, if I didn't agree with him for the most part, I guess could get a bit preachy and boring. One thing you can't say about him is that he doesn't believe what he's saying. I haven't had a chance to read his newest, but I'll get around to it.

 

I liked O'Reily's the best, because despite the claims made by Franken in "Lies.." he's not a partisan (actually he disputes O'reily's claims that he is an independent, citing a voter registration card that he filled out as a republican). He rails on whoever he thinks is wrong. Granted, he falls on the conservative side of things more often than not, but he will lay into the President on a number of issues.

 

Next up for me will probably be Coulter's "Slander" which I will follow up with "What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News" by Eric Alterman.

 

J.

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Well, I finished Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language. Very good book! Because the author is widely quoted in other books I've read, I almost feel like I'd read it already. He makes some bold claims, some I think are a stretch, others are very plausible. He's a good writer so the book moves along very quickly but is never difficult to follow.

 

In the meantime I happened upon a review of another book called (are you ready Allen?) Descartes' Baby: How the Science of Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human, which I probablay would have passed over if I saw it on the shelf, but the review was written by a scientist who I respect a good deal (Geoffrey Miller). His take on the book was exciting to me because it indicated that the book covers a few areas that I've been wondering about since I read Constructing a Language. Namely, if evolution has prepared the infant brain to understand that other people are like themselves, with minds, wants and desires, with a subjective point of view (which is the basis from which they acquire language), and importantly NOT like rocks and computers and other 'artifacts', what does that in-born ability mean for other areas of human cognition and social life, aside from language?

 

I'm only about 40 pages into this book, but from what I gather in the review and what I've read so far, the author will suggest that this dichotomy that we are born with - the innate understanding that some entities have an unseen 'inner-life' and other things don't - is the source of ideas of dualism, that some things have immaterial spirits or souls contrasted with purely material things which are simply as they appear. It's a hunch I've had for some time that we are quite literally designed to see the world in this way, because it allows us a short-cut into absorbing culture, to be socialized.

 

The advatage of having this 'knowledge' built-in is exposed when we look at what happens when it is missing, which is what autism is. People with autism do not see other people as beings with inner states, states that can be shared, imitated, learned from...states that mirror their own. For example there's one research example where a child is presented with a remote-controlled robot with their parent in the room, a 'normal' child will look at the parent's reaction to the robot (specifically by looking at the parent's face) as a guide for how they should react...if the parent acts frightened the child will shy away from the robot, if they smile and are relaxed, the child will approach it...but austistic children do not make this connction. The effect is profound and sad.

 

Anyway, so far this book is well-written and quite interesting, although I haven't yet reached the meat of his arguments. the foundations he is laying are pretty solid and backed-up.

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I think Pieter and Jeff should swap books once they're done.

 

I've honestly thought about trying to read one of Sean Hannity's or Ann Coulter's books, but I just don't think I could stop getting angry at both of them.

 

Every time I see her on TV, when someone questions her on her books she basically says, "You're wrong. I'm right." Without ever giving any factual information. I just figure it would be interesting, being a progressive to actually read what the other side of the aisle has to say.

 

Glen

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Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

Overall, a great, fun read. I liked it even more than The Da Vinci Code, but had the same problem with both books: the last 15% of the story. I felt both books had huge ideas that made for great conflict until the time came for resolution. There was no way the endings of either book would have been able to satisfy the reader because of one or two or five twists too many. Both novels had surprise bad guys reveal themselves toward the end and neither were believeable or even all that creative. But let me stress that this is my only complaint and I would still recommend both books to anyone reading this thread.

 

And of course no review of Angels & Demons can conclude without mentioning the infamous The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. This book takes a lot of effort to read, but will undoubtedly stick with you afterwards everytime you look at a one dollar bill, hear the number 23, or attend an all day rock festival.

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Just finished "A Drink Before The War" by Dennis Lehane. Lehane is more well known for writing Mystic River, this is his first major novel though, about gang warfare, fathers, class etc. It's the "inaugral" pick for the book club that some friends are trying to startup, and our first discussion night is tonight.

 

I get to pick the next book and have a few interesting choices to narrow down.

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IF anyone's into a pretty good sci-fi read I just finished "Omnifix" by Scott Mackey. A 24th century scientist has his body taken over by a alien nano-technology. It's not as out landish as it might sound. Pretty well done. Good characters and a great ending.

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Currently reading The Turner Diaries by William L. Pierce

All-time favorite...probably I am Legend by Richard Matheson

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