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

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

 

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

I just started shogun this past week. Great book so far, but 1100+ pages. :shock:

I'm a very slow reader so I might not finish this one up til christmas. :oops:

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Shogun is one of my faves as well; I must have read through it four or five times at least. It started me on a Clavell tear for a while, but I ended up enjoying Shogun the most out of all of his books. Tai Pan was probably second.

 

On Angels and Demons; I read that book a few weeks ago and I was surprised that it was by the same author as The DaVinci Code. I enjoyed TDC a great deal, but A&D left me completely flat. And then I read Digital Fortress (Dan Brown's most recent, I believe), and I became convinced that Brown simply caught lightning in a bottle with TDC. Worst book I've read this year, and certainly a contender for all-time top 20 worst ever. :(

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Empiricism is the Tool of the Devil, by Dr. F. Tornado, MD, PhD, LCVG, AFAIK, BRB, IMHO. It's the sequel to his blockbuster Evolution is a Hoax: Why Darwin is Wrong.

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Originally posted by Robot Monkey@May 24 2004, 12:18 PM

Empiricism is the Tool of the Devil, by Dr. F. Tornado, MD, PhD, LCVG, AFAIK, BRB, IMHO. It's the sequel to his blockbuster Evolution is a Hoax: Why Darwin is Wrong.

:lmfao:

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Originally posted by Zathras@May 24 2004, 12:45 PM

:lol: Just kidding but I did recently pick up Ubik by Phillip K. Dick on the recommendation of a friend.

My favorite Dick.

 

Um...

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I finished 1984 by George Orwell and understand the "more timely than ever" type sentiments it generates. Overall I liked the book, but didn't really feel there was much of a story. I wish there was a high-school English teacher around to enlighten me...

 

Moving on to Naked in Baghdad by Anne Garrels of NPR. And yes, I have given up on Tom Clancy's Red Rabbit. :(

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Ahh, Peter, we could start an entire 1984 thread and school you on the story there.

 

If you liked that, might I suggest Brave New World by Aldus Huxley? It's a must-read.

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Originally posted by stencil@Jun 5 2004, 01:36 AM

Ahh, Peter, we could start an entire 1984 thread and school you on the story there.

 

If you liked that, might I suggest Brave New World by Aldus Huxley? It's a must-read.

Forget that, instead, check out 1985, Orwell's superior sequel. In it, we learn that Winston had a brother in the Oceanic Army named Ben. Ben returns home in 1985 disillusioned with Big Brother and sickened by what he saw in the wars with Eurasia and Eastasia.

 

Early in this masterpiece of social and political commentary, Ben is asked to fire upon people in a Food Riot. He refuses ("Dere are women and children in dere! Dey chust want food, for God's sake!") and is arrested.

 

You see, by 1985, the world economy has collapsed. Food, natural resources, and oil are in short supply. A police state, divided into paramilitary zones, rules with an iron hand. Television is controlled by the state and a sadistic game show called "The Running Man" has become the most popular program in history. All art, music, and communications are censored. No dissent is tolerated yet a small resistance movement has managed to survive underground. When high-tech gladiators are not enough to suppress the people's yearning for freedom ... more direct methods become necessary!

 

The rest of the novel details his escape and what he does (can't say more because I don't want to spoil anything). The third novel in the series, 1986, isn't as good (but it ain't bad!) and features unstoppable cyborgs from the future.

 

Oh, yeah, right now I'm reading Stakeknife, written by a former handler in Ireland. Lot's of interesting and nasty revelations, especially about agents Brian Nelson and Frank Scapaticci (second in command of the IRA's Nutting Squad):

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0...0627564-3291822

 

-j

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Forget that, instead, check out 1985, Orwell's superior sequel.

Do they have that in book on tape format? I like to listen while in my Warthog.

 

Ahh, Peter, we could start an entire 1984 thread and school you on the story there.

I'd like that. 2 + 2 = 5! Slavery is Freedom! Drink more Gin! and so forth...

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Actually, there was a sequel to 1984 called 1985. I forget who wrote it - some Eastern European guy - but I did read it a long time ago. Don't remember much about it except that it was a comedy that took place after Big Brother's death and there was a Big Sister who tried to take over, and there was something about happiness being enforced on the population through the use of special happy guns that compelled anyone shot with them to smile constantly. I remember thinking it was pretty stupid but the point is that the sequel actually exists :)

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I just started up on Agatha Christie's 'Cards On The Table'. Always been a big Poirot fan and I'm in need of some quick reads to pass the time lately. :tu:

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Well, due to my impending fatherhood, my wife picked up the following book for me. The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice to Dads to be.

 

It was surprising how little info was out there for soon to be fathers. It's a pretty decent read, and combined with all of the info I'm getting from my wife, I'm sure that I'll screw up my kid 1000 brand new ways.

 

Glen

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Calvin,

 

If you find you enjoy the Ryan novels, I suggest you check out Without Remorse as well. It's a John Clark story, but one of my favorite Clancy books. Reading Clear and Present Danger will be fun if you're into the Rainbow Six games, as I'm fairly sure it intoduces the Ding Chavez character.

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Without Remorse was Awesome. One of my favorite Clancy novels as well. Lots of action with a bit less of the the technobabble.

 

Right now I'm on the the third book in Vince Flynn's Mitch Rapp series. So far I've read Transfer of Power and The Third Option. I'm about a third of the way through Separation of Power and after that I have Executive Power and finally his newest Memorial Day.

 

I recommend them highly. Very good if you like Clancy and Ludlum. I've been finishing one every 3 or 4 days so far and I'm loving every page.

 

J.

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Took a brief detour to read The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin before the movie debuts on Friday. I liked it a lot and am eager to see what Hollywood does with it. I've loved the last few Nicole Kidman flicks (didn't see Dogville, though), so my expectations are set to "high."

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Well, I'm about halfway through The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach, and as of now, this is the best brain/neuroscience book I've ever read.

 

It's not so much that Koch is the best writer, although he's very good, it's that he provides a great deal of detail about the processes he talks about, and he organizes the information in such a way that you don't get lost in anatomical terminology. I've read a lot of neuroscience books that say such things as "lesions in the posterior parietal cortex are known to be related to a condition called 'hemi-neglect' where the patient is unaware of objects in the left hemisphere, despite the fact they can see them if asked" - while that's interesting (and true), it's usually presented as a brute fact with no real grounding of what the posterior parietal cortex does or how it fits into the larger scheme of sensory processing.

 

That's where Koch hits one out of the ballpark. The word "quest" in the title isn't just hyperbole, you really are on an adventure to find something very specific, which is laid out at the beginning of the book. What Koch is looking for is what is called the Neuronal Correlates of Consciousness (NCC), meaning specific neurons whose activity can be demonstrated to be causally linked to specific aspects of conscious awareness (i.e. subjective experience). In this case, because more is known about the visual system than almost anything else about the brain, and certainly any other sense, he narrows his search for the NCCs to those that underlie visual experience.

 

So, in effect, this book is about the visual system, specifically how and where it generates conscious awareness of visual stimuli.

 

His quest starts at the retina, where you get a wonderfully detailed and readable account of it's structure and activity, then you are whisked down the optic nerve to the Lateral Geniculate Nucleus (another structure I've read about many times before, but have never come away with a clear undrestanding of what it does until this book). After that you travel to the back of the brain to area V1 in the visual cortex which starts to break down the signals from the retina into bits and pieces of contrast, lines, angles, shading, dark and light, color. From there you move up into the cortex, and so on.

 

There's a good deal of detail here, but never does he get bogged down. It's written with clarity and always with a sense of how it all fits into the quest for the NCC. He makes some surprising judgements about what neuronal activities qualify, or don't qualify as NCCs. He's very honest and humble about what is known, what is theory, and what is conjecture.

 

I can't say enough good things about this book, it raises the bar for popular neuroscience writing very far, part of me is not looking forward to reaching the end. Like I said I'm only halfway through, but it's just too good not to share. I'll report back when I'm done...

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Just finished: Naked in Baghdad by Anne Garrels. Liked it. 4/5 stars. Felt like I learned something. Thought the story was presented from a unique and interesting point of view.

 

Currently reading: Ed's last post.

 

Up next: Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn. A novel set in ancient Japan.

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