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Reciprocating Bill



Posts: 4244
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 05 2007,18:43   

I'm stepping through "Endless Forms Most Beautiful," probably last here to do so.

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
stevestory



Posts: 9030
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 05 2007,19:52   

I didn't finish it. I intented to review it here as I read each chapter, but I got distracted with other things and only made it about halfway. Good stuff, though, very good book.

   
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 06 2007,03:26   

I've just finished with "God is Not Great" by Hitchens....good in places, wasn't that impressed.

I'm no apologist for religion and as a fully paid up member of the Evil Atheists Who Like to Give The Religious Lot a Really Good Kicking On Occasion Group I'm hardly going to be squeamish about Hitchens rhetoric, but I see this as yet another book that will be reviewed by title. The arguments are in there but not explicitly stated enough for my taste (stupid people might miss them! And BOY do we have to contend with some stupid people!), but in the end my disappointment is not really a substantial one, more a subjective one.

I liked "The God Delusion" and Dennett's "Breaking the Spell" (This one is my favourite so far) and Stenger's "God: the failed hypothesis" and I am buying Grayling's "Against all gods" but so far they have left me, whilst pleasantly rallied, a little cold. Maybe it's just because I'm looking for a book on the subject that deals with the whole set of related topics and phenomena in one hit. The capo di tutti capi of modern atheist popular literature. That would be a huge book! Either way, the "criticisms" of the apologists would still come, and come from the usual place (i.e. ignorance), and I rather suspect that to silent the substanital critics (which are few and far between) that it would be an unpopular scholarly tome, and thus defeat it's own purpose.

I suppose the interested atheist can read Mackie and Smith and Russell and Hume etc etc for him or her self.

Oh well

Louis

--------------
Bye.

  
JohnW



Posts: 2321
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 06 2007,11:16   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ July 05 2007,18:43)
I'm stepping through "Endless Forms Most Beautiful," probably last here to do so.

Not quite.  On my shelf, not read yet.  I'm about a third of the way through Victor Stenger's "God: The Failed Hypothesis".  I'll reserve judgment until I've finished it, except to say that it's a fantastic bus book.  For those who haven't seen it, the cover has "GOD" in huge letters, with smaller letters below reading "The Failed Hypothesis", then in tiny ones "How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist".  I've had several people sidle up to me with grins on their faces, get closer, then turn pale and back away slowly.

Which reminds me, I must get the shower fixed.

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Math is just a language of reality. Its a waste of time to know it.
- Robert Byers

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 06 2007,14:37   

Just about finished "Collapse" now. Damned god book. I love the way that Jared Diamond writes pop science.
About to start, "the selfish gene". Dawkins is also good IMO.

  
Albatrossity2



Posts: 2779
Joined: Mar. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: July 07 2007,20:43   

This is amusing.

As previously noted, I am reviewing a book entitled Evolution and Religious Creation Myths. I browsed over to the Amazon listing for this book, and found that it had been reviewed on June 12 by someone named "Booklady". She panned it.

The only problem with that is that the authors, in a response to this review, point out that the book was not available at that time; they hadn't even received their examination copies by that date... This review was written by someone who never read the book, only the title!

Given that the location for "booklady" is somewhere in California, I gotta wonder if this is yet another example of Larry Farfarman's fabulous abilities to review books without even reading them!

--------------
Flesh of the sky, child of the sky, the mind
Has been obligated from the beginning
To create an ordered universe
As the only possible proof of its own inheritance.
                        - Pattiann Rogers

   
JohnW



Posts: 2321
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 09 2007,11:26   

Quote (Albatrossity2 @ July 07 2007,20:43)
This is amusing.

As previously noted, I am reviewing a book entitled Evolution and Religious Creation Myths. I browsed over to the Amazon listing for this book, and found that it had been reviewed on June 12 by someone named "Booklady". She panned it.

The only problem with that is that the authors, in a response to this review, point out that the book was not available at that time; they hadn't even received their examination copies by that date... This review was written by someone who never read the book, only the title!

Given that the location for "booklady" is somewhere in California, I gotta wonder if this is yet another example of Larry Farfarman's fabulous abilities to review books without even reading them!

Possible, but built on pretty slender evidence.  This sort of thing happens all the time on Amazon.  Just look at the reviews of books by anyone controversial (Dawkins, Moore, Coulter, etc.) and it's pretty clear that few "reviewers", on either side, have read what they're critiquing.  They can't all be Larry.

--------------
Math is just a language of reality. Its a waste of time to know it.
- Robert Byers

  
Albatrossity2



Posts: 2779
Joined: Mar. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: July 09 2007,11:38   

Quote (JohnW @ July 09 2007,11:26)

Possible, but built on pretty slender evidence.  This sort of thing happens all the time on Amazon.  Just look at the reviews of books by anyone controversial (Dawkins, Moore, Coulter, etc.) and it's pretty clear that few "reviewers", on either side, have read what they're critiquing.  They can't all be Larry.

I agree that the evidence is slim, and I certainly agree that all of the bogus reviewers on Amazon can't all be Larry. There are plenty of other Larrys in this country. As Gordon Tompkins once said - "Somewhere there must be a hell of a lot of horses' front ends."

--------------
Flesh of the sky, child of the sky, the mind
Has been obligated from the beginning
To create an ordered universe
As the only possible proof of its own inheritance.
                        - Pattiann Rogers

   
Reciprocating Bill



Posts: 4244
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 09 2007,18:26   

I've completed Endless Forms Most Beautiful.  It left me feeling a bit underwhelmed - not by the astounding discoveries vis the evolution of development described by Carroll, but by the narrative structure of the book itself. It was a great thrill to follow him into the Cambrian explosion, and as he unfolded his presentation of the logic of animal bodies (modularity, repetitive reuse of modules for differing adaptive functions, etc.), but I found his discussions of butterfly eyespots and the evolution of black pigmentation that follow a bit anticlimactic, and the sections on evolution and education rather obviously tacked on (in fact, I didn't bother with them).  I would have given the book a different, more cumulative narrative structure.  

I also wondered whether somewhat MORE technical detail was called for in his description of the operation of genetic toolkits and the logic of switching, as I left these passages not quite able to visualize how all this works. Perhaps others who are more sophisticated vis contemporary biology can comment.

Lastly, I felt frustrated by the lack of footnotes, endnotes, references - SOMETHING to give guidance to find quoted material - eg. Gould on the implications of toolkit genes - do I really have to find a quoted passage in the Gouldian Brick myself?

However, there are some wonderful passages describing the logic of research that leverages common descent to which the likes of FTK should attend.  And vis the above criticisms, I am certainly open to being told that I didn't quite get it.

[edit] I somewhat overlooked the section entitled "Sources and Further Reading" at the back of the book, which provides some information on sources and is moderately helpful - but STILL does not give citations for significant quotations.  Example: on Page 72, first paragraph, a passage from "The Structure of Evolutionary Theory" (Gould) vis the genetics of development is quoted, but there is no indication of the page number either at the quotation or in the afterward.

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
stevestory



Posts: 9030
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 12 2007,20:12   

Arden's our resident linguist, so this question's mostly posed to him, but not exclusively:

I'm not a very literary person. I mostly read nonfiction. For instance, here's what I'm reading now. But when I read fiction, two authors stand out for their gorgeous English. Shakespeare and P.G. Wodehouse. Is there any special reason why? Are there other writers of that caliber?

Edited by stevestory on July 12 2007,21:13

   
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 12 2007,20:25   

Quote (stevestory @ July 12 2007,20:12)
Arden's our resident linguist, so this question's mostly posed to him, but not exclusively:

I'm not a very literary person. I mostly read nonfiction. For instance, here's what I'm reading now. But when I read fiction, two authors stand out for their gorgeous English. Shakespeare and P.G. Wodehouse. Is there any special reason why? Are there other writers of that caliber?

*SHRUG*

Dunno, I mostly just read nonfiction myself. I've never read Wodehouse and I haven't read Shakespeare since high school. Philistine, I know.

I'm not that well informed about 'the Big L', as they call Classic Literature.

I'm still finishing this, and just started this. I just ordered this, and plan to read it in a week or two. I THINK the last fiction I read was this, last winter.

This is one of my fave novels of all time.

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
stevestory



Posts: 9030
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 12 2007,20:38   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ July 12 2007,21:25)
This is one of my fave novels of all time.

good movie.

   
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 12 2007,20:50   

Quote (stevestory @ July 12 2007,20:38)
Quote (Arden Chatfield @ July 12 2007,21:25)
This is one of my fave novels of all time.

good movie.

I had read the novel a couple times before the movie came out, and I quite liked the film. However, the book is so long and dense they had to cut out about 2/3rds of the book to make the movie a manageable length.
Even so, lots of people STILL find the movie to be extremely dense.

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
stevestory



Posts: 9030
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 12 2007,20:55   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ July 12 2007,21:50)
Quote (stevestory @ July 12 2007,20:38)
Quote (Arden Chatfield @ July 12 2007,21:25)
This is one of my fave novels of all time.

good movie.

I had read the novel a couple times before the movie came out, and I quite liked the film. However, the book is so long and dense they had to cut out about 2/3rds of the book to make the movie a manageable length.
Even so, lots of people STILL find the movie to be extremely dense.

It took several viewings for me to get it. Several people in the area are reading the book, and they make for interesting conversationalists. I'm going to have to read it at some point.

PS--at some point, a wacko (Larry F?) was accusing Ed Brayton of using pseudonyms across the internet. Some of us took to commenting, a la fight club, "People ask me...do I know Ed Brayton..." which always cracked me up to see.

   
Richardthughes



Posts: 10324
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 12 2007,20:57   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ July 12 2007,20:50)
However, the book is so long and dense...

Uncommonly Dense?

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"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 12 2007,21:03   

Quote (Richardthughes @ July 12 2007,20:57)
 
Quote (Arden Chatfield @ July 12 2007,20:50)
However, the book is so long and dense...

Uncommonly Dense?

Absolutely.

If you've ever read Ellroy, you'd understand.

BTW, for an amazingly frank (and sometimes hilarious) account of the 15-odd years Ellroy spent as a severe alcoholic, drug addict and vagrant, his autobiography is a fascinating read.

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
carlsonjok



Posts: 3324
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 12 2007,21:31   

Quote (stevestory @ July 12 2007,20:12)
Arden's our resident linguist, so this question's mostly posed to him, but not exclusively:

I'm not a very literary person. I mostly read nonfiction. For instance, here's what I'm reading now. But when I read fiction, two authors stand out for their gorgeous English. Shakespeare and P.G. Wodehouse. Is there any special reason why? Are there other writers of that caliber?

Well, I basically just read non-fiction too, but I have encountered several writers who's best work has an almost lyrical quality to me.  One is Bill Bryson, who's penultimate book is all sciency and what not.  Another wonderful non-fiction writer is Michael Wallis (the voice of the sheriff in "Cars"). He is most known for his celebrations of Route 66, but I think his book about The 101 Ranch is fantastic.  A better place to start might be this book of short stories.  

Another non-fiction writer who has the ability to really make you feel the emotions he is writing about is William Least Heat Moon. Of course, he seems to me to have an issue with depression, so that may not always  be a good thing. He is best known for Blue Highways, but I think PrairyErth is better.  I found River Horse to be a difficult read because of the apparent depression.

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It's natural to be curious about our world, but the scientific method is just one theory about how to best understand it.  We live in a democracy, which means we should treat every theory equally. - Steven Colbert, I Am America (and So Can You!)

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 12 2007,21:49   

Quote (carlsonjok @ July 12 2007,21:31)
Quote (stevestory @ July 12 2007,20:12)
Arden's our resident linguist, so this question's mostly posed to him, but not exclusively:

I'm not a very literary person. I mostly read nonfiction. For instance, here's what I'm reading now. But when I read fiction, two authors stand out for their gorgeous English. Shakespeare and P.G. Wodehouse. Is there any special reason why? Are there other writers of that caliber?

Well, I basically just read non-fiction too, but I have encountered several writers who's best work has an almost lyrical quality to me.  One is Bill Bryson, who's penultimate book is all sciency and what not.  

Oh yeah, I read that a year ago. It's incredibly informative and I really like the writing style.

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 12 2007,22:06   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ July 12 2007,21:49)
Quote (carlsonjok @ July 12 2007,21:31)
 
Quote (stevestory @ July 12 2007,20:12)
Arden's our resident linguist, so this question's mostly posed to him, but not exclusively:

I'm not a very literary person. I mostly read nonfiction. For instance, here's what I'm reading now. But when I read fiction, two authors stand out for their gorgeous English. Shakespeare and P.G. Wodehouse. Is there any special reason why? Are there other writers of that caliber?

Well, I basically just read non-fiction too, but I have encountered several writers who's best work has an almost lyrical quality to me.  One is Bill Bryson, who's penultimate book is all sciency and what not.  

Oh yeah, I read that a year ago. It's incredibly informative and I really like the writing style.

Of course, the Bryson book has the predictable Tard reviews:

Quote



5 of 57 people found the following review helpful:
A Skewed History of Almost Everthing, April 17, 2006
By David B. Palmer (Windsor, SC USA) - See all my reviews
 
This book was given to me as a gift,and while I enjoyed reading it, I found it to be more Science-Fiction than science. While Bryson presents several theories as fact (Big Bang, Oort cloud, and macro-evolution), He is honest enough to admit (many times over) that the evidence is either scarce or non-existent. He attempts to present the un-proven and un-provable as fact, and it is actually quite humorous at times. Instead, I would recomend "Science and the Bible" by Dr. Henry Morris.


Quote

6 of 32 people found the following review helpful:
I have just become stupider for having read this book, November 26, 2004
By Val Patrick - See all my reviews
I suppose it isn't the author's fault, as his information came from "trusted sources", but obviously his trusted sources were of a certain political bent - though I doubt it was mere coincidence.

Authors typically get their information from those who have an interest in spewing their own personal ideas with little regard to reality, and such was the case here. This becomes especially evident in the second half of the book where Bill is insistent that humanity is a pock-mark on evolution.

While much of what he says with regards to the destructive nature of mankind is true, his unspoken assertion that mankind has been malicious is readily evident and absolutely unjustified. Mankind was careless? Perhaps. Mankind was ignorant? Definitely. Makind has been malicious in it's intent? Definitely NOT. Call me an optimist, or a right-wing nut-job if you want if you feel that's what my belief makes me but I hold my fellow man in much higher esteem than this author does, and the self-loathing of his race is pathetic and insulting to me.

Especially when it comes the the greatest scientist of our time. Many of our greatest scientists were eccentric, but Bill's anecdotes of them sound like the insecure rumor mongerings of an english major who never did very well in chemistry. The truth of the matter is that in order to put themselves in positions where they could think outside of the box to make truly great discoveries, the great scientists of our time often lived outside of the box of socially acceptable behavior. Bill may exploit these behaviors for his own gratification, but I'm sure history will be far kinder to them than to Bill.


Quote
14 of 112 people found the following review helpful:
Bill has learned nothing from all his research, October 24, 2004
By David Saul Austin (Elkton, MD) - See all my reviews
"Scientists have a natural tendency to interpret finds in the way that most flatters their stature", he says on page 442. It seems that authors have this same natural tendency.

The first half of the book is spent revealing the amazing fact that we even exist in such an unbelieavably inhospitable and unlikely universe, galaxy, world, and ecosystem - all these systems endowed with mind-boggling improbabilities that all the greatest evolutionary scientists must admit exist. For example: "there may be as many as a million proteins in the human body, and each one is a miracle. By all the laws of probability proteins shouldn't exist." pg 288

But on the next page he does a 180 and while admitting that evolutionary theories don't make sense he still insists that they must be true, like: "if you make monomers wet they don't turn into polymers-except when creating life on Earth. How and why it happens then and not otherwise is one of biology's great unanswered questions." pg#291

From here on out he insists that evolutionary theories are true while admitting that they are improbable and mysterious, which sets the tone for the second half of the book. He never does, incidentally, explain how millions of proteins came into existence despite the fact that the improbability of any of them evolving is mind bogglingly remote. There are so many phrases like "algea learned to tap" and "chemicals figited to life" and "whatever prompted life to begin" and "it shouldn't happen, but somehow it does" and "it's a puzzle" and "quite suddenly an entirely new type of cell arose" and "eukaryotes 'learned' to form together into multi-cellular beings" - all without any explanation how this could have happened when radiation was destorying life and creating malignant cancers incredibly faster than it was creating these serendipitous small steps that resulted in a human, so that you wonder how much of your time you can afford to waste on his arrogant and narrow-minded insistence to avoid any suggestion involving divine intervention.

He does however have an answer that I find more satisfying than what most atheists produce, albeit incredibly lame, that life simply "wants" to evolve, and would have done so in whatever environment it started in - adapting to its environment whatever that environment and becoming totally intolerant to anything else, ultimately ending up with an ecosystem that seems amazingly improbable. Seems reasonable right? Until you ask, "why does it 'want' to evolve"? His answer: "it does really seem that the purpose of life is to perpetuate DNA" Pg#410 Well, maybe that's his purpose, but not mine.

In short his trite book, which reads more like the national enquirer of dead inventors and scientists than a history book, falls prey to the blind arrogance endemic to an atheist population who claims they have it all figured out despite that for everything new that we learn, we also learn how wrong we were about other things that their "theory of everything" relied upon.


This one may be the, um, 'best':

Quote
This author will be judged by God, January 20, 2004
By Matthew Luke, Jr. (Bentonville, AR) - See all my reviews
This book, and so many other horrible books, should not be allowed to be published or sold. It was written by a liberal who has been possessed by the Devil. Belief in, and a personal relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ is the only way to understand the truth about these things. The only book you need to read is the Bible. The Bible is 100% accurate and true, this laughable book is a book filled with horrible lies.


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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
PennyBright



Posts: 78
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 12 2007,22:11   

Shakespeare and Wodehouse -- fascinating pair of likes there.  I'm not too familiar with Wodehouse's work - but his writing has a reputation for sparkling and creative word use which is certainly justified based on what little of it I am familiar with.  

Steve,  you might want to look up the works of Will Cuppy.  I think you'd appreciate his sensibility.

Shakespeare is something else.....   I love Shakespeare, particularly Midsummer, and the sonnets  (it's my pride in life that my daughter was quoting Shakespeare before she knew any commercial jingles),   but addressing why he's a good writer is difficult,  because he was such a seminal writer.

We're left with the quandary -- has our modern use of English been so deeply influence by Shakespeare because Shakespeare's writing was that good,  or do we consider Shakespeare's writing to be that good because it has so deeply influenced our use of English, and by extension our culture?

I've just finished 'The Seven Daughter's of Eve', by Bryan Sykes,  and am starting Sylvia Nasar's biography of John Nash, 'A Beautiful Mind'.

I very much enjoyed 'The Seven Daughters of Eve' -- it was lucidly written, and I found it easy (as a layperson) to follow the science being discussed.   There were several excellent examples of how scientific knowledge is tested and retested broadly, and either rejected or accepted on its merits, regardless of personal opinion.  I do think it could have done without the fictional biographies of mitochondrial clan mothers, however.

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Conversation should be pleasant without scurrility, witty without affectation, free without indecency, learned without conceitedness, novel without falsehood. - Shakespeare (reputedly)

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 13 2007,07:16   

Wodehouse is sublime. The Master was the best comic writer of all time. I defy anyone to read "Joy in the Morning" and not be unmoved.

Louis

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Bye.

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 13 2007,11:05   

Quote (Louis @ July 13 2007,07:16)
Wodehouse is sublime. The Master was the best comic writer of all time. I defy anyone to read "Joy in the Morning" and not be unmoved.

Louis

I think you meant to say 'not be moved'?

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 13 2007,13:36   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ July 05 2007,18:43)
I'm stepping through "Endless Forms Most Beautiful," probably last here to do so.

Nope. Not the last. ATM it is a toss-up between that or a "Wodehouse" as my next book. Going from the comments it is going to be a difficult descision.

  
BWE



Posts: 1896
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 13 2007,13:43   

Quote (Louis @ June 15 2007,18:03)
I'm reading three books at the moment: Douglas Hofstader's "Godel, Escher, Bach" which is a bit heavy going in places but very intriguing, Jared Diamond's "Collapse" which is an easy read in terms of technicalities but not in terms of implications, and lastly Stephen Fry's "An Ode Less Travelled" which is very funny and a bit densely poetic for me, but I find it very enjoyable and the exercises are fun.

Godel Escher Bach while quite dense probably influenced my thinking as much as any book (other than Heller's Catch-22 but that's a given).

Curious, have you discovered yourself having long breaks where you discover that you've been silently contemplating some aspect of the book, slightly checked out, and people notice? That happens to me alot but IIRC it happened more while I was reading it.

Collapse I thought was brilliant for the very simple analysis. Here are the factors that lead to a society's collapse: 1,2,3,

The fact that he avoids pretension for the most part is more amazing to me now then it was when I read it.


I'm Reading

1. Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge by Edward O. Wilson, kind of wordy and pretentious but very good.

2. Unbowed: A Memoir  by Wangari Maathai, strangely engaging and moving where you expect trite. She is the real deal.

Just finished:

1.Naked by David Sedaris, Hilarious.

2. The Omnivore's Dillemna by Michael Pollan. Put it on your must read list. I'm not kidding. His other book, The Botany of Desire should be on that list too actually.

Hi everyone :)

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
BWE



Posts: 1896
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 13 2007,13:46   

Quote (stevestory @ July 12 2007,20:12)
Arden's our resident linguist, so this question's mostly posed to him, but not exclusively:

I'm not a very literary person. I mostly read nonfiction. For instance, here's what I'm reading now. But when I read fiction, two authors stand out for their gorgeous English. Shakespeare and P.G. Wodehouse. Is there any special reason why? Are there other writers of that caliber?

James Joyce.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 13 2007,13:56   

Quote (BWE @ July 13 2007,13:43)
Collapse I thought was brilliant for the very simple analysis. Here are the factors that lead to a society's collapse: 1,2,3,

The fact that he avoids pretension for the most part is more amazing to me now then it was when I read it.

Loved it. For pretty much the same reasons. The guy writes well. I love the way he makes stuff that was obviously difficult at conception sound accessible to lay people.

  
stevestory



Posts: 9030
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 13 2007,14:10   

Quote (Louis @ July 13 2007,08:16)
Wodehouse is sublime. The Master was the best comic writer of all time. I defy anyone to read "Joy in the Morning" and not be unmoved.

Louis

That was the first one I read. From the very first sentence, I knew this guy was something special.

   
stevestory



Posts: 9030
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: July 13 2007,14:14   

Quote (PennyBright @ July 12 2007,23:11)
Shakespeare and Wodehouse -- fascinating pair of likes there.  I'm not too familiar with Wodehouse's work - but his writing has a reputation for sparkling and creative word use which is certainly justified based on what little of it I am familiar with.  

Steve,  you might want to look up the works of Will Cuppy.  I think you'd appreciate his sensibility.

Shakespeare is something else.....   I love Shakespeare, particularly Midsummer, and the sonnets  (it's my pride in life that my daughter was quoting Shakespeare before she knew any commercial jingles),   but addressing why he's a good writer is difficult,  because he was such a seminal writer.

We're left with the quandary -- has our modern use of English been so deeply influence by Shakespeare because Shakespeare's writing was that good,  or do we consider Shakespeare's writing to be that good because it has so deeply influenced our use of English, and by extension our culture?

I've just finished 'The Seven Daughter's of Eve', by Bryan Sykes,  and am starting Sylvia Nasar's biography of John Nash, 'A Beautiful Mind'.

I very much enjoyed 'The Seven Daughters of Eve' -- it was lucidly written, and I found it easy (as a layperson) to follow the science being discussed.   There were several excellent examples of how scientific knowledge is tested and retested broadly, and either rejected or accepted on its merits, regardless of personal opinion.  I do think it could have done without the fictional biographies of mitochondrial clan mothers, however.

Speaking of Billy Shakes and questions like these, here's a good article:

Quote
A man for all ages


According to many critics of his time, Shakespeare was vulgar, provincial and overrated. So how did he become the supreme deity of poetry, drama and high culture itself, asks Jonathan Bate, editor of the first Complete Works from the Folio for 300 years

Saturday April 14, 2007
The Guardian


http://books.guardian.co.uk/departm....00.html

   
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 13 2007,15:12   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ July 13 2007,17:05)
Quote (Louis @ July 13 2007,07:16)
Wodehouse is sublime. The Master was the best comic writer of all time. I defy anyone to read "Joy in the Morning" and not be unmoved.

Louis

I think you meant to say 'not be moved'?

Oh dear, did I make a balls up? Oh well, ho hum! You're quite right of course.

Louis

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Bye.

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: July 13 2007,15:24   

Quote (stevestory @ July 13 2007,20:10)
That was the first one I read. From the very first sentence, I knew this guy was something special.

Apparently what he used to do is paste pages of his novel in progress all around the walls of the room in which he would write. Initially they would be pasted low down on the wall, roughly skirting board height. He would then edit them and rewrite them and as he improved them he would repaste them higher up the wall until they reache the picture rail, whereupon they were suitable for publication.

If that single fact doesn't make you squirm with delight I don't know what will!

Louis

P.S. Oh and I was at school with his great-granddaughter, not that that means anything.

P.P.S. Aunts Aren't Gentlemen and Carry On Jeeves are also personal favourites, as are the Blandings stories and Psmith.....oh well, all of it!

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Bye.

  
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