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Stephen Elliott



Posts: 1754
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 02 2007,10:45   

Quote (Stephen Elliott @ July 27 2007,08:57)
Just checked out "ape.man" by Robin McKie. Seems Ok but using it as a "coffee table" book ATM as it doesn't read well as a coherent story IMO.

Change of opinion. Once I got into it I found it rivetting. It was hard for me to put down and caused a few late nights and going to work tired.

Finished it now and also finished the Wodehouse "Drone omnibus".

Just starting The Blind Watchmaker. Initially I am surprised that Dawkins seems to quite admire Paley. Perhaps I shouldn't be as life certainly does look designed. Indeed it is in a way, just not pre-planned.

 
Quote (stevestory   Posted on July 27 2007 @ 14:56)
I'm revising my opinion of William Langweische down a notch. He's good, but the best nonfiction writer is David Foster Wallace.


Not read him yet. ATM my favourite none-fiction writer is probably Jared Diamond followed closely by Dawkins, Greene and Hawking (in no particular order).

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



Posts: 2560
Joined: Feb. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 03 2007,21:29   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ July 22 2007,12:06)
Also declassified is a 1994 report on the role of nuclear weapons in the "new world order".  It argues that the US should use nuclear weapons unilaterally, without international oversite or permission, against non-nuclear nations, in the "war on terror".  (A few months ago, when active plans appeared to be in action for an invasion of Iran, it was leaked that part of that plan was the use of earth-penetrating nuclear weapons to destroy underground Iranian command bunkers and weapons centers.)

Well, I just heard something on the news today about Obama stating that he would not use nuclear weapons in the "war on terror" --- and Hillary replying that nuclear weapons should never be ruled out, or somesuch. . .

It's nice to know that, when it comes to the needs of Empire, Hillary and the Republicrats just ain't all that different.

--------------
Editor, Red and Black Publishers
www.RedandBlackPublishers.com

  
Paul Flocken



Posts: 290
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 03 2007,21:49   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Aug. 03 2007,21:29)
Well, I just heard something on the news today about Obama stating that he would not use nuclear weapons in the "war on terror" --- and Hillary replying that nuclear weapons should never be ruled out, or somesuch. . .

It's nice to know that, when it comes to the needs of Empire, Hillary and the Republicrats just ain't all that different.

And yet Obama was boneheaded enough to state that he had no problem violating a nation's sovereignty.  I hope he gets past these little mistakes although, considering the American public, they may not actually be mistakes.

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"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie--deliberate, contrived, and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.  Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."-John F. Kennedy

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



Posts: 2560
Joined: Feb. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 03 2007,22:47   

Quote (Paul Flocken @ Aug. 03 2007,21:49)
And yet Obama was boneheaded enough to state that he had no problem violating a nation's sovereignty.  

Well, when it comes to the needs of Empire, Obama and Dubya aren't all that different, either.  (shrug)

--------------
Editor, Red and Black Publishers
www.RedandBlackPublishers.com

  
JohnW



Posts: 2264
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 14 2007,11:30   

Quote (JohnW @ July 17 2007,10:41)
Now reading Owen Gingerich's The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus.

Finally finished it.  Bloody hell, three weeks, and it's a short book.  The combination of biking to work and a very cranky four-year-old hasn't left me much reading time recently.

Anyway, it was utterly fascinating - filled in a whole lot of gaps in my knowledge of Renaissance astronomy.  For example, I had no idea Copernicus' model used epicycles.  And obviously I need to start scribbling notes in the margins of all my books, for the benefit of future generations.   :p

I'll start with the next one: The Real Frank Zappa Book.

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

  
Reciprocating Bill



Posts: 4244
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 14 2007,23:00   

Quote (JohnW @ Aug. 14 2007,12:30)
I'll start with the next one: The Real Frank Zappa Book.

As part of your homework check out this.

--------------
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

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

  
JohnW



Posts: 2264
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 15 2007,11:46   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Aug. 14 2007,21:00)
Quote (JohnW @ Aug. 14 2007,12:30)
I'll start with the next one: The Real Frank Zappa Book.

As part of your homework check out this.

I know.  Seattle in November.  Tickets not on sale yet.

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

  
heddle



Posts: 124
Joined: Nov. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 15 2007,16:36   

I am reading 1491. Anyone have any thoughts? I find (a) as interesting as I could have hoped and (b) not as dry as I feared.

I give it, provisionally, 90 out of 95 theses.

[Aside: Also, though I love it, I deny that it actually exists.]

--------------
Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not. The mystic has recognized something about the nature of consciousness prior to thought, and this recognition is susceptible to rational discussion. The mystic has reason for what he believes, and these reasons are empirical. --Sam Harris

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 15 2007,16:48   

Quote (heddle @ Aug. 15 2007,16:36)
I am reading 1491. Anyone have any thoughts? I find (a) as interesting as I could have hoped and (b) not as dry as I feared.

I read that several months ago. It's quite good -- I learned a lot. The section about the Precolumbian tree planting of the Amazon was amazing.

--------------
"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: Aug. 16 2007,13:15   

Just received this, which is one of the most interesting ling books I've read in YEARS.

Also, on the side, I am slooooooooowly working my way thru this, which is totally brilliant. Maderchod!

--------------
"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

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 16 2007,13:58   

Maderchod?

Haramzada! Kusera! Banchod!

Louis

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

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 16 2007,14:06   

Quote (Louis @ Aug. 16 2007,13:58)
Maderchod?

Haramzada! Kusera! Banchod!

Louis

Louis, don't be such a gaandu!

--------------
"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: 8944
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 16 2007,17:30   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Aug. 16 2007,14:15)
Just received this, which is one of the most interesting ling books I've read in YEARS.

Haven't read any McWhorter, but I bought a friend this, and she said it was great.

   
stevestory



Posts: 8944
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 16 2007,17:42   

Someone yesterday urged me to read Blood Meridian.

   
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 17 2007,03:03   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Aug. 16 2007,20:06)
Quote (Louis @ Aug. 16 2007,13:58)
Maderchod?

Haramzada! Kusera! Banchod!

Louis

Louis, don't be such a gaandu!

Mafkarnaji.

Louis

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

  
JohnW



Posts: 2264
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 17 2007,10:54   

Quote (stevestory @ Aug. 16 2007,15:42)
Someone yesterday urged me to read Blood Meridian.

Tremendous stuff.  Blood Meridian was the first McCarthy I read, and I've since read most of the others. (Not The Road yet).  A truly great writer.

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

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 17 2007,10:58   

Quote (Louis @ Aug. 17 2007,03:03)
Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Aug. 16 2007,20:06)
Quote (Louis @ Aug. 16 2007,13:58)
Maderchod?

Haramzada! Kusera! Banchod!

Louis

Louis, don't be such a gaandu!

Mafkarnaji.

Louis

Chutiya.

--------------
"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

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 17 2007,11:16   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Aug. 17 2007,16:58)
Quote (Louis @ Aug. 17 2007,03:03)
Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Aug. 16 2007,20:06)
 
Quote (Louis @ Aug. 16 2007,13:58)
Maderchod?

Haramzada! Kusera! Banchod!

Louis

Louis, don't be such a gaandu!

Mafkarnaji.

Louis

Chutiya.

I'M TELLING THE TRUTH!

I'm really sorry.

No, really, I am.

Just to keep things on topic: I'm reading "I have Landed" by SJ Gould at the moment. I'm getting my Gould on so that in a few weeks when I am on holiday, reading The Brick won't be such a shock.

Yes folks, you heard it here first, I'm going to do The Brick!

Louis

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

  
stevestory



Posts: 8944
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 17 2007,20:11   

I need to try Gould again. When I tried to read several of his books, and couldn't, I was 25. Maybe I'll like them more now.

   
Reciprocating Bill



Posts: 4244
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 17 2007,20:44   

Quote (Louis @ Aug. 17 2007,12:16)
?

...Just to keep things on topic: I'm reading "I have Landed" by SJ Gould at the moment. I'm getting my Gould on so that in a few weeks when I am on holiday, reading The Brick won't be such a shock.

Yes folks, you heard it here first, I'm going to do The Brick!

Louis

The secret to The Brick, which is both brilliant and exasperating, is to recognize that you needn't read every word. ?It is the fullest expression of Gould's obsessive-compulsive approach to topics dear to his heart, particularly his presentation of the history of debate surrounding punctuated equilibrium (but check out the little cartoon on page 979). This is not the breezy voice of "This view of life."

That said, his erudition is stunning, and the essential thesis vis levels of selection is both very interesting and quite explicitly at odds with Dawkins' selfish gene argument.

--------------
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

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

  
Steviepinhead



Posts: 532
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 31 2007,12:34   

Hey, Arden...!

Is Vol. 17 of the North American Indians series--the one about Languages--something that Teh Layperson could make heads or tails of...?

Five stars?  Four, 3, 2...?   ...one...?

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 31 2007,12:40   

Quote (Steviepinhead @ Aug. 31 2007,12:34)
Hey, Arden...!

Is Vol. 17 of the North American Indians series--the one about Languages--something that Teh Layperson could make heads or tails of...?

Five stars? ?Four, 3, 2...? ? ...one...?

Good question! I own it and actually wrote a review of it 10 years ago.

Answer, yes. An informed, motivated layperson could probably get a LOT out of it. It's a masterpiece. Five stars.

--------------
"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: Aug. 31 2007,12:53   

Weekly update:

No surprise, STILL wading thru this. It's fantastic but it is 928 pages long, gimme a damn break.

In the last chapter of this.

Just bought this, and have snuck a few peeks at it, but am holding off on actually starting it til I finish my other books. It looks REALLY GOOD so far.

--------------
"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

  
Steviepinhead



Posts: 532
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 31 2007,16:37   

Thanks, Arden.

I enjoyed Collapse (well, maybe "enjoy" isn't the correct verb for reading about the dire consequences of society after society over-drawing their resources...) and would definitely recommend it.

I haven't tucked it back into (what passes for) the Pinhead stacks because it contains a section at the end for constructive actions that one might take.  To prevent this kind of collapse from overtaking US.  Keep meaning to dig into that part.  Keep putting it off.  Moral melt-down is only a couple of steps away, I'm sure...

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 31 2007,16:59   

Quote (Steviepinhead @ Aug. 31 2007,16:37)
I enjoyed Collapse (well, maybe "enjoy" isn't the correct verb for reading about the dire consequences of society after society over-drawing their resources...)

Yeah, the chapter on China was rather, um, scary.

The chapter on Mangareva, Pitcairn Island, and Henderson Island was pretty great, tho.

--------------
"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: Sep. 01 2007,00:01   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ Aug. 31 2007,16:59)
Quote (Steviepinhead @ Aug. 31 2007,16:37)
I enjoyed Collapse (well, maybe "enjoy" isn't the correct verb for reading about the dire consequences of society after society over-drawing their resources...)

Yeah, the chapter on China was rather, um, scary...

It certainly was. Especially that it affects about 25% of the world's human population directly and even more indirectly. China could become a global catastrophy.

Diamond is an incredibly good writer.

  
BWE



Posts: 1896
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 10 2007,19:25   

I liked Collapse much more than Guns Germs ..

I'm reading E.O. Wilson, Consilience at the moment. Actually, I don't recommend it. It's sometimes truly beautiful but mostly not. A lot of pretension. That said, I've been doing ten to twenty pages a night for a bit so maybe there is something redeeming.

--------------
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

   
Reciprocating Bill



Posts: 4244
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 10 2007,22:02   

Quote (BWE @ Sep. 10 2007,20:25)
I liked Collapse much more than Guns Germs ..

I'm reading E.O. Wilson, Consilience at the moment. Actually, I don't recommend it. It's sometimes truly beautiful but mostly not. A lot of pretension. That said, I've been doing ten to twenty pages a night for a bit so maybe there is something redeeming.

Be sure to read Jerry Fodor's review of Consilience. I personally found Wilson's book to be pretentious, obviously inattentive to the difficulties entailed in intertheoretic reduction.

--------------
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

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

  
BWE



Posts: 1896
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 11 2007,03:00   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Sep. 10 2007,22:02)
Be sure to read Jerry Fodor's review of Consilience. I personally found Wilson's book to be pretentious, obviously inattentive to the difficulties entailed in intertheoretic reduction.


I get the feeling that he wrote it in exasperation. He's telling the scientifically illiterate that scientists aren't crooks (mostly). He states the obvious and the outline doesn't make the point (so far).

But, like I said, I'm still reading it.From the revue you linked:
 
Quote
It is, by the way, characteristic of Wilson's book that he fails to notice the difference between what one might call vertical and horizontal consilience. Cases of the former (the molecular theory of heat; the physical theory of the chemical bond) provide the paradigms for the unification programme. Far more frequent, however, is the joining forces of scientific disciplines at more or less the same explanatory level; and in these cases, no reduction need be achieved or intended. Rather, conjoining the experimental and theoretical armamentarium of several sciences allows explanations and systematisations of phenomena that none of them is able to handle on its own. This really is a robust tactic of scientific investigation: it's what spawns the host of 'hyphenated' disciplines that have become increasingly familiar, especially in the biological and social sciences - physical anthropology; developmental psycholinguistics; acoustic phonetics; palaeobiology, evolutionary psychology and so on. The point to notice is that when this sort of thing happens, you end up with more sciences than you started with, not fewer: developmental psychology and linguistics and developmental psycholinguistics, as the case might be. The web of causal explanation is extended; but sideways, not up and down.


That was the same issue that drove Robert Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance- I've kind of been on a jag about it lately. dunno why.) over the edge and resulted in:  
Quote
While doing biochemical lab work, Pirsig was greatly bothered by the fact that there was always more than one workable hypothesis to explain a given phenomenon, and that the number of such hypotheses seemed almost unlimited. He could not think of any way around this, and to him it seemed that the whole scientific endeavor had been brought to a halt, in some sense. This question so distracted him that he was dismissed from the university for poor grades.
(wiki)

--------------
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: Sep. 25 2007,16:30   

Ok, I've got to share.

Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind (Paperback)
by David Quammen
link

I've been reading it for only two nights so it might go downhill but so far it's pretty good. Nay, exceptionally good.

He identifies something he calls "predator porn", calls god's tone to Job "teasing irony", and point's out the humility gained by periodically being made aware that we're just another "flavor of meat" to certain alpha predators. He muses on the species that is "bizarrely ingenious" enough to invent iambic pentameter and plutonium.

Often the writing is beautiful.

Anybody read it?

--------------
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

   
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