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What are you reading?
Posted: 20 January 2013 05:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 466 ]
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What is it you don’t like? The sentiment? The prose?

In either case, seems a bit of a leap to decide that you can safely ignore him based on three quotes I happened to like. And, since I don’t actually care much for his fiction, only his essays and memoir, maybe you could look at that as a sort of reverse-recommendation? (you know, “Well if Mckenzie hates it, it’s probably right up my alley…”) grin

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Posted: 21 January 2013 05:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 467 ]
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You mean because I don’t like Tolkien and you don’t like Tolstoy I should read Rushdie?  grin The problem is we both liked “Thinking Fast and Slow,” so obviously that’s a problem.

No, life is too short and there are too many books, and the older I get the more severe filters I have to use to decide what I think I should read. I don’t like what Rushdie is saying in what you quoted here and I don’t like how he says it either. But again, thanks for posting it.

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Posted: 21 January 2013 01:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 468 ]
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harry canyon - 02 January 2013 03:25 PM

Switching between Stone of Farewell by Tad Williams and Behavioral Economics For Dummies by Morris Altman.

Finished Stone of Farewell. I find Behavioral Economics For Dummies interesting. However, the author spends so much time softly deriding ‘conventional economics’ and how they don’t take psychology into account, that it’s getting on my nerves.  blank stare Sure, there’s some need to compare and contrast the different thinking/approaches in the two fields, but sheeeessh!

Also started Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman again. (I had to take it back to the library before I finished it last time. grin )

Take care,

Derek

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Posted: 24 January 2013 12:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 469 ]
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I red collection of Catharine MacKinnons essays “Womens Lives, Mens Laws” which was quite interesting (some of essays gave indeed much to think; actually, they urge it). Tomorrow i may go to library and borrow John O`Briens Leaving Las Vegas.

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Posted: 24 January 2013 08:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 470 ]
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At the moment, I’m reading “Bible Prophesy” by Tim Callahan.

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Posted: 24 January 2013 08:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 471 ]
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Little Bird off Heaven - 24 January 2013 12:41 PM

I red collection of Catharine MacKinnons essays “Womens Lives, Mens Laws” which was quite interesting (some of essays gave indeed much to think; actually, they urge it). Tomorrow i may go to library and borrow John O`Briens Leaving Las Vegas.

I find Catherine Mac Kinnon to be extremely irrational, and prone to fantasy based thinking.

However, I’m not her target demographic. blank stare

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Posted: 25 January 2013 12:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 472 ]
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mid atlantic - 24 January 2013 08:38 PM
Little Bird off Heaven - 24 January 2013 12:41 PM

I red collection of Catharine MacKinnons essays “Womens Lives, Mens Laws” which was quite interesting (some of essays gave indeed much to think; actually, they urge it). Tomorrow i may go to library and borrow John O`Briens Leaving Las Vegas.

I find Catherine Mac Kinnon to be extremely irrational, and prone to fantasy based thinking.

However, I’m not her target demographic. blank stare

Yes, she is very polemical indeed, but what you mean by irrational in this point? Just asking because i am not very familiar with all of her work.

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Posted: 25 January 2013 10:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 473 ]
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Just statrted Jared Diamond’s new book “The World Until Yesterday.”

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All the Gods and all religions are created by humans, to meet human needs and accomplish human ends.

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Posted: 25 January 2013 11:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 474 ]
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garythehuman - 25 January 2013 10:12 AM

Just statrted Jared Diamond’s new book “The World Until Yesterday.”

I have that on my reading dock.

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Posted: 26 January 2013 05:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 475 ]
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Little Bird off Heaven - 25 January 2013 12:25 AM
mid atlantic - 24 January 2013 08:38 PM
Little Bird off Heaven - 24 January 2013 12:41 PM

I red collection of Catharine MacKinnons essays “Womens Lives, Mens Laws” which was quite interesting (some of essays gave indeed much to think; actually, they urge it). Tomorrow i may go to library and borrow John O`Briens Leaving Las Vegas.

I find Catherine Mac Kinnon to be extremely irrational, and prone to fantasy based thinking.

However, I’m not her target demographic. blank stare

Yes, she is very polemical indeed, but what you mean by irrational in this point? Just asking because i am not very familiar with all of her work.

Well, some of her claims on male sexuality are totally based on her emotional triggers, and not on empirical evidence.

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Posted: 31 January 2013 12:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 476 ]
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It seems like most people here are into pretty serious reading. Maybe its my profession but when i have down time to read I gravitate more to fiction and escapist books. We all need some veg time now and then. Anyway I’m nearly done with a new one called “14” by Peter Clines. I never read anything by him before this. Its from the fantasy scifi genre along the lines of “LOST” but set in LA.  The character development is very good and its a intersting adventure that keeps you thinking but doesn’t require the brain fan to kick on too often. Just a suggestion if anyone is looking for a fun change of pace.

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Posted: 31 January 2013 12:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 477 ]
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I also like fiction (generally fantasy but I’m reading more sci-fi than I used to) just depends on my mood. wink

macgyver - 31 January 2013 12:36 PM

... that keeps you thinking but doesn’t require the brain fan to kick on too often. Just a suggestion if anyone is looking for a fun change of pace.

LOL! Brain fan…

Take care,

Derek

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Posted: 31 January 2013 02:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 478 ]
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I’ve been slowly working through all of Mary Raoch’s books. I’d call her a funny, science minded, investigative journalist.

Started with “Packing for Mars” a great look at the space exploration, mostly in regards to NASA.

Moved on the “Stiff” all about the history and science of cadavers. As she makes clear upfront it’s not a book about death but what happens to the body after. A lot about them being used in science research.

Currently on “Bonk” science and history of sex science. This one makes me cringe more then the one about dead bodies does. Specifically the descriptions of some surgeries, male and female. It’s pretty fascinating though.

I wasn’t sure I’d care to read “Spook” which is about ghosts and the afterlife it seams, but after hearing her take on all of these other subjects I have to think she’s going to approach it with a science, skeptical, and humors angle. So I’m sure I’ll check that one out after “Bonk”.

She does a great job of providing information and interjecting slight humor. From what I’ve read I’d recommend any of her books.

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Posted: 05 February 2013 12:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 479 ]
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mid atlantic - 26 January 2013 05:07 AM
Little Bird off Heaven - 25 January 2013 12:25 AM
mid atlantic - 24 January 2013 08:38 PM
Little Bird off Heaven - 24 January 2013 12:41 PM

I red collection of Catharine MacKinnons essays “Womens Lives, Mens Laws” which was quite interesting (some of essays gave indeed much to think; actually, they urge it). Tomorrow i may go to library and borrow John O`Briens Leaving Las Vegas.

I find Catherine Mac Kinnon to be extremely irrational, and prone to fantasy based thinking.

However, I’m not her target demographic. blank stare

Yes, she is very polemical indeed, but what you mean by irrational in this point? Just asking because i am not very familiar with all of her work.

Well, some of her claims on male sexuality are totally based on her emotional triggers, and not on empirical evidence.

That is sad to hear, although i have understand that she is also quite often misrepresented(of course, nobody is perfect, including she). But some of her ideas were quite interesting, for example her analysis and criticism of Aristotelian idea about difference, and her abortion rights analysis. It seems that she has lot to give in an area of ethics. And overall, she is quite committed to her work as lawyer.

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Posted: 08 February 2013 05:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 480 ]
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hmmm Just finished Jared Diamond’s latest – The World Until Yesterday – excellent book comparing hunter-gather societies with modern societies, looking for ways that we may be able to learn from these societies and apply the lessons learned today.  He covers many things from how children are brought up to how we deal with injustice, religion, the treatment of the elderly.

For starters Diamond has come up with a new acronym for us living in advanced societies.
WEIRD – Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic.  Pg. 8-9 shut eye

I am not going into most thing he covers in the book, but as most of you know I like to study religion and society so I am going to post some things that Diamond pointed out.

One is that he has a table of definitions of religion by various people that could be useful.

Okay some quotes:
. . . religion must bring some compensating benefits; otherwise atheistic societies not burdened by the time and resource drains and those suicidal impulses {human sacrifice, etc. GRH} would have replaced religious societies.
                          Pg. 326
Attributes of Religion
1. Religion is the belief in a supernatural agent for whose existence our senses can’t give us evidence, but which is inferred to explain things of which our senses do give evidence.        Pg. 329
2.  they are social movements of people who identify themselves as sharing deeply held beliefs. Pg. 330
3. their adherents make costly or painful sacrifices that convincingly display to others the adherents commitment to the group.                Pg. 330  
4.  that the belief in gods and other postulated supernatural agents has practical consequences for how people should behave.                  Pg. 331
5.  . . . many religions teach that supernatural agents not only reward virtuous rule-obeying people and punish the evil-doers and rule breakers, but can also be induced by prayers, donations, and sacrifices to intervene on behalf of mortal petitioners.                    Pg. 321

A brief summary of the fundamental approach might be to assert something like this; religion was invented in order to carry out certain functions and solve certain problems, such as maintaining social order, comforting anxious people and teaching political obedience.          Pg. 333   { This doesn’t go far enough – it can also be empower the non-elites, the upcoming new elites vs. the elites currently controlling the society. GRH}

Think on this one for a while:
controlled experiments and scientific methods to distinguish between random and non-random phenomena are counterintuitive and unnatural and thus not found in traditional societies.  Pg. 343

The functions of religion:
1.  Explanation – now usurped by science. {As far as the natural world is concerned-GRPg. 346
2.  defusing anxiety over problems and dangers beyond our control.          Pg.346                  
-when doctors can’t predict a patient’s outcome with high probability and especially when doctors admit they are helpless, that when people are especially likely to pray.      Pg. 350
3.  Providing comfort –
  In the face of death
  Hell’s functions – smiting one’s enemies
        - motivate you to obey your religious moral commands.
  The comforting function has increased in more populous and recent societies; it’s simply because those societies inflict on us more bad things for which we crave comfort. 
  This comforting role of religion helps explain the frequent observation that misfortune tends to make people more religious, and that poorer social strata and countries tend to be more religious than  
            richer ones.                      Pg. 354

   
            That religion nevertheless shows no sign signs of dying out may be due our persistent request
            for “meaning.”  We humans have always sought meaning in our lives that can otherwise seem
            meaningless, purposeless and evanescent and except as packages of genes for which the measure of
            success is just self-propagation.                        Pg. 354

{This lack of providing meaning is one of the main problems with Sec. Humanism today – Darwin wrote
Origin of Species not Origin of the Individual – The modern myth of the individual while protecting many
human rights, ignores the fact that we are always individuals acting within and upon a society.  The
meaning of life is that are is to make the world around us a better place, what immortality there is
comes only from the memories we leave behind with the living. GRH}
4.  Organization and obedience.
  - organizational features of religion arose to solve a new problem emerging as ancient human societies became richer, more populous, and both obliged and enabled to become more centralized.                                  Pg. 356
5.  Codes of behavior toward strangers
      - from the rise of chiefdoms until the recent rise of secular states, religion justified codes of behavior and thereby enabled people to live harmoniously in large societies where one encounters strangers frequently.                          Pg. 359

6.  Justifying War
  - most religions claim to have a monopoly on truth, and that all other religions are wrong.  Commonly in the past, and all to often today as well, citizens are taught they are not merely permitted, but actually obliged, to kill and steal from believers in the wrong religion.        Pg. 359
{Or enemies of the state – GRH}

7.  Badges and commitment.
  - . . . the need for adherents of a particular religion to display some reliable “badge” of commitment to that religion.  Believers spend their lives with each other and constantly count on each other for support, in a world where many or most other people adhere to other religions, may be hostile to your religion, or may be skeptical to all religions.  Your safety, prosperity, and life will depend on your identifying your fellow believers, and on your convincing them that they can trust you as you trust them.

Even massively fictitious beliefs can be adaptive . . .  Factual knowledge is not always sufficient by itself to motivate an adaptive behavior.  At times a symbolic belief system that departs from factual reality fares better.  David Sloan Wilson quote.  Pg. 366    

OK this should be long enough.

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