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What are you reading?
Posted: 31 July 2010 02:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 91 ]
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George - 31 July 2010 12:46 AM
citizenschallenge - 23 July 2010 09:56 AM

[...]I wind up listening to many books on tape, and though I know it’s not as good as actually sitting down reading a book[...]

Why do you think it’s “as good as sitting down reading a book”?

I listen to audio books, but one of the major disavantages is that you can’t go back to a specific page to re-read something a little more closely as I am wont to do as the plot line develops. I usually have to listen to the book twice to make sure I kept up with all of the twists and turns. Some books I’ve listened to are; The End of Faith, Why Darwin Matters, and The Poisoners Handbook.

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Posted: 31 July 2010 11:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 92 ]
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I recently finished “The Calculus Wars” by Jason Socrates Bardi. The book is a history of Newton and Leibniz feuding over who invented Calculus. Newton was ahead of Leibniz, but did not publish his work until after Leibniz published his. Leibniz invented the symbols still used today. I am currently reading “Einstein’s Telescope” by Evalyn Gates. The book is a very good account of how astronomers are using gravitational lensing to hunt for dark matter and dark energy in the Universe.

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Posted: 31 July 2010 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 93 ]
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George - 31 July 2010 12:46 AM
citizenschallenge - 23 July 2010 09:56 AM

[...]I wind up listening to many books on tape, and though I know it’s not as good as actually sitting down reading a book[...]

Why do you think it’s not “as good as sitting down reading a book”?

Same reason you’re not safe driving a car in heavy traffic talking on a cell phone.
Too easy to zone out and miss entire passages.  With a book you’re nearly fully focused is on the page and the story, and you can stop anytime, reread, or just think awhile.  You can do that with tapes too, but it’s more cumbersome.

Although maybe the act of having to focus on whether I’m paying attention and absorbing the words may over compensate, never thought of it that way before.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
yup asanta, anything I really like I feel I do need to listen to a second time around (and I’m always rerunning sides).
And the really good stuff I buy the book, because it sure is nice having all those pages to flip through.
Also, you can’t highlight or annotate the margins of a tape/CD

[ Edited: 31 July 2010 12:10 PM by citizenschallenge ]
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Posted: 31 July 2010 12:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 94 ]
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DarronS - 31 July 2010 11:06 AM

“The Calculus Wars” by Jason Socrates Bardi. The book is a history of Newton and Leibniz feuding over who invented Calculus. Newton was ahead of Leibniz, but did not publish his work until after Leibniz published his. Leibniz invented the symbols still used today.

Sounds like a fun book - it’s always interesting learning about the nitty-gritty behind big scientific figures and the evolution of the consensus understanding.

The Darwin Wallace interaction is a refreshing change from the more ego-driven* folks like Newton seemed to be… *at least from what I’ve read about him so far.

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Posted: 01 August 2010 04:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 95 ]
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citizenschallenge - 31 July 2010 12:05 PM
George - 31 July 2010 12:46 AM
citizenschallenge - 23 July 2010 09:56 AM

[...]I wind up listening to many books on tape, and though I know it’s not as good as actually sitting down reading a book[...]

Why do you think it’s not “as good as sitting down reading a book”?

Same reason you’re not safe driving a car in heavy traffic talking on a cell phone.
Too easy to zone out and miss entire passages.  With a book you’re nearly fully focused is on the page and the story, and you can stop anytime, reread, or just think awhile.  You can do that with tapes too, but it’s more cumbersome.

Although maybe the act of having to focus on whether I’m paying attention and absorbing the words may over compensate, never thought of it that way before.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
yup asanta, anything I really like I feel I do need to listen to a second time around (and I’m always rerunning sides).
And the really good stuff I buy the book, because it sure is nice having all those pages to flip through.
Also, you can’t highlight or annotate the margins of a tape/CD

Well, instead of listening to books on tape while driving, I ask my wife to read out loud for me.  It makes for good discussion as well.  Oh, and it means we don’t have to listen to her inane pop music!  cool smile On our way to and from Atlanta she read the entirety of Me Talk Pretty One Day by Sedaris. 
At night, sometimes we read to each other before bed.  I recommend Huxley’s A Brave New World if you like strange dreams.

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Posted: 02 August 2010 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 96 ]
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Well, instead of listening to books on tape while driving, I ask my wife to read out loud for me.  It makes for good discussion as well.  Oh, and it means we don’t have to listen to her inane pop music!  cool smile On our way to and from Atlanta she read the entirety of Me Talk Pretty One Day by Sedaris.
At night, sometimes we read to each other before bed.  I recommend Huxley’s A Brave New World if you like strange dreams.

When I ask my girlfriend to read to me she starts laughing tells me to stop being a pussy and read it myself.  I think if I asked her in the car she’d just crank up the Melt-Banana.

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Posted: 03 August 2010 06:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 97 ]
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CC.

Why do I feel like I poured cold water on this thread.  Doesn’t anyone want to discuss the books they are reading?

Incidentally, “Balkan Ghosts” was an amazing, enlightening, if disheartening book.  It opened up an understanding, well the beginnings of a glimmer, to the complexities and background of the Balkans.  A real eye opener.  In some ways it even adds a little light to the human character of the politics of the extreme right with their faith based, reality starved outlook on politics and where it may lead us.

]

OK, here goes.

  I have just finished Richard Fortey’s “Life - A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of   Life on Earth.”  This is the first study dealing with the physical science I have read in years.  The study itself was interesting and informative, but what made the book for me was Fortey’s side comments on how science is done by humans in actuality. 

I believe that it was David Koepsell who told a story concerning a fairly prominent scientist who after many years of defending and developing a particular theory attended a lecture by someone else in the field and it dawned on him the his theory was wrong and despite a lifetime of work invested in his idea, immediately had a conversion to the other theory, due to the overwhelming evidence presented at the lecture.  While this individual story may be true, by gut reaction was that the point David was trying to make about the objectivity of individual scientists was a myth expressing an ideal.

Fortney has a bit of a different viewpoint on this.

“There is a popular view that scientific conferences are forums for intellectual exchange, where like-minded colleagues freely swap information motivated only by a disinterested love of truth.  The search for advance in knowledge is lubricated by enthusiasm an buoyed by optimistic fervour for new ideas.  How such a platonic established is curious.  Perhaps accounts of such affairs tend to be written only by top scientists, the winners of Nobel Prizes and the like, who recall their past triumphs either disingenuously, or in the rose-tinted revisionism of old age.  For most workaday scientists the conference is fraught with danger and frustration, and is an aggressive an environment as any sales convention.  Advancement is at stake.  The long, long ladder of academe has few promotions.  Any wrong-footedness is seized upon with glee by sharp-eyed rivals alert to the possibility that old so-and-so has peaked, and what a pity he is no longer up to the ground-breaking work he did in 1976.  The rule is to acknowledge the seminal work of one of the handful of scientists sitting securely at the yop of whatever tree it happens to be, who controls research grants, write the job references, and thus wield much power.  The ideal research paper demonstrates that an idea generated by one of these people can be applied in some new situation - to the Precambrian or to the high Himalaya, perhaps -thus demonstrating the speaker is right up-to-the-minute while at the same time confirming the brilliance of the idea of his chosen mentor.  When a new idea appears which is thought to have grants and advancement attached to its tail, the hunting instinct to pursue it around the world and into new situations is astonishing..  . . . the important thing is to get your name attached to the idea while it is still “hot.”  Even the conference cocktail party is a kind of desperate bazaar where the ambitious mill around trying to catch up with the latest thoughts,  Links are forged, troths given.”   
                          Pg. 247.

If you would like to learn the current (1997) history of our planet I would recommend it.  It is far from the boring read I was afraid it was going to be.
Fortey has a good since of human relationships and a great sense of humor that makes this book very readable.

Next up Daniel C. Dennett’s “Freedom Evolves.”

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Posted: 04 August 2010 04:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 98 ]
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garythehuman - 03 August 2010 06:33 PM

  For most workaday scientists the conference is fraught with danger and frustration, and is an aggressive an environment as any sales convention.  Advancement is at stake.  The long, long ladder of academe has few promotions.  Any wrong-footedness is seized upon with glee by sharp-eyed rivals alert to the possibility that old so-and-so has peaked, and what a pity he is no longer up to the ground-breaking work he did in 1976.  The rule is to acknowledge the seminal work of one of the handful of scientists sitting securely at the top of whatever tree it happens to be, who controls research grants, write the job references, and thus wield much power. 
                          Pg. 247.

If you would like to learn the current (1997) history of our planet I would recommend it.  It is far from the boring read I was afraid it was going to be.

Interesting quote you shared, but I hope it isn’t all cynicism - aren’t there some underlying concerns for achieving those noble goals of seeking a better understanding of what is actually going on?

Is the quote used a digression while speaking of the knowledge as it was gained?
Guess that’s a sloppy way of wondering if it is a tour of the science or mainly musings about how science is achieved in this increasingly pressured and competitive era?

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Posted: 06 August 2010 10:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 99 ]
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CC:

Interesting quote you shared, but I hope it isn’t all cynicism - aren’t there some underlying concerns for achieving those noble goals of seeking a better understanding of what is actually going on?

Is the quote used a digression while speaking of the knowledge as it was gained?
Guess that’s a sloppy way of wondering if it is a tour of the science or mainly musings about how science is achieved in this increasingly pressured and competitive era

I found the book very interesting and Fortey is very positive about science, as a man in his position (senior paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London) should be.  What I am trying to point out is that he recognizes the very human side of scientists.  IMO, through experiences I have gained in the educational system and for the last several years at CFI International, is that we non-religious often idealize science and scientists and do not very often stop to subject these people and our own social trends to the objective examination scientific procedures and observations that we believe are proper.  The main focus of “Life” is on the amazing development of life on earth and Forney does a god job in explaining that. (As far as I can judge, not being in that field.).  Without science & technology we would all still be hunter gathers at the best, and we obviously would not be having this conversation and at least 99% of us would have been dead before we were 30.

My “joy” in the book is that he also recognized that scientists are human and subject to the same desires and handicaps that all humans are subject to.

IMO, it is extremely important that we subject our beliefs and the social structures we are creating to the same objective standards and examinations as we say are the methods to determine truth.  These should not be derived from physics and chemistry, but from the social sciences, history, sociology, psychology, etc.  We are not merely individuals, independent units, but are individuals imbedded in societies that we cannot exist without.  I think this is one of Dennett’s “blind spots” that we non-religious we need to examine carefully.

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Posted: 06 August 2010 03:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 100 ]
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garythehuman - 06 August 2010 10:11 AM

IMO, it is extremely important that we subject our beliefs and the social structures we are creating to the same objective standards and examinations as we say are the methods to determine truth.  These should not be derived from physics and chemistry, but from the social sciences, history, sociology, psychology, etc.  We are not merely individuals, independent units, but are individuals imbedded in societies that we cannot exist without. I think this is one of Dennett’s “blind spots” that we non-religious we need to examine carefully.

Makes sense to me.  Guess I really should take the time to get the book and read it myself.

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Posted: 08 August 2010 01:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 101 ]
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CC:

I keep saying that to myself when I discuss books I haven’t read with other people.  Which is why I have a stack of about 15 to be read on my shelf and many more on my to read list. smirk  Good thing I retired last month.

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Posted: 08 August 2010 02:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 102 ]
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garythehuman - 08 August 2010 01:26 PM

CC:
  Which is why I have a stack of about 15 to be read on my shelf and many more on my to read list. smirk  Good thing I retired last month.

LOL!!

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Posted: 08 August 2010 02:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 103 ]
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15?  Is that all?  You should see what all I have yet to read and what is one my wish list at Amazon.  I’ll never get through any of them in my lifetime.  Too bad I don’t have another life in which to read what I don’t get to in this life.  LOL

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Posted: 08 August 2010 04:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 104 ]
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Ain’t that the truth, in honesty, most books I do manage to read or listen to, are just as likely to be serendipitous things while my actually ‘should read’ list keeps getting longer.

Organization ain’t one of my strong suits either.

But, it gives me something to strive for.

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Posted: 08 August 2010 04:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 105 ]
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citizenschallenge - 08 August 2010 04:19 PM

Ain’t that the truth, in honesty, most books I do manage to read or listen to, are just as likely to be serendipitous things while my actually ‘should read’ list keeps getting longer.

Organization ain’t one of my strong suits either.

But, it gives me something to strive for.

...and you’ll never be bored!

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