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Read Any Good Books Lately?

 
KathleenBrugger
 
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KathleenBrugger
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18 June 2015 13:08
 
Hannah2 - 17 June 2015 10:30 PM

Started reading Smarter than You Think by Clive Thompson.  I’m thoroughly enjoying it.  The book is about the integration of technology with human brain power.  While some other writers have been negative and alarmist on this topic, Thompson looks at the positives, though he also brings in some balance.

Appropos of this forum, he talks about the need for a good moderator, or what he calls a “tummler.” This is a delightful term from the Yiddish word for the person at a wedding party responsible for keeping the crowd engaged and dancing.  I think we have good tummlers here on this forum.smile

Anyway, lots of though-provoking ideas on this inevitable integration.  BTW, did you know that Plato was quoted as denigrating the advent of writing?  He believed that only good conversation, the give and take, could flesh out great ideas.  However, just think, a forum is like a conversation, but with more people, and time to ponder and fact check.  A new development that can have very positive consequences.

That’s fascinating about the Plato quote. I read Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari recently, and he had some negative things to say about the development of writing that took me by surprise. I’d always heard that development lauded as one of humanity’s great advances.

Harari wrote that one of the first problems that arose with the invention of script was that clerks and accountants had to learn to think like filing cabinets so they’d know where they’d stored information and could retrieve it quickly.

The most important impact of script on human history is precisely this: it has gradually changed the way humans think and view the world. Free association and holistic thought have given way to compartmentalization and bureaucracy…

Writing was born as the maidservant of human consciousness, but is increasingly becoming its master. Our computers have trouble understanding how Homo sapiens talks, feels, and dreams. So we are teaching Homo sapiens to talk, feel, and dream in the language of numbers, which can be understood by computers.

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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18 June 2015 18:10
 
KathleenBrugger - 18 June 2015 11:08 AM
Hannah2 - 17 June 2015 10:30 PM

Started reading Smarter than You Think by Clive Thompson.  I’m thoroughly enjoying it.  The book is about the integration of technology with human brain power.  While some other writers have been negative and alarmist on this topic, Thompson looks at the positives, though he also brings in some balance.

Appropos of this forum, he talks about the need for a good moderator, or what he calls a “tummler.” This is a delightful term from the Yiddish word for the person at a wedding party responsible for keeping the crowd engaged and dancing.  I think we have good tummlers here on this forum.smile

Anyway, lots of though-provoking ideas on this inevitable integration.  BTW, did you know that Plato was quoted as denigrating the advent of writing?  He believed that only good conversation, the give and take, could flesh out great ideas.  However, just think, a forum is like a conversation, but with more people, and time to ponder and fact check.  A new development that can have very positive consequences.

That’s fascinating about the Plato quote. I read Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari recently, and he had some negative things to say about the development of writing that took me by surprise. I’d always heard that development lauded as one of humanity’s great advances.

Harari wrote that one of the first problems that arose with the invention of script was that clerks and accountants had to learn to think like filing cabinets so they’d know where they’d stored information and could retrieve it quickly.

The most important impact of script on human history is precisely this: it has gradually changed the way humans think and view the world. Free association and holistic thought have given way to compartmentalization and bureaucracy…

Writing was born as the maidservant of human consciousness, but is increasingly becoming its master. Our computers have trouble understanding how Homo sapiens talks, feels, and dreams. So we are teaching Homo sapiens to talk, feel, and dream in the language of numbers, which can be understood by computers.

OK, I meant Socrates was worried.  Plato wrote about him.  Anyway, here’s the quote:

I cannot help feeling, Phaedrus, that writing is unfortunately like painting; for the creations of the painter have the attitutde of life, and yet if you ask them a question they preserve a solemn silence.  And the same may be said of speeches.  You would imagine that they had intelligence, but if you want to know anything and put a question to one of them, the speaker always gives one unvarying answer.  And when they have been once written down they are tumbled about anywhere among those who may or may not understand them, and know not to whom they should reply, to whom not; and, if they are maltreated of abused, they have no parent to protect them; and they cannot protect or defend themselves.

 
Bugs Bunny
 
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21 June 2015 18:04
 
LadyJane - 16 June 2015 06:42 PM

Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell

That’s about the tenth time I’ve read it and it somehow holds more significance than ever.

I read what some of you write about language, where you pretend words don’t mean what they do, and it makes me wonder why anyone would be so eager to disregard the only way humans have been able to establish a way to communicate amicably and reach understanding.  It seems the moment we fail to comprehend something we lazily render the words meaningless while hiding behind semantical fantasies that we invent along the way.  What a cop out.  When we agree that nothing means anything yet expect everyone to speak our own individual language that only we understand, we remain stuck spinning around in confusion, lose our ability to communicate and leave everything hopelessly unresolved.  It is retarding.

I, for one, will be hanging onto all my books.  And saving all my maps.

I’ve never completed 1984, though that book came with high recommendations.  Your post has just reminded me why, so I’ll take the time to read in its entirety. 
  Follow, for any length of time a religious forum as an example.  One where biblical languages are spoken or taught in the given context from people without a religious axe to grind.  One, where language has meaning not only for its historical context.  People with a theological agenda will support their position, using a language they do not understand to support a skewed, or even preconceived idea.    Not everyone is willing to listen,  or read for the sake of comprehending what the author intended.  Language or words have become relative.  What suits me?  When words become interchangeable any meaningful discussion becomes impossible.  Plus, I can read maps, so I’ll be saving mine too.

[ Edited: 21 June 2015 18:21 by Bugs Bunny]
 
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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21 June 2015 21:03
 
person - 21 June 2015 04:04 PM
LadyJane - 16 June 2015 06:42 PM

Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell

That’s about the tenth time I’ve read it and it somehow holds more significance than ever.

I read what some of you write about language, where you pretend words don’t mean what they do, and it makes me wonder why anyone would be so eager to disregard the only way humans have been able to establish a way to communicate amicably and reach understanding.  It seems the moment we fail to comprehend something we lazily render the words meaningless while hiding behind semantical fantasies that we invent along the way.  What a cop out.  When we agree that nothing means anything yet expect everyone to speak our own individual language that only we understand, we remain stuck spinning around in confusion, lose our ability to communicate and leave everything hopelessly unresolved.  It is retarding.

I, for one, will be hanging onto all my books.  And saving all my maps.

I’ve never completed 1984, though that book came with high recommendations.  Your post has just reminded me why, so I’ll take the time to read in its entirety. 
  Follow, for any length of time a religious forum as an example.  One where biblical languages are spoken or taught in the given context from people without a religious axe to grind.  One, where language has meaning not only for its historical context.  People with a theological agenda will support their position, using a language they do not understand to support a skewed, or even preconceived idea.    Not everyone is willing to listen,  or read for the sake of comprehending what the author intended.  Language or words have become relative.  What suits me?  When words become interchangeable any meaningful discussion becomes impossible.  Plus, I can read maps, so I’ll be saving mine too.

I first read Nineteen Eighty-Four as a teenager and fell in love with it.  And with Orwell.  The reason I’ve returned to it so often over the years is because it seems different every time.  I remember coming to the realization, at some point, that the story hadn’t changed at all.  I had.  It was telling me something about myself.  It was telling me something about all of us.  It soon became clear that I hadn’t changed all that much either.  My understanding of the world had changed.  Following historical routes, that lead where they lead, provided me with the knowledge to make the connections that make sense of the story.  The story itself is a grounding literary reference.  One we all seem to take for granted.  I suppose this is why there are countless homages to the masterpiece.  Everyone feels compelled to give it the nod.  Well…almost everyone.

It must matter a great deal to us to have harnessed this ability to communicate to the extent that we have.  It isn’t sufficient just to acknowledge there are dots to connect unless we follow through in our understanding of the connections we are making.  This allows us to advance as a species and confirm and deny what is real.  It has served us extremely well.  Language is our greatest weapon.  We need to be responsible in the ways in which we tend to it and corral the intellectual anarchists that are out to destroy it.  Stop the pretending and call out the lies.

Take this device which allows us to communicate world wide through a so-called metaphorical information superhighway.  That’s a pretty swell idea.  Too bad no one’s listening to each other.  Maybe they’ll listen to Mr. Orwell.  And his prophetic words of warning.

 
 
KathleenBrugger
 
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14 July 2015 21:20
 

I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb.

I read this with my niece for our book club. It was harder than I expected, especially considering it was written by a 15-year-old. But her story required the telling of a very complex political scene in her native Swat Valley, in northwest Pakistan, which was invaded by Taliban after the events of 9/11. It can be very difficult to keep up with all the various factions battling for control of the region. Malala’s story is quite amazing, of course. She and her father were battling for the right of all children to be educated for many years before she was shot. My niece commented, “Kids in this country complain about having to go to school. They have no clue how precious education is, how some people have to fight to get to go to school.”

Of course the shooting is horrendous. Her father had expected to be attacked, but they had believed that Malala would be spared because of her age, and because she was a female. This section is quite sad, because the Pakistani government made it difficult for Malala’s parents to accompany her to Britain for medical treatment and she had to spend two weeks there alone, which must have been excruciating for all of them.

And on top of that, the family has now been forced to remain in exile, for fear of further retribution. They would all dearly love to be back in Pakistan and it’s very sad to hear her describe the toll this exile is taking on her parents. The book ends before she fully recovers or wins the Nobel Peace Prize, so it’s not a very happy ending.

A couple of interesting notes: I felt surprised at how she seems to be a devout Muslim. Muhammad, or the Prophet, is mentioned frequently, and after the first mention, when the name was followed by Peace Be Upon Him, the name or title was followed by ‘PBUH.’ I found that funny, and rather odd that that would be considered respectful.

The Eid holidays are major holidays, happen twice a year. One marks the end of Ramadan. She makes it sound as if the holidays’ dates are not set in advance, on the calendar, but clerics let the people know the day before they start. “The dates of the feasts are announced by a special panel of clerics who watch for the appearance of the crescent moon. As soon as we heard the broadcast on the radio, we set off.” So the clerics can’t know the date the crescent moon will appear in advance?!

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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21 July 2015 17:04
 

Just finished “looking for alaska”. Deceptive, really good writing.

I’m just about to order 4 books that Harris recently recommended, anyone got any thoughts about these?:

- Superintelligence, Bostrom
- The Last Word, Nagel
- Reasons and Persons, Parfit
- The History of Western Philosophy, Russell

 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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21 July 2015 17:11
 
icehorse - 21 July 2015 03:04 PM

Just finished “looking for alaska”. Deceptive, really good writing.

I’m just about to order 4 books that Harris recently recommended, anyone got any thoughts about these?:

- Superintelligence, Bostrom
- The Last Word, Nagel
- Reasons and Persons, Parfit
- The History of Western Philosophy, Russell

I’ve only read The History of Western Philosophy, it’s a classic.

 
 
Bugs Bunny
 
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22 July 2015 13:47
 
GAD - 21 July 2015 03:11 PM
icehorse - 21 July 2015 03:04 PM

Just finished “looking for alaska”. Deceptive, really good writing.

I’m just about to order 4 books that Harris recently recommended, anyone got any thoughts about these?:

- Superintelligence, Bostrom
- The Last Word, Nagel
- Reasons and Persons, Parfit
- The History of Western Philosophy, Russell

I’ve only read The History of Western Philosophy, it’s a classic.

I’d made it half way through and set the book aside.  I plan to read again,  The History of Western Philosophy, starting from the beginning.  The last book from SH list that I’ve read was,  The Science of Evil.  Beyond that I haven’t been following.

Finished reading Orwell’s 1984, a nightmare scenario to say the least.
 
Currently reading Easy Spanish Reader, Third Edition.  The reviews are all negative, mainly due to the recordings not being included.  There is no English, but inclusions on the side of a few introduced new vocabulary words with the vocabularia in the back.
I’m discovering the method of reading and building words by means of stories with sentence structure, works incredibly well. So I disagree with all the criticism, and would give it 5 stars.

Atheist Universe - by David Mills,  has caught my interest from reading GAD’s signature.  Mortimer Adler’s question, “Why is there something, rather than nothing?”  As Mill’s points out, the question is presumptive.  Similar to presuming that grass is supposed to be red, and then claiming that the green color would be evidence of a divine miracle.  I like that he asks the same question from a scientific perspective.  That would be, “Why shouldn’t there be something rather than nothing?  What law of science claims that the universe is not supposed to exist, or that nonexistence is the “natural” condition of the universe? 


The final chapter he delves into the philosophy of Intelligent Design, and the origins.  As a repackaged belief from what was previously known as Creation Science, he makes the case for a new cult.
 
“So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.”  - Lord Bertrand Russell

 
 
NL.
 
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NL.
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30 October 2015 11:29
 

I just started reading Radical by Maajid Nawaz, since I got interested in his story after reading his book with Sam. It’s an interesting character study so far. I can see why Maajid is a bit controversial - to me he reads as being on this knife’s edge where, on the idealism-pragmatism dial, pragmatism is maybe turned up just a little too high - but just a little, so you can never quite tell if he’s a brilliant strategist for his ideals or the ultimate politician who likes winning (at any game) for the sake of winning. But it looks like an interesting book so far, detailing his experiences struggling with identity growing up as a Pakistani Muslim in London during a skinhead revival era. He’s one of those characters you sort of naturally become invested in - like you want to yell through the pages and give him advice (Maajid! Take up meditation and get in touch with your inner ideals, don’t try to impress those bad kids on the playground!), so it’s an engaging read. I think the latter part of the book will be a challenge for me because I’m a great big wuss and I hate reading about violence and first-person suffering, so I don’t particularly want to follow the narrative to an Egyptian prison - trying to challenge myself more in that area, though, so we’ll see. Anyways, overall would recommend it so far.

 
 
Poldano
 
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30 October 2015 23:44
 

Faith vs. Fact, Jerry A. Coyne.

To Explain the World, Steven Weinberg.

The Meaning of Human Existence, Edward O. Wilson.

The Social Conquest of Earth, Edward O. Wilson.

Various stories and novels by David Brin (still in the process of catching up).

 
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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02 November 2015 12:28
 

The Will To Power - Friedrich Nietzsche

 
 
Poldano
 
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03 November 2015 00:36
 
LadyJane - 02 November 2015 11:28 AM

The Will To Power - Friedrich Nietzsche

Ooh! I remember that one. It was fun!

 
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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16 July 2017 06:18
 

The Greatest Story Ever Told–So Far - Lawrence Krauss

 
 
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