Author Topic: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?  (Read 334392 times)

Junkenstein

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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2865 on: April 03, 2017, 06:00:26 pm »
Hey v3x, not looked at Adams in years, seems to have gone from minor who (affirmations etc) into full cretin. Any good summary or reason for the slide into idiocy?
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Xaz

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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2866 on: April 03, 2017, 07:56:45 pm »
I have started "The Attention Merchants" by Tim Wu.

So far it's covered the history of advertising (and by extension the ideas behind the capture and sale of attention) from organised religions (OG attention merchants) to snake oil salesmen, newspapers supported by ad revenue, propaganda posters etc. to the evolution of adverts themselves and the different techniques employed as the public and markets changed.

I don't know where the book is going yet but hopefully it's somewhere interesting. Having a bit more of an idea behind the principles behind the demands on one's attention makes me feel like i've gotten some worth from the book already.

That sounds super cool, I'll add it to my list. Thanks for mentioning it.

Quote
I am also reading "How to fail at everything and win big" by Scott Adams.
It has a core theme of keep trying at shit and don't get bogged down by failure. I think this is a reasonable point but for me the whole message is diluted a bit when you consider that the one thing that 'stuck' for the author in particular was writing Dilbert comics. A lot (though not all) of the examples of his failures that he writes about are post-dilbert success and as such he has a lot less to lose than many that are perhaps reading his book for inspiration.
Scott Adams is also an asshole of mythic proportions. just one taste

You are welcome!

Huh I didn't know that about Scott Adams. I remember watching the Dilbert cartoons as a kid.
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tyrannosaurus vex

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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2867 on: April 04, 2017, 01:53:29 am »
I don't know the whole story with Adams. I've loved Dilbert since forever, and was surprised last year when it because apparent the man is a gung-ho Trump supporter with the whole "snowflakes" and "safe places" bag of brainless epithets. I haven't bothered to find out why. I assume it's something to do with his being a comfortable middle-class white guy who has few occasions in his life to ponder the idiocy or heartlessness of his political leanings (see also William Shatner).
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Brother Mythos

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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2868 on: April 04, 2017, 10:46:17 am »
I’ve finished reading Thus Spake Zarathustra - A Book for All and None by Friedrich W. Nietzsche.

Although I have a “Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy” version of this book, I had never finished, I chose to begin reading this work again with a downloaded version from www.gutenberg.org. Fortunately, the gutenberg.org version has a lengthy appendix, written by a contemporary of Nietzsche, that is lacking from my printed version. And, without that lengthy appendix, I would have had no idea WHO Nietzsche was often writing about, as he used pseudonyms, metaphors, parables, and pseudonyms and metaphors within parables throughout this work.

In the Introduction of the gutenberg.org version, Nietzsche’s sister wrote, “Even the reception which the first part met with at the hands of friends and acquaintances was extremely disheartening: for almost all those to whom he presented copies of the work misunderstood it. ‘I found no one ripe for many of my thoughts; the case of “Zarathustra” proves that one can speak with the utmost clearness, and yet not be heard by any one.’”

Unfortunately, in my humble opinion, the first part of this four part book is the easiest to understand. Again, if not for the appendix provided in the gutenberg.org version, I would have had no idea ‘The Magician’ was Nietzsche’s pseudonym for Richard Wagner, or that ‘The Soothsayer’ was his pseudonym for Arthur Schopenhauer.

Nevertheless, there are many passages where Nietzsche’s did make his thoughts perfectly clear, such as the following:

‘When Zarathustra was alone, however, he said to his heart: “Could it be possible! This old saint in the forest hath not yet heard of it, that GOD IS DEAD!”’

Or, when Nietzsche wrote:

”Everything in woman is a riddle, and everything in woman hath one solution--it is called pregnancy.

“Man is for woman a means: the purpose is always the child. But what is woman for man?

Two different things wanteth the true man: danger and diversion. Therefore wanteth he woman, as the most dangerous plaything.

Man shall be trained for war, and woman for the recreation of the warrior: all else is folly.”

I often found, however, that when Nietzsche did undertake the effort to make a particular idea understandable, he then proceeded to beat the idea to death in subsequent chapters.   

While struggling through the third part of this book, it occurred to me that a better title for this work might have been Thus Spake Zarathustra - A Book for All Who Have Already Read Everything Else I Have Ever Written and None. In my humble opinion, this is not the book to begin one’s reading/studying of Nietzsche, if one is not already familiar with his life, times, and philosophy.

Now, as I’m currently feeding a philosophy habit, I’m going on to read Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One's Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences, by René Descartes.





tyrannosaurus vex

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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2869 on: April 08, 2017, 08:02:11 pm »
Just finished Isaac Asimov's Foundation.

I don't know where to begin really. I read it because I was looking for an enormous exercise in world building, of which the book does a capable job. It nearly completely lacks character development, which is probably something that a lot of people would find unattractive but doesn't bother me since I wasn't really looking for "human" stories as much as epic historical fiction. But... I still wouldn't call it "good".

For starters, Foundation was written in the 1950s I think, and it's approach to science fiction hasn't aged very well. All the technology is based on "atomics", showing the era's expectation that the atom would revolutionize human civilization forever. Everything from blaster guns to shaving razors are based on atomic energy somehow. It's somewhat adorable, but mostly just... ridiculous.

As far as characters go, the first thing to know is that they are all men. Women are present as caricatures and described invariably as either bumbling bimbos or conniving witches (a queen is nothing but a nag and an agent of her hostile father, for example). Also, I'm not really sure how this book is considered one of the best sci-fi stories ever written. Standards must have been a lot different in the 50s and 60s. All the dialog is written in the same voice as the narration, and all the characters speak with the same nuance and vocabulary. Sometimes it can be hard to keep track of who's saying what. Meh.

The historical arc is interesting, but suffers from a little too much exposition and some ideas presented as insightful are just silly. There's very little depth to concepts like religion vs. commerce, and everyone in the universe seems to behave as if programmed by an amateur psychologist. The book revolves around the notion that the future can be predicted by applying mathematical theory to psychology, but then it presents such a one-dimensional version of psychology that every character behaves exactly as expected. Every episode follows the same basic formula: The Antagonist sets up a scheme to undo the Protagonist, then the Protagonist outwits the Antagonist by way of some "psychological" trick that shows up at the end of the episode, leaving the Protagonist on top and the Antagonist out in the cold (or dead).

Seriously, how is this a genre-defining work? There's a whole series in this universe, but I don't think I'm going to bother with it. It's a disappointment because the concept is interesting. The execution just hasn't survived the years since writing. If anyone knows better and would suggest the later books, let me know.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2017, 08:03:45 pm by tyrannosaurus vex »
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Cain

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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2870 on: April 09, 2017, 01:32:40 am »
As I recall, the series became much more polished with the subsequent releases.  It's been many, many years since I read the whole thing, but Second Foundation was reasonably good, and the last two books, written after a 30 year hiatus from the series, are noticeably better.

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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2871 on: April 09, 2017, 08:17:07 pm »
Just received Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. It looks pretty good.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2872 on: April 11, 2017, 01:52:47 pm »
I’ve finished reading Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One's Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences, by René Descartes. This is the work where he first stated “Cogito ergo sum,” “I think, therefore I am.”

This book is short, and not altogether what I expected. In it, Descartes published the four laws of his “scientific method,” and the four maxims of his “moral code.” And, although he made his famous “I think, therefore I am” statement, he did not describe how he arrived at that conclusion, or a number of other significant metaphysical/philosophical conclusions. He defended his lack of “proofs” by writing that he did not want to upset established authority, i.e., the church.

Descartes also went on, at length, to describe his scientific findings on the heart and blood circulation. (Students of the history of science, and the history of the scientific method might find this to be of interest.) It was Descartes conclusion that the heart moved blood through the circulatory system, not by muscle/mechanical pumping, but by “heating” the blood so that it “expanded” into the arteries. Reading that, I had to remind myself that Descartes published his book in 1637, and the study of physiology has come a long way in the three hundred and eighty years since his time.       

I suspect this book might not be the best one start with for reading/studying Descartes. But again, Discourse on the Method is a short read. In any case, I’m moving on to Descartes’s Meditations on First Philosophy.

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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2873 on: April 13, 2017, 12:03:47 am »
Descartes anatomical works are quite useful. His physiology... not so much.  :lol:
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


tyrannosaurus vex

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Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2874 on: April 21, 2017, 03:43:31 am »
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