What are you reading now?


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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby bad hammy » Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:53 am

Marlow wrote:
bad hammy wrote: That last volume was unreadable.

Speaking of which, has anyone else tried to read the Autobiography of Mark Twain that just got published last year? Samuel Clemens was an AWESOME writer, humorist, and social philosopher, but Holy Mackerel, his autobio is absolutely unreadable. It's just random remembrances and misanthropic rants. I will not be getting the next volume of it.

I'd been warned about that by early reviewers and passed.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby gh » Tue Nov 08, 2011 2:56 pm

How The Cows Turned Mad by Maxime Schwartz of the Pasteur Institute. Not sure I'd recommend it to anybody without a decent grounding in bio-sci (or the desire to pick up some elevated knowledge along the way), but was a great "detective mystery" spanning centuries of development.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby gm » Tue Nov 08, 2011 6:30 pm

gh wrote:How The Cows Turned Mad by Maxime Schwartz of the Pasteur Institute. Not sure I'd recommend it to anybody without a decent grounding in bio-sci (or the desire to pick up some elevated knowledge along the way), but was a great "detective mystery" spanning centuries of development.


Interesting to me in that the fear of CJD transmission is why I cannot donate blood, according to those who make such decisions.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Pego » Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:00 am

gm wrote:
gh wrote:How The Cows Turned Mad by Maxime Schwartz of the Pasteur Institute. Not sure I'd recommend it to anybody without a decent grounding in bio-sci (or the desire to pick up some elevated knowledge along the way), but was a great "detective mystery" spanning centuries of development.


Interesting to me in that the fear of CJD transmission is why I cannot donate blood, according to those who make such decisions.


What is their listed reason for you being high risk? Living in UK?
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Daisy » Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:34 am

Pego wrote:What is their listed reason for you being high risk? Living in UK?

Living in the UK when the 'tainted' meat was in general circulation. For the same reason I cannot give blood here either.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby gh » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:30 am

And after having read the book, I definitely don't want your blood! (seriously)
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby 26mi235 » Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:01 am

The book will give me a much better handle on the issues and the facts. However, the subsequent distribution of cases has made the more dire set of possibilities less likely.

In Wisconsin we have the idiocy that 'hunting farms' helped cause and worsen the spread of related disease (CWD) in deer. Daisy probably knows more about this than I do.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby gh » Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:36 am

26mi235 wrote:The book will give me a much better handle on the issues and the facts. However, the subsequent distribution of cases has made the more dire set of possibilities less likely.....


Thanks for reminding me: I did fail to mention that the book is now almost a decade old, and there have certainly been other developments (like possibilities playing out), so my sourcing certainly not perfect. But I did do some surfing after finishing the book, and I see nothing to dissuade me from thinking that there could still be nasty surprises waiting in the blood supply.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby 26mi235 » Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:44 am

gh wrote:
26mi235 wrote:The book will give me a much better handle on the issues and the facts. However, the subsequent distribution of cases has made the more dire set of possibilities less likely.....


Thanks for reminding me: I did fail to mention that the book is now almost a decade old, and there have certainly been other developments (like possibilities playing out), so my sourcing certainly not perfect. But I did do some surfing after finishing the book, and I see nothing to dissuade me from thinking that there could still be nasty surprises waiting in the blood supply.


Boy, am I glad to see your response because I was afraid I would have to significantly revise my assessment of the level of risk. I seem to recall that they had models of the expected number of cases given certain assumptions. The number has been so much at the low end that there has been little additional 'news' on this front that I have seen. I pay some attention because my wife is in Risk Analysis/Bayesian Statistics and some of her colleagues know some of this stuff etc.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby gm » Wed Nov 09, 2011 5:27 pm

Daisy wrote:
Pego wrote:What is their listed reason for you being high risk? Living in UK?

Living in the UK when the 'tainted' meat was in general circulation. For the same reason I cannot give blood here either.


Spot on. The last time I tried to donate, the lady looked at me like Satan incarnate when she read that I had lived in the UK during the height of the issue. And I ate more beef, probably, than any 20 normal people in Britain.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby 26mi235 » Wed Nov 09, 2011 6:16 pm

Mad Cow Disease - gave new meaning to Do not Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby gh » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:06 pm

gm wrote:
Daisy wrote:
Pego wrote:What is their listed reason for you being high risk? Living in UK?

Living in the UK when the 'tainted' meat was in general circulation. For the same reason I cannot give blood here either.


Spot on. The last time I tried to donate, the lady looked at me like Satan incarnate when she read that I had lived in the UK during the height of the issue. And I ate more beef, probably, than any 20 normal people in Britain.


oh crap! you and I ate dinner together once... we didn't kiss goodnight did we?!
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby gm » Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:18 pm

gh wrote:
gm wrote:
Daisy wrote:
Pego wrote:What is their listed reason for you being high risk? Living in UK?

Living in the UK when the 'tainted' meat was in general circulation. For the same reason I cannot give blood here either.


Spot on. The last time I tried to donate, the lady looked at me like Satan incarnate when she read that I had lived in the UK during the height of the issue. And I ate more beef, probably, than any 20 normal people in Britain.


oh crap! you and I ate dinner together once... we didn't kiss goodnight did we?!


No, but IIRC you did ask me to demonstrate the feeding protocol for peregrine falcons and their young. That could be problematic? :lol:
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby gh » Tue Nov 29, 2011 4:26 pm

Just finished Banana ("The Fate Of The Fruit That Changed The World").

I hasten to add that I wouldn't normally pick up a book with a title like that, but my voracious-reading brother-in-law recommended it highly, and he was right. I was hooked on the first page with factoids like this:

if you're a 40-year-old American you've probably eaten 10,000 bananas.

Probably the first fruit you ate as a kid, and may be the last in old age.

This was a stunner: Americans eat more bananas a year than apples & oranges combined.

And the real kicker: there's a disease for which there is no cure killing off the entire world crop of the banana that North Americans think of as the banana.

(And we later find that this happened not so many years ago, and that the banana we eat today—the Cavendish—doesn't have the same taste/texture that bananas of the '50s—the Gros Michel—did, because that variety is now extinct.)
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby 26mi235 » Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:55 am

Bananas are eaten in large quantities because they are cheap. Same with potatoes, I think.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby gh » Wed Nov 30, 2011 8:39 pm

I already know whta my Xmas present book will be:

<<Inferno
The World at War, 1939-1945
By Max Hastings
(Alfred A. Knopf; 729 pages; $35)

If there is a contemporary British historian who is the chronicler of World War II, it would be Max Hastings. In book after book, he has zoomed in on individual theaters and arenas in the global conflict, which continues to fascinate historians and readers more than 65 years after it finally came to an end.

If you want to know all about the Battle of Britain or the United Kingdom's Bomber Command or Winston Churchill's pivotal role in the war, Hastings' studies are the ones to go for. If you want a detailed account of the Normandy Invasion, there's his definitive "Overlord." How did the Allies finally conquer Germany and Japan? "Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945" and "Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45" will each give you a detailed account of how these monumental feats were accomplished.

The great virtue of this culminating volume "Inferno" is that it provides the whole six years as only someone as knowledgeable as Hastings can do....>>

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.c ... z1fFqnLB5K
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby 26mi235 » Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:14 am

I am reading the fourth/last volume of biography on George C. Marshall; so far quite good:

"George C. Marshall: Statesman 1945-1959", Forrest Pogue, written in 1987.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Helen S » Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:36 am

It seems that many people justify purchasing a reading machine because it can hold numerous books at one time. I always read one book at a time- does everyone else read numeous ones depending on what they feel like reading just them when the opporunity strikes?
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Daisy » Thu Dec 01, 2011 12:21 pm

Helen S wrote:I always read one book at a time- does everyone else read numeous ones depending on what they feel like reading

I've had three books on the go at one time before. Usually reading along with my kids, like Harry Potter. On top of that possibly a fiction and a non-fiction book. Finally, many science papers for work, and those can add up to a big pile.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Conor Dary » Thu Dec 01, 2011 7:18 pm

gh wrote:I already know whta my Xmas present book will be:

<<Inferno
The World at War, 1939-1945
By Max Hastings
(Alfred A. Knopf; 729 pages; $35)

If there is a contemporary British historian who is the chronicler of World War II, it would be Max Hastings. In book after book, he has zoomed in on individual theaters and arenas in the global conflict, which continues to fascinate historians and readers more than 65 years after it finally came to an end.

If you want to know all about the Battle of Britain or the United Kingdom's Bomber Command or Winston Churchill's pivotal role in the war, Hastings' studies are the ones to go for. If you want a detailed account of the Normandy Invasion, there's his definitive "Overlord." How did the Allies finally conquer Germany and Japan? "Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945" and "Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45" will each give you a detailed account of how these monumental feats were accomplished.

The great virtue of this culminating volume "Inferno" is that it provides the whole six years as only someone as knowledgeable as Hastings can do....>>

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.c ... z1fFqnLB5K


Speaking of Hastings, via Tom Ricks,

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... TopOpinion

http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/20 ... _the_big_s
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby lonewolf » Thu Dec 01, 2011 7:56 pm

I do not intentionally read more than one book at a time..
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby gh » Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:01 pm

I regularly juggle two books, but it's always a hardback and a paperback (reflecting the general content of each: one for edification the other for mindless entertainment).
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby 26mi235 » Fri Dec 02, 2011 12:44 am

I typically am reading several books at once. Often something scientific or two (usually different areas), sometimes history (e.g., Marshall, mentioned above and am reading the beginning of 'Chaos', but it might be too dated).

I find gh's suggestion/introduction to Hastings quite tempting and put it as item on on my Christmas list.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Pego » Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:24 am

lonewolf wrote:I do not intentionally read more than one book at a time..


So do I.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Daisy » Fri Dec 02, 2011 5:05 am

Pego wrote:
lonewolf wrote:I do not intentionally read more than one book at a time..

So do I.

Certainly it slows you down. But I'll sometimes just jump right to the end to find out 'who did it'.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby 26mi235 » Fri Dec 02, 2011 8:34 am

Daisy wrote:
Pego wrote:
lonewolf wrote:I do not intentionally read more than one book at a time..

So do I.

Certainly it slows you down. But I'll sometimes just jump right to the end to find out 'who did it'.


Yes, sometimes I just want to find out if those neutrinos beat their PR again in the short 700km dash. :lol:
Last edited by 26mi235 on Sat Dec 03, 2011 10:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Conor Dary » Sat Dec 03, 2011 4:44 pm

I just started a new book written by one of our regulars here.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Daisy » Sat Dec 03, 2011 7:07 pm

Conor Dary wrote:I just started a new book written by one of our regulars here.

It better have lots of pictures otherwise I'm not interested. ;)
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby gh » Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:50 pm

I have to cop to committing a cardinal sin as I've always understood the rules of bibliophiling. It's worse than walking out of a movie: I put a book down without finishing it!

Very (very-very) well written: The Black Swan ("The Impact Of The Highly Improbable") by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

At this point in my life my brain just can't stay wrapped around deep philosophical concepts. I wanna be a sponge and swim around in hard facts, not have to actually analyze every sentence.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby bambam » Thu Dec 22, 2011 2:22 pm

gh wrote:I have to cop to committing a cardinal sin as I've always understood the rules of bibliophiling. It's worse than walking out of a movie: I put a book down without finishing it!

Very (very-very) well written: The Black Swan ("The Impact Of The Highly Improbable") by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

At this point in my life my brain just can't stay wrapped around deep philosophical concepts. I wanna be a sponge and swim around in hard facts, not have to actually analyze every sentence.


I agree - I finished it but did not like it very much either.

I hope you're right about World at War 1939-45 because I got it for my iPad 2 days ago
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Pego » Thu Dec 22, 2011 2:29 pm

Daisy wrote:
Conor Dary wrote:I just started a new book written by one of our regulars here.

It better have lots of pictures otherwise I'm not interested. ;)


My psychic powers say that it does. Photos, even.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby kuha » Thu Dec 22, 2011 4:12 pm

bambam wrote:
gh wrote:I have to cop to committing a cardinal sin as I've always understood the rules of bibliophiling. It's worse than walking out of a movie: I put a book down without finishing it!

Very (very-very) well written: The Black Swan ("The Impact Of The Highly Improbable") by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

At this point in my life my brain just can't stay wrapped around deep philosophical concepts. I wanna be a sponge and swim around in hard facts, not have to actually analyze every sentence.


I agree - I finished it but did not like it very much either.


Interesting. I also read it; thought it was worthwhile, but that the author made the same (valid) point repeatedly...
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Conor Dary » Thu Dec 22, 2011 4:13 pm

Pego wrote:
Daisy wrote:
Conor Dary wrote:I just started a new book written by one of our regulars here.

It better have lots of pictures otherwise I'm not interested. ;)


My psychic powers say that it does. Photos, even.


There are some pictures :wink: but I think they should have been in color. :lol:
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby 26mi235 » Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:19 pm

bambam wrote:
gh wrote:I have to cop to committing a cardinal sin as I've always understood the rules of bibliophiling. It's worse than walking out of a movie: I put a book down without finishing it!

Very (very-very) well written: The Black Swan ("The Impact Of The Highly Improbable") by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

At this point in my life my brain just can't stay wrapped around deep philosophical concepts. I wanna be a sponge and swim around in hard facts, not have to actually analyze every sentence.


I agree - I finished it but did not like it very much either.

I hope you're right about World at War 1939-45 because I got it for my iPad 2 days ago


I also got the book based on the rather substantial recommendation. I have to finish FDR first, though, only 500 more pages to go (some in small type).
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby gh » Thu Dec 22, 2011 10:00 pm

bambam wrote:
gh wrote:I have to cop to committing a cardinal sin as I've always understood the rules of bibliophiling. It's worse than walking out of a movie: I put a book down without finishing it!

Very (very-very) well written: The Black Swan ("The Impact Of The Highly Improbable") by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

At this point in my life my brain just can't stay wrapped around deep philosophical concepts. I wanna be a sponge and swim around in hard facts, not have to actually analyze every sentence.


I agree - I finished it but did not like it very much either.

I hope you're right about World at War 1939-45 because I got it for my iPad 2 days ago


Just to be clear, gh has no position on Hastings! I said that based on the review, it sounded eminently readable.

OK, now that I've clarified that, I have started it (and the eagerness to do so may well be part of the reason I bailed on The Swan). And I'm loving it. He notes that on purpose his is not one of those doctoral-thesis-level pieces that is so chock-full of foot notes that it makes reading almost impossible (Schirer comes close at times).

Some early numbers (which although he doesn't cite sources, I'm compelled to believe): from 9/39 through 8/45 the average loss of life per day due to WWII was... wait for it... 27,000! That's 9 World Trade Centers a day every day for 6 years. And Americans who escaped the two big global conflicts being on their soil wonder why other nations may have a different view of carnage.

Here's another: during the war, 17,000 American soldiers went through battlefield-related amputations: during the same period, 100,000 workers back at home suffered industrially-related choppings.

Wait a minute, I read this uplifting stuff why?
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby DrJay » Fri Dec 23, 2011 2:36 am

17,000 seems unbelievably low.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby DrJay » Fri Dec 23, 2011 2:40 am

I'm partway through Blind Man's Bluff, by Sontag and Drew, the story of American submarine espionage during the Cold War. Well-written and interesting.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby bambam » Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:29 am

kuha wrote:
bambam wrote:
gh wrote:I have to cop to committing a cardinal sin as I've always understood the rules of bibliophiling. It's worse than walking out of a movie: I put a book down without finishing it!

Very (very-very) well written: The Black Swan ("The Impact Of The Highly Improbable") by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

At this point in my life my brain just can't stay wrapped around deep philosophical concepts. I wanna be a sponge and swim around in hard facts, not have to actually analyze every sentence.


I agree - I finished it but did not like it very much either.


Interesting. I also read it; thought it was worthwhile, but that the author made the same (valid) point repeatedly...


I think I was expecting it to be as good as some of Malcolm Gladwell's stuff and it wasn't. Still waiting now for another Gladwell book - been a few years.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby Conor Dary » Fri Dec 23, 2011 6:23 pm

Interesting review of Job's bio:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archive ... teve-jobs/


While it may be convenient to suppose that Apple is no different than any other company doing business in China—which is as fine a textbook example of a logical fallacy as there is—in reality, it is worse. According to a study reported by Bloomberg News last January, Apple ranked at the very bottom of twenty-nine global tech firms “in terms of responsiveness and transparency to health and environmental concerns in China.” Yet walking into the Foxconn factory, where people routinely work six days a week, from early in the morning till late at night standing in enforced silence, Steve Jobs might have entered his biggest reality distortion field of all. “You go into this place and it’s a factory but, my gosh, they’ve got restaurants and movie theaters and hospitals and swimming pools,” he said after being queried by reporters about working conditions there shortly after a spate of suicides. “For a factory, it’s pretty nice.”

Steve Jobs cried a lot. This is one of the salient facts about his subject that Isaacson reveals, and it is salient not because it shows Jobs’s emotional depth, but because it is an example of his stunted character. Steve Jobs cried when he didn’t get his own way. He was a bully, a dissembler, a cheapskate, a deadbeat dad, a manipulator, and sometimes he was very nice. Isaacson does not shy away from any of this, and the trouble is that Jobs comes across as such a repellent man, cruel even to his best friend Steve Wozniak, derisive of almost everyone, ruthless to people who thought they were his friends, indifferent to his daughters, that the book is often hard to read. Friends and former friends speculate that his bad behavior was a consequence of being put up for adoption at birth. A former girlfriend, who went on to work in the mental health field, thought he had Narcissistic Personality Disorder. John Sculley, who orchestrated Jobs’s expulsion from Apple, wondered if he was bipolar. Jobs himself dismissed his excesses with a single word: artist. Artists, he seemed to believe, got a pass on bad behavior. Isaacson seems to think so, too, proving that it is possible to write a hagiography even while exposing the worst in a person.
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby gh » Wed Jan 11, 2012 8:53 am

bambam wrote:....
I hope you're right about World at War 1939-45 because I got it for my iPad 2 days ago


You into it? I'm about 40% done and absolutely blown away. Surprisingly, it's my first exposure to Hastings and if his other stuff is half as good as this I'll devour it. The most compelling historical read I can recall.

The sequence on the Eastern Front left me shivering, and now that I'm in the fall of Singapore and Burma,I wonder how some of the old Colonial Brits (and to lesser extent, Aussies) could look themselves in the mirror at the way they treated the "subjects" of their Empire.
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