What are you reading now?


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What are you reading now?

Postby trig » Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:18 pm

Okay, we had the thread on the number of hours read. But what exactly are you reading?

I am reading Rex Stout's "Death of a Doxy", a Nero Wolfe mystery and
the DK "World War I".

By the way, I had a good idea what it meant but I looked it up to be sure.


–noun . 1. an immoral woman; prostitute.
2. Archaic. a mistress.

[Origin: 1520–30; of obscure orig.]
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Postby bad hammy » Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:53 pm

History Lessons: How Textbooks from Around the World Portray US History. The title kind of says it all. What are they teaching folks in other countries about events in our history. Nice to get the Canadian take on the Revolutionary war, or Cuban and Filipino take on the Spanish American war, or the Nigerian take on slavery, or the Chinese take on the Boxer Rebellion, for instance. They are quoting directly from what appear to be high school textbooks, so it is sometimes a tad dry, but there have been more than a few eye openers.

http://www.amazon.com/History-Lessons-T ... F8&s=books
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Postby trig » Wed Oct 04, 2006 3:49 pm

That sounds very interesting. I will put it on my list.
I once advised an Eastern European student at the U of O for one year only to take history instead of math. Math is the same all over the world. Of course, history is in the eye of the beholder.
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Postby gh » Wed Oct 04, 2006 3:56 pm

What's a "DK"?
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Postby gh » Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:02 pm

I'm (re)reading Bill Bryson's Made in America (A History of the English Language in the United States)


If you're an information junkie, this is one of the great books of all time. As with so much of Bryson's stuff, it's history, geography, civics, myth-busting, trivia, etc., etc., all wrapped up in very entertaining style. And you learn so much. Omigod! I can't recommend it too highly. Oh yeah, and its main thrust is that it's a book about words.
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Postby trig » Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:17 pm

DK is Dorling Kindersley Publishing. They publish those great travel books with all the pictures. This is a big picture book - with (surprise) a lot of fabulous pictures. I also have the WWII book.

I absolutely loved Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson (that gh told me about). I am definitely putting Made in America (A History of the English Language in the United States) on my list.
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Postby bambam » Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:45 pm

Read both those books by Bryson and they were both very good. His most recent book which is sort of a book on all knowledge was also fairly good.

Currently reading a pre-publication pre-print of a new bio on Jesse Owens. Pretty good so far.

I also continue to read a lot of historical stuff on the Revolutionary War era in the USA - constitution, bios, war stuff. Kinda into that era. However, right now a bit between books - I started a bio of James Madison but really can't seem to finish it - hard slugging.

I guess my historical reading makes sense in track & field since I've been accused of not being interested in track & field after World War I, which is not true, but I love the 19th century stuff.
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Postby tafnut » Wed Oct 04, 2006 6:28 pm

I'm currently rereading two books that have been SERIOUS best-sellers (sales in the hundreds of thousands annually now and for a long time) for at least the last 150 years. Can you guess them?
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Postby bad hammy » Wed Oct 04, 2006 6:34 pm

The 150 years would lead me to Uncle Tom's Cabin, but hundreds of thousands a year? Nah . . .
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Postby tafnut » Wed Oct 04, 2006 6:39 pm

Nope - you should have figured out by now that they are texts - one is the the GREATEST play ever written (which my seniors are EATING UP!) and the other is the most famous cautionary tale of AmLit history (which my AP juniors are EATING UP!).
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Postby bambam » Wed Oct 04, 2006 8:31 pm

tafnut wrote:I'm currently rereading two books that have been SERIOUS best-sellers (sales in the hundreds of thousands annually now and for a long time) for at least the last 150 years. Can you guess them?


So what is this? Is this like one of GH's lists that is a what I am thinking? OK, I've got one too.

Fill in this list

[], [], [], [], [], []

And NO CHEATING!
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Postby Per Andersen » Wed Oct 04, 2006 9:34 pm

I'm reading Philip Roth's "The Plot against America".

The premise is that Charles Lindberg runs for president as a Republican in 1940 and defeats FDR in a landslide. Dark days follow for America and especially for the Jews. Shades of Sinclair Lewis' "It can't happen here"

Not my favorite Roth book. ( I prefer "The Counterlife" , "American Pastoral" or "Sabbath's Theater") But still, good stuff.
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Postby AS » Wed Oct 04, 2006 10:04 pm

I enjoyed that Roth tome. Counterfactual histories can certainly prompt interesting scenarios.

Tafnut's two texts: Macbeth and Moby Dick?

I'm reading Andrew McGahan's "The White Earth" (an Aussie award winner that has a very Dickensian-tone - a real turnaround from this guy's normal stuff which is much more Irvine Welsh-like slacker/drug tales).

Just finished Michael Collin's "The Secret Life of E. Robert Pendleton" (which I believe was called "Death of a Writer: A Novel" in the US). Turns out Collins is an ultra-marathon runner.

Before that was "Shantaram" by Gregory David Roberts, an Aussie guy that lead an incredible life on the run after escaping our highest security prison and setting himself up in Bombay. 900+ pages of adventure and philosophising.

And gh, if you like those two Bryson language books, you might want to check out "The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language" by John McWhorter, a not overly academic take on the evolution and changeability of languages.
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Postby lonewolf » Wed Oct 04, 2006 10:15 pm

"The American Axis", a rather uncomplimentary account of Henry Ford's and Charles Lindberg's playing footsie with pre-WWII Nazi Germany.

I am trying to read the Koran. Talk about slow going. Without the footnotes it is pretty incomprehensible. The translator needs half a page to explain a word and then tries to defuse the offensive pronouncements as not to be taken literally in the present time.
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Postby mike renfro » Thu Oct 05, 2006 7:57 pm

I just finished banging through the Dennis Lehane oeuveres (except for the short story collection, Coronado, which I haven't been able to pick up at the library yet). When we moved, I got waaay behind on New Yorkers (I am at July 3), so I will drop below Epelle's numbers for books to zero for a couple weeks. We read some junk mystery/thriller stuff, so there is always something coming out from our favorite authors (J Patterson, Cornwell, Silva, Tanenbaum, Littell). There are also new novels out by Le Carre & Forsythe. But I don't consider them junk. Especially Le Carre. But for now, NYer.
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Postby tandfman » Fri Oct 06, 2006 5:32 am

mike renfro wrote:When we moved, I got waaay behind on New Yorkers (I am at July 3)

That can be quite a bit of reading, depending on the content--which varies from issue to issue--but it's generally well worthwhile.

Edited to fix typo.
Last edited by tandfman on Sun Oct 08, 2006 6:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby KevinM » Fri Oct 06, 2006 5:45 am

Finished Tom Wolf's "A Man in Full" yesterday. Enjoyed it thoroughly. Not dissimilar to some of his other novels ("Bonfire of the Vanities", "I am Charlotte Simmons"), but worthwhile even if you've read those.
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Reading currently

Postby dr ngo » Sat Oct 07, 2006 9:44 pm

Malcolm Pryce, Last Tango in Aberystwyth. Sequel to Aberystwyth, Mon Amour. Darkly humorous detective story set in a rather surrealistic contemporary Wales.

Not to be confused, or, for that matter, compared, with anything else.
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Postby big mac » Sun Oct 08, 2006 12:40 pm

I'm reading, "A Different Gospel" by D.R McConnel. It's an analysis of the Word of Faith movement.

As well as that I'm working my way through the book of John
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Re: What are you reading now?

Postby wineturtle » Sun Oct 08, 2006 3:20 pm

trig wrote:Okay, we had the thread on the number of hours read. But what exactly are you reading?

I am reading Rex Stout's "Death of a Doxy", a Nero Wolfe mystery and
the DK "World War I".

By the way, I had a good idea what it meant but I looked it up to be sure.


–noun . 1. an immoral woman; prostitute.
2. Archaic. a mistress.

[Origin: 1520–30; of obscure orig.]


I really enjoyed the Wolfe series. I read them basicly in order over the course of a year or so, maybe 50 of them that year and over the years have read most if not all the others.
I can not count the times I was sent to the Websters!!!!!!!!! actually sometimes twice on the same page.
Thanks trig, think I might have one or two on the shelf to reread, they never go stale.
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Postby Vince » Sun Oct 08, 2006 5:53 pm

I'm about halfway through "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)" by Robert Spencer.
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Postby paulthefan » Sun Oct 08, 2006 5:57 pm

I just finished a few months ago Herodotus Persian Wars and selections from Tacitus... will start Pilgrims Progress on audio soon....

also if any can recommend any classics that are available in audio online please do.
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Postby Mennisco » Tue Oct 10, 2006 2:20 pm

I'm reading "The Problem With Physics" by Lee Smolin. It's about the failure of String Theory to produce a single testable thought experiment despite dominating the direction research has taken in that field, for ~ 30 years.

What I want to know is, if there are ~ 10^500 potentially describable strings or dimensions, could we ever conceivably identify the one string describing this universe and test it out?

This one is maybe for Squackee or Daisy if they care to comment, of course anyone else who knows this stuff. I did some honours calculus and physics in university but I am a bit rusty and just digging in for a good read.
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Postby Mennisco » Tue Oct 10, 2006 2:29 pm

Vince wrote:I'm about halfway through "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)" by Robert Spencer.


That author has cojones to go by her real name:)
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Postby Daisy » Tue Oct 10, 2006 2:50 pm

Mennisco wrote:I'm reading "The Problem With Physics" by Lee Smolin. It's about the failure of String Theory to produce a single testable thought experiment despite dominating the direction research has taken in that field, for ~ 30 years.

What I want to know is, if there are ~ 10^500 potentially describable strings or dimensions, could we ever conceivably identify the one string describing this universe and test it out?

This one is maybe for Squackee or Daisy if they care to comment, of course anyone else who knows this stuff. I did some honours calculus and physics in university but I am a bit rusty and just digging in for a good read.

I'm banking on JRM to make a sensible observation.

I'm still trying to figure out how particles can interact at a distance instantaneously (aka the Einstein Podolsky Rosen Paradox or quantum weirdness). Since this is faster than the speed of light there is cleary something strange here. String theory at work here? i have no idea if it can explain the phenomenon but it might be a way to get a handle on a string.

Buchanan, Mark , Light's Spooky Connections Set Distance Record , New Scientist, 28 June 1997, p 16.
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Postby SQUACKEE » Tue Oct 10, 2006 2:52 pm

Im reading the TV guide and slamming a six pack.
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Postby paulthefan » Tue Oct 10, 2006 3:44 pm

Mennisco wrote:
Vince wrote:I'm about halfway through "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)" by Robert Spencer.


That author has cojones to go by her real name:)



you mean it isnt Robert Spencer?...no wonder we have not heard of any fatwahs calling for his/her execution...

but lest we get too smug, was not a journalist in Russia killed in cold blood... the west can be just as wicked as holy men of Islam.
Last edited by paulthefan on Tue Oct 10, 2006 4:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Cooter Brown » Tue Oct 10, 2006 3:57 pm

gh wrote:I'm (re)reading Bill Bryson's Made in America (A History of the English Language in the United States)


If you're an information junkie, this is one of the great books of all time. As with so much of Bryson's stuff, it's history, geography, civics, myth-busting, trivia, etc., etc., all wrapped up in very entertaining style. And you learn so much. Omigod! I can't recommend it too highly. Oh yeah, and its main thrust is that it's a book about words.


I really enjoyed his The Lost Continent and A Short History of Nearly Everything. I'll have to check that one out.
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Postby kuha » Tue Oct 10, 2006 4:04 pm

Bryson is a fun writer... I just bought a copy of Alain de Botton's "The Architecture of Happiness" and hope I can find time to read it. I really enjoyed his book "The Art of Travel" from a few years back.
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Postby gm » Tue Oct 10, 2006 4:39 pm

Re: string theory...
I'll ask the neighbor's cat. That damn thing seems to play with string all the time in the yard!
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Postby Mennisco » Wed Oct 11, 2006 3:35 am

gm wrote:Re: string theory...
I'll ask the neighbor's cat. That damn thing seems to play with string all the time in the yard!


Only if you look at it?
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Postby az2004 » Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:15 am

paul bowles...his short stories...interesting insights into latin and north african cultures...

still, very relevant today
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Postby La_Spigola_Loca » Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:31 am

Daisy wrote:I'm still trying to figure out how particles can interact at a distance instantaneously (aka the Einstein Podolsky Rosen Paradox or quantum weirdness). Since this is faster than the speed of light there is cleary something strange here. String theory at work here? i have no idea if it can explain the phenomenon but it might be a way to get a handle on a string.


Whatever the nature of the interaction, it doesn't provide a way to send information faster than the speed of light, so many claim it doesn't really go against relativity. If a string is carrying the information before departing, then indeed there's no communication what so ever (the information is already there a priori), and then you might be right. But that's so theoretical and has nothing to build on, It's not really even worth thinking of. That's just ny opinion, though.
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Postby Mennisco » Wed Oct 11, 2006 12:33 pm

La_Spigola_Loca wrote:
Daisy wrote:I'm still trying to figure out how particles can interact at a distance instantaneously (aka the Einstein Podolsky Rosen Paradox or quantum weirdness). Since this is faster than the speed of light there is cleary something strange here. String theory at work here? i have no idea if it can explain the phenomenon but it might be a way to get a handle on a string.


Whatever the nature of the interaction, it doesn't provide a way to send information faster than the speed of light, so many claim it doesn't really go against relativity. If a string is carrying the information before departing, then indeed there's no communication what so ever (the information is already there a priori), and then you might be right. But that's so theoretical and has nothing to build on, It's not really even worth thinking of. That's just ny opinion, though.


"The distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." - Albert Einstein

Here we run into one of the ironic paradoxes of trying to "speak" of certain things, viz., inherent limitations of language. Not including mathematical notation, just human speech. Are past, present and future "happening" "simultaneously"? Prima facie it seems absurd to say "simultaneously" - which connotes "time" - or even "happening" - which begs the question "When?" - to speak of things which don't happen quite as we experience them? Perhaps Einstein crafted his famous quote with a deliberation which avoids the use of any words connoting "time" .

Is this a clumsy linguistic approximation of what Einstein means by the illusory nature of our perceptual experience of a seemingly linear progression through "time"?

Re: the photon problem, perhaps the "distance" and "time" involved is in some sense illusory too: If the universe is a holographic "organic" whole, then there is really no separation: all "separateness" is just as illusory as distinctions between yesterday, today and tomorrow. Or am I missing a subtle nuance which begs clarification/refinement?
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Postby gh » Wed Oct 11, 2006 8:42 pm

So with Bryson out of the way I come to the next in my stack.... again.

And as I contemplate all 4.9lb of it, all 1393pp (not including indices) of it, I find myself wondering if I'll ever be able to wade through Stephen Jay Gould's The Structure Of Evolutionary Theory or if it'll sit unread for who knows how many more years.

Anybody here tackled it?
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Postby mike renfro » Wed Oct 11, 2006 10:47 pm

gh wrote:So with Bryson out of the way I come to the next in my stack.... again.

And as I contemplate all 4.9lb of it, all 1393pp (not including indices) of it, I find myself wondering if I'll ever be able to wade through Stephen Jay Gould's The Structure Of Evolutionary Theory or if it'll sit unread for who knows how many more years.

Anybody here tackled it?


It got a good review in the Chron when it came out. If it's any consolation, I took some books to Edmonton in '01 , read them all execpt Ulyseses (yeah, that one). I'm about 3/4 through, but havn't picked it up in 4 years. And when we were shelving books down here, I came across Mary's copy of Finegan's Wake. Imagine the joy. Actually, I worked out way too late, that Joyce (at least the heavy duty Joyce) probably needs to be read aloud (which I hate).
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Postby paulthefan » Thu Oct 12, 2006 1:09 pm

gh wrote:And as I contemplate all 4.9lb of it, all 1393pp (not including indices) of it, I find myself wondering if I'll ever be able to wade through Stephen Jay Gould's The Structure Of Evolutionary Theory or if it'll sit unread for who knows how many more years.

Anybody here tackled it?



no but I read Niles Eldridges "time frames" a while back and it is good reading on punctuated equillibrium...... it was accessible to the nonbiologist and had lots of the nitty gritty that a paleontologist has to wade through, you get a real feel for the details and reasoning, you will come away with a deeper respect for the work, but would be a snore if you are not really interested in the topic.. It was an enjoyable read for me at the time.
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Postby bad hammy » Thu Oct 12, 2006 3:25 pm

Got stiffdogg's book in the mail today. Should get around to it this weekend. Has a nice Deena Kastor plug on the back cover.
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Postby Daisy » Thu Oct 12, 2006 8:05 pm

gh wrote:Anybody here tackled it?

i know a group of evolutionary biologists who did it chapter by chapter. The consensus was it was heavy going and could have been a good deal thinner. And that's from people who understand the topic. Door stops were mentioned more than once.
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Postby bad hammy » Sat Oct 14, 2006 12:03 pm

OK, I finished off the History Lessons book. Suffice to say that the rest of the world has a different view of the US than we do, they are teaching their kids this viewpoint, and it oftentimes paints us in a bad light. No surprises there.
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