What are you reading now?


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Postby trig » Fri Dec 05, 2008 6:27 pm

I never heard the word "tergiversation" before, but I love the word and it's meaning!
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Postby gh » Fri Dec 05, 2008 8:00 pm

in Oregon it's pronounced "trigiversation"
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Postby kuha » Sat Dec 06, 2008 6:46 am

Tony Judt's "Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945"--it's really great...
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Postby trig » Sat Dec 06, 2008 12:28 pm

gh wrote:in Oregon it's pronounced "trigiversation"


Are you suggesting that I'm an equivocator or a renegade?
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Postby AS » Wed Feb 04, 2009 2:51 pm

AS wrote:What am I reading?

The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb


I ended up reviewing Taleb's book on my blog. See here:

http://internationalbs.wordpress.com/20 ... lack-swan/

My next review was a much less taxing read - it was about beer:

http://internationalbs.wordpress.com/20 ... -business/

Now I'm reading The Slap by Melbourne novellist Christos Tsiolkas.
See an explanation here: http://www.allenandunwin.com/default.as ... 1741753592
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Postby eldrick » Wed Feb 04, 2009 3:42 pm

AS wrote:
AS wrote:What am I reading?

The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb


I ended up reviewing Taleb's book on my blog. See here:

http://internationalbs.wordpress.com/20 ... lack-swan/


The premise is to have most of your funds in low risk, certain return assets, and putting a small proportion in assets with huge upside but little downside


very uninteresting

it's called putting 95% of money into highest deposit bank account & 5% into penny-shares ( 95% of which do bugger all & stay as penny shares thru a decade )

if you want to read a book on risk, borrow/beg/steal/buy this

http://www.amazon.com/Against-Gods-Rema ... 0471295639

His Black Swansare high improbable, impactful events that we didn’t see coming. Among his examples are the World Wars, the rise of religions, of the internet, of Google, of Harry Potter and the September 11 attacks


err...

1st coupla events were very predictable - former since 1870 & next since 632

latter mentioned are technological ( web ), trivial ( potter ) or burgeoning ( 9/11 - documentaries say something was brewing since attacks on east african embassy & warship in late '90s )

i'll go out on a limb & say :

- HIV cure in 20y

- limitless fusion power in 30y

- an american heavyweight regains undisputed crown by beating up ruskie in 100y
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Postby AS » Wed Feb 04, 2009 4:53 pm

Eldrick,

Taleb's arguments re: the "penny-shares" is that you can make much informed choices amongst them by having a better appreciation of what exposure they have to downside or upside risks.

On the issue of "highly improbable, impactful events", Taleb's point is that most major events are retrospectively predicted - can we post-hoc see the signals for WW2, 9/11 etc? Of course we can. Did we see them beforehand and act to prevent such events (or to protect ourselves from their impact, or indeed proft from them)? No

As for Harry Potter, artists, religions and all the other 'trival' aspects the point is that who wins here can are very impactful but very hard to predetermine, and also that the scale of their impact is unexpected beforehand. We can doddle along with village/tribe level beliefs and all of a sudden a religion can "explode" over a couple of decades/centuries to unprecedented sacel and influence.

And I find it hard to consider the Potter example trivial. The series of books has made the author a billionaire and both a publishing house and a film studio much more significant than they would be without them. Before this, noone was expecting a childrens book to be such an enormous seller. It changes the game in publishing...

Sort of like the impact of Usain Bolt, Paula Radcliffe etc :)
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Postby gh » Wed Feb 04, 2009 10:07 pm

I'm now into (while taking a mid-book hiatus from The Collapse Of The Third Republic) the Simon Winchester work The Map That Changed the World, about stratigrapher William Smith. If Winchester's name is vaguely familiar that's because he wrote The Professor And The Madman about the creation of the OED.
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Postby AS » Wed Feb 04, 2009 10:12 pm

gh wrote:... If Winchester's name is vaguely familiar that's because he wrote The Professor And The Madman about the creation of the OED.


How odd... that book was called "The Surgeon of Crowthorne" down here.

I'm pretty sure he's also written about the San Fran earthquake and also Krakatoa...
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Postby jhc68 » Thu Feb 05, 2009 7:46 am

I'm reading old Arthur Upfield mysteries. Upfield was the first Australian mystery novelist, beginning back in the late 20's. He was the inspiration for Tony Hillerman's series of Navajo detective books. Upfield's protagonist is a half white, half aboriginal who uses both cultural heritages to solve murders in the outback. The writing is antique in style and dripping with colonial racism but is a fun glimpse of the time and place.
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Postby gh » Mon Jun 15, 2009 5:12 pm

wow-wow-wow! The best Grisham ever!

And guess what? It's not a novel; it's non-fiction about a railroad job called The Innocent Man.

Makes it hard ever to trust the legal system again.

I couldn't put it down; fortunately that was the day it took me 12.5 hours to get from the Arkansas stadium to my house, so I had plenty of reading time on tiny planes that don't facilitate laptopability. (That's why the NCAA newsletter didn't come out Sunday night.)
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Postby Marlow » Mon Jun 15, 2009 5:15 pm

gh wrote:Makes it hard ever to trust the legal system again.

Yeah, especially since the OJ trial was such a stellar piece of jurisprudence!
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Postby kuha » Mon Jun 15, 2009 5:40 pm

Thanks to a long flight, I've just finished Graham Robb's "The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography" (2007), which I heartily recommend.
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Postby lonewolf » Mon Jun 15, 2009 6:32 pm

I was reading a book about ships that have disappeared without a trace. Can't remember the name of the book. Interesting speculations about the probable causes but about half way through I realized that was the bottom line, we will never know what happened and threw it into my return to Library Book Fair donation box.
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Postby TrackDaddy » Tue Jun 16, 2009 7:20 am

Success Continuum

Angel Cartegena
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Postby scottmitchell74 » Wed Jun 17, 2009 3:35 am

A Song Of Ice and Fire (The whole series....as written so far).

My favorite fantasy series....dare I say I like it more than LOTR? It has my favorite character in literary history.
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Postby EPelle » Wed Jun 17, 2009 3:59 am

Reading a translated version of Grisham's The Appeal (Den Samvetslöse). Only 37 pages remain. Knocked off Grisham's The Summons (Domarens brev) and The Partner (Partners) last month.
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Postby cacique » Thu Jun 18, 2009 5:44 pm

just finished reading two books on africa. dambisa moyo's "dead aid" and mahmood mamdani's "saviors and survivors" about the situation in darfur, which is not as what most of the mainstream media would have you believe.
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Postby ed gee » Thu Jun 18, 2009 7:27 pm

Hans Fallada's Alone In Berlin.
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Postby jhc68 » Thu Jun 18, 2009 9:57 pm

Great read = The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. It's an audacious page-turner with a lot of insightful messages for the reader to digest. Dark comedy and pathos aplenty.
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Postby Per Andersen » Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:17 pm

ed gee wrote:Hans Fallada's Alone In Berlin.

Good stuff! Hans Fallada, one of the great underrated writers. I think "Kleiner Mann was nun" (Little man what now) is even better.
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Postby Dietmar239 » Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:49 am

The Bible. That's my typical morning routine.
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Postby dal4018 » Fri Jun 19, 2009 6:25 am

"Havana Nocturne" by T.J. English its about how the Mafia gained complete control over the poor people in Cuba from the 40-50's very interesting and they had full and complete support from the US/Cuban Governments before Castro came on the scene.
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Postby lonewolf » Fri Jun 19, 2009 7:17 pm

Directions to install a new printer/fax/scanner.
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Postby bad hammy » Fri Jun 19, 2009 7:28 pm

lonewolf wrote:Directions to install a new printer/fax/scanner.

A page-turner, no doubt . . .
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Postby Daisy » Fri Jun 19, 2009 7:57 pm

http://www.michaelpollan.com/indefense.php

Interesting mix of biology, politics and business.
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Postby cacique » Fri Jun 19, 2009 8:21 pm

gh wrote:I'm now into (while taking a mid-book hiatus from The Collapse Of The Third Republic) the Simon Winchester work The Map That Changed the World, about stratigrapher William Smith. If Winchester's name is vaguely familiar that's because he wrote The Professor And The Madman about the creation of the OED.


he also wrote a short but very interesting book on krakatoa and javanese society at the time...
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Postby Vielleicht » Fri Jun 19, 2009 11:27 pm

I'm reading something a German wrote on the far east history in the early 20th century - mainly for honing my German reading but it's also great to know how occidental people think of the spell in history, being a Chinese as I am.
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Postby bad hammy » Sat Jun 20, 2009 7:47 am

Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-1945, by Max Hastings, an excellent telling of the last year and a half or so of WWII in the Pacific theater.

By 1944 it was clear that Japan was going to lose, but many many thousands were yet to be killed and maimed on all sides before the Japanese actually surrendered. Hastings does a great job of discussing the macro side of the story (countries, political and military leaders, strategies, etc) while also looking at it from the perspective of the grunts on the ground/on the ships/in the subs/in the planes. Doesn't get lost in the minutia of discussing every maneuver by every company in every battle.

Currently I am a bit over half way through and can highly recommend it. Hastings has another similar book I have not yet read - Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945 - that will soon make an appearance in the bad hammy household.
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Postby dal4018 » Tue Jun 23, 2009 9:17 am

Now I'am in the grips of reading a book called "Warlords" this book is about how Roosevelt,Churchill,Stalin,Hitler played mind games with each other during WWII.
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Postby Pego » Tue Jun 23, 2009 9:25 am

I just finished Bill Bryson's "A short history of nearly everything." What we know, how we came about to know it, what we don't know. I learned a lot. Highly recommended.
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Postby kuha » Mon Jul 06, 2009 4:29 pm

On a recent trip I finished:

-Fareed Zakaria's "The Post-American World"; not particularly original in any way, but very sensible and--overall--surprisingly optimistic.

-Simon Ings's "The Eye: A Natural History" (this is a British edition; I think it's published in the US under a slightly different title); a genuinely fascinating study of an ability that is at once astonishing and taken-for-granted. I really enjoyed the overview of a wide range of (to me) new material. (A caveat: there was one small section that dealt with my area of specialty, and I was dismayed that it was very shallow. I'm not sure if hard-core scientists would say that about the rest of the book, but I honestly found the rest fascinating.)
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Postby Cooter Brown » Mon Jul 06, 2009 5:50 pm

Been into travel bum non-fiction lately. Just finished "God's Middle Finger" recently. Definitely killed any desire to travel to Sierra Madre and was pretty informative about the roots of the drug violence in Mexico.
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Postby Double R Bar » Tue Jul 07, 2009 8:24 am

Just about finished reading "Split Seconds" by Jackson Scholz (1927). I had heard that he was good writer and wanted to read something he wrote. It's a book of about ten short stories, each one about a college track and field coach and some of his athletes. It's a bit corny, but the writing is good.
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Postby bad hammy » Sat Jul 25, 2009 11:16 am

Just finished a book called My Name is Will: A Novel of Sex, Drugs and Shakespeare. An inventive and entertaining read that juxtaposes William Shakespeare's life at age 18 with 1980's era doppelganger Willie Shakespeare Greenburg, a slacker grad student at UC Santa Cruz. Drugs taken by both allow for some interesting cross pollination between the two lives. Lots of sex too. Supposedly the first of a trilogy. Highly recommended.
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Postby jules » Sat Jul 25, 2009 12:20 pm

I'm getting ready for Berlin with "Hotel Berlin '43" by Vicki Baum.
She wrote the book that "Grand Hotel" was based on.
There is also a movie from this book with Peter Lorre.
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Postby gh » Sun Jul 26, 2009 9:09 pm

OK, finally finished The Collapse Of The Third Republic, whilst reading 3-4 other potboilers in the interim.

Now to find some light reading for a month in Europe. Next on my "serious reading" list, as it has been for 4-5 years now, is Stephen Jay Gould's The Structure Of Evolutionary Theory, but at 1400-odd pages and 5.1 pounds, not sure I want to give it its own suitcase!

Has Ludlum written anything lately?
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Postby lonewolf » Sun Jul 26, 2009 10:25 pm

gh wrote:Has Ludlum written anything lately?

Ludlum died in 2001. I chanced on his last book, entitled "The Sigma Protocol" c 2001 in the Eugene airport. Not exactly recent but I have about a dozen Ludlums and this one had slipped by. I dont know if any have been realeased since his death
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Postby bad hammy » Mon Jul 27, 2009 3:32 am

lonewolf wrote:
gh wrote:Has Ludlum written anything lately?

Ludlum died in 2001.

Sooooo, that would be a no??
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Postby jules » Mon Jul 27, 2009 8:04 am

gh wrote:OK, finally finished The Collapse Of The Third Republic, whilst reading 3-4 other potboilers in the interim.

Now to find some light reading for a month in Europe. Next on my "serious reading" list, as it has been for 4-5 years now, is Stephen Jay Gould's The Structure Of Evolutionary Theory, but at 1400-odd pages and 5.1 pounds, not sure I want to give it its own suitcase!

Has Ludlum written anything lately?


A good one that I read recently is "A Small Death in Lisbon" by Robert Wilson. It won a best crime novel award. It takes place in 1940's Germany and 1990's Portugal.
Another topical read is "Berlin Noir" by Philip Kerr. It is actually 3 novels in one that take place before, during and after WWII.
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