Tag Archives: Michael Shermer

My 2014 Reading List – Summer

Goodreads goal for 2014:   100 books (again).

So far, I’m WAY ahead of the pace with 86 – Goodreads says that’s 12 ahead of schedule.

Recap: The way I’ve been recounting my book readings the past couple of years means overly long posts (100+ books with comments?). For 2014, I’ve decided to break up the year into quarters. Here’s my first three month summary of the 23 books I read,  and my second quarter list numbering 31books. Below I list 32 more for the third quarter/summer.

For some reason, this year I’m picking books that are quite long – again, what’s up with that?  George Martin’s catastrophe was monstrously long for little value added, and Hostadter’s GEB, while long (and dense), was the opposite.

For the third quarter:

  • 17 nonfiction
  • 15 fiction – more of a balance this quarter
  • I’ve rated 2 more as five-star (you-really-should-read-this) on Goodreads – and another was fiction!
  • I gave 0 books a one-star rating (not-only-no-but-really-no)…but a couple came really close..
  • As before, I’ve linked all of my Goodreads reviews (even if only one line) to each title in case anyone is interested in what I thought beyond the commentary below. The review page links back to the Goodreads main page for the book.

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My 2014 Reading List – Second Quarter

Goodreads goal for 2014:

100 books (again). So far, I’m ahead of the pace with 54.

Recap: The way I’ve been recounting my book readings the past couple of years means overly long posts (100+ books with comments?). For 2014, I’ve decided to break up the year into quarters. My first three month summary of the 23 books I read tallied 23 books. Below I list 31 more.

A few more of the books I read these three months were quite long – what’s up with that? Wallace’s Infinite Jest, Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science might pad the pages read stats, but the ROI was dismal.

For the second quarter:

  • 22 nonfiction
  • 9 fiction – fewer of these are attracting me…curious trend
  • I’ve rated 4 as five-star (you-really-should-read-this) on Goodreads – and one was fiction!
  • I gave 1 book a one-star rating (not-only-no-but-really-no)…the first of the year.
  • I’ve linked all of my Goodreads reviews (even if only one line) to each title in case anyone is interested in what I thought beyond the commentary below. The review page links back to the Goodreads main page for the book.

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I have a confession…

A colleague I’ve known for six years now has unintentionally given me two pieces of advice. For the first, we were discussing my stubborn insistence on finishing a book. I try to give authors a chance to redeem themselves – they might have some valid point, even if the rest of the book is drivel.  Hell, I managed to slog through 16 of Heinlein’s novels before I threw in the towel. My friend told me that if he thinks he’s gotten enough out of a book, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change, he’s done. Ding. That made sense to me.

Though the sense was made, I’ve only actually given up on a book on a couple of occasions since that discussion, but I did recall one from before. William Gibson’s Neuromancer. I may try it again some day, but having recently started David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, I’m not so sure. Nonsense doesn’t appeal to me too often and Wallace’s tome is a mountain of it. Neuromancer was an interesting coincidence because that same colleague liked it and got into library science because of it (there’s a connection, I’m sure.) I still like him anyway.

Now… that confession. About two weeks back I stopped by for a short visit and we were talking about the rollout of the new City website, alternative social media (LinkedIn, Tumblr, a few I’d never heard of), and some of the tools he uses to gather the research people want/need. Imagine my surprise to learn that Twitter actually has some value!! He says that when a new policy, white paper, announcement is made, Twitter usually has it first. And here I was thinking it was for twits. I have looked at  some enormous Twitter feeds and found nothing of merit…even those recommended by people I thought might know what they were talking about. Curmudgeon that I can be, I really had no interest in “micro-blogging”.

My colleague said he watches how information spreads so quickly through Twitter. “I’ve read your blog, but it has a small audience. Something hits Twitter and it’s out there.” I observed that I write my blog for me, but if others get something from it, then that’s a bonus. Still, he got me thinking…

So…I got a Twitter account. And immediately “followed” the City of Plano and City of Rowlett. I added some entities and people I was interested in seeing posts from: Make magazine, Sam Harris, John Allen Paulos, Penn Jillette, Raymond Feist, Michael Shermer, Rush (the band), Bill Gates, Richard Dawkins, PZ Meyers, Stephen Wolfram…in all, I follow 28 so far. But I think PZ is going to get throttled – if that’s possible in the Twit-world. I used to like to read his blog, but I don’t see a lot of value in his twits. I like what Paulos, Dawkins and Shermer share, as well as Plano. Penn Jillette may need to be filtered along with Meyers…not so interested as I thought.

And I was surprised to learn that despite never having twitted anything (okay, there is something basely disturbing about “tweet” – I may someday come to actually say the term out loud, but it’s still all twittering to me), I had 13 “followers” within a few days. It doesn’t matter that I know only one of them. “Had” is the right term, because I learned I could block 11 of them for spamming me. Now I have two; a friend from before high school and some Twitter whore musician named Sean Ashe. I’m leaving him because he might learn something from me if I ever twit.

Anyway, if I come across a product or firm I want to keep tabs on, I now have a Twitter account I can follow them from. I’m not sure if the novelty will wear off – I got really tired of the bazillion updates when I tried an RSS feeder. Who has the time? I will wait and see if it really does add value to my life. Right now, it’s a not unpleasant distraction when I’m indisposed or the like.

 

…of the Year 2013

Now that 2014 is here, I’m going to try to exorcise 2013 from my memory as much as possible. Our tragedy took over our lives after July 31st, but several friends have faced life threats that have put things in perspective.

Too many bad things, so I’m going to take a page from Time magazine and the editors’ Person of the Year chosen for the impact/influence good or bad.

Scroll down for my choices for Person, Engineering & Physics & Chemistry & Biology Achievements, Operating System, Most Disturbing & Funniest websites, Misinformer & Political A**, Movie, Book review and last but not least…

…Beer of the Year!… Continue reading