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  What Book Are You Currently Reading?
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Author Topic: What Book Are You Currently Reading?  (Read 334964 times)
angus
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« Reply #1200 on: January 22, 2015, 08:29:25 pm »

I'm about a quarter of the way through 1493 by Charles C. Mann.  Somewhat dry, but well researched and interesting.  I had started reading it at the local public library, in short bursts when I took my son to check out books, but eventually I got hooked and decided to commit:  I checked it out last Saturday.  Today we hauled off to Philadelphia, which is a one hour and ten minute train ride each way, and I polished off a big chunk of it en route.  I'm up to malaria and yellow fever in the Virginia and Carolina colonies circa 1620-1750.  It turns out that West Africans aren't so susceptible to the ravages of Plasmodium vivax as are people of British extraction.  Who knew?

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DKrol
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« Reply #1201 on: January 23, 2015, 12:18:32 am »

George R.R. Martin's "A Dance With Dragons" is my pleasure reading, but I'm also reading "1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus" by Charles Mann at the behest of a teacher of mine.
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angus
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« Reply #1202 on: January 23, 2015, 09:05:26 pm »
« Edited: January 23, 2015, 09:28:39 pm by angus »

I may pick up 1491, if I ever finish 1493.  I am somewhat more familiar with the topics that I imagine would be covered in 1491.  For a long time I enjoyed a serious American fetish, and have read many scholarly and many not-so-scholarly volumes regarding the pre-classic, classic, and post-classic achievements of the Americans, although I have not yet read 1491.  I have visited all the countries in Central America, several in South America, and 22 of the 31 Mexican states, many of them several times.  I once spent nearly three months just backpacking around southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and El Salvador, climbing pyramids, savoring the local herbs, teas, and fragrances, inquiring about the sacbeob and the ubiquitous juegos de pelota, and of course trying desperately lay into the curvaceous and stocky dark-skinned local campesinas--with the occasional success, I might add!  (Emphasis on occasional.)  

No doubt, lots of interesting original culture exists in the Western Hemisphere, and it did not just disappear 500 years ago--although if Jay Leno took his mic out on the streets of New York I suspect that he would find few who would be aware of any of it.  In my observation most of it is overlooked in the ethnocentric curriculum taught in high-school and university history lessons.  The Eurocentrism prevailing in the curricula of US public schools seems to be changing, lately, and I regard that as a good thing.  Nowadays, Asia, the Americas, and Africa are being studied to a much greater extent than they were when I was a university student.  Not that I'm advocating that any of us should bask in the warm glow of White Man's Guilt, but we Europeans have claimed religious, racial, and moral superiority over the rest of the world for at least 700 years with disastrous results.  The fact that your instructor wants you to learn about pre-Columbian American cultures suggests that others feel the same way that I do.  I do hope that you take your reading assignment seriously.

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Nathan
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« Reply #1203 on: January 24, 2015, 04:45:45 am »

In a Glass Darkly, by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. I'd read 'Carmilla' before but the other stories in it are all new to me.
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Storebought
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« Reply #1204 on: January 25, 2015, 01:00:24 am »

Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management

I attempted one of her chicken recipes, but discovered that I didn't have arrowroot or pounded mace at hand.
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« Reply #1205 on: January 30, 2015, 03:49:01 am »
« Edited: January 30, 2015, 10:32:17 am by sex-negative feminist prude »

I haven't actually started reading either of these yet, but a couple of days ago I found and bought two modern Japanese novels in a used bookstore in my town. One is The River Ki by Ariyoshi Sawako; I'm not sure what this is about, exactly, but it seems to be a family drama along roughly the same lines as The Makioka Sisters--which is probably my all-time favorite novel and definitely in the top five--and was apparently Ariyoshi's first major work. Ariyoshi, who died young in 1984, seems to have been an enormously popular and respected writer in her lifetime, at least in part because her writing was more topical than that of most of her contemporaries--many of her novels are the equivalent of 'very special episodes' on certain types of television shows, but by all accounts of vastly greater artistic merit. This seems, however, to have changed since her death, and I was never taught her in my major, nor had I even heard of her until I found this book.

The other is an interesting edition of Miyazawa's Ginga tetsudō no yoru, usually translated Night on the Galactic Railroad and occasionally Night Train to the Stars, which afleitch read recently. Miyazawa is a writer I like a lot but I'm mostly familiar with him as a poet; this is the only one of his prose works I've actually read before--efforts to find a copy of 'Kaze no Matasaburō' have met with failure. It's by far his best known work overall, with the only remotely conceivable contender being the didactic poem 'Ame ni mo makezu' ('Not Losing to the Rain'). This edition is unusual in that it's an English translation, given the non-standard title The Night of the Milky Way Train, published in Japan, with Japanese paratext even, as school study material for English learners. There are glossaries before each chapter. I'm very interested to see how if at all the choices that the translation itself makes differ from more general-audience English versions of the text.
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afleitch
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« Reply #1206 on: January 30, 2015, 07:00:30 am »

I haven't actually started reading either of these yet, but a couple of days ago I found and bought two modern Japanese novels in a used bookstore in my town. One is The River Ki by Ariyoshi Sawako; I'm not sure what this is about, exactly, but it seems to be a family drama along roughly the same lines as The Makioka Sisters--which is probably my all-time favorite novel and definitely in the top five--and was apparently Ariyoshi's first major work. Ariyoshi, who died young in 1984, seems to have been an enormously popular and respected writer in her lifetime, at least in part because her writing was more topical than that of most of her contemporaries--many of her novels are the equivalent of 'very special episodes' on certain types of television shows, but by all accounts of vastly greater artistic merit. This seems, however, to have changed since her death, and I was never taught her in my major, nor had I even heard of her until I found this book.

The other is an interesting edition of Miyazawa's Ginga tetsudō no yoru, usually translated Night on the Galactic Railroad and occasionally Night Train to the Stars, which afleitch read recently. Miyazawa is a writer I like a lot but I'm mostly familiar with him as a poet; this is the only one of his prose works I've actually read before--efforts to find a copy of 'Kaze no Matasaburō' have met with failure. It's by far his best known work overall, with the only remotely conceivable contender being the didatic poem 'Ame ni mo makezu' ('Not Losing to the Rain'). This edition is unusual in that it's an English translation, given the non-standard title The Night of the Milky Way Train, published in Japan, with Japanese paratext even, as school study material for English learners. There are glossaries before each chapter. I'm very interested to see how if at all the choices that the translation itself makes differ from more general-audience English versions of the text.

Let me know who translated it. I've read two translations so far; Roger Pulvers and a really old library copy from John Bester.
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Nathan
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« Reply #1207 on: January 31, 2015, 04:17:57 pm »

I haven't actually started reading either of these yet, but a couple of days ago I found and bought two modern Japanese novels in a used bookstore in my town. One is The River Ki by Ariyoshi Sawako; I'm not sure what this is about, exactly, but it seems to be a family drama along roughly the same lines as The Makioka Sisters--which is probably my all-time favorite novel and definitely in the top five--and was apparently Ariyoshi's first major work. Ariyoshi, who died young in 1984, seems to have been an enormously popular and respected writer in her lifetime, at least in part because her writing was more topical than that of most of her contemporaries--many of her novels are the equivalent of 'very special episodes' on certain types of television shows, but by all accounts of vastly greater artistic merit. This seems, however, to have changed since her death, and I was never taught her in my major, nor had I even heard of her until I found this book.

The other is an interesting edition of Miyazawa's Ginga tetsudō no yoru, usually translated Night on the Galactic Railroad and occasionally Night Train to the Stars, which afleitch read recently. Miyazawa is a writer I like a lot but I'm mostly familiar with him as a poet; this is the only one of his prose works I've actually read before--efforts to find a copy of 'Kaze no Matasaburō' have met with failure. It's by far his best known work overall, with the only remotely conceivable contender being the didatic poem 'Ame ni mo makezu' ('Not Losing to the Rain'). This edition is unusual in that it's an English translation, given the non-standard title The Night of the Milky Way Train, published in Japan, with Japanese paratext even, as school study material for English learners. There are glossaries before each chapter. I'm very interested to see how if at all the choices that the translation itself makes differ from more general-audience English versions of the text.

Let me know who translated it. I've read two translations so far; Roger Pulvers and a really old library copy from John Bester.

The publication date is 2005 and it's translated by Stuart Varnam-Atkin and Yoko Toyozaki, neither of whom I've heard of. A cursory Google search indicates that Varnam-Atkin is some sort of journalist and commentator for a couple of different English-language news outlets based in Japan and that both of them were involving in translating the manga Chihayafuru, which is about a girl who gets really into the card game karuta. (The Wikipedia article on the series uses the phrase 'overuse of CG sakura' in its discussion of the anime adaptation.)
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Tetro Kornbluth
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« Reply #1208 on: January 31, 2015, 04:40:41 pm »

I'm almost done with my earlier list but I've managed to acquire a large selection of books since then - this will probably bring me until April.

Saving Normal: An Insider's Revolt Against Out-Of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life - Allen Francis
One Hundred Years of Socialism: The Western European Left in the Twentieth Century - Donald Sassoon
Madness in Late Imperial China: From Illness to Deviance - Vivien Ng
Manufacturing Depression: The Secret History of a Modern Disease - Gary Greenberg
All Can Be Saved: Religious Tolerance and Salvation in the Iberian Atlantic World - Stuart Schwartz
Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman
Madness on the Couch: Blaming the Victim in the Heyday of Psychoanalysis - Edward Dolnick
Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century - Geoffrey Parker
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AverroŽs
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« Reply #1209 on: February 06, 2015, 03:38:07 pm »

Img


1) Debt: The First 5,000 Years, David Graeber - The first three chapters have been fascinating, and the ideas integrate in some really interesting ways with the questions about trust, reciprocity, and identity that we've been discussing in the course on behavioral economics that I'm currently taking.

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2) Consider the Lobster and Other Essays, David Foster Wallace - Picked this up after reading Wallace's essay on Kafka.

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3) The Castle, Franz Kafka - Ughhhhh... fortunately for my neighbors, there have been no fits of laughter here.

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4) Wealth and Democracy, Kevin Phillips - This one was a Christmas gift. It's not particularly well written, and Phillips' cagey treatment of inflation has me questioning the reliability of his entire account. He also virtually ignores slave wealth, a glaring omission for any book that claims to provide "a political history of the American rich."
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Filuwaúrdjan
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« Reply #1210 on: February 06, 2015, 06:30:00 pm »

Have you seen Michael Haneke's adaptation of The Castle?
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politicus
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« Reply #1211 on: February 06, 2015, 07:02:37 pm »

Citizens, a milestone in the history of trolling (and also in the historiography of the French Revolution).

Trolling can be an artform.
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Gustaf
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« Reply #1212 on: February 07, 2015, 06:41:10 am »

What's the focus of your course Averroes? It's sort of my field. Smiley
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King of Kensington
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« Reply #1213 on: February 07, 2015, 01:50:56 pm »

Fiction:

Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake (first book in MadAddam series)

Non-Fiction: 

Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction

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Murica!
whyshouldigiveyoumyname?
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« Reply #1214 on: February 09, 2015, 03:19:41 pm »
« Edited: February 09, 2015, 03:22:52 pm by Murica! »

About to start reading The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.
Also about to read Engeles' Anti-Dühring.
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traininthedistance
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« Reply #1215 on: February 09, 2015, 03:31:16 pm »

About to start reading The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.

One of the greatest books of all time, IMO.  Hope you enjoy it!
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SWE
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« Reply #1216 on: February 09, 2015, 08:58:33 pm »

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Blind Jaunting
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« Reply #1217 on: February 16, 2015, 08:56:18 am »

Harold James, A German Identity 1770-1990 and Geoffrey Parker, Philip II
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TNF
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« Reply #1218 on: February 22, 2015, 07:07:57 am »

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compson III
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« Reply #1219 on: February 23, 2015, 07:03:55 pm »

Thinking, Fast and Slow - Daniel Kahneman
I'm a big fan of prospect theory as opposed to mainstream assumptions of rationality, but this critique by Gigerenzer is good to read along with it:
http://library.mpib-berlin.mpg.de/ft/gg/gg_how_1991.pdf

Human behavior is so domain dependent we should be wary of any experimental studies.  

What's really interesting to me is how institutions and organizational structure can be a domain in which rationality is enhanced.  Behavioral economics needs to link up with sociology and make some headway here.
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Gustaf
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« Reply #1220 on: February 26, 2015, 09:48:16 am »

The thing with prospect theory, as I recall, is that it adds a lot of complication without much extra predictive power. The classic model actually holds up pretty well when you test them against each other.
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compson III
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« Reply #1221 on: February 26, 2015, 12:47:44 pm »
« Edited: February 26, 2015, 12:50:54 pm by compson III »

The thing with prospect theory, as I recall, is that it adds a lot of complication without much extra predictive power. The classic model actually holds up pretty well when you test them against each other.
Predictive power in what sense?  Take hyperbolic discounting.  There's no good way to isolate discount rates anyways.  Ask a sell side analyst where he gets his WACC from...

But in a very indirect sense, relative utility is a great explanation for why we don't see any kind of Beta premium.  People would rather ride the highs with his neighbor than experience  a better long run risk-adjusted return.
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Blind Jaunting
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« Reply #1222 on: February 26, 2015, 02:59:57 pm »

Maurice Gaudefroy-Demombynes, The Birth of Islam
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politicus
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« Reply #1223 on: February 26, 2015, 04:38:51 pm »

Maurice Gaudefroy-Demombynes, The Birth of Islam

What do you think about it?
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Let Dogs Survive
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« Reply #1224 on: February 26, 2015, 11:55:59 pm »

Technically assigned, but I just finished Little Pink House by Jeff Benedict.

Very sad sad look into the abuse of eminent domain by private corporations, specifically what happened in New London 15-10 years ago.
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