What I've Been Reading

 How a Visionary Band of Business Leaders, Engineers, and Pilots Is Boldly Privatizing Space
 

Rocketeers: How a Visionary Band of Business Leaders, Engineers, and Pilots Is Boldly Privatizing Space
by Michael Belfiore. I just can't read it. I am too close to the action, in fact I'm in it! (Both the action and the book.) That is a rather weird feeling, even if I am just a brief mention. Someone from here should pick it up and let me know how it is.

Dennet, Dennet, and more Dennet. Then even more Dennet. Consciousness Explained, Freedom Evolves, and Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting. Three excellent books, unfortunately I am having a tough time getting through them. I have just finished Freedom Evolves, and I highly recommend it. In fact I'll have more to say about it in another blog post shortly. I began Conciosness Explained, but got sidetracked on other things, so that has re-joined the "to read" pile. I got nearly halfway into Elbow Room and I still felt like he was writing the opening chapter rather than getting into the meat of his arguments, so I put it down and may or may not pick it up again. I just picked up Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenom, the first chapter is pretty good. Despite the fact that I am having difficulty getting through his books he is becoming my favorite contemporary philosopher, and gaining ground on the historical greats.

Discover Your Inner Economist by Tyler Cowen. Sorry, pamphlets this short do no not deserve the long subtitle. In fact I'm not sure the subtitled isn't longer than the book. 221 pages, double spaced. That said there are some interesting points within, though most of those can be found on his blog. I think the blogging has gotten to his book writing. Wait for it to go on clearance for $5. Tyler is a good guy, his blog is excellent, and he is a good thinker, which is why I picked up the book. But the book is just not worth $25.95.

Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter. This one has been a constant travel companion for the last several months. This goes into the always reading, studying and re-reading pile with Penrose's The Road to Reality. Once again I'd like to point out to publishers - there is some serious math here, and that is a plus not a negative. This book is concerned with AI, conciousness, and so forth but he uses Escher's art and Bach's Fugues and Canons as excellent illustrations. This book is a steal at full graduate level textbook prices, but is only $22.95. The Dialogues alone are worth that!

The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Civilizations by John Haywood. Not a great book by itself, it is rather thin and only spends two or three pages on each of the great ancient civilizations. But for those of us that absolutely need pretty pictures, maps and graphs to make sense of things, it has been very helpful as I dig my way through various dry books on ancient Mesopotamia.

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GEB: An EGB

Great book. I wish I had read it when I was in middle-school and more capable of awe. I've got it on the shelf above my head right now.

Oh, and since I've been telling everyone else, I've got a blog at http://entitledtoanopinion.wordpress.com/

GEB dialogs

The dialogs are all I ever completely read. They were so good (at least, for the twelve or thirteen year old me who read them) that I would recommend reading them, all of them, first, unless you're sure you're going to read the whole book. It would be a pity to read just the first part of the book, get bogged down in some early chapter, and then miss the rest of the dialogs.

You're missing out...

The dialogs are all I ever completely read.

I bought this book when it first came out and kept it as a coffee table book, just reading the dialogs and thoroughly enjoying them.

After about ten years, I had an opportunity of a quiet month or two to read through the whole book, cover-to-cover. I never knew what I had been missing--this is one (or maybe two, considering the dialogs and the rest) of my favorite books.

Overrated

I won't deny the book is brilliant, though it was the pure flurry of wit that mainly impressed me, and not the logical and mathematic flights, however stellar. Nonetheless, many seem to have found something life-changing and paradigm-shifting in it that I never spied.

I'm not entirely sure what to think of Dennett. I enjoy what I've read by him, but his take on consciousness strikes me as the wishful thinking of a fanatical materialist.