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Old 05-28-2012, 10:29 PM   #1321
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I just finished Steven Pinker's "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined". I saw him speak about this book last Fall. DW gave it to me for Xmas. It's not just a lot of data and psychology experiments. It's a sweeping account of human history. It's very readable though I did take 5 months to finish it. Also, just in time, my May 18th edition of Science magazine is devoted to the topic of "Human Conflict".

Simultaneously, last week, I finished Sherry Turkle's book, "Alone Together". She's an MIT psychologist who has studied human/computer/artificial intelligence issues for the last 30 years. The first half of the book is about human interactions with the current generation of human like robots. The second half of the book is about the impact of social media on our lives. Very interesting. Both halves compliment each other nicely. I hadn't been keeping up with robot development so I learned a lot from this book.
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Old 05-28-2012, 11:27 PM   #1322
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I read the 2nd of the Brunetti series (21 novels in the series to date) by Donna Leon: Death in a Strange Country. Why did I like this novel? Because it dealt with the some aspects of the mixture of underworld and government that apparently existed in the early 1990's Italy. Maybe it's still there? There was also some interesting comparisons between Americans and Italian. Leon's bio is here: Donna Leon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Some of the subject matter reminded me of a PBS TV Mystery series about a detective in Italy. I'm quite curious about the various European countries and their inner societal tensions. It's all so much in the news now too. It should be interesting to continue this series up to the present -- only 19 more novels to go.
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Old 05-29-2012, 08:19 AM   #1323
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I've just picked up a few of Augusten Burrough's books lately. I'd read his brilliant Sellevision novel a few years ago, but his latest essay in the WSJ caught my eye and I reserved a few others. Witty & elegant writer, lots of angst, but worthwhile reading.
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Old 06-05-2012, 09:02 AM   #1324
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I'm re-reading Dracula today. All the talk about zombies in the U.S. lately has me going back to the source--one source at least.
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Old 06-05-2012, 10:38 AM   #1325
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I got the Stephen Hawking's latest book from the library for my Kindle Fire: The Grand Design: Stephen Hawking, Leonard Mlodinow: Amazon.com: Kindle Store

It's a pretty interesting book but a little puzzling. I haven't spend much time reading modern pop cosmology books as I've been trying to read some of the pop physics books dealing with recent decades physics advances in the small (subatomic, quantum) world. I'll have to go back and The Grand Design to try to absorb more and firm up questions.

Regarding questions, towards the end there was this for example:
Quote:
On the scale of the entire universe, the positive energy of the matter can be balanced by the negative gravitational energy, and so there is no restriction on the creation of whole universes. Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing in the manner described in Chapter 6. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather then nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.
Well it's back to Chapters 5 and 6 for a review.

Hawking is big on M-theory. He states, tongue-in-cheek I think, no one seems to know what the M stands for. But the last paragraph of the book says:
Quote:
M-theory is the unified theory Einstein was hoping to find.
Also there was a discussion of inflation in the early universe (in Chapter 6 again) with this interesting tidbit:
Quote:
It was as if a coin 1 centimeter in diameter suddenly blew up to ten million times the width of the Milky Way. That may seem to violate relativity, which dictates that nothing can move faster than light, but that speed limit does not apply to the expansion of space itself.
If someone here as a reference to the last (blue) part of this quote, I'd like to know about it. I guess this refers to General Relativity concepts.

I think what I need is the next layer of this physics onion explained without diving into too the whole onion.
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Old 06-05-2012, 11:58 AM   #1326
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Originally Posted by Lsbcal View Post
I got the Stephen Hawking's latest book from the library for my Kindle Fire: The Grand Design: Stephen Hawking, Leonard Mlodinow: Amazon.com: Kindle Store

It's a pretty interesting book but a little puzzling...

Regarding questions, towards the end there was this for example:
Quote:
On the scale of the entire universe, the positive energy of the matter can be balanced by the negative gravitational energy, and so there is no restriction on the creation of whole universes. Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing in the manner described in Chapter 6. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather then nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.

Well it's back to Chapters 5 and 6 for a review.
I have the same problem grasping how negative gravitational energy and quantum fluctuations can lead to spontaneous creation. I read Krause's, A Universe from Nothing which goes into more detail on the issue but I still don't understand it. If you ever read anything that clears up your confusion be sure to post here.

I guess it goes back to Feyman's quote: "I think I can safely say nobody understands quantum mechanics." I haven't met nobody yet but I plan on asking him about spontaneous universes when I do.
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Old 06-07-2012, 10:41 AM   #1327
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Has anyone read Cutting for Stone? I was at a party last night and a number of people strongly endorsed it as a well written, compelling story. The reviews on amazon are unbelievably good. I'll have to check it out.
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Old 06-07-2012, 12:42 PM   #1328
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Old 06-07-2012, 01:05 PM   #1329
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Has anyone read Cutting for Stone? I was at a party last night and a number of people strongly endorsed it as a well written, compelling story. The reviews on amazon are unbelievably good. I'll have to check it out.
I have read it and enjoyed it. I believe I may have reviewed it upthread.

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Old 06-07-2012, 05:31 PM   #1330
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Thanks Mead. Sorry I didn't see the earlier posts.
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Old 06-07-2012, 05:43 PM   #1331
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Thanks Mead. Sorry I didn't see the earlier posts.
What, you mean you didn't recall this with only 1329 replies on this thread?

I've noticed I personally don't always recall what books I've mentioned even last month.
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Old 06-07-2012, 07:09 PM   #1332
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I am reading and would recommend "Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: the Untold Story of English" by John McWhorter. I listed to his Teaching Company lectures on linguistics last year, and he is a very intelligent and funny man. This book is great fun for anyone with a passing interest in English or linguistics. I find myself frequently smiling/chuckling at stuff he writes, and wishing I had someone to share some of his anecdotes with. I'm reading it on my bus commute, and my fellow riders probably wouldn't appreciate that, though

A great read!
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Old 06-08-2012, 07:06 AM   #1333
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What, you mean you didn't recall this with only 1329 replies on this thread?

I've noticed I personally don't always recall what books I've mentioned even last month.
Yeah, I'm probably have reviewed a book at least twice in this thread.
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Old 06-14-2012, 12:04 PM   #1334
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I've just picked up a few of Augusten Burrough's books lately. I'd read his brilliant Sellevision novel a few years ago, but his latest essay in the WSJ caught my eye and I reserved a few others. Witty & elegant writer, lots of angst, but worthwhile reading.
Okay, I just wrapped up my Burrough's readings, unknowingly saving the best for last. His is a particularly disturbing form of satire, born in an awful childhood that serves as the basis of many of his books, including Running with Scissors. However his latest, This is How, is something altogether different. He bills it as the most brutally honest self-help book ever written, and boy is it.

I found it a fascinating and absolutely true read, in many ways. Even if there is nothing wrong with you (fat chance), I think his advice, coming from someone who surely "deserves" to wallow in self-pity, is quite useful. I am giving it as a gift to a couple of people because of the chapters on dealing with the death of a loved one and how to figure out that you are in an abusive relationship. His compassion is striking. It may be added to my short list of favorite books.
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Old 06-14-2012, 12:23 PM   #1335
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I read three youth market books by Gary Paulsen-Hatchet, The River, and Brian's Winter. When I was a boy I read books that had been my Dad's when he was little, mostly about adventures in the North Woods. They were great, but I think Gary Paulsen's are even better, at least these three about Brian. If anyone wants to read them, they are short and go fast. Best to to read them in the order I listed.

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Old 06-14-2012, 12:30 PM   #1336
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I'm not sure if SarahinSC or someone recommended it here but I am reading Sunburn by Laurence Shames, a quirky character, mob oriented thriller, set in Key West. This guy could be a new fave on the Florida writer list.
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Old 06-14-2012, 12:56 PM   #1337
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I just finished reading Love in the Time of Cholera. I had wanted to read this for a long time. For me, it was not the "great love story" I though I was going to read.
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Old 06-14-2012, 01:12 PM   #1338
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I've been trading off among 3 different authors lately:

Michael Pearce - Novels set in early 1900s Egypt w/the Mamur Zapt. Very nice stories.

Daniel Woodrell - Variety of stuff from the Ozarks and No. Louisiana. Very good images, dialogue. Short of short on winding up the tales, but still very trippy characters.

Stuart Kaminsky - Murder and intrigue set in early 40s Hollywood movie studios. Just finished one involving Judy Garland, MGM and the murder of a Munchkin. Enough said. Weird, but likable.
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Old 06-14-2012, 01:23 PM   #1339
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I'm not sure if SarahinSC or someone recommended it here but I am reading Sunburn by Laurence Shames, a quirky character, mob oriented thriller, set in Key West. This guy could be a new fave on the Florida writer list.
That was me--I'm a huge fan of Florida fiction. Unfortunately, Laurence Shames only wrote 8 of them. He's also written a heartbreaking book co-authored with Peter Barton about the latter's final days called Not Fade Away: a short life, well lived.

Laurence Shames
is his website, with all the books listed. The rest of the FLA ones are an absolute riot.
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Old 06-14-2012, 03:07 PM   #1340
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