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Offline superdave

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #690 on: July 07, 2016, 12:06:37 PM »
Atlas Shrugged Mini Review
I am about 85% of the way through the book and a larger review is coming but heres some quick thoughts.
1) Objectivism is not totally crazy, there some decent points, but also glaring holes.
2) if you understand the story as a satire, its a lot easier to take but anyone with genuine fear of this sort of apocalypse would be insane
3) The story, if you get past all the philosophy, is alright. 
4) The characters speak like they were written by an alien observer who wrote the book after reading field notes from another alien observer.

Offline Ah.hell

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #691 on: July 07, 2016, 12:38:15 PM »
Objectivism is understandable if you remember that Ayn Rand was refuge from the soviet union.

Offline superdave

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #692 on: July 18, 2016, 09:04:16 AM »
so wow, i did not think those last 100 pages of Atlas Shrugged would change my opinion very much, but they sure did.  One of the things keeping me interested was that I actually liked the main character, despite some of her flaws, but in the last section of the book she..

(click to show/hide)
, and that just ruins it for me.  Ayn really drives home the with us or against us rhetoric (directly saying this) and that makes it much harder to read a nuanced view of Objectivism. I'd still say that Objectivism contains some nuggets of wisdom.  I thought the speech about the purpose of money was actually well reasoned and made a lot of sense.  I liked a lot of the stuff about having pride in your work and taking responsibility for your actions.  But the main problem is that Objectivism just does not jive with things we know that are true.  The main thing being that the world does not neatly fall into categories of supermen and sniveling idiots.

From a literary side, the biggest issue with the book is that when the book starts, the US is already being destroyed by stupid stupid laws regulating commerce.  These laws are rediciulously made of straw.  But this would be ok if the book took place deeper in the future.  Since the story takes place pretty much in the present, they are much harder to swallow.

honestly i feel like while I could write tons more, the book is not worth the time it would take to do it.

Final rating, 6/10 , it's not terrible, the story is somewhat interesting and Objectivism isn't totally wrong.  But the book is way too long, the writing is pretentious as fuck, and there is a bit too much weird sexual stuff.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2016, 09:09:18 AM by superdave »

Online Rai

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #693 on: July 18, 2016, 09:43:57 AM »
I've been reading The Unnatural History of the Sea by Callum M. Roberts. 9/10

It is basically a long and frankly, terrifying description of shifting baselines in practice. He goes back in history and stipulates fish and marine life stocks based on the available information to show how everything is fucked. He makes a very good case and boy, is it all very very scary and sad.

The only downside is that it gets a bit repetitive after a while. The data is repetitive and the context is changes, but in essence, all the chapters are about how there used to be tens (or hundreds) of millions of animals in this ecosystem, and now it is a completely barren post-apocalyptic wasteland due to fishing and pollution. That being said, it is important to realise how the oceans are, for all intents and purposes, mostly dead and I can't recall ever coming across a better book to show this simple fact.

Also, another downside is that I am now feeling even more guilty than before when eating seafood. And I am rather sad that I, or anyone else, will never see sights like a healthy coral reef or a pod of a few hundred sperm whales.

Offline Johnny Slick

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #694 on: July 18, 2016, 10:11:42 AM »
Just got done re-reading The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver for a skeptics' book club. 14/10 A++++++++++++

This and not The Demon Haunted World or Flim Flam or whatever ought to be the skeptics' bible. It's all about probability-based forecasting, scientific skepticism, and how humans make mistakes, told from the perspective of a number of different industries and models including baseball (Silver wrote for a publication called Baseball Prospectus that predicts their statistics in upcoming seasons), poker (Silver also made a fair bit of money playing online poker back in the day), the stock market, the housing bubble, the weather, climate change, chess, and several others. It might be a bit dry if you're not into Bayes but at the same time I think he does a great job of explaining it and in so doing really nails lots and lots of different but important things, including why you ought to trust foxes more than hedgehogs, how cognitive biases enter everyone's minds, not just the hoi polloi, and so on.

Yeah, just a great book. It's already beginning to get just a liiiitle bit dated but that's a tiny, tiny criticism.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
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Offline superdave

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #695 on: July 18, 2016, 10:13:20 AM »
Just got done re-reading The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver for a skeptics' book club. 14/10 A++++++++++++

This and not The Demon Haunted World or Flim Flam or whatever ought to be the skeptics' bible. It's all about probability-based forecasting, scientific skepticism, and how humans make mistakes, told from the perspective of a number of different industries and models including baseball (Silver wrote for a publication called Baseball Prospectus that predicts their statistics in upcoming seasons), poker (Silver also made a fair bit of money playing online poker back in the day), the stock market, the housing bubble, the weather, climate change, chess, and several others. It might be a bit dry if you're not into Bayes but at the same time I think he does a great job of explaining it and in so doing really nails lots and lots of different but important things, including why you ought to trust foxes more than hedgehogs, how cognitive biases enter everyone's minds, not just the hoi polloi, and so on.

Yeah, just a great book. It's already beginning to get just a liiiitle bit dated but that's a tiny, tiny criticism.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

I really enjoyed the content but the writing was terrible.  I think if you regularly read the 538 website you are getting a lot of the content already.

Online Sawyer

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #696 on: July 18, 2016, 01:58:20 PM »
Just got done re-reading The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver for a skeptics' book club. 14/10 A++++++++++++

This and not The Demon Haunted World or Flim Flam or whatever ought to be the skeptics' bible. It's all about probability-based forecasting, scientific skepticism, and how humans make mistakes, told from the perspective of a number of different industries and models including baseball (Silver wrote for a publication called Baseball Prospectus that predicts their statistics in upcoming seasons), poker (Silver also made a fair bit of money playing online poker back in the day), the stock market, the housing bubble, the weather, climate change, chess, and several others. It might be a bit dry if you're not into Bayes but at the same time I think he does a great job of explaining it and in so doing really nails lots and lots of different but important things, including why you ought to trust foxes more than hedgehogs, how cognitive biases enter everyone's minds, not just the hoi polloi, and so on.

Yeah, just a great book. It's already beginning to get just a liiiitle bit dated but that's a tiny, tiny criticism.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

I'm am reminded of this book about once a month when I make the mistake of turning on PBS at 1:30pm on a Sunday.  I recall the first chapter pointing out the McClaughlin Group's abysmal track record for  "predictions" being slightly lower than a coin flip.  The show is supposed to be light hearted and almost satirical, but the central premise goes directly against the hedgehog and fox lessons presented in The Signal and the Noise.  PBS could easily hire 3 people to do a show in the vein of Silver and 538 on Sunday afternoons, but instead they insist on keeping John McClaughlin's career on life support.

Perhaps you can tell this is less an endorsement of Signal and the Noise, and more me not being able to shake off Pat Buchannan earworms within 24 hours.

Offline nameofthewave

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #697 on: July 18, 2016, 05:12:16 PM »
I started listening to the audiobook of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, based on several rave reviews and a few personal recommendations, and the first episode of the TV series. Two hours in and I had to check that the reviews were actually referring to the same thing. Nice prose written in an elegant style, I suppose, but its more than a little pretentious and JESUS is it boring as fuck. Maybe it's just not my cup of tea. Has anyone here read it and liked it? Does it get better? Given that there is another 29 hours (!) to go, is it worth carrying on or should I cut my losses? I think I enjoyed having my wisdom teeth out more than I did listening to this.

Offline drwfishesman

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #698 on: July 20, 2016, 02:17:07 PM »
I started listening to the audiobook of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, based on several rave reviews and a few personal recommendations, and the first episode of the TV series. Two hours in and I had to check that the reviews were actually referring to the same thing. Nice prose written in an elegant style, I suppose, but its more than a little pretentious and JESUS is it boring as fuck. Maybe it's just not my cup of tea. Has anyone here read it and liked it? Does it get better? Given that there is another 29 hours (!) to go, is it worth carrying on or should I cut my losses? I think I enjoyed having my wisdom teeth out more than I did listening to this.

I read it. The weirder it got the more I liked it...and it got WEIRD.
"When one has a limited ability or desire to think, one must fiercely defend the thoughts already had. You never know when the next one will come." Andrew Bridges

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #699 on: July 20, 2016, 10:05:41 PM »
Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik - 7/10

Ruth Bader Ginsberg ain't nothing to f' with.

Fun little bio of RBG.  Nothing particularly surprising in here, except a reminder that Antonin Scalia was at least fun to go to the opera with.  Anthony Kennedy comes off really poorly too, and his legacy of "compromise" over the last few years seems more and more of a story of slowly being out of touch with reality.  Looks like he's living up to a Kennedy legacy of wrapping up your career without a decent head on your shoulders ... to soon?   >:D


Offline nameofthewave

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #700 on: July 23, 2016, 03:06:42 AM »
I started listening to the audiobook of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, based on several rave reviews and a few personal recommendations, and the first episode of the TV series. Two hours in and I had to check that the reviews were actually referring to the same thing. Nice prose written in an elegant style, I suppose, but its more than a little pretentious and JESUS is it boring as fuck. Maybe it's just not my cup of tea. Has anyone here read it and liked it? Does it get better? Given that there is another 29 hours (!) to go, is it worth carrying on or should I cut my losses? I think I enjoyed having my wisdom teeth out more than I did listening to this.

I read it. The weirder it got the more I liked it...and it got WEIRD.

Thanks, I have persevered with it, it does seem to be getting slightly better. I'll give it another couple of hours before giving up.

Online Drunken Idaho

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #701 on: July 25, 2016, 03:03:06 AM »
Speaker of the Dead - 9/10

I read Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow within the last year, so I'm continuing on... and goddamn, I really really enjoyed the book. Probably my favorite in the series so far, but all three were immensely enjoyable. This one is much less sci fi and much more philosophy, and had me engaged the entire time.

Anybody read further along the series? Does it stay this good?
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Offline Neutral Milk

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #702 on: July 25, 2016, 06:18:16 AM »
Speaker of the Dead - 9/10

I read Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow within the last year, so I'm continuing on... and goddamn, I really really enjoyed the book. Probably my favorite in the series so far, but all three were immensely enjoyable. This one is much less sci fi and much more philosophy, and had me engaged the entire time.

Anybody read further along the series? Does it stay this good?

I've heard people complain, but I loved all of them. The rest of the ender books and the bean books. The only reason to take my rec with a grain of salt is that I was in high school when I read all of them.

Offline InsanePat

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #703 on: July 25, 2016, 08:20:47 AM »
xenocide is close enough to speaker of the dead, imo. the next one, children of the mind,  tries to, but I didn't find it as interesting.
The shadow parts are more thriller/action, so are the formic war prequels  if my memory of the first one is reliable enough.

Online Drunken Idaho

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Re: Rate the last book you just read
« Reply #704 on: July 25, 2016, 01:08:13 PM »
Thanks y'all! Very helpful.
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