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Thread: What are you reading?

  1. #176
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2004
    That sounds fascinating (if not surprising), I might check it out. Particularly the effect a cold coffee could have on your job prospects. mind = blown

    Quote Originally Posted by faetal View Post
    Then we moved on to black-crime white-professional and vice versa - the results from this were disturbing and predictable all at once. The worst part was that black people experienced the exact same slow down, as these associations operate at a cultural level. Likewise, people who were asked to state their ethnicity prior to filling out a questionnaire about themselves: white people experienced no effect, but black people massively underestimated their own value in the questionnaires compared with those who were not asked their ethnicity.
    I've actually heard of this before and believe it's been one of the reasons various assessment test (SAT etc.) stopped (or wanted to stop) asking for the takers ethnicity/demographic - it actually did negatively influence their performance. I remember studying a bit about that for one of my classes on Cultures of Education back in uni

  2. #177
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    I just know for damn sure the next time I have an interview, I'll try to engineer some way where I hand them a hot cup to hold for a second, like "could you hold this for a second" (dig something out of my folder) "ok, thanks".

    Edit: While I'm posting, and related to something one reads: Interactive Game of Thrones Map. You can thank me after 2 hours of playing with it.

  3. #178
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    I just know for damn sure the next time I have an interview, I'll try to engineer some way where I hand them a hot cup to hold for a second, like "could you hold this for a second" (dig something out of my folder) "ok, thanks".
    You know, I bet some people figured out good NLP tricks or other subliminal messaging to ace their job interviews

  4. #179
    Still Subjective
    Registered: Dec 1999
    Location: Idiocy will never die
    That does sound fascinating faetal.
    Telepathy is not mind reading. It is the direct linking... ...of nervous systems... ...separated by space.

  5. #180
    verbose douchebag
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Lyon, France
    Get the book, it's a solidly fascinating read and didn't take to long either.

    Koob - just so you know, NLP has been largely discredited and sits in the category of pseudoscience.

  6. #181
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    I'm currently between 'real' books, having finished and not particularly liked The Art of Fielding. However, I've just read the first three collected volumes of Brian K. Vaughan's Saga, which I liked a lot. Comparisons have been made with Star Wars, and while the tone is very different (and very Vaughan - if you like his writing in Y: The Last Man or Runaways, you should like it here), Saga does a great job of hinting at a much bigger world beyond what we see in the story itself. Plus, fairly explicit sex.

    We're doing a three-week trip this summer, and I'm planning to take along a couple of the big, fat books that have been lying on the shelves. Plan A: re-reading Moby Dick, since I didn't particularly like it (or get it) when I read it at the age of 20.

  7. #182
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2005
    Location: Netherlands
    I read Old Man's War by John Scalzi and liked it. It's a pretty light read, not exactly hard sci-fi, but still pretty clever and also pretty funny. I might read the other books in that series too.

    Now I'm reading Lisey's Story by Stephen King. It's about a grieving widow but supernatural things are happening at the same time. It's a little bit different from most of his other books, I mean it's the same writing style but the tone is more personal, intimate and emotional. I like it and I'm wondering where he's going with the supernatural angle this time, he's slowly lifting the veil but it's not quite clear yet.

    Oh and I read Het Diner (The Dinner) by Herman Koch. It's a Dutch novel but I believe it's been translated into English. A Dutch movie has been made of it and I've heard US movie producers have also shown interest to turn it into a Hollywood movie. It's a pretty good psychological thriller where nobody's innocent.

  8. #183
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Landahn
    Quote Originally Posted by Thirith View Post
    Plan A: re-reading Moby Dick, since I didn't particularly like it (or get it) when I read it at the age of 20.
    Good luck! I never managed to get any further than 20 pages.

  9. #184
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    We'll be on a train without internet access for three weeks. If I can't read Moby Dick in that sort of situation, when can I?

  10. #185
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2003
    Just finished Iain M Banks' Matter. It was reasonable with a somewhat abrupt, maybe even unsatisfying, ending.


    Just Surface Detail and Hydrogen Sonata left now


    Finished listening to the full Glen Cook Black Company stuff, just the spin-offs left now.

  11. #186
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2006
    Location: On the tip of your tongue.
    Quote Originally Posted by DaBeast View Post
    Just finished Iain M Banks' Matter. It was reasonable with a somewhat abrupt, maybe even unsatisfying, ending.


    Just Surface Detail and Hydrogen Sonata left now


    Finished listening to the full Glen Cook Black Company stuff, just the spin-offs left now.
    Coincidentally I am reading Matter now. About 2/3rds through and enjoying it immensely so far. I wasn't a huge fan of the last two I read - Inversions and Look to Windward, which both ended up feeling a bit "pointless" somehow, like nothing much had really happened. My favourite is still Excession, just for being mostly whimsical chat-logs between super-computers, but still somehow being incredibly entertaining. Closely followed by Use of Weapons, which is probably objectively the better book, and certainly the most resonant.

  12. #187
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2003
    Player of Games is probably my favourite so far. Though I'd agree Use of Weapons was more hard hitting, if a little predictable.

    I probably would have liked Excession a lot more if it didn't seem so familiar to The Algebraist. I really got a sense that some characters were recycled in a way (thought it would be reversed since although Excession came out nearly 10 years before Algebraist).

    Could just be me over thinking it, or at least being overly critical. I still enjoyed everything I've read so far and rate Banks higher than pretty much anyone who isn't Asimov.

  13. #188
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2006
    Location: On the tip of your tongue.
    I read the Algebraist after Excession, and many years after too, so I never made that connection. For non-Culture stuff, I prefer Against a Dark Background though. It's pure pulpy cheese but I loved it for some of the crazy ideas in there, like a planet-wide plant or the concept of the Lazy Gun.

    I keep meaning to read some of his non-sci-fi work but never get around to it!

  14. #189
    verbose douchebag
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Lyon, France
    Just finished Rosemary's Baby. Wonderful horror in a fantastically confined setting. A friend bought me that and The Stepford Wives for xmas and having read them both, I'm not keen to know if Levin has any other books worth reading - can anyone advise on that?

  15. #190
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    Quote Originally Posted by N'Al View Post
    Good luck! I never managed to get any further than 20 pages.
    Moby Dick was one of the first books I read when I got my first eBook reader, what, six years ago now?
    It was a slog, I'll admit, and Melville's insistence that whales were fish almost drove me insane as a modern reader, but there's a good story in there.
    I think if I was to take one word from that book, that word would be "monomania".

    For further adventures in monomania, follow up Moby Dick with Crime & Punishment
    Seriously though, my Dad had been harping on at me for YEARS to read some Dostoevsky, and it's worth it. Hard, but worth it. I read The Brothers Karamazov, then Crime & Punishment and finished with The Idiot.
    At the time, I thought The Idiot was my favourite, but over time, I've come to regard each as favourably as the others for different reasons.

    Myself, I'm on a bit of a light-hearted tip at the moment and reading a lot of Jasper Fforde. Having just read The Eye of Zoltar, I realised I'd never read his most famous books, the Thursday Next ones, so I've made a start on them. He's got a delightfully playful approach to the English language, with sentences such as "These are the Forty brothers, Jeff and Geoff", a joke that only works when written down.

    Prior to that, I'd finished Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, which while having moderately entertaining sci-fi elements, is most notable for how it plays with gender. It took me ages to realise what was going on, and when I did, it blew my mind.

  16. #191
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2002
    Location: In the flesh.
    Quote Originally Posted by Malf View Post
    For further adventures in monomania, follow up Moby Dick with Crime & Punishment
    .
    I feel Dostoevsky was rejecting Nietzsche's idea of the superman and any supposed special privilage due him. He did it damn well and I wholeheartedly agree with him. The story seemed to slowly and torturously grind home the point. Nietzche had some good points but special privilage wasn't one of them.

    Melville ground home his point as well. Obsession doesn't end well. I don't think I believe there was a race warning in it as some critics suggest, not that it doesn't work that way if you want to see it as such. There were minor points he made along the way I liked such as the one right all men hold in reserve.

    Anywho, I'm reading Irving Stones biography of Jack London. Now THERE was a man. I feel for where he came from, applaud where he ended up, and rejoice the audacious journey. He didn't believe there was anything he coudln't do and you know what? There wasn't. He had that courage Ray Bradbury spoke of where you "jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down". Reading of his life you see exactly where he got the ideas for his stories and are still amazed at the wealth of understanding he drew from his experiences. He changed the direction of literature for the US when it needed it most and still kept a childlike enthusiasm and zest for life. Hell of a man.

  17. #192
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2004
    I'm reading Brave new World for the second time (this time in English) and so far it's still as good as I remembered! Tho I never realized it was written in 1939, I always thought it was bit more modern then that. Interesting how that influences the knowledge/future predictions in the book!

  18. #193
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    I think Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche are closer than the way you (Tocky) described the situation. Both are textbook classic existentialism. Nietzsche had a concept of a superman, but it was something humans could never hope to actually achieve; it was more there to taunt us. Humans are on a continuum between animals and the supermen in his setup, striving for the latter but always being held back by the former. The other thing was that I'm not sure Nietzsche ever advocated for special treatment; quite the opposite. He thought suffering and humiliation were essential to making us strong and not weakass people of sand, which is what happens when you start pampering people & giving them special treatment. It was his biggest fear with the comforts of modern life. Life should be hard, we deserve nothing we didn't do for ourselves, and we're supposed to take ownership over our sicknesses.

    But I think they were different in other ways that maybe fit what you're talking about. I don't think Dostoyevsky wanted to even pretend we could overcome our weaknesses or it'd make us better people or life better lived... If you look at the protagonist of something like The Idiot or Notes from the Underground, there are times when we're just completely helpless before madness or sickness or some human frailty. There's not even a saving grace illusion that it makes us stronger or anything. Life is just a dark place sometimes, but we live on.

  19. #194
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2002
    Location: In the flesh.
    Oh no, I didn't mean special treatment by society, I meant special privilage afforded oneself at the sole dispensation of oneself. It has been a long long time since I read Nietzsche and he bored the devil out of me when I was so young so perhaps I missed the finer points but it seemed to me the superman concept (of the sort Ayan Rand so ran with and Hitler so misunderstood) had a disregard for societal rules that Dostoyevsky put a lid on in Crime and Punishment. Then again, it is a fine line. Melville's one right held in reserve Dostoyevsky also dragged into the light. A harsh light. I choose to believe the distinction is for what purpose that final "right" is used. Nations still debate that.

    Then again I could be talking out of my ass. It makes sense the way I see it but I could be confusing some concepts. And too I have my own creed which, though I dare not break for my own conscience sake, assumes privilage beyond societal rules so I'm a hypocrite in calling out Nietzsche. Perhaps, as John D. Mcdonald said, there can never be enough contrition when we break the big rules and those rules only one is ultimate arbiter of. I always end up feeling philisophical concepts chase thier own tails. I know what strikes me as right but it's a culmination of life experience. Stupid decisions mostly.

    Ah yes, A Brave New World. Never hope for a happy end in dystopian fiction. At least there was some hope in it, unlike the absolute horror of 1984.

  20. #195
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2006
    Location: On the tip of your tongue.
    Well I finished Matter, which did indeed have an extremely abrupt and unsatisfying ending, but the journey to it was good enough that I don't mind.

    Now for something completely different, I'm reading All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy, which is really great so far. It's definitely the sort of book to read slowly. Dialogue has no quotation marks, meaning if you're not paying attention, you can lose track of who's speaking. There are also a fair bit of untranslated Spanish conversations smattered throughout, which are usually easy enough to understand but only if you have been paying attention to context (or speak Spanish ). However, the sheer quality of the descriptive prose and the often-hilarious, naturalistic dialogue make it well worth slowing down and savouring it.

  21. #196
    Member
    Registered: Sep 1999
    Location: No Maps for These Territories
    Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff VanderMeer.

    Holy fucking shit... Insane, wildly original, grotesque and at times quite simply absurdly scary and disturbing. VanderMeer is one of those writers that somehow managed to evade my radar for the longest time. Recently I've read City of Saints and Madmen as well as the two first novels in the Southern Reach trilogy, and he's quickly becoming one of my favorite writers.

    Next up: Finch which I'm looking forward to immensely.

  22. #197
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2003
    Finished Surface Detail, just Hydrogen Sonata left. I think I might leave it unread for a while. I have a feeling I'll get a bit down knowing that there are no more left.

    I also read Alastair Reynolds Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days. I guess it was reasonable, but the first short story seems overly inspired by the film Cube, which is actually referenced at one point in the narrative.

    When I'm done with the even less interesting second short story I'll move on to The Reality Dysfunction. Lots of hype about this Nights Dawn stuff. I expect it'll be the more standard fair sci-fi compared to the more imaginative Banks stuff.

  23. #198
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    I'm reading a book, Building Better Minds, on what's called Artificial General Intelligence, AGI, and how to solve the combination-explosion problem in normal AI.

    The problem is every knowledge node has to search every other one to do something, and it has to scale up to billions of nodes. But if you have good culling algorithms, you can make it search the space more efficiently.

    It's a sticky problem, but the book makes a good case it's solveable in the near future, and human-like AI are closer than we think.

  24. #199
    Still Subjective
    Registered: Dec 1999
    Location: Idiocy will never die
    I was a wedding recently where the best man/grooms brother was a Professor of AI Development (or something). Sadly I never got to talk to him.


    I'm STILL reading Snow Crash.

    Why isn't this a film by now?

  25. #200
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    I'm pissed (upset) from the last chapter now because after all that talk of general intelligence, in the end they made their goal system explicitly scripted. I mean the robot follows goals that are pre-scripted in advance, as opposed to just having desires and the robot creates its own running goals in its own terms, which in my understanding is the very heart and soul of general intelligence and generic understanding of any arbitrary thing in the world it takes the time to research.

    And then their justification was "robot morality"... They thought if they explicitly scripted the goals they could ensure they never go off the reservation, so to speak, and do bad things. Pfft, we have regulations to keep technology from doing bad things, so I'm not convinced. And if the robot intelligence is really "general", then you give them a moral education like every other agent, or you just disable them if they're sociopathic. It's not like you hand them a gun & let them loose when they're still young. You keep them in a toy world until they demonstrate they can be trusted with more responsibility, like any human.

    But the point is explicit goals can't be any route to general intelligence. It's like a poison pill right in the heart of their project that kills it. And now I feel like I have to code the damn things myself if they don't want to swallow logical implication of their own commitment.

    Sorry, had to get that off my chest.

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