Sunday, March 03, 2024

Quote of the day

 "There was a time when you searched Google, but now Google searches you." - Shoshana Zuboff, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power

This is a book with profound importance, detailing the ways that our lives and inner selves are being gobbled up by corporations to further manipulate our behavior and make money doing so. As the Guardian review linked puts it

It describes how global tech companies such as Google and Facebook persuaded us to give up our privacy for the sake of convenience; how personal information (“data”) gathered by these companies has been used by others not only to predict our behaviour but also to influence and modify it; and how this has had disastrous consequences for democracy and freedom. This is the “surveillance capitalism” of the title, which Zuboff defines as a “new economic order” and “an expropriation of critical human rights that is best understood as a coup from above”.

But, unfortunately, the material has to be read carefully and digested to appreciate how insidious this age of surveillance capitalism is. And we have a generation of young adults for whom the norm is having their entire lives available on-line for data tracking, without seeing any problem with it or even realizing it's happening.  (The extent to which these companies gather information about our lives is vaster than almost anyone imagines, and I'm certainly not exempting myself, as I didn't realize it, either, until reading this book.)

Our right to our inner selves is one of the most fundamental, necessary rights for living a fully realized human existence. And this is now being threatened by the almost entirely unregulated behemoth that is surveillance capitalism, which has annexed all human behavior/experience as substrate for predictative models of our lives. This is not right.

Saturday, March 02, 2024

The end of America

 It's surreal to me seeing someone who has lived his life as a narcissistic criminal and all around just horrible, indecent, unkind person still being described as "running for president." He is not running for president, because that would entail agreeing to abide by the election process. He has made clear that the only acceptable result of an election is for him to be the victor, no matter what the actual vote count is. So he isn't running for president: he is trying to install himself as Supreme Ruler of America, someone who is held accountable to no law but his own fiat. He is currently arguing that he is immune from all legal liability while President and asserts that every court case against him ever are by definition illegitimate. He attempted to stop the previous election, calling for an end to vote counting and declaring himself winner. He is on tape asking the Georgia Secretary of State to "find" i.e. fabricate the exact number of votes he would have needed to win the state. He refused to acknowledge his loss, resulting in the first siege of the US capitol since the War of 1812. The Confederate flag, a symbol of sedition, slavery and white supremacy was waved inside the Senate for the first time ever. These extremists, in devotion to their leader, attempted to stop the peaceful transition of the power of the Chief Executive officer of the United States for the first time in US history. A disgrace beyond description.

I feel like we're living through the Aesop fable where the frogs get bored when Zeus sends them the Rule of Law to be their king, so they ask him to send them a more exciting King, and in return he sends them a water snake. Which eats them. End of story. As Paul Woodruff put it in First Democracy: The Challenge of an Ancient Idea 

And so it was - and still is - when people are frustrated with the law's stupidities or delays or inconveniences. If they wish for a ruler who will rise above the law, they are offering themselves to be devoured.  

Aesop commented elsewhere: 

Chance shows us two roads in life; one is the road of freedom, which has a rough beginning that is hard to walk, but an ending that is smooth and even; the other is the road of servitude, which has a level beginning, but an ending that is hard and dangerous.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Quote of the day

 "Someone despises me. That's their problem. Mine: not to do or say anything despicable. Someone hates me. Their problem. Mine: to be patient and cheerful with everyone, including them." - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Quote of the day

 "You can generally be sure, whenever ideologues speak of true or serious freedom, that it will be at the expense of actual, ordinary freedom. And when the rhetoric is transcendental, the reality will probably be miserable." - Sarah Bakewell, Humanly Possible

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Baleful quote of the day

What’s troubling to me is the extent to which the rest of the country has just accepted that we live under the rule of theocrats in robes and there’s nothing we can do about it. Establishment politicians, media figures, and even non-theocratic judges just kind of shrug and pretend that scripture is a reasonable basis for judicial pronouncements in a free society. If these judges and justices were establishing any religion other than fundamentalist Christianity, people would lose their minds. If an Alabama court ruled that Trump had to be kicked off the ballot because he lies so much he lacks satya, and rested their opinion in quotes from the Vedas, there would be riots. The ruling would be overturned and the judges, probably, impeached.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Quote of the day

 "Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value." - Albert Einstein

Via The Quotable Einstein edited by Alice Calaprice

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Stealing from the future to give to the present(ly) rich

 I hear often people saying there is too much free stuff given away by the government. Almost always this ire is directed towards people on the lower end of the economic spectrum, and that this is how people have their votes purchased.  What I very rarely hear spoken against, however, is the much vaster sum of money that is given to the already rich and powerful; corporations and the super-rich - people who have vastly more political influence than people who receive some form of social welfare. This is why I consider Free Lunch and Perfectly Legal by David Cay Johnston to be such important books. They detail how our economic system has been rigged across decades to transfer the nation's wealth from the many to the few, flowing money upwards like Niagra Falls in reverse, and how the wealthy benefit extensively from taxpayer subsidies.

So today I come across this: a detailed article about how corporate tax breaks are leading to the defunding of education across the nation. Read it and weep for the future: "Students lose out as cities and states give billions in property tax breaks to businesses − draining school budgets and especially hurting the poorest students."

What exactly Atlanta and other cities and states are accomplishing with tax abatement programs is hard to discern. Fewer than a quarter of companies that receive breaks in the U.S. needed an incentive to invest, according to a 2018 study by the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, a nonprofit research organization.

This means that at least 75% of companies received tax abatements when they’re not needed – with communities paying a heavy price for economic development that sometimes provides little benefit.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Quote of the day

 "I believe in the equality of man, and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy." - Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (1794)

Via Humanly Possible: Seven Hundred Years of Humanist Freethinking, Inquiry, and Hope by Sarah Bakewell

It's still difficult for me to wrap my mind around how someone could express this kind of sentiment and end up so despised (only 6 people saw fit to attend Paine's funeral, despite him having played a significant part in the birth of the United States and generally lived as an avatar for democracy.) 

People are fickle and take it personally when their beliefs are criticized; and many were inclined to see his criticism of superstition and organized religion to be corrosive to organized society. But Paine believed that "[i]nfidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what [one] does not believe." 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Quote of the day

 "There is nothing so beautiful and legitimate as to play the man well and properly, no knowledge so hard to acquire as the knowledge of how to live this life well and naturally; and the most barbarous of our maladies is to despise our being." - Montaigne

Via Humanly Possible: Seven Hundred Years of Humanist Freethinking, Inquiry, and Hope by Sarah Bakewell

This quote compliments and extends the previously quoted quote of the day from him (and Bakewell) about living a life well.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Quote of the day

 "The greatest benefit we owe to the artist, whether painter, poet, or novelist, is the extension of our sympathies ... A picture of human life such as a great artist can give, surprises even the trivial and the selfish into that attention to what is apart from themselves, which may be called the raw material of moral sentiment. " - George Eliot, "The Natural History of German Life" (1856)

Via Humanly Possible: Seven Hundred Years of Humanist Freethinking, Inquiry, and Hope by Sarah Bakewell

Monday, February 12, 2024

Quote of the day

 "Concedo nulli" 

According to Sarah Bakewell in Humanly Possible: Seven Hundred Years of Humanist Freethinking, Inquiry, and Hope this was "the emblem and motto of Terminus, Roman god of boundaries and limits." Sixteenth century Christian humanist Erasmus adopted this phrase as his personal motto and his friends had it inscribed on a memorial plaque when he died. It translates to "I yield to no one."

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Quote of the day

 "[T]o be happy is to be good." - Aristotle, eulogy for Plato

Via Aristotle's Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Middle Ages by Richard Rubenstein

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

On haters

 From Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

What their minds are like. What they work at. What evokes their love and admiration.

Imagine their souls stripped bare. And their vanity. To suppose that their disdain could harm anyone - or their praise help them.

There is just something so human about seeing someone who lived almost two thousand years ago struggling (recall that this is an entry in his personal journal) with dealing with toxic people in his life and reminding himself that their opinion doesn't matter.

He has another passage that compliments this one well: "It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinions than our own." 

Of course, he didn't mean that we shouldn't be considerate of other people, but that we should focus on what is in our control (or own opinions) and "[j]ust that you do the right thing. The rest doesn't matter."

Also: "The tranquility that comes when you stop caring what they say. Or think, or do. Only what you do."

I love that Marcus had to remind himself this more than once, in an earlier entry in the journal he tells himself to face whatever challenges life presents "not worrying too often, or with any selfish motive, about what other people say. Or do, or think." He goes on to write "that to care for all human beings is part of being human" but that "doesn't mean we have to share their opinions." 

Sunday, February 04, 2024

Quote of the day

"Become who you are." - Nietzsche

Via Hiking with Nietzsche: On Becoming Who You Are by John Kaag

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Quote of the day

 "[The] man who insults me ... becomes my training partner; he trains me in patience, in abstaining from anger, in remaining gentle." - Epictetus, Discourses 3.20

Monday, January 29, 2024

Quote of the day

 "Do external things distract you? Then make time for yourself to learn something worthwhile; stop letting yourself be pulled in all directions." - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

And he didn't even live in the age of social media, where everything is designed by social psychologists to deliberately shorten a person's attention span

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Quote of the day

"Of all hatreds, there is none greater than that of ignorance against knowledge." - Galileo

Via The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization by Arthur Herman

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Quote of the day

 "When people injure you, ask yourself what good or harm they thought would come of it. If you understand that, you'll feel sympathy rather than outrage or anger." - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

It's important to remember when seeing quotes from Meditations that it is written for an audience of one: he is saying this to himself. He is telling himself to make an active, conscience effort not to bear ill will towards anyone, for any reason. Putting this into practice, "you will have no enemies," Epictetus taught. 

The less inclined we are to categorize people as "enemy" the better: it tends to tap into the part of human nature that wants to hate without limit.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Quote of the day

 "I am not in the right place - I am not a painter." - Michelangelo, Letter To Giovanni Da Pistoia When the Author Was Painting the Vault of the Sistine Chapel 1509 (Gail Mazur translation)

There is just something so humanistic about an artist over 500 years ago feeling perhaps not up to a task chosen outside of his comfort zone (Michelangelo considered himself a sculptor primarily) and second guessing himself even while creating one of the greatest artistic achievements in human history.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Quote of the day

 "'My brother shouldn't have treated me in this way.' Indeed, he shouldn't, but it's for him to see to that. For my part, however he treats me, I should conduct myself towards him as I ought. For that is my business, and the rest is not my concern. In this no one can hinder me, while everything else is subject to hindrance." - Epictetus, Discourses 3.10

This is something I attempt to put into practice but sometimes have difficulty with. I find that ego and pride can get in the way. What's ironic is that often when we feel wronged by someone we retaliate in such a way that we become like the person we feel wronged by. It's why Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote in his journal that the best revenge is to be unlike the person who wronged you. This is quite a remarkable sentiment considering how many other Emperors were perfectly content to use their power to take the more traditional vindictive and violent revenge. 

Once one can get past the ego and follow this advice, a new kind of tranquility arises. What we commonly feel to be the slight at being "treated in this way" is what Epictetus calls being hindered because you're trying to control what is not in your power to control; but if you can learn to recognize what's not in your control and let go, peace of mind can be found.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Quote of the day

"[F]rom such crooked wood as a human is made can nothing quite straight ever be fashioned." - Immanuel Kant, "Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Rigor" (1784) 

In other words, no one is perfect. Or, more specifically, no one ever can be. 

Monday, January 22, 2024

Quote of the day

 "Take away thy opinion, and then there is taken away the complaint, 'I have been harmed.' Take away the complaint, 'I have been harmed,' and the harm is taken away." - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (circa 171- 175 CE)

There are various translations of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius's journal in which he practiced his Stoicism but the gist of what he is saying here is that it is not events in themself that cause us harm, but the judgements and opinions we form that cause the harm. If you can let go of the feeling that something harms you or has happened to you, and see it instead as just something that has happened, then, as Epictetus put it "you will not be harmed."* This seems like such an obvious truth but is often easier to say than do, which is why Marcus wrote this note to himself, he is reminding himself to put this psychological technique into practice.** And, more broadly, is why Meditations is such a remarkable text: it is the personal journal of someone who at the time was one of the most powerful people on the planet, and it reveals that what he was most concerned with was not riches, fame, power, or revenge, but training himself to be a better, kinder, wiser and more just person.

*This is no coincidence. Aurelius was heavily influenced by the teachings of Epictetus.

**He reminds himself again later in the journal: "It is in our power to have no opinion about a thing, and not to be disturbed in our soul, for things themselves have no natural power to form our judgements."

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Quote of the day

"Science gives us knowledge, but only philosophy can give us wisdom." - Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the Greater Philosophers from Ptahhotep to Sartre

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Quote of the day

 "Through doubting we question, and through questioning we perceive the truth." - Peter Abelard

Via The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization by Arthur Herman

Friday, January 19, 2024

Quote of the day

 So if you want to be beautiful for your own part, you should strive to achieve this, the excellence that characterizes a human being.

'But what is it?'

Consider who it is that you praise when you praise people dispassionately: is it those who are just, or unjust? - 'Those who are just.' - The temperate or the intemperate? - 'The temperate.' - The self-controlled or the dissolute? - 'The self-controlled.' - You should know, then, that if you make yourself a person of that kind, you'll be making yourself beautiful; but if you neglect these virtues, you're bound to be ugly, whatever techniques you adopt to make yourself appear beautiful.

- Epictetus, Discourses 3.1

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Learning something new (about Plato)

I'm on a streak of reading books related to the most well known ancient Greek philosophers, having just finished The Gang of Three: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle by Neel Burton, and and now diving into
The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization by Arthur Herman which, as a partisan for Aristotle, I'm quite enjoying. (Next I will read Aristotle's Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Middle Ages by Richard Rubenstein.)

While I knew about Plato having originated the myth of Atlantis in his Timaeus I did not know, or have forgotten if I ever knew previously, that, as Herman puts it in The Cave and the Light in a section detailing the influence of Plato's creation mythology, "the word Plato uses for his ordered creation, genesis, will become the title of the first book of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible."

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Quote of the day

"To compose our character is our duty, not to compose books, and to win, not battles and provinces, but order and tranquility in our conduct. Our great and glorious masterpiece is to live appropriately." - Montaigne, Essays (1580)

This quote comes via Sarah Bakewell in her magisterial book* on Montaigne, How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer, which is in a section of the book explaining how Montaigne drew upon the practical wisdom of the ancient Greek Stoics and Epicureans on how to live a life well. 

*There are very few books of nonfiction that I would more highly recommend than How to Live.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Quote of the day

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." - Mathew 7:13, NKJB

Came across this quote via Wide is the Gate by Upton Sinclair, the fourth of his 11 book Lanny Budd historical fiction series. The title is fitting as the novel is set between 1934 - 1937 and deals with the rise of fascism in Europe. I also just appreciate the quote, which I choose to interpret as thus: there are many ways to do wrong or be wrong, but usually very few ways, or a specific way to be right or do well. And even when we may know the right thing to do, it's not necessarily easy to do it, or the choice we're inclined to make. As the character Morpheus tells Neo in the 1999 film The Matrix, "there's a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path."

Monday, January 15, 2024

Quote of the day

 "[Zeno] said that well-being is attained little by little, yet it is no little thing itself. Some attribute this saying to Socrates." - Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (3rd century CE)

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Putting it in perspective

"[E]ach sees what is present in their heart." - Goethe, Faust (1831)

“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.” - Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

In my mind I turn to this Anne Frank quote frequently. I use it as a talisman to ward off pessimistic thoughts about the state of humanity. If a 13/14 year old in hiding from genocidal fascists who would eventually cause her death in a concentration camp could find it in herself to maintain this sentiment, then I can certainly stand to look for the best in people; or, rather, do whatever small part I can to promote kindness over cruelty, justice over injustice, and tolerance over intolerance.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Quote of the day

From The Enchiridion by Epictetus:

Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.

The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others. Remember, then, that if you suppose that things which are slavish by nature are also free, and that what belongs to others is your own, then you will be hindered. You will lament, you will be disturbed, and you will find fault both with gods and men. But if you suppose that only to be your own which is your own, and what belongs to others such as it really is, then no one will ever compel you or restrain you. Further, you will find fault with no one or accuse no one. You will do nothing against your will. No one will hurt you, you will have no enemies, and you will not be harmed. 
This is the opening line of the text and demonstrates what a remarkable teacher Epictetus was, as this so succinctly cuts to the core bedrock principle of Stoicism. That he was a Roman slave (his true name is unknown, epictetus translates to "acquired one") who gained his freedom and then through his teaching (what we have of his is essentially lecture notes compiled by his student Arrian) was able to influence generations for thousands of years (and counting) makes it even more impressive and inspiring.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Quote of the day

"How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it." - Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759)

This is one of the all time great opening lines of any text I have encountered. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Quote of the day

"Doubt grows with knowledge." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Quote of the day

"That was the pattern of this new society, as Lanny came to know it; boundless cruelty combined with bland and pious lying. The Fascisti would develop falsehood into a new science and a new art; they would teach it to one dictator after another, until half the human race would no longer have any means of telling truth from falsehood." - Upton Sinclair, Between Two Worlds

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Latest discount book buys

These are my most recent pick-ups from the library book sale, at a cost of a dollar each.

- Athenian Democracy (pb) by A.H.M. Jones

- The Years of Talking Dangerously (hc) by Geoffrey Nunberg

- Escape (hc) by Carolyn Jessop with Laura Palmer

- Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee (hc) by Charles J. Shields

- Emerson: The Mind on Fire (hc) by Robert D. Richardson Jr.

- Sister Carrie (pb) by Theodore Dreiser

- The Politics of Aristotle (pb) edited & translated by Ernest Barker

- John Stuart Mill (pb) by Alan Ryan

- At Home: Essays 1982-1988 (hc) by Gore Vidal

- Jonathan Swift: A Portrait (hc) by Victoria Glendinning

- Darwin: Discovering the Tree of Life (hc) by Niles Eldredge

I had purchased a copy of Escape previously, but this one is mint new. The other I will donate back. 

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Latest discount book buys

All a hardcover edition and for $1 each thanks to the local library book sale.

- A Most Wanted Man by John le Carre

- Closing Time by Joseph Heller

- Anathem by Neal Stephenson

- Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind

- The Pillars of Creation by Terry Goodkind

- Naked Empire by Terry Goodkind

- Confessor by Terry Goodkind

- Phantom by Terry Goodkind

- Chainfire by Terry Goodkind

Had been thinking I'd like to read the sequel to Catch-22 recently, so finding this nearly pristine copy of Closing Time was a bit serendipitous. All of the Goodkind books are brand new donation copies; have never read any of this fantasy series but figured at worst case I can donate the books back for the next sale if I don't care for them.

With the addition of A Most Wanted Man, I have several le Carre novels but have yet to get around to reading any.

I find Stephenson's writing to be a bit odd, as it can be both enjoyable and incredibly tedious to finish at the same time; Anathem looks as though it will fit this pattern for me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Quote of the day

"If [conservatives] look honestly enough, they will realize the conservative information sphere has long been full of lies. The reason for this is that lying has been the most effective way to promote many of the policies favored by donor-class conservatives, and so they built an apparatus to invent and spread the best lies." - Josh Barro

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Quote of the day

"You just want cruelty to beget cruelty. You're not superior to people who were cruel to you. You're just a whole bunch of new cruel people. A whole bunch of new cruel people, being cruel to some other people, who'll end up being cruel to you. The only way anyone can live in peace is if they're prepared to forgive. Why don't you break the cycle?" - Doctor Who, "The Zygon Inversion"

Monday, September 12, 2016

Quote of the day

"There are plenty of good reasons for fighting ... but no good reason ever to hate without reservation, to imagine that God Almighty Himself hates with you, too. Where's evil? It's that large part of every man that wants to hate without limit, that wants to hate with God on its side." - Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

via Unstuck in Time: A Journey Through Kurt Vonnegut's Life and Novels by Gregory Sumner

Friday, September 02, 2016

Quote of the day

"Humanism in the modern sense of the term is the view that whatever your ethical system, it derives from your best understanding of human nature and the human condition in the real world." - AC Grayling, Against All Gods: Six Polemics on Religion and an Essay on Kindness

Most recent discount book buy

The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (hc) by Lawrence Wright for $1.00.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Quote of the day

"In this election, we have the opportunity to repudiate not only Donald Trump but Trumpism, and not only Trumpism but the entire apparatus that gave us this man and this moment." - Corey Robin

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Quote of the day

"It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. Life is long enough and our allotted portion generous enough for our most ambitious projects if we invest it all carefully. But when it is squandered through luxury and indifference, and spent for no good end, we realize it has gone, under the pressure of the ultimate necessity, before we were aware it was going. So it is: the life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully. Kingly riches are dissipated in an instant if they fall into the hands of a bad master, but even moderate wealth increases with use in the hands of a careful steward; just so does our life provide ample scope if it is well managed." - Seneca, "On the Shortness of Life"

Thursday, April 14, 2016

More discount book buying

Went back to the library book sale and picked these up for a dollar each.

The Age of Uncertainty (hc) by John Kenneth Galbraith

Planet Earth (hc) by Jonathan Weiner

The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-Universe Report (pb) by Timothy Ferris

The White Plague (hc) by Frank Herbert

Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman (hc) by James Gleick

The Ascent of Science (hc) by Brian Silver

The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity by Jeffrey Sachs

Trigger Happy: Videogames and the Entertainment Revolution (hc) by Steven Poole

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin (hc) by Erik Larson

A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World (hc) by Tony Horwitz

I already have a Kindle edition of Genius but will gladly add it in hardcover to my collection given my admiration for Feynman.

Latest discount book buys

Got these at the library book sale, $1 each.

Freedom: A Novel (hc) by Jonathan Franzen

Silent Spring (pb) by Rachel Carson

Mason and Dixon (hc) by Thomas Pynchon

The Blind Assassin: A Novel (hc) by Margaret Atwood

The Enemy Within: A Short History of Witch-hunting (hc) by John Demos

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (hc) by Eric Schlosser

Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (hc) by Marion Nestle

What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets (hc) by Michael Sandel

Contact (hc) by Carl Sagan

The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science (hc) by Natalie Angier

The Goldfinch: A Novel (hc) by Donna Tartt

Regret the Error: How Media Mistakes Pollute the Press and Imperil Free Speech (hc) Craig Silverman

The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap (hc) by Matt Taibbi

Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (hc) by Martha Nussbaum

The Physics of Star Trek (hc) by Lawrence Krauss

I already have Kindle editions of Silent Spring and The Divide but am happy to add them in print to my collection at such a bargain price; and I have a paperback copy of Fast Food Nation which I will be donating back to the library since I've now upgraded to hardcover.

Mason and Dixon, Regret the Error, The Canon and Food Politics are former library books which look mint and appear to have never been checked out. (What Money Can't Buy looks close to new, as well.) The Canon, The Divide, The Physics of Star Trek, and Not for Profit are donated new books; Fast Food Nation is used with someone's name inscribed in the first page but appears to have never been read. Contact is also a donation and a first edition that looks like it has been sitting on a store bookshelf somewhere since its original release.

And I didn't pick this up at the library sale, but Barnes & Noble had Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture (hc) by Laurence Maslon and Michael Kantor for $10, which I could not resist given how much I enjoyed the 3 part PBS documentary it is the companion to.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Monday, September 28, 2015

Quote of the day

"Wherever they burn books they will also, in the end burn human beings." - Heinrich Heine (1820)

Heine's works were among those burned by the Nazis in 1933.

via Hitler's Philosophers by Yvonne Sherratt

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Excerpt of the day

From Half a Crown by Jo Walton

"As soon as she's told them whatever it is they think she's holding out on, she'll be back with you ... She'll tell them soon. You've approved the [interrogation] methods at Finsbury yourself."

Carmichael wanted to say that he hadn't approved them for Elvira, for an innocent girl, but the words wouldn't come out of his mouth. He had approved them, and if he had approved them he had approved them for her, for anyone, for everyone.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Quote of the day

"[A]ny man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind." - John Donne, Meditation XVII

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Kim Davis and moral false equivalence

"This is like saying that Rosa Parks refusing to sit in the back of the bus and the bus driver refusing to let black people on the bus would be morally equivalent, which is clearly false." - Ed Brayton, on those claiming Kim Davis is a hero of conscience