I couldn't get much out of this one. Interesting background reading by two Wall Street Journalist on crypto currency. Gox and Silk Road fiascos. They have no leaders, no social class, a relative low level of violence, and lots of sex. Everett's field research uncovers two aspects of their culture. Firstly, and most famously, the lack of linguistic recursion.
Every Piraha sentence is simple, short and refers to a single event or statement. He emphasizes how language is shaped by the environment and the culture of the speakers, rather than being formed by a biologically driven universal grammar Chomsky or a language instinct Pinker. Everett explains many features of the culture and the language of the Piraha by what he calls the immediacy of experience principle.
Only what a person has directly seen, heard or otherwise experienced or what a third party has directly experienced him- or her-self is taken to exist by the Piraha, is taken to be real. Their extreme form of empiricism explains the absence of any creation myth, of fiction, of concepts like great-grandparents due to their low life-expectancy, very few Piraha have direct experience with the parents of their grandparents. On the other hand, per the immediacy of experience principle, dreams are accepted as a different aspect of reality, as it is a direct form of experience.
A partially submerged Manhattan is the real protagonist of this post-Global Warming novel, a make-do, vibrant, exciting and impoverished SuperVenice hit by a monster hurricane followed by a financial crisis triggered by some of the various characters the book follows. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. Mid 70s quasi-utopian novel, a product of countercultural Berkeley, in which the fictitious reporter Weston visits Ecotopia — the states of Northern California, Oregon and Washington that violently seceded from the Union to form their own country, living in harmony with nature and the environment.
The society does not reject technology but only adopts those technologies and industries that serve the overall well-being of the social and ecological order. The book is valuable for providing an alternative vision, not for its literary values, which is slight. I bought the 40th anniversary addition, with an insightful afterword by the author, predicting the rise of demagogues and fascists need I say more? I now fly the flag of Cascadia a more recent reincarnation of Ecotopia at my Seattle home as a symbolic gesture. The novel has little action or dialogue and describes a handful of mundane occurrences — a dinner party, somebody painting a scene, a sailing boat trip to a lighthouse - spaced out over ten years, at the vacation home of Mr.
Ramsay, their children and a few of their friends in the Hebrides. The short middle section of the book evokes a powerful, magical and profoundly sad sense of passage of time, absence and the evil that men do. Subsequent chapters deal with some more recent development in algorithmic complexity, in particular Chaitin's contributions.
What seems early-on like paradise turns into a perfect, all transparent Bentham panopticon with the inmates having voluntarily and happily given up all rights to privacy under the motto of 'privacy is theft', 'secrets are lies" and 'sharing is caring'. Great read but chilling. Two biologists take an unsentimental, yet not unsympathetic, quantitative look at what makes a dog a dog.
Feeding Oil or Fat for Horses
The reason dogs make good pets is in large part because they have this innate behavior of finding somewhere to sit and wait for food to arrive, which is exactly what our pet dogs do. Their niche is scavenging food from humans. They are like ravens and foxes that scavenge food from wolves or humans.
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Where is that dog food supply? Look for humans, and there it is. Why are dogs nice to people?
They are the source of food. Dogs find some food source that arrives daily and they sit there and wait. Of the approximately one billion dogs on the planet, the authors estimate that million of them are village dogs. No matter where they are found, peaking in the tropics and with a steep gradient toward the poles, they roughly look and weigh the same. The Coppinger's argue that these are not mongrels, nor strays, feral or abandoned dogs but are the naturally selected, i.
These breeds could not survive in the wild and their phenotype would quickly disappear in the general gene pool of dogs were they to cross-breed. However, giving the abandon with which dogs engage in sex and the young age at which they become sexual mature months , there is never a short supply of dogs. A great monograph — proving you can write like a scientist and tell a compelling story to an old-dog lover like me. Dietrich — now a successful novelist — goes out of his way to be faithful to the point-of-view of all participants of this bitter dispute that ended with a series of court decisions in the early s with a post-script added by the author in to bring the story up-to-date.
The book attests to the compelling power that dense virgin, primeval forests with a capital F has over the human psyche. It is the environment in which homo sapiens lived in for much of the past , years. While I love forest as much as the next German-American listening from an early age to stories about the Teutonic forest it is a different matter to be in a tent or sleeping bag deep in a dark and brooding forest, with its incessant nocturnal voices, tyrannized by clouds of mosquitos. I enjoyed this book while experiencing the majesty of Olympic National Forest during the day and the civilized comfort of an old-time Lodge at night!
Well written biography of Leroy Hood, who co-invented the first semi -automated DNA sequencer that, together with three other instruments he helped develop, the DNA synthesizer, and the protein sequencer and synthesizer, powered the Genomics revolution that is at the heart of modern biology, medicine and the biotechnology industry. Lee was the chairman of biology who recruited me to Caltech back in He later founded the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle.
The book well captures the heady days of the human genome project and some of its people; it is no hagiography, as the author, a journalist specializing in the biotech industry, highlights both the many strengths but also the weaknesses of Lee as a scientist, mentor, entrepreneur, fund-raiser, mesmerizing public speaker and manager.
In June of , A. Hotchner visited a close friend in the psychiatric ward of St. Mary's Hospital. It would be the last time they spoke - three weeks later, Ernest Hemingway shot himself. During their conversations, Hemingway entrusted the tale of the affair that destroyed his first marriage to Hotchner, his editor — of how he gambled and lost his wife and son. A wild but well told tale, of two consecutive plane crashes in the African bush, of impotence cured in a house of God, of Parisian nights carousing with Scott Fitzgerald and Josephine Baker, of adventure, conceit, passion and lusting after life.
Taunt and dark murder Icelandic mystery, taking place amid the usual chaotic and dysfunctional family milieu of any Nordic thriller, during a ten days spell of never ending rain and gloom in present day Reykjavik in the fall. The story involves a rare genetic disease that expresses itself fatally at a young age but only in a subset of carrier and whose Icelandic carriers were, illegally, identified by breaking into the genomic database of Decode, famously based in Iceland. To judge by Republican propagandists and Nordic noir crime fiction writers, Scandinavian societies must be in a state of almost complete societal break-down given the amount of rape, murder, incest, divorce in these novels.
Of course, having just returned from Iceland, it is one of the most developed, peaceful, prosperous, efficient and spectacular beautiful countries I know.
Bizarre novel by the Icelandic Nobel Laureate, part magical realism, part allegory and satire. Despite a 10 pages enthusiastic introduction by Susan Sontag, the novel is a dud, without much internal logic. He does make a number of trenchant observations. This belief that science would offer us an exemption from our place in this vast panorama of disintegration — of which the rotting armadillos and raccoons, the circling vultures, were only the most immediate manifestations — was a displacement of a fundamentally religious instinct.
I own a sweatshirt that succinctly summarizes what the belief in the upcoming singularity among the smart money in Silicon Valley amounts to — rapture for nerds. His two biggest regrets are the death of his young lover, Antinous, and the very bloody second Roman-Jewish War that ended in the complete destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of most of the Jewish population. Hadrian is an admirable man — disciplined, thoughtful, diplomatic as a default, forceful when necessary, a consummate traveler.
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During his 19 years reign, the Empire was peaceful and prosperous; the official practice of religion was tolerant towards all the gods of the various people and tribes ruled by Rome, provided they, in turn, accepted the idea of a Pantheon— that Christianity, famously, did not. To give you a sense of the style, here is the ending. Little soul, gentle and drifting, guest and companion of my body, now you will dwell below in pallid places, stark and bare; there you will abandon your play of yore. But one moment still, let us gaze together on these familiar shores, on these objects which doubtless we shall not see again Let us try, if we can, to enter into death with open eyes The author takes up a version of Whiteheadian pan-experientialism, and defends it against Thomas Nagel and Jaegwon Kim and discusses this in relationship to the ideas of William Seager, Galen Strawson and John Searle.
Beautiful produced gem of a historical novella of the life of Margaret Cavendish, nee Lucas, an English aristocrat, poet, playwright and self-taught philosopher, who lived during the 17th century Civil War and the ensuing Restoration much of her adult life was spent in exile in Paris and Holland. She wrote at a time when few women did and great intellectual ferment was in the air — this is, after all, the period of the European Enlightenment and the birth of modern science — that she herself tried to contribute to.
Hardly a regime conducive to becoming pregnant! Terse, sparse and well observed writing by Dutton. History, by the gifted science journalist, of the neglected English physician Thomas Willis and his turbulent times England during the Civil War and the ensuing Restoration. Willis, together with William Harvey, is a founding figure of modern anatomy, neurology and psychiatry, who turned a field that was utterly dominated by what Aristotle and Galen had though and written 1, years earlier into something more recognizable as modern science.
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And the nobler the patients, the worse the treatment - King Charles II, who suffered from kidney disease, was purged, plastered, scalded and drained of quarts of his blood dying in the process. Many millions of patients must have been killed over the two millennia by such quackery. My introduction to urban fantasy, narratives where the fantastic and the mundane interact and interweave at the intersection of a real, city, here London above the modern world and below a medieval London with magic, speaking animals, demons and angles.
I would call this fantasy for adults; sad, poignant, utterly fascinating and hypnotic.