succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Books Read

Plows, Plagues, and Petroleum, William F. Ruddiman - I wrapped this one up months ago, at the encouragement of my friend Brian, and I highly recommend it. It is an excellent, brief, explanation of global warming starting, literally, with the beginning of the planet. It includes lots of rotational pattern information that span thousands and thousands of years. Stuff I haven't seen in other global warming arguments and, I think, lends credence to Ruddiman's. It helps that he comes off as quite agenda-less (though perhaps I'm just being naive). The last section on plagues includes his weakest arguments and conclusions, but still interesting food for thought. At only a few hundred pages long you can finish it up in a weekend and then almost sound like an expert at dinner parties.*

The Confusion and The System of the World, Neal Stephenson - thus endeth my long commitment to Stephenson's trilogy The Baroque Cycle. Three very dense but thoroughly enjoyable novels that purport to be sci-fi/fantasy, but really veer much closer to historical geek fiction. There's lots of British royalty espionage, much of which I'm sure went over my head, some dabbling in alchemy, a fair bit of economics, and, my favorite, several important plot points revolving around major characters Liebnitz and Newton and their argument over who invented The Calculus. Even more satisfying - Stephenson got an ending right for once.

Currently Reading

The Rule of Four, Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason - enjoyable popcorn fiction of the dork variety (allegedly similar to the Da Vinci Code; about a 500 year old novel and ensuing mystery), chosen to cleanse the palate after The Baroque Cycle, but making slower progress than I'd like.

*at my bowling team dinner party last night (did I mention our team name is Snakes on a Lane?) I made the classic error of not only discussing politics, but having said discussion with a stranger (teammate's previously unmet girlfriend). I think everything went ok, but I tend to get all uppity about politics and sometimes lose my sense of social decorum. Such behavior is ok around forgiving and understanding friends, but tends to make you look like an asshole around strangers.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you like the Baroque Cycle. One major theme you didn't mention (that I found enjoyable) is the struggle to reconcile the old mystical/theological worldview with the new scientific worldview. Seems like an issue thats still coming up a lot.

8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Above is Steve (I always forget!)

8:17 PM  

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