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Philip Coates

Current Reading

56 posts in this topic

I like to read several books at once and take many weeks to finish all of them, then start another batch. Currently, it's "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald (re-reading), "Africa, A Biography of the Continent" by John Reader, and "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser.

Sometimes I'll start a book and never finish, but all three of these are superb, will be finished, are being well-annotated: One is great literature. One is a breathtaking survey and integration of the geology, climate and ecology, anthropology, cultures and sociology of a place that fell behind in history. One is a compendium of many wise tips about a major skill or avocation.

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Phil wrote:

I like to read several books at once and take many weeks to finish all of them, then start another batch.

end quote

Right now I am going through a ‘mystery’ phase. I am reading Ridley Pearson’s “In Harm’s Way,” about a small town sheriff who’s voters and neighbors are mostly the ultra wealthy and the people who work for them, the shop keepers, and a few of the low life’s you would expect hanging around rich people. There was also a John Wayne Movie called, “In Harm’s Way,” from the book, “They Were Expendable,” written by Admiral John Bulkley who I had the privilege of knowing when he as my father’s Commanding Officer.

On my table, next to be read is the “Bones” creator Kathy Reich's book, “Spider Bones”, Brad Meltzer’s “Inner Circle” about a young US archivist who handles the most important documents of the Government. “When his first child-hood crush shows up at the Archives asking for his help tracking down her long-lost father, he tries to impress her by showing her the secret vault where the President of the United States reviews classified documents.” That sounds pretty good, and I may read that next.

And lastly, I will read, John Verdon’s, “Think of a Number.” The blurb on the book jacket is “The disturbing letters end with a simple declaration, “Think of any number . . . picture it . . . now see how well I know your secrets.” All those who comply find that the letter writer has predicted their choice exactly. . . ” That also sounds pretty good.

What comes to mind after looking at the cover for “Think of a Number” is the show I watched last night called, “Person of Interest,” starring that nerdy guy from “Lost”, Michael Emerson who won an Emmy Award for his nuanced performance as Benjamin Linus in the series, "Lost." They have a computer tied into every databank and surveillance camera in America for the NSA and are on the lookout for terrorists but they also start discovering future crimes of a more personal nature.

The early years of “Lost” were great! Oceanic Flight 815 crashes on a tropical island. There are survivors. The Dharma Initiative. The Others. The time shifting. What great fun that show was.

Peter

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Thanks, Peter. I hope people will give some detail on current (and recent!) reading - what value it has (or had) or why they like it. I realize I made a mistake in titling the thread current reading because often if you are in the middle or an early chapter you can't evaluate or provide feedback yet.

Let me revise the thread purpose and theme: "Current or Recent Reading -- Things of Some Value and Why".

(Is there anything you've completed recently that you got benefit or entertainment from?) We had another thread on movies but, alas, people tended to not give any explanation....was more like a bunch of one-line each bullets or a laundry list.

the reason for specifying recent is people tend to forget a lot of the details of books read years ago. Any 'mini-reviews" or simple one sentence summaries tend to lose some richness then.

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> Right now I am going through a ‘mystery’ phase. [Peter]

Do you have any favorites so far, or is it too early in your phase? Any writers (or particular books) who are particularly clever, dramatic, good at story-telling, satisfying plot twists, or the like?

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I like to read several books at once and take many weeks to finish all of them, then start another batch. Currently, it's "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald (re-reading), "Africa, A Biography of the Continent" by John Reader, and "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser. Sometimes I'll start a book and never finish, but all three of these are superb, will be finished, are being well-annotated: One is great literature. One is a breathtaking survey and integration of the geology, climate and ecology, anthropology, cultures and sociology of a place that fell behind in history. One is a compendium of many wise tips about a major skill or avocation.

Why do you think The Great Gatsby qualifies as "great literature"? Granted, I haven't read it in many years, but when I did read it I found it dreadfully boring.

Ghs

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I also found Gatsby fairly boring on previous reading and am only reading it now because it is our book of the month in Great Books. I'll wait till I finish it this time to revisit the whole picture.

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Phil wrote:

Do you have any favorites so far, or is it too early in your phase? Any writers (or particular books) who are particularly clever, dramatic, good at story-telling, satisfying plot twists, or the like?

end quote

Baldacci who is particularly clever comes to mind. I will look up the others tomorrow, since it is nearly 11:12 pm, and I have had two bourbons and my wife is about to open the Champagne. Burp!

I know you don’t like diversions but as I was donning my two hoodies to jog this afternoon, I started watching, “Deep Impact” for about the third time. Cinema buffs always tout “Citizen Cane” and the whispered word “rosebud” as the best scene ever, but there is a ten minute scene in “Deep Impact” that rivals it.

Tia Leone (is that her name? She is married to David Decuvney) is a reporter who thinks she has uncovered a scandal. A Presidential cabinet member is resigning, say the rumors, because he cheated on his wife, with a woman named Elly. She goes to his house with a cameraman only to find that he is going on a cruise. On the dock of his Chesapeake home a boat is tied up and also on the dock are hundreds of cans of “ensure.”

When the Cabinet member confronts her on his property she tries to interview him. However, his answers and obvious distress are not what she expected of someone who has cheated on his wife. She leaves. As she is driving back to MSNBC headquarters in DC she is pulled over by the FBI who take her to The White House. She is still clueless. They take her to the basement where she meets a “Nofzinger” look alike who further confounds her but gives her a few more clues. Suddenly the President superbly played by Morgan Freeman enters the basement with two Secret Service agents at his heels . . .

Well, I will let you watch or re-watch that scene – it is great.

Peter

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I also found Gatsby fairly boring on previous reading and am only reading it now because it is our book of the month in Great Books. I'll wait till I finish it this time to revisit the whole picture.

I must admit I never had the patience to finish a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald; I could neither relate to the world he described, nor to his way of writing. But this is a matter of pure personal taste.

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It may also be being from Germany, a different cultural background and history perhaps?

I know Gatsby's world and Nick's world and Daisy's and Tom's. I've met the people in it, and even been one or more of them. And a number of times I say "yes, I know exactly what he is talking about and that kind of situation".

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When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends. - Japanese Proverb

Phil wrote:

I know Gatsby's world and Nick's world and Daisy's and Tom's. I've met the people in it, and even been one or more of them. And a number of times I say "yes, I know exactly what he is talking about and that kind of situation".

end quote

In ‘real’ life are you really rich or just the pool boy? Ouch, my nose! You hit me.

James Spader who appeared on “Boston Legal” was rich and friends with the Kennedy’s. When he was interviewed his elitist snobbish attitude could easily be discerned. Privileged. Spoiled.

Ta! I am so busy. I need to put up a bigger “no trespassing sign” on my estate and then get back to my offices in Boston at Crane, Poole & Schmidt.

Peter

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> In ‘real’ life are you really rich or just the pool boy?

I clean the shit from the pool, then I go home and take shit on this list. :smile:

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Why do you think The Great Gatsby qualifies as "great literature"? Granted, I haven't read it in many years, but when I did read it I found it dreadfully boring.

Yet it’s a useful diagnostic tool.

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The Great Gatsby is always near the top of lists of greatest novels, I’ve read it of course, and don’t quite get why it’s so revered. Fitzgerald and Wodehouse were friendly contemporaries, and comparing the two could be a good case study in Benevolent vs. Malevolent sense of life.

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Why do you think The Great Gatsby qualifies as "great literature"? Granted, I haven't read it in many years, but when I did read it I found it dreadfully boring.

Yet it’s a useful diagnostic tool.

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The Great Gatsby is always near the top of lists of greatest novels, I’ve read it of course, and don’t quite get why it’s so revered. Fitzgerald and Wodehouse were friendly contemporaries, and comparing the two could be a good case study in Benevolent vs. Malevolent sense of life.

I had the same reaction to GG. I think its shining reputation has something to do with the litcrit trend at the time, in which the American novel often seemed to be a Greatness contest. Each book by each major writer was a Winner or a Loser. Writers were celebrities.

I'll take Wodehouse any day.

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I was hoping this thread would lead a little less to gatsbystudies or critiques of other people's choices (though not entirely) and a little more to people offering their own positive values -- books they've read recently which were valuable or instructive.

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I was hoping this thread would lead a little less to gatsbystudies or critiques of other people's choices (though not entirely) and a little more to people offering their own positive values -- books they've read recently which were valuable or instructive.

Here you go then. Recently I reread "The Last of the Wine" by Mary Renault, which I believe I have recommended to you before Phil. It is set in classical Athens, Socrates is a main character, the writing is extremely good and it is much more entertaining than the Great Gatsby. I have read and reread her other historical novels which altogether, cover the period from the birth of philosophy to the death of Alexand.er the Great, so Aristotle has a walk-on part

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The Suicide of Reason: Radical Islam’s Threat to the West, by Lee Harris

This is a frightening study of the sanction of the victim on an international scale. How fanatical Islam is using the West’s Enlightenment values of reason, tolerance and modernity against us to transform and destroy life as we know it.

American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers and the Making of a Nation, by Jon Meacham

An analysis of the impact of religion and secularism on the formation and cultural development of America. It examines the thinking of the Founding Fathers with regard to the role religion should play in the emerging nation. It also takes a look at modern controversies and analyzes them from the perspective of the Founders’ viewpoints, including their views on such ongoing Constitutional questions as the “wall of separation” between church and state.

Recently finished:

The Original Argument: The Federalists’ Case for the Constitution, by Glenn Beck

Beck worked with another author to rewrite these historical documents in modern English. The arguments of Publius (John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison) in defense of the new Constitution are presented in clear language along with additional essays that highlight their relevance to present day. One surprise for me was how many of their arguments for the Constitution vs. state power sound like today’s debates between anarchists and limited government advocates.

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Dennis wrote:

One surprise for me was how many of their arguments for the Constitution vs. state power sound like today’s debates between anarchists and limited government advocates.

end quote

As Ronald Reagan said, “Ah, there you go again.” Now Phil’s thread will be infested by those strange bedfellows (or bedbugs), the Rational Anarchists. Let me spray some deep woods “Off.” The concept *Planned Rational Anarchism* is a floating abstraction which has never been concretized by anyone.

Rand wrote that, “Abstractions as such do not exist: they are merely man’s epistemological method of perceiving that which exists—and that which exists is concrete.”

end quote

*Planned Rational Anarchism* is an attempt to abstractly unite total voluntarism with order. It is an attempt to unite voluntarism with long lived justice and the protection of individual rights. It has never worked. Yet, you are right. Ghs is the Prime Example of Alpha Male Anarchist or PEAMA. If that sounds like a Government Department it is - because anarchy usually leads to bad, sometimes better government, but it always leads to government.

Semper cogitans fidele,

Peter Taylor

Notes from me. I wrote the following in 2009 or 10 so feel free to skip it. As always, No comment required Dennis, even if I mentioned your name.

Does Objectivism lead to Rational Planned Anarchy? If a person begins with a theory, uses the tenets of that theory as proof and then says the steps validate all conclusions, but one, how do we know?

“Epistemology is a science devoted to the discovery of the proper methods of acquiring and validating knowledge.” What is knowledge? How is knowledge acquired? How do we know what we know?

When describing a political theory that has never been tried, like planned anarchy, it must be described in detail, like a scientific theory, or a business plan. Facts of its existence must be presented. “Here it is,” the proponent of planned anarchy might say, “The facts of its existence are shown by the blueprints.”

A simple example would be a neighborhood agreement for a new housing development. To buy a home there you must read, understand, and sign the agreement. Mow your grass, and no garish lawn ornaments might be two rules. Signing is voluntary, which meets the *constant consent* requirement of anarchy.

Where’s the plan for anarchy? How do we know and show it for what it is? How was this knowledge of anarchy discovered? How do we prove it is true or not true? What happens when one anarchic territory with certain voluntary agreements collides with its neighbor? What happens the second time, the third time, and tomorrow, on into the future?

It can’t be proved by trying to disprove constitutional government. No philosophical double negatives allowed.

It can’t be proved by past writings like a complex mathematical formula such as relativity. Each stop of a mathematical proof can be shown to be logically, mathematically true. The writings of present and past people are not necessarily proof, unless painstakingly translated into math or, more debatably, symbolic logic.

It must be open to peer review. It must be verifiable by different experiments. Above all, The Anarchic Plan must be put into action and this has never been done. If Rational Anarchists are sincere, they must prove it. Show the world. Shower Objectivists with proof. We won’t be bothered by drops of truth.

Semper cogitans fidele,

Peter Taylor

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Dear Jiminy Cricket,

> Now Phil’s thread will be infested by those strange bedfellows (or bedbugs), the Rational Anarchists.

Hey, I'm just happy if they come and participate. Anyone is welcome if they are willing to talk about the subject of the thread and not go off onto anarchocap.....even if they use profanity... :o

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Subject: Well-Read? Readers of entire books vs: magazines? t.v? the internet? cartoonists? internet videos?

It doesn't look by this thread on current book reading as if Objectivist Living is chock full of people who are currently or recently (2011 perhaps?) reading many books.

Or maybe not able to select the good ones perhaps, good enough to write a sentence about.

,,,,,,,,,,

(Carol, wrt Mary Renault, I finished rereading "The King Must Die" just a couple months ago. It placed me into an entirely different world, into the mind of Theseus and the world of the Mycenaean Greeks. Lyrical and inspiring in places; heroic. I see why it fascinated me as a teenager. I'll reread a couple more by Mary as well. As an adolescent I remember also liking "The Bull From the Sea" but not the one you mentioned as much. We'll see. I've finished Gatsby and prepared a list of 14 questions about the book for monthly great books and am currently halfway through a science fiction novel by Isaac Asimov, "The End of Eternity". I alternate heavy and light and have three 'heavy' literary works coming up the rest of this month for annual great books conference before I can go all mickeyspilane on yo' ass.)

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Subject: Well-Read? Readers of entire books vs: magazines? t.v? the internet? cartoonists? internet videos?

It doesn't look by this thread on current book reading as if Objectivist Living is chock full of people who are currently or recently (2011 perhaps?) reading many books.

Or maybe not able to select the good ones perhaps, good enough to write a sentence about.

Or, maybe not interested in discussing them with Phil Coates.

Écrasez Schoolmarm!

Philmarm.jpg

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> Or, maybe not interested in discussing them with Phil Coates.

Little known fact: When you post, you are discussing them with everyone.

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> Or, maybe not interested in discussing them with Phil Coates.

Little known fact: When you post, you are discussing them with everyone.

They didn't post.

--Brant

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> Or, maybe not interested in discussing them with Phil Coates.

Little known fact: When you post, you are discussing them with everyone.

Not when people have Phil’s posts set on ignore. RC and WSS recently wrote that they avail themselves of that option; so did BG, but here we have proof that he nonetheless can’t resist a peek at Phil’s latest bit of finger wagging.

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> Or, maybe not interested in discussing them with Phil Coates.

Little known fact: When you post, you are discussing them with everyone.

Not when people have Phil’s posts set on ignore. RC and WSS recently wrote that they avail themselves of that option; so did BG, but here we have proof that he nonetheless can’t resist a peek at Phil’s latest bit of finger wagging.

> Or, maybe not interested in discussing them with Phil Coates.

Little known fact: When you post, you are discussing them with everyone.

Not when people have Phil’s posts set on ignore. RC and WSS recently wrote that they avail themselves of that option; so did BG, but here we have proof that he nonetheless can’t resist a peek at Phil’s latest bit of finger wagging.

How much relief does that give the ignorer, though? Unless every poster agrees to send Phil to Coventry (and we know how easily everyone here is unanimous on everything) they will be confronted with Phil when anybody else replies to something.he's quoted about.

Can someone really be ignored who like the poor will always be with us?

Mother Caroline Whistler

Friend to the Poor

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Can someone really be ignored who like the poor will always be with us?

With a parting howl, Phil goes away for about 6 months at a time; it's like he has a hibernation schedule. The sooner he goes away the better, and maybe next time he'll come back an improved bear.

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