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Thread: What are you reading?

  1. #4381
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    "The Island Of Doctor Moreau" via the Gutenberg Project. This is one I hadn't read before. I know it's considered a "classic" of early science fiction, and I did enjoy it as an adventure/thriller. But I find it strange that even in Wells' day anyone thought anything of that sort might be possible, if not plausible.

    CJSF
    "I like the stories
    About angels, unicorns and elves
    Now I like those stories
    As much as anybody else
    But when I'm seeking knowledge
    Either simple or abstract
    The facts are with science"

    -They Might Be Giants, "Science Is Real"


    lonelybirder.org

  2. #4382
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    Quote Originally Posted by schlaugh View Post
    ... The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein, a study of RAH and his works. From Amazon:
    In this major critical study, Hugo Award-winner Farah Mendlesohn carries out a close reading of Heinlein’s work, including unpublished stories, essays, and speeches. It sets out not to interpret a single book, but to think through the arguments Heinlein made over a lifetime about the nature of science fiction, about American politics, and about himself.
    The darned thing is 457 pages. I didn't think anyone could write that much about the guy.
    I've just finished this. Thanks for drawing it to my attention.
    You're right, it could have been shorter. I suspect a more conventional publisher would have tightened it up, and also sorted out some of Mendlesohn's ambiguous sentences.
    But an interesting read, nevertheless. She and some of her sources seem to have come to the same conclusion as I did, after reading Patterson's biography and rereading Starship Trooper, Stranger In A Strange Land and The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress (the three novels Heinlein said you had to understand in order to understand Heinlein). I thought at the time that many of the key concepts in Heinlein's worldview were actually arrived at emotionally--patriotism, personal honour, the importance of family, various political views--but that his self-image was of a hard-nosed realist who always followed the facts. So he ended up trying to make logical arguments for things that couldn't really be defended logically (because the arguments started from premises that had been arrived at emotionally), and then either getting angry when people didn't accept his arguments, or dismissing them as "custardheads".

    Basically, he kept bringing engineering-style arguments to a moral-philosophy fight.

    Grant Hutchison

  3. #4383
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    Quote Originally Posted by CJSF View Post
    "The Island Of Doctor Moreau" via the Gutenberg Project. This is one I hadn't read before. I know it's considered a "classic" of early science fiction, and I did enjoy it as an adventure/thriller. But I find it strange that even in Wells' day anyone thought anything of that sort might be possible, if not plausible.
    Wells himself categorized all his literary works to be Fantasy, more important as drivers of the imagination than as "realistic" possibilities. He was not a "hard SF" proponent by any means.

    As for what was publicly accepted as scientifically accurate... well, they did believe weirder things at the time.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  4. #4384
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    I have just finished "Awakening - A History of the Western Mind AD 500 - 1700" by Charles Freeman. It was not a 'fun' read as it comprises some 741 closely printed pages of information and argument. I usually found that I had to dip in it for a few pages at a time as it committed that most horrendous sin of making me think. There is no way that I can really paraphrase this book but it did introduce me to a number of philosophers and theologians that I had never heard of before and expanded, greatly, my knowledge of others. There was the occasional bit of dry wit thrown in now again. For example in describing one of the numerous not entirely 'clean handed' Popes who 'diverted' 1/3 of Papal income - ".... was a great benefactor of the arts and his family."

    https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/h...book-1.4366425

  5. #4385
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozduck View Post
    I have just finished "Awakening - A History of the Western Mind AD 500 - 1700" by Charles Freeman. It was not a 'fun' read as it comprises some 741 closely printed pages of information and argument. I usually found that I had to dip in it for a few pages at a time as it committed that most horrendous sin of making me think. There is no way that I can really paraphrase this book but it did introduce me to a number of philosophers and theologians that I had never heard of before and expanded, greatly, my knowledge of others. There was the occasional bit of dry wit thrown in now again. For example in describing one of the numerous not entirely 'clean handed' Popes who 'diverted' 1/3 of Papal income - ".... was a great benefactor of the arts and his family."
    I've always been interested in history and philosophy, in my own amateurish self-taught way. I have read a few of the "Classical" writings of Western thought, and it's been eye-opening in both positive and negative ways; we still face some of the same moral and ethical arguments that the ancient Athenians dealt with.

    I'm also interested in learning about some of the non-Western philosophies and traditions. The Classics were taught in school but I had little or no access to other paths growing up. Now that I have the internet and free time, I'm starting to learn how the rest of the world sees the world.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  6. #4386
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    I've always been interested in history and philosophy, in my own amateurish self-taught way. I have read a few of the "Classical" writings of Western thought, and it's been eye-opening in both positive and negative ways; we still face some of the same moral and ethical arguments that the ancient Athenians dealt with.

    I'm also interested in learning about some of the non-Western philosophies and traditions. The Classics were taught in school but I had little or no access to other paths growing up. Now that I have the internet and free time, I'm starting to learn how the rest of the world sees the world.
    I have to admit that while I 'knew' that the Classics were rediscovered in Europe via the 'Arab world I didn't realise how important the writings of Plato and Aristotle were in regard to Christian thought in the period covered by this book.

  7. #4387
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozduck View Post
    I have just finished "Awakening - A History of the Western Mind AD 500 - 1700" by Charles Freeman. It was not a 'fun' read as it comprises some 741 closely printed pages of information and argument. I usually found that I had to dip in it for a few pages at a time as it committed that most horrendous sin of making me think. There is no way that I can really paraphrase this book but it did introduce me to a number of philosophers and theologians that I had never heard of before and expanded, greatly, my knowledge of others. There was the occasional bit of dry wit thrown in now again. For example in describing one of the numerous not entirely 'clean handed' Popes who 'diverted' 1/3 of Papal income - ".... was a great benefactor of the arts and his family."

    https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/h...book-1.4366425
    I have a similar book called the Passion of the Western Mind, by Richard Tarnas. A history of philosophy. But it does not deal with Chinese philosophy. It also is not easy to read at a sitting! The BBC series “In Our Time” is, I believe, available as podcasts and includes discussion of several philosphers and philosophies in a digestible form. At least I find it so, it adds to the read because a small team of contributors discuss the ideas. Epicurus is a favourite of mine. Partly because his name is so misused today.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  8. #4388
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    A history of philosophy. But it does not deal with Chinese philosophy. It also is not easy to read at a sitting!
    It would of course be difficult to do more that a brief overview of the various dominant philosophical traditions in one book or even one series. I know the many Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and Islamic groups are the most well developed because those cultures have vast volumes of historical writings on the subject, but many indigenous philosophies worth studying are finding their way into the written word too.

    (I always try to keep in mind that the prevailing Western views did not become prevailing in the world purely out of their own merits, but because the colonial powers had better guns.)
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  9. #4389
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    I found The Aeronauts from the TIME-LIFE series “The Epic of Flight” at a library booksale on Saturday. Because it’s about early balloonists, it doesn’t feel as dated as some of their other 70s-80s books— aside from one reference to “what is now West Germany”.
    The greatest journey of all time, for all to see
    Every mission makes our dreams reality
    And our destiny begins with you and me
    Through all space and time, the achievement of mankind
    As we sail the sea of discovery, on heroes’ wings we fly!

  10. #4390
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    How Apollo Flew To The Moon, by W. David Woods. Absolutely excellent discussion of the technical and engineering aspects of getting Apollo to the Moon and back again, interleaved with illustrative mission transcripts, exerpts from post-mission debriefs, and quotes from autobiographies. Highly recommended for Apollo buffs. I picked up two errors--a confusion between the coordinate systems of the spacecraft and the space vehicle, and a repetition of the surprisingly common myth that the transfer trajectories were coplanar with the Moon's orbit.

    Grant Hutchison

  11. #4391
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    How Apollo Flew To The Moon, by W. David Woods. Absolutely excellent discussion of the technical and engineering aspects of getting Apollo to the Moon and back again, interleaved with illustrative mission transcripts, exerpts from post-mission debriefs, and quotes from autobiographies. Highly recommended for Apollo buffs. I picked up two errors--a confusion between the coordinate systems of the spacecraft and the space vehicle, and a repetition of the surprisingly common myth that the transfer trajectories were coplanar with the Moon's orbit.

    Grant Hutchison
    I saw a recent youtube video of a lecture about the flight computer, its history and function. It was an eye opener when so many quips are made about mobile phones being more powerful. It was a real time controller and had programs for every phase, and of course it worked. The famous manual take over is also a myth. Armstrong changed a parameter. The computer was updating predicted landing spot versus programmed spot and he manually changed the chosen spot, the computer tracked and correctly controlled the descent accordingly. All with a rather beautiful ferrite torroid, hand wired main memory. And a pack of Nor gates. It also established reliability protocols still used for real time computing today. Impressive, I think, in retrospect.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  12. #4392
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    The famous manual take over is also a myth. Armstrong changed a parameter. The computer was updating predicted landing spot versus programmed spot and he manually changed the chosen spot, the computer tracked and correctly controlled the descent accordingly.
    That's not actually entirely correct. There was a program, P65, intended to switch in after Low Gate was passed, which would automatically land the LM at a designated spot, but it was never used. What Armstrong switched to at about 600 feet, before Low Gate, was P66. And what P66 did was to look after the Rate of Descent, ensuring that the LM would reach the surface with negligible vertical velocity, while passing attitude control to manual operation. Armstrong then pitched the LM to vertical, which let it loft over the boulder field below, and then pitched it back slightly to start bleeding off downrange speed. And then he jockeyed it to the ground with a slight forward velocity so that he could always see where he was going.

    If necessary, the Commander could also tweak the P66's control of Rate of Descent, by flicking a switch that momentarily added or subtracted vertical bursts of acceleration.

    All subsequent Apollo Commanders landed in P66 mode, though Lovell I think has said that he was prepared to give P65 a go, if Apollo 13 had gone as planned.

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; Yesterday at 06:22 PM.

  13. #4393
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    That's not actually entirely correct. There was a program, P65, intended to switch in after Low Gate was passed, which would automatically land the LM at a designated spot, but it was never used. What Armstrong switched to at about 600 feet, before Low Gate, was P66. And what P66 did was to look after the Rate of Descent, ensuring that the LM would reach the surface with negligible vertical velocity, while passing attitude control to manual operation. Armstrong then pitched the LM to vertical, which let it loft over the boulder field below, and then pitched it back slightly to start bleeding off downrange speed. And then he jockeyed it to the ground with a slight forward velocity so that he could always see where he was going.

    If necessary, the Commander could also tweak the P66's control of Rate of Descent, by flicking a switch that momentarily added or substracted vertical bursts of acceleration.

    All subsequent Apollo Commanders landed in P66 mode, though Lovell I think has said that he was prepared to give P65 a go, if Apollo 13 had gone as planned.

    Grant Hutchison
    Thanks for that correction, I did not mention the hardware bug that overloaded the computer during the last phases, ( according to the lecture) the upper radar for reconnecting to the orbiter, kept interrupting with “no signal” messages and requiring reboot when also asked for coordinate update from above. When I think of the state of real time control at that time, and the size of contemporary computers, it was a major leap in technology.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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