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Jim Hunt

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Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« on: May 20, 2023, 11:24:11 AM »
Prompted by binntho & Rodius, here's a fix for an apparent ASIF omission.

I leave it to the moderators to decide whether the thread should be moved to "science" or  the recycle bin.

I'll kick off proceedings with my own review of the celebrated (in certain circles) magnum opus of Prof. Steve Koonin, "Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters":

Let's start in the middle, a very good place to start!

https://GreatWhiteCon.info/2021/05/steve-koonins-unsettled-arctic-science/

Quote
I was compelled to acquire my own review copy, and have just purchased the electronic version. I eagerly searched the virtual weighty tome for the term “Arctic sea ice”, and you may well be wondering what I discovered?

Nothing. Nada. Zilch. ничего такого. Nic.


Unsettling, is it not?
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kassy

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2023, 04:40:03 PM »
Not a very good book review.

What was the general purpose for the book and how well did that work?
Who´s the bloke that wrote it and why?

From the whole review i take that it does not go into detail much. So it is the simple version for the very general public?

Reviews aren´t science so that one´s out.
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John_the_Younger

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2023, 07:59:59 PM »
...
EARTH ABIDES by George R. Stewart
...
http://bamfordsworld.weebly.com/uploads/8/7/0/3/8703302/george_a._stewart_-_earth_abides.pdf
My brother 'made' me read this book when I was 12 or 13.  It has influenced my outlook on live ever since.  (I re-read it a decade ago after finding a copy in a library's 'we're getting rid of these old books' sale.  We're in a more dangerous world then the described world circa 1950.)
I donated that book to the Memory Of Mankind time capsule.
Review (from memory...): a fast-acting virus kills off 99+% of humankind in a few weeks.  This is the story of one U.S. based geology graduate student who survives and then grows old, and gathers and grows a tribe around him.  It muses about the Earth healing human-made wounds (some too fast, in my opinion, even in that mostly pre-nuclear world) and the development of new societies influenced in different ways by the trappings of the "old" world. 
Earth Abides is a book that has much influenced my outlook on survival. (I first read it as a young teen at my older brother's urging.)  From wikipedia:
Quote
Earth Abides is a 1949 post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by American writer George R. Stewart. It tells the story of the fall of civilization from deadly disease and its rebirth. The story was set in the United States in the 1940s in Berkeley, California and told by a character, Isherwood Williams, who emerges from isolation in the mountains to find almost everyone dead.

Earth Abides won the inaugural International Fantasy Award in 1951. It was included in Locus Magazine's list of best All Time Science Fiction in 1987 and 1998[2] and was a nominee to be entered into the Prometheus Hall of Fame.[3]
Many of the scenarios in the book wouldn't work today, but the idea of societal transition feels robust.  Something like: First generation survivors will use solar panels, crossbows and clothing from stores.  Second generation survivors can read books.  Third generation survivors will have their myths about how things work.  Our prep work is to make possible 2nd and 3rd generations.

What a concise synopsis!
Terry

binntho

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2023, 09:14:26 AM »
The catalyst to this thread was my expressing regret at attempting to read Peter Frankopan's new book, "The Earth Transformed: An Untold History". Given the relevance of the stated topic of the book, I expected that many ASIF members would be tempted to buy it, and so perhaps some sort of review could warn them off (or at least help them prepare) for any attempted reading of the book. Since nobody has expressed strong revulsion to this I have decided to attempt a review as follows:

Peter Frankopan is a Professor of History at the University of Oxford, apparently specializing in Byzantine history. My previous encounter with him was through the quite decent Popular History books on the Silk Roads ("The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (2016)"  and "The New Silk Roads: The Present and the Future of the World (2018)")

The subtitles are certainly hyperbolic, but the books were entertaining and readable, although I did disagree with the central thesis of the first book, i.e. that the land-route above the Himalayas (what most people think of as the "Silk Road") was ever of any significance except as a result of the pacification and unification of the entire route following the Mongol Conquest in the 13th century, to fade away until the Russian Siberian tea trade took off in the 1700s. The trade of silk to the west in exchange for silver (as lamented by Cicero in our earliest known documented evidence, around 70 BCE) was through the Indian subcontinent. The much shorter and easier landroute from China to the Bay of Bengal was also the most lucrative, with the immensely rich principalities of the Ganges and Brahmaputra valleys being the main buyers. But some of this silk found its way to Trabopane ( Ceylon / Sri Lanka) and the west coast of India, into the hands of eager Roman buyers. Central Asian trade networks, on the other hand, were primarily north-to-south, with the traditional taiga products of skins, pelts and honey (and probably also slaves) being exchanged for luxury items.

The second book was more of a "let us make money on the back of the popularity of the first one", and was sorely lacking in any decent discussion of the Belt and Road initiative, which I in my naivity thought might be of central interest in any discussion of the "New Silk Roads". Unfortunately, the book had nothing new to say and nothing very memorable.

I have not had the change to read some of his other books that are closer to his field of expertise. But there is something about this newest book that makes me less likely to do so.

"The Earth Transformed: An Untold History (2023)" claims to be about the interaction between humans and human civilisation on the one hand, and climatic change on the other. A very topical topic, and a tempting bait to all who worry about the future of mankind, particulary ASIF members who foresee climatic catastrophe in the near future (and not without some gleeful schadenfreude at times).

One of the first thing one notices is that the book is very long - 694 pages in large format, an estimated 300.000 words (which would clock in at well over 1000 pages in standard Paperback format - even the most prolific of modern-day novelist dare not publish books of that size).

Now don't get me wrong - I love long books, being a voracious and very eclectic reader of fiction and non-fiction. Last month I re-read, for the fourth time, Neil Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, all 2700 pages, while waiting for my latest Amazon order to arrive here at the source of the Blue Nile. My basic requirements are decent writing and enganging content, with a preference for history, religious history, philosophy, modern fiction, classic fiction, fantasy and the occasional science fiction. But my preferred category of books are those that tackle the whole world, and the entirity of human history. Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel" and Yuvel Noah Harari's "A Short History of Human Kind" spring to mind, and if anybody wants a fuller list I could dig down into my library and see what I can find.

So imagine my excitement at recieving this door-stopping tome of global enviromental history. I dug in at full speed, but with rapidly lowering enthusiasm. The fist day I managed to finish the introduction and the first chapter and half before throwing the book away in exasperation. I decided to give it another go, and then a third, and all in all I managed to finish almost a third of the book, although I must admit that towards the end I was simply skimming, to see whether any nuggets of gold might be hidden in the dross.

So what is wrong with this book? Firstly, the writing style. It is extremely formulaic, and is based on what appears to be the following:
  • Use Google to find X papers on a given subject.
  • Use ChatGPT or similar to rephrase the introduction and conclusion of each paper into 100 words or less.
  • Glue these AI generated factoids together with a bit of meaningless verbiage.

Now I may be wrong about the use of LLM such as ChatGPT, but giving the timing, it is certainly possible. Basically the book can be described by the formula (<verbiage>factoid</verbiage>)n

This makes for very tedious reading, with seemingly random jumps from one part of the world to another, with claims being made and even redacted within the same paragraph only to be totally ignored in the next, with no coherence or overall arch of storytelling or at least theorizing.

My second problem with the book is that the author absolutely misses out on several very important points.

The author seems totally unaware of the glacial / interglacial rythm of the last couple of million years, and how this could tie in with the evolution of modern humans, and the waves of spread of Neanderthals and Homo Erectus before that. He does mention Milankovitch at one point, but doesn't seem to understand the implication!

Although he does mention the very exciting (although not generally accepted) theory of pre-industrial human-induced GHG releases as an explanation for climatic variation during the Holocene, he then totally neglects to follow up on this. Here is a very rich seam of exploration for the overall topic of the book, only to be almost totally dismissed. Deforestation due to population increase and reforestation due to population collapse are very interesting climatic feed-back mechanism with very interesting explanatory capabilities that could have ben investigated and synthesised into a coherent narrative. But not in this man's book!

He (almost) totally ignores the deforestation of the Mediterranean seaboard during pre-classical times, with the concomitant silting of previously decent harbours, which led to repeated failure of Greek and Punic colonisation. Also whether the massive deforestation of Northern Africa during Roman times may have caused the Roman Climatic Optimum, or been a factor in the consequential drying up of the North-African littoral and the collapse of it's agricultural potential.

I did say almost in that last paragraph. He does mention it but then dismissed it without any real justification, flying in the head of generations of research.

A minor quibble are the strange errors that litter the book, mostly apparent in very strange dating errors. In one place he claims that the Indian subcontinent broke away from Africa 1 million years ago. Another has the minor climatic optimum of the last glacial period, and the consequential cooling, at 450.000 BP in stead of 45.000 BP - and blamed on volcanism, which seems to be his preferred explanation for anything that happens.

I decided to stop reading the book because I was sure I would be increasingly exasperated by a growing tide of errors, and a total lack of context, coherence and historiographical analysis.

All in all, I think I should stick to my AI generated hypotheses. This is quite posibly one of the first examples of LLM generated popular history books - at least it bears all the hallmarks of "artificial intelligence" which is total lack of contextual and conceptual understanding, total disregard for facts and a verbal spaghetti style, grammatically correct and without spelling errors, but devoid of interest.

(Disclaimer: All the above was written by a meat brain, and not an LLM).
because a thing is eloquently expressed it should not be taken to be as necessarily true
St. Augustine, Confessions V, 6

Jim Hunt

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2023, 09:40:07 AM »
Not a very good book review.

Can we agree on an "unconventional book review"?

Quote
What was the general purpose for the book and how well did that work?
Who´s the bloke that wrote it and why?

Judith Curry's review of the book asserted that:

Quote
Steve Koonin has has had a unique personal trajectory through the climate/energy space over the past 15 years. I entered into this trajectory in 2014 in context of the American Physical Society Workshop (which Koonin chaired). In this book, Koonin comes across as very honest and trustworthy, and genuinely concerned about the integrity of climate science and the research process. A welcome contrast to the way Michael Mann comes across.

On the other hand Mike Mann et al.'s review suggested that:

Quote
When it comes to the science, Koonin cherry-picks and misrepresents outdated material to downplay the seriousness of the climate crisis…

He wants you to believe that, as an Obama hire, he knows better about what you should take away from these reports than the scientists who wrote them.

Quote
Reviews aren´t science so that one´s out.

"Unsettled" is more "political" than "scientific" IMHO. Hence my original choice of venue. If people are keen on many more book reviews then perhaps a dedicated section in "The  Rest" is desirable? With topics on "science", "politics", "sci-fi" etc. "Cli-fi" already exists:

https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,976

Perhaps Prof. Koonin's tome belongs in there?
"The most revolutionary thing one can do always is to proclaim loudly what is happening" - Rosa Luxemburg

kassy

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2023, 07:28:09 PM »
Not really.

See for book reviews there needs to be a bit of context. For a third party reader your review is mainly things he misses but we don´t know why it is important. For your next one you should draw some inspiration from binntho´s example. He paints the author a bit (useful for those that don´t know him so 99% of the audience). What is he writing about now and how well does that work?

Good reviews need some context. After you provide that you can be as unconventional as you wish.

Þetta minnismerki er til vitnis um að við vitum hvað er að gerast og hvað þarf að gera. Aðeins þú veist hvort við gerðum eitthvað.

Jim Hunt

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2023, 10:14:21 PM »
See for book reviews there needs to be a bit of context.

You're not even impressed that my original "bad review" is dated April 21st 2021, whereas Mike Mann's is dated June 1st?

Ah well! Rather than clog this thread up with such nonsense perhaps pursue the issue over here, if so desired?
"The most revolutionary thing one can do always is to proclaim loudly what is happening" - Rosa Luxemburg

oren

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2023, 12:31:08 AM »
Quote
Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel"
An excellent book indeed.

Renerpho

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2023, 01:37:21 AM »
Good idea for a thread!

If I find the time, I'll write a (mostly positive) review of Kyle Harper's 2017 book "The Fate of Rome - Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire".
Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused. But on a higher level.

johnm33

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2023, 10:43:07 AM »
Good idea for a thread!

If I find the time, I'll write a (mostly positive) review of Kyle Harper's 2017 book "The Fate of Rome - Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire".
Does it suggest an explanation for it being buried by 30-40 ft. of mud?

binntho

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2023, 11:00:38 AM »
Good idea for a thread!

If I find the time, I'll write a (mostly positive) review of Kyle Harper's 2017 book "The Fate of Rome - Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire".
Does it suggest an explanation for it being buried by 30-40 ft. of mud?
Did you bury it yourself? It can't have been all that bad!
because a thing is eloquently expressed it should not be taken to be as necessarily true
St. Augustine, Confessions V, 6

Renerpho

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2023, 11:03:18 AM »
Good idea for a thread!

If I find the time, I'll write a (mostly positive) review of Kyle Harper's 2017 book "The Fate of Rome - Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire".
Does it suggest an explanation for it being buried by 30-40 ft. of mud?
Did you bury it yourself? It can't have been all that bad!
:o

Seriously though, if that's what you've been asking, the book is about the fate of the Roman Empire, not the city of Rome.
Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused. But on a higher level.

binntho

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2023, 11:25:28 AM »
Good idea for a thread!

If I find the time, I'll write a (mostly positive) review of Kyle Harper's 2017 book "The Fate of Rome - Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire".
Does it suggest an explanation for it being buried by 30-40 ft. of mud?
Did you bury it yourself? It can't have been all that bad!
:o

Seriously though, if that's what you've been asking, the book is about the fate of the Roman Empire, not the city of Rome.
The magnificent villa at Piazza Armerina, Sicily, was buried under at least 10 meters of mud following a landslide in the 5th century. Built during the Tetrarchy (around 300 CE) and quite possibly owned by one of them, it features increadible mosaics that were protected from the environment (and the Vandals - literally!) until modern times. Well worth a visit! Most of the rest of Roman construction didn't fare so well, and has been almost entirely razed and dismantled in the centuries since.
because a thing is eloquently expressed it should not be taken to be as necessarily true
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johnm33

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2023, 01:13:25 PM »
Quote
Seriously though, if that's what you've been asking, the book is about the fate of the Roman Empire, not the city of Rome.

Within living memory of it's, Romes, burial a moslem expedition excavated a number of sites to remove various treasuries, they were guided by someone with an intimate knowledge of the living city. This suggests an unmentioned catastrophy, I remain curious.
For an alternative view of 'Roman' chronology I can thouroughly recommend https://q-mag.org/gunnar-heinsohns-latest.html He spent a considerable amount of time looking for a single site which spanned the 'Roman' period but only ever found sites that ran for around 3centuries, most 'Empires' fail to persist for longer than that. Usually the elites become inbred and increasingly stupid and confident not an ideal combination. Of course most people prefer the mainstream narrative which was concocted some time after 1330, then refined.

binntho

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2023, 01:31:33 PM »
johnm33, I think there is a separate channel for people to relate their dreams and hallucinations. Or if there isn't, perhaps you could create one.
because a thing is eloquently expressed it should not be taken to be as necessarily true
St. Augustine, Confessions V, 6

gerontocrat

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2023, 02:00:32 PM »
How come Book Reviews ended up in the Politics Thread (bleah) - and not in The Rest ?
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oren

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2023, 02:14:14 PM »
johnm33, I think there is a separate channel for people to relate their dreams and hallucinations. Or if there isn't, perhaps you could create one.
Good point. It appears Book Reviews belongs in the conspiracy theory section?

binntho

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2023, 02:24:24 PM »
johnm33, I think there is a separate channel for people to relate their dreams and hallucinations. Or if there isn't, perhaps you could create one.
Good point. It appears Book Reviews belongs in the conspiracy theory section?
Join the tinhat club!  ;D
because a thing is eloquently expressed it should not be taken to be as necessarily true
St. Augustine, Confessions V, 6

Jim Hunt

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2023, 03:00:45 PM »
How come Book Reviews ended up in the Politics Thread (bleah) - and not in The Rest ?

I was endeavouring to make a point, perhaps too "unconventionally"?

Rephrasing myself slightly:

Quote
I leave it to the moderators to decide whether the thread should be moved to "science" or the recycle bin, or.....

If people are keen on many more book reviews then perhaps a dedicated section in "The  Rest" is desirable? With topics on "science", "politics", "sci-fi" etc. "Cli-fi" already exists
"The most revolutionary thing one can do always is to proclaim loudly what is happening" - Rosa Luxemburg

Renerpho

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2023, 04:02:42 PM »
johnm33, I think there is a separate channel for people to relate their dreams and hallucinations. Or if there isn't, perhaps you could create one.
Good point. It appears Book Reviews belongs in the conspiracy theory section?
Join the tinhat club!  ;D

Yes, I suggest to continue the discussion of any kind of "phantom time hypotheses" there. Unless, of course, you want to review a book on the topic! I have read Herbert Illig's book on the invention of the middle ages, if that's of interest. (My review of it will not be kind.)

For anyone who's actually interested in the history of the late Roman Empire (a period that's rife with misconceptions), I can recommend not just the book I already mentioned, but two Youtube channels: https://www.youtube.com/@Maiorianus_Sebastian and https://www.youtube.com/@TheFallofRome

How come Book Reviews ended up in the Politics Thread (bleah) - and not in The Rest ?

I'd also suggest to move it to that section. There's nothing wrong with reviewing books about politics, but I think the scope of this thread goes beyond that.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2023, 04:15:46 PM by Renerpho »
Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused. But on a higher level.

be cause

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #20 on: May 22, 2023, 10:56:38 PM »
 when this thread fronts 'politics' in place of war x3 etc it's doing good work on one level at least . :)
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Jim Hunt

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #21 on: May 23, 2023, 01:27:36 AM »
when this thread fronts 'politics' in place of war x3 etc it's doing good work on one level at least . :)

It needs to be made "sticky"!
"The most revolutionary thing one can do always is to proclaim loudly what is happening" - Rosa Luxemburg

trm1958

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #22 on: June 12, 2023, 10:08:15 PM »
I can't review this book as it will come out next month, but in the Amazon preview for Jeff Goodell's
The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet
there is the following statement:
Quote
The basic science is not complicated: Stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow, and the global temperature will stop rising tomorrow. Stop burning fossil fuels in 50 years, and the temperature will keep rising for 50 years, making parts of our planet virtually uninhabitable.

Ahhh...no. If we stopped burning fossil fuels tomorrow (leaving aside other GHGs like nitrous oxide, SF6, etc) temperature would continue rising to the equilibrium for years, not even factoring feedbacks. I assume this is Amazon's goof...I would be very disappointed if it were Jeff's.

kassy

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #23 on: June 12, 2023, 11:49:08 PM »
Well if he is the author he wrote it.
The day on day claim is bunk. There is a slightly more complicated version in the Science forum but it all comes down to how quickly we can reduce FF burning any way and how big our debt is.

Even if we quit FFs overnight we are still at some high forcing so more energy is kept in the system which warms the oceans and land.

If long term decline of green house gasses is slower then albedo decline the planet warms up. There is  a residue of warming in the atmosphere and you can´t turn that of. It will decline over time but what if it is still strong enough to melt most Antarctic ice?
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Human Habitat Index

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #24 on: June 13, 2023, 02:37:54 AM »
A book that can change your whole perspective on life.

"Bechamp or Pasteur ? A Lost Chapter in the History of Biology"

Author: Ethel D Hume

The most suppressed book in the history of science.
There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance. That principle is contempt prior to investigation. - Herbert Spencer

DanLittle

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #25 on: June 13, 2023, 02:54:35 AM »
Just saw this thread active and thought I'd drop in a review. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mistakes_Were_Made_(but_Not_by_Me)

Mistakes Were Made But Not By Me gets into the psychological theory of how people justify foolish beliefs, behaviors, and decisions. This is one of my favorite books. I think it's related to AGW in that it helps develop an understanding of how well intentioned, good people are unable to wrap their heads around this issue. It is also helpful for examining how different biases play out in yourself. It covers many topics outside of politics and I'd specifically recommend the chapter on marriage for those of you in partnerships. Cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias are discussed in depth. Good read, great information.

binntho

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #26 on: June 14, 2023, 07:39:56 AM »
For anyone who's actually interested in the history of the late Roman Empire (a period that's rife with misconceptions), I can recommend not just the book I already mentioned, but two Youtube channels: https://www.youtube.com/@Maiorianus_Sebastian and https://www.youtube.com/@TheFallofRome

Following the Frankopany debacle, next up was a fantastic book on the period from c.a. 300 to 1300 CE, Peter Heather's "Christendom: The Triumph of a Religion", Penguin 2022. What a delight to read proper history well written after that other mess.

Peter Heather is my favourite author on this period, he knows it extremely well and is not afraid to crack the patina on an icon or two.
because a thing is eloquently expressed it should not be taken to be as necessarily true
St. Augustine, Confessions V, 6

Renerpho

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #27 on: June 18, 2023, 05:43:04 AM »
[...] What a delight to read proper history well written after that other mess.

Peter Heather is my favourite author on this period, he knows it extremely well and is not afraid to crack the patina on an icon or two.

Some of Heather's earlier work has been accused of supporting "modern xenophobic and anti-immigration policies". (Quote by Guy Halsall; example of Halsall's criticism: Sci-hub-link)
Halsall has called Heather's The Fall of the Roman Empire "revisionist", adding that "the irony of the subtitle ('A New History') seems unintentional". (Quote from Two Worlds Become One: A 'Counter-Intuitive' View of the Roman Empire and 'Germanic' Migration, 2014, page 529; link)

The criticism mostly touches on Heather's work about the role of the Goths and other Germanic peoples in the fall of the Roman Empire, and this may not be relevant to his most recent book. However, I'm not sure I'd list him among my favourite authors either way.

EDIT: I take back everything I said about this thread not belonging into the "Politics" section...
« Last Edit: June 18, 2023, 05:55:44 AM by Renerpho »
Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused. But on a higher level.

trm1958

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #28 on: June 18, 2023, 01:23:48 PM »
I would have put it in the Rest…not every book is political.

Renerpho

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #29 on: June 18, 2023, 02:17:01 PM »
I would have put it in the Rest…not every book is political.

I would have put it there, too. My previous reply got unintentionally political, hence my later edit.

There is this quote by Guy Halsall (from the same 2014 paper I had already mentioned). Apparently, you cannot write about the migrations of late antiquity without writing about migration in general:
Quote
Finally, there is no attempt here to escape or deny the political dimension of this contribution. Apart from my conviction that the writing of history is inescapably political, my aim is partly to provide a basis for a more politically and ethically responsible intervention by historians in modern political debate about migration.
Whatever you think about Halsall's "responsible interventions", he's right that, while not every book is political, every book about history is.

Sorry, that's only marginally related to binntho's review, being some historian's opinion about previous books by the same author. I still find it interesting to look at what someone has produced previously. Does Heather's latest book even touch questions of migration and ethnic identity, or has he switched subject?
Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused. But on a higher level.

morganism

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #30 on: November 08, 2023, 11:45:46 PM »
(not a review, but a submission for review. ePub and kindle versions, along with an online link)

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin

64,800 words (3 hours 56 minutes) with a reading ease of 49.69 (fairly difficult)

    Autobiography
    Nonfiction

Benjamin Franklin is a man who needs little introduction. He wore many hats over the course of his fascinating life, from that of a printer, to an inventor, to a scientist, to a politician, a founding father and statesman, and even a postmaster-general. He was famous for all of these things in his day, but he was also famed for his keen insight into people and human nature, and his sparkling talent as a conversationalist.

Despite his accomplishments, Franklin seemed to keep a down-to-earth demeanor, favoring home-spun sayings and simple, direct, honest prose—the kind of prose that shines in this autobiography.

The autobiography itself has a long and complex publication history. Franklin composed it in fits and spurts between 1771 and 1790, and never had a chance to complete it, let alone publish it, in his lifetime. It was first published as a poor French translation of an unrevised edition of the manuscript, and then as a heavily-editorialized and inaccurate English edition by Franklin’s son, William Temple Franklin. In 1868 John Bigelow purchased the original copy of the autobiography and published the first accurate edition, which is what subsequent publications, including this one, are based on.

Though incomplete, this autobiography is a highly readable and fascinating insight into the legendary life of the man some people call the “First American.”

https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/benjamin-franklin/the-autobiography-of-benjamin-franklin

kassy

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #31 on: November 09, 2023, 05:25:34 PM »
So you wrote it?
Þetta minnismerki er til vitnis um að við vitum hvað er að gerast og hvað þarf að gera. Aðeins þú veist hvort við gerðum eitthvað.

morganism

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #32 on: November 11, 2023, 09:56:34 PM »
read a couple middle chapters so far. Is interesting how absolutist and reductionist he is about reflecting on religion as philosophy. To have so many insights on behavior by using reason perhaps shows how he was one of americas most popular authors, that wasn't a poet.

John_the_Younger

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #33 on: November 12, 2023, 03:51:37 AM »
I've started reading The World Before Us: How Science is Revealing a New Story of Out Human Origins by Tom Higham.  I'd read that it was "very readable" - it is (or at least the 1st 4 chapters are (of 17)).  On page 52 is written "... 14,700 years ago, when the planet suddenly and dramatically warmed by 7-10°C in three years for reasons not yet fully understood."  (This matches the start of the  Bølling–Allerød interstadial, according to Wikipedia.)  No reference is given for this super-fast bit of global warming. Anybody know more about this? (The book, of course, will focus on what this did to people back then.)

kassy

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #34 on: November 12, 2023, 02:22:21 PM »
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C3%B8lling%E2%80%93Aller%C3%B8d_warming

The warming is actually related to Greenland temps which means it is related to Northern Hemisphere changes but this is not the same as global changes so that claim is probably wrong. It did not work like that in the Younger Dryas and several other examples we have.

This northern centric telling of the climate tale happens a lot.

Þetta minnismerki er til vitnis um að við vitum hvað er að gerast og hvað þarf að gera. Aðeins þú veist hvort við gerðum eitthvað.

Renerpho

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #35 on: November 18, 2023, 10:58:46 PM »
I guess he's referring to the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antarctic_Cold_Reversal, particularly Meltwater pulse 1A? But his time scale is definitely wrong. Maybe he meant to say "300 years"?
Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused. But on a higher level.

morganism

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #36 on: November 26, 2023, 08:45:06 PM »

oren

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #37 on: December 04, 2023, 02:19:51 PM »
Vernor Vinge is a great writer, I've enjoyed many of his books. I think the best one is "A Deepness in the Sky".

sidd

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #38 on: December 05, 2023, 12:50:03 AM »
I prefer the preceding "A Fire upon the Deep"

sidd

oren

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #39 on: December 05, 2023, 12:59:04 AM »
Indeed, it's a tough call between these two.

morganism

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #40 on: February 14, 2024, 05:02:37 PM »
The emotional arcs of stories are dominated by six basic shapes

Advances in computing power, natural language processing, and digitization of text now make it possible to study a culture’s evolution through its texts using a ‘big data’ lens. Our ability to communicate relies in part upon a shared emotional experience, with stories often following distinct emotional trajectories and forming patterns that are meaningful to us. Here, by classifying the emotional arcs for a filtered subset of 1,327 stories from Project Gutenberg’s fiction collection, we find a set of six core emotional arcs which form the essential building blocks of complex emotional trajectories. We strengthen our findings by separately applying matrix decomposition, supervised learning, and unsupervised learning. For each of these six core emotional arcs, we examine the closest characteristic stories in publication today and find that particular emotional arcs enjoy greater success, as measured by downloads.
1 Introduction

The power of stories to transfer information and define our own existence has been shown time and again. We are fundamentally driven to find and tell stories, likened to Pan Narrans or Homo Narrativus. Stories are encoded in art, language, and even in the mathematics of physics: We use equations to represent both simple and complicated functions that describe our observations of the real world. In science, we formalize the ideas that best fit our experience with principles such as Occam’s Razor: The simplest story is the one we should trust. We tend to prefer stories that fit into the molds which are familiar, and reject narratives that do not align with our experience.

We seek to better understand stories that are captured and shared in written form, a medium that since inception has radically changed how information flows. Without evolved cues from tone, facial expression, or body language, written stories are forced to capture the entire transfer of experience on a page. An often integral part of a written story is the emotional experience that is evoked in the reader. Here, we use a simple, robust sentiment analysis tool to extract the reader-perceived emotional content of written stories as they unfold on the page.

We objectively test aspects of the theories of folkloristics, specifically the commonality of core stories within societal boundaries. A major component of folkloristics is the study of society and culture through literary analysis. This is sometimes referred to as narratology, which at its core is ‘a series of events, real or fictional, presented to the reader or the listener. In our present treatment, we consider the plot as the ‘backbone’ of events that occur in a chronological sequence (more detail on previous theories of plot are in Appendix A in Additional file 1). While the plot captures the mechanics of a narrative and the structure encodes their delivery, in the present work we examine the emotional arc that is invoked through the words used. The emotional arc of a story does not give us direct information about the plot or the intended meaning of the story, but rather exists as part of the whole narrative (e.g., an emotional arc showing a fall in sentiment throughout a story may arise from very different plot and structure combinations). This distinction between the emotional arc and the plot of a story is one point of misunderstanding in other work that has drawn criticism from the digital humanities community. Through the identification of motifs, narrative theories allow us to analyze, interpret, describe, and compare stories across cultures and regions of the world. We show that automated extraction of emotional arcs is not only possibly, but can test previous theories and provide new insights with the potential to quantify unobserved trends as the field transitions from data-scarce to data-rich.
(more)

https://epjdatascience.springeropen.com/articles/10.1140/epjds/s13688-016-0093-1

morganism

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #41 on: March 21, 2024, 10:31:11 AM »
Vernor Vinge, author of many influential hard science fiction works, died March 20 at the age of 79.

https://www.facebook.com/AUTHORDAVIDBRIN/posts/804165974862720

https://file770.com/vernor-vinge-1944-2024/

oren

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Re: Book Reviews (Good & Bad!)
« Reply #42 on: March 23, 2024, 08:33:50 AM »
Sad. I have and cherish many of his books and short stories.