What's on your reading/listening list?

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July 8th, 2016 at 10:21:48 AM permalink
terapined
Member since: Aug 6, 2014
Threads: 35
Posts: 2916
Quote: Nareed
If I had an autopilot on my car, I'd skip the morning coffee at home and sleep on my commute :)


I tried to read Cloud Atlas
Did not finish and I tried. got more then 1/2 way through and gave up
Just too weird and different stories with different writing styles

Back to easy fun reads
Blue Labryinth by Preston and Child about my favorite fictional detective Pendergast
Sometimes we live no particular way but our own - Grateful Dead "Eyes of the World"
July 26th, 2016 at 9:05:01 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 313
Posts: 10672
I've been falling far, far behind on podcasts due to last month's sale on Audible. I still have 1/4 of a book and one Great Courses series left! Meanwhile the histories of Byzantium and Egypt have gone unheard.

I do make an exception on Mondays for Mike Duncan's "Revolutions," because the man is good at keeping you engaged even while the subject might not be that interesting. he's on the Bolivarian revolution in South America, which I recall sleeping through in junior high school. As he doesn't announce his schedule much in advance, I wonder whether he'll cover the European revolutions of 1848 next, or whether he'll skip the rest of the XIX Century entirely and move on to the Mexican Revolution.

I'm hoping for the latter, as there are some parallels between it and the French Revolution, mostly in how they went from a swift political transition, to collapse, to a long civil war. The main difference, though, is that no one invaded Mexico during its revolution. But then no one had a vested interest in maintaining the old order there, as the European monarchies had in France.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
August 4th, 2016 at 10:54:58 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 313
Posts: 10672
Now I'm on a series regarding decisive battles in history.

You know, it's amazing what they don't teach you in school. I knew the Spanish under Cortez has a small army compared to that of the Aztecs. I didn't know how small it was. Cortez mustered under 2,000 men, while the Aztecs had tens of thousands. the disparity is so risible, it's amazing the Aztecs got conquered.

In school this was glossed over with "the Spaniards had guns."

Well, yes, they did, and naturally the Aztecs didn't. But that's far from the whole story. For one thing the Spaniards didn't have many guns (ie not every man was armed with one). What they all had was steel swords and steel armor. The former barely noticed the Aztecs cloth armor, the latter was impervious to the Aztecs' obsidian-tipped spears. Obsidian blades can be made very sharp, sharper even than surgical steel (in fact obsidian is making a comeback in surgical scalpels for that reason), but they're also brittle. Obsidian is volcanic glass, after all.

Add the small pox epidemics which devastated the local populations, and the math works out for a tiny band of Spaniards taking down the dominant empire in the area.

About the best comparison I can make, is to imagine an armored cavalry division in modern times (with tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery, Kevlar body armor, automatic weapons, etc.) taking on an entire WWI European army. The former's numbers would be much lower, but the latter would be both hideously vulnerable to their weapons, and almost totally ineffective at inflicting damage to their enemy.

Back to the course, I was disappointed the lecturer skipped the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. That's when Constantine I defeated Maxentius in a Roman civil war, after allegedly being inspired to do so by a vision of Jesus. It resulted in the eventual establishment of Christianity as the state religion of the empire.

Well, his claim is that Christianity was entrenched only after the battle of the Frigidus River, in another civil war, this time featuring Theodosius I and Eugenius. Good point, but for Constantine beating Maxentius a century earlier, Theodosius would probably have been as pagan as Julius Caesar.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
September 21st, 2016 at 7:22:35 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 313
Posts: 10672
I started Malcolm Gladwell's "What the Dog Saw." It's a collection of his essays on The New Yorker, tackling one subject at a time.

He has a really interesting take on ketchup. The premise is "why are there a variety of mustard types, but only one kind of ketchup?" This is a bit of an exaggeration, as at least you have reduced sugar ketchup in addition to the regular one, But overall ketchup varieties are few, and added-flavor types are fewer and short-lived.

The first essay was about Ron Popeil, he of the food dehydrator and pocket fisherman fame. Gladwell provides a great deal of history on him, his family, the nature of the pitchman, and the kitchen gadget business. I'm even tempted to look into the latter for my own use. At the end he speculates what a Popeil designed VCR would have been like (bright red and white plastic with an analog clock and a transparent window where you could see the tape was turning; and it would have been called "The Ronco Tape-o-matic).
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
September 21st, 2016 at 11:17:15 AM permalink
Fleastiff
Member since: Oct 27, 2012
Threads: 48
Posts: 4465
Disease and alliances with various factions aided the conquest. It was also the location of the battles. The Aztec failed to attack on narrow trails where its difficult to maneuver or swing a sword. Allowing the Spaniards to approach wide open plazas made the only limit on the killing be how tired the Spaniards arms got.

Look at Italy's defeat of Eithiopia. Spears versus Armored Cars.

Or listen to the lyrics of Go Home British Soldiers.... examples such as Zulus with spears versus twelve pounder field guns abound.

Even the Royal Navy "ruling the waves" didn't fare so well when it was a canon and fifty riflemen from the Territorial Guard versus an unarmed American vessel off Fremantle when the American crew grabbed marlin spikes and harpoons and stood their ground.
September 21st, 2016 at 11:31:54 AM permalink
terapined
Member since: Aug 6, 2014
Threads: 35
Posts: 2916
Dennis Lehane trilogy regarding the Coughlin family. Fiction based on real historical events
The Given day - fantastic, about Babe Ruth and the Boston Police strike right after WWI
Live By Night - Tampa during prohibition. Ben Affleck is filming this book
World Gone by- Just started it
Sometimes we live no particular way but our own - Grateful Dead "Eyes of the World"
September 30th, 2016 at 11:53:24 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 313
Posts: 10672
For Paco:

This week on the Freakanomics Radio Podcast the topic is: "Why Are We Still Using Cash?"

I've yet to listen in.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
October 7th, 2016 at 11:06:47 AM permalink
Nareed
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 313
Posts: 10672
I got chapters 1 though four of "Redshirts" free in ebook at Amazon. We'll see.

I'm intrigued by this author, as he seems to have written a sequel to H. Beam Piper's "Little Fuzzy" stories.
If Trump where half as smart as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as smart as he really is.
November 12th, 2016 at 2:20:27 PM permalink
terapined
Member since: Aug 6, 2014
Threads: 35
Posts: 2916
Just purchased on my kindle

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
Its a bunch of science fiction stories that have gotten great reviews
The movie that just came out, Arrival, is based on one of the stories

From IMDB
The original name for the movie was "Story of Your Life", until test audiences did not like the title, and therefore was changed to "Arrival".
Sometimes we live no particular way but our own - Grateful Dead "Eyes of the World"
November 12th, 2016 at 2:28:52 PM permalink
stinkingliberal
Member since: Nov 9, 2016
Threads: 17
Posts: 731
I want to remind myself that you don't need to be a good writer to sell lots of books, so I'm going to read several Dan Brown novels.
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