Thursday, September 11, 2008

Reading Update

Obviously with all the events that have been swirling around me like some sort of fascinating if exciting and terrifying vortex, I have not ahd much chance to read at all. In fact, my reading has fallen to a glacial pace. You try fund raising for and building a rocket, run Crays and other HPC assets, and still take care of a family while getting in lots of quality time with the pages! Even so, I was able to chew my way through some juicy books.

The first one I mentioned before, Paleoecology by Allmon et al, had gobs of interesting stuff in it. There were a few conclusions from the Caribbean paleoreef studies that are still making me go hmmm: the less nutrients there are the MORE biodiversity a reef ecosystem s! Other appears were stuff I have latched onto as an ah-ha! moments to form the basis of the ecology in the age of carbon post and an upcoming one on the phytoaspect of the Paleozoic caste ecology (love the phrase, Carlos!).

The second book I completed was a paleo themed one as well: Amniote Paleobiology. There are some wonderful papers in there. However, my skeletal morphology is not up to spec for some of them: Sereno discusses the very unique posture of the multituberculates and there was a very indepth discussion of their very unique scapula and how it tied into their posture. OTOH, there were some papers that I got sucked into pretty thoroughly: the ones about just how many species of Lystrosaurus are there and when did endothermy arise in the nonmammalian therapsids were two of these. The book covered dinosaurs, birds, reptiles, mammalians, therapsids, etc. My one disappointment, though, was that there was zilch on the basal amniotes, iirc, which was what I picked the book up for.

I also picked up the nifty art book of Dawn of the Dinosaurs.

Then I shifted out of the paleo realm and into historical one. I have been feeling a bit of that old Byzantinophilia cropping up again. So I picked up the atypically thesised Byzantium and the Crusades. The basic premise for the book was toe explain how the 4th Crusade came about, y'know, the one where the Crusaders instead of attacking Muslim Egypt conquered (and effective brought low, permanently) the Christian Byzantine Empire. His thesis was that Byzantine misunderstanding of the West and the Weest's misunderstanding of the Eastern Romans/Byzantines/Greeks was an explosive that was just waiting for the fuse to be lit. That fuse set off everything was not bribes or greed or what have you, but traditional Byzantine diplomacy. It was interesting. I need to learn more before I can say yea or nay to the idea though. I find it plausible at least.

Flipping to the modern era, I have been plugging along in Mexico by Enrique Krauze. When I'm done with this, I think I'll have enough base knowledge to finally be able to read Noel's books. They're next on my Mexican historical tour.

Oh, and I also read Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds in the book store. My daughter loves playing in the kids area and my wife likes the shopping oustide, soooo...I found it...ok.

Anyways, so that's what I finished. I know, I know...I am a slacker.

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