Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Reading Update & Meme

I finished two books recently. However, I am going to take a minute to make a plea for a meme. I would like for everyone that reads this blog to take the time to read a book. And then post about it. It can be here. It can be on your own blog/LJ/whatever. I would like to see and hear about what people are reading and what they think about what they are reading. This is especially pointed at Suzanne. Unless it's a book best left 'inside the box'.

BTW, James, you're semi-exempt.

The first book I read was a series of interviews with Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, called First Person. He makes some interesting points. His rise to power, at least as presented here, is rather inexplicable at face value. There's lots of ways to read between the lines though and its also possible to read too much between the lines. I didn't find him to be a person that I cared for much at all. It's a personal thing. Frex, he's cold: his wife was slipping in and out of conciousness with cracked vertebra (ie bones only) and a fractured skull yet he returned to work. My wife explains that this is pretty common for Russians to treat their wives like that. One insight that I gained that explains a lot of his behavior in power is that he studied judo (and sambo for that matter). He states that judo is not just a martial art, but rather a philosophy. Obviously, Shrubbish shoul have read that one and taken it to heart first, da? If he was even capable of that. It's interesting to see what others would think of Putin through this vehicle.

The second book I just finished I just plain devoured. It was Peter Ward's Out of Thin Air. I've wanted to read this for months. It was well worth it. Everything that I complained about with Gorgon - that it contained almost purely travelogue and zilch science - has just about done a 180 degree turn here. This is almost purely science. Bravo, Dr Ward! Ward's narration is good and goes from topic to topic building the case for different hypotheses about how oxygen levels over the Phanerozoic Eon were one of the most fundamentally important evolutionary forcing element. He makes some good cases. I am not completely sold on the basic idea and I think that the computer modeling needs to be cross checked or at least calibrated based on geochemical analysis. The book is pretty damned short: 282 pages. However, it is so packed with stuff to contemplate, it feels heavier and well worth the time to chew on. I recommend it. Carlos, Doug, get your fscking hands on copies so I can compare notes. (I'll make a separate post on his archosaurian/crocodilian hypothesis in a bit).

I have started reading Horns and Beaks. I am a little disappointed. It's far more technical in the dry 'this is a collection of papers' way than anything. I am only three papers in though. However, Darren Naish is cited already three times. Way to go, Darren!

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