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non-tech books you read now

What title?
Any recommendation?

Thursday, August 15, 2002

_Introduction to Logic_ by I.M.Copi. Highly recommended.

Sam Wong
Thursday, August 15, 2002

"Things Rarely Talked About by Computer Scientists" - Don Knuth

"The Best of Father Brown" - GK Chesterton

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Wilbur A. Smith - great adventure books. Start with "Birds of Prey" and follow up with "Monsoon". Pirates! Good stuff.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

The Vlad Taltos series by Steven Brust.  Kind of a grown-up darker, edgy Harry Potter.

David Blume
Thursday, August 15, 2002

"Empire Falls" - Richard Russo
"The Corrections" - Johnathan Franzen
"Prodigal Summer" - Barbara Kingsolver

Hardware Guy
Thursday, August 15, 2002

_Mad in America_, by Robert Whitaker:

Exposes the barbaric ways in which mentally ill people were treated (and continue to be treated) by the medical/psychiatric establishment.


_Blaming the Brain_, by Elliot Valenstein

A respected neuroscientist examines the evidence (or lack thereof) behind the "chemical imbalance" theories of mental illness


_The Diseasing of America_, by Stanton Peele

A psychologist argues (persuasively, in my opinion) that the addiction-treatment industry does more harm than good.

Sarah Tonin
Thursday, August 15, 2002

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Tao Te Ching

Stuart Fox
Thursday, August 15, 2002

At the moment I'm re-reading Gailileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel and Scar by China Miéville

Simon Lucy
Friday, August 16, 2002

How the Mind Works - Stephen Pinker (or anything else by him!)

Robin Debreuil
Friday, August 16, 2002

An Anatomy of Thought by Ian Glynn

Friday, August 16, 2002

Meno by Plato

What is man?? by Mark Twain

Friday, August 16, 2002

Animal Farm
by George Orwell

Friday, August 16, 2002

Finished the John Adams biography awhile back and was very pleasantly surprised. 

Just getting started with "Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny" now.  Nonzero is an attempt to use some principles from game theory as an explanation for evolution in biological and cultural systems.

Friday, August 16, 2002

Homer's "The Odyssey" (because it's a cornerstone of all Western literature).

Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" (because it's an easy-read literary classic that there's no excuse for not having read).

Jack London's "The Call of the Wild" (because dogs are the best thing about this sorry planet).

Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" (because you don't know how good you have it).

Kay's "The Fionavar Tapestry" (because he's Tolkein reborn as a master wordsmith).

Dunno Wair
Friday, August 16, 2002

David Blume,

I agree that Brust's "Vlad Taltos" series is a lot of fun, but they're pretty lightweight.  Do yourself a favour and pick up any of his other works ("The Phoenix Guards" if you want to stick with the genre).  I consider him to be one of the most gifted writers of his generation (although they're not particularly easy reads; he's no Michener, but his prose can get pretty heavy).

Dunno Wair
Friday, August 16, 2002

"The Wheel of Time". Book 10 is coming out in November, so I'm rereading the whole series. And I'm still hooked. I've read these books more than a dozen times, and there are still places where I can't stop reading, even though I know what's going to happen next.

"Bored of the Rings". Hillarious! For those of you that never heard of it, it's a brilliant parody to "Lord of the Rings".

Just finished "Who moved my cheese". Didn't think very much of it. Just common sense + sales pitch. Reminded me of a story in "60 Minutes", about motivational (sp?) workshops. Everyone said it did wonders, but faded fast, i.e., a few days later, the "adrenalin rush" would die. At least the book is extremely short (finished it in a couple of hours), so you can re-read it ad eternum, to keep the momentum :)

Paulo Caetano
Friday, August 16, 2002

"Just finished "Who moved my cheese". Didn't think very much of it."

Business gurus are usually full of crap.  See, for example, "In Search of Suckers", originally published in _Fortune_ magazine:,1640,2004,00.html

Sarah Tonin
Friday, August 16, 2002

"Mad in America"


You've got good taste. This book should be required reading for anyone thinking of feeding the psych industry's gravy train.

Sarain H.
Friday, August 16, 2002

"You've got good taste. This book should be required reading for anyone thinking of feeding the psych industry's gravy train."


I've long been curious why there are so few muckraking reports about specific problems with various treatments for mental illness (e.g., brain damage caused by antipsychotic drugs; pseudoscientific basis for alcoholism/addiction treatment).  An acquaintance who is an investigative journalist told me that, in essence,  the current "paradigm" is that doctors, therapists, counselors, and researchers are the good guys, whereas HMOs and insurance companies are the bad guys.  Any story that doesn't fit into that framework tends not to get published.

Sarah Tonin
Friday, August 16, 2002

Buchholz, "From Here to Economy".  A popular introduction to economics.  The sort of thing everyone should read.

Bernstein, "Against the Gods".  A history of the study and use of statistics.  I bought it as a recorded book for a long drive, then put it off till last, thinking it couldn't be that interesting.  It turned out I had saved the best till last.  It is really an interesting story.

In light of what others are posting, I'd recommend: Wendy Kaminer, "I'm Dysfunctinal, You're Dysfunctional".

Also, for critiques of psychiatry, Thomas Szasz has written several books.  I've only read a couple of his magazine articles, his books, such as "The Manufacture of Madness" are on my list for someday.

Friday, August 16, 2002

>> "You've got good taste. This book should be required reading for anyone thinking of feeding the psych industry's gravy train."


I've long been curious why there are so few muckraking reports about specific problems with various treatments for mental illness

Although this wasn't the main topic on this thread, I have to respond. I had been getting more and more depressed for the past two years since my dad died. A few months ago I barely did much besides go to work late, leave early to watch TV, and sleep. When I saw a regular doctor he just encouraged me to try harder on an exercise program I was trying to do and to eat less fast food for lunch (I already ate healthy in the morning/evenings). Everything I tried to improve my mood seemed to fail due to a lack of energy to sustain it.

When I saw a psychologist he recommended a small dose of a drug called Celexa. The Celexa has increased my energy level and happiness. After 1.5 months I've been able to keep up an exercise program and I feel much more rested during the day. I've been able to do several other things to keep improving my situation.

In short, I agree that some pyschiatric care might be ineffective, but I AM SO HAPPY that I went to a therapist. I encourage anyone feeling depressed or mentally ill to see a counselor and give them a chance.

BTW, to get back on topic I am reading "Mind over Mood" by Dennis Greenberger. It is a book that guides you through mental exercises to help reduce depression/anxiety feelings. It also provides mental tools to help keep those feelings under control after you stop taking medication.

Feeling Much Better
Friday, August 16, 2002

Roughly two-thirds of depressed people feel better after taking an antidepressant drug.  About two-thirds of depressed people also feel better after taking a placebo.  Drug companies typically have to run five clinical trials to get two that show statistically-significant superiority of drug over placebo.

I certainly don't encourage people to stop taking medications, if those medications seem to be working.  On the other hand, I also encourage people to examine the evidence to see if other treatments may be useful -- either in addition to, or instead of, the drugs.

Sarah Tonin
Friday, August 16, 2002

> Although this wasn't the main topic on this thread, I have to respond.

My experience with one schizophrenic person is that they responded almost instantly to medication, to the extent that they could now participate in a coherent conversation. They had psychological/environmental problems too, which could then be addressed by (relationship) counselling: but counselling was possible only after they had regained their normal ability to think coherently: maybe best to have psychiatrist *and* a counsellor.

> brain damage caused by antipsychotic drugs

I'd appreciate some references, if you have any.

just trying to help
Friday, August 16, 2002

Antipsychotic drugs may provide short-term relief to the schizophrenic patient, but the drugs also make it less likely that the patient will ever fully recover from his or her psychosis.  Mathematician John Nash recovered without the use of drugs, though the movie _A Beautiful Mind_ implied (inaccurately) that "newer medications" had helped him.

Antipsychotic drugs -- such as Haldol, Thorazine, Clozapine, and Risperdal -- are well-known to cause permanent brain damage.  After long-term use, patients often develop involuntary movements, such as smacking of the lips, twisting of the tongue, and side-to-side movements of the jaw, as well as debilitating arm and leg twitches.  These problems can persist even after the antipsychotic drug is discontinued.  "Embarrassing" doesn't begin to describe this syndrome, called "tardive dyskinesia"

Antipsychotic drugs are thought to damage brain cells that use the neurotransmitter dopamine to communicate with each other, as well as create other possible neuropathological problems.

Probably more references than you really wanted:

Sarah Tonin
Friday, August 16, 2002

"The conquest of happiness" by Bertrand Russell

Friday, August 16, 2002

I've got to take this opportunity to say how much I love the Vlad Taltos series. I can't recommend them highly enough. They're incredibly clever and fun. I've read a couple of Brust's non-Dragaera books, but I haven't enjoyed them as much. In fact, the only two I've finished were Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grill and To Reign in Hell. Both were excellent, however. I'll have to give the others another look.

Currently, however, I'm reading "How to Read a Book,"  and "Aristotle for Everybody," both by Mortimer J. Adler.

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Playboy. Ok, so I'm not so much _reading_ it...

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Working my way through the Baen Free Library

I take the train into Chicago everyday and read the books on my notebook computer.  It took a couple of days for me to adjust, but it seems pretty natural now.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

The Old Testament. I never got around to it before, too busy reading about computers, science, and other religions.
I finally decided to learn my own religion, and it is pretty strange.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

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