Monday, May 07, 2012

Vulture's Picnic, Rating the Audience, The Wrong Answer Faster, and Other New Books

A UAA book I checked out in January escaped someplace on the West Coast this spring so I went to pay for the book. (I'm not that late - faculty can check out books for the whole semester.  They told me to wait in case it showed up.  It was called Standards and the chapter I read was terrific.  I can't believe someone could find a library book and not make any attempt to get it back home.)

 I find it hard to get past the New Books shelf when I'm at the library. If I didn't have a blog, I might just disappear in the library. There are so many books on so many topics. Despite the difficulty of writing a book, there are plenty of people doing it. For those of you who have abandoned libraries for the internet, good books get you more than superficial tidbits. Really good ones give you a good overview of a topic with enough background to understand the basic issues. Here are a few I saw. Please excuse my photoshop experimenting. Some worked ok, others I learned something from. But I've too much to do to make them perfect now.

They can all be enlarged a bit by clicking on them.

How about some books on oil and energy?


Books looking at different aspects of media.

Get into other countries - literature, law, superstition.  The concept here was ok, but the execution needs some work.  The bottom book is Superstition as Ideology in Iranian Politics: From Majlesi to Ahmadinejad by Ali Rahnema.

Biology books - genetics, cognitive biology, and Feathers:  The Evolution of a Natural Miracle by Thor Hanson. 

Here are three books with German themes. Das Amt is all in German - the title translates as The Official and the Past: German Diplomats in the Third Reich and the Federal Republic.  There's the history of the German firm Krupp.  And then there's the book on Robert Musil.   (Musil was Austrian, but he wrote in German.) I've written about Musil before.  Here's a more abstract post and one that is more concrete. He's a German writer who wrote The Man Without Qualities [sometimes translated as Characteristics].  Think about what such a man would be like.  When I saw the title I knew I had to read it.  It took a while to find it.  It's a very cerebral book.  I've only read about 180 pages.  Not because it isn't good, I just had other things to do and it needed close attention.  I also read another of his books - Young Törless.  So a book that will help me understand Musil - it's the one I checked out.   I could have added the Brahms book to this group. 

The table of contents below is from Expeditions in Mathematics. 
The second book is In Pursuit of the Traveling Salesman:  Mathematics at the Limits of Competition by William J. Cook.  Then there's The Wrong Answer Faster:  The Inside Story Of Making the Machine that Trades Trillions.  

The first two books are about African Americans and I snuck* the third one in because it had Soul in the title as did the second book. 

Think about all the authors spending a year of five writing these books.  And because they are here, you might spend a second or two on them.  And before you pay money for some entertainment or distraction, consider that all these books and more waiting for you to borrow them for free at the Consortium library at UAA.  And no you don't need to be a UAA student to check out a book.  A Muni library card will do. 

*The spell check doesn't recognize snuck, but it's a regionalism that rolls off my tongue.  Sneaked can't compare.

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