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Sunday, 02 September 2012


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Lies My Teacher Told Me is a fantastic book, one of my favorites. His followup Lies Across America was interesting but not in the same class. If you closely read Lies, Zinn's A People's History of The United States, and a few classic Chomsky books, well, you will be forever changed.

*Apologies for linking to a right-wing conservative show.

Would you also apologize for linking to a left-wing liberal show?

"Compliance" is not a book, but a recent film that viewers walked out on during screenings because- "people can't be that stupid." While watching it, I thought the director had taken "artistic license" several times simply to advance the original premise of the escalating storyline. Was therefore quite surprised to discover just how faithful the movie reproduced the actual facts of the case(s), while providing ample room for thought on authority and humanity.

I went for the Alain De Botton, I have watched him on TED.

"Would you also apologize for linking to a left-wing liberal show?"

Is this a riddle? [g]


Montaigne is the first blogger so it is no surprise that you have chosen his works. Since we live in post-modern times, he must have already written an essay about important books - and indeed that is the case.
"Whenever I ask a certain acquaintance of mine to tell me what he knows about anything, he wants to show me a book: he would not venture to tell me he has scabs on his arse without studying his lexicon to find the meanings of scab and arse" - from Du Pédantisme

I'm impressed that you read so much and so widely. I seem to only have time for the computer/web/applications and just living.

For you aviation+tech fiends, may I recommend QF32 by Richard de Crespigny (MacMillan). It's the captain's story of the Airbus A380 engine explosion over Singapore in 2009. I'm part way in, but I'm riveted.

It's not cerebral, but it's inspirational. You're in safe hands on QANTAS.

Put an order in for Lies My Teacher Told Me. Hardcover was only a few bucks more. Looks like my kind of book.

I always thought that Colbert is a "right-wing conservative show" same way "The Borgias" is a Catholic show.

Read Benjamin Barbers "consumed" Mike......it will explain all you're wants and cravings and make you human again....now be carefull, humans arn't that welcome in a civilisation run by consumers, but hey I guess you don't mind living to your own drum, do you?

Greets, Ed.

You're gonna get it from both sides for the Colbert comment.

Dear TJ,

Abstract answer: As the sole proprietor and editor, Mike is under no obligation nor expectation to be, in any way, impartial, unbiased, even-handed, nor unopinionated.

Concrete answer: Truly you have failed to grasp the nature of the situation.

Moral: Link before you leap.

pax / Ctein

Dear Mike (you thief, you),

Thanks for the recommendation of Religion for Atheists. I'd had that work recommended to me by others and I'd, well, ignored it, because the title induced me to think the book was some flip and superficial take on the subject. Your description of it makes it sound very worth my while. Seems like it would make a good intellectual companion to God's Mechanics, seeing as they are both most fundamentally sociological books.

pax / Ctein
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

Thanks, I've just ordered Montaigne and Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun which is unavailable via Amazon UK except through marketplace sellers. The reading stack is growing faster than I can get through it - I'm still engrossed in Jane Eyre, slow reader that I am. It would help if TOP was a bit less prolific...130 odd comments on bonding or not with your camera took a fair bit of reading, interesting though it was!

Dear Mike,

Please mind: it is Frans de Waal, same as Michel de Montaigne.

The Dutch are, of course, a curious lot, yet our names are spelled very much in the tradition of other European nations. Suffixes »de« and »van« are always written/printed lowercase, just as the »de« & »de la« in French/Spanish/Italian names or the »von« in German names.

For some mysterious reason people in the U.S. and Canada think otherwise, and come up with monstrosities like Vincent Van Gogh (and consequently index the poor bloke under »V« instead of »G«). What have we done to deserve this fate?

Kind regards,

Logic keeps on turning on itself like a Klein Bottle as I think about this, the Colbert Report is a left-wing liberal show that satirizes conservatives by masquerading as a right-wing show. I don't know if Michael knows this, therefore I am unable to ascertain whether his apology itself is sincere or satirical.

"*Apologies for linking to a right-wing conservative show."

I'm not offended Mike. I know you didn't think that; somebody else thought that.

off-off-topic: if anyone can explain to me how ON EARTH can the price of a Kindle edition be higher than paperback maybe I'll buy one of these books on Kindle...

Along the lines of "Religion for Athiests," I listened to an hour long interview yesterday with A.C. Grayling, author of "The Good Book: A Humanist Bible." It's essentially a secular bible, consisting of the same basic lessons in ethics and morality as the conventional one but it draws from writings of the great rationalists and ethicists throughout history instead of the "word of God."


I haven't yet read it, but I plan to.

The interview I listened to can be found on the CBC web site, here: http://www.cbc.ca/tapestry/episode/2012/08/31/ac-graying---a-few-good-words/

"explain to me how ON EARTH can the price of a Kindle edition be higher than paperback"

See Seven Deadly Sins, #2?


I greatly enjoyed "How to live" - many thanks for the suggestion! I also decided to read the essays, and got the Kindle editions of the Cotton translation into English (18th century and definitely past its sell-by date) and a recent translation into modern French which is far better - this as part of my current project to improve my French. Montaigne must have been a fascinating character, considering the times he lived in. Thus stimulated, I just ordered "Lies my Teacher told me".

A second vote for "The Swerve" by Greenblatt. I am halfway through it now. Very stimulating read.

Interesting on the politics (ie linking to a right wing talk show).

As it happens, not being American nor exposed daily to the American media, I have no idea whether this Colbert is left or right, or purple spotted. Never heard of him (or her).

I am aware of the TOP commenting policy, in which it is quite clear that our host does not want TOP to be dragged into politics. And I fully agree, there is enough about this world that makes my blood boil and enough outlets for me to demonstrate my blood boiling. Once (maybe twice) Mike has given me individually or us collectively a warning on some particular topic. So I try to comment on a path of total neutrality.

But... Mike's apologia. It seems to me to demonstrate some partiality, at least in principle. I would really really hate it if TOP became a site like the British Guardian newspaper / website, in which every shade of opinion in between socialist and serious fruit loop was welcome, so long as the serious fruit loopery was to the left of socialism. And that is also acknowledging that the right equally have their serious fruit loops (I am convinced the political spectrum is not a straight line in 2-D, but in fact some form of Mobius loop in which the real nutters on both ends of the spectrum are indeed arguing the same thing while stabbing each other).

Dear Mike,

Jokes or no jokes, regardless of which way the apology swings...

Any reader who thinks YOU need to give a fair shake to THEIR politics in YOUR magazine, of which you are the sole Editor and Publisher, is not getting it.

You may well feel, as a matter of propriety that THEY (and your authors) are permitted to express their politics, unsullied, in the venues that YOU provide THEM (namely, comments and other people's columns). But YOU are not required, by any stretch of the imagination to be "fair and balanced" unless that actually reflects how you feel. And you should not do that unless it is a truthful reflection.

A reader who cannot accept this is best served by looking for publications that honestly cater to their personal whims and biases.

pax / Ctein

Kelvin completely got it the way it was intended. [g]


Mike: a book recommendation based on Religion for Atheists: Reason, Faith, and Revolution by Terry Eagleton.

Strongly recommend Duncan J. Watts's Everything is Obvious * Once You Know the Answer: How Common Sense Fails Us. Popular sociology written by someone with a natural science background. Very good at explaining how and why the social world is as unpredictable as it is.

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