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Last Updated Wednesday December 13, 2017



 

Books Currently Reading


Nature and the Greeks, and, Science and humanism, Erwin Schroedinger, Weebcentral Library. Schrodinger was one of the great physicists of the 20th century. His wave equation transformed quantum mechanics. He has proven a thoughtful historian and philosopher of science. Nature and the Greeks offers a historical account of the twentieth-century scientific world picture, tracing modern science back to the earliest stages of Western philosophic thought. Science and Humanism addresses some of the most fundamental questions of the century: what is the value of scientific research? And how do the achievements of modern science affect the relationship between material and spiritual matters? Kindle. Currently-Reading 2017-12-13.

A Short History Of Philosophy, Robert C. Solomon Ph.D., Weebcentral Library. 'Philosophy is a singularly expansive enterprise, a fascinating outgrowth of a human nature that demands we question who and why we are. In A Short History of Philosophy, the most accessible concise portrait of philosophy in seventy years, Robert Solomon and Kathleen Higgins meet the challenge of accurately and engagingly describing it all, revelling in philosophy as 'the art of wonder,' the search for meaning, a gripping, dramatic endeavor. Here is the entire history of philosophy--ancient, medieval, and modern, from cultures both East and West--described in its historical and cultural context. 'The concepts that lie at the heart of philosophy antedate history by thousands of years,' the authors write in their introduction, noting that the ancient concept of immortality, prehistorical ideas about magic, and the complex set of beliefs implied by the practice of human sacrifice all exhibit philosophic underpinnings. Solomon and Higgins chart the profound development of philosophical thought around the world and through the centuries from the first stirrings of speculation and wonder to the rise of distinct (and often antithetical) philosophical traditions, moral constructs, and religious practices. From the early Greek and Asian philosophers and the mythological traditions that preceded them, to the great Greek, Indic, and Chinese philosophers, to the drama of the great religious philosophies, the authors have spun a marvelous tale that leads to the development and decline of modernity. Along with the major characters, such as Aristotle, Kant, and Confucius, Solomon and Higgins draw engaging portraits of less well-known alchemists, mystics, rebels, eccentrics of all sorts, including figures often ignored in philosophy--figures such as Teresa of Avila, who contributed to the mystical traditions of Catholicism; al-Razi, a contrarian Persian philosopher within the Arabic tradition who described the philosophical life as 'godlike;' and Erasmus, the Dutch philosopher who p' Hardcover. Currently-Reading 2017-12-10.
 
 

Recent Books


Flashman In The Great Game, George MacDonald Fraser, LA Public Library. 'What caused the Indian Mutiny? The greased cartridge, religious fanaticism, political blundering, yes — but one hitherto unsuspected factor is now revealed in the furtive figure which fled across the Indian scene in 1857 with such frantic haste: Flashman. For Flashman, plumbing new depths of anxious knavery in his role as secret agent extraordinary, saw far more of the Great Mutiny than he wanted to. How he survived his adventures and inevitable flights from Thugs and Tsarist agents, Eastern beauties and Cabinet ministers and kept his skin intact is a mystery as remarkable as The Flashman Papers themselves. Ther latest chapter sees him passing through this most harrowing ordeal to his supreme triumph with Courage, Duty and Honour toiling dispiritedly in his wake' Paperback. Read 2017-11-19.

A New History Of Early Christianity, Charles Freeman, Multnomah County Library. Very readable historical treatment of the birth and early gestation of Christianity. The approach is explicitly historical rather than theological, allowing the author to examine the early documents and archeology in light of the culture and politics of the early Christian writers. In particular the diverse perspectives and the many contradictions found in their writings can make more sense when considering wider historical influences, such as the region the writer came from, the language(s) they spoke and didn't speak, whether they were Jewish or Gentile, their position in society, and so on. Some of this is openly speculative, as very little is known about most of the early Christian writers, particularly those who authored what became the canonical New Testament. I found the speculation reasonably grounded in the wider history of the times, knowing that there is much one will never know about those early times. The author is clear about what is known and what is speculation, as any ancient historian must be. Freeman's elucidation of the narrowing of Christian thought in the 4th century AD, as the Roman empire first embraced Christianity then made it the state religion, is fascinating, particularly the substantial role of Roman politics in the shaping of the orthodox Christian interpretation of the early Roman Catholic Church, and the resulting state and church suppression of pagan worship. There is much more, ably presented by an accomplished historian of the ancient world. Kindle. Read 2017-11-09.

Fool, Christopher Moore, LA Public Library. 'Here's the Cliff Notes you wished you'd had for King Lear—the mad royal, his devious daughters, rhyming ghosts and a castle full of hot intrigue—in a cheeky and ribald romp that both channels and chides the Bard and all Fate's bastards. It's 1288, and the king's fool, Pocket, and his dimwit apprentice, Drool, set out to clean up the mess Lear has made of his kingdom, his family and his fortune—only to discover the truth about their own heritage. There's more murder, mayhem, mistaken identities and scene changes than you can remember, but bestselling Moore (You Suck) turns things on their head with an edgy 21st-century perspective that makes the story line as sharp, surly and slick as a game of Grand Theft Auto. Moore confesses he borrows from at least a dozen of the Bard's plays for this buffet of tragedy, comedy and medieval porn action. It's a manic, masterly mix—winning, wild and something today's groundlings will applaud. ' Paperback. Read 2017-11-05. Recommended by my brother Craig and Bob Burns

A Legacy Of Spies, John le Carré, Multnomah County Library. John le Carré surfaces with a retrospective novel that serves as a kind of prequel to one of his first novels, The Spy Who Came In from the Cold. He gives you a first person memoir from Peter Guillam, faithful subordinate of the master spy, George Smiley, giving the sordid background of the disaster that befell Alec Leamas and Elizabeth Gold in Cold War Berlin. The author assumes much: It is better if you are familiar with the author's first novels, and some of the peculiarities of the Cold War. Kindle. Read 2017-10-17.

A.D. 381, Charles Freeman, LA Public Library. 'A provoking and timely examination of one of the most important times in Church history. In AD 381, Theodosius, emperor of the eastern Roman empire, issued a decree in which all his subjects were required to subscribe to a belief in the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This edict defined Christian orthodoxy and brought to an end a lively and wide-ranging debate about the nature of God; all other interpretations were now declared heretical. It was the first time in a thousand years of Greco-Roman civilization free thought was unambiguously suppressed. Yet surprisingly, the popular histories claim that the Christian Church reached a consensus on the Trinity at the Council of Constantinople in AD 381. Why has Theodosius's revolution been airbrushed from the historical record? In this groundbreaking new book, acclaimed historian Charles Freeman shows that the council was in fact a sham, only taking place after Theodosius's decree had become law. The Church was acquiescing in the overwhelming power of the emperor. Freeman argues that Theodosius's edict and the subsequent suppression of paganism not only brought an end to the diversity of religious and philosophical beliefs throughout the empire, but created numerous theological problems for the Church, which have remained unsolved. The year AD 381, as Freeman puts it, was 'a turning point which time forgot.'' Kindle. Partially-Read 2017-10-14.

Beloved, Toni Morrison, LA Public Library. 'Proud and beautiful, Sethe escaped from slavery but is haunted by its heritage--from the fires of the flesh to the heartbreaking challenges to the spirit. Set in rural Ohio several years after the Civil War, this profoundly affecting chronicle of slavery and its aftermath is Toni Morrison's greatest work. Unabridged.' Paperback. Partially-Read 2017-10-13.

Forward The Foundation, Isaac Asimov, LA Public Library. 'Science fiction-roman.' Hardcover. Read 2017-10-06.

Eat To Live, Joel Fuhrman, LA Public Library. 'Hailed a 'medical breakthrough' by Dr. Mehmet Oz, EAT TO LIVE offers a highly effective, scientifically proven way to lose weight quickly. The key to Dr. Joel Fuhrman's revolutionary six-week plan is simple: health = nutrients / calories. When the ratio of nutrients to calories in the food you eat is high, you lose weight. The more nutrient-dense food you eat, the less you crave fat, sweets, and high-caloric foods.EAT TO LIVE has been revised to include inspiring success stories from people who have used the program to lose shockingly large amounts of weight and recover from life-threatening illnesses; Dr. Fuhrman's nutrient density index; up-to-date scientific research supporting the principles behind Dr. Fuhrman's plan; new recipes and meal ideas; and much more. This easy-to-follow, nutritionally sound diet can help anyone shed pounds quickly-and keep them off.' Paperback. Partially-Read 2017-10-05. Recommended by my friend Cloy

Golfer's Start-Up, Doug Werner, . ProQuest eBook. Partially-Read 2017-10-04.

Fire In The Lake, Frances FitzGerald, LA Public Library. 'This landmark work, based on Frances FitzGeralds own research and travels, takes us inside Vietnaminto the traditional, ancestor-worshiping villages and the corrupt crowded cities, into the conflicts between Communists and anti-Communists, Catholics and Buddhists, generals and monks and reveals the country as seen through Vietnamese eyes. With a clarity and authority unrivaled by any book before it or since, Fire in the Lake shows how America utterly and tragically misinterpreted the realities of Vietnam. For Fire in the Lake, Frances FitzGerald received the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, an Overseas Press Club award for best interpretation of foreign affairs, an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, a National Institute for Arts and Letters award, the Front Page Award, the Christopher Book Award, the Washington Monthly Political Book Award, the Sidney Hillman Award, and the Bancroft Prize. In the 30 years since its initial publication, Fire in the Lake has achieved the status of a classic. An essential text for students of Asian-American relations. FitzGeralds new writings on Vietnam appear, along with photographs by Mary Cross, in Vietnam: Spirits of the Earth, published by Bulfinch in November 2001.' Paperback. Read 2017-10-02.

Draft No. 4, John McPhee, Weebcentral Library. Kindle. Read 2017-10-02. A gift from my Jon and Amanda

Prelude To Foundation, Isaac Asimov, LA Public Library. 'It is the year 12,020 g.e. and the last Galactic Emperor of the Autun dynasty, Cleon 1, sits uneasily on the throne. These are troubled times and Cleon is desperate to find a way to calm them. When young Outworld mathematician Hari Seldon arrives on Trant' Paperback. Read 2017-09-23.

A Rumor Of War, Philip Caputo, LA Public Library. 'The classic Vietnam memoir, as relevant today as it was almost thirty years ago. In March of 1965, Marine Lieutenent Philip J. Caputo landed at Da Nang with the first ground combat unit deployed to Vietnam. Sixteen months later, having served on the line in one of modern history’s ugliest wars, he returned home—physically whole but emotionally wasted, his youthful idealism forever gone. A Rumor of War is more than one soldier’s story. Upon its publication in 1977, it shattered America’s indifference to the fate of the men sent to fight in the jungles of Vietnam. In the years since then, it has become not only a basic text on the Vietnam War but also a renowned classic in the literature of wars throughout history and, as Caputo explains, of “the things men do in war and the things war does to men.” “A singular and marvelous work.” —The New York Times   After serving in Vietnam, Philip Caputo worked at the Chicago Tribune, where he was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team of journalists covering election fraud. He went on to become a correspondent covering the Middle East and the Soviet Union. Caputo also has written six novels and a second volume of memoir. He divides his time between Connecticut and Arizona. When it first appeared, A Rumor of War brought home to American readers, with terrifying vividness and honesty, the devastating effects of the Vietnam War on the soldiers who fought there. And while it is a memoir of one young man's experiences and therefore deeply personal, it is also a book that speaks powerfully to today's students about the larger themes of human conscience, good and evil, and the desperate extremes men are forced to confront in any war. A platoon commander in the first combat unit sent to fight in Vietnam, Lieutenant Caputo landed at Danang on March 8, 1965, convinced that American forces would win a quick and decisive victory over the Communists. Sixteen months late' Kindle. Read 2017-09-22.

A History of Germany, Bayard Taylor, Weebcentral Library. 'Mr. Taylor was exceptionally Well equipped for writing a popular history of Germany. At the time when he wrote (1873) he had already been many years in Germany occupied in his well known studies of Goethe; he had married a German lady, had traveled widely, and Shared in that German enthusiasm which ac companied the foundation of the German Empire. He made use in his history of the best results of the German historical scholarship of his day. But in the generation which has passed scientific historical research has brought to light a mine of new material; the economic historians have taught us to lay a new emphasis on that side of historical development; and time has brought more just judgments in regard to disputed religious questions. It has been the aim of the editor to preserve as nearly as possible the original text, and yet bring it completely into line with the best modern scholarship. The necessary changes were so numerous and so varied in character that for the sake of smoothness in the narrative it has seemed better to incorporate all changes directly in the text rather than distract the reader's attention with innumerable footnotes. The responsibility for the last chapter rests wholly with the editor; in brief space he has attempted to sum up the leading features in the development of Germany in the last thirty years.' Kindle. Partially-Read 2017-09-13.

Introducing Epigenetics: A Graphic Guide, Cath Ennis, Weebcentral Library. Kindle. Partially-Read 2017-09-10.

Rum Punch, Elmore Leonard, LA Public Library. 'Ordell 'Whitebread' Robbie makes a fine living selling illegal high-powered weaponry to the wrong people. Jackie Burke couriers Ordell's profits from Freeport to Miami. But the feds are on to Jackie -- and now the aging, but still hot, flight attendant will have to do prison time or play ball, which makes her a prime 'loose end' that Ordell needs to tie up permanently. Jackie, however, has other options. And with the help of Max Cherry -- an honest but disgruntled bail bondsman looking to get out -- she could even end up with a serious nest egg in the process.' Paperback. Read 2017-09-02. My brother Craig, in the interests of giving me something lighter to read on occasion, recommended Elmore Leonard to me.

The Late Show, Michael Connelly, LA Public Library. 'Renée Ballard works the night shift in Hollywood--also known as the Late Show--beginning many investigations but finishing none, as each morning she turns everything over to the day shift. A once up-and-coming detective, she's been given this beat as punishment after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor. But one night she catches two assignments she doesn't want to part with: the brutal beating of a prostitute left for dead in a parking lot and the killing of a young woman in a nightclub shooting. Ballard is determined not to give up at dawn. Against orders and her partner's wishes, she works both cases by day while maintaining her shift by night. As the investigations entwine, they pull her closer to her own demons and the reason she won't give up her job, no matter what the department throws at her.' Kindle. Read 2017-08-28.

Hoot, Carl Hiaasen, LA Public Library. 'Roy, who is new to his small Florida community, becomes involved in another boy's attempt to save a colony of burrowing owls from a proposed construction site.' Paperback. Read 2017-08-15.

Flush, Carl Hiaasen, LA Public Library. 'You know it’s going to be a rough summer when you spend Father’s Day visiting your dad in the local lockup.Noah’s dad is sure that the owner of the Coral Queen casino boat is flushing raw sewage into the harbor–which has made taking a dip at the local beach like swimming in a toilet. He can’t prove it though, and so he decides that sinking the boat will make an effective statement. Right. The boat is pumped out and back in business within days and Noah’s dad is stuck in the clink.Now Noah is determined to succeed where his dad failed. He will prove that the Coral Queen is dumping illegally . . . somehow. His allies may not add up to much - his sister Abbey, an unreformed childhood biter; Lice Peeking, a greedy sot with poor hygiene; Shelly, a bartender and a woman scorned; and a mysterious pirate–but Noah’s got a plan to flush this crook out into the open. A plan that should sink the crooked little casino, once and for all.From the Hardcover edition.' Paperback. Read 2017-08-15.

Scat, Carl Hiaasen, LA Public Library. 'Nick and his friend Marta decide to investigate when a mysterious fire starts near a Florida wildlife preserve and an unpopular teacher goes missing.' Hardcover. Read 2017-08-15.

Chomp, Carl Hiaasen, LA Public Library. 'When the difficult star of the reality television show 'Expedition Survival' disappears while filming an episode in the Florida Everglades using animals from the wildlife refuge run by Wahoo Crane's family, Wahoo and classmate Tuna Gordon set out to find him while avoiding Tuna's gun-happy father.' Hardcover. Read 2017-08-15.

Notes Of A Native Son, Baldwin James, Clackamas County Library. 'Written during the 1940s and early 1950s, when Baldwin was only in his twenties, the essays collected in Notes of a Native Son capture a view of black life and black thought at the dawn of the civil rights movement and as the movement slowly gained strength through the words of one of the most captivating essayists and foremost intellectuals of that era. Writing as an artist, activist, and social critic, Baldwin probes the complex condition of being black in America. With a keen eye, he examines everything from the significance of the protest novel to the motives and circumstances of the many black expatriates of the time, from his home in 'The Harlem Ghetto' to a sobering 'Journey to Atlanta.' This book inaugurated Baldwin as one of the leading interpreters of the dramatic social changes erupting in the United States in the twentieth century, and many of his observations have proven almost prophetic. His criticism on topics such as the paternalism of white progressives or on his own friend Richard Wright's work is pointed and unabashed. He was also one of the few writing on race at the time who addressed the issue with a powerful mixture of outrage at the gross physical and political violence against black citizens and measured understanding of their oppressors, which helped awaken a white audience to the injustices under their noses. Naturally, this combination of brazen criticism and unconventional empathy for white readers won Baldwin as much condemnation as praise. ' Kindle. Read 2017-08-12.

The Naturalist, Andrew Mayne, Weebcentral Library. The concept of the book was intriguing to me: a scientist applies his skills to solving crimes. This worked quite well in the clever application of some of the science. For example, he locates a body buried in the woods for a year by looking for local species of plants that are growing in the same spot. After a few years, one species of plant will often out-compete other local species, and becomes dominant, so finding a few flowers of multiple species in one spot suggests recently disturbed soil. However, the overall plot went from unlikely to ludicrous. When the scientist figures out something useful in the hunt for murderers, the rural cops are portrayed uniformly as stupid, untrained, clueless, malignant, and so on, routinely reject his information, even after he has actually solved a few crimes. The scientist gets the crap kicked out of him multiple times, like any noir detective, and anonymously locates the bodies of many crime victims, before heroically bringing down a mass murderer on his own, because the police are dolts. What a real disappointment. Kindle. Read 2017-08-11.

Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules Of Writing, Elmore Leonard, LA Public Library. ''These are the rules I've picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I'm writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what's taking place in the story.' Elmore Leonard For aspiring writers and lovers of the written word, this concise guide breaks down the writing process with simplicity and clarity. From adjectives and exclamation points to dialect and hoopetedoodle, Elmore Leonard explains what to avoid, what to aspire to, and what to do when it sounds like 'writing' (rewrite). Beautifully designed, filled with free-flowing, elegant illustrations and specially priced, Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing is the perfect writer's, and reader's, gift.' Kindle. Read 2017-08-06.

Beach Lawyer, Avery Duff, Weebcentral Library. Kindle. Read 2017-08-05. Free book via Prime membership

Cat Chaser, Elmore Leonard, LA Public Library. Kindle. Read 2017-08-01.

Killshot, Elmore Leonard, Multnomah County Library. 'It's not Carmen Colson and her ironworker husband Wayne's fault that they were in the real estate office when a pair of thugs walked in with extortion on their minds. But as far as aging Ojibway Indian hit man Armand Degas is concerned the Colsons are going to have to pay dearly for seeing too much . . . and for the damage Wayne inflicted on Armand and his sicko partner Richie Nix with a tire iron. The cops here in middle-of-nowhere Michigan can't help Carmen and Wayne out, and the best the Feds can offer is the Witness Protection Program. So ultimately it's going to have to come down to one wife, one husband, two killers . . . and one lethal shot.' Paperback. Read 2017-07-13. My brother Craig recommended that I should read Leonard on occasion

The Third Man, Graham Greene, Multnomah County Library. Kindle. Read 2017-07-05.

The Evangelicals: The Struggle To Shape America, Frances FitzGerald, Multnomah County Library. 'This groundbreaking book from Pulitzer Prize­winning historian Frances FitzGerald is the first to tell the powerful, dramatic story of the Evangelical movement in America - from the Puritan era to the 2016 presidential election.' Kindle. Read 2017-06-21.

Call The Midwife: Farewell To The East End, Jennifer Worth, LA Public Library. Kindle. Read 2017-06-16.

Call The Midwife: Shadows Of The Workhouse, Jennifer Worth, LA Public Library. Kindle. Read 2017-06-07.

Call The Midwife, Jennifer Worth, Multnomah County Library. 'In the 1950s, twenty-two-year-old Jenny Lee leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in London's East End slums. While delivering babies all over the city, Jenny encounters a colorful cast of women - from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lives, to the woman with twenty-four children who can't speak English, to the prostitutes of the city's seedier side.' Kindle. Read 2017-06-01.

The Gene: an intimate history, Mukherjee Siddhartha, LA Public Library. 'Siddhartha Mukherjee has a written a biography of the gene as deft, brilliant, and illuminating as his extraordinarily successful biography of cancer. Weaving science, social history, and personal narrative to tell us the story of one of the most important conceptual breakthroughs of modern times, Mukherjee animates the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates, and choices. Throughout the narrative, the story of Mukherjee's own family - with its tragic and bewildering history of mental illness - cuts like a bright, red line, reminding us of the many questions that hang over our ability to translate the science of genetics from the laboratory to the real world. In superb prose and with an instinct for the dramatic scene, he describes the centuries of research and experimentation - from Aristotle and Pythagoras to Mendel and Darwin, from Boveri and Morgan to Crick, Watson and Franklin, all the way through the revolutionary twenty-first century innovators who mapped the human genome.' Kindle. Partially-Read 2017-05-11.

The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker, Weebcentral Library. Paperback. Read 2017-05-09. A gift from my Benn and Jenn. Christmas 2015.

The Emergence of Life: From Chemical Origins to Synthetic Biology, Pier Luigi Luisi, Weebcentral Library. 'The origin of life from inanimate matter has been the focus of much research for decades, both experimentally and philosophically. Luisi takes the reader through the consecutive stages from prebiotic chemistry to synthetic biology, uniquely combining both approaches. This book presents a systematic course discussing the successive stages of self-organisation, emergence, self-replication, autopoiesis, synthetic compartments and construction of cellular models, in order to demonstrate the spontaneous increase in complexity from inanimate matter to the first cellular life forms. ' Kindle. Read 2017-04-16.

I Contain Multitudes, Ed Yong, Weebcentral Library. 'For most of human existence, microbes were hidden, visible only through the illnesses they caused. When they finally surfaced in biological studies, they were cast as rogues. Only recently have they immigrated from the neglected fringes of biology to its center. Even today, many people think of microbes as germs to be eradicated, but those that live with us - the microbiome - are invaluable parts of our lives. I Contain Multitudes lets us peer into that world for the first time, allowing us to see how ubiquitous and vital microbes are: they sculpt our organs, defend us from disease, break down our food, educate our immune systems, guide our behavior, bombard our genomes with their genes, and grant us incredible abilities. While much of the prevailing discussion around the microbiome has focused on its implications for human health, Yong broadens this focus to the entire animal kingdom, giving us a grander view of life.' Hardback. Read 2017-04-14. Gift from Jon and Amanda

The Ministry of Special Cases, Nathan Englander, Weebcentral Library. In The Ministry of Special Cases Nathan Englander tells a story of the Dirty War of Argentina as if in the guise of Isaac Bashevis Singer. The tale is steeped in irony, told through the eyes of a Jew, Kaddish Pozsnan, even outcast from the Jewish community of Buenos Aires. His very name connotes the praise of God, a sentiment hardly visible in Kaddish's life and experience. When his son Pato the unversity student disappears, his daily battles with his son are replaced with his family's desperate and disparate attempts to locate their los desaparecido, even with appeals to the Ministry of Special Cases, the Kafkaesque government ministry which might well just disappear you for inquiring about a loved one. Englander's considerable novelistic skills are employed here to provide a glimpse of what it would it be like to experience the family's devastation over a child 'missing in action,' in a society which is frozen by the fear of being the next victim. Paperback. Read 2017-04-10. A gift from Jon and Melinda, and Benn and Jenn. An author recommended by Jenn.

When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi, Multnomah County Library. 'For readers of Atul Gawande, Andrew Solomon, and Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living? At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade's worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi's transformation from a naïve medical student 'possessed by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life' into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality. What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir. ' Kindle. Read 2017-04-08.

Jesus: a very short introduction, Richard Bauckham, Weebcentral Library. 'Award-winning religious scholar Richard Bauckham here explores the historical figure of Jesus, evaluating the sources and showing that they provide us with good historical evidence for his life and teaching. To place Jesus in his proper historical context, as a Jew from Galilee in the early first century of our era, Bauckham looks at Jewish religion and society in the land of Israel under Roman rule. He explores Jesus' symbolic practices as well as his teachings, looks at his public career and emphasizes how his actions, such as healing and his association with notorious sinners, were just as important as his words. Bauckham writes that Jesus was devoted to the God of Israel, with a special focus on God's fatherly love and compassion, and like every Jewish teacher he expounded the Torah, but did so in his own distinctive way. After a discussion about the way Jesus understood himself and what finally led to his death on a Roman cross, Bauckham concludes by considering the significance Jesus has come to have for Christian faith worldwide.' Kindle. Read 2017-04-03.

Seven Brief Lessons On Physics, Carlo Rovelli, LA Public Library. 'In seven brief lessons, Italian theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli guides readers with admirable clarity through the most transformative physics breakthroughs of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. This playful, entertaining and mind-bending introduction to modern physics, already a major bestseller in Italy, explains general relativity, quantum mechanics, elementary particles, gravity, black holes, the complex architecture of the universe, and the role of humans in the strange world Rovelli describes. This is a book about the joy of discovery. It takes readers to the frontiers of our knowledge: to the most minute reaches of the fabric of space, back to the origins of the cosmos, and into the workings of our minds.' Hardcover. Read 2017-03-26.

Royal Flash, George MacDonald Fraser, Clackamas County Library. 'Flashman tangles with femme fatale Lola Montez and the dastardly Otto Von Bismarck in a battle of wits which will decide the destiny of a continent. In this volume of The Flashman Papers, Flashman, the arch-cad and toady, matches his wits, his talents for deceit and malice, and above all his speed in evasion against the most brilliant European statesman and against the most beauiful and unscrupulous adventuress of the era. From London gaming-halls and English hunting-fields to European dungeons and throne-rooms, he is involved in a desperate succession of escapes, disguises, amours and (when he cannot avoid them) hand-to-hand combats. All the while, the destiny of a continent rests on his broad and failing shoulders.' Kindle. Read 2017-03-15.

The Fifth Witness, Michael Connelly, Multnomah County Library. 'Haller's first foreclosure client, Lisa Trammel, is fighting hard to keep her home, maybe too hard. The bank has gotten a restraining order to stop Trammel's protests, and she becomes the prime suspect when Mitchell Bondurant, a mortgage banker, is killed with a hammer in his office parking lot. A ton of evidence points to Trammel, but Haller crafts an impressive defense that includes 'the fifth witness' of the title. Connelly has a sure command of the legal and procedural details of criminal court, and even manages to make the arcane, shady world of foreclosure interesting. While the prose may lack some of the poetic nuance of his early novels, the plot is worthy of a master storyteller. ' Kindle. Read 2017-03-14.

The Laws of Thermodynamics: A Very Short Introduction, Peter Atkins, Weebcentral Library. Peter Atkins, a bona fide chemistry professor, takes a shot at summarizing the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics it for the million. He claims that when he is done explaining, you will understand how all change of any kind occurs, why death itself must come, even how the unfolding of the very thoughts you are employing to read his book is a consequence of the 2nd Law. And if that isn't enough to tease you into reading the book, he quotes C.P. Snow as saying that not knowing the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is the same as not having read Shakespeare; you are culturally backward if you don't take a crack at his book. Unfortunately, he could not resist the formalism of the subject, and produced a mediocre explanation which did not approach the enlightenment he promised. There are better and more succinct explanations elsewhere. Kindle. Read 2017-03-13.

DNA: The Secret Of Life, Andrew Berry, James D. Watson, Weebcentral Library. 'Fifty years ago, James D. Watson, then just twentyfour, helped launch the greatest ongoing scientific quest of our time. Now, with unique authority and sweeping vision, he gives us the first full account of the genetic revolution - from Mendel’s garden to the double helix to the sequencing of the human genome and beyond.Watson’s lively, panoramic narrative begins with the fanciful speculations of the ancients as to why “like begets like” before skipping ahead to 1866, when an Austrian monk named Gregor Mendel first deduced the basic laws of inheritance. But genetics as we recognize it toda - with its capacity, both thrilling and sobering, to manipulate the very essence of living things - came into being only with the rise of molecular investigations culminating in the breakthrough discovery of the structure of DNA, for which Watson shared a Nobel prize in 1962. In the DNA molecule’s graceful curves was the key to a whole new science.Having shown that the secret of life is chemical, modern genetics has set mankind off on a journey unimaginable just a few decades ago. Watson provides the general reader with clear explanations of molecular processes and emerging technologies. He shows us how DNA continues to alter our understanding of human origins, and of our identities as groups and as individuals. And with the insight of one who has remained close to every advance in research since the double helix, he reveals how genetics has unleashed a wealth of possibilities to alter the human condition - from genetically modified foods to genetically modified babies - and transformed itself from a domain of pure research into one of big business as well. It is a sometimes topsy-turvy world full of great minds and great egos, driven by ambitions to improve the human condition as well as to improve investment portfolios, a world vividly captured in these pages.Facing a future of choices and social and ethical implications of which we dare not remain ' Kindle. Read 2017-03-11.

Religion and the sciences of origins, Kelly James Clark, Weebcentral Library. 'This concise introduction to the treatment of origins, physical and biological, by both science and religion focuses on Christianity and modern Western science (the epicenter of issues in science and religion in the West) with a concluding chapter on Muslim and Jewish Science and Religion. This book also invites the reader into the relevant literature with ample quotations from original texts.' Kindle. Partially-Read 2017-03-10. Gift from Jon and Amanda

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou, Clackamas County Library. 'The 1969 autobiography about the early years of African-American writer and poet Maya Angelou. The first in a seven-volume series, it is a coming-of-age story that illustrates how strength of character and a love of literature can help overcome racism and trauma. The book begins when three-year-old Maya and her older brother are sent to Stamps, Arkansas, to live with their grandmother and ends when Maya becomes a mother at the age of 16. In the course of Caged Bird, Maya transforms from a victim of racism with an inferiority complex into a self-possessed, dignified young woman capable of responding to prejudice. Angelou was challenged by her friend, author James Baldwin, and her editor, Robert Loomis, to write an autobiography that was also a piece of literature.' Kindle. Read 2017-03-09.

Six Days Of The Condor, James Grady, LA Public Library. This is the book that was the basis for the excellent Cold War spy movie, Three Days of the Condor. More often, the book is more substantial than a subsequent movie based on the book. In this case, the book is more of a slightly expanded screenplay, with thinly sketched characters, a quickly-moving plot, and clumsy sex scenes. The bones of the film are here, although the changes made for the sake of the movie dramatically improved the story, making the film much superior to this book. Kindle. Read 2017-03-06.

The Gods Of Guilt, Michael Connelly, Multnomah County Library. 'Mickey Haller has fallen on tough times. He expands his business into foreclosure defense, only to see one of his clients accused of killing the banker she blames for trying to take away her home. Mickey puts his team into high gear to exonerate Lisa Trammel, even though the evidence and his own suspicions tell him his client is guilty. Soon after he learns that the victim had black market dealings of his own, Haller is assaulted, too - and he's certain he's on the right trail. Despite the danger and uncertainty, Haller mounts the best defense of his career in a trial where the last surprise comes after the verdict is in.' eBook. Read 2017-03-05.

The Reversal, Michael Connelly, LA Public Library. 'Longtime defense attorney Mickey Haller is recruited to prosecute the high-profile retrial of a brutal child murder. After 24 years in prison, convicted killer Jason Jessup has been exonerated by new DNA evidence. Haller is convinced Jessup is guilty, and he and LA Detective Harry Bosch set off on a case fraught with political and personal danger. Opposing them is Jessup, now out on bail, a defense attorney who excels at manipulating the media, and a runaway eyewitness reluctant to testify after so many years.' Kindle. Read 2017-03-02.

When You Are Engulfed In Flames, David Sedaris, Weebcentral Library. David Sedaris has mellowed just a bit in this collection of essays, but hasn't lost his acute ability to observe and report his and others foibles. Paperback. Read 2017-01-05. Christmas 2016

Internal Medicine: A Doctor's Stories, Terrence Holt, Weebcentral Library. Internal Medicine captures the 'stark moments of success and failure, pride and shame, courage and cowardice, self-reflection and obtuse blindness that mark the years of clinical training' (Jerome Groopman, New York Review of Books), portraying not only a doctor’s struggle with sickness and suffering but also the fears and frailties each of us - doctor and patient - bring to the bedside. One of our sons is a physician who completed his residency in internal medicine a few years ago, and I was curious about the kind of experiences he might have shared with other residents. Kindle. Read 2017-01-03.

The Glass Universe: How The Ladies Of The Harvard Observatory Took The Measure Of The Stars, Dava Sobel, Multnomah County Library. Dava Sobel's account of women's contributions to astronomy, particularly the contributions made by the computers and burgeoning astronomers of the Harvard Observatory from 1850. Kindle. Read 2016-12-27.
 

Selected Recent Articles


Soul Survivor, David Remnick, New Yorker, 2016-04-04. Aretha Franklin recently sang at the Kennedy Center Honors tribute to Carole King, reprising the song Carole wrote for her, A Natural Woman. The performance was glorious, and drew tears from the President, as well as from myself as I watched and listened to it later on video. Obama said afterwords: 'Nobody embodies more fully the connection between the African-American spiritual, the blues, R&B, rock and roll - the way that hardship and sorrow were transformed into something full of beauty and vitality and hope. American history wells up when Aretha sings.'. Read 2016-11-03.

A New Enlightenment, George Musser, Scientific American, 2012-11-04. Can quantum theory be the savior of pure reason? Presented herein is a conceit that the metaphors of superposition and entanglement, quantum mechanical mechanisms, are useful in modeling voting and governing choices of individuals in a democracy more accurately than in looking at populations with some stated propensity to support one policy or another.. Read 2016-10-31.

Language in a New Key, Paul Ibbotsen, Scientific American, 2016-11-01. Noam Chomsky has dominated linguistics, although he may be better known as a skeptic who holds the powerful accountable. His theory of universal grammar posited that humans evolved an inborn knowledge of a universal grammar structure that was triggered in children as they developed the ability to speak in their culture. The theory has been modified into a less structured structure, so to speak, but more recent studies do not seem to support the main tenets. A newer theory is emerging that is described as a usage-based approach. Children start with a set of tools like categorization, analogy construction and reading social intentions, and use them to build rules for the language they are surrounded by. With the advent of online repositories of linguistic data, the new models are being tested like they never could when Chomsky constructed his theories.. Read 2016-10-28.

Chief Justice Roberts 'Had It In for the Voting Rights Act', Stephanie Mencimer, Mother Jones, 2016-10-27. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the 5-4 conservative majority opinion for Shelby County v. Holder, which removed critical protections from the 1965 Voting Rights Act, particularly that jurisdictions with a clear history of vote suppression and discrimination could not change their voting procedures without DOJ oversight. The result was a rush of voter suppression efforts in former DOJ-monitored counties (mostly the Deep South and Southwest), and in other states where Republicans control the legislature. Since Scalia died this year, a number of lower courts are overturning the worst of these voter suppression efforts, and with the current balance of the court 4-4, the Supreme Court is not able to stop the lower courts from treating all citizens of the United States as if they are equal, at least as regards voting rights.. Read 2016-10-27.

John Roberts and the Shifting Politics of Race, Nathan Pippenger, Democracy Journal, 2016-10-27. 'The Chief Justice is the most powerful defender of an increasingly untenable viewpoint.' John Roberts has spent much of his legal career opposing federal voting rights laws, and spearheaded the gutting of critical voter suppression protections from the 1965 Voting Rights Act in 2013, Shelby v. Holder. Mounting opposition to this renewed attack on minority voting rights is being seen in lower courts across the nation, with some success, as Scalia's demise is, at least in the short term, making it more difficult for conservative Supreme Court justices to carry their partisan voter suppression attack forward.. Read 2016-10-27.

Between the Lines of the Voting Rights Act Opinion, John Schwartz, New York Times, 2013-06-25. Excellent breakdown of the 2013 Supreme Court decision Shelby v. Holder, which removed important voter suppression protection from the 1965 Voting Rights Act, with a 5-4 decision on partisan lines. The Republican Party has since gone on a tear in various states, producing various legislation that is designed to limit their political opponents' ability to vote.. Read 2016-10-27.

A New Cuba, Jon Lee Anderson, New Yorker, 2016-10-03. President Obama's Cuban plan normalized relations. Can it also transform the nation? President Obama's Cuban policy is consistent with many other of his administration's foreign policy efforts: To fix the present by symbolic attempts to mend the past. They are marked by a recognition that: incremental and indirect change can be just as important as more obviously interventionist moves can be; change in other parts of the world is usually shaped more by internal efforts and perceptions than external; dialog with other countries is a vital part of exerting influence on change outside our borders. . Read 2016-10-02.

Notes Of A Grand Juror, Misha Lepetic, 3 Quarks Daily, 2014-12-08. How the ancient grand jury system in the U. S., the only country in the world to still use such a system for the process of criminal indictments, is in fact a critical point of failure in bringing to justice police who kill unarmed civilians. . Read 2016-10-01.

CRISPR Could Usher in a New Era of Delicious GMO Foods, Sarah Zhang, Atlantic Monthly, 2016-09-19. Read 2016-09-22.

New study finds that medical marijuana may be helping to curb the opioid epidemic, Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post, 2016-09-15. Read 2016-09-20.

What O. J. Simpson Means to Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Atlantic Monthly, 2016-10-01. Ta-Nehisi Coates looks back twenty two years and finds that as a young black college student he missed what a lot of outraged white people missed: Many blacks celebrated O. J.'s escape from a brutal justice system that they lived with every day.. Read 2016-09-18.

Teaching Purity Culture in Public Schools, Olga Khazan, Atlantic Monthly, 2016-09-07. Read 2016-09-10.

God Is Dead: What Nietzsche Really Meant, Scotty Hendricks, Big Think, 2016-08-03. Read 2016-08-15.

Letter proves Speer knew of Holocaust plan, Kate Connolly, Guardian, 2007-03-07. A newly discovered letter by Adolf Hitler's architect and armaments minister Albert Speer offers proof that he knew about the plans to exterminate the Jews, despite his repeated claims to the contrary. Writing in 1971 to Hélène Jeanty, the widow of a Belgian resistance leader, Speer admitted that he had been at a conference where Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS and Gestapo, had unveiled plans to exterminate the Jews in what is known as the Posen speech. Speer's insistence that he had left before the end of the meeting, and had therefore known nothing about the Holocaust, probably spared him from execution after the Nuremberg trials at the end of the second world war.. Read 2016-06-08.

The Candor and Lies of Nazi Officer Albert Speer, Gilbert King, Smithsonian, 2013-01-08. 'The minister of armaments was happy to tell his captors about the war machine he had built. But it was a different story when he was asked about the Holocaust.'. Read 2016-06-04.

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences, Eugene Wigner, Communications on Pure and Applied Mathematics, 1960-02-01. Eugene Wigner's famous essay on the mysteries of the effectiveness of mathematics as applied to natural science. Wigner was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who's Courant Lecture in 1959 was a delightful exploration of the idea that much in mathematics was invented to describe concepts unrelated to Nature, but some of that very mathematical technique was later used to accurately describe natural science, to the great surprise of both mathematicians and physicists. Originally published in the Communications on Pure and Applied Mathematics, vol. 13, No. 1, 1960.. Read 2016-05-05.

Clinton: Into the Headwinds, Elizabeth Drew, New York Review of Books, 2016-03-16. Read 2016-04-11.

Did Christianity Create Liberalism?, Samuel Moyn, Boston Review, 2015-02-09. Samuel Moyn offers an in-depth review of Siedentop's book Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism. He finds Siedentop's efforts to provide an explanation for modern freedoms rooted in the influence of medieval Catholicism fall far short of compelling argumentation. Moyn admires the author's appoach to 'treat modern individualism as a historical product rather than a natural fact.' Certainly the modern concept of the social contract alludes to rights rather than a historical progression of increasing expectation of individual liberty. He also admires Siedentop's willingness to take on the biases of modern historiography, which tend to minimize the Middle Ages while harkening back to antiquity for the underpinnings of individual liberty. But he faults Siedentop for doing his own minimization of influences from the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. His biggest criticisms center on two things: neglecting the 'vast chasm that separated the moral equality of Christians from the political equality of modern doctrine,' and ignoring the coercion, violence and intolerance of Christendom during the Middle Ages which underscore that problem. The moral equality of Jesus' acceptance of any and all individuals willing to worship him was not translated implicitly or explicitly into a political liberalism during the Middle Ages, but required the impetus of Luther's insistence on the removal of priestly intercession, itself a religious and moral consideration, inadvertently triggering the movement towards political liberalism.. Read 2015-12-13.

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