Archive for category education

What do I need to add to my list of ‘books to read’? (list below)

Books I Want To Read


1984 – Orwell
A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
Alas, Babylon – Pat Frank
Animal Farm – George Orwell
At the Mountains of Madness – Lovecraft
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
The Brothers Karamazov – Dostoyevsky
Contact – Carl Sagan
The Crucible – Arthur Miller
The Death of Ivan Ilyich – Tolstoy
Dhalgren –  Samuel Delany
The Divine Comedy – Dante
Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes
Dune – Frank Herbert
The Engines of God – Jack McDevitt
Faust – Goethe
Fear and Trembling – Kierkegaard
Frankenstein – Mary Shelly
Galapagos – Kurt Vonnegut
Gateway – Frederik Pohl
A Good Man Is Hard to Find – Flannery O’Connor
Great Expectations – Dickens
Hamlet – Shakespeare
Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace
King Lear – Shakespeare
Leaves of Grass – Walt Whitman
Light in August – Faulkner
Lolita – Nabakov
The Luzhin Defense – Nabakov
The Man in the High Castle – Philip K. Dick
The Master and Margarita – Bulgakov
Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
Moby Dick – Melville
The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco
Nausea – Sartre
The Odyssey – Homer
The Old Man and the Sea – Hemingway
One Day in the LIfe of Ivan Denisovich – Solzhenitsyn
Pale Fire – Nabakov
Paradise Lost – Milton
The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
The Plague – Camus
The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Rainbow’s End – Vernor Vinge
Ubik – Philip K. Dick
The Rama Series – Arthur C. Clarke
The Road – McCarthy
The Sirens of Titan – Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse-Five – Vonnegut
Song of Kali – Dan SImmons
The Sorrows of Young Werther – Goethe
The Sparrow – Mary Doria Russell
Thus Spoke Zarathustra – Nietzsche
The Stranger – Camus
Stranger In A Strange Land – Heinlein
A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
The Trial – Kafka
The Turn of the Screw – Henry James
Watership Down – Richard Adams
Wizard – John Varley

[“(VSI)” indicates that the book is part of Oxford Press’ “Very Short Introduction” series.]

After Religion – Vattimo
After Theory – Terry Eagleton
Authentic Happiness – Seligman
Beyond Good and Evil – Nietzsche
Beyond the Pleasure Principle – Freud
The Birth of Tragedy – Nietzsche
Blink – Malcolm Gladwell
The Brain (VSI)
A Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking
A Brief History of Western Philosophy – Robert Solomon
Christ – Jack Miles
Christian Spirituality – Alilster McGrath
Civilization and its Discontents – Freud
Confessions – St. Augustine
Consciousness Explained – Dennett
Critique of Religion and Philosophy – Walter Kaufmann
De Anima – Aristotle
The Death of God and the Meaning of Life – Julian Young
Desire – William B. Irvine
The Ego and the Id – Freud
Either/Or – Kierkegaard
The Elements of Style – Strunk and White
Enchiridion – Epictetus
Existentialism, from Dostoyevsky to Sartre – Kaufmann
Existentialism is a Humanism – Sartre
Finite and Infinite Games – James P. Carse
Flow – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Freedom Evolves – Dennett
Freud and Beyond, a history of psychoanalysis – Mitchell and Black
God – Etienne Gilson
God, a biography – Jack Miles
The God We Never Knew – Marcus Borg
Godel Escher Bach – Hofstader
The Good Life – William B. Irvine
Greek Mythology – Edith Hamilton
Hegel – (Solomon or Kaufmann or Singer)
A History of Christian Thought – Paul Tillich
A History of Christianity – Paul Johnson
A History of Western Philosophy – Bertrand Russell
I Am A Strange Loop – Douglas Hofstader
I and Thou – Martin Buber
Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis – Freud
Jesus, a biography – Paul Johnson
Jesus Through Middle-Eastern Eyes – Bailey
The Koran
Man and His Symbols – Carl Jung
Man’s Search for Meaning – Victor Frankl
The Many Faces of Realism – Putnam
Mathematics (VSI)
Meditations – Marcus Aurelius
Metaphysics and the Idea of God – Pannenberg
Modern Philosophy – Roger Scruton
Modernism – Christopher Butler
Naming and Necessity – Kripke
A New History of Western Philosophy – Anthony Kenny
New Seeds of Contemplation – Thomas Merton
On Belief – Zizek
On Writing – Stephen King
Paul – N.T. Wright
A People’s History of the World
Philosophical Investigations – Wittgenstein
Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature – Rorty
The Philosophy of Science (VSI)
Postmodern Theory – Best and Kellner
Pragmatism – William James
The Pragmatism Reader – Talisse and Aikin
Principles of Mathematical Philosophy – Russell
Psychology (VSI)
Quantum Physics (VSI)
Rapt – Gallagher
Reading the Bible Again for the First Time – Marcus Borg
The Resurrection of the Son of God – N.T. Wright
The Right to Write − Cameron
The Secular Age – Charles Taylor
The Singularity Is Near – Ray Kurzweil
Sources of Self – Taylor
Spirituality for Skeptics – Robert Solomon
The Story of Christian Theology – Roger E. Olson
The Story of Thought – Bryan Magee
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions – Thomas Kuhn
Stumbling on Happiness – Daniel Goldman
The Symbolism of Evil – Paul Ricoeur
Tao Te Ching – Lao Tsu
Truth and Method – Gadamer
The Unity of Knowledge – E. O. Wilson
Varieties of Religious Experience – William James
The View from Nowhere – Nagel
Walden – Thoreau
The World as Will and Representation – Schopenhauer
Your Memory – Kenneth Higbee



Painfully funny…

I’m currently in the yellow. The tiny yellow, that is.


Some symbols to help with reading non-fiction

I can’t read (nonfiction) without a pencil in my hand. All of the reading I do is marked through with all sorts of scribble to help make sense of the structure and content of the writing later without having to reread every word. Over the past few months, to help with this, I’ve come up with a loose system for marking books to make them as useful as possible for later. No doubt this system will evolve the more I use it, but it’s been really helpful for me so far, so I thought I would put it out there for anyone who also has to read a lot and thinks such a system would be useful. So, here is a list of the symbols with a little explanation of how they are helpful and the rationale behind why that particular symbol is used that way (which might help in remembering them).

▽ – In symbolic logic, a common symbol for a conclusion of an argument (therefore) is a triangle of dots. The conclusion of an argument is most often the thesis one is trying to prove. So, when a main point or thesis is stated, to be followed by an argument for or explanation of that thesis, the upside-down triangle is used. Its pointing down lets you know that the argument or explanation follows.

▼ – If you feel that the explanation or argument for the thesis is satisfactory, fill in the triangle to show that the thesis has been completed in some way. Leave it blank if you find it lacking.

△  – The right-side-up triangle is used to mark a thesis or conclusion that has been arrived at, rather than one that is stated up-front, then defended.

▲ – The filled-in triangle functions the same as before.

➔ – The arrow pointing to a piece of text means something like “don’t skip over this” when you re-read it. It lets your future self know that, when scanning a text over again, where the must-reads are.

∈ – This is another logic symbol that translates as “is a member of a set” (where the set is then specified). So “Michael Glawson ∈ people with big, strong muscles” translates as “Michael Glawson is a member of the set of people with big, strong muscles”. Sets are really just lists of things though. I am on the big, strong muscle-y person list. So, this symbol is used to let you know that an important list follows. Normally for me that is something like a list of responses to an argument, a list of elements of some position, etc. I normally underline a word or two letting my future self know what the list is of. (If you can’t see it, think of a cross between a capitol E and a capitol C).

≣ – This is the tautology symbol. It means “is exactly the same thing as”. So, “Michael Glawson ≣ Your daddy” means that I and your dad are the same thing. To say that x is the same thing as y, though, is just to give a sort of definition of x. So, whenever a term is defined, this symbol guides you back to it. I normally circle the term. (If you can’t see it well, it’s just an equal sign, with an extra line – three lines on top each other).

⊗ – This is the “exclusive or”. In use, “x ⊗ y” means “either x is true, or y is true, but both aren’t true”. This just means that there’s some strong division, or distinction, between x and y. So, when two ideas, positions, terms, periods, etc. are distinguished from one another, I use this symbol.

⊥ – This is an upside-down t. (You noticed…) It is used, instead of F, to mean “false”, because F, if written sloppily, can sometimes look like a T. The upside-down t is clearer. I use this to indicate whenever the Author of the text is claiming or entertaining the possibility that some position is false, or that there is a problem with it. So, if the author says, “one objection to this argument is…”I put that symbol in the margin.

ϴ – I’m interested in religion, so whenever I find a passage that deals with religion or god, I mark it with a theta, the first word of “Theos,” the Greek word for “god”.

✓ – The check notes some passage that I feel I really understand, or resonate or agree with. It is my “yes” mark.

X – The X is the opposite of the check. It tells me that I think the passage is wrong, stupid, etc.

? – The question mark indicates that I don’t quite understand the passage, but want to figure it out. Or it signals that I have some specific, noted question.

(?) – The parenthetical ? indicates that there is an interesting or important question posed within the text. I normally draw a line to the answer to the question if there is one presented.

〮- The centered dot is placed next to some important point of an argument or position. Something that is, in some way, central to the point of the writing.

The last useful little notation works like this:  Sometimes you’ll come across a part of the text that you want to underline but, because of the author’s egregious usage of prepositional phrases (or parenthetical statements), or the like, where you wanted only to underline a simple sentence, the beginning and end of that sentence are separated by a bunch of crap that you don’t care about, and you don’t want to underline half the page. So, just underline the words you need, and, at the end of the first line, draw a little loop, then draw a loop at the beginning of the next line to connect them. In this case, there would be a little loop at the end of the line under “underline”, and another one at the beginning of the next line under “So,”. This lets you know to read that as one line of text, skipping the rest.

Hope this was useful. If you have suggestions, or additions from your own way of doing things, please comment.

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Free brain-food

I’m all about some free book learnin’. Here’s some of that for you. – Lots and lots of free, audio or video versions of (almost all) really good talks on tons of subjects; taken from the annual TED conference. Speakers range from Richard Dawkins to Billy Graham, and everywhere in between. You can download or stream.

Libri – There must be ten thousand free ebooks on this site, most of which you can also download as audiobooks to read. An hour a night for a few months will probably get you through War and Peace. – It’s like a library that lets you just download it’s books as PDFs. I’m not sure it’s all legal though, so use your conscience.

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History (podcast) – It can be a little cheesy at times, but I now know a lot more about WWII thanks to his podcast on Hitler. Way better than the history lectures you’ve heard, probably.

Stuff You Missed In History Class (podcast by – Little, 3-8 minute talks on some interesting bit of history. Did you know that 1 out of every 200 people alive today is a direct descendent of Ghengis Kahn? Yeah, well now you do. Don’t thank me. Thank them.

Nova Science Now (podcast by PBS) – Another podcast of short explanations/musings on some interesting facet of science. Niel DeGrasse Tyson is one of the frequent speakers, and he’s a lot of fun to listen to, and he’s probably the only large, black astrophysicist on the planet.

And of course, if you’ve not already subscribed to This American Life‘s podcast, well…you suck. All there is to it.

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550 Free-to-watch Documentaries

At (And, yes, it has Super Size Me :-).)

Thanks to Caleb C for the link.

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Ever thought one of your profs might be insane?

Well, bear in mind that intelligence and insanity often accompany one another, and I doubt university job interviews focus as much on the second as the first. So it may be that the occasional crazy Phd could sneak through the system, and start grading your papers. Read about just such a case here, regarding UT Arlington professor of philosophy and law, Keith Burgess-Jackson. I hope it serves as a sign to other students that, when your prof is driving you crazy, it may be because he already is.

*Note: be sure to follow the links within Leiter’s post. They’re even more elucidating.


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Free education (part 2)

Get you some Yale action right here.

Download. iPod. Walk. Cd. Car. Learn. Chicken sandwich.

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