Tag archives for non-fiction

  1. In Praise Of Doubt / Peter Berger and Anton Zijderveld

    Cover of In Praise Of Doubt
    The publishers gave In Praise Of Doubt the subtitle how to have convictions without becoming a fanatic. I am a skeptic at heart, so I purchased the book thinking it would explain approaches to blending doubt and conviction. It’s not that, unfortunately. The back cover copy claims the book will explain why religion, politics and culture need doubt to survive. But it doesn’t do that either. The first chapter explains the authors’ theory that the defining feature of modernism is pluralism rather than secularism. In other words, we’re not becoming more secular, we’re just sticking people of different faiths in closer proximity. On the latter, that’s a big duh. On…
  2. Scandalous Women / Elizabeth Kerri Mahon

    Cover of Scandalous Women
    Scandalous Women might be the first non-fiction blog-to-book project I’ve read. I grabbed this at a fundraising table at WisCon in May. It’s a series of short biographies of scandalous women throughout history. Elizabeth Kerri Mahon notes in her introduction that most This Day In History bits cover men predominantly. Her stated goal with the blog and book is to reclaim history, one woman at a time. All the included women caused a scandal, a commotion, they bumped up against the status quo. The obvious thing about a patriarchal society is that pretty much any woman who did anything before recent times was bound to piss people off and cause…
  3. Adapt / Tim Harford

    Cover of audio book edition of Adapt
    Let me re-title this book for you: Adapt: Tim Harford Makes Out With Markets. Adapt is Harford claiming markets are great because they are so effective, comparing markets and capitalism to evolution because both have use trial and error to select winners. Then Harford cherry-picks lots of examples of people rigidly not adapting in order to show … well, I think he’s trying to show that markets work because of failure. What he actually shows is that he’s good at finding interesting stories of failure. But so does failblog.org, and we don’t acclaim it to be an economic guru. Harford uses the evolutionary process and it’s results as a basis…
  4. Winning the Battle Against Prostate Cancer / Gerald Chodak

    Cover of Winning The Battle Against Prostate Cancer
    In December, my step-father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It’s a very minor case of the disease so I’m not particularly worried. His prospects of being cured are excellent. However, I knew very little about the cancer. At the same time, LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program included the book Winning the Battle Against Prostate Cancer by Gerald Chodak. I thought highly of a book that Demos Health published about A.L.S. (my mother died from that illness) so I selected Dr. Chodak’s book to review. Before I delve into the book, I need to specify a caveat. I am not in the slightest qualified to determine the accuracy of Dr. Chodak’s information…
  5. Kids With Cameras / Zana Briski ed.

    Cover of Kids With Cameras
    This review appeared on my previous blog, Rat’s Reading. In 2004, Born into Brothels won a well-deserved the Best Documentary (feature) Oscar®. The movie is slice of life of Zana Briski working with children in Kolkata’s red light district Sonaguchi. Briski started a class teaching the children photography. By the time I watched the movie though, I only vaguely remembered this fact, so when the film opened with a number of stunning photographs, I was amazed and wondering who took them. Minutes later it was clear that these young children (I believe around 10 or 11 years old) took them. Taking photographs and getting support for taking photographs obviously had…
  6. The C Programming Language, 2nd ed. / Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie

    Cover of The C Programming Language, Second Edition
    This review appeared on my previous blog, Rat’s Reading.Since I reviewed the book from which I learned C++, I probably ought to detail how I learned C. In the aforementioned operating systems class, the classwork was done in C. The C Programming Language was required for the class. The book is short; the main text is only 189 pages long, and that includes end-of-chapter problems. There’s a couple of appendixes. C itself isn’t a very big language, so this makes sense. Particularly when you consider that the authors of this book (Brian Kernighan & Dennis Ritchie), are also the inventors of C, though control for the specification of the language…
  7. Sex, Lies, and Headlocks / Shaun Assael and Mike Mooneyham

    Cover of Sex, Lies, and Headlocks
    This review appeared on my previous blog, Rat’s Reading. Okay, so one of my guilty pleasures it to occasionally (3 or 4 times/month) watch wrestling on television. Mostly I like to watch the guys who do high-flying moves off the ropes. Great fun. It can also be entertaining to watch the guys that can take a great deal of punishment. For instance, Mick Foley. In any case, I’m relatively familiar with the wrestling business. So I bought Sex, Lies, and Headlocks thinking that I could get some real good soap opera dirt on a particularly dirty business. Don’t bother. Unless you know jack about professional wrestling, you won’t learn a…
  8. Plain Christianity / J. B. Phillips

    Cover of Plain Christianity
    This review appeared on my previous blog, Rat’s Reading.Not a lot of people realize this, but I’m a pretty religious person. Having spent some time in self-help groups where many push the idea of spiritual, not religious I try to set myself apart from that. To me, it gives religion a bad connotation. I’m actually a big fan of religion, even though I don’t subscribe to the creed of any organized religion. I wish I could believe, but I don’t. Since my start in that group, I’ve been on a quest to find out just what creed I do believe. I suppose I could be called a cafeteria Christian, picking…
  9. 101 Reasons Why We’re Doomed

    101 Reasons Why We're Doomed
    This review appeared on my previous blog, Rat’s Reading.A books of short rants that reads like the blogs of several people I know. The authors basically tell us why they think the world is going to hell in a hand-basket. For some reason I thought these were funny 10 years ago, but re-reading them now brings a smirk only on a few. Some examples: Self-Worth finally has a price tag. Lawyers for Union Carbide, whose plant in Bhopal, India, killed nearly 4,000 people in one of history’s worst industrial accidents, finally settled on $3,840 as the price of a human life. If your therapy bill costs a penny more, you…
  10. Seven Medieval Kings / Joseph Dahmus

    Cover of Seven Medieval Kings
    This review appeared on my previous blog, Rat’s Reading. I bought this on impulse from the discount rack at Barnes & Noble. Barnes & Noble has a nice sideline of re-issuing out of print books and works that are in the public domain. I think this is a grand idea. The books can be published cheaply and it puts reading in the hands of more people more cheaply. This volume was published by Doubleday in the late sixties, and B&N re-published it in 1994. It’s a little bit on the dry and boring side, but it makes up for it by covering (as the title says) seven different kings, so…