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Thursday 4 October 2007

More Reading.

Can't get enough of these dead trees.

Terry Pratchett : "Making Money". On first reading it seems to me to be more of an average Discworld novel than "Going Postal" which I reckon was his best to date. Overall I'd give it an 8/10 but he gets 11/10 for prescience - writing a fantasy allegory about a banking crisis in a fictional London\New York that hits the market three weeks after the first major run on a UK Bank in 130 or so years is stunning timing.

In Flight -
William Gibson
"Spook Country"
Niall Ferguson "Empire"

Yet to start
Cormac McCarthy: "The Road"
Richard Dawkins: "The God Delusion"
Robert Harris: "Imperium"


Ithiad said...

Dead trees are great, huh. Send me on the Pratchett. I've been looking forward to reading that. Going Postal was a favourite.

Give Imperium a miss. It's rather silly.

I'd give the Dawkins a miss too, though. Militant atheism is just more religious nonsense. I don't think the science tribe has moral authority.

Joe Mansfield said...


Making Money you can have once Auds has read it so I think you can bank on the end of next week.

Interesting that you don't rate Imperium - I liked (say 6 maybe 7/10) Pompeii and had hoped it would be on a par.

I can see the issues with Dawkins and the Atheist as Fundamentalist beign just as bad as the nut jobs but frankly there are nowhere near enough fundamentalist athiests yet to balance out things so that's not as strong an argument as it might be. On the topic of not being extreme - fuck me bro' we're talking about pointing out that non-atheists prefer to listen to the little voices in their heads rather than attempt to think about stuff. Frankly we need more militncy if you ask me. I'll accept that I'm fringe here but come on, give me one good rational reason to accept that it's OK to let people listen to the voices????

Ithiad said...

Haven't read Pompeii, so I can make a comparison for you. But maybe I was looking forward to Imperium too much. Still, if the Roman Republic is your game invest your time in the HBO/BBC Rome series instead. That was outstanding.

C'mon. The little voices in the head thing is pejorative. You won't win any (grown-up person) arguments by calling the other people stupid. Sorry, I mean you shouldn't win etc. Rhetoric and disputation aren't what they used to be.

Religious types do think about creation and morality and a whole bunch of other stuff somewhat sensibly and with a certain consistency. They just don't think about these things scientifically.

And it's not all that bad a thing either. I spend most of my day thinking unscientifically. I'm certainly not interested in a rigorous approach to deciding about dinner for instance. Some people like that kind of thing, though. Power to 'em. But not for me.

The inherent egoism and vanity of some scientists dismays me. It doesn't make sense to place one thought system on a pedestal as the only system worthy of consideration. And especially in a domain where that system isn't going to be any more successful than the religious systems.

Verifiability, deduction, etc are fine tools. But for an unknowable like the origins of reality, science isn't going to be giving you anything any better than a big guy in the sky made it all. Sure, all this matter business rushed out of a spot billions of years ago but what the fuck was it all doing there in the first place? (Yes, that's a temporal and spacial reference in regards a circumstance where neither time nor space have any meaning. But...)

I find the creation myths all a bit humorous myself. And dabbling in the testable with theology is plain embarrassing. But let these people alone with the fantasy if it helps them through the human condition.

Other people's internal thoughts are not much of my business, nor much of a concern to me. It's a different matter, of course, when they go acting all bothersome and interfering with my own personal internal monologue. (Existence is all due to the insane beauty of Algebraic Number Theory if you must know.)

Religion ain't the problem. It's a perfectly fun academic sport, after all. The imposition of religious thought on others is the problem.

But my real issue with militant atheism is the manner of evangelism. Putting a position in the marketplace of ideas is perfectly fine. But it's distasteful to buttress arguments with contempt for the other competitors and their positions.

Frankly, I'm not surprised these atheist types ended up getting themselves burnt at the stake and all that. ;)

I'm really broadly sympathetic to your tribe's position, modulo the Algebraic Number Theory omission of course. It just irks me a little how atheism considers itself special above religion. Atheism is a veneration of science to my mind and guilty of all the same attributes as any regular garden variety religious system.

[Combative post-pint comment here. Make friendly allowances please.]

Ithiad said...

Check out the new BBC Dirk Gently stuff at: