John’s Reading Report – April 2007

May 1, 2007

I’ve been doing a lot more reading than blogging recently. But that just means I’ve got lots of fresh material to write about.
Here’s what I’ve read since my last report:
Old Man’s War, John Scalzi (Excellent old-school SF! I wouldn’t say he’s derivative of Heinlein, but definitely writes in the same fine tradition. If you’re reading me, you probably know that John Scalzi keeps a great blog, too).
The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester (I’m surprised this one hasn’t been made into a movie yet. [Wait – I wonder?])
The Years of Rice and Salt, Kim Stanley Robinson
The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography, Sidney Poitier
In progress:
The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins
I Am a Strange Loop, Douglas Hofstadter
The Accidental Mind: How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams, and God, David J. Linden
On deck:
1776, David McCullough (Yeah, I know it’s been waiting on the “to read” list for 3 months now. Best intentions and all that…)
Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, Daniel C. Dennett
The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God, Carl Sagan (edited by Ann Druyan)

I used to be extremely interested in the philosophy and science of human consciousness. When I graduated from high school in 1986, I planned to pursue a double major of Linguistics and Computer Science at UT and become a researcher in the field of artificial intelligence. I was a Doug Hofstadter disciple, reading and re-reading Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, studying formal logic, teaching myself different languages and alphabets. There’s a story as to why that plan went off the tracks, but I’m not telling it yet.
Long story short, I am now (and again) very much interested in the science of thought and the mind. Having suffered a brain trauma of sorts 25 years ago (the abuse by my uncle), and having gone through a paradigmatic response to that trauma during the past 25 years, I am fascinated at how the hardware and software in my skull have operated. While I still believe in free will, I now see and want to better understand the deterministic elements of consciousness.
This month’s Heinlein quote (which my illustrious co-blogger and I happened to independently choose, for entirely different reasons) echoes that theme, and I will be building on it in future posts.

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