The premise of the book is that democracy's not great because the general public is incompetent when it comes to politics. Moreover, they're persistenThe premise of the book is that democracy's not great because the general public is incompetent when it comes to politics. Moreover, they're persistently incompetent, strongly resistant to attempts to educate them. An alternative is epistocracy, in which knowledgeable, competent people are the ones with the power to shape the government.
Well, I am sort of open to these ideas, now moreso than ever. Problem is, the book spends most of its pages tearing down what seem to me to be strawman arguments in favor of democracy in some theoretical framework. I am not an expert in political philosophy, and so for all I know there really are lots of academics arguing that democracy is a great system because of abstract, theoretical reasons that don't seem to correspond to the real world.
But I didn't need to be convinced that voters are incompetent and make irrational, destructive decisions, even in aggregate. Sure, in theory it would be great if idiots didn't vote. But what I would have wanted from this book would be:
1. An explanation of why democracy has been so successful, despite its very obvious flaws. Here by democracy being successful, I mean the fact that every nation I would even consider living in is a democracy.
2. Some bit of evidence that epistocracy can work and is not as vulnerable to abuse as it would seem. And maybe a little more of a concrete plan. As it is, the author just lists several forms an epistocracy could take and says, essentially, "it seems plausible that epistocracy might work well, but we don't know yet because it hasn't really been tried." I guess that's better than one alternative, which would be to wholeheartedly endorse the idea despite the lack of evidence. ...more
I gave up on this one before I got halfway through.
Before beginning the book I saw some negative reviews complaining about how PC and diversity-consciI gave up on this one before I got halfway through.
Before beginning the book I saw some negative reviews complaining about how PC and diversity-conscious this book was. I brushed them off. Diversity has deliberately been a big component of Trek for a long time.
But no, the negative reviews were exactly right. The authors are much more interested in talking about the Titan's incredibly diverse crew than they are in telling the story the book is supposedly about. The species of each crew member is described in excruciating detail, as are the thoughts of each crew member about the species of other crew member, as is the reaction of each crew member to the actions of the other crew members about this crew member's species, and... ugh. Wasn't there supposed to be a story here? Nope, let's just hang out in the ship's lounge and listen to dozens of interchangeable characters talk about mundane nonsense for page after page after page.
There are way, way too many characters, very few of whom seem to have any real connection to the plot. I mean, insanely, pathologically, way too many characters, to the point where I can't imagine readers are able to remember who's who without keeping notes. I don't understand what the authors were thinking. I'm sure it's difficult to simultaneously tell a story and introduce new characters for an ongoing series. But it seems like the authors deliberately made things hard on themselves. We had Riker and Troi, why couldn't we have gotten away with another 5 or so senior officers (some of whom could have been Trek characters we already know) who will be recurring in the series and a handful of "guest stars" for this particular book? Instead, we've got a laundry list of all kinds of random people on the Titan, and there seems to be an absurd level of redundancy in the "guest stars," where several characters all seem to play essentially the same role.
In the fairly small number of pages so far the book has devoted to the actual plot, we learn that there are six Romulan factions vying for power in the wake of the events of Star Trek: Nemesis. Six. Each of which have their own motivation and goals, and each of which has several characters we interact with. How is the reader supposed to keep track of all this? ...more
In the 1970s, Star Trek fans were unwilling to see Star Trek as just a television show and Gene Roddenberry as just a writer/producer. Instead, in theIn the 1970s, Star Trek fans were unwilling to see Star Trek as just a television show and Gene Roddenberry as just a writer/producer. Instead, in their eyes, Star Trek was a wondrous template for humanity's future, and Roddenberry was the bold, creative visionary who fought tooth and nail to get his ideas to the screen for the benefit of everyone.
This view persists somewhat today; it's not hard to find material referring to Roddenberry's vision for the future and so forth.
The truth about Roddenberry is more nuanced, to say the least. I was already aware of some aspects of the Roddenberry story that didn't fit with the usual story. For instance, it's often claimed that Roddenberry had to fight NBC to have a black woman in a prominent position on his show... but in reality, NBC had already been encouraging producers to have more black characters on their shows for years. Another thing that's always seemed clear to me is that the Star Trek franchise was usually at its best when Roddenberry was least involved (with some exceptions).
This book was very enlightening in revealing more of the real Gene Roddenberry.
Some miscellaneous remarks:
* I would have liked to have more information on how Roddenberry became "the great Bird of the Galaxy," as he was called. More about exactly when fans began describing him in such exaggerated terms, and so on.
* It's unfortunate that the book really seems to link Roddenberry's many character flaws with his atheism.
* At one point the book quotes a letter by Roddenberry and, as evidence that Roddenberry was not thinking clearly, the author claims that Roddenberry was not making a distinction between the character Captain Kirk and the actor William Shatner. I don't see the quoted passage that way at all. ...more
However, one can't help but think that maybe Arnold was a little out of touch with the reality of training for the average guy. AfterInteresting read.
However, one can't help but think that maybe Arnold was a little out of touch with the reality of training for the average guy. After discussing the fact that some muscle groups, in particular the lower back, recover slowly, Arnold gives his Level 1 training program. It includes these exercises (among others):
* Monday/Thursday Barbell Rows Deadlifts
* Tuesday/Friday Clean and Press
* Wednesday/Saturday Squats Straight-Leg Deadlifts Good Mornings
So you're hammering your lower back 6 days a week! It appears that Arnold did not take into account the slow recovery of the lower back he mentioned earlier.
How to explain this? My best guess: Arnold was essentially superhuman, and these kinds of concerns didn't matter to him. In writing the book, he gave lip service to what he knew were widely held beliefs about training... but then gave the types of routines he would do, without really thinking about the incongruity. ...more
What's strange and fascinating to me about Scientology is not just that it's a scam. It's how over the top evil it is. Beating members, forcing youngWhat's strange and fascinating to me about Scientology is not just that it's a scam. It's how over the top evil it is. Beating members, forcing young children into hard labor, deliberately destroying families and so on.
The one thing I really wish was available is an honest peek inside the mind of L. Ron Hubbard. Depending on how you look at him, he was either a simple con man, a psychotic Satanic dictator with aspirations to take over the world, or just a nut job with some stupid ideas. I really wish I could get some insight into which of these is more accurate, but that is probably hopeless. ...more
Very interesting topic, which Huxley covers in great depth.
He writes without in text citations, and just gives a bibliography at the end. Sometimes hVery interesting topic, which Huxley covers in great depth.
He writes without in text citations, and just gives a bibliography at the end. Sometimes he gives details that I I think he could not possibly know, such as about what was spoken in private between Grandier and a young woman he was seducing. Sometimes it's hard to know whether what I'm reading is supposed to be history or not.
Huxley's lengthy philosophizing on spirituality is very tedious; I skipped a lot of it. ...more
Gave up after about 90 pages. Why exactly is the narrator's pedestrian social life supposed to be the slightest bit interesting to me? Seriously. I haGave up after about 90 pages. Why exactly is the narrator's pedestrian social life supposed to be the slightest bit interesting to me? Seriously. I have no idea. ...more
I've sometimes wondered why it is you never hear about academics or other intellectuals using the types of memory techniques described in this book. GI've sometimes wondered why it is you never hear about academics or other intellectuals using the types of memory techniques described in this book. Granted, of course, memory is not of most importance, but it still seems like having a wider array of information immediately accessible would be helpful.
Now I think I've realized (partly) why these memory techniques are mostly used only for trivia or meaningless lists. It's because they are all about giving a context that isn't there otherwise. You imagine the items you're supposed to remember in a familiar place and/or associated with an outrageous image, and so on. This way they become more memorable than just isolated numbers or facts or whatever. But for the facts related to a topic you are interested in and work on daily... there is no need for this fake context. They already have a context. ...more
The preface to this book says, "I believe that the reading of part or all of this book would be a good project for the summer vacation before one begiThe preface to this book says, "I believe that the reading of part or all of this book would be a good project for the summer vacation before one begins graduate school in mathematics."
Well, I tried to do this. Unfortunately, for someone with my mindset about mathematics, this is essentially impossible. It's just so much boring stuff to wade through.
However... this book is still really good. An example of what's so good about it: the discussion on nets and filters. This book gives the "right" definition of subnet, compares it to the other possible definitions, explicitly gives the connection between nets and filters... For some reason this information isn't really available in other books. But I have no desire to just sit down and read this book (or a significant portion of it) straight through. ...more
Geordi from TNG? Nog from DS9? Scotty from TOS, and how he ended up in the TNG era? Guinan from TNG? Reg Barclay from TNG? Spock from TOS? RasmusseRemember:
Geordi from TNG? Nog from DS9? Scotty from TOS, and how he ended up in the TNG era? Guinan from TNG? Reg Barclay from TNG? Spock from TOS? Rasmussen, the time traveling thief from an episode of TNG? Bok, the vengeful Ferengi from TNG? Sonya Gomez, who appeared in a couple episodes of TNG? Sela, Tasha's Romulan daughter from TNG? Leah Brahms, the woman Geordi was interested in on a couple of TNG episodes? The Hera, Geordi's mother's lost ship? The EMH from Voyager? The Nexus from Generations?
Well, they're all here for at least a mention, crammed into this one novel. I'm sure along with all kinds of other little cameos I'm forgetting.
There are two problems with focusing this novel around engineering and science issues. The first problem is... a novel needs to be about people. The second problem is... When the engineering and science issues are all made up and silly, there's not really any substance. ...more
Collection of four DS9 novels and a short story. Some of these I enjoyed less than others, but overall it was cool to revisit DS9.
I will say it wouldCollection of four DS9 novels and a short story. Some of these I enjoyed less than others, but overall it was cool to revisit DS9.
I will say it would have been nice if the series had ended without gutting the cast. No Sisko, no Odo, no O'Brien, no Dukat, no Jadzia, mostly no Garak, no Weyoun... wait, who the heck is left? OK, I guess there's a few people still left on the station.
Also (this is sort of a SPOILER for the book):
Jake going missing seemed to prompt a lot less concern from the characters than I would have expected. Maybe there was some uproar than I skimmed and now can't recall, but as I remember it, it seemed that they just noticed he was gone and then went on to the next thing without a second thought. It's also weird from a storytelling perspective; why introduce what seems like will be a major plot point and then ignore it for the next 600 pages? ...more