I've been reading a lot more since I got the smartphone
and an InstaPaper
account. Surprisingly, a significant fraction of this reading is on paper; I think being able to read anywhere and anywhen has me thinking about reading more, and makes books seem more reasonable.
Stuff I've been reading lately includes (but is not limited to):
* Chapter 1 of John Taylor Gatto's The Underground History of American Education
. He seems to take a hard line towards libertarianism which I'm not entirely comfortable with, and I'm not so familiar with the history of the 19th century that I necessarily accept his reading of the utopian movement and and intentions of the Rockefellers without qualm. On the other hand, it mostly seems to jibe, and he's got Owens nailed.
* Chapter 1 of Ivan Illich's Deschooling Society
. Interesting so far, but largely polemical. I'm waiting for payoff, though a peek at the last chapter has me a bit nervous. He gets very "inspirational" back there. (hint: inspirational is code for: the quality of writing goes down, his generalities become even more vague, and he throws around a lot of unnecessary Greek. I think it's supposed to be poetic. I like e.e. cummings better.)
* Ivan Illich's Energy and Equity
. Good for as far as it goes. Essentially a polemical essay. I think citing specific numbers would help his case a lot, and doing trend analysis. I'd love to see a serious treatment by somebody with ready access to actual data.
* Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility
. Slow slow slow. But worth it in the end; masterfully plotted, and the primary characters are brought vividly to life. The story is told primarily through exposition, which seems weird nowadays, but the exposition is indeed used to show rather than tell. Austen does a great job of really making you FEEL how dreadfully insufferable the Miss Steeles are, for example. At times I wanted to throw the book across the room to get away from the wretched nincompoops. The last few scenes were a little disappointing though; you can tell it's a first novel, started when she was pretty young.
* A Classical Education: Back to the Future
, by Stanley Fish. Interesting. He reviews a few books about, well, the importance of a classical education resting on the Trivium. Sufficiently intriguing that I plan to keep my eyes open for the referenced books.
* The End of Men
, by Hanna Rosin. I think her interpretation of events is interesting and compelling. It may even be correct. I witness my own discomfort with that and have a little bit of meta-angst, feeling guilty for my discomfort (turnabout is fair play?). But also feeling like, if Rosin's interpretation is true, it spells deep trouble. Displaced men historically make a lot more trouble for society than displaced women. Also I read this thinking about Fish's article and the bits of Illich and Gatto I'd read by this point. I've been thinking about whether, in the drive to reorient pedagogy towards girls and help them achieve better, something that boys needed may have been lost. Or perhaps nothing was lost and pedagogy for girls just pulled ahead. Or maybe American men just have their heads up their asses. It all seems equally likely.
* Many back issues of Clark's World Magazine
. It's a free online science fiction magazine. I'd like to encourage everyone to go check it out. It's wonderful.
* Most of Dk Living Ultimate Bicycle Book (1998)
, by Richard Ballantine and Richard Grant. The pictures are great. I've learned about as much as I can without picking up a wrench, I think.
* Eric Raymond (et al)'s The Art of Unix Programming
, Chapters 1-3. It's ok so far. I've been recommending it to folks younger in the Unix tradition. I doubt most of them have bothered to read it though.