Tuesday, 9 April, 2019

2019 Book List

Filed under: Tagged — Pixel @ 16:42

In 2018, I discovered Libby. In 2019, I’m keeping track of all of the books I’ve ‘read.’ Parentheses denote the day I finished the book. Bold denotes the books I really recommend.

After the hyphen is the weight of the paperback version of the book (hardcover is ? 2-4 oz. heavier). A few years ago I had a resolution to read my weight in books and I want to see how close I get this year. I estimate I’ll read between 50 and 60 pounds of books this year, or 60-70 books. At this rate, it would take me until 2022 (or a heavy bout of cancer) to read my weight in books.

  1. Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nelly Bly (January 20) —5 oz.
  2. Between the World and Me by Tanahasi Coates (January 27) — 7 oz.
  3. Hallucination by Oliver Sacks (January 27) — 8.8 oz.
  4. I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong (January 27) — 14.4 oz.
  5. Patient H.M. by Luke Dittrich (January 30) — 12.5 oz.
  6. The Radium Girls by by Kate Moore (February 8) — 14.4 oz.
  7. The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone (March 1) — 12 oz.
  8. NPR Laughter Therapy (March 1) — ??4.5 oz.??
  9. No One Cares About Crazy People by Ron Powers (March 3) — 10.4 oz.
  10. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (March 4) — 6.4 oz.
  11. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond (March 19) — 20.8 oz.
  12. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by John Meacham (March 20) — 38.4 oz.
  13. The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee (March 26) — 20.8 oz.
  14. Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik (March 29) — 19 oz.. (no paperback, had to guestimate)
  15. In Defense of Food by Michael Pauen (April 1) — 8 oz.
  16. Turing’s Cathedral by George Dyson (April 8) — 14.9 oz.
  17. Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (April 9) — 16 oz.
  18. The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu (April 16) — 19.2 oz.
  19. The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason (April 18) — 7.2 oz
  20. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth (April 20) — 12 oz
  21. When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink (May 8) — 10.4 oz
  22. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear (May 11) — 14.4 oz
  23. The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells (May 17) — 12 oz.
  24. Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II by Liza Mundy (May 19) — 13.6 oz.
  25. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (May 29) — 19.2 oz.
  26. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert (June 1) — 9.6 oz.
  27. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (June 8) — 12 oz.
  28. Death’s End by Cixin Liu (June 12) — 22.4 oz.
  29. Outliers: The Story of Success  by Malcolm Gladwell (June 13) — 9.6 oz.
  30. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan (June 16)
  31. The Daily Show (An Oral History) by Jon Stewart and Chris Smith (June 18)
  32. Nudge (July 23)
  33. Cleopatra (July 25)
  34. The Rise and Fall of Dinosaurs (August 16)
  35. So You Want to Talk About Race (August 16)

(24.7 pounds so far……… this is going to be a long year.)

Upcoming: Hedy’s Folly, Napoleon, The Fifth Season, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, 1776, Predictably Irrational, Operation Paperclip, The Hidden Reality, the Illustrious Dead, The Count of Monte Cristo, 100 Years of Solitude, Twilight of the Elites, The Elegant Universe, Moby Dick, A Fighting Chance, Homo Deus, Red Mars, The Eye of the World, Why We Sleep, How to Change Your Mind, Feeling Good Together, The Disappearing Spoon, Talk Like Ted, Sapiens, The Great Silence, and probably a few more…


Tuesday, 29 May, 2018


Filed under: Tagged — Pixel @ 13:14

I missed new year’s and birthday posts the past few years. They’ve been great years by any objective metric, but the subjective experience has been mostly stress and ennui. I’ve been on a bit of a tour of old friends and family. Staying as long as I think they’ll be able to handle my gloom. I’m trying to improve my outlook on things with medication, therapy, and visiting old friends and family. It’s slow going..

In any case, for this year’s birthday, I didn’t turn any water into wine, but I did turn 33.
I spent it napping, eating burritos with my BFF, and back in my favorite pub in Durham with a bunch of old friends.

Maybe if I can get myself out of my funk I’ll post more often. Although probably a better use of my time is doing my actual work.

Sunday, 13 November, 2016

The U.S. Constitution, a Page One Rewrite, Article I.

Filed under: Tagged — Tags: , , — Pixel @ 13:38

We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.


Friday, 23 September, 2016

Living Shades of Gray

Filed under: Tagged — Tags: , — Pixel @ 2:31

The title of this post is wrong. I once described getting older as living through parts you’d once thought were obvious, but now find thorny and difficult.

This post isn’t about that. It’s about how I’m now a tenure-track assistant professor at a flagship state university in the Southwest. I started this blog in 2004, when I was 19 and a student in a flagship state university in the Southwest. I remember thinking of my professors as adults, grown ups who were settled in their lives. I remember thinking they were cool, but old.

Now I am old.

I don’t think I ever imagined that they were working as hard as I was. I thought of teaching as some form of rote memorization. Once you know the subject (which I thought all professors did), it’s easy to get in front of 20-100 students and talk about it. I don’t think I ever thought about where powerpoints came from until I had a class from a professor who used another professor’s slides after that professor had passed away.

I didn’t (really) know what tenure was, or that I had teachers who did not have it, had foregone it, or were stressing about it.

Now I give lectures to my students and they say, “this is my favorite class,” they show up to office hours en masse and don’t leave for three hours, and they describe me as “obviously know what you’re talking about.” But the funny part is… I don’t. I feel like I’m a huge liar. I am literally on wikipedia the night before every lecture (sometimes into 3 or 4 in the morning), stealing images to use in powerpoints.

[1]I never thought about using powerpoints, because my favorite classes were all discussion based, but I had one student complain and now that’s all I can think about.

This is my first semester as a tenure-track faculty. It is hard. I feel compelled to put on a good face, because I know the people I interact with (a) don’t understand, (b) will be deciding my future and need to believe I am competent, or (c) are my students and need to believe I’m competent to give me good evaluations. I sleep three or four hours most nights, oversleep when I don’t have classes. I am behind on every writing assignment, every email, every bit of grading, and every phone call you can imagine. I know it will get easier soon, but……. it’s hard now.

I think about the number of college professors I had who made $20,000 a year (as public knowledge) and I feel so very bad for them. It makes me sad that my students don’t feel bad for me. They think I’m an expert, not an impostor. They don’t realize the only expertise I have is being an impostor.

Notes   [ + ]

1. I never thought about using powerpoints, because my favorite classes were all discussion based, but I had one student complain and now that’s all I can think about.

Tuesday, 26 July, 2016

Quantitative and Qualitative Experiential Knowledge

Filed under: Tagged — Tags: , , , , — Pixel @ 12:04

Here are two statements:

“I know what self-identified Latinos say they think about a potential Trump presidency”


“I know how it feels to be a Latino thinking about a potential Trump presidency.”

They are very different statements: one is a knowledge claim about an entire group’s self-reporting, the other is a subjective/qualitative claim about belonging to a group. We can think of the first statement as an example of quantitative experiential knowledge and the second statement an example of qualitative experiential knowledge. There’s also the God’s eye view that accurately reflects what Latinos really think, but that’s probably a separate thing.

I was thinking about this yesterday, as a friend was describing why she wanted to have black female speakers in an event she was organizing. She wanted to ‘represent their perspective.’ I mulled that thought over in my head a bit, because I have occasionally been asked things like,

“what do Latinos think about a potential Trump presidency?”

That question is certainly racial. Latinos are not a unified political group. Duh. We come from many distinct areas, have very distinct experiences, and are even racially quite diverse. I pass for white most times. It may be ethnically insensitive or merely curious about experiences outside their own understanding. In the past, whenever I’ve been asked that question, I’ve responded,

“I have no clue, ask a pollster.”

But upon reflection [1]fancy way of saying ‘thinking’, I think one or both of us is conflating [2]fancy jargon for confusing qualitative and quantitative experiential knowledge. There exists quantitative experiential understanding, which could merely be a summary of how various people respond when asked their opinions. There’s also qualitative experiential understanding, which typically requires lived experience.

So my friend inviting a black female speaker to an event may add qualitative experiential knowledge, but she may accidentally invite someone who has marginal [3]philosopher for crazy views, giving poor quantitative experiential knowledge. If she was interested in the latter (she probably isn’t), she should just invite a pollster, sociologist, or historian.

So one of the reasons questions about the Latino experience seem so odd to me is that I know the experience is fairly diverse and I have a poor understanding of many of the quantitative aspects. The other reason is that I pass for white, so I also have a poor understanding of the qualitative aspects.

So…. damn.

Notes   [ + ]

1. fancy way of saying ‘thinking’
2. fancy jargon for confusing
3. philosopher for crazy
Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress