Non-Fiction · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: Thinking Machines

Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme that wants you to add books to your TBR, or just share what you are currently reading. It is very easy to play along:

teaser Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.

21lqxs1The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.

– Thinking Machines by Luke Dormehl

 

Book Review · Non-Fiction · reading

Reading Thinking Machines by Luke Dormehl

21lqxs1I am half done with Thinking Machines: The Quest for Artificial Intelligence and Where it’s Taking us Next by Luke Dormehl.

The half I have read is pretty interesting – the history of AI. Expert systems, neural networks and so on.Very interesting.

AI is mostly neural networks now, and I don’t suppose the sort of systems I think of expert systems as AI, even though though it though started out there. (I thought of it as normal programming, I suppose.)

It talks about who some of the early researchers of AI were and the problems they ran into, the problems they solved. I knew about Turing and a few others. I don’t suppose I will remember the names now, either.

It describes how popularity of AI waxed and waned over the decades, with the resulting hit to research dollars.

But now it is somewhat in the present and that is far less interesting. I think perhaps that is because I have heard a lot of what it talks about in the news, so I know a little bit already.

This is a book meant for the lay reader. It describes some AI concepts, but only at a high level, doesn’t get into too much detail. Which is fine. More detail is not needed to understand what the book is saying.

But it is pretty interesting all the same!

General · Non-Fiction · reading · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


Mine:

The myths and folk tales of the whole world make clear that the refusal is essentially a refusal to give up what one takes to be one’s own interest. The future is regarded not in terms of unremitting series of death and births, but as though one’s present system of ideals, virtues, goals and advantages were to be fixed and made secure.

– The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell.

General · Non-Fiction

The Wine-Dark Sea

I read Through the Language Glass by Guy Deutscher last week.

In it, he says something surprising, that the phrase “the wine-dark sea” from Homer’s epic is not poetic license (it certainly looks like poetic license to me!) but straight description. And not even description of the color of the sea – the Ancient Greeks apparently had no word for the color blue – but a description of the darkness of the sea.

And not just sheep, but oxen, too: the wine-dark oxen.

Also, Homer also apparently uses violet to describe the sea, sheep and iron.

I was really quite astonished. The idea of describing how dark a color is instead of the specific color strikes me as odd.

But if you have no word for blue – blue things being rare in nature; the color of the sky and ocean are vastly different from each other and change based on the time of day anyway and weather. With such few blue things around you, maybe you don’t need a word for blue. And how would you then describe the sea or the sky?

General

Do you take notes while you read?

I just read this post on Should Be Reading where MizB says she takes notes while reading. Me, I don’t understand that at all. At least not while reading fiction and most non-fiction. I only ever took notes when I read books for class. Once, I was even inspired to highlight when reading a historical/economy/business book for the book-club. (But the book was on my kindle, so nothing was damaged.)

You see this book? I could never markup a book like this. Never.

I’ve never written in a book itself, not even for school. I took notes in my notebook and stuck them in between the books’ pages. It feels a bit sacrilegious to actually make notes in the book itself. I rarely even highlight anything and when I do, it’s only as a last resort.

It’s different with books on the kindle. There, I don’t mind if I highlight passages – doing so makes finding certain paragraphs easier. Faster than using the search function. Truthfully, I feel freer to highlight books in the kindle.  I feel like it damages the book less.

Which may be a silly reaction. Maybe not. Definitely not when it comes to library books and textbooks I intended to sell after the semester. But otherwise? Maybe being unwilling to mark up my books is silly.

The other thing I only took notes on books for school. It’s not something that comes naturally to me for pleasure reading. Never, for fiction books. Only occasionally for non-fiction. I suppose I associate all note-taking with school, which casts an unpleasant pallor over books I mean to read for fun.

General · reading

What is the Nonfiction Novel?

In litchat the other day, someone posted a link to the Times list of best nonfiction One of the categories is the nonfiction novel.

That strikes me as very very odd. I mean, by definition, a novel is fiction. How can it be nonfiction? I don’t get it.

But wiki has an article about it and so does the New York Times. Britannica defines it as: “story of actual people and actual events told with the dramatic techniques of a novel.”

I know you can tell a nonfiction story like you would tell a fiction story, but I thought that was narrative nonfiction. If that’s not it, what is narrative nonfiction? Or maybe creative nonfiction – I think narrative nonfiction and creative nonfiction are the same thing.

This is so confusing! Also, contradictory, because I never imagined anything could be described as both nonfiction and a novel. That’s just weird.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote is supposed to have invented the genre and in the New York Times interview he says he wrote it because he a literary theory about the nonfiction novel. Something about “. . . a narrative form that employed all the techniques of fictional art but was nevertheless immaculately factual . . .“.

I am not entirely sure I understand his theory, but it sounds a lot like narrative nonfiction. Is it the same thing? I am still not sure.