Astrophysics in a Nutshell

Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s short (222 page) book on astrophysics is attractive in a 4.5 x 7.5- inch format (hardbound). Just looking at it you get the impression it would be easy and fun to read. If you have some science … Continue reading

Natural vs Artificial Intelligence

This briefing by Nick Bostrom on the dangers of artificial intelligence takes up a serious and legitimate question: Should we be more cautious as we go about trying to improve artificial intelligence? What if an AI became so smart it decided to take … Continue reading

How to Do Yourself In

Everyone dies. A significant number of people will die in automobile crashes, gang wars, from drugs, or in military wars, but because of modern medicine and public health, if you live through your twenties, you’ll probably die of “natural causes,” … Continue reading

Service – A History of Modern Russia

The Next Russian Revolution I read this book in preparation for a class I will take in August at the University of Arizona. Reading a course’s books before the lectures gives valuable context. I also hoped the book would answer questions … Continue reading

Helen Keller Meets Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky, giant of contemporary thought and inventor of transformational grammar and computational linguistics, has a new book out and it’s mercifully on linguistics, not politics. The core idea in his new monograph is that humans understand language hierarchically, an … Continue reading

DeSalvo – Virginia Woolf

I was convinced by this biographical and literary study, of three things. One, Virginia Woolf was sexually abused by her half-brother, George Duckworth, and two, that her alleged madness was a depressed and confused reaction to that childhood trauma (along … Continue reading

Winter & Martin – Beethoven Quartet Companion

Musical Revelations Winter, Robert, & Martin, Robert (Eds.) (1994). The Beethoven Quartet Companion. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 300 pp. There are few finer pleasures in life than to listen to a recording of Beethoven’s string quartets, while reading … Continue reading