Your current reading list

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Re: Your current reading list

Postby friendlyskies » Mon May 20, 2013 3:13 pm

Well, all my reading time has lately been taken up with "how to raise your kid" type of stuff, which has been interesting but irrelevant to the flag. Just finished a book that might interest you all, however: "Parenting Without Borders" by Christine Gross-Loh.

Despite the retarded title, which inexplicably bites off Doctors without Borders, and capitalizes "without" (pet peeve), it's kind of a cool book. Basically, she compares parenting and educational styles in the USA, indigenous Guatemala, South Korea, Japan, Denmark, Germany, France, and a few other places, and looks at how they differ, fail, and excel.

USA: The USA is the baseline in her study, since she lives here. Basically, she thinks that we're waaay to hard on newborns and infants, and in an effort to make them "independent," we force them to sleep alone in other rooms from the get-go, make them share toys like 6-year-olds and adults, refuse to rock them to sleep, etc etc. Which actually makes them needier and more neurotic - in cultures where you sleep with your kid, they don't get unnaturally attached to their teddy bears, scream for hours on end, or suck their thumbs till they're 6 years old. Then, when they turn two, we start coddling them too much, following them around the playground, breaking up fights, not letting them do chores or run around on their own, scheduling every minute, and building their self-esteem with worthless praise. The end result? Kids that are fucked in the head, have no survival skills, don't help around the house, and who are rude to everyone. They did some study that tested kids for empathy vs. self interest, and the two least empathic subsets were middle class US kids and Brazilian street children. But! We excel and producing kids who are less judgmental of others, less racist/classist/religiousist/nationalist, and more open and friendly to strangers, so there's that.

South Korea: South Koreans are the absolute worst, and she's fine saying that because her family is from South Korea. Parents put waaaay too much time and energy into their kids, so they tend to go crazy, become Christian freaks, or just straight up commit suicide by the time they're in their teens. I mean, their whole future is based on one nine-hour test, and parents pay through the nose to prep their kids for it, the kids don't get six hours of sleep per night in the two years leading up to it, and even as they're subjected to this monster academic pressure, they're being force-fed activities to make them world-class golfers or whatever. She says there's a trend, that a lot of parents just send their kids to stay with family the USA for their high school years, if they can't handle the pressure - it's better to give them a subpar education than drive them absolutely batshit insane.

China: When the "Tiger Mom" book came out in the USA - basically a defense of the super strict, super attentive Asian parenting style where they ride their kids' asses to straight A+ report cards even if the kid is playing with 110 IQ points - it caused a stir in China. Because that type of parenting is considered old-fashioned and ultimately detrimental to kids, making them into uncreative psychopaths. Today, China is having a sort of education renaissance, where they are cherry-picking from Confucian traditions as well as US, European, and other systems for the best systems of education. The takeaway is that kids need more recess, more science/math, and more personal choice in what they do.

Japan: Japan gets super high marks for its society, which encourages really young children to be polite, help around the house, and be independent from a very young age; say, taking public transportation to a school field trip destination at 6 years old. It's sort of the opposite of the US method. Kids are coddled in infancy - they sleep with their parents, get to be selfish with toys, are carried around everywhere, and so on. Starting at about 18 months, they start doing simple chores, and by 5 years old are expected to do laundry, run errands, cook meals, clean rooms, and so on. They also attend multi-age preschools where they're encouraged to beat the shit out of each other, play with toy guns, and basically work through their anti-social tendencies themselves, so they'll be nice and polite by the time they're 6yo. There are TV shows about "my first errand," where toddlers take lunch to their dads at work or whatever, and school essays might be, "How do I Help Around the House," with praise showered on kids who do the most chores. The community takes responsibility for child safety, for instance, after the tsunami/earthquake/nuclear meltdown, there were PDAs about how everyone in the neighborhood should greet each other, so you would know each other, and take personal responsibility for each other, in the event of an emergency.

Denmark: Denmark, along with Germany, gets praised for giving their kids tons of recess, lots of arts and crafts, and having multi-age kindergartens (3-6yo) in the woods, where they just fuck around and learn to do woodsy stuff, like prepare fern fiddleheads to eat or carve sticks. It builds creativity, character, and little bodies. They spend lots of time outdoors when it's super cold and/or raining, too. Also, becoming a teacher is super difficult, you need advanced degrees and a history of excelling academically, it's a high status and high paying job. Obviously very different from the USA lol. What's interesting is that Denmark has their kids to do hundreds of hours less academic instruction, yet they score higher on international tests than powerhouses like South Korea, Japan, etc. Less is more.

France: In France they spank their kids and make them eat grownup food, instead of little glass jars of mush. Which works for me. They also teach them to sit at the table for hours on end while they eat. Which is all well and good, but the most fucking annoying thing about France, in my opinion, was the goddamned waste of time spent around food! Jesus, I get it, USAmericans are a bloated, fast-food society with no respect for cooking or eating together, and that's bad. But is the solution spending 8 hours a day on your food? It's no fucking wonder they can only work 32 hours a week, they need the rest of the time to make hours and hours of boring conversation over meals that took three hours to cook. I mean, whatever, I don't care if French people do that, it's their culture and their business. But I think there's a happy medium and I just don't see any point in teaching my kid to sit at a table picking at food for three hours at a stretch, and seriously, a cheese course? What the fuck.

Anyway, worth reading if you've got fresh kids and an international mindset (looking at you, Skirita and ultraswain), better than most of the baby books I've plowed through over the past few months.
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Re: Your current reading list

Postby AztecDave » Wed May 22, 2013 5:32 am

"hell in a very small place" by bernard fall. I guess it's known as the definitive telling of dien bien phu. he lays out the operational picture very well. you can see how it is doomed to fail even as they plan and start executing. didn't know the battle was fought during monsoon season. that must have sucked supremely. watched a movie on you tube that the french & viets made together about 20 yrs ago on dien bien phu. even filmed it in 'nam but not on site. a little cheesy but not bad.
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Re: Your current reading list

Postby diamondcutter13 » Wed Jul 17, 2013 3:04 am

The Tiger by John Vaillant. An amazing true story read about a Russian game warden investigating an Amur tiger killing of a local hunter. It is a great read on the outdoors with action, intellect, and social perspective on a very remote area of Russia. I was given the book shortly after watching Happy People by Werner Hetzog which is a great watch and available on Netflix.

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http://www.thetigerbook.com/

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http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1683876/?ref_=sr_1
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Re: Your current reading list

Postby michelle in alaska » Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:22 am

..to fs: i've had mas kids and they were all nursed and slept in the family bed, as babies. And I know I'm not an anomaly re this. Just saying. :)

..and onto other books!

I've spent total time suckage over my weekend reading the following:

Lost GIrls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker.
Soooo well written re the victims and their families. Is about the Long Island serial killer still at large.

Pilgrim's WIlderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaskan Frontier by Tom Kizzia.
Go google it. Again, well written and something that could only happen in Alaska.

...and finally....Bleeding Talent: How the US Military mismanages great leaders and why its time for a revolution. by Tim Kane.
I'm reading this because soldiers have been requesting it.
Figured theres a reason. I"m going to find out.
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Re: Your current reading list

Postby nowonmai » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:02 pm

michelle in alaska wrote:...and finally....Bleeding Talent: How the US Military mismanages great leaders and why its time for a revolution. by Tim Kane.
I'm reading this because soldiers have been requesting it.
Figured theres a reason. I"m going to find out.


Because they always have done and always will. The sad fact is that most great leaders leave the military long before they get to positions of real influence, the generals are often the ones who couldn't think of anything else to do and could put up with the bullshit because they weren't true believers in the first place.
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Re: Your current reading list

Postby AztecDave » Fri Aug 23, 2013 5:01 pm

David Ignatius fiction. well written - and also very funny .
The real Army, composed entirely of young enthusiasts in camouflage uniforms, from whom impossible efforts would be demanded and to whom all sorts of tricks would be taught. That's the army in which I should like to fight.”
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Re: Your current reading list

Postby Michael » Tue Oct 01, 2013 5:41 pm

Kaplan...Revenge of Geography.
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Re: Your current reading list

Postby vagabond » Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:06 am

Michael wrote:Kaplan...Revenge of Geography.


Thoughts? Meant to check out "Monsoon" when that came out a bit ago.
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Re: Your current reading list

Postby michelle in alaska » Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:11 pm

Apache
By Ed Macy
'inside the cockpit of the worlds most deadly fighting machine.'

First person account and very well written.

A great read. :)
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Re: Your current reading list

Postby svizzerams » Sun Jan 19, 2014 4:54 pm

Maybe because its winter and we have no snow I've been reading a string of books on mountaineering in the Himalayas. I started reading "Into Thin Air" before leaving for Africa in Nov and started and finished "Dark Summit" before landing in Tanzania. Next up is "The Lost Explorer: Finding Mallory on Mount Everest"; by Conrad Anker, David Roberts

Into Thin Air; by Jon Krakauer
The Call of Everest: The History, Science and Future of the World's Tallest Peak; by Conrad Anker
Surviving K2: Surviving Three Days in the Death Zone; by Wilco van Rooijen
Last Man on the Mountain: The Death of an American Adventurer on K2; by Jennifer Jordan
Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2's Deadliest Day; by Peter Zuckerman, Amanda Padoan
The Mountain: My Time on Everest; by Ed Viesturs, David Roberts
A Day to Die For: 1996: Everest's Worst Disaster; by Graham Ratcliff
Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest's Most Controversial Season (2006 Season); by Nick Heil

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Re: Your current reading list

Postby Skirita » Sun Jan 19, 2014 7:16 pm

I just read The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers and am about halfway through Fobbit by David Abrams. Powers' prose is very Hemingway, but the plot points that aren't obviously autobiographical are lifted straight from The Hurt Locker. Fobbit plays Catch-22 to Powers' debut, and overall hits much closer to home for me. How sad.
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Re: Your current reading list

Postby AztecDave » Thu Jan 23, 2014 5:09 am

martin cruz smith's latest Arkady Renko saga, "Tatiana." classic MCS.
The real Army, composed entirely of young enthusiasts in camouflage uniforms, from whom impossible efforts would be demanded and to whom all sorts of tricks would be taught. That's the army in which I should like to fight.”
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Re: Your current reading list

Postby flipflop » Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:47 am

svizzerams wrote:Maybe because its winter and we have no snow I've been reading a string of books on mountaineering in the Himalayas. I started reading "Into Thin Air" before leaving for Africa in Nov and started and finished "Dark Summit" before landing in Tanzania. Next up is "The Lost Explorer: Finding Mallory on Mount Everest"; by Conrad Anker, David Roberts

Into Thin Air; by Jon Krakauer
The Call of Everest: The History, Science and Future of the World's Tallest Peak; by Conrad Anker
Surviving K2: Surviving Three Days in the Death Zone; by Wilco van Rooijen
Last Man on the Mountain: The Death of an American Adventurer on K2; by Jennifer Jordan
Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2's Deadliest Day; by Peter Zuckerman, Amanda Padoan
The Mountain: My Time on Everest; by Ed Viesturs, David Roberts
A Day to Die For: 1996: Everest's Worst Disaster; by Graham Ratcliff
Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest's Most Controversial Season (2006 Season); by Nick Heil

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That's the Annapurna Range and Macchapuchre on the right there

Cheers
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Re: Your current reading list

Postby svizzerams » Thu Jan 23, 2014 5:01 pm

flipflop wrote:
svizzerams wrote:Maybe because its winter and we have no snow I've been reading a string of books on mountaineering in the Himalayas. I started reading "Into Thin Air" before leaving for Africa in Nov and started and finished "Dark Summit" before landing in Tanzania. Next up is "The Lost Explorer: Finding Mallory on Mount Everest"; by Conrad Anker, David Roberts

Into Thin Air; by Jon Krakauer
The Call of Everest: The History, Science and Future of the World's Tallest Peak; by Conrad Anker
Surviving K2: Surviving Three Days in the Death Zone; by Wilco van Rooijen
Last Man on the Mountain: The Death of an American Adventurer on K2; by Jennifer Jordan
Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2's Deadliest Day; by Peter Zuckerman, Amanda Padoan
The Mountain: My Time on Everest; by Ed Viesturs, David Roberts
A Day to Die For: 1996: Everest's Worst Disaster; by Graham Ratcliff
Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest's Most Controversial Season (2006 Season); by Nick Heil

Image


That's the Annapurna Range and Macchapuchre on the right there

Cheers


Yep, fantastic landscapes - books about Annapurna are on the docket :-) and Denali. I'm acquainted with Art Davidson, who wrote Minus 148, about the first winter ascent of Denali, which I read years ago and will re-read next. Not sure why I have veered into reading a lot about mountaineering lately as I have no interest in doing such a climb personally - I'm more keen on hiking. I think it is partly the physiology of high altitudes, the landscapes are awesome and its adventurous (and a bit insane).
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...those without swords can still die upon them...

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Re: Your current reading list

Postby friendlyskies » Fri Jan 24, 2014 11:53 am

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Great book on addiction, if you can handle the Adbusters/Occupy POV. The author is a psychology of addiction professor who taught at a university in Vancouver for 35 years, and realized/decided that the traditional understanding of addiction was false.

For example, he thinks that there is no such thing as a particularly "addictive substance," and spends chapters disproving what he calls the "demon drug" mythology. This is the "Just Say No" paradigm that says some drugs are just inherently super addictive, for instance, crack cocaine, alcohol or heroin. He points out that for most people, the physical withdrawal from even these substances is relatively mild, it's the psychological withdrawal that is terrible. This jibes with my experience; Allen Carr's "Easyway to Quit Smoking" book is a good example. If you're quitting smoking, focus on JUST the physical affects of withdrawal. They aren't severe at all - waves of mild anxiety and perhaps sweating that last 5-10 minutes, between three and ten times a day, for two weeks. It wouldn't be difficult to quit smoking cigarettes at all if you were just dealing with the physical withdrawal, but when you add in the psychological component - smoking is cool, smoking is almost impossible to quit, smoking keeps you thin, etc etc - it becomes VERY difficult. Ditto heroin, alcohol, and crack - there are withdrawal symptoms, sure, but the physical symptoms for most addicts are actually quite mild. Heroin withdrawal for most addicts feels like a few days of the cold, alcohol withdrawal for most addicts doesn't have DTs, but (like cigarettes) a few waves of anxiety that last several minutes, for about two weeks. BUT. Losing your community, your identity, your social lubricant, and so forth causes extreme discomfort relative to the actual physical symptoms. I quit a terrible meth habit by sleeping for two weeks, but I missed my friends for years; I finally had to move to a different city for those withdrawal symptoms, from my friends and identity as a tweaker, to subside. And besides, 80% of addictions are to non-physically addictive things, such as gambling, self-absorption, video games, pornography and so forth. Withdrawal is 100% psychological and all are very difficult to quit.

After "debunking" several other addiction "myths," such as the "addictive personality," he proposes a new hypothesis of addiction. Well, new-ish, he uses Plato and St. Augustine, among other writers, to show its prevalence throughout history. This hypothesis says that addictive behavior is an adaptation to dislocation.

After all the definitions, this seems like a no-brainer. Dislocation is the state of being blocked from what he calls "psychosocial integration." Basically, you are ostracized from community. Since humans are adapted to live in small, pedestrian communities with integrative structures including religion, social safety nets, and so forth, we have a hard time dealing with the modern world, in particular (this is where the Adbusters/Occupy POV comes in) the cultivated dislocation required to keep hypercapitalized social systems on track for 3% growth.

Capitalism as we know it is relatively new, only becoming entrenched in the past 200-400 years or so. Free markets tend to dislocate people geographically. For example, the slave trade; the movement of indigenous Americans from their homelands to reservations; the migration of small farmers forced off their plots by more efficient, large, mechanized farms to cities; the movement of affluent city dwellers to non-pedestrian suburbs; the movement of pedestrian cultures to car cultures; the movement of entertainment from live performances to television; the movement of families to follow jobs. There are scores of examples.

The need for consistent 3% growth also provides a reason for corporations to cultivate addiction. For example, if you want to keep taxes low, promoting gambling can convince dislocated individuals to pour their money into an addiction and state coffers. Advertising non-necessary goods and services can convince dislocated individuals to pour money shopping addictions, status addictions, romantic addictions, fitness addictions, and so forth. He posits that dislocation is caused, promoted, and exploited by the free-market economy. And, since addiction gives people a sense of purpose and community, it provides an easy replacement for both.

His solution to addiction? Promoting more psychosocial integration. The move toward pedestrian neighborhoods is an effective measure. Things that help families stay together - maternity leave, health insurance, etc - are good. While he is an atheist, he thinks organized religion (as opposed to "eclectic spirituality) is great for fending off dislocation. He also suggests that a ban on advertising to children would stop cultivating addiction in children who feel dislocated growing up in small, unstable families that move around geographically. And so forth.

It was a very interesting book, though he kind of blew his wad in the first six, brilliant chapters, with the remaining 2/3 of the book more like awkward pillow talk, basically lengthy academic and historical proofs of dubious conclusivity. I mean, showing that Maoism (basically all the community organizations created as part of his communist structure) cured opium addiction in China as evidence that the free-market economy causes dislocation and addiction seems a bit of a reach. Some of the corollaries were quite thought-provoking, however.

For example, the book was published in 2009, before social media really hit its stride. He talks about how forums like this one, and how they are actually good for psychosocial integration, because we're communicating, making friends, and creating community. According to the dominant psychological paradigm that is currently part of our shared cultural experience, however, the process of belonging to a forum like this one mimics addiction, we consider it an addiction, because we are used to thinking of addiction as a negative obsession rather than a replacement for psychosocial integration. So, when we achieve actual psychosocial integration (a forum like this one), we think of it as addiction. But it's not - it's the real deal. So when a person is ostracized, or banned, we think of the difficulties associated with that ostracization as "withdrawal," because the forum is addictive like a drug. That is certainly how I perceived it.

If his hypothesis is correct, however, it is addiction that mimics psychosocial integration, and withdrawal that mimics ostracization. Not the other way around. The forum IS psychosocial integration, getting banned IS actual ostracization, exactly the situations that addiction is mimicking.

Maybe that's obvious to some people, but it kind of blew my mind.

After pondering that one for a while, my thoughts turned to Facebook, which was still just a small, relatively unknown social media site when he was doing his research. People talk about it as addictive, and you can go to psychologists and pay $150/hr to be cured of the addiction:

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From his point of view, however, since it provides psychosocial integration, it would actually stave off addiction and be a positive part of building community, communicating with others, and all that other stuff humans actually need but find lacking in modern society, "free-market" society. What's interesting is that this basic social need has been standardized, commoditized, manipulated and monitored by Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and other large megacommunities, rather than being spread out over the chaotic internet, wild and free, like the olden days. The imminent and perhaps deliberately catalyzed death of this forum, for example, was precipitated by a move to Facebook by most participants. This is troubling, because one of our most basic needs, community, is being privatized and therefore subject to the needs of capital, i.e. 3% growth, i.e. cultivated dislocation and cultivated addiction. Hmmm….
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