Books I've been reading
Those most recently read are listed first.
- The Millennial Project: Colonizing the Galaxy in 8 Easy Steps, by Marshall Savage: Finally! A new age manifesto that makes some sense. From building a floating city to colonizing Mars, all done by cooperating individuals independent from any government, this book takes your mind on a whirlwind tour of this new millennium.
- Ted Warren's How to Make the Stock Market Make Money For You, an excellent book written in the 1960's by a self-taught chartist. He shows you how to make sense out of long-term trends in stocks and even in commodities, using long-term charts, and how to safely (more or less!) profit from these trends. Also good information for conspiracy buffs.
- US Army Survival Manual, reprinted: finally got all the way through it, but have read and re-read parts for about a year now. Irritatingly glosses over many details, yet gives a rough idea of how to survive in any known environment on Earth.
- Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, a 1932 science-fiction novel warning of the
dangers of a genetically-engineered paradise.
- The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler: Sorry, Miss Rand, but I have to admit that I can identify more with Macon Leary than with John Galt, Howard Rourke, or even Henry Rearden. This Baltimoron stumbles through life "oblivious" (as Agent Smith would say) but comes through smelling like a rose. This book was recommended by Jimmy Buffett in his own book A Pirate Looks at Fifty so when I saw it at the Goodwill store for a buck, I just had to check it out. The final two or three pages had me thinking it was going to end like the movie Jacob's Ladder but no, he lives to screw up yet another day. I'm glad I can read about characters like this so I don't have to make all the same mistakes in my own life.
- Leonard Peikoff, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, from the basic axioms through to her conclusions on sex and on art. There were times, towards the end of the book, that I found myself disagreeing; as an example, I am not as opposed to anarchy. Let everyone carry a sidearm, I say, and let every man's love of his own life guide his behavior towards others. But I have to admit the philosophy, as laid out by Professor Peikoff, is a lot more self-consistent than most of what you'll find floating around in the intellectual swampland. Even if we are, as I believe, multidimensional, eternal beings, while on earth we are dealing in time and with a 3-dimensional world, and it makes a lot of sense to adopt a system of thought that maximizes our fulfillment within those parameters. At least, until my mind gets twisted around again by some other philosophy...
- The Third Wave, Alvin Toffler: While the Objectivists are still glorifying industrialism, Toffler said back in 1980 that its days are numbered, and good riddance. Industrialism may have brought about a standard of living unheard of in human history, but at tremendous cost to the environment, and it's time to make a change to a modern prosumer (producers who consume their own product), not the first-wave agrarian economy of our ancestors but something more efficient and technology-driven.
- Leonard Peikoff, ed., The Voice of Reason, essays on Ayn Rand's
philosophy of Objectivism. The more I read about this, the more I like it;
while I'm unwilling to drop altogether my escapist thinking that the mind
can modify the universe directly, I suspect the Objectivist reality is closer
to the truth, and that my energy would be more wisely invested thinking of
how to work with nature to accomplish my goals.
- Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein: I had no interest in the
book after seeing the silly movie previews back when the movie came out;
but after reading about the controversy about the book on the web, I just
had to break down and read it. It is an excellent book, well thought-out
as is all of Heinlein's work, and the personalities of the characters are
far more believeable to me than, for example, those of Stranger in a
Strange Land. The argument for military service as being a prerequisite
for franchise is so convincing, I actually looked into joining the army
despite my opposition to the unholy war our President is trying to cook up,
but our armed forces are a lot more picky about age than that of the
Federation in Starship Troopers.
- Jimmy Buffett's A Pirate Looks at Fifty; I'm not really a parrothead,
but I do like a lot of Buffett's music, and found this book for $1 at the
Goodwill store so figured I'd give it a shot. Thomas Pynchon he's not, but
he spins a pretty good yarn most of the time, and I learned some of the
background behind some of my favorite songs.
- Henry David Thoreau's Walden and Civil Disobedience,
actually one book containing both texts. This is actually the 3rd time
reading Walden; I'm realizing now these two works helped in a big
way to shape my current way of thinking.
- Laurence Gardner's Realm of the Ring Lords, a compendium of much
fiction and possibly some facts about the legends of the Grail and of the
magical rings which have come into the public eye recently with the success
of the excellent movies made from J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
trilogy. Gardner's associations with various ancient societies leads me to
believe he has numerous axes to grind, which in my mind casts doubt upon
the material in the book; but his discussion of the Enlil-Enki dispute is
completely opposite to Sitchin's (The 12th Planet, pp. 102-103), and
since I am much more impressed with the scholarly achievements of the latter
author, I am all the more inclined to doubt Gardner's accuracy. In discussing
the possible reptilian appearance of the Annunaki, Gardner also seems to take
a punch at author David Icke, although he doesn't mention the name.
Icke, for his part, has some questions for Gardner, for example in
The Biggest Secret, p. 147. One thing about Icke, for all the bad
you might have to say about him, he's never afraid to name names.
- Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five: I definitely have to read this
again someday; I really like this book. The concept of Tralfamadorian time
seems to be close to what the "God" of Neale Donald Walsh's Conversations
with God books describes, papers on a spindle, and yet I can relate to
it much better, more like the movie Frequency.
- Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. More celebration of the virtues
of selfishness, laissez-faire capitalism, and of the best man winning the girl.
- Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Fascinating book;
I think I read it about 25 or 30 years ago but it seemed completely new
to me this time. The book drags on and on for page after page belaboring
the points of individual initiative and responsibility, and
many of the characters
seem somewhat one-dimensional, but overall the radicalism of her concept
of freedom is refreshing. I can't say the same about www.aynrand.org, however; it looks to me like
Mr. Thompson was successful in usurping John Galt's message, twisting it
completely around and using it as a tool to continue brainwashing and
controlling the populace. The mention that Rand is
Alan Greenspan's favorite author only confirms this in my mind. Reading Galt's
longwinded speech towards the end of the book, and reflecting on it later, I
finally understood the meaning of the "brass cannon" joke from Robert
Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress; just as Henry Rearden's
janitors aren't going to make the same amount of money sweeping the floors
of their houses as they do sweeping Rearden's foundry, the polisher of brass
cannons for the municipal government had better think twice before going
into business for himself. TANSTAAFL!
- Thomas Pynchon's Mason & Dixon: I bought this because it was on sale
for about 5 bucks, and because I had earlier read his The Crying of
Lot 49; it was tough going for large parts of it, due to the 1700's-style
English used, but overall very entertaining for a conspiracy nut.
- Zecharia Sitchin's The Earth Chronicles, actually 6 separate books,
which document the Annunaki landing on earth and their creation of Homo
Sapiens Sapiens by genetically altering the hunter-gatherer humans they
found in the African savannah.
- James Joyce's Ulysses, not to be confused with Homer's. This book
took me well over a year to read, and I had to read other "lighter" material
in between bouts. I'll have to tackle this again someday.
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