At Fireside, you can share what's on your mind about education.
Morning all (alright - customise it to your own time zone!).
I thought it might be nice to share what's happening on the reading front - so to make some running, here's a few of mine (not many explicitly educational)
The Information by James Gleick. A superb one-volume history of information and computing, with splendid mini-biographies of Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing and Claude Shannon - just to mention a few of my pin-ups. This one is my favourite unfinished book of 2011 (because I had to return it the library and never reborrowed it!)
Before the Beginning by Martin Rees. A delightfully written introduction to astrophysics and cosmology, well told, and with plenty of biographical snippets. (They're all here: Hubble, Lemaitre, Einstein, Hoyle, Gamow, Sciama, Wheeler, Penrose, Hawking, Bell and Sandage are just some of the folks features. This one was my op shop bargain.)
In physics mode I also read a few papers and a biography of S Chandrasekhar. What a wonderful, and underrated mathematical physicist who transformed many fields of physics - perhaps as a result of very poor treatment from Eddington early on. His material on Truth and Beauty is delightful.
Also in physics mode, I made a start on The Grand Design by Hawking and Mlodinow - but I could finish it. The authors couldn't avoid unsubstantiated and ill-informed swipes at philosophy and theology. I could. Life is too short for gratuitous annoyance.
Then there was the fun - Alexander McCall Smith's latest in the von Igelfeldt series and the Dalhousie philosophy series came out. Dalhousie is now beginning to wear on me, but von Igelfeldt was charming. (As was the No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency TV series btw). M M Kay's The Ordinary Princess was also an amusing children's book. I think it still works for this generation. And M M Kay's Murder in Kashmir was a rather pleasant "The Lady Vanishes" style of mystery. (And on TV I caught up with The Mrs Bradley Mysteries starring the delectable Diana Rigg! Both rather good.)
I'm sure there was more in the frivolous, but I don't recall.
And, a fascinating exploration of economics - from the contents of ancient myth, Hebrew and Greek scriptures, Greek philosophy and on into Malthus, Mandeville and Adam Smith. These were very fresh readings of stories more or less familiar to me, and a very fresh re-examination of economics for people very familiar with economics. This was one of the great Skip Zilla treasures, and I'm still reading it on my iPod Kindle. Yes, The Economics of Good and Evil: Thomas Sedlacek.
And so to lunch, dear readers. What's been rich in your reading this past year?
I always like to see some congruences in reading - Gardner's Truth Beauty and Goodness Reframed is a good thinking read for me - one of my first KindleReader purchases. The trio on didgital learning are also variously on my shelves and Kindle - and quite independently, Rowan expressed an interest in the bottom two of the heap (He wanted to be sure if I had them or not, before buying unwanted duplicates.)!
And Maps of the Imagination came and went - a briefly browsed library book last year. The Disciplined Mind (and its brother Five Minds for the Future) have been part of my reading in earlier years. They stand as an important balance for the cutting edge tendency to thoroughly coalesce regions of knowledge. I think it is important to know how the natives of the land (physicists, mathematicians, historians, philosophers, poets...) speak their own language, as well as engage in multi-disciplinary projects. Now, for example, if only Richard Dawkins (or Peter Atkins, or Sam Harris, or the answersingenesis guy - just add in your own to the list) had taken the trouble to hear the natives speak, he might be a lot less imperious (and a lot more correct!)
But - I'm not supposed to be reviewing your books. I'll look forward to that, as you take the time!
And Heidegger and a Hippo walk through the Pearly Gates, an exploration (with jokes) of the philosophy of existence. A good effort - with main philosophies well explained, with most of the jokes and cartoons quite funny, but the integration between the two not always that tight. Plato and a Platypus walk into a Bar (Thomas Cathcart) might be this year's excursus into the genre.