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Old 08-28-2013, 01:58 PM   #2686
Thorpesaurous
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Default Re: What are you reading?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jailblazers7


Just finished it on the train this morning. Good book with pretty sound advice for all readers which is too try to train yourself to think more in terms of probabilities instead of absolutes. He is a big fan of Bayesian updating, which is essentially just updating your estimate of the probability of an event occuring based on new evidence.

He touched on some really cool subjects like chess, gambling, and weather forecasting which was really cool. Overall, it was an easy read that is clear and easy to digest.


That sounds very much like a Malcolm Gladwell book, and I love Gladwell, so maybe I'll give it a shot. After a period of a few years where I read all the social science type stuff I could find like that, 5 Gladwell books, both Freakonomics books, and a few off the beaten path variations, like The Drunkard's Walk, I just kind of burned out on it. It went from this weird realization that there were other people out there thinking the way I think, but in much more refined ways, to this depressing realization that there were a ton of people out there thinking like that, all reaching similar conclusions, with varying levels of detail.

I also like Nate Silver, although not as much as most. I've been reading and listening to his take on sports topics forever. And look forward to his new Grantland style ESPN branch website. But I find his speach pattern oddly annoying. He asks the question "Right?", seemingly at the end of every sentence.


Personally I started up recently on more fiction, trying to go through the full works of Cormac MaCarthy. I ripped through The Road, and enjoyed the hell out of it, even knowing much of the story. Then I read a few short stories he published. And now I've moved on to Blood Meridian, and I'm starting to wear out. He's so dense in description but his tendency to not even name a lot of characters is beginning to make them feel flat. And he has a really bizarre writing style. He doesn't always start a new paragraph in dialogue. Doesn't use quotation marks. It probably wouldn't bother me as much if I weren't reading them back to back to back. And honestly I haven't picked it up in a couple weeks now.
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Old 08-28-2013, 02:05 PM   #2687
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Hyperion, really a good sci-fi book
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Old 08-28-2013, 02:22 PM   #2688
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Default Re: What are you reading?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thorpesaurous
That sounds very much like a Malcolm Gladwell book, and I love Gladwell, so maybe I'll give it a shot. After a period of a few years where I read all the social science type stuff I could find like that, 5 Gladwell books, both Freakonomics books, and a few off the beaten path variations, like The Drunkard's Walk, I just kind of burned out on it. It went from this weird realization that there were other people out there thinking the way I think, but in much more refined ways, to this depressing realization that there were a ton of people out there thinking like that, all reaching similar conclusions, with varying levels of detail.

I also like Nate Silver, although not as much as most. I've been reading and listening to his take on sports topics forever. And look forward to his new Grantland style ESPN branch website. But I find his speach pattern oddly annoying. He asks the question "Right?", seemingly at the end of every sentence.


Personally I started up recently on more fiction, trying to go through the full works of Cormac MaCarthy. I ripped through The Road, and enjoyed the hell out of it, even knowing much of the story. Then I read a few short stories he published. And now I've moved on to Blood Meridian, and I'm starting to wear out. He's so dense in description but his tendency to not even name a lot of characters is beginning to make them feel flat. And he has a really bizarre writing style. He doesn't always start a new paragraph in dialogue. Doesn't use quotation marks. It probably wouldn't bother me as much if I weren't reading them back to back to back. And honestly I haven't picked it up in a couple weeks now.

I have never actually been a huge fan of the Gladwell books. I think he brings an interesting perspective to social psychology but nothing that really ever sticks. It is kind of like the joke the only use for a degree in psychology is to make interesting dinner conversation.

The Freakonimcs books are kind of similar in that they look for attention grabbing relationships that have flair and shock value. That has been a pretty common crique of Levitt in the field of economics as well. The coolest thing about those books to me is the creativity Levitt has with data. That guy really squeezes out every detail from a data set.

I think Nate Silver's book has a different vibe because it really hones in on why prediction fail or succeed in the specific fields that he discusses. It isn't about a social phenomenon like Gladwell or splashy statistical findings like in Freakonomics. I would actually really enjoy Silver's take on Freakonomics because Levitt seems to fall for the overconfidence trap that Silver warns about a lot. Also, he gives really cool insights into the fields like the computing tech in weather forecasting and chess. He describes the endgame of chess vs a supercomputer as a blackhole because the computer is basically unbeatable once the possibilities have been dwindled down to a small enough number.
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Old 08-28-2013, 02:26 PM   #2689
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Default Re: What are you reading?

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Originally Posted by macmac
I'm into old school gritty crime novels these days.


Reading the friends of Eddy Coyle by George V Higgins and the wheel man by Swierczyski.

Eddy Coyle reads just like the dialogue in Killing them Softly which is adapted from another novel of his.

The film for The Friends of Eddie Coyle starring Robert Mitchum is pretty great.
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Old 08-28-2013, 03:05 PM   #2690
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Originally Posted by Dresta
Keynes served up his theory on a politically convenient platter. His theory was politically asymmetrical, and he knew it.

So many modern economic problems and fallacies have come from Keynes: the pointless obsession with the GDP stat, the complete disengaging of economists from reality and their obsession with abstract mathematical models, ubiquitous state spending and the belief the state can solve everyone's problems, the crude development of a macroeconomic discipline completely out of touch with reality, the fallacy of there being such a thing as a 'national economy' and many more.

Yeah, the GDP stat is pretty much a direct contribution by Keynes but part of the problem is that measuring a wide-scale economy is so difficult. Macro data is usually extremely poor but Keynes was only the first step in attempting to measure the operations of an economy. Eventually, the field will focus more on data measurements in order to improve the economics. Still, I don't see that as some great curse of Keynes. The crude development of macro is largely because of the crude development of macro data which is something I wouldn't lay at the feet of Keynes.

Hayek's (and Austrian) theories are just as abstract and mathematical as Keynes. The field as a whole is to blame for that, not just Keynes and his followers. Belief that the state can solve everyone's problem is an extreme interpretation of Keynes which is taken far too often. He believed in countercyclical policies to minimize the volatility of the business cycle. Acting like he prescribed gov't spending as a magic potion is silly.

Quote:
Furthermore, he was an arrogant dick in all walks of life. He prevented much of the Austrian discipline from being translated because he reviewed Mises's book (despite not knowing German) and gave it a bad review in spite of not being able to read it. He was a bully and an elitist who was born with a silver spoon jammed so far down his throat that he had lost touch with reality from the crib onwards.

The book sounds terribly simplistic to me, and now having looked it up i am sure it is. It portrays the economic discipline as having two sides (Austrian/Keynesian) and there being some kind of battle between them. Hence why you think Friedman straddled the middle (he didn't, he was a free-market dogmatist in a way Hayek never was, all he brought was his brand of monetarism that was a disaster).

It does take a simplistic view but that doesn't ruin the book as long as that fact is kept in mind while reading it. It is more interesting as a historical narrative of the times than a text on economics.

What I meant by Friedman straddling the line is that he admired the economics of Keynes. His economics are certainly influenced by Keynes but he rejected most fiscal policy measures as too dangerous (which is in line with Hayek's philosophy and Friedman's free-market dogmatism). Instead he favored the use of monetary policy as the preferred controls of economic policy which is more of an improvement and extension of Keynes than it is a paradigm shift.

Quote:
You need to read a bit more about Hayek if you don't think his economic contributions were first rate. Not only his own work, but he brought Menger and other Austrian ideas to light when they had been so well ignored. Contrast that with Keynes who was proven wrong on a number key issues (e.g. mass unemployment coupled with high inflation in the 1970s, which he had deemed impossible).

(read Hayek's The Use of Knowledge in Society for example. In substance, it is better than anything Keynes ever wrote - though Keynes had the sparkling prose)

I'm not saying Hayek was a bad economist or anything but his economic work is very abstract and falls into the sometimes dubious category of "high theory." Your critique of Keynes' abstract models can just as (probably more) easily be applied to Hayek. Hayek's contributions as a political philosopher greatly outweigh his contribution to economics (which isn't a bad thing).

Also, Keynes never deemed stagflation as impossible and I think I remember reading that Keynes had reservations about such a scenario. That idea mostly came about in the 50s with the Phillips Curve. I think part of the problem is that the distinction between Keynes and Keynesians has become so blurry over the years. His theory was by no means perfect tho and stagflation helped to expose some issues with it.

I will check out that Hayek piece tho. I read Road to Serfdom a few years ago and enjoyed it.
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Old 09-02-2013, 01:04 PM   #2691
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Default Re: What are you reading?

Finished Zealot. Very well written and while I respect the fact that he chooses not to pass judgement on the resurrection, I wish he had spent more time talking about it. He continues on after Jesus's death and makes some of the same connections I have made in the past. There's not much in this book that I hadn't read or heard about before, but he puts everything together very well. I loved the detail around Jewish customs.

I've got Guns, Germs, and Steel on order, so I decided to read Lord of the Flies instead.
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Old 09-02-2013, 01:19 PM   #2692
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Default Re: What are you reading?

I'm finally getting towards the end of the 900 page behemoth 1Q84 by Murakami. Meh. The story definitely didn't need to take this long to be told and the 3rd volume of this story drags on needlessly. This is my first Murakami book so maybe I just chose poorly when it comes to his work but it's kinda mediocre overall.
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Old 09-02-2013, 02:41 PM   #2693
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Default Re: What are you reading?

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Originally Posted by Qwyjibo
I'm finally getting towards the end of the 900 page behemoth 1Q84 by Murakami. Meh. The story definitely didn't need to take this long to be told and the 3rd volume of this story drags on needlessly. This is my first Murakami book so maybe I just chose poorly when it comes to his work but it's kinda mediocre overall.
I gave up after 200-300 pages. Its not bad, just A Lot of Murakami indulgence.. which I wasnt ready for. I may pick it up later when im in the mood to delve into a sprawling long story.

If your new to him you need to read Hard Boiled Wonderland its his best novel.. its under 500 pages and is really imaginative so it hooks you.
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Old 09-10-2013, 12:02 AM   #2694
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Default Re: What are you reading?

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Originally Posted by ZeN
I gave up after 200-300 pages. Its not bad, just A Lot of Murakami indulgence.. which I wasnt ready for. I may pick it up later when im in the mood to delve into a sprawling long story.

If your new to him you need to read Hard Boiled Wonderland its his best novel.. its under 500 pages and is really imaginative so it hooks you.
Well I just finished it and large sections of book 3 (pages 595 and on) were almost unbearable in the way that absolutely nothing happens and doesn't develop the characters in any way. Up to that point, it was a decent story that merely dragged on in some parts. It didn't help that one of the protagonists (Tengo) who is the focus of every other chapter was dull and unlikable. The fantasy elements of the story felt random and were only loosely tied into the main themes for me by the end.

Overall, it was an OK book but I imagine that very few people will stick through all 900+ pages unless they are devoted fans of Murakami. I'm just one of those obsessive people that almost always has to finish something once started. I will check one of those other books of his though.
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Old 09-10-2013, 10:48 AM   #2695
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Originally Posted by Qwyjibo
Well I just finished it and large sections of book 3 (pages 595 and on) were almost unbearable in the way that absolutely nothing happens and doesn't develop the characters in any way. Up to that point, it was a decent story that merely dragged on in some parts. It didn't help that one of the protagonists (Tengo) who is the focus of every other chapter was dull and unlikable. The fantasy elements of the story felt random and were only loosely tied into the main themes for me by the end.

Overall, it was an OK book but I imagine that very few people will stick through all 900+ pages unless they are devoted fans of Murakami. I'm just one of those obsessive people that almost always has to finish something once started. I will check one of those other books of his though.
By your assessment of the novel I dont think Ill be getting to it anytime soon then haha.

I hope you do check out Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World its completely different. Its one of my favorite novels due to its fantasy aspects but also how grounded they are in the world he creates.

Heres a couple of synopsis for anyone interested:


Quote:
'A narrative particle accelerator that zooms between Wild Turkey Whiskey and Bob Dylan, unicorn skulls and voracious librarians, John Coltrane and Lord Jim. Science fiction, detective story and post-modern manifesto all rolled into one rip-roaring novel, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is the tour de force that expanded Haruki Murakami's international following. Tracking one man's descent into the Kafkaesque underworld of contemporary Tokyo, Murakami unites East and West, tragedy and farce, compassion and detachment, slang and philosophy.'


Quote:
The last surviving victim of an experiment that implanted the subjects' heads with electrodes that decipher coded messages is the unnamed narrator of this excellent book by Murakami, one of Japan's best-selling novelists and winner of the prestigious Tanizaki prize. Half the chapters are set in Tokyo, where the narrator negotiates underground worlds populated by INKlings, dodges opponents of both sides of a raging high-tech infowar, and engages in an affair with a beautiful librarian with a gargantuan appetite. In alternating chapters he tries to reunite with his mind and his shadow, from which he has been severed by the grim, dark "replacement" consciousness implanted in him by a dotty neurophysiologist. Both worlds share the unearthly theme of unicorn skulls that moan and glow. Murakami's fast-paced style, full of hip internationalism, slangy allegory, and intrigue, has been adroitly translated. Murakami is also author of A Wild Sheep Chase ( LJ 10/15/89); his new work is recommended for academic libraries and public libraries emphasizing serious contemporary fiction.
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Old 09-10-2013, 10:59 AM   #2696
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I actually just finished Kafka on the Shore and loved it. One thing that I really enjoyed about it was that there was always a tension underlying the dialogue where the character was trying to conceal a desire or knowledge. It made the character interactions much more compelling.

I think Murakami is very good at making observations about the subjective reality that we all experience through the individual perspective. Kafka on the Shore really plays around with the concept of memory and fate where one character is eternally living in the past, one is in the present, and one is avoiding the future (a prophecy).
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Old 09-13-2013, 09:53 AM   #2697
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About half way through this:



Really great so far. The evolution of agriculture and wild plants is always pretty fascinating to read about, especially about why certain plants evolved the way they did due to climate, germination, predators, etc. Almost done with the section discussing the evolution of animal domestication.
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Old 09-13-2013, 11:31 AM   #2698
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Old 09-13-2013, 12:54 PM   #2699
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Default Re: What are you reading?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jailblazers7
About half way through this:



Really great so far. The evolution of agriculture and wild plants is always pretty fascinating to read about, especially about why certain plants evolved the way they did due to climate, germination, predators, etc. Almost done with the section discussing the evolution of animal domestication.
I bought this too recently. I'm reading Lord of the Flies which I should be done with over the next week, then I'll start this.
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Old 09-13-2013, 01:10 PM   #2700
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Only thing I ever read in my own time lol..




I'm starting this book in English class though, doesn't sound bad...

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