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Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Hey, Wow, I've been book tagged by Redneck Feminist. I will do my best, but some of these answers are difficult or embarrassing.

How many books do you own? Not a friggin' clue. Not even sure how to count or estimate them. I have been an avid but inconsistent reader all of my life, often reading one book after another in quick succession, and often going long periods without reading any books. Also, I have ADD, Inattentive Type, which means that I can not remember most books I have bought or where I put them, and any place I have control over is a total mess. I currently have books scattered all over my office, in my mother-in-law's house, in my house, at my parent's house, and in storage in a couple of different locations.

Last book you bought? The World's Worst: A Guide To The Most Disgusting Hideous; Inept, And Dangerous People, Places, And Things On Earth by Mark Frauenfelder of boingboing. A lot of fun.

Last book you read? Taking this to mean the last book I finished, that would be Bone, by Jeff Smith, the one volume edition. A truly amazing work. Originally published serially over the course of twelve years, I could not believe how tight the end work is. It really is one epic story, every chapter advances and is important to the main story, and there are less than a half dozen extraneous characters. The setting is a fantasy world with a rich history and mythology, the story is action packed and compelling, and the characters are well rounded and funny, and three of the most important characters - for non-relationship reasons - are women. And I especially enjoyed how the Bone cousins looked appropriately incongruent with how the rest of the characters and background were drawn, as if they had wandered in out of another comic book. Oh, did I mention Bone is a comic book?

Five books that are important to you?

1. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Embarrassing to admit, especially for publicly funded attorney who represents welfare recipients for a living, but reading this book really was a life-changing experience. In my defense, I was a socially awkward white male in high school when I discovered it. Still, the passionate defense of relying on reason and living one's life for oneself and being proud of your accomplishments is something that was impossible to resist and has never left me. As a philosopher, I have ironically come to think of her as many defend Karl Marx: The positive philosophy she advocates is flawed beyond redemption, but as a critic of her enemies, she is as devastating as a nuclear bomb.

2. Progress & Poverty by Henry George. God, how I wish when I was an evangelical libertarian in college, unsuccessfully trying to convince those around me of the soundness of (right) libertarian philosophy, someone would have said, "Actually, you're half right. Here, read this," and handed me this book. Now, I have gone far beyond the narrow "geolibertarian" reading that many have (wrongly, in my opinion) ascribed to George. But the approach of recognizing that there can be a shared community commons that is logically consistent with and even supportive of individual liberty is how I attack all political questions now.

3. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams. I included them both in one numeral because they really are one book, separated by the author's inability to meet publishing deadlines. A hilarious introduction to thinking philosophically about life.

4. Informal Logic: A Handbook for Critical Argument by Douglas Walton. The best guide to critical thinking I have ever seen. Walton dispenses with the "fallacies" approach to critical thinking and discusses the importance and limits of abductive reasoning along with the "traditional" inductive and deductive models of reasoning. It turns out that most "fallacies" are actually arguments that are not inductively convincing or deductively valid, but have various degrees of abductive plausibility.

5. The Player's Handbook by Gary Gygax. I have not played Dungeons & Dragons for over a decade, but the ways in which my time spent in this hobby have affected me are too numerous to count. Yes, I am a geek.

Who do I tag? Unfortunately, other than Redneck Feminist, I do not know who regularly reads my blog who has their own blog. So, if you are reading this, have your own blog, have not been book tagged in the past, and there are less than five response in comments to this post, please consider yourself tagged and leave a comment letting me know where you are on the web.

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