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EMT 16 June 2024 | Main | A Government Big Enough To Give You Everything You Want, Is A Government Big Enough To Take Away Everything That You Have
June 16, 2024

Sunday Morning Book Thread - 06-16-2024 ["Perfessor" Squirrel]



Welcome to the prestigious, internationally acclaimed, stately, and illustrious Sunday Morning Book Thread! The place where all readers are welcome, regardless of whatever guilty pleasure we feel like reading. Here is where we can discuss, argue, bicker, quibble, consider, debate, confabulate, converse, and jaw about our latest fancy in reading material. As always, pants are required, unless you are wearing these pants...

So relax, find yourself a warm kitty (or warm puppy--I won't judge) to curl up in your lap, and dive into a new book. What are YOU reading this fine morning?


I don't have any memories of my father reading to me. I'm not saying it didn't happen--I just don't have any memories of it. Perhaps I was too young. However, I do recall my father taking us to the library on a weekly basis as a family outing. He's an avid reader, just like the rest of us in the family. Like a lot of Morons, his interests tend to be in military history. When I was in high school in Germany, I'd spend time at the post library after school sometimes, if I need to wait for him to get a ride home.



We were supposed to have a book study this past Tuesday, but it's been postponed until next week. However, I thought I'd go ahead and share some thoughts on the book we are reading, Teaching with AI: A Practical Guide to a New Era of Human Learning by José Antonio Bowen and C. Edward Watson.

The book is divided into three sections: "Thinking with AI," "Teaching with AI," and "Learning with AI." Our first book study will be over the first part, "Thinking with AI." Bowen and Watson's premise is that artificial intelligence (AI) systems are here to stay. You use dozens of them every day without even knowing they exist. For instance, a lot of reservation systems will use AI tools to keep you notified of updates and changes to any scheduled events. Doctors use them regularly to help keep track of patient information over time. Of course, calling them "intelligent" is a bit of a misnomer, because they are only behaving according to their programming.

AI platforms have been around a long time, but only in the last couple of years have they made significant strides in teaching AI how to do much more complex tasks, such as a lot of grunt work at law firms that used to be done by low-level clerks, paralegals, and junior lawyers. Much of that can be automated and research studies quoted by Bowen and Watson demonstrate that the AI systems can perform at least as well as most humans on those tasks. In fact, they equate AI systems to performing "C" level work on classroom assignments for most tasks. Thus, if you want students to do better than an AI, you have to teach the students to leverage AI to generate "A" and "B" level work.

Much of the first section of the book is taken up with just defining terminology and providing examples of how AI systems are already revolutionizing industries. In science, for example, an AI tool has identified the structures of over 200 million proteins based on their predicted geometry. Normally, about 10,000 or so of these proteins can be identified in any given year by traditional human methods (with some computer assistance, of course). In the creative arts, we can already see how AI is influencing art, music, movies, etc. Again, a lot of repetitive tasks or pattern-oriented tasks can be turned over to AI, as it doesn't get tired or bored.

The rest of the book will be taken up with the idea of using AI platforms in teaching and how students can use AI in their learning process. The students we are teaching today *will* be using AI-powered systems in their careers in the future. That's a given at this point, as many businesses already rely on such tools for their operations. How can we embrace AI as educators and make students into better thinkers?



(Any resemblance to my trip to the library book sale this week is purely coincidental)



next-time-randy-brown.jpg You were kind enough to include my book First in the Book Thread last October when it came out, and on Tuesday my second professionally published book, Next Time, was released. It's already made the list of Must-Read Books in 2024 from Independent Book Review! I'd be grateful if you'd include Next Time in one of your Sunday Book Threads.

Amazon link: Next Time

My website with additional ordering options (B&N, Kobo, Apple, etc.):

Fans of time-travel love stories as well as SF will enjoy Next Time, where a chance encounter with Miriam leaves William doubting her claims of randomly jumping forward in time. He is deeply skeptical when she tells him she's been doing it for a thousand years.

As Miriam randomly reappears over the next several months and years, they fall in love. Rumors of Miriam's condition raise the attention of government agents and the couple scrambles to avoid people who view Miriam as a chance for experimentation.

William and Miriam explore their past, live for the brief interludes they have together, and hope for their future, all amidst living life in scattered moments. Building a life together takes time.

Many thanks!

Randy Brown


Booken morgen horden!

I went spelunking with KTE for books at a used bookstore and found a treasure.

On a small shelf of angel books was a softcover Fulton J. Sheen Sunday Missal pub 1961. White softcover, gold edged pages, excellent condition, no price. Latin on left pages, English on the right. Pre Vatican II.

When I took it up to check out, the bookseller disappeared behind his wall of books for a bit to price it, then popped back up and said, apologetically, "$39, do you still want it?"

Crestfallen I replied, "I guess not"

"I can give it to you for $30"

KTE, seeing my struggle of stinginess vs booklust, handed me a $20. I gave her $10 back and took the missal, feeling very happy.

It's more than I've ever spent on a used book, but I feel like my guardian angel led me to it.

Posted by: vmom stabby stabby stabby stabby stabamillion at June 09, 2024 09:02 AM (Ka3bZ)

Comment: You just never know what you will find at a used bookstore (or library sale!). It's up to each person to decide what their threshold is for how much they are willing to spend on a book. Mine is around $50 maximum, depending on how badly I want the book. In a few rare cases, I've spent more than that, but that was usually for a fancy omnibus edition of an author's works (e.g., the hardcover special edition of The Complete Chronicles of Conan by Robert E. Howard cost me $95). My take on it is that YOU decide what each book is worth to YOU. How much enjoyment will you get out of your discovery? If you spend $30 on a book and it takes you to 6 hours to read it, then the entertainment value is about $5/hour. Not a bad deal. And if the book is worth re-reading, then you've doubled your value!


I felt like laughing, so off the shelf came Fresh Lies, a collection of columns in the late '80 and early '90s by James Lileks, later known for his complaints about fruit and vegetables in Jell-O. (Mom put shredded carrots in orange Jell-O; I liked it.)

Some of what I've read is now outdated, although I still laughed at Lileks' mention of a cabbie playing a tape of his favorite band, Smite the Infidel.

And I credit him with coining the phrase "flavor mining" -- digging only one flavor out of swirled ice cream.

Posted by: Weak Geek at June 09, 2024 09:10 AM (p/isN)

Comment: I have a couple of books by James Lileks: The Gallery of Regrettable Food and Gastroanomalies, both of which examine some of the most appalling culinary creations ever belched forth by demented chefs. Lileks pokes fun at these because, as he says, they are accompanied by a doleful cheery attitude by the publishers of these horrific recipes. You can find much of this on Lileks' website, The Institute of Official Cheer.


I just finished reading a timely read: The Jewish World of Alexander Hamilton.

Yep, there's a possibility that Hamilton was born Jewish. He seems to have definitely attended as a child a Jewish school in Nevis in the Virgin Islands. The book pieces together other minute details alluding to Hamilton's mother likely being a Jewish convert.

But most of the book is not about Hamilton's being a Jew but rather his encounters, relationships and references to other Jews he came in contact with during his lifetime. So one should stress the book title words "The Jewish World" more than "of Alexander Hamilton" in order not to be mistaken that this book is mainly concerned with proving Hamilton's origins. That actually is secondary, though very much related to the history brought up throughout most of the book.

And interesting read. In any case, whether you're a Hamiltonian or a Jeffersonian, the founding fathers would be united in revolting against today's rogue regime pulling the strings in Washington DC.

And now on to my next read, from 1964: The Life of Lenin, by Louis Fischer. This is a much longer read.

Posted by: Biden's Dog sniffs a whole lotta malarkey, at June 09, 2024 10:33 AM (i/5Rr)

Comment: I never much thought about it, but I suppose there are lots of people today who have Jewish blood and don't know it. Not that it makes any difference to me. I'm mostly Scottish, but I also have Irish, German, and probably some remnant of Native American in me as well. Like a lot of Americans, I'm just a "mutt." Still, people do want to make a big deal out of genetic "purity" for some strange reason, even though such a thing doesn't technically exist.


I finished the second volume of Roald Dahl's autobiography, Going Solo. It starts with his sailing out on a steamer to his new employment with Shell oil as a district representative in Tanzania, with his first experience with the breed of English who operated the overseas empire, who were to a man and woman "dotty", some high points of being a district representative, and the drama on England's entering WWII of helping rounding up the German settlers who were trying to escape to Portuguese Mozambique.

He then talks about volunteering for the RAF, learning to fly Tigermoth Trainers in Iraq (hence the title), and then his crash, period in hospital in Alexandria and then the transfer to the fruitless defense of Greece and Crete where he was given a Hurricane to fly in combat without any training. After Greece he was transferred to Syria to fight the Vichy French in Lebanon, meeting some Jewish Refugees, and invalidated out and returned to England due to his injuries.

This is a children's' book, but Dahl is a very good writer, and says much with few words, and is full of the delight of the world even with what was going on. He reminds me of a similar English writer, Gerald Durrell

Posted by: Kindltot at June 09, 2024 11:01 AM (D7oie)

Comment: Roald Dahl was an interesting character in real life. Nowadays he's also known as a high-profile target for cancellation because of the "problematic content" in his works.

More Moron-recommended reading material can be found HERE! (1000+ Moron-recommended books!)




The public library held their summer book sale and as usual I made out like a bandit...31 books for the low, low price of $57.50.

  • Queen of Angels by Greg Bear
  • Next by Michael Crichton
  • State of Fear by Michael Crichton -- This has been recommended more than once around here and it was why not?
  • Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames -- It gets pretty positive reviews by booktubers, so again...why not? Can't beat the price ($2).
  • Pip and Flinx Adventure 12 - Trouble Magnet by Alan Dean Foster
  • World of Warcraft - Arthas: Rise of the Lich King by Christie Golden
  • Everyday Life in Old Testament Times by E. W. Heaton
  • Sandman Slim 1 - Sandman Slim: A Novel by Richard Kadrey -- I read the fourth book in the series and liked it. Now I have the entire collection for around $30.
  • Sandman Slim 2 - Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey
  • Sandman Slim 3 - Aloha from Hell by Richard Kadrey
  • Sandman Slim 4 - Devil Said Bang by Richard Kadrey
  • Sandman Slim 5 - Kill City Blues by Richard Kadrey
  • Sandman Slim 6 - The Getaway God by Richard Kadrey
  • Sandman Slim 7 - Killing Pretty by Richard Kadrey
  • Sandman Slim 8 - The Perdition Score by Richard Kadrey
  • 77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz
  • The Bad Place by Dean Koontz
  • The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz
  • Dean Koontz's Frankenstein 1 - Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz & Kevin J. Anderson
  • Dean Koontz's Frankenstein 2 - City of Night by Dean Koontz & Ed Gorman
  • Dean Koontz's Frankenstein 3 - Dead and Alive by Dean Koontz
  • The Taking by Dean Koontz
  • Tick Tock by Dean Koontz
  • The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle - This was a rather popular book. At least two other people at the book sale wanted to snatch it up if I hadn't got there first.
  • Star Wars - X-Wing 1 - Rogue Squadron by Michael A. Stackpole
  • Star Wars - X-Wing 2 - Wedge's Gamble by Michael A. Stackpole
  • Star Wars - X-Wing 3 - The Krytos Trap by Michael A. Stackpole
  • Star Wars - X-Wing 7 - Solo Command by Aaron Allston
  • Star Wars - X-Wing 9 - Starfighters of Adumar by Aaron Allston
  • The Testament by Eric Van Lustbader


After reviewing some of OregonMuse's old Book Threads, I thought I'd try something a bit different. Instead of just listing WHAT I'm reading, I'll include commentary as well. Unless otherwise specified, you can interpret this as an implied recommendation, though as always your mileage may vary.


Star Wars - The Bounty Hunter Wars Book 3 - Hard Merchandise by K. W. Jeter

The last book in this series explains all of the "mystery boxes" that Jeter set up in the first two books. We find out who has really been pulling the strings on Fett and the other bounty hunters (it's pretty obvious) and we find out how Neelah lost her memory and where she came from. As with the first two books, it's difficult to really understand the overall plot. Much of it is just Fett going from event to event looking badass the entire time. Not great literature, but engaging enough.

prey.jpg border="0" />

Prey by Michael Crichton

Since I enjoyed the last Crichton novel I read--Micro (2008)--I decided to read another. Prey (2002) involves a rogue nanotechnology that has evolved to the point where it considers the human species its prey (hence the name). This isn't a spoiler because it's printed right there on the back cover in the blurb. The tension comes from how it starts and then how do we humans stop it? I'll say this for Crichton--he's very good about the first act of his novel in setting up what's going on. An unemployed software engineer-turned-house-husband notices some odd coincidences that may involve his wife, a mid-level executive for the company developing nano-tech microscope devices. Both of them are in a position to realize the truth of the matter, but they are caught up in domestic squabbles that keep them blinded to the threat that the human race will face.


The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton

This is a very early Michael Crichton novel from 1972. A man suffering from psychomotor epilepsy is given an experimental treatment to help control his epileptic seizures, which have caused him to go into violent rages against other people. His brain is connected to a computer embedded in his flesh that administers electric pulses to his brain when the seizures begin, thus restoring his brain's normal equilibrium. At least, in theory. He also suffers from delusions that machines are taking over the world. The fact that he is now "part machine" doesn't sit well with him. The "terminal" in this case refers to Benson being a "terminal" for the computer that has been implanted into his body.

Because this was written in the early 1970s, everyone smokes like chimneys. Patients in a hospital are allowed to smoke in their rooms. It's surprising that the surgical team didn't light up right after surgery...while still in the OR.


77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz

At first I thought this was going to be a haunted house story with a relatively slow buildup and a Dean Koontz-style twist in the middle and at the end. Nope. Koontz throws you into the weirdness from the beginning and it just gets stranger and stranger from there. The inhabitants of the majestic apartment complex will be enmeshed in a very bizarre story with ancient evil powers that are striving to take over the world...It actually feels like an F. Paul Wilson story in many ways.

PREVIOUS SUNDAY MORNING BOOK THREAD - 06-09-24 (NOTE: Do NOT comment on old threads!)


Disclaimer: No Morons were harmed in the making of this Sunday Morning Book Thread. Rumors of bookshelf-related injuries as a result of the library book sale should be discounted as FALSE.

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