21 June 2006

 

Recent Reads

Sorry, I've done a lousy job of updating the bibliography over at my page on mackandtim.net.

I read Glenn Reynold's An Army of Davids. Not the most engrossing read I've ever come across. Full of itself and sanctimonious, kind of like, you know who. The first part about blogs and content related to the title is kind of interesting and provocative, but the second part about technological advance and Kurzweil's coming Singularity and that we'll-all-live-forever gnome from Britain just stinks to high heaven. A big load of self-important poo, if you ask me.

(I remember seeing a movie at Boston's Museum of Science in which Kurzweil said it was all "pattern matching and expert systems," and that once we had those solved, AI would be no problem. Waiting, eternally waiting. And let's get real: the sampling keyboards Kurzweil gave us are pretty damned good -- I love my Yamaha S-90 -- but without implementing piano sounds computationally and employing sympathetic resonance -- a true damper pedal not a sustain pedal -- sampled pianos still just don't sound right.

(That's right, I don't drink the Ray Kurzweil kool aid. Sorry.)

More recently, I'm working on Eric R. Kandel's In Pursuit of Memory. Well written and well thought out, this book tells the Nobel laureate's story of going from studying psychoanalysis to brain science and back to brain science's implacations for psychaitry. I think I'm up to the last chapter. If you're at all interested in understanding how aspects of memory are implemented in nervous systems, then this is a good introduction. Yes, it's kind of superficial, but compared to Reynold's book about what this book about how and why is extremely enjoyable.

It also deals with Kandel's escape from Vienna when the Nazi's took over and the lifelong impact of that situation. Talk about your long-term memory.

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