Thursday, March 14, 2013 book suggestions

Benjamin Hill published a nice article about nine books that in his opinion should've made into Kaplan's "501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read Before They Die".
Here's the link:

And here's the list:
  1. The Bus Leagues Experience, by the writers of
  2. Going for the Fences: the Minor League Home Run Book, by Bob McConnell
  3. Knocking on Heaven's Door, by Marty Dobrow
  4. Minor Moments, Major Memories: Baseball's Best Players Recall Life in the Minor Leagues, by Mark Leinweaver
  5. Pitchers of Beer: The Story of the Seattle Rainiers, by Dan Raley
  6. Rickwood Field, by Allen Barra
  7. Root for the Home Team: Minor League Baseball's Most Off-the-Wall Team Names, by Tim Hagerty
  8. Stolen Season, by David Lamb
  9. The 26th Man, by Steve Fireovid

Monday, March 11, 2013

Coffee, coffee, coffee. Review. "Coffee - Philosophy for everyone"

After reading "Sisterhood of Dune" I decided to read something completely different. I was enjoying a nice Starbucks' Grande medium roast while browsing the nook bookstore so for lack of inspiration half jokingly I entered inn the search box the word "coffee". One of the results was "Coffee - Philosophy for Everyone" (beautiful tagline: "Grounds for debate") edited by Scott F. Parker,  Michael W. Austin and Fritz Allhoff. The title and sample were interesting enough to give me the reason to spend some time on the book. I was looking for a simple reading that would have not taught me anything and I felt pretty sure that I was in for a good time waster.
Oh my, I was wrong. Big time. This little book has a lot to offer without pretending to be a positive substitute for your deep daily Plato readings or of your local coffee guru.
In just a few pages not only I learned to look differently at Folgers but also philosophical - mostly existentialist - concepts that might be of interest or at least that should be known.
"Coffee - Philosophy for Everyone" is composed by several essays written by different authors that more or less define themselves as philosophers. I am not sure they are what they claim, but every single piece gives some food for thought.

The book discusses about many topics, from the reasons why coffee shops are what they are, why philosophers prefer to hang put at coffee shops rather than Irish pubs, what determines the quality of coffee (or lack of it), and the importance of self sustainable growth mixed with fair trade.
The book stresses a lot the importance of fair trade up to the point of making the subject slightly repetitive and boring, but it's a price I was very willing to pay for everything else that can be read in the pages of this collection.
I am quite sure that readers will find something of value in it, especially if one is willing to meditate as much as possible over a cup of coffee.
As for myself, being an avid coffee drinker, I ended up believing I can enjoy discussions with Aristotle or Thomas Aquinas, provided the black drink is on the table.
The book is part of a series on philosophy edited by Fritz Allhoff; I am not familiar with the other books of the series and I do not plan to read any of those. 
One thing is certain. As one essay rightfully teaches to us if you wake up in the middle of the night the question in your mind should not be "what is the purpose of the Universe?" but "should I cut my caffeine intake?".

And here's one for coffee lovers:

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Quick Review: "Sisterhood of Dune" by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

In my opinion the latest installment of the Dune saga, "Sisterhood of Dune", is one of the best works of the Extended Universe and possibly even of the entire saga including the Orthodox Herbertian Universe.
The story is set several decades after the Butlerian Jihad is over and after the evil thinking machine Omnius was defeated.

Sisterhood is action packed - as any Extended Universe book - but does not lack of the political intrigues and complex personalities of Frank Herbert's original works.
One of the focal points of this book is the obsessive and hateful behavior that might move entire civilizations and peoples toward hate for a now defeated enemy. In Sisterhood the Butlerians -which are the true moral winners of the Jihad - are so religiously obsessed by the idea of the thinking machines that they don't feel any regret in committing murderous and damaging activities in order to fight for their idea. In a beautifully described plot, the Butlerians guided by Manford Torondo which are supposed to defend humanity from thinking machines reach the paradoxical point in which, in their mind, the thinking machines have become more important than humanity itself.
Sisterhood contains many subplots including the unexpected return of a never-aging Vorian Atreides, other known personalities and locations (yes, Arrakis is in this book).
I truly enjoyed reading this book, although a word of caution is necessary. If you haven't read the preceding books in the series then Sisterhood of Dune might be a difficult read. The authors try to summarize what happened before (for those who have read the preceding books it could seem that sometimes they try too much) but it might be not enough to enjoy this book.
Right now I can't wait for the next book in the trilogy, "Mentats of Dune".
Have a good read.