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Jan. 26th, 2008 @ 06:15 am books that make you dumb
A perfect example of the useful insights we'll be swimming in as more and more data comes online in a structured way: books that make you dumb. Did I say useful? I did, but cock your head and listen for the inflection. The inflection is ambiguous? Then I think it reflects the sentiment.
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From:bubbaprog
Date:January 27th, 2008 12:37 am (UTC)
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Those who don't read score better than those who read the Bible.

That's about all I cared to derive out of that graph.
From:hexag1
Date:January 27th, 2008 02:03 am (UTC)

bookshop memories

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As a worker at a used bookstore (half price books, houston) I can say that this chart is revealing, but not as much as what I see at work. To my eye, the left hand side of the chart is the most accurate. On the wall in the break room, we have a cartoon. A woman is standing at the checkout counter, and the clerk says "Our records indicate that all you read is drivel"

The sad part is that the data is taken from a survey of facebook college students. At my work, I am sickened by the huge volume of romance books that we sell. Mostly to middle aged to old ladies. Sometimes you see young women buying them, and your heart sinks. Nora Roberts, Linda Miller. Awful, driveling, sickly, formulaic and worse yet, pious. Yes, pious. There is a whole genre of Christian romance novels. Christian inspirational romance. Christian inspirational romantic suspense. They go like this : "Through the sounds of the thunderstorm, she heard the creaking of footsteps coming through the foyer. She prayed. 'Please God, don't let it be Brad....'"

And then there are the 'urban' romance marketed to black women. These are more honest than the Christian books. Straight up smut, with titles like 'Thugz and the women who love them' and 'Somebody's gotta be on top. At least the readers of these don't need a semblance of a plot to enjoy their porn. I find a satisfaction in selling porn to women of all ages. (not that Zane is on the far left)

Certainly there are a lot of great books/writers in the middle part of the chart. Dickens, Shakespeare, Orwell, Steinbeck. I guess the chart doesn't correlate to the intellect of the writers. Nabokov's place on the far right is justified (who would you put past him?)
Orwell has an excellent essay about his own bookshop memories, with similar observations here:
http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/892/
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From:extempore
Date:January 27th, 2008 01:42 pm (UTC)

Re: bookshop memories

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Certainly there are a lot of great books/writers in the middle part of the chart. Dickens, Shakespeare, Orwell, Steinbeck. I guess the chart doesn't correlate to the intellect of the writers.

I would guess it correlates best with what people are most frequently forced to read in high school. People who read only what they must will be sure to name some of those classics they made it all the way through.

I've always heard nabokov spoken of in such glowing terms but I've started lolita twice and haven't made it far. Maybe there's something wrong with me. Personally I'd put dostoevsky at the far right, but my lifetime reading selection isn't nearly broad enough to assert that generally.

Thugz and the women who love them sounds like an instant classic. Thugz!
From:hexag1
Date:January 27th, 2008 11:02 pm (UTC)

Re: bookshop memories

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You're right about Dostoevsky.

I cant recommend Nabokov enough. Try picking up this collection of his short stories: http://www.amazon.com/Stories-Vladimir-Nabokov/dp/0679729976/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1201474737&sr=8-1
which has many gems and delights, as well as some horrors. My favorite is the first one "the wood sprite". Its a dreamy tale of a writer's late night encounter with a supernatural creature, ala 'the raven'.
From:applecoreman
Date:January 27th, 2008 05:13 am (UTC)

Where does he get those wonderful links?

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Sometimes I think I don't get the same internet. Seek and ye shall find, but I think I'm looking in the wrong places. A most useful structure will be a many-to-many recommendation engine, netflixprize but for links, products, and let's see, women?

Virgil's ambition to unseat Google's first two results is charming, but his indirect request for help with datamining and python/MySQL/php presentation makes me hope for more relevant insights. I think like Baby Name Voyager but with more foreward potential. Did you see his hack at viewing redacted PDFs? Trivial?

Useful, useless, sure. Just like the entire series of tubes.

For someone building a reading list, wouldn't this chart be helpful? Is your home-schooling curriculum open to influence (willing to share it?)? Would you save The Holy Bible for last? The Bible is clearly more instructive. Don't you want Ivy to read The Alchemist in a few years? Have you read all these top 100?
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From:extempore
Date:January 27th, 2008 01:58 pm (UTC)

Re: Where does he get those wonderful links?

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Not familiar with the redact hack - link? I've heard about various screwups in redacting.

I've read 35 of those books and might be interested in another 35... as a reading list it leaves a lot to be desired. Popularity contests have their place but this isn't it.

I don't have a homeschooling curriculum and may never. I'll be happy to share what we do when we do it or as I formulate more specific plans. If ivy and ruby come out of it loving to read, knowing how to think scientifically, and interested in the world, then I'll consider it a success.

I've never heard of the alchemist, should I have?

The bible is so brutally unpleasant to read, I'll be saving that for a time when her enjoyment of reading is assured and she's old enough to analyze religion (and everything else) skeptically. Unless she asks for it.
From:applecoreman
Date:January 27th, 2008 02:40 pm (UTC)

Re: Where does he get those wonderful links?

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No one will ever need tinyurl on his webpage. His datamining request:http://virgil.gr/41. The rabbit hole had a splinter branch for this: http://virgil.gr/6, whose videos make me think I could find what the gov't doesn't want me to. Page 3 is the only other interesting one, which reminded me of Lifehacker's coolest workstation, whose owner is a Holy Bible thumper? Interesting combination.

It's been a year since my life's first book-club-type purchase, two books! I wonder if you have a goal of teaching Ivy to question authority (btw, I went back there, and was sure I was wasting two seconds, but verified there was also no main post content in IE. Have your written about LJ archive foibles?)

I would love to see a handpicked book-SAT list with a smaller sample across ivy league schools. Or maybe a Humanities list across best and worst med schools. You can probably do better.

My 16-year old brother impressed the hell out of me with his class writing assignment. He wrote about a book I gave him over Thanksgiving, one I read just once at 22 but struck just the right chord. I wish I would've found it sooner, as it was insightful to a teenager. The Alchemist is a story about a boy who learns about karma. My religious side sees a functional spirituality to it. Maybe you will see it as an entertaining way to highlight the Golden Rule.

Dostoevsky. I'd always seen it transliterated with two wyes.
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From:extempore
Date:January 28th, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC)

Re: Where does he get those wonderful links?

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btw, I went back there, and was sure I was wasting two seconds, but verified there was also no main post content in IE. Have your written about LJ archive foibles?

It's less than intuitive, but the original post doesn't show up when you go in that way: click "permanent link" and you'll see it.

The bible thumper is pretty awesome. I forget sometimes that it's not all some hilarious dream, these people really exist.
From:quique12
Date:January 28th, 2008 06:19 pm (UTC)

Re: Where does he get those wonderful links?

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The alchemist is a book by Paulo Coelho (he is Brazilian). The book is very popular in Mexico and South America. Most of my friends from High School (in Mexico) read it and liked it.

The alchemist is a short book and it can be read very quickly. I thought it was a great book, as it made me be more optimistic about things.
From:pdsheen
Date:January 27th, 2008 07:04 pm (UTC)

Interesting..

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I find it interesting that those that read "The Holy Bible" score significantly lower on their SATs than those that just read "The Bible".

Also interesting how there are an apparently statistically significant number of schools that don't understand that most favourite book != favourite author.. (Though I have not seen the source data)

Which one of these books is not like the other: Lolita, 100 Years of Solitude, Crime and Punishment, Freakonomics.

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From:extempore
Date:January 28th, 2008 04:31 am (UTC)

Re: Interesting..

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I find it interesting that those that read "The Holy Bible" score significantly lower on their SATs than those that just read "The Bible".

Highest scores of all went to those students who had merely read "The".
From:josh_sandiego
Date:January 28th, 2008 10:42 pm (UTC)

books ot make you smart?

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Hey Paul, have you ever read anything from marketing guru Seth Godin?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seth_Godin

Well hes looking for a good man and it seems like you are the spitting image of what he requires
http://www.squidoo.com/squidoodeveloper
From:josh_sandiego
Date:January 28th, 2008 10:45 pm (UTC)

Re: books ot make you smart?

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Dyslexia occurs about 3.5 times more often in males than females
From:darse
Date:January 29th, 2008 01:57 pm (UTC)
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This lead me to http://www.librarything.com/ -- do you know anything about it? There was an IMDb-type site for books a couple of years ago, but i guess they had trouble reaching critical mass. A good database and recommender system for books is long overdue.

I read The Alchemist last year (it's one of my wife's favourites). Twas good -- the type of book that would make a lot of people's One Book list.
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From:johndhi
Date:January 31st, 2008 11:02 pm (UTC)
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The Alchemist is a funny book. I enjoyed reading it, and when I came to the end, sort of went, "what?" But I think that might be the only way to end such a story.
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From:johndhi
Date:January 31st, 2008 11:00 pm (UTC)
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I work in a department focused on integrating the overwhelming amounts of data now being generated using the astounding computing power now under our control. We deal with humongous image files from biological researchers and organizing them in an online database.

It's very interesting the information you can garner by sorting out a huge amount of data; it's also interesting how sometimes it tells you nothing you couldn't have guessed. Do you have any ideas for fields that will benefit hugely from ontological classification? I wonder what a computer could do if we entered our entire system of laws into it... could you have a computer lawyer find you loopholes in the law?
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From:extempore
Date:February 2nd, 2008 01:32 pm (UTC)
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That's a great question that I don't have a good answer for (either then general one or the specific one about computer+law) but I hope I'll come up with one sometime down the road.