Re: Books (was FW: I am so totally controlled by my environment...)

I Find Karma (
Sat, 23 Aug 1997 01:15:17 -0700 (PDT)

(finishing off a book on Java Beans with a nice chianti...)

Dan scribed...
> Rohit, your quote brings to mind one of the most unique books I know,
> An Intimate History of Humanity by Theodore Zeldin. The book is a
> tour de force of human aspirations and feelings, roaming across every
> culture and several thousand years

Oh man, this sounds like a great book. Thanks for the recommendation!

I spent today rereading _The Design of Everyday Things_ by Donald
Norman. Such a fundamentally wonderful book. Should be required
reading for life.

> "6. Why there has been more progress in cooking than in sex,"

Because sex is so good it doesn't beg for improvement?

> The book argues that "professors of happiness" should consider the
> subject as a whole, rather than breaking out sub-disciplines of
> sexology and gastronomy.

Is it possible to get "happiness tenure"???

> 2. How men and women have slowly learned to have interesting conversations

If the book teaches me how to have an interesting conversation,
that alone would be worth the money.

As for now, I fake "interesting" by seeming "interested" in whatever
the "other" wants to talk about.

> 4. How some people have acquired an immunity to loneliness

Does this have something to do with surrounding oneself with so many
people and so much work to do that you don't have the time to think, let
alone be lonely?

> 9. How those who want neither to give orders nor to receive them can
> become intermediaries

Yes, well, in the new economy, disintermediation is going to make many
of the intermediaries unemployed.

> 16. Why even the privileged are often somewhat gloomy about life, even
> when they have everything the consumer society offers, and even after
> sexual liberation

Wait, if I have all the money and sex that I want, how could my life
POSSIBLY be gloomy?

How do I find a government agency willing to fund an experiment for me
to show that money CAN buy happiness??? (or at least lease it...)

> 17. How travelers are becoming the largest nation in the world, and
> how they have learned not to see only what they are looking for

Ah, Rohit Khare, Nomad-at-Large.

> 25. What becomes possible when soul-mates meet

THIS I'd like to know...

> It's at <>. No, I
> don't get a commission.

You should get a commission. Sold ME on this one. In fact, Amazon,
I'll take two. Dobbin ordered something from Amazon during the UPS strike
and it still took them only 2 days to deliver the goods. Very impressive.

> P.S. Who recommended A History of Knowledge this month? Adam?

Indeed I did. Charles van Doren. Of THE van Dorens.

> <>.
> I read the whole 400 pages last weekend and it was fantastic. Even
> though I knew a lot of the specific contents, you still get so much
> out of seeing it in context, with the evolution of ideas shown.


> We really haven't had enough religious discussions on FoRK. I need to
> post how my deepening understanding of the scientific method over the
> last 2 years has turned me from an agnostic to an atheist.

Religion. The thing that gives us the one thing that science has not
been able to give us: meaning.

I guess as an atheist you believe either: a) meaning comes from within
the self, b) meaning comes from within humankind, c) meaning comes from
something extraterrestrial with whom we have not yet made contact, or d)
there is no meaning.

To me, none of those seem reasonably sufficient. I need the notion of
something divine --- something capable of more than humans individually
or collectively are capable --- to provide a stable concept of meaning.
Why are we here? Why does "here" exist? What should we do while we're
here? What happens when we leave here? For me, divinity provides a
reasonable explanation to these questions and a hundred others like
them. But of course, my search for meaning never ends. With every
moment, I rethink and revisit and refine my thoughts a little more.

I'm not sure I understand how you can be confidently an atheist. To me,
it seems like there's no empirical evidence either way (from a strictly
scientific point of view, without requiring any leaps of faith). So
how'd you come to that conclusion?


You say I only hear what I want to. You say I talk so all the time.
And I thought what I felt was simple, and I thought that I don't belong.
And now that I am leaving, now I know that I did something wrong.
Because I missed you. Yeah, I missed you.
-- Lisa Loeb