Recommend Summer Readings

Gregory Alan Bolcer (
Sun, 22 Mar 1998 14:02:04 -0800

Some book recommendations. You can tell what sort
of mood I am in this morning...


Two old classics that are far more humourously satirical
with the current goings on in the world:

Re-reading this book, I am fascinated with MM Enterprises and
absolutely amazed at Heller's ability to bring reflection and
closure to every catch-22 he raises in the book. It is a perfect
example of recursion, a concept that later was adopted in
scientific studies. (see A&P recommendation below). Milo
Minderbinder Enterprises is the perfect example of a completely
non-cash enterpise, sort of like virtual or e-cash. The
trick to e-cash is not tying it to particular commodity or currency.
You could do that by decoupling time from the transaction as long as you
can gurantee uniqueness, persistency, and security of the items. I
think a barter system that is underwritten by the host is a good start.
Tying e-cash to anything other than the value of information
services undermines it's purpose and incontrollability. I'm thinking
you would set up something like an insurance company, then underwrite
the e-cash, plus charge a premium for the risk to convert it to
whichever currency is required. You look at IMF, all they send is 128
encrypted bits. If that's not 'funny' or 'monopoly' money, I don't know
what is. Anyways, I re-read this book thinking about how
you would prevent nations from controlling the monetary value
of information. What good is making information freely
available on the market if the money you need to buy it is
still tightly controlled.

A Clockwork Orange:
A morality play where wind up characters are set into
motion like clockwork by God or the Devil or increasingly
replacing these, The Almighty State.

A newer classic:
Short-Timers by Gustav Hasford

A Clockwork Orange for the Vietnam era; explores the
inter-relationship between sex and death in military training,
and parallel socialization stages in adolescent sexuality compressed into
the developmental stages for building a non-thinking fighting
machine in the US military. The movie Full Metal Jacket was loosely
based on this book, but doesn't even hold a candle. This book
is disturbingly funny.

Non fiction:

Art & Physics: Parallel Visions ion Space, Tim & Light by
Leonard Shlain

Shlain attempts to answer the question of what is good art
and in his exploration discovers that some of the greatest, lasting
masterful artworks from the Golden Age of Greece to the present
embed informal understandings of concepts that later become
formalized by science. He traces every major art movement
from their depiction of space, time, and light and draws parallels
with work being done in the scientific physics community. Some
conclusions may be generalizable to scientific pursuits in other
fields. For reasons of completeness, I feel compelled to
mention that he also wrote 'Acid Dreams: The complete Social
History of Lsd: the CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond", but I don't
recommend this book at all other than to mention by purchasing
any of his books you may get your name on a list somewhere.

Fiction, but I am too lazy to write reviews for:

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
"When a true genius appears in this world,
you may know hism by this sign, that the dunces
are all in a confederacy against him." - J. Swift.

The Names by Don DeLillo
Intrigue, anagrams, and synchronicity.
"I've always believed I could see things other people couldn't.
Elements falling into place. A desgn. A shape in the chaos
of things. I suppose I find these moments preocious and
reassuring because they take place outside me, outside the
silent grid, becasuse the suggest an outer state that
works somewhat the way my mind does but without the
relentlessness, the peredeternative quality. I feel
I'm safe from myself as there's an accidental pattern
to observe in the physical world."