Catching Up on some ‘Light Reading’

Coming off what has been undoubtedly my busiest period (3 months) in the past decade, I’m in the throws of catching up on some light reading. I usually have at least two books on the go and my preference is for the books to be about diverse topics because it allows the mind to seek out random connections. I once ‘solved’ the nuclear fusion problem whilst reading books by Umberto Eco and John D Barrow. A physicist friend of mine suggested my idea was radical and yet theoretically possible. But I digress. Right now I have a wide combination – ‘From Poverty to Peace’ by Duncan Green looks at ways in which we can empower people to help themselves more effectively, whilst looking at the myriad of mistakes so commonly made in the area of ‘aid’. ‘New knowledge in Human Values’ is an older book edited by Ambraham Maslow with a wide contribution of thoughts from the likes of Pitirim Sorokin, Dorothy Lee and Paul Tillich (among others) and is a walk through some of the thinking about Human Values emerging in the late 1950’s. The chapters are appropriately dense undertakings and I’m finding it hard to stick with, especially as I’m more inclined to lean towards the model of Clare W Graves and his Value Systems Thoery; ‘Coercion as Cure’ by Thomas Szasz is a ripper of a book thus far, though I’m only a few chapters in, I can tell the quality of a book by how much ‘tagging’ I do within a text

Coercion as Cure already has a significant number of tags – sentences or paragraphs that I reckon are of significant value. It’s a book that looks at the idea of psychiatry and tackles head on the notion that psychiatry, when forced upon someone, can be anything other than a form of unjustifiable assault of the worst kind. ‘Muddling towards Frugality’ by Warren Johnson is, it turns out’ a must read for any person who thinks that the human species has the capability, through technology, of saving us from the potential precipice the species is standing at the edge of. The book doesn’t discuss much about the precipice – that’s my take on it; instead it considers the notion that for the species (the all knowing ‘humanity’) to survive, we must eventually accept the idea of living frugally or what might be called ‘living within our means’. There’s no sign of that happening from what I can see thus far, though there are significant pockets of resistance (to the idea of economic growth as the be all and end all) starting to form. I wish I could keep this book and alas, it is on loan from Jan Lee-Martin who I sincerely hope forgets I have it! 🙂 Finally I’m reading ‘War and Unreason’ by Marco Nilsson. A book which consider, with appropriate historical case studies, the idea that superior military technology guarantees a quick and decisive war – there’s nothing shocked or awe struck about this book and it also highly recommended, as are all the books I’ve mentioned.

A quick final thought. If you haven’t seen the film ‘Precious’ by Lee Daniels and based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, it is worthy of a quiet night at home. Not a light comedy though so be prepared. The performance of Mo’Nique as the mother is expectional as is that of the lead actress Gabourey Sidibe as ‘Precious’. A hard hitting look at a life few of us could comprehend

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