Leyendo - Reading...
Una serie de acotaciones al margen a medida que voy leyendo algunos libros... A series of annotations whilst reading interesting books... A collection of notes on books about science, SciFi, history, others topics... Una colección de notas sobre libros de ciencia, ciencia-ficción, historia, otros...
31 December 2018
All times are in EST, which is the local time of the mission control. For keeping track in my time zone and my family and most of my friends here a time table in some other time zones: Paris and Buenos Aires!
Only few hours left for flyby!
11 August 2018
Your Listmania Lists - An UpdateAmazon has updated the list feature and create a new type of list:
- Your Idea List
My old link to my lists is now gone!
So the tips in this old post are outdated and here a short update!
How to find and create (old)Listmania / now (new)Idea Lists?
- login into your Amazon account
- then go to Your Account
- you will see an horizontal bar with “Your Amazon.com Your Browsing History Improve Your Recommendations Your Profile Learn More”
- Click on Your Profile
- Page down and in the left column you will see a box titled Idea Lists, click there:
- and voila, your lists are there now:
Second navigation way
- login into your Amazon account and
- select from the menu item See more
- in the next page click on the Tab Your Idea Lists and then again, there they are!
- Bizz Books
- Intro to SF- Cyberpunk
- A Tour about cyphers
- Data mining books
- Science Fiction for starters
- Intro to SF - Adventure
- Anti Creationist
- Darwin Basic and Origins
- CRM Essentials
- Introduction to SF - Politics
- Introduction to SF - Ironic and Humorous
- Introduction to SF - Classic and hard
- Darwin's Dangerous and Outrageous books
- Intro to SF - Exploring the inner space
- An introduction to SF - Fantasy
- Datawarehouse Essential Books
18 March 2018
For any other parent, nothing new under the Sun. But…
Also they have a very straightforward logic. If you tell them that there are cows in the sky, and then tell them to look up into the clouds: they will chuckle: "daddy, these are clouds, no cows" - “that's right, but do they look like... cows? maybe? "ah! yes, that's funny, yes!"
Something that many kids realized is that there are a lot of things, living things: plants, slugs, spiders, snails, cats, cows, butterflies, dogs, birds, chickens, whales (wow!), tigers and lions (do they look like cats?), and crabs, and fishes (look at this clown fish?), and what's that floating nearby and transparent? (a Jelly fish), and, and...
And some day they realize that there a LOT of living things: some jump, other fly, another swims, they are big and small, some look like something else, things that do not move still are living things: do not cut that tree! That’s interesting: they can figure out living things if they move, sting, run, walk, make noise, or in the case of plants, because they growth. What about lichens, and fungui, which are harder to identify as living organisms, but still: kids can figure out.
As a tip it helps a lot to go outdoors, walk and watch to help them make a clear picture. Underwater creatures could be little harder to identify, or figure out if they are a "plant" or an "animal" (hint: almost everything underwater is an animal, even when it looks like a terrestrial "plant"). For sea creatures a walk on the shore, tip toe over the rocks near the reef and looking between the rocks will be a first step into the underwater world. Snorkeling and diving (when the kids have the minimum age to do it) is a journey into a different and strange world. It is just a layer: above/under, and the differences so vast!
How many? a thousand? a million? hundred millions? That's the next question! It opens many fronts, one that an "ant" is not one "ant": there are an estimated number of 22000 different ants! And 12500 "ants" have been classified. That's a far cry from the "red" and "black" ants that you can point in a typical garden! Wow!
And some day they realize that there a LOT of living things: some jump, other fly, another swims, they are big and small, some look like something else, things that do not move still are living things: do not cut that tree!
Yes, that's an amazing world out there, and all happening in a small planet! Never ever kill the kids pleasure and ability for curiosity and getting surprised!
The answer is eight millions and seven hundred thousands! Yes, 8.7 million, or 8.700.000 different type of things: from now on we will call this groups species.
|Kingdom||Number of Species||% described|
The most interesting thing in their straightforward logic is that they can differentiate between living things: stuff that behaves and has intentions; from inanimate things (I can throw a rock in the lake, but the rock is not willing to go to the bottom, it just sinks); to design things (a car do not want to run faster, is the driver accelerating the car) and from things that do not exist (they learn about Santa Claus, and then they realize Santa is just a nice story).
And someday they will ask you: "Why are so many living things?"
Nice question, good question indeed.
- Species count put at 8.7 million, news article in the BBC
- How Many Species Are There on Earth and in the Ocean?, a paper by Camilo Mora, Derek P. Tittensor, Sina Adl, Alastair G. B. Simpson, Boris Worm
- The Intentional Stance, by Daniel C. Dennet
- Intentional Systems Theory, by Daniel C. Dennet
- What is a species? by Carl Zimmer
- Pregunta Interesante de Mafalda, por Quino
17 March 2018
A good Day to start writing a lit bit more focused on these topics I like, such as:
- and many other things, which are not related to Biology - so keeping the things here in the same topic
It will be a story in three parts:
- Why are so many things? The natural curiosity of kids
- About classifying things: if you like collecting stuff, you will like this exercise
- About change, heredity and populations: On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection
Moon Hoax: why? why do people has these beliefs?]
17 February 2017
Reading DarwinThis last Sunday February 12th was Darwin's Day!!! Important day! and what are we celebrating that day?
Remembering the birthday of Charles Darwin the same February 12th in 1809: 207 years ago!
|with [no] permission from the Darwin Correspondence Project|
Like Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, which compared the two astronomic systems until that day: the Ptolemaic system and the heliocentric Copernican system, Darwin's Origin has been a game changer in the perception we have of ourselves in nature, or a paradigm shift.
The biggest change, in my humble opinion, is about switching one more time Homo sapiens importance in the natural order. Although particular, the humankind and its members we are just another species of animal.
We are a social animal, which is not a particular trait, we can communicate, also in another group, but we have a complex machinery language driven by an intentional stance, which spawns several thousands languages) and keeps evolving actual ones; we can foresee future events, or at least we do our bets effort trying to predict our best next actions. We think and write about ourselves and we ask questions like "why are we here". However from the big perspective, we are another animal roaming the surface of this small speck in the vastness of space... maybe for a few hundreds thousands of years...
Why is Darwin's Day so important?
I like to quote here the main concepts by the Darwin's Day dot org. It is about celebration:
- Perpetual Curiosity
- Intellectual Bravery
- Hunger for Truth
|Freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men's minds, which follows from the advance of science|
Quote: "The mission of International Darwin Day is to inspire people throughout the globe to reflect and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity, scientific thinking, and hunger for truth as embodied in Charles Darwin"
More from darwinday.org website:
"Vision International Darwin Day will inspire people throughout the globe to reflect and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity, scientific thinking, and hunger for truth as embodied in Charles Darwin. It will be a day of celebration, activism, and international cooperation for the advancement of science, education, and human well-being.
Local and state governments will close in commemoration of the Day, and organizations and businesses will celebrate by engaging in community outreach centered around science as a tool for the betterment of humanity.
Darwin Day will be observed by the United Nations and its members as an opportunity for international partnerships through the common language of science for the common good of all.
On the Origin of the Celebration Ever since Charles Darwin published his radically insightful book, On the Origin of Species, Darwin has been the focus of commemorations and tributes by scientists, artists, scholars, and freethinkers throughout the world. From the early gatherings after his death at his own Downe House, to bicentennial events all over the globe, celebrating science and humanity within our various cultures internationally has been a resonant and transcendent pursuit.
In 1909, on the 100th anniversary of his birth, large celebrations honoring Darwin’s contributions to science and humanity were held in Cambridge, New York and New Zealand. The University of Chicago commemorated the 100th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1959 with a series of notable events from November 24 through the 28th. The 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth saw an entire season of BBC programming on Charles Darwin himself as well as evolution and natural selection. Salem State University has successfully held an annual Darwin Festival since 1980."
My take why it is so important and interestingIt is about a question or many questions that everybody ask themselves or their parents:
- why are so many things?
- where were we come from?
- what are we?
- what is the origin of life?
- are other intelligent being things out there?
- and here on Earth?
- And many other interesting questions...
The way to answer this in a factual way started with the ancient Greeks. Or at least many agree on that point. You can call it philosophy or naturalism, or science starting in the 1600's or something around that. In any case, it is a very simple method:
- ask questions
- think about possible answers
- try to think about ways to test your possible answers
- make sure you test in many different and independent ways
- double blind tests and
- if the results coincide with your hypothesis, and if it can make good predictions
If future tests, or field findings coincide, you are in the good path... if the results do not coincide with the hypothesis, go to back and think about new possible answers.
Quote: "Test ideas by experiment and observation, build on those ideas that pass the test, reject the ones that fail. Follow the evidence wherever it leads and question everything. Accept these terms, and the cosmos is yours"This method is powerful, and it has been the basis of everything that today amaze us: flying, going to the moon, flying to the Kuiper Belt, your TV/PS4/Wii/etc, vaccines, GMOs, etc. Just named it, you liked or not. It is all product of our ingenuity and building a web of interconnected facts and theories that support one to the other.
You cannot denied Evolution, without denying Geology. And if you deny it, you are at odds every time you start your car. Just think about that.
ResourcesResources Darwin 2017 - Virtual Issue 
What is evolution? Charles Darwin's brilliant idea explained
What is Evolution?
What is Evolution - PBS Library
What is the Evidence for Evolution? 
Video: What is the Evidence for Evolution?
Why Evolution is True?
And for a No to alternative lies, please check TalkOrigins anytime you do not know something
29 January 2017
After migrating all my book stats to Goodreads, back again!I joined the Goodreads reading challenge of 2016!
- The Enterprise Cloud: Best Practices for Transforming Legacy IT
- Breaking the Spell
- 37 Things One Architect Knows About IT Transformation
- Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft
- Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience
- How to Make a Zombie: The Real Life (and Death) Science of Reanimation and Mind Control
- Getting Started with AWS
- To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918
- The Crusades: The War for the Holy Land
- Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar
- Evolutionary Writings: Including the Autobiographies
- Believing Bullshit: How Not to Get Sucked into an Intellectual Black Hole
- The 7 Rules of Sales Engineering: 7 Rules every Sales Engineer should know.
- The Martian
- Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
- Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World
- ¿Cómo, esto también es matemática?
- The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
- Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
Let’s go for a quick summary
15 January 2017
Like all opening question the answer is a yes. However Dennet as a philosopher goes into a discussion of science and it's limits and if religion falls into its domain of study.
He questions why religion has evaded scientific study. Part of the blame is in the social dynamics: no one likes to be hanging around second rate professionals, and studying religion is surrounded by an aura of "low prestige, backbiting, and dubious results that currently envelops the topic of religion" (pages 33 - 34).
Clearly organizations like Templeton do not help and maybe it is a way to put a soft fence around a good, objective and rational study of science. Also questions that are raised suspiciously between family members and friends. People just let it go, including when everybody agreed in its atheism, or prefer not to insult "cultural sensitives". Dennet puts it succinctly "since we know from the outset that many people think such research violates a taboo, or at least meddles impertinently in matters best left private, it is not surprising that few good researchers, in any discipline, want to touch the topic" (page 34). How convenient for religion in general!
Categorically Dennet states that "the question is not whether good science of religion as a natural phenomenon is possible: it is."
And he launches his next question "the question is whether we should do it" (page 34)
What could happen if something that you do as part of your group it is deemed to be unhealthy, Or wrong? Would you stop doing it right away? Which will be your first reaction? Anger, defensive outrageous cries, or just saying "this is the way it is. It always have been like this".
Dennet makes a parallelism with music. If studies reveal that music is bad, what would be your reaction? Good example as several extreme forms of religious belief, up to some extent most of the Abrahamic religions condemn music and enjoying it at all or in some degree. Also music has been studied in different disciplines including evolutionary biology. In some way it should be some biological explanation and in some cases and evolutionary basis (not all traits and behaviors should have it, they can be co-opted also). We like it or not most of our behavioral traits they have a big genetic influence, whilst culture has rocketed the Homo sapiens in a fast forward line of changes.
Most people enjoy music and believe that it is good: we go to concerts, stream it, learnt and add to the school's curricula as well.
If studies show that music is bad, will concerned parents stop playing it to their kids including when they are in the womb?
There is a range of other possibilities: music is not bad at all, but it's scientific study could destroy the speak it has on humans, rendering music as a non-sense maybe dull or boring activity. Like for a grown up kid playing with her toys could mean: the magic is gone and you do not want to play anymore.
Dennet goes strong in this: show me he evidence. "In spite of all warnings over the centuries, I have been unable to come up with a case of some valuable phenomenon that has actually been destroyed, or even seriously damaged, by scientific scrutiny" (page 45)
We can all feel relieved : music is here to stay and our understanding of it enhances our appreciation rather than destroying the enchantment. In the worst scenario those parents worrying so much about their future kids intelligence maybe they could play any music they like instead of sticking to some oil snake salesman product and kill themselves to boredom with the likes such as Baby Bach: if you like classic just go for the interpretations you most admire, if you like rock just rock&roll your babies!
Dennet continues with another taboo. So big that until just a few years ago there was no scientific research and anyone attempting it was considered a second class scientist in he best case: sex. Clearly we know much more, still we have a lot to understand but no one can say that "knowing" destroyed the pleasure of it.
Or not. Lot of research is how sex is used in power driven and abusive interactions. The more we know, the better, isn't it?
More the benefits derived by its scientific study overwhelm any wrong deduction: from a social and political and individual level. Ironically the biggest religions keep their outdated and moralistic attitudes against sex, however all the data telling the contrary. And we know that all about sex is not good, and neither is bad. And still we do not know a lot, so we keep studying it.
There are other issues about trying to stop scientific inquiry: the genius is out of the bottle, and it is very difficult bear to impossible to keep this knowledge from spreading.
This strong sentiment against scientific scrutiny of human activities it is not only seen dangerous by religion advocates. It is a widespread sentiment that run in all cultures, and percolates to pop culture. I think of Mary Shelley's Frankestein to Tim Burton's Nightmare before Christmas: from trying to understand what's life to figure out Christmas. In one extreme knowing is Pandora box releasing terrible things on us, in the other is science dissecting a cherished human value and rendering it obsolete or dull. Like proving god, the burden is on the people trying to say that knowledge can be dangerous or kill core human aspects. The question to them: what's core to human nature? Do we know if do not study it?
If religion is like Santa Claus, it will be regarded as a child story. If it is like music or sex we will have a better understanding and enjoy it and benefit from it at a different level. And most important it will influence policies and costumes in our societies that could prove important for our own survival.
Dennet states at the end of the chapter the moral dilemma: what if religion is what keep us humans moral? Prevent us of wrongdoings and evil? If it's effect disappears like the Santa Claus myth, is it not a dangerous path to follow? (he elaborates from page 49 until the end of the chapter, page 53)
Dennet agan is clear about it "religion is not out-of-bonds to science, in spite of propaganda to the contrary from a variety of sources. Moreover, scientific inquiry is needed to inform out most momentous political decisions. There is risk and even pain involved, but it would be irresponsible to use that as an excuse for ignorance" (page 53)
Books and References
From the fantastic and super informative blog Probably Overthinking It by Allen Downey, take a careful read on:
- Internet use and religion affiliation in Europe,
- Internet use and religion, part two,
- Internet use and religion, part three,
- Internet use and religion, part four,
- Internet use and religion, part five,
- Internet use and religion, part six
11 January 2017
28 April 2016
- Science fiction
- Biology and Darwinism
- Some Business
- Recommendations to first readers of SF: as a fan reader of science fiction since 8 years old (starting with Jules Verne 20000 and then Asimov robot and foundation stories, I have to think hard about these. When I “started" reading other books and I went back to some of my must-read science fiction books... Hum, depending on who is the intended recipient of the book, it can backfire the good intention! So I did my best here.
- SF Ironic and Humor: if these selection will make you laugh or your day happier certainly depends on you, but Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker is certainly funny (I strongly recommend the audio version read by Stephen Fry)
- Intro to SF - Cyberpunk: a whole category which the "classic" is Gibson's Neuromancer. I loved when young, hated later. I admit he made mainstream several ideas, however you will not find his books here (though I love the phrase "burning chrome” taken from homonymous Gibon’s book). Which books are here? Two Neal Stephenson's, and I strongly recommend Snow Crash and Diamond Age, both really! And John Varley's Steel Beach. This author is a pearl: with an style reminiscent of Heinlein, and exploring the most fringes topics. Not in the list, but if I could update it I would add The Persistence of Vision: amazing, get you to think, short stories... (I highly recommend Overdrawn at the Memory Bank
- Intro to SF - Classic and Hard SF: you cannot say that you have read sci-fi if you cannot tell the arguments of any book from the master trio: Asimov-Clarke-Heinlein. If started late, liked the other books, and keep going on sci-fi you have to pick one of any from this list
- Intro to SF - Exploring the Inner Space: and here came the sixties and the 70's, flower power, new age, self help and the last season of Mad Men... These are the books of that time. There was a change on the narrator and a clear improvement on creating "real" characters: the argument was secondary... Or not? Sturgeon, Dick, LeGuin and Alfred Bester... What if our species was hermaphrodite and naturally we could change sex - like many other species of animals, common in reptiles and fishes?
- Intro to SF - Adventure: yeah also there are space ships, lasers, and mouse and cat races. Not for any reason there is a whole genre of movies called Space Opera. Some good entertainment here for sunny sunsets at the beach
- Intro to SF - Politics: sci-fi for me was always about setting up some hypothesis and then exploring the consequences. Some authors worked around "today" conceptions, made an outrageous claim and then make you think. Only one way to run economic policies? Here they are those strange thoughts. I always defended the idea that reading sci-fi as a topic in school will help to create more open and tolerant societies. War? Colonize Mars? Economics and the master piece on politics Dune (before Game of Thrones, and so actual today)
- Intro to SF - Fantasy: no, Harry Potter is not sci-fi, and I think no one will disagree. However they share a fundamental characteristic: even if magic is magic they are internally coherent and consistent. This list is a summary of these books that are consistent, do not invoke super natural entities, however they are not based on "science" (the irony is that hyperdrive engines, positronic robots, psicohistory, warp drive, teletransporters are not science... Hard to tell, out of scope of this blog). And Borges? Yes, his Fictions is a masterpiece of SF! Written before that label was created.
- Anti-Creationism: based on today sensitivities I should change the name. But I can't , Amazon unsupported that feature. However let's be clear: this is a precise title. Period. Evolution is True, and anything differently is an attack on good science and good education. Understanding Evolution is hard and deniers have became sophisticated. However most of the attacks are based on creationist's ignorance (and yours and mine), miss-readings or miss-understandings and finally plain lies. If you do not want to get stumped on the basic attacks (why there is no mid animal cross of a duck and a crocodile), to some a little bit more subtle (entropy, information theory, complexity), this list will help you find the reference, why they are wrong and how to answer back (if you want or need)
- Darwin Basic - Origins: Biology and the Origin of Species is an interesting question, … not for you? so this list is not for you, fine. But if you are in the group that like these type of questions, nothing better to understand Evolution. Best place to start is Darwin itself. And other books more modern that include the latest advances, and others that help to “see” what Darwin figured out.
- Darwin’s Dangerous and Outrageous Books: if you are not aware that one of the biggest and longest lasting impacts on our way to see ourselves, changes in other areas like philosophy or psychology, economics, ethics, etc come from Darwin’s insights and following the logical conclusion, where have you been? or reading? Here a good list of books to get you started!
- Datawarehouses: still a lot of ROLAP, MOLAP, OLAP, etc. There are some firsts here, with basic concepts that are still valid. I will include some of them, or their concepts in any BI 101 university course, or if you are mentoring a young team of developers, architects, software engineers or analysts. Yeah, I know, the latest cool and tip of the wave theories and developments are not here (big data, map reduction, columnar databases, and free schema models are not here: it needs an update)
- A Tour About Ciphers: this list is not outdated, unless of course you are a real expert on this field. If you like history and some basic clues on cryptography: all books here hold the line. Latest developments you should go into latest web blogs or sites. The theory/foundations/algorithms hold still… (not there yet, but if some math genius find a way to get around NP problems, adn factor “quickly” prime numbers a lot of this will be as “history”)
- Data Mining Books: like the data warehouse list take it with care, looking at the Edition dates. Some good concepts also, that I would include as an starter (and to read exercise) in a college course...
- Bizz Books: I will keep few here. Not sure, but if there is something that its volatility is closer to food diets, are biz books… Next list on Economics. However I would like to rescue one title (the culprit of me writing all these): “Information Rules”. I didn't read lately, but it was not a fashionable book, if I remember well. Worth trying...
- CRM Essentials: same as previous. Gurues, in any field, have the same transcendence than transcendental guru's… Is there any book I will read again? Yes, there are few, however no book here and any other I know/heard about explain why after 20 years of talking of CRM and the customer at the center of everything, still is a hot topic!
- Google searches for you, however searching for your Amazon name + listmania + lists + “the name of a list”, does not bring back your lists, even paging up to the 5 page, then jumping in 2, 3, 4 until you are in page 15+
- But Google brought several other entries of people that experience same frustration
- Finally the best was to recover the link was searching Google’s style in my Gmail account: it happened that years ago I sent the links to this or the other friend: great! (the link finally didn’t worked, but it was an start)
- And today I’m using more and more Evernote, and nothing better after recovering the good links of all my lists to Clip those pages to my Evernote!