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An Education

Discussion in 'All-Star Threads' started by Senna Vs. Prost, Nov 25, 2009.

  1. gfh

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    "Smoke a joint and look through a telescope" Joe Rogan

    I second the complete collection of Calvin and Hobbes
     
  2. MoreCowbell

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    Don't let him within 100 yards of Ayn Rand books. Especially Atlas Shrugged.

    Unless you want him to turn into an intellectually simple-minded, tunnel-visioned, un-empathizing, ideological doctrinaire.

    Those things ruin otherwise promising young men. They should not be approached until you're old enough to know better.



    I like The Economist as a whole, but they need to be balanced out. They tend to take positions that only graduates of Oxford and Cambridge who have never experienced life outside of the Eton School sphere could embrace. Luckily, that's where their entire writing staff have come from, and they're all under 30 years old. So it fits.

    They cover an impressive breadth of topics and are often insightful, but at staggeringly superficial depth and without much variety in voice or experience.

    The Atlantic will give you a more balanced and more nuanced perspective, but will sacrifice in terms of volume of topics. The New Yorker is more in-depth than either, but tends to slant left and dwell in trivia.

    Read all three. Preferably in combination with each other.
     
  3. pincinelly

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    A short history of almost everything by Bill Bryson. This is one of my favourite books because I haven't taken any classes in science (of any kind) since I was 16. But this book reawakened by interest in the world around us and showed me how amazing the natural world is. Bill Bryson is an great author because he can make what might be an otherwise dull topic captivating.
    Slaughterhouse 5 and anything else by Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut is another of my favourite authors because of his humor, and Slaughterhouse 5 is one of the best books of the past century.

    The BBC dvd set Earth, is another thing that made me very interested in the natural world. The footage that they got was astounding, and it really shows the beauty of the natural world.

    Other than that, if he doesn't read a lot, I would suggest recent books would be preferable to older ones. Recent meaning written in the past 100 years or so. From personal experience, I really struggle to get into a story when every page I'm having to look a phrase up in the glossary because I don't understand the sentence.
     
  4. SaintBastard

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    Atlas Shrugged
    Capitalism & Freedom
    Economics in One Lesson
    The entire body of work by Thomas Sowell
     
  5. snobes

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    Books:

    The Magic of Thinking Big
    Personality Plus
    The Slight Edge

    ...and Maramduke(sp), I mean Calvin and Hobbes
     
  6. Porkins

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    I think these are good if he's prepared to think critically about what he reads and not take everything he sees as gospel truth, but I doubt that's the case. I try actively to do it in pretty much everything I read and I'd say I fail >50% of the time. It's probably one of the hardest skills there is to learn.

    A great way to develop a critical mind, though, is by taking in things that allow, or perhaps even embrace, the incorporation of differing points of view. One online source I enjoy that is more or less of this ilk is the blog by Becker and Posner, http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/. They do a post a week on various current events, and while they don't always take diametrically opposing views on a particular issue, they give you different viewpoints on the same topic. It's good reading, and I highly recommend it.
     
  7. Denver

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    The Autobiography of Malcolm X
    Yes, this is on Tucker's book list and that's why I read it but I'm glad I did. It helped me gain some insight and look at certain things from a different perspective. (And if the brother here is only surrounded by upper-class kids and not exposed to these situations it would certainly do him some good, as it did me.)
     
  8. Dcc001

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    In response to whoever suggested Christopher Hitchens, I'd say use caution with that one. And take Richard Dawkins with a pinch of salt. I'm a beliver of their message, but they are both arrogant and demeaning to those who don't follow what they preach (especially Hitchens). It's a shame, because their arguments are valid and they nicely expose the flaws of dogmatic belief, but they rob themselves of credibility when they do thing like refer to athiests as "brights" or go on long diatribes about how stupid believers are (Hitchens).

    Personally, I liked The End Of Faith, by Sam Harris. It's a little bit scary, though, reading about how crazy people can get with religion.
     
  9. Senna Vs. Prost

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    Having had the pleasure of meeting Hitchens in a one on one setting, I was suprised to find that he is one of the nicest, most polite and patient men I've met. Even as an idiot 17 year old Journalism student, he humored my questions, gave serious answers, and extended the interview from 5 minutes to 20 minutes, despite the urgings of his handlers. Hitchens is a classic polemicist, and his bluster is all part of his shtick. Dawkins, on the other hand, is so vitriolic, it makes me wonder if he was touched by a priest as a child.
     
  10. downndirty

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    I have read/seen a lot of the stuff on this list, and while some of it was life-altering, some of it I quickly forgot about. It´s like throwing shit to a wall and seeing what sticks, but here goes:

    Books:
    Robert Greene opened a lot of doors for me, and I know of few people who have read his stuff and not thought differently about their approach to conflict afterwards.
    Guns Germs and Steel and a People´s History of the United States. As good a start to understanding history as any.
    The Moral Animal, The Selfish Gene, and the oft-mentioned Sperm Wars-These books completely changed my understanding of human motivation.
    Starship Troopers had a huge impact on my concept of social duty. Remember kids, science fiction is philosophy for people too lazy to read philosophy.
    Michael Crichton-Travels. This book highlights a lot of his...stranger experiences, but it shows some of the places having an open mind will carry you.
    In the same vein as Closing of the American Mind, Lies my Teacher Told Me.

    A good biography of people like Theodore Roosevelt (Theodore Rex is a good one), Napoleon (Jack Weatherford´s is a good one), Benjamin Franklin (he wrote his own damned biography), and anyone he looks up to, thinks is cool, or an interesting character is rarely a waste of time. Also, any book (like Guns, Germs and Steel), that will help you analyze history and understand not just what happened, but why and how it could have been different.

    Movies:
    Fight Club-because rock bottom is a damned good place to start.
    Office Space-the first time I saw this, I realized how bad I would hate an office job, and truly understood the plight of a pawn.
    The Hurt Locker-doing what you love, what you´re good at, and having no fear about it.
    Super Size Me-the month that one guy spent that 1-made him famous, 2-changed policies in one of the world´s largest companies, and 3-brought one of the biggest issues in our country to a vast amount of people´s attention (was trans fat content advertised before this movie came out?)
    Groundhog Day-what would you do if there were no consequences?

    TV Shows:
    Eastbound and Down. I watched that, and realized how much ego gets in the way of success, and precipitates failure, because to protect my ego I forego attempting a lot of things. You see the consequences of arrogance run amok. A lot to take away from a guy who looks like an angry Florida Gators fan. Being stoned helps too.

    Comedians: Bill Hicks and George Carlin are educating in their own right.

    I feel like some of the time that was well spent in the years during and after high school was doing things like working bullshit jobs to figure out what you would like to do for a longer period of time. For example, I volunteered at a domestic violence safe home, and enjoyed it. I worked for a lawyer and hated it. If you don´t know what you want to do, you can make your life easier by figuring out what you DON¨T want to do.

    Also, fucking study abroad, it was at this point, the most life-altering decision I made. The more time he spends outside of the country, the more exposure he has to how different cultures approach the same problems.
     
  11. Benzilla

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    I will always suggest Siddhartha to anyone looking for a book that will change the way they think. It's a short book (the longest editions are a little bit more than 100 pages) but it's one of those books that will show you something new every time you read it. On the surface it's a pretty interesting story about a boy who sets off to search the Indian countryside for enlightenment and gets side tracked; it follows the classic earnest beginnings and eventual faltering to ultimate redemption story arc. On a deeper level it's simply about the nature of enlightenment and the ineffability of wisdom.

    The book made me more mindful of more things than I can count. I know I think and interact with people a little differently because of that book.

    Edit:
    I need to read that book again, I feel like I would catch so much more than I did when I first read it in my early teens. Here's my all-time favorite quote from the OCS chapters:

     
  12. Bird

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    I really hope this thread doesn't die a quick death, it could be so interesting.

    Focus: I would like to second the Autobiography of Malcom X. I took Tucker Max's recommendation and bought it and it truly was an inspiring book. A lot of people concentrate on Malcolm's self-education and his development in prison but I really felt the power of the book when he discussed his travels to Africa and the relaxation of his rhetoric. When I re-read it, I got almost weepy at the fact that he states in the introduction that he "does not expect to live long" after the time the book was published. Great stuff, well worth the money.

    I would also pimp The Economist. Sure, it's staffed by people barely old enough to shave, but it provides an excellent digest that can help a person develop a well-rounded knowledge of current affairs in about a year, even. Buying the odd issue is pointless as you can't really contextualise the information on, say, insurgencies in Indonesia if you haven't been keeping up to date with coverage for the past couple of months. As far as other magazines go, I'm not too familiar with American ones but I gather there is a U.S. edition of Prospect, which is one I try to buy as often as I can afford here in the UK.
     
  13. Kampf Trinker

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    Books:

    Perfume
    1984
    The Corrections
    Middle Sex
    The Alchemist - I have to second Siddhartha too
    Where the red fern grows
    48 laws of power
    All the Pretty Horses
    Great Expectations
    To Kill a Mockingbird

    Movies:

    No Country for Old Men
    A Clockwork Orange
    Isla de flores - This is only like 15 minutes and would help him put our world into perspective.
    City of God
    Schindler's list
     
  14. hubadub6

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    First off, for a crash-course "cultural education," I'd recommend reading/listening to Bill Simmons. If you ever get to the point where you can read one of his columns and catch every pop-culture reference, you're golden.

    TV:
    The Wire
    The Sopranos
    Mad Men
    Seinfeld


    Books:
    Anything, and I mean anything, by David Foster Wallace. Hands-down best writer of the past 20 years.
    As far as exposing your brother to "big ideas," Michael Lewis, Malcolm Gladwell, and Thomas Friedman are all good jumping-off points. But I'd say that's more the college's job than yours.
     
  15. clickclack

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    Just finished reading this book

    http://www.amazon.com/Brocas-Brain-Refl ... 0345336895

    Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science

    Great book. Science is outdated, but the philosophy is still very relevant. This guy takes you into the world of science, and shows you how a scientist thinks (or should think) on an everyday basis. At it's core, it's no different than what you learned in 3rd grade (scientific theory), but Sagan takes it to another level and waxes poetically about the beauty and wonder that science actually brings us and really sets it up in your head to subconsciously analyze everyday situations to a scientific level to better benefit whatever it is you're doing. It's awesome the way he picks apart universally accepted psuedosciences, and shits on fellow scientists who jump to conclusions without doing their part as a scientist.

    This is one book I highly recommend giving to your brother. This was my first Carl Sagan book, and I've heard that his other books are better than this one, but the format and the contents of this book, in my opinion, is really good. Each chapter in and of itself can be read without the rest of the book. So, it's one of those pick up anytime and read books.
     
  16. Captain Apathy

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    Nixonland by Rick Perlstein. It's a relatively recent book on the 60's and early 70's, and it helps explain a lot of things about contemporary America.

    Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe. Wolfe' ability to set the scene and create loathsome, yet appealing characters is second to none.

    King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild. Because power in the hands of the wrong person can have horrific results.

    Anything by Christopher Hitchens. He can be over-the-top at times, but being able to construct your own arguments and defend them against vicious criticism is one hallmark of an intelligent man.

    I also have to defend The Economist. Yes, it can be dry, but if you read a half page article on Greek elections while taking a shit, you'll know everything you need to know about Greece for the next year. Reading the Economist is- at least for me- the best way to stay informed.
     
  17. Senna Vs. Prost

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    PL chimes in one of the books I listed in my first post, Paul Fussell's Class
    http://www.amazon.com/Class-Through...=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259438089&sr=1-1


    When you read it along with Fussell's BAD, you really will have a depressing outlook on life, and everything material that seemed to have luster will turn to a rusty shit brown hue.
    http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Dumbing-A...=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259529906&sr=1-1
     
  18. Woody

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    I do love Ayn Rand but what she talks about in her books will never ever EVER happen. So you got to just take what you can get from the real world.


    Books so far

    Power/Seduction by Robert Greene
    Outliers

    If Robert has already been said I apologize I only skimmed through real quick. I also mention Outliers because I did thoroughly enjoy the book and brought some perspective into my world.
     
  19. Kampf Trinker

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    I just wanted to add something about documentaries. Do not be that idiot who gets their political information from Michael Moore and Zeitgeist. Moore at least raises some legitimate issues, unlike Zeitgeist which is complete unadulterated horse shit. Still, he's trying to sell copies, not inform the audience. There's reason his documentaries avoid plausible solutions. He's not presenting the world as it is, some of these issues have been debated for decades, and he's not much of an expert.

    The Fog of War is by far the best documentary I've ever seen. It plays out like an extended interview of James McNamara where he lays out eleven lessons regarding how to approach war and politics. He definitely has the credentials, having been the secretary of defense during the Vietnam War to top off a resume that would make George Patton blush. The documentary is a great study of American history through the 20th century, and if you pay attention you'll realize his lessons have limitless applications.

    These are his lessons in order:

    1. Empathize with your enemy
    2. Rationality will not save us
    3. There's something beyond one's self
    4. Maximize efficiency
    5. Proportionality should be a guideline in war
    6. Get the data
    7. Belief and seeing are often both wrong
    8. Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning
    9. In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil
    10. Never say never
    11. You can't change human nature
     
  20. Lasersailor

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    It doesn't matter if he reads Atlas Shrugged or a Communist Manifesto. Whatever is picked will work mostly to self affirm whatever he believes. So fuck it. Pick something he'll enjoy.


    Personally, I recommend any book by Nelson Demille. They are fun books, rather humorous and immensely enjoyable.

    With the emergence of other forms of media more and more people are turning away from books as a form of entertainment. They begin to see them as little more than references and tedious tasks. They are items that most people rarely ever purchase for themselves. Fuck the self-important books listed here.

    Pick a fun book for him, and see if he seeks out the rest of that Author on his own.