Jump to content
ahduval

What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

Recommended Posts

Re: What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

 

The United States went to war to enforce neutral rights (in commercial shipping) and stop impressment. Britain went to war because the United States attack it. Peace was signed once American demands on Britain were dropped. That be losing.

 

And the Roman's lost the battle of Asculum, didn't they?

 

The demands were dropped - but the treaty of ghent wasn't as one sided as he apparently makes it sound, and British defeats at sea were demoralizing enough that the objectionable practices essentially ceased. Also, its commonly accepted that the British defeat at the Battle of New Orleans was what caused them to ultimately abide by the treaty. So, while he may frame it as a one-sided British victory, both sides came out of it with something. Is it a defeat if you formally concede, withdraw your demands, and still get what you want?

 

And that brings another question to bear: lost what? The sea war or the land war? British defeats at sea were a very deep blow to british pride and scared people and suddenly they were on the losing end. The Royal Navy was accustomed to always winning. And are we only including the battles up to the Treaty of Ghent, or every battle that was actually fought? Historians on both sides have skewed the goal posts for patriotic purposes.

 

The British clearly fought a decisive war on land and, prior to the Treaty of Ghent, walked all over the Americans. However, their commander overextended them before hearing of the treaty which, even though they achieved their strategic aims, ended with a defeat that forced them to abide by the treaty they signed and - ultimately - that isn't something they would have otherwise done.

 

To quote Plutarch: "The two armies separated; and we are told that Pyrrhus said to one who was congratulating him on his victory, "If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined."

 

In the end both sides walked away with a chunk of what they wanted - and it ultimately led to a warming of relations between the Canada, UK, and US. Its nice to see patriotic historians trying to skew reality in their nations favor 200 years after the fact, but maybe less patriotism and more pragmatic, neutral scholarship is what's called for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

 

I have just rererereread Impro by Keith Johnstone, it's the foundation text of Improv (excluding Spolin's work), and a minor work in the field of the anarchic teaching method. It's games and concepts work really well with in a role playing situation as well. It's Mask stuff was so interesting when you compare it to LARPing that I ended up loaning my copy out to the key creators of a big Kiwi LARP. The book itself is written as one of those semibioographic, semi academic works that Theatre uses. All in all, yeah, it's pretty sweet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

 

And the Roman's lost the battle of Asculum, didn't they?

 

The demands were dropped - but the treaty of ghent wasn't as one sided as he apparently makes it sound, and British defeats at sea were demoralizing enough that the objectionable practices essentially ceased. Also, its commonly accepted that the British defeat at the Battle of New Orleans was what caused them to ultimately abide by the treaty. So, while he may frame it as a one-sided British victory, both sides came out of it with something. Is it a defeat if you formally concede, withdraw your demands, and still get what you want?

 

... British defeats at sea were a very deep blow to british pride and scared people and suddenly they were on the losing end. The Royal Navy was accustomed to always winning....

 

...[however, at the Battle of New Orleans], their commander overextended them before hearing of the treaty which, even though they achieved their strategic aims, ended with a defeat that forced them to abide by the treaty they signed and - ultimately - that isn't something they would have otherwise done.

 

.....

 

I'm sorry for editing you, Vondy. I mean no disrespect. I thought I'd just touch on some issues that you raised in a little more detail.

First, Britain explicitly reserved its belligerent rights at sea, and they remained an issue in both world wars. More importantly, they were an issue in the years leading up to World War One, with profound consequences for the world we live in today. (Anyone reading this with an interest in history owes it to themselves to pick up Ofner's World War One: The Agrarian Interpretation. It's delish.)

Of course, Lincoln leaned on them during the Civil War, too.

 

Second, we need a more nuanced view of British reaction to naval defeats. You notice how individual nations have their own preferred debates that they return to again and again? One of Britain's is "what is wrong with the Royal Navy?" Answering that question inevitably turns out to prove that your political party was right about something (unions, church decorations, social values) that you would never have thought had anything to do with fighting naval battles. Dramatic as the early American naval victories were, they were only one side of a long and complex war at sea. The reaction in Britain has everything to do with the rising Liberal movement's argument that social conservatism was ruining the Royal Navy, and very little to do with the Treaty of Ghent.

 

Third, recent work on the Battle of New Orleans suggests that its importance to the grand purposes of the United States and British Crown was a little exaggerated by Andrew Jackson's camp along his road to the Presidency. The British were attacking New Orleans because they hoped to eventually make Washington make peace by embarrassing it, having no intention of doing anything more expensive or, for that matter, impractical. Burning down ports was embarrassing, but matters were complicated by the presence of huge amounts cargo blockaded in New Orleans. Every man in the attacking force, and the Crown as well, would have been rich under prize rules if New Orleans had fallen, so no wonder the New Orleans expedition pressed on as long as it could, and no wonder, too, that the whole Ohio-Mississippi basin felt profound gratitude for Jackson in the wake of his successful defence.

Unfortunately, "there's a lot of money at stake" doesn't make for good patriotic discourse.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

 

First, Britain explicitly reserved its belligerent rights at sea, and they remained an issue in both world wars. More importantly, they were an issue in the years leading up to World War One, with profound consequences for the world we live in today. (Anyone reading this with an interest in history owes it to themselves to pick up Ofner's World War One: The Agrarian Interpretation. It's delish.)

 

Reserving belligerent rights and exercising them are two very different things. The Americans got what they wanted: the Royal Navy was very wary of picking on American ships after 1812. And that's key. Britain didn't officially give a great deal at Ghent, but the fact that they wanted out while they were on a major land-based winning streak and ultimately ended up giving American ships a fairly wide berth (with a few anomalous incidents) has to be taken into account. Their position in relation to the French was too tenuous for them to risk a second war with the Americans, even if the first one looked like a blow out. That's why I quoted Plutarch. There is such a thing as a tactical victory that, when weighed in the grand scheme of things, amounts to a strategic debacle.

 

Second' date=' we need a more nuanced view of British reaction to naval defeats. You notice how individual nations have their own preferred debates that they return to again and again? One of Britain's is "what is wrong with the Royal Navy?" Answering that question inevitably turns out to prove that your political party was right about something (unions, church decorations, social values) that you would never have thought had anything to do with fighting naval battles. Dramatic as the early American naval victories were, they were only one side of a long and complex war at sea. The reaction in Britain has everything to do with the rising Liberal movement's argument that social conservatism was ruining the Royal Navy, and very little to do with the Treaty of Ghent.[/quote']

 

I didn't say it had to do with the treaty of ghent. I said the Americans got what they wanted even if it wasn't spelled out in the Treaty.

 

I'm well aware of the british situation at sea during the napoleanic wars. Its something I've done research on. And, as much as you may like this author, you seem to be discounting the timing of the losses and what was lost. I suspect it may be... patriotism? For the duration of the war with the French the royal navy had an extremely limited supply of frigates. The supply in the Med fluctuated between five and eight, with six being the norm. They were also spread thin in other areas, with the majority being assigned to Indian trade protection. The loss of any frigate was a serious blow, let alone three back to back. When you add in the fact that, despite dispatching over 80 ships and effectively blockading the USN Lloyds still reported a loss of 1175 British ships to American Privateers - one of whom was successful in British coastal waters.

 

I completely understand that the British had the naval capacity to bring the hammer down on the Americans EXCEPT that they couldn't do so without moving blockading ships of the line away from French ports. In fact, they couldn't afford to pull the ships they did use for the blockade - and that didn't stop American privateers from wreaking havoc on their shipping. It also seriously cut into their ability to project force via single ships, which is what frigates were designed for. The doctrine against the Americans became: only engage with ships of the line or squadrons of smaller ships. You may discount the esteem lost, though having read some of the newspaper accounts from the period I think you are deadpanning a serious psychological blow that stemmed from the final admission that they couldn't both fight the French and shut down the Americans - despite the blockade of American ports.

 

And this brings me to my essential point: even if the Treaty of Ghent didn't include a British repudiation of belligerent rights the realpolitick results meant they couldn't afford incidents that would spark another nuisance conflict with the Americans. They had learned shutting down both the American navy and American privateers was more than they could handle as a second front. The situation in Europe meant a real defeat of the Americans would ruin them - even if they won. This was compounded by the fact that losing a frigate [the class of ship that most commonly engaged in pressing foreign seamen] on a bad judgment call was a fast-track to a firing squad at the time.

 

You keep talking about the Treaty of Ghent. I'm not really interested in the Treaty. I'm interested in the fact that, after the war, the RN was very wary of targeting American shipping. There were incidents, but they were much rarer and ultimately tapered off.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

 

Some friends of mine and I formed a book club with a focus on history/ politics/ cultural studies about 5 years ago. We've read some great ones and some real stinkers. My all-time favority book was Conspiracy of Fools, by Kurt Eichenwald about the Enron collapse. We're currently reading Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

 

Reserving belligerent rights and exercising them are two very different things. The Americans got what they wanted: the Royal Navy was very wary of picking on American ships after 1812. And that's key. Britain didn't officially give a great deal at Ghent, but the fact that they wanted out while they were on a major land-based winning streak and ultimately ended up giving American ships a fairly wide berth (with a few anomalous incidents) has to be taken into account. Their position in relation to the French was too tenuous for them to risk a second war with the Americans, even if the first one looked like a blow out. That's why I quoted Plutarch. There is such a thing as a tactical victory that, when weighed in the grand scheme of things, amounts to a strategic debacle.

 

 

 

I didn't say it had to do with the treaty of ghent. I said the Americans got what they wanted even if it wasn't spelled out in the Treaty.

 

I'm well aware of the british situation at sea during the napoleanic wars. Its something I've done research on. And, as much as you may like this author, you seem to be discounting the timing of the losses and what was lost. I suspect it may be... patriotism? For the duration of the war with the French the royal navy had an extremely limited supply of frigates. The supply in the Med fluctuated between five and eight, with six being the norm. They were also spread thin in other areas, with the majority being assigned to Indian trade protection. The loss of any frigate was a serious blow, let alone three back to back. When you add in the fact that, despite dispatching over 80 ships and effectively blockading the USN Lloyds still reported a loss of 1175 British ships to American Privateers - one of whom was successful in British coastal waters.

 

I completely understand that the British had the naval capacity to bring the hammer down on the Americans EXCEPT that they couldn't do so without moving blockading ships of the line away from French ports. In fact, they couldn't afford to pull the ships they did use for the blockade - and that didn't stop American privateers from wreaking havoc on their shipping. It also seriously cut into their ability to project force via single ships, which is what frigates were designed for. The doctrine against the Americans became: only engage with ships of the line or squadrons of smaller ships. You may discount the esteem lost, though having read some of the newspaper accounts from the period I think you are deadpanning a serious psychological blow that stemmed from the final admission that they couldn't both fight the French and shut down the Americans - despite the blockade of American ports.

 

And this brings me to my essential point: even if the Treaty of Ghent didn't include a British repudiation of belligerent rights the realpolitick results meant they couldn't afford incidents that would spark another nuisance conflict with the Americans. They had learned shutting down both the American navy and American privateers was more than they could handle as a second front. The situation in Europe meant a real defeat of the Americans would ruin them - even if they won. This was compounded by the fact that losing a frigate [the class of ship that most commonly engaged in pressing foreign seamen] on a bad judgment call was a fast-track to a firing squad at the time.

 

You keep talking about the Treaty of Ghent. I'm not really interested in the Treaty. I'm interested in the fact that, after the war, the RN was very wary of targeting American shipping. There were incidents, but they were much rarer and ultimately tapered off.

 

June 1807: HMS Leopard fires on USS Chesapeake to enforce Britain's right to board ships known to be harbouring British deserters; also, Berlin Decree creates Continental System.

June 1807--June 1812: Peace at sea, compromise over belligerent rights.

June 1812: Napoleon invades Russia. Fully aware of Napoloen's intentions and rough schedule, Congress declares war on Britain.

June 1812--February 1813: a series of single ship victories by American ships over British leads to the loss of 3 British frigates. During the 1804 invasion crisis, the Royal Navy had 125 frigates in commission, including 21 in Caribbean and American waters and 27 in the Mediterranean, albeit only 6 with Nelson (Rodger, Command the Oceans, App. 1).

4 April 1814: Emperor Napoleon's first abdication.

24 December 1814: Treaty of Ghent signed.

7 February 1815: Treaty ratified by the Senate.

April 1815: Napoleon escapes from Elba.

 

Jackson's victories over the Creeks aside, the United States did not accomplish any of its declared war objectives of June 1812. Nor is it possible to infer that it gained them by implicit concession. London already drew back from enforcing the full rigours of its perceived belligerent rights in 1807 without conceding their claim to exercise those rights. It certainly did not resume enforcing those rights after the ratification of the Treaty of Ghent, because there was no war. The Napoleonic wars would, indeed, be back for a short encore between ratification in Washington and acceptance in London, but that does not change the facts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

 

My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling by Bret Hart. This is Bret's autobiography and starts with his giving the eulogy at his father's funeral. It details his growing up and his entire wrestling career, his infidelities and problems with his wife, the problems with his siblings and the rise and eventual fall of the British Bulldogs, Vince McMahon Jnr as a boss, what he thinks of other wrestlers, the infamous Montreal Screwjob, the concussion he suffered and the stroke. Brilliant and recommende if you know people fro the 80s and 90s particularly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

 

The Paleo Diet for Athletes.

 

Another nutrition book that reminds you to take the advice of even very smart people with a grain of salt.

 

Good points: Well researched, plenty of citations (many of which you can check with online library search engines), and a diet that's practical for athletes.

 

Weak points: The bias of the author against dairy, legumes, and beans is annoying; the reasoning she uses appears to be "Most people won't make the effort to do this right, so you shouldn't ever do it at all", unless she really believes her own rhetoric. She also never bothered to check the many studies on the protein needs of strength athletes; if you're a football player, wrestler, weight lifter or similar this book isn't really for you.

 

As a general guide to making a no-junk steak-and-salad diet work for endurance athletes, this book is reasonably solid. If you're not an endurance athlete, if weights play a major role in your training, or if you just find pop-anthropology annoying in a diet book, there are better choices.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

 

I didn't reall read it, I just flipped through it.

I was at my local library and saw a book on owning a Beagle. There was a chapter on training, another on advanced training. All this training but not one mention of RABBIT! :thumbdown A beagle is a type of hound dog that has been bred for hunting rabbits. A beagle without a rabbit is like a day without sunshine.

Be careful what book you train your dog with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

 

Barry Cunliffe, Europe Between the Oceans: Themes and Variations: 9000BC--AD 1000 (New Haven: Yale UP, 2008) 978-0-300-11923-7

A sumptuously produced work by one of the great prehistorians of our era at the remarkable price of 41 CAD. The title announces the rather odd ambition of continuing a "history of prehistoric Europe," itself no new project, well into post-historic times. I don't think that part of the project was carried off well, and there are some signs of fuddy-duddenness in the sense of clinging to obsolete theories, but no-one can say that this isn't

a) an incredible bargain; and

B) a highly accessible work of cutting edge scholarship.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

 

I finished Saul Friedländer's excellent two books Nazi Germany and the Jews: The Years of Persecution, 1933-1939 and Nazi Germany and the Jews: The Years of Extermination, 1939-1945 last week.

 

I'm about halfway through Ian Kershaw's massive 1056 page tome Hitler: A Biography (An abridgement of his two books Hitler: Hubris and Hitler: Nemesis).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

 

Blind Mans Bluff, Submarine inteligence gathering operations during the cold war by Sontag and Drew.

 

very interesting book, probably not a wholie lot of earth shattering revelations, but a great insight into playing hide and seek beneath the waves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

 

The Grand Strategy of Philip II by Geoffrey Parker. Interesting book, though I think it does more to prove that Philip was a compulsive micromanaging executive than to prove he had a well-considered overall grand strategy beyond "keep what I got and make it bigger", which isn't much of a strategy. It seems clear to me he let himself get fixated on England, and that a clearer strategic thinker would not have tried to invade and conquer Elizabeth's kingdom, given the very reasonable advice he got from his father upon becoming regent of Spain; there were other things he could have done to isolate Elizabeth and avoid the open antipathy which boiled over into making an invasion attempt. (Also, he seems never to have understood finance much beyond immediate short-term cash flow; given his demonstrated intellectual powers my guess that he could have, but never took the effort -- and more importantly, time -- necessary to understand it.)

 

Still, one could learn a lot here in the context of 16th Century statecraft, and the difficulties of trying to control everything going on in one's world-wide empire from a central location when subject to the unreliability of communications and travel lag time. He had some able subordinates, but didn't handle them as well as he could, chiefly in insisting on more control than it was possible to have at the distance at which he had to operate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

 

The Grand Strategy of Philip II by Geoffrey Parker.....

 

Also likely to be the culminating work of a great military historian. I haven't read it yet (I personally think Philip II is a little over-done), but it will be interesting to see the mature Parker reflecting back, if only indirectly, on his many provocations over the years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

 

The Grand Strategy of Philip II by Geoffrey Parker. Interesting book, though I think it does more to prove that Philip was a compulsive micromanaging executive than to prove he had a well-considered overall grand strategy beyond "keep what I got and make it bigger", which isn't much of a strategy. It seems clear to me he let himself get fixated on England, and that a clearer strategic thinker would not have tried to invade and conquer Elizabeth's kingdom, given the very reasonable advice he got from his father upon becoming regent of Spain; there were other things he could have done to isolate Elizabeth and avoid the open antipathy which boiled over into making an invasion attempt. (Also, he seems never to have understood finance much beyond immediate short-term cash flow; given his demonstrated intellectual powers my guess that he could have, but never took the effort -- and more importantly, time -- necessary to understand it.)

 

Still, one could learn a lot here in the context of 16th Century statecraft, and the difficulties of trying to control everything going on in one's world-wide empire from a central location when subject to the unreliability of communications and travel lag time. He had some able subordinates, but didn't handle them as well as he could, chiefly in insisting on more control than it was possible to have at the distance at which he had to operate.

 

'The Confident Hope Of A Miracle' by Neil Hanson covers the Armada campaign in detail. Pretty much confiirms all of the above about Phillip - the title is a direct quote from him as regards concerns others voiced about the viability of the Armada (or the 'Enterprise of England' as it was also called). Proper delegation of tasks and authority simply was not in his vocabulary.

 

However, Queen Elizabeth 1 does not come out looking much better, though for different reasons. Much is made of her alleged cunning - but it really comes down to her being almost chronically incapable of making a firm decision about ANYTHING; and of never wasting any chance to keep money to spend on personal gratification ratherr than spend it on literally anything else. The military was kept in an incredibly parlous state because she would not shake loose any money for gunpowder or proper equipment, but there was always money (and, mostly, IOUs) for court finery and so forth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

 

Rock, Paper, Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life

by Len Fisher

 

Game theory is the the creation of John Nash, the brilliant but insane mathematician who married Jennifer Connelly.* The book is an interesting read showing how interactions in our lives can be explained in terms of game theory.

 

There's an old saying: "If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail." The author admits that game theorists tend to see the entire world in terms of game theory. Some of it does feel a touch over the top, but the ideas behind how and when we do the things we do is most intriguing. In truth the book could well be titled "The history of cooperation."

 

Unlike some treatises on cooperation and social interaction, the author removes himself from making any moral or ethical judgments regarding any actions. For example, acting in self interest to the expense of others is not judged as wrong or greedy, it just happens. The parties are cooperators or defectors; not good or evil, not nice and mean.

 

Part math, part sociology, part psychology, I found it a great read which was very effective at making the reader look at everyday occurrences in a whole new light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

* These statements have not been verified.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

 

'The Chilling Stars - A Cosmic View Of Climate Change' by Henrik Svensmark and Nigel Calder.

 

Based on research by Svensmark and several others (and recently updated), this book proposes new theories on the mechanisms of climate change. I cannot do the book real justice here, but the crux of the matter is to do with low-level cloud formation rates, something that the standard theories, models and mindsets still have a lot of trouble with. Lots of low-level cloud = more rain, more sunlight reflected and cooler weather. Less cloud = the opposite.

 

Svensmark's theory (ample data presented in the book) is that a primary, but overlooked, force behind climate changes (and, notably, Ice Ages) has to do with deep-penetrating cosmic rays (which generate muons in the lower atmosphere, enhancing nucleation and thus helping form clouds).

 

Most of the relevant cosmic rays originate in novae, and can be bounced around and funnelled somewhat by our Galaxy's gravitic and magnetic fields. Our Solar system's position / rotation within the Milky Way can also be a factor. Add to this mix the influence of our own Sun's magnetic field - when the Sun is particularly active, its magnetic field (which extends out way past Pluto) is stronger and this demonstrably reduces the quantity of cosmic rays that get to Earth. More cosmic rays, a tendency to cooler wetter conditions and, if the intensity lasts for long enough, Ice Ages.

 

The book does not set out to demolish the whole "CO2 LEVELS ARE RISING AND WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE" mindset that has become so popular now. But it certainly manages to pose some quite effective doubts, IMO. It also highlights the inherent Political Correctness Factor of the 'Global Warming' bandwagon - 'scientific' individuals and groups predisposed to attack and denigrate anything that doesn't fit in with "their" facts.

 

I highly recommend this book. Well worth reading, if you can find it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

 

"Worms eat my garbage: How to set up and maintain a worm composting system" by Mary Appelhof

LINK

kinda a short read, but interesting.

I'm already thinking about getting a worm bin built in time for spring. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

 

Just finished Baboon Metaphysics by Dorothy Cheney and Robert Seyfarth.

 

Though the title conjures up flippant ideas ... I admit that I first encountered it last fall in the flier from the U of Chicago Press, immediately underneath a photo of then-President Bush (which was relevant to the book advertised in the adjacent column, so the picture was not gratuitous although the juxtaposition was) ... neither title nor book are flippant. The phrase is one almost used by Darwin, in the context of trying to understand how the human mind, and human capacity for language, evolved. The closest thing to flippancy in here is that they let you know that they really, really, really don't like hippos, starting with a lengthy paragraph of diatribe in the introduction and periodic one-line jabs scattered throughout the rest of the book.

 

The authors are reporting on long-term observation work done in Botswana of a troop of wild baboons, augmented with "playback experiments" -- where they play back certain animals' cries to other animals and watch their reactions, performed in a controlled way. Their overall goal is to get a handle on when and how the human mind arose in the course of evolution. Nearly all primates are social, and in the case of baboons, both the greatest threat and the greatest aid to an individual baboon's survival is likely to come from other baboons. Therefore, the social interactions within baboon troops are probably the most important evolutionary pressure on those monkeys. This is not their first book on this sort of subject; about a decade ago they published a book on a similar theme (How Moneys See the World) about vervet monkeys. I have not read that book yet.

 

They put together a firm argument that monkeys certainly (and chimps probably, but as they put it the necessary experiments have not yet been done) lack the capacity to recognize that others have the same sorts of mental states as they have. Put another way, they do not think about what others might be thinking, resulting in situations and behaviors that humans find utterly baffling when they watch monkeys for an extended period of time. Though monkey societies are dynamic and intensely interactive and monkeys have evolved a keen "social intelligence", they get by without any sort of "He doesn't know she thinks he has the hots for her" kind of speculation that dominates much of human social interaction. The authors suggest that the rise of syntax, which allows for infinite extension of meaning with a finite set of words or vocalizations, is allied with the capacity for recursive social reasoning that clearly exists in humans but cannot be demonstrated to exist in monkeys.

 

I was interested in the book for its own sake, but there's some ideas here that a world-making GM could usefully take away. The model of the baboon mind that they put forward could be very useful in helping a GM put together how a semi-intelligent nonhuman species would react, both individually and collectively, in their interactions with humanoid species: their model gives you a self-consistent picture of how such a species operates that the GM could use it to create viably deep nonhuman races (for a sci-fi or fantasy campaign world) with a rich feel that the players might find intriguing and enrich the campaign.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: What Non-Fiction Book have you just finished?

 

A bit ago finished Dreams from My Father by some Hawaiian guy Barack Obama...

 

Seriously, it was quite good, I thought, in exploring themes on both race and power (both interdependently and separately) from a personal journey perspective in a highly engaging way. It does provide a lot of insight into the president as well in terms of his development and what shaped him up to going to Harvard Law School. I would recommend it regardless of political orientation (of course, if for whatever reason you can't stand the guy, then don't read it as it comes across as the same person as you've seen in the last year or more).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...