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Official Poll - 2nd Quarter 2006 NONFICTION book POLL! 
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Post Official Poll - 2nd Quarter 2006 NONFICTION book POLL!
Official Book Selection Poll


2nd Quarter 2006 NONFICTION book POLL!


Please read these directions BEFORE you vote!




How many nonfiction books will we be reading?

We will only be reading 1 nonfiction book in 2nd quarter of 2006. In time, as our membership grows, we will tackle several nonfiction books concurrently.

How long will the poll stay open?

This poll is opening on Tuesday, March 7th, 2006, and will be closing on Thursday, March 16th. This is a total of 10 full days.

Who can vote?

All active members are invited and encouraged to vote and participate in our book selection process, but please follow the following simple rules:

Only cast a vote if you have 10 or more posts on our forums. If you don't have at least 10 you should have no problem jumping into some discussion threads and meeting this rather relaxed criterion.

Don't vote if you don't plan on reading and discussing the winning book. And please understand that only one nonfiction book can win, but we are counting on you to actively participate independent of which book wins the poll. You matter and we need every member to participate.

How do I vote?

If you are an active member with 10 or more total posts AND you plan on participating in the Q2, 2006 discussion THEN you are permitted to cast a total of 3 votes. You can use your three votes however you see fit, which could mean assigning all three votes to just one of the book choices, or distributing the three points over the book choices according to your own interest level for each book. You should make a brief post to this thread telling everyone how you wish to distribute your three votes. Nothing further needs to be said, but you're welcome to be as verbose as you like. Just make it crystal clear how you are voting.

It is inevitable that some people will either forget to cast all three votes or will not have read this entire post. They will simply vote on one book. If this happens I will be assigning all three of their votes to the one book they selected.

You are permitted to change your vote during the voting period, but not after I close the poll. The poll is closed on the last day of the polling period as stated above.

This thread can be used as an open discussion of the books on the poll. You're welcome to try to sell people on a particular book, or dissuade them from another.

NOTE:

As always, we will need a discussion leader that is willing to be very active in the reading and discussion of the winning book. If you are up to the task please let us all know in this forum by making a post and stating your interest in the position.

Please don't nominate yourself if you will not be active. Being active means checking the forum just about every day and making posts regularly. Regularly means a few times each week at the minimum.

Being a discussion leader does not entail being an authority on the subject matter or defending the author's position. You simply need to attempt to stimulate discussion.

And here are our NONFICTION book choices for 2nd Quarter 2006 (april, May, & June). Please read about all books before casting your votes. Think hard about which book will be the most educational, entertaining, and worthy of discussion. May the best book win!

Drum roll please...





Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century by Howard Gardner

Amazon.com
How would a musical genius like Mozart have performed on the SAT or GRE? Well enough to go to an Ivy League? Difficult to say, of course, but thank goodness Howard Gardner thought to ask the question: Can every sort of intelligence be measured with the tools we've been using for the past century and more? In his 1983 book, Frames of Mind, Gardner laid out the foundation for the theory of multiple intelligences (MI). In Intelligence Reframed, a revisitation and elaboration of MI theory, he details the modern history of intelligence and the development of MI, responds to the myths about multiple intelligences, and handles FAQs about the theory and its application. He also restates his ideal educational plan, which would emphasize deep understanding of iconic subjects following from a variety of instructional approaches. (His book The Disciplined Mind discusses this plan in more detail.) Most excitingly, Gardner discusses the possibility for three more intelligences. Of these, he endorses only one, the naturalist intelligence--a person's ability to identify plants and animals in the surrounding environment. He writes, "My recognition that such individuals could not readily be classified in terms of the seven antecedent intelligences led me to consider this additional form of intelligence and to construe the scope of the naturalist's abilities more broadly."

An absorbing read from cover to cover, Intelligence Reframed should be studied and discussed by teachers, administrators, policy makers, and all those eager to serve children and prepare them to lead fulfilling lives.

From Publishers Weekly
In Frames of Mind (1983), Gardner first set forth his influential theory of Multiple Intelligences, contending that each of us is equipped with eight or more separate types of intelligence (including linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, spatial, interpersonal and intrapersonal varieties). In this combative update, geared mainly to educators, psychologists and other professionals, Harvard education professor Gardner adds to the list a new naturalist intelligence, which involves attunement to the environment, its flora and fauna. He further proposes that there may be a spiritual or existential intelligence (knowledge of transcendental and cosmic matters), but adds that this awaits scientific verification. Critics will undoubtedly pounce on his ideas, but Gardner has his ammunition ready: he argues that accumulating neurological evidence supports MI theory, and cites a study by Harvard Project Zero (of which he is codirector) reporting that schools across the U.S. applying MI theory boast improved student performance and parent participation. Gardner also outlines two of his new educational approaches: "individually configured education," tailored to individual differences, and "Teaching for Understanding," designed to assess students' comprehension at each step. He also throws down a gauntlet: "If we ignore the differences [in how people acquire and represent knowledge], we are destined to perpetuate a system that caters to an eliteAtypically those who learn best in a... linguistic or logical-mathematical manner." His book is certain to fuel debate. (Nov..--, we are destined to perpetuate a system that caters to an eliteAtypically those who learn best in a... linguistic or logical-mathematical manner." His book is certain to fuel debate.

From Library Journal
In his seminal work, Frames of Mind, Harvard psychologist Gardner argued that intelligence comprises more than one or two properties. Since translated into seven languages, the book proceeded to spawn debate. Besides language and math, Gardner posits five other types of intelligence: musical, kinesthetic, spatial, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. Here he considers three new possibilities: naturalistic, spiritual, and existential. Three chapters take up issues and misunderstandings commonly found in applying multiple intelligence theory in education, business, and the arts. A chapter on creators and leaders shows the breadth of Gardner's knowledge and interests, and one on achieving understanding through performance proves his pragmatic orientation as a teacher. Besides references, appendixes include schools and other contacts. This valuable book by a leading psychologist and educator is essential for most libraries.




The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century by Thomas L. Friedman

Amazon.com
Thomas L. Friedman is not so much a futurist, which he is sometimes called, as a presentist. His aim, in his new book, The World Is Flat, as in his earlier, influential Lexus and the Olive Tree, is not to give you a speculative preview of the wonders that are sure to come in your lifetime, but rather to get you caught up on the wonders that are already here. The world isn't going to be flat, it is flat, which gives Friedman's breathless narrative much of its urgency, and which also saves it from the Epcot-style polyester sheen that futurists--the optimistic ones at least--are inevitably prey to.

What Friedman means by "flat" is "connected": the lowering of trade and political barriers and the exponential technical advances of the digital revolution have made it possible to do business, or almost anything else, instantaneously with billions of other people across the planet. This in itself should not be news to anyone. But the news that Friedman has to deliver is that just when we stopped paying attention to these developments--when the dot-com bust turned interest away from the business and technology pages and when 9/11 and the Iraq War turned all eyes toward the Middle East--is when they actually began to accelerate. Globalization 3.0, as he calls it, is driven not by major corporations or giant trade organizations like the World Bank, but by individuals: desktop freelancers and innovative startups all over the world (but especially in India and China) who can compete--and win--not just for low-wage manufacturing and information labor but, increasingly, for the highest-end research and design work as well. (He doesn't forget the "mutant supply chains" like Al-Qaeda that let the small act big in more destructive ways.) Friedman tells his eye-opening story with the catchy slogans and globe-hopping anecdotes that readers of his earlier books and his New York Times columns will know well, and also with a stern sort of optimism. He wants to tell you how exciting this new world is, but he also wants you to know you're going to be trampled if you don't keep up with it. His book is an excellent place to begin.

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Before 9/11, New York Times columnist Friedman was best known as the author of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, one of the major popular accounts of globalization and its discontents. Having devoted most of the last four years of his column to the latter as embodied by the Middle East, Friedman picks up where he left off, saving al-Qaeda et al. for the close. For Friedman, cheap, ubiquitous telecommunications have finally obliterated all impediments to international competition, and the dawning "flat world" is a jungle pitting "lions" and "gazelles," where "economic stability is not going to be a feature" and "the weak will fall farther behind." Rugged, adaptable entrepreneurs, by contrast, will be empowered. The service sector (telemarketing, accounting, computer programming, engineering and scientific research, etc.), will be further outsourced to the English-spoken abroad; manufacturing, meanwhile, will continue to be off-shored to China. As anyone who reads his column knows, Friedman agrees with the transnational business executives who are his main sources that these developments are desirable and unstoppable, and that American workers should be preparing to "create value through leadership" and "sell personality." This is all familiar stuff by now, but the last 100 pages on the economic and political roots of global Islamism are filled with the kind of close reporting and intimate yet accessible analysis that have been hard to come by. Add in Friedman's winning first-person interjections and masterful use of strategic wonksterisms, and this book should end up on the front seats of quite a few Lexuses and SUVs of all stripes.

From Booklist
*Starred Review* Although it may be catchy, the title of New York Times columnist Friedman's latest book needs explaining. "Flat" here means "level," as in the level playing field on which virtually any nation can now compete, thanks to the explosion of global telecommunications, including the Internet as well as the transfer of information from First World to Third--and back. There's also a leveling of hierarchies within organizations, thanks to the increasing democratization of information from sources such as the Web. Friedman cites 10 forces that have caused this "flattening," including the fall of the Berlin Wall ("We could not think globally about the world when the Berlin Wall was there," said one economist), the emergence of Netscape as an Internet platform, workflow software, open sourcing, outsourcing, the streamlining of the supply chain (witness Wal-Mart), the organization of information on the Internet (Google, Yahoo), and the ubiquity of powerful personal telecommunications devices. Friedman is very thorough at projecting the consequences of these changes, noting the benefits we all share from this hyper-globalization, while realistically addressing, for example, the challenges American workers will face in the coming decades from talented, highly motivated workforces in such countries as India and China. A little more humor might have offset the author's trademark earnestness; still, as he has with other global issues, Friedman brings coherence and a workable plan of action to the fundamental changes our world is experiencing.




The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris


Amazon.com
Sam Harris cranks out blunt, hard-hitting chapters to make his case for why faith itself is the most dangerous element of modern life. And if the devil's in the details, then you'll find Satan waiting at the back of the book in the very substantial notes section where Harris saves his more esoteric discussions to avoid sidetracking the urgency of his message.

Interestingly, Harris is not just focused on debunking religious faith, though he makes his compelling arguments with verve and intellectual clarity. The End of Faith is also a bit of a philosophical Swiss Army knife. Once he has presented his arguments on why, in an age of Weapons of Mass Destruction, belief is now a hazard of great proportions, he focuses on proposing alternate approaches to the mysteries of life. Harris recognizes the truth of the human condition, that we fear death, and we often crave "something more" we cannot easily define, and which is not met by accumulating more material possessions. But by attempting to provide the cure for the ills it defines, the book bites off a bit more than it can comfortably chew in its modest page count (however the rich Bibliography provides more than enough background for an intrigued reader to follow up for months on any particular strand of the author' musings.)

Harris' heart is not as much in the latter chapters, though, but in presenting his main premise. Simply stated, any belief system that speaks with assurance about the hereafter has the potential to place far less value on the here and now. And thus the corollary -- when death is simply a door translating us from one existence to another, it loses its sting and finality. Harris pointedly asks us to consider that those who do not fear death for themselves, and who also revere ancient scriptures instructing them to mete it out generously to others, may soon have these weapons in their own hands. If thoughts along the same line haunt you, this is your book.

From Publishers Weekly
In this sometimes simplistic and misguided book, Harris calls for the end of religious faith in the modern world. Not only does such faith lack a rational base, he argues, but even the urge for religious toleration allows a too-easy acceptance of the motives of religious fundamentalists. Religious faith, according to Harris, requires its adherents to cling irrationally to mythic stories of ideal paradisiacal worlds (heaven and hell) that provide alternatives to their own everyday worlds. Moreover, innumerable acts of violence, he argues, can be attributed to a religious faith that clings uncritically to one set of dogmas or another. Very simply, religion is a form of terrorism for Harris. Predictably, he argues that a rational and scientific view



Tue Mar 07, 2006 10:51 pm
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Post Re: Official Poll - 2nd Quarter 2006 NONFICTION book POLL!
friedman: 2 votes
harris: 1 vote

this was a tough one. i am torn between friedman and harris. friedman i think would make for better (and likely more civil) discussion, but i am really interested in the premise that organized religion in the modern age is doing more harm than good. unfortunately, harris' title is the end of "faith," which i interpert as implying harris will theorize reasons that faith in and of itself is bad, not just organized religion and its macro effects. even as an athiest, i have a hard time buying that faith is a terrible thing. connecting terrorists to faith as the title seems to imply is a dubious link if arguing against all faith. rather the concept that killing in the name of faith is the problem with terrorism, not a belief in and of itself. i feel i will both be in agreement and make several critical points with both titles, though i feel i will be more critical of freeman. the issues surrounding globalization get my buttons pressed, and i am neither ultra hippy liberal concerned about slave wages nor ultra neo-con free-market-only-when-it-serves-us, but rather somewhere in between with strong beliefs on both sides of the coin. i decided to give friendman two votes since it was not a book on my current reading list whereas i just bought harris and definitely was planning on reading it. i enjoy reading titles not normally found on my must read list.




Wed Mar 08, 2006 8:31 pm
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Post Re: Official Poll - 2nd Quarter 2006 NONFICTION book POLL!
3 votes for the end of faith.

it's the thing most likely to kill us, at least at the same time.




Wed Mar 08, 2006 9:35 pm
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Post Split decision
I quickly ruled out Friedman, since his columns have generally struck me as uninformed and too conservative. If you want a collection from a New York Times columnist, read Krugman's book.

Of the other two, I'd prefer the Harris book, since the subject matter sounds more exciting. While I wouldn't mind learning more about intelligence metrics, especially after reading Gould's The Mismeasure of Man, 300 pages seems excessive.

Intelligence Reframed: 1 vote
The End of Faith: 2 votes




Thu Mar 09, 2006 3:15 am
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Post End of Faith for Meme Wars
Three votes for End of Faith. I recently purchased the book and haven't read it yet. This may push me to read it and participate in discussion.

Meme Wars

(Monty Vonn)




Thu Mar 09, 2006 10:14 am
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Post Re: End of Faith for Meme Wars
2 for End of Faith, 1 for Intelligence re-framed.

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Thu Mar 09, 2006 10:35 am
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Post Let's talk about Intelligence
I think Gardner's Intelligence Reframed would fire an important discussion regarding what it means to be a thinking, evaluating, creative person. This conversation will cover how we envision the "good society" and, most specifically, what sort of education system and theories of pedagogy will help sustain said society. It is not simply a 300 page examination of intelligence metrics; it is a tour de force of human cognition, creativity, and what we mean by the term "intelligence". I am especially interested in how folks at Booktalk react to his theoretical existential and spiritual intelligences. Gardner is a scientist of the highest order who has profoundly shaped the fields of education and learning theory, cognitive sciences, and developmental psychology. I think this book will offer a richer source of discussion for all things human. Check out this link to learn more about Howard Gardner.

Sam Harris' book The End of Faith will certainly speak to many at Booktalk. I doubt if he will be saying anything folks here don't already know, nor will he be challenging most here to change their ideas on the subject. I have heard him lecture on CSpan on a few occasions and found him to be quite smart and able to illuminate the lunacies and weaknesses in Religion. I don't think he is saying anything new on the subject however, that Feuerbach, Freud or Nietzsche haven't said in far better ways: and they were also celebrating the end of Faith. I am especially antagonized by Harris' treatment of Noam Chomsky in his book. Chomsky is portrayed as an irrational fanatic in Harris' book; charges that are very poorly supported and amount to an actual character assault on Harris' part.

Friedman's The World is Flat should make the American Exceptionalists on Booktalk very happy. I am familiar with his journalism, especially as it relates to the Middle East, and find him the most tolerable of an intolerable lot. I think his vision for Globalization will speed up a horrible disaster of planetary proportions. Still, he is a very engaging writer skilled with a knack for explaining very complex systems in simple terms: this becomes his vice as he explains away the dangers in neo-liberal capitalism.

Thus:

Intelligence Reframed: 2 votes
The World is Flat: 1 vote (I would rather engage the dangerous neo-liberal ideas and work to find an alternative solution; than rehash the debate about Religion where I rarely see alternatives.)








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Post Olives, Gods, and Smarties
Put me down for one vote each.

I have already read "End of Faith", but I'm much less sympathetic to it than I was when I read it, so I wouldn't mind talking about it.

I found Olive Tree and the Lexus fascinating and enlightening. Did someone call him liberal? I thought he was an arch-conservative. Maybe he's neither.

I've resisted learning too much about multiple intelligences, something about it grates on my nerves. Which means I probably ought to read this. I may end up the contrarian on this one though.


If you make yourself really small, you can externalize virtually everything. Daniel Dennett, 1984




Thu Mar 09, 2006 12:54 pm
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Post Re: Olives, Gods, and Smarties
I'm abstaining this go round.




Thu Mar 09, 2006 3:25 pm
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Post Re: Olives, Gods, and Smarties
3 for The End of Faith




Thu Mar 09, 2006 5:09 pm
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Post Re: Olives, Gods, and Smarties
Ha! My local library just selected "The World is Flat" for the next discussion.

Mr. P.

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Post Re: Olives, Gods, and Smarties
Quote:
Don't vote if you don't plan on reading and discussing the winning book.

as quoted from above.




Sat Mar 11, 2006 3:24 pm
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Post Re: Olives, Gods, and Smarties
Well then perhaps I should change the wording on that first post. I don't want anyone to avoid voting because one of the 3 books is about a topic they dislike. I'm not sure what to do or how to handle this.

I always wanted BookTalk to be a place for people to read and learn about topics that they might not have selected on their own. I find it unfortunate that some members limit themselves and their personal growth by refusing to participate in the reading and discussion of all but their top choice in books. That doesn't help the community or their own development, IMO.




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Post Re: Olives, Gods, and Smarties
But I do understand if somone like Mad opts out of the discussion of a book bashing religious belief. This makes sense, even though he is one of our most valuable and active members. Even if he says he won't read a certain book, I think he is such a prolific reader that he will get weak, buy the book, and participate. :lol I wish all members were so devoted to reading and thinking and discussing good books.

I'll have to change the wording. I think Mad should do his best to influence the choice of books around here. Vote for one of the other two, and then make a persuasive post to motivate members to either change their votes or cast one if they haven't voted yet. That is what our polls are for. We are all welcome to try to influence others.




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Post Re: Olives, Gods, and Smarties
good call chris. i like that wording better. i originally figured that placing a vote was an unwritten agreement that you would definitely read and participate in discussion regardless of which title was selected. obviously the discussion format won't work well if 2/3's of the voters don't read the book because it wasn't their top choice. but it is good to have the ability to vote and write persuasively without an obligation to read one of the titles you definitely do not want to read.




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