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Official Poll - Jan/Feb 2004 Book of the Month(s) 
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Post Official Poll - Jan/Feb 2004 Book of the Month(s)
The time has come to vote on our January & February 2004 book selection!


As always PLEASE DO NOT VOTE if you don't plan to read and participate on the message boards or chat room. We are a book discussion community and the poll is restricted to active members that actually read/discuss our book selections.

Also, it is VERY important that EVERYONE that does cast a vote sends an email telling me what book they selected. You can email me at chris@booktalk.org - be sure to include your BookTalk name so I know who you are. Thank you!

Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the From BooklistHuman Future in Space - Carl Sagan

Quote:
FASCINATING . . . MEMORABLE . . . REVEALING . . . PERHAPS THE BEST OF CARL SAGAN'S BOOKS. -The Washington Post Book World (front page review)


Quote:
TAKES READERS FAR BEYOND Cosmos . . . Sagan sees humanity's future in the stars. -Chicago Tribune


Quote:
Sagan's great appeal as a popular-science writer, beyond his prodigious knowledge, is his optimism and sense of wonder. A visualizer and a visionary, he fires our imagination and turns science into high drama. After writing about our origins in Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1992), Sagan turns his attention to outer space and takes up where Cosmos left off 14 years ago. An astonishing amount of information was amassed during that productive era, and Sagan, of course, is up on all of it. A passionate and eloquent advocate of space exploration, he believes that the urge to wander, and the need for a frontier, is intrinsic to our nature, and that this trait is linked to our survival as a species. Throughout this beautifully illustrated, revelatory, and compelling volume, Sagan returns again and again to our need for journeys and quests as well as our unending curiosity about our place in the universe. Such philosophical musings are interwoven with precise and enthusiastic accounts of the triumphs of interplanetary exploration, from the Apollo moon landings to the spectacular findings of robotic missions, especially the Voyager spacecraft. Sagan describes one exciting discovery after another regarding the four giants--Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune--and their many moons, mysterious and exquisite rings, and volatile atmospheres. He argues, convincingly, that planetary exploration is of immense value. It not only teaches us about our celestial neighbors, but helps us understand and protect Earth. Yes, we have seemingly insurmountable problems on this pale blue dot, but we have always reached for the stars, and we mustn't stop now. From Booklist - Donna Seaman


Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain
- Antonio Damasio

Quote:
As he seeks to unlock the secrets of such things as joy and sorrow, Antonio Damasio pursues a unifying theory in Looking for Spinoza. Why Spinoza? The philosopher, whom Damasio calls a "protobiologist," firmly linked mind and body, paving the way for modern ideas of neurophysiology. Damasio examines this linkage, which ran counter to all scientific and religious thinking of Spinoza's day, and lays out the reasoning and evidence behind its truth. As he has in his previous books on the subject (Descartes' Error and The Feeling of What Happens), Damasio is careful to use clear examples from life to explain the often dry and difficult science of the brain. When he wants readers to understand, for instance, brain stem control of emotions, he offers an Oliver Sacks-style case study of a man whose stroke left him unable to keep from bursting into tears or laughter at inappropriate times.

Damasio also defines his terms, which is crucial, as he means something very specific when he says feeling ("always hidden, like all mental images";) instead of emotion ("actions or movements... visible to others as they occur in the face, in the voice, in specific behaviors";) . Using an impressive array of biological and psychological research, Damasio makes a compelling case for his idea of the feeling brain as crucial for survival and sense of self. But this isn't just a book about brain science. It's a record of an intellectual journey, a diary of Damasio's musings about history, philosophy, and Spinoza's life, all wrapped up in a simply astonishing explanation of a subject most of us don't give a thought to--the feelings that we live by. -Therese Littleton


Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance (The American Empire Project) - Noam Chomsky

Quote:
In this highly readable, heavily footnoted critique of American foreign policy from the late 1950s to the present, Chomsky (whose 9-11 was a bestseller last year) argues that current U.S. policies in Afghanistan and Iraq are not a specific response to September 11, but simply the continuation of a consistent half-century of foreign policy-an "imperial grand strategy"-in which the United States has attempted to "maintain its hegemony through the threat or use of military force." Such an analysis is bound to be met with skepticism or antagonism in post-September 11 America, but Chomsky builds his arguments carefully, substantiates claims with appropriate documentation and answers expected counterclaims. Chomsky is also deeply critical of inconsistency in making the charge of "terrorism." Using the official U.S. legal code definition of terrorism, he argues that it is an exact description of U.S. foreign policy (especially regarding Cuba, Central America, Vietnam and much of the Middle East), although the term is rarely used in this way in the U.S. media, he notes, even when the World Court in 1986 condemned Washington for "unlawful use of force" ("international terrorism, in lay terms" Chomsky argues) in Nicaragua. Claiming that the U.S. is a rogue nation in its foreign policies and its "contempt for international law," Chomsky brings together many themes he has mined in the past, making this cogent and provocative book an important addition to an ongoing public discussion about U.S. policy. - Publishers Weekly




Results (total votes = 12):
Pale Blue Dot - Carl Sagan 2 / 16.7%  
Looking for Spinoza - Antonio Damasio 6 / 50.0%  
Hegemony or Survival - Noam Chomsky 4 / 33.3%  

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward,for there you have been, and there you will always want to be."



Sat Dec 13, 2003 3:14 am
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Post Re: Official Poll - Jan/Feb 2004 Book of the Month(s)
I can't in good conscience vote for any of these because I am not going to read any of them. This is the third time in a row that this has happened. I've nominated at least one thing all three times and none have shown up to be voted on. Granted, I would have had better odds of getting one of my books nominated if I had attended the relevant chat, but I was busy with final exams and final papers at the time and was therefore unable to attend.




Sat Dec 13, 2003 4:47 am
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BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

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Post Re: Official Poll - Jan/Feb 2004 Book of the Month(s)
I voted for Hegemony!

Please remember to do one of the following immediately after casting your vote:

1. Make a post to this thread telling us what book you picked
2. Send me a private email with your book choice and BookTalk name. Nobody needs to know which book you selected...other than me.

Your vote will not count if you don't follow these instructions. Anyone passing through our site can cast a vote. We have to make sure that only active members are influencing our community.

Chris

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward,for there you have been, and there you will always want to be."



Sat Dec 13, 2003 3:52 pm
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Post Re: Official Poll - Jan/Feb 2004 Book of the Month(s)
Someone voted for Damasio and didn't report in.

I am going to vote the Australian way.

1st Choice) Pale Blue Dot: Why? I have it and have not read it yet.

2nd Choice) Damasio's book on Spinoza: This would be my first choice, except I do not have the book and yet have plenty of books I've purchased, yet have not read.

3rd Choice) Chomski's Book: I have not read any works from him. Do admire his contribution to science with the discovery of innate wiring of the human brain for language, but disturbed by his reluctance (shared with Steven Gould) about their reservation of neo-darwinism and selection at the gene level.

I fear that this particular book of his will not be overly revealing, as any nation amassing U.S. equivalence in power would pretty much behave the same. I see the problem more to do with human nature and not so much to do with USA in particular.

In the australian way of voting, one would eliminate the choice receiving the least votes, and the votes for the loosing choice would be re-allocated by the subsequent choice.

Example:

Chompski receives two votes
Antonio receives two votes
Sagan receives one vote.

I am the Sagan voter. My selection, being the looser is eliminated. My subsequent choice is Antonio. It is applied to that book. New tally:

Antonio receives three votes
Chompski receives two votes.

Or, you simply re-post the voting poll, with the bottom loosing book eliminated for the subsequent round. You would continue until there are only two choices left. The final book selection will receive the mandate of the people receiving over 50% of the votes.

What do you think?

Monty Vonn
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Edited by: Meme Wars at: 12/13/03 8:48 pm



Sat Dec 13, 2003 8:44 pm
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Post Re: Official Poll - Jan/Feb 2004 Book of the Month(s)
I voted for the Damasio...though I've been absent the last few months because of class/work I feel confident the christmas break will give me time to read this one, and participate more actively in the forums.

Louis




Sat Dec 13, 2003 10:43 pm
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Post Re: Official Poll - Jan/Feb 2004 Book of the Month(s)
I was sorely tempted by all of these books, they all seem really good choices, but in view of the discussion we have been having in the chimpanzee thread I think it is important that I understand what Damasio is saying so I've voted for him.

Peter




Sun Dec 14, 2003 6:24 am
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Post Re: Official Poll - Jan/Feb 2004 Book of the Month(s)
The choices are tempting indeed, especially since the Noam Chomsky selection I suggested has its place in the running!

Still, even with my suggestion having been honored, I find myself leaning towards Damasio's Looking for Spinoza. This is because our current book is so heavily entrenched within contemporary American political discourse.

Even though Franken does not carry the historical acumen or logistic power of Chomsky, I am afraid that much of this current discussion would be repeated. I am willing to push Franken's critique along a Chomskian analysis, demanding more from Al than he offers in his book- and, along the way, showing that Franken's text is more provocation than critique, more spectacle than analysis.

Chomsky's Hegemony... is more than pointing out the policies of global domination being acted out by the United States. It is also a challenge to all of us to consider the serious threats to democracy, human survival and planetary incineration resulting from such dangerous actions.

As for Damasio's text, I am a lover of Spinoza and find him the root of much that is precious and good in Philosophy and intellectual history.

I will offer my vote to Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain - Antonio Damasio

Those of you interested in challenging Chomsky's theses, critiques and analysis are definitely welcomed to explore the Noam Chomsky thread already on BookTalk.

Cheers,

Shannon




Sun Dec 14, 2003 1:17 pm
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Post Re: Official Poll - Jan/Feb 2004 Book of the Month(s)
I'd be happy to read Damasio or Sagan. My vote is for Damasio this time, with hopes of reading the Sagan book next time.




Sun Dec 14, 2003 9:15 pm
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Post Re: Official Poll - Jan/Feb 2004 Book of the Month(s)
The poll will be coming down on Friday the 19th of December.

Chris

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward,for there you have been, and there you will always want to be."



Mon Dec 15, 2003 1:46 am
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BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

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Post Re: Official Poll - Jan/Feb 2004 Book of the Month(s)
pctacitus

We actually discussed this problem in the chat room on Thursday. I brought up that you had made many suggestions in the past and had not had any of your books added to the poll. So this isn't really about us not being aware or about you not being in the chat room. That book suggestion thread really does work and it works well.

Here is the issue. When you nominate a book you really need to sell everyone on why you think it would be a good read. By just posting a long list of nominations you are essentially asking each member to do hours of research to determine whether or not your books have appeal to them.

My suggestion to you is to narrow things down a bit and only nominate a few books each time. Then make a post about why you think each book would be a good choice. If you would rather just copy and paste a review or two from Amazon.com that would be fine. But so far you have just posted titles and authors. Each of the 3 books that made it to the poll were heavily pushed by someone at sometime on that thread. So sell us on why we should read your suggestion! ;)

Chris

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward,for there you have been, and there you will always want to be."



Mon Dec 15, 2003 5:01 am
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Post Re: Official Poll - Jan/Feb 2004 Book of the Month(s)
I voted for Looking for Spinoza. Chomsky's book, though I'd like to read it, will probably be a bit much right after Franken's. Given the heatedness and direction some of the debates have been taking I think we could all use a break from politics. Also, I believe that a Conservative or Moderate should be the author of our next political selection; certainly it isn't only leftist political thought that is welcome at BookTalk, is it?

Anyway, I've always found human emotion and its underlying causes fascinating. Love, loyalty, grief, etc... are often thought of as belonging to "the soul", so I'd enjoy exploring a scientific inquiry into the subject.


S




Mon Dec 15, 2003 12:51 pm
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