What are you reading?

December 24, 2014 • 11:30 am

by Grania

And now, dear reader, let us move from the critical analysis of one type of fiction to another.

I picked up two books last week when I was in the bookshop up the road, as one does. One I would recommend to anyone, the other is more for those of a particular taste.

Solar by Ian McEwan, is like everything else of his, beautifully written and a pleasure to read. This novel follows an aging physicist whose career’s respectable peak has been reached and whose 5th marriage is in trouble as he tries to recover his former glory. It’s dark and comic and bitingly satirical.

Girl Genius by Phil & Kaja Foglio is a series chronicling the life of an orphaned girl with Mad Scientist proclivities. It’s sort of Pratchett-esque in tone, although the world is a Steampunk version of earth rather than a fantasy. If Steampunk isn’t already something you like, then this probably isn’t the book to get you into it. You can actually read it in comic book form online which I think I prefer to the novels, although obviously in a much shorter form.

What have you read lately?


Join the Reason Project

May 21, 2009 • 7:11 am

Under the inspiration of Sam Harris, a nonprofit organization called The Reason Project has been formed under the trusteeship of Sam, his wife Annaka, and Jai Lakshman.  The website can be accessed here, and the aims are these:

The Reason Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society. Drawing on the talents of the most prominent and creative thinkers across a wide range of disciplines, The Reason Project seeks to encourage critical thinking and wise public policy through a variety of interrelated projects. The foundation will convene conferences, produce films, sponsor scientific studies and opinion polls, publish original research, award grants to other charitable organizations, and offer material support to religious dissidents and public intellectuals — all with the purpose of eroding the influence of dogmatism, superstition, and bigotry in our world.

While the foundation is devoted to fostering critical thinking generally, we believe that religious ideas require a special focus. Both science and the arts are built upon cultures of vigorous self-criticism; religious discourse is not. As a result, unwarranted religious beliefs still reign unchallenged in almost every society on earth—dividing humanity from itself, inflaming conflict, preventing wise public policy, and diverting scarce resources. One of the primary goals of The Reason Project is to change this increasingly unhealthy status quo.

We are always looking for creative ways to involve the community in our efforts. If you would like to contribute to the work of The Reason Project, please fill out a volunteer application. We encourage you to consider the work of The Reason Project your own.

There is a nice advisory board, including luminaries like Sam, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Steve Pinker, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and one non-luminary, moi.   Our goal is not to constanty attack or wipe out religion, but to spread rationality (granted, the spread of one is inimical to the existence of the other).  But have a look at the website and do volunteer or join up if you’re interested.  There are some cool projects listed, and more in the offing.