Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wednesday Update

I'm at a point where I'm not really happy with either of the books I'm reading at the moment. I'm still trying to make my way through Mercy, Mercy Me, but I'm finding that some of the analysis of Marvin Gaye's music there, both by the author of the book, and by others, which the author reports, has a lot more to do with who they think Gaye was or who they wish he had been, than it does with who he actually was and what his motivations were for what he recorded and how he recorded it. That's making it difficult for me to get excited about continuing to read.

The other book I'm currently reading, Mirage Men: An Adventure into Paranoia, Espionage, Psychological Warfare, and UFOs (Skyhorse Publishing, 2010; 338 pages), by Mark Pilkington, has the potential to be interesting. I hadn't meant to read another UFO book so soon, but I happened on it in the library while I was reading Sight Unseen and thought a different point of view would be fun.

I'm not very far into Mirage Men yet, but the author's thesis seems to be that most, if not all, of the UFO phenomenon is a construct of the CIA and/or other US alphabet agencies to either cover up things they've done and want to keep secret or mistakes they've made that would be a PR nightmare if they got out. Either that, or the stories were made up to make the enemies of the US, in the Cold War and afterward, think the US might have capabilities that are far beyond convention technologies. The implication, I suppose, being that the US had procured a saucer and had reverse-engineered it and made use of the technology.

Fun, right? Well...I'm finding that Pilkington's writing just isn't engaging me. So, we will see where this goes and how long I will stick with the book. Because, you know, there are too many interesting things to do in the world to read a book you aren't enjoying just because you started it.

I did read a book review online this morning that has convinced me I need to read the book reviewed there, Delusions of Gender: The real science behind sex differences (Icon Books, 338 pages), by Cordelia Fine. Judging by the review, the book is a pretty scathing critique of scientific claims that gender differences between men and women are significant and are hardwired into our brains. Sounds interesting. I've seen reports of some of the studies that claim to prove this idea, and I haven't found them convincing.

The problem here is that the review, which I found via Arts & Letters Daily, appeared in the Times Literary Supplement in London, and the book might well not be available in the US. I will be finding out. And perhaps asking a friend in the UK to send me a copy.

As an aside,, the comments that accompany the review are interesting and, I think, point out that gender is a highly polarizing subject and that therefore it is entirely possible that scientists studying it and its implications might find what they want to see in the evidence, perhaps even despite aiming at an objective interpretation of that evidence.

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