Far-reaching exploration of science, the mind, and the meaning of life.
Yang ambitiously tackles some of life’s biggest concepts, including knowledge, science, and religion, among others. He displays an impressive level of knowledge in an array of fields as well as keen sensitivity toward the topics presented. Despite many positives, the main drawback to Yang’s work is a high level of technical language—a probable put off for lay readers. He begins with a discussion of knowledge and how it is obtained. After this exploration of epistemology, Yang moves to a wide-ranging discussion of science. In fact, a section called “Lights from Science”—featuring quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, nonlinear and complex systems, etc.—is so detailed and expansive that he suggests readers less interested in science skip the chapter or read only the conclusion. Yang moves on to an equally impressive discussion of the human mind, dabbling in biology, psychology, and other aspects of the science behind thought. Eventually, the conversation moves on to applications for this knowledge, namely the philosophies of belief and religion. It is here that Yang gets to the heart of his inquiry, as he invites the reader to consider how knowledge and science are applied to life in all its certainty and uncertainty. However, Yang’s writing often seems too opaque and technical for most audiences. Few will follow along in a discussion about faith that concludes, “These concepts for metareality, either the archetypes in the psyche, or unknown parts of the world, are often collectively referred to in Western culture as God.” Yang avoids judging religion and ends with a look at one of humanity’s most important and intractable questions: what is the meaning of life? Though he doesn’t provide an answer, he invites the reader to continued consideration of the question.
Great depth and breadth for subject matter that calls for nothing less.
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").