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What Are You Reading Currently? [OFFICIAL THREAD]

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Reading "13 Bankers, The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Mltdown" By Simon Johnson & James Kwak.

i still don't know for sure what a derivative is, and i doubt i'll know after reading this book.

In layman terms, a derivative is a contract between two parties which is realised in the future. It is usually very complicated involving a lot of variables. A crude example may be:

Company A: If X happens in 2020 I will pay you $40 per item. If X doesn't happen but Y happens in the same year, I will pay you $50. If Y doesn't happen but only X happens, I will pay you $55. If X and Y both happen in 2022, I will pay you 60$. Do you accept?

Company B: Yep

The derivative now is in force.

In other words, it is casino finance if stretched over many decades. There are derivatives in the US which have a life of over 100 years. But then there are short term derivative which are essential to the working oif corporate finance.

Human greed.

Edited by Marbles

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Jamie Miller, Soviet Cinema: Politics and Persuasion Under Stalin

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Just finished this.

It was the shortest book in my little list.

It was OK. I thought it spent too much time on the administrative side of things. I would have preferred if it just offered a comprehensive summary and analysis of various movies from that time. The chapter, "Film-makers and film-making," was by far the best, because it does precisely what I wanted the book to do (albeit in a condensed form).

But yeah... it was alright. Nothing special.

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In layman terms, a derivative is a contract between two parties which is realised in the future. It is usually very complicated involving a lot of variables. A crude example may be:

Company A: If X happens in 2020 I will pay you $40 per item. If X doesn't happen but Y happens in the same year, I will pay you $50. If Y doesn't happen but only X happens, I will pay you $55. If X and Y both happen in 2022, I will pay you 60$. Do you accept?

Company B: Yep

The derivative now is in force.

In other words, it is casino finance if stretched over many decades. There are derivatives in the US which have a life of over 100 years. But then there are short term derivative which are essential to the working oif corporate finance.

Human greed.

Wow thanks. This is a better explanation than the one the book gave.

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Are you kidding me? This book is absolutely beautiful, Keep reading on and you'll start to like it.

I'm currently reading Brida by Paulo Coelho.

I found it interesting except the author's spiritual jargon. The finding of the soul mate, especially if you are a witch, isn't easy. :rolleyes:

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Guest AamirKhan

I found it interesting except the author's spiritual jargon. The finding of the soul mate, especially if you are a witch, isn't easy. :rolleyes:

Well, it's fiction and fantasy. How much of it can we expect to be true? I just love the simplicity of Paulo Coelho's books. However, this book isn't that great compared to the Alquimista and his other writings.

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:dry: but i cnt sit ther n jus READ.. i think m more of a virtual watching person thingy :P it bores me to sit n jus read of a piece of paper...! i mean if the page was glossy wiv pictures.. i mite try :P

Ignorance is bliss. :dry:

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Islam and Religious Pluralism - Murtadha Muthahari (ra)

just finished ''soaring the only beloved '' Now i am at '' allamah tabatabaie '' and about to finish it too , i will inshallah start '' 40 hadeeth by imam khumayni '' Or '' Light within me''

Good choices.

Here is what I finished reading last week: Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

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Normally I don't read novels, but a lot of people whose political opinions I trust had told me that Brave New World is an apt depiction of today's Western society.

According to what I had (for years) heard from white people, it's another version of 1984. This made me keep my distance, because I despised 1984. It's treated as gospel by idiot liberals who think that totalitarianism is/was the major threat to the livelihood of human beings. But it was a pile of [Edited Out]. It was just a caricature of Stalinism. The society depicted in 1984 was simply a more absurd, more grim version of Soviet society under Stalin (who, ironically, Russians consider to be the third greatest Russian in history). Stalinism died in Russia after the Khrushchev reforms. Its foreign variant in China (which was quite different, in fact, from the original) died after the Deng reforms. Its last variant lives on today in North Korea, and even then, there are many key differences.

So George Orwell is some kind of political prophet? Stalinism failed! That's not how the world looks like today (and indeed, that was an exaggerated depiction of Stalinism to begin with).

1984 is piece of [Edited Out] excuse for literature, along with Animal Farm (So you mean to tell me that revolution consumes its makers? My mind = blown!!!!!11).

Brave New World is nothing like 1984. It offers a completely different outlook on the direction in which Western society is headed.

In 1984, for example, sex was repressed. It was used only as a means for procreation. Winston and that girl (forgot her name) fornicating was a political protest (LoL!).

In Brave New World, it's quite the opposite. People have sex as a way of saying hello. Babies are produced on assembly lines (in test tubes) and are raised collectively through hypnotherapy. People do not go through parenthood, and in fact the thought of having parents or kids makes people shudder. Little kids are taught 'erotic games.'

Which depiction is more reflective of today's society? Huxley's, most definitely.

In 1984, all the people are destitute. They lead miserable lives. They have no pleasure in life. They are slaves. There are persistent shortages of various goods.

In Brave New World, people are drugged with carnal pleasures. Over consumption is encouraged; people are taught to throw away things in order to buy new things. People do not know how to cope without drugs.

All in all, I thought Huxley's book was an apt critique of modernism, whereas Orwell's book was (as I already mentioned) a caricature of Stalinism.

I could say more about Brave New World, but I have already forgotten most of it. There is a great passage on religion which I may post later in full. But go read the book. Every Muslim should read this book.

Ya Hagh

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Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

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OK here is that passage on religion I was talking about.

(It is in Chapter 17, for those of you who want to look it up.)

This is a discussion between Mustapha Mond (one of the ten 'world controllers,' someone who has rare access to banned reading materials) and 'the Savage' (John, who had lived his entire life in a reserve for uncivilized people).

ART, SCIENCE–you seem to have paid a fairly high price for your happiness," said the Savage, when they were alone. "Anything else?"

"Well, religion, of course," replied the Controller. "There used to be something called God–before the Nine Years' War. But I was forgetting; you know all about God, I suppose."

"Well …" The Savage hesitated. He would have liked to say something about solitude, about night, about the mesa lying pale under the moon, about the precipice, the plunge into shadowy darkness, about death. He would have liked to speak; but there were no words. Not even in Shakespeare.

The Controller, meanwhile, had crossed to the other side of the room and was unlocking a large safe set into the wall between the bookshelves. The heavy door swung open. Rummaging in the darkness within, "It's a subject," he said, "that has always had a great interest for me." He pulled out a thick black volume. "You've never read this, for example."

The Savage took it. "The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments," he read aloud from the title-page.

"Nor this." It was a small book and had lost its cover.

"The Imitation of Christ."

"Nor this." He handed out another volume.

"The Varieties of Religious Experience. By William James."

"And I've got plenty more," Mustapha Mond continued, resuming his seat. "A whole collection of pornographic old books. God in the safe and Ford on the shelves." He pointed with a laugh to his avowed library–to the shelves of books, the rack full of reading-machine bobbins and sound-track rolls.

"But if you know about God, why don't you tell them?" asked the Savage indignantly. "Why don't you give them these books about God?"

"For the same reason as we don't give them Othello: they're old; they're about God hundreds of years ago. Not about God now."

"But God doesn't change."

"Men do, though."

"What difference does that make?"

"All the difference in the world," said Mustapha Mond. He got up again and walked to the safe. "There was a man called Cardinal Newman," he said. "A cardinal," he exclaimed parenthetically, "was a kind of Arch-Community-Songster."

"'I Pandulph, of fair Milan, cardinal.' I've read about them in Shakespeare."

"Of course you have. Well, as I was saying, there was a man called Cardinal Newman. Ah, here's the book." He pulled it out. "And while I'm about it I'll take this one too. It's by a man called Maine de Biran. He was a philosopher, if you know what that was."

"A man who dreams of fewer things than there are in heaven and earth," said the Savage promptly.

"Quite so. I'll read you one of the things he did dream of in a moment. Meanwhile, listen to what this old Arch-Community-Songster said." He opened the book at the place marked by a slip of paper and began to read. "'We are not our own any more than what we possess is our own. We did not make ourselves, we cannot be supreme over ourselves. We are not our own masters. We are God's property. Is it not our happiness thus to view the matter? Is it any happiness or any comfort, to consider that we are our own? It may be thought so by the young and prosperous. These may think it a great thing to have everything, as they suppose, their own way–to depend on no one–to have to think of nothing out of sight, to be without the irksomeness of continual acknowledgment, continual prayer, continual reference of what they do to the will of another. But as time goes on, they, as all men, will find that independence was not made for man–that it is an unnatural state–will do for a while, but will not carry us on safely to the end …'" Mustapha Mond paused, put down the first book and, picking up the other, turned over the pages. "Take this, for example," he said, and in his deep voice once more began to read: "'A man grows old; he feels in himself that radical sense of weakness, of listlessness, of discomfort, which accompanies the advance of age; and, feeling thus, imagines himself merely sick, lulling his fears with the notion that this distressing condition is due to some particular cause, from which, as from an illness, he hopes to recover. Vain imaginings! That sickness is old age; and a horrible disease it is. They say that it is the fear of death and of what comes after death that makes men turn to religion as they advance in years. But my own experience has given me the conviction that, quite apart from any such terrors or imaginings, the religious sentiment tends to develop as we grow older; to develop because, as the passions grow calm, as the fancy and sensibilities are less excited and less excitable, our reason becomes less troubled in its working, less obscured by the images, desires and distractions, in which it used to be absorbed; whereupon God emerges as from behind a cloud; our soul feels, sees, turns towards the source of all light; turns naturally and inevitably; for now that all that gave to the world of sensations its life and charms has begun to leak away from us, now that phenomenal existence is no more bolstered up by impressions from within or from without, we feel the need to lean on something that abides, something that will never play us false–a reality, an absolute and everlasting truth. Yes, we inevitably turn to God; for this religious sentiment is of its nature so pure, so delightful to the soul that experiences it, that it makes up to us for all our other losses.'" Mustapha Mond shut the book and leaned back in his chair. "One of the numerous things in heaven and earth that these philosophers didn't dream about was this" (he waved his hand), "us, the modern world. 'You can only be independent of God while you've got youth and prosperity; independence won't take you safely to the end.' Well, we've now got youth and prosperity right up to the end. What follows? Evidently, that we can be independent of God. 'The religious sentiment will compensate us for all our losses.' But there aren't any losses for us to compensate; religious sentiment is superfluous. And why should we go hunting for a substitute for youthful desires, when youthful desires never fail? A substitute for distractions, when we go on enjoying all the old fooleries to the very last? What need have we of repose when our minds and bodies continue to delight in activity? of consolation, when we have soma? of something immovable, when there is the social order?"

"Then you think there is no God?"

"No, I think there quite probably is one."

"Then why? …"

Mustapha Mond checked him. "But he manifests himself in different ways to different men. In premodern times he manifested himself as the being that's described in these books. Now …"

"How does he manifest himself now?" asked the Savage.

"Well, he manifests himself as an absence; as though he weren't there at all."

"That's your fault."

"Call it the fault of civilization. God isn't compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness. You must make your choice. Our civilization has chosen machinery and medicine and happiness. That's why I have to keep these books locked up in the safe. They're smut. People would be shocked it …"

The Savage interrupted him. "But isn't it natural to feel there's a God?"

"You might as well ask if it's natural to do up one's trousers with zippers," said the Controller sarcastically. "You remind me of another of those old fellows called Bradley. He defined philosophy as the finding of bad reason for what one believes by instinct. As if one believed anything by instinct! One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them. Finding bad reasons for what one believes for other bad reasons–that's philosophy. People believe in God because they've been conditioned to.

"But all the same," insisted the Savage, "it is natural to believe in God when you're alone–quite alone, in the night, thinking about death …"

"But people never are alone now," said Mustapha Mond. "We make them hate solitude; and we arrange their lives so that it's almost impossible for them ever to have it."

The Savage nodded gloomily. At Malpais he had suffered because they had shut him out from the communal activities of the pueblo, in civilized London he was suffering because he could never escape from those communal activities, never be quietly alone.

"Do you remember that bit in King Lear?" said the Savage at last. "'The gods are just and of our pleasant vices make instruments to plague us; the dark and vicious place where thee he got cost him his eyes,' and Edmund answers–you remember, he's wounded, he's dying–'Thou hast spoken right; 'tis true. The wheel has come full circle; I am here.' What about that now? Doesn't there seem to be a God managing things, punishing, rewarding?"

"Well, does there?" questioned the Controller in his turn. "You can indulge in any number of pleasant vices with a freemartin and run no risks of having your eyes put out by your son's mistress. 'The wheel has come full circle; I am here.' But where would Edmund be nowadays? Sitting in a pneumatic chair, with his arm round a girl's waist, sucking away at his sex-hormone chewing-gum and looking at the feelies. The gods are just. No doubt. But their code of law is dictated, in the last resort, by the people who organize society; Providence takes its cue from men."

"Are you sure?" asked the Savage. "Are you quite sure that the Edmund in that pneumatic chair hasn't been just as heavily punished as the Edmund who's wounded and bleeding to death? The gods are just. Haven't they used his pleasant vices as an instrument to degrade him?"

"Degrade him from what position? As a happy, hard-working, goods-consuming citizen he's perfect. Of course, if you choose some other standard than ours, then perhaps you might say he was degraded. But you've got to stick to one set of postulates. You can't play Electro-magnetic Golf according to the rules of Centrifugal Bumble-puppy."

"But value dwells not in particular will," said the Savage. "It holds his estimate and dignity as well wherein 'tis precious of itself as in the prizer."

"Come, come," protested Mustapha Mond, "that's going rather far, isn't it?"

"If you allowed yourselves to think of God, you wouldn't allow yourselves to be degraded by pleasant vices. You'd have a reason for bearing things patiently, for doing things with courage. I've seen it with the Indians."

"l'm sure you have," said Mustapha Mond. "But then we aren't Indians. There isn't any need for a civilized man to bear anything that's seriously unpleasant. And as for doing things–Ford forbid that he should get the idea into his head. It would upset the whole social order if men started doing things on their own."

"What about self-denial, then? If you had a God, you'd have a reason for self-denial."

"But industrial civilization is only possible when there's no self-denial. Self-indulgence up to the very limits imposed by hygiene and economics. Otherwise the wheels stop turning."

"You'd have a reason for chastity!" said the Savage, blushing a little as he spoke the words.

"But chastity means passion, chastity means neurasthenia. And passion and neurasthenia mean instability. And instability means the end of civilization. You can't have a lasting civilization without plenty of pleasant vices."

"But God's the reason for everything noble and fine and heroic. If you had a God …"

"My dear young friend," said Mustapha Mond, "civilization has absolutely no need of nobility or heroism. These things are symptoms of political inefficiency. In a properly organized society like ours, nobody has any opportunities for being noble or heroic. Conditions have got to be thoroughly unstable before the occasion can arise. Where there are wars, where there are divided allegiances, where there are temptations to be resisted, objects of love to be fought for or defended–there, obviously, nobility and heroism have some sense. But there aren't any wars nowadays. The greatest care is taken to prevent you from loving any one too much. There's no such thing as a divided allegiance; you're so conditioned that you can't help doing what you ought to do. And what you ought to do is on the whole so pleasant, so many of the natural impulses are allowed free play, that there really aren't any temptations to resist. And if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should somehow happen, why, there's always soma to give you a holiday from the facts. And there's always soma to calm your anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make you patient and long-suffering. In the past you could only accomplish these things by making a great effort and after years of hard moral training. Now, you swallow two or three half-gramme tablets, and there you are. Anybody can be virtuous now. You can carry at least half your morality about in a bottle. Christianity without tears–that's what soma is."

"But the tears are necessary. Don't you remember what Othello said? 'If after every tempest came such calms, may the winds blow till they have wakened death.' There's a story one of the old Indians used to tell us, about the Girl of Mátaski. The young men who wanted to marry her had to do a morning's hoeing in her garden. It seemed easy; but there were flies and mosquitoes, magic ones. Most of the young men simply couldn't stand the biting and stinging. But the one that could–he got the girl."

"Charming! But in civilized countries," said the Controller, "you can have girls without hoeing for them, and there aren't any flies or mosquitoes to sting you. We got rid of them all centuries ago."

The Savage nodded, frowning. "You got rid of them. Yes, that's just like you. Getting rid of everything unpleasant instead of learning to put up with it. Whether 'tis better in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them … But you don't do either. Neither suffer nor oppose. You just abolish the slings and arrows. It's too easy."

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I am currently reading Shahid Motahari's sirah of the Prophet (pbuh).

I had only read two sirahs before this: Tabarsi's and Shariati's. I didn't like Tabarsi's because I thought it was more a collection of hadiths rather than a sirah. And although I liked Shariati's, it was very short and not comprehensive at all.

Shahid Motahari is one of my favorite people to read, so I had high expectations going into this book.

Unfortunately, I do not like what I have seen so far.

Shahid Motahari always has a tendency to deviate from his main point or topic, but in this book that is more evident than in any other books of his that I have read.

I really don't need to know about Islam's rejection of moral relativism or dialectical materialism. Yes those are great topics, but this is a sirah of the Prophet of Islam. I want to read about the life of the Prophet. If he were bringing up relevant examples from the Prophet's life, then maybe I could get on board. But he isn't. He is bringing anecdotes from Churchill and Alexander and Imam Ali and Muawiyah. A lot of very unrelated stuff. I have read about a third of the book and I feel like it hasn't even started yet. I hope it gets better.

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I've just finished reading the famous article On BullS**t by Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt. It was originally written in 1989 and published in book form in 2005, it was on the New York Times bestseller list for 27 weeks. Frankfurt's aim in the book is to explore the concept of BS - what it is, how it's different from other forms of misrepresentation, and why it's so common (and perhaps on the rise in modern society). When I first heard about this book I dismissed it as a joke, but having read it I've found it to be insightful and relevant.

The thing that makes it initially hard to take seriously is the title. My advice is to forget about the word BS and instead focus on what BSing is supposed to represent - a particular un-Islamic practice that is very common, and unfortunately viewed by many as a necessity to success in life.

So what is BS and how is it different to lying? Frankfurt argues that in both cases the intention is to misrepresent. In the case of lying, the liar aims to misrepresent firstly the truth, and secondly his/her particular regarding the truth. For example, if a McDonald’s rep were to tell you that eating junk food is harmless, not only is he intending to deceive you as to the real harms of a poor diet (i.e. the reality of the facts) but he also intends to deceive you as to his own personal beliefs about eating junk food. In reality, he knows that what he is saying is false, but wants you to believe that he believes it's true. Therefore with lying there is a double deception - deception regarding the facts in the world, and deception about the beliefs of the liar.

Contrast this with BS. Frankfurt quotes a number of definitions and passages from contemporary and old sources to support his case, but essentially it is this - the one who engages in BS doesn't aim to deceive you about the world. He doesn't care what you believe about the world; rather what he cares about is what you believe about him. An American Senator may go on TV and speak passionately about the greatness of the US, the importance of patriotism, the necessity of fighting evil and trusting in God, etc. but actually he doesn’t care about these thing and is indifferent to whether they are true or false. He isn’t concerned with convincing you that these things are true, rather, what he is attempting to achieve is to give a certain impression of himself - that he is patriotic, passionate about fighting evil and religious. Perhaps all that he says is in fact true – in that case he wouldn’t be lying, but would still be engaging in BS

Now the concept most central to

the distinctive nature of a lie is that of falsity: the liar is essentially

someone who deliberately promulgates a falsehood. Bluffing too

is typically devoted to conveying something false. Unlike plain

lying, however, it is more especially a matter not of falsity but of

fakery. This is what accounts for its nearness to bs. For the

essence of bs is not that it is false but that it is phony. In

order to appreciate this distinction, one must recognize that a

fake or a phony need not be in any respect (apart from

authenticity itself) inferior to the real thing. What is not genuine

need not also be defective in some other way. It may be, after all,

an exact copy. What is wrong with a counterfeit is not what it is

like, but how it was made. This points to a similar and

fundamental aspect of the essential nature of bs: although it

is produced without concern with the truth, it need not be false.

The bser is faking things. But this does not mean that he

necessarily gets them wrong.

This is perhaps the main reason why BS is generally viewed less negatively than lying – the purpose it to give a certain fake impression of oneself, not to deceive people about certain facts in the world. The aim seems less sinister. Frankfurt rejects the view that lying worse. BS is worse than lying as it comes with a certain indifference to the truth. The liar recognizes truth from falsehood, and chooses to propagate falsehood. The one who engages in BS doesn’t care what’s true or false, he just wants people to see him in a certain light, and not caring about truth or falsehood is worse. I’m not sure I agree with Frankfurt on this point, and I’d like to think more about the Islamic position on this.

Frankfurt ends his book/article with a discussion of the causes of why BS is so widespread.

‘BS is unavoidable whenever circumstances require

someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about. Thus

the production of bs is stimulated whenever a person’s

obligations or opportunities to speak about some topic are more

excessive than his knowledge of the facts that are relevant to that

topic. This discrepancy is common in public life, where people are

frequently impelled — whether by their own propensities or by

the demands of others — to speak extensively about matters of

which they are to some degree ignorant.’

For example, the widespread idea that being a responsible citizen requires one to have an opinion about everything fuels the production of BS. And modern western doctrines that question the meaningfulness of truth undermine the value of speaking truthfully.

Does Islam have a term that captures the meaning of BS? There’s Riya’ – doing certain acts and saying certain things in order to impress people. But Riya’ (I’m open to correction here) is exclusively restricted to conveying piety, whereas BS seems to include conveying any particular attribute through insincere words and deeds. In that sense it’s wider than Riya’. Perhaps Nifaq (hypocrisy)? But hypocrites usually know the truth rather than being indifferent to it. Perhaps I’m wasting my time and should spend it doing more constructive things! Anyhow, I enjoyed reading the article and it made me think about different types of deception that we are prone to, so inshaallah I will be in a better place to avoid them in the future. May Allah swt protect us all from BS.

Edited by .InshAllah.

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(salam)

THE RAINMAKER , by John Griham

and

BUY.OLOGY, by Martin Lindstorm

Well, I wanna spend some money on books , and I wanna make sure i buy good ones, to add to my collection.

So, any recommendations fellows?

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