Contro i papa’ by Antonio Polito

The book is focused on the subject of how the modern fathers relate to their children and how this is impacting the development of the kids.
The author describes the situation as the parent behaving like the union of the kids.

Instead of providing a strong and structured reasoning about the problem the author decided to provide to the readers a set of facts from the news that demonstrate the relevance of the phenomenon and the consequences.
Given the fact the Antonio Polito is a journalist and not a philosopher this approach makes sense.

It is possible to considered the book as a vertical case study of the wider problem that authors like Kenneth Minogue, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Roger Scruton (and others) raise about the modern approach to life and the consequences in the long-term.

The book can be appreciated in any case even without a theoretical background but this is not a guarantee that the message will be accepted by the reader ad I’ve learned after lending it.

Ernest and Celestine by Daniel Pennac

When I can I try to read the books that are proposed to my son.

A two weeks trip to the USA was a good opportunity to do so.
Ernest et Celestine is a good reading for an age between 8 and 10 years: the subject may appear light at a first glimpse (the story of a mouse and a bear) but the message about against using prejudices as the guiding criteria of relations is very strong and clear.

While the construction of the phrases is simple a few words will likely be missing in the vocabulary of a kid: be prepared to answer questions or have a dictionary for kids readily available.

Recommended.

Mariage homosexuel, homoparentalité ed adoption. Essay by Gilles Bernheim

This booklet was recently translated in italian and was recommended to me by a friend.

The purpose of the book was to put together a strong argument against the law on the subject that was being discussed at the time of publishing by the French Parliament.
The law was recently approved hence the book was not able to steer the vote away from the promised outcome of the election campaign.
Even if the political target was not reached still the book was a contribution to the ample discussion that happened in France after the general election and before the vote of the law.

It’s a very easy reading as anyone would hope for if a book has to make an impact on a wide audience and is without religious references.
The strongest arguments, in my opinion, are the ones that are centered about whether or not a baby can be considered an object (of someone’s right) instead of a subject (with his own rights).

This same caveat about object/subject can be applied (either implicitly or explicitly) in relation of abortion.
In a number of legislations there it is a limit to the time when an abortion is legal: at some point in time the fetus is considered a person (hence a subject) and before is considered only an object.
I think that either a foetus is a person from time 0 of no one is ever a person: putting an arbitrary term for the switch is subject to a strong attack with the logical paradox called sorite.
This problem is somewhat limited in practical application in the case of abortion: after the fact there it is no more evolution of the foetus from an object to a subject.

For an adoption and assisted procreation this is different.
Even assuming that at the time of the decision the baby is an object this will not remain true as the time moves on: at some point in time the baby will become a subject with rights and the law should really deal with this fact from day 1.

For this argument to be effective it’s clearly necessary to have an agreement on whether or not a person has the right to have a mother and a father and this is only slightly easier to agree upon than the other one: quite a few people disagrees with the idea that “natural for a human being” and “right” do match.
How could we get away from this problem?
In my opinion by taking into account the wider and more general question: a human being can be an object (or a mean to someone else’s end)? (1)
Here the number of persons that would say yes goes down: as it’s often the case it’s easier to be conservative when we have a direct interest.

The implication of (1) applies clearly not only to the specific scenario of the book but to the parenthood in general.

The liberal mind by Kenneth Minogue

I’ve really appreciated this book.
With a few exceptions tied to some of the specific examples used the reader could easily think that this book was written very recently and not 50 years ago.

The Author analyzes in detail the dynamics that starting from the Liberalism lead to the liberal thinking.
Today we’re so immersed in the liberal thinking (even if in some countries the Liberal party is right-wing party) that most people would consider it the same as the liberalism while this is not the case.

The description of the evolution of desires into needs and of needs into rights is one of the most interesting parts.
The distinction about freedom considered as a potential to do things vs. the actual doing is also a very significant subject.

I recommend the book as it helps understand how the liberal thinking is pushed to the general audience and how the language is manipulated to make everyone not adhering appear as old-fashioned and against the progress.

This book is useful both for liberals (as they better understand the way they think) and for non-liberals as this helps in both in discussing with liberals and in resisting the liberal pressure to homologate.

L’effroi du beau by Jean-Louis Chretien

It’s a small booklet and it can appear an easy reading as a consequence: this is not the case. Really.

It’s not a book that I’d recommend to everyone but at the same time I don’t regret to have spent quite some time to read it.
I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on two very important subjects touched and this makes the reading worth the time.

The author elaborates a couple of time on the subject of the difference between the fear of the serf and the fear of the son.
It’s a greater difference than it may appear: the former fears the punishment as he fears the pain or the deprivation associated, the latter fears that the father may send him away.
For the son is the separation from the father that is feared first and foremost, not the possible deprivation and pain that may arise as a consequence of the separation.

A second subject is synthetized by this phrase:
“a planned joy is only a modulation of boredom”
I discussed this with a few friends as I feel it’s deeply true.
From one of them I got a strong bounce back at the first round: he told me that he planned his child and he’s very happy and never bored (sometime upset but this is a different subject) and the same holds true for a number of other things that he plans like going to sky and so on.
We digged deeper together in the idea and it turns out that while he planned to have kids he did not have a way to plan in detail the consequences of the births and the detail how the kids would grow up.
Not that he did not tried to plan, to some degree, as any father would do for the good of the kids themselves, but simply it’s not (thanks God) like programming a computer and the outcome is never known in advance and is not under control.
In the end he agreed that the source of the joy was really in what was not planned, not in the birth event itself, but in the specific, unplanned, face of the kids. And in all the things that they did while growing and that they still do.

I’ve read the book in Italian (title: La ferita della bellezza), but hopefully is available also in english for anyone who dares to try the read.

Dalla parte dei vinti by Piero Buscaroli

In Italy WWII history was written by the winners, as it’s usually the case everywhere in the world when a war is over.

At school I was taught that the good guys (US+GB) saved my country from the bad guys (the Germans and the fascist government of the time).
In the study books it looked like it was a nice and peaceful process for the population and that only minor civilian casualties happened in Italy.

After over 60 years a few voices can be heard that describe what happened in a less manichean way.
Piero Buscaroli is one of those voices: you may feel a strong sense of discomfort when reading this book as it could shatter the a comfortable system of believes that was built over time.
Like other books that go against years of propaganda (Solzhenitsyn‘s Archipelagos Gulag comes to my mind as the most relevant example) this is a must read to develop a better understanding of human and political dynamics and of history.

Reading list of December 2012

A couple of weeks of travel and one week of vacation helped in making december a fairly rich month from the point of view of reading.

I’ve read the following books:

Nessuno genera se non e’ generato by Fraternita’ San Carlo
It’s a small booklet that collects a few thoughts around the role of the father with the support of excerpts from classical books:
Homer’s Iliad: Achilles meets Priam asking for Hector’s body
Homer’s Odyssey: Ulisses meets Telemachus
Dante Alighieri’s Divina Commedia: the relation of Dante and Virgilio
J.R.R. Tolkien’s The lord of the ring: the relation of Gandalf with the hobbits

Alone together by Sherry Turkle
I’ve made two posts about this book so far here and here.
Given the amount of content at least one more post is to come.
Reccomended reading.

The Necromancers by Robert H. Benson

Jesus of Nazareth (vol. 2) by Joseph Ratzinger
Way better commentary on Jesus’ life than I’ve heard in the preaches of many priests. Worth reading.

Favola di Natale by Giovanni Guareschi
As it’s often the case with Guareschi the booklet presents a sad subject (being prisoner in a German lager during the second WW) in a way that doesn’t hide the hard part but yet is with hope and lighthearted.
Recommended.

Reading “Alone together” by Sherry Turkle: continued

Moving ahead reading proved that the first impression was correct:  the book is a great reading.

When I was getting close to the end of the first part, the one related to robots, I started to feel it hard to continue as reading was giving me a certain degree of discomfort somewhat similar to what I’ve experienced reading “A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel’s Victims of Terrorism” by Giulio Meotti.
It took me a while to realize the source of this feeling: the author was dismantling the mental barrier that protects me from the idea of having the robots in the future on the sale level as humans.

Gödel’s incompleteness theorems are the key pillar of my vision about what robots can’t do in the future and this was all I needed to dismiss the rise of the robots as a non-issue.
The challenge is that Sherry Turkle provides a lot of evidence of the fact that people is lowering the bar of what they feel is needed to accept the robots as relational manufacts.
No need to make them smart as humans leads to the ineffectiveness of the mathematical safeguard of Gödel’s incompleteness theorems: by lowering expectations robots will be able to match them in the near future.

You can take a look at Gödel’s incompleteness theorems on wikipedia (not the easiest of the journeys if you don’t have a bit of logic and algebra background) or read Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid as an easier introduction.

Finally completed to move the content of my reading list by amazon from Linkedin (part 9 of 9)

With this post I’ve finally completed the move from the amazon-linkedin application

You can read why I’ve done this and can also find the first secondthirdfourthfifthsixthseventh and eighth part of the list that I’ve already published.

Saturday, Oct 22 2011
Starman Jones by Robert A. Heinlein

Saturday, Oct 22 2011
The Children of Húrin by J. R. R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, Alan Lee
I like better the original works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Thursday, Sep 22 2011
After Many a Summer Dies the Swan by Aldous Huxley

Saturday, Sep 17 2011
Wise Blood: A Novel by Flannery O’Connor
Having read all the stories I felt at home with this book.
It was like chatting with the writer about people we both knew.

Tuesday, Sep 6 2011
George Washington’s False Teeth: An Unconventional Guide to the Eighteenth Century by Robert Darnton
The book was interesting and entertaining.
One of the things that impressed me is finding out that we (the moderns) invented very little in the manipulation of the stock markets lately: most elements were already present in the pre-revolutionary french market.

Tuesday, Aug 30 2011
Marketing reloaded. Leve e strumenti per la co-creazione di esperienze multicanale by Giuliano Noci, Fabrizio M. Pini Andrea Boaretto
I recomed this book both to marketers and to customers.
To customers because is good to know how the companies are sending messages to you.
To marketers to check the degree of evolution of their marketing activity in comparison to recent practices.

Monday, Aug 22 2011
Open Prison by James White

Monday, Aug 22 2011
Second ending by James White

Content of my reading list by amazon (part 8 of 9)

In an attempt to complete the moving from the linkedin/amazon application here is the second chunk of today.

You can read why I’m doing this and can also find the first secondthirdfourthfifthsixth and seventh part of the list that I’ve already published.

Friday, Jun 10 2011
Guarda, tocca, vivi. Riscoprire i sensi per essere felici by Claudio Risé
I liked the book overall, yet I felt like something was missing on the closing part.
It’s more like a collection of multiple interesting essays on related subjects than a single comprehensive text

Saturday, May 28 2011
Twenty Days with Julian and Little Bunny by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Wednesday, May 11 2011
Forever War: Dispatches from the War on Terror by Dexter Filkins
Recommended

Wednesday, May 4 2011
The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor
Recommended

Thursday, Mar 31 2011
Manifesto dei conservatori by Roger Scruton
Very good reading.
The reasoning is rigorous yet easy to approach.
You can find an interesting review in Italian here

Wednesday, Mar 16 2011
Decisive Treatise and Epistle Dedicatory by Averroes
I’ve read the italian translation printed by Rizzoli.
The introduction and notes provide the fundamental context to fully appreciate the content.

Wednesday, Mar 2 2011
Shadrach in the Furnace by Robert Silverberg
The conclusion is clear a bit too early, but it’s a nice reading to relax.

Thursday, Feb 10 2011
I Drink Therefore I Am: A Philosopher’s Guide to Wine by Roger Scruton
I strongly recommend this book.
The part covering the wines is great and inspiring (I’d like to taste as many as possible of the mentioned ones to compare my experience with the author’s one) and the philosophical part is easy enough to handle for non-philosophers yet rich in content.

Thursday, Jan 20 2011
Incandescence by Greg Egan
I found it a bit boring

Monday, Jan 10 2011
La profondeur des sexes by Fabrice Hadjadj
Recommended book. Even if you may disagree with the author facing the issues he raises in a structured way will turn out useful nonetheless