Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk (Audio Book)

October 5, 2008

Amazon.com Review
Some say that the apocalypse swiftly approacheth, but that simply ain’t so according to Chuck Palahniuk. Oh no. It’s already here, living in the head of the guy who just crossed the street in front of you, or maybe even closer than that. We saw these possibilities get played out in the author’s bloodsporting-anarchist-yuppie shocker of a first novel, Fight Club. Now, in Survivor, his second and newest, the concern is more for the origin of the malaise. Starting at chapter 47 and screaming toward ground zero, Palahniuk hurls the reader back to the beginning in a breathless search for where it all went wrong. This time out, the author’s protagonist is self-made, self-ruined mogul-messiah Tender Branson, the sole passenger of a jet moments away from slamming first into the Australian outback and then into oblivion. All that will be left, Branson assures us with a tone bordering on relief, is his life story, from its Amish-on-acid cult beginnings to its televangelist-huckster end. All of this courtesy of the plane’s flight recorder. Speaking of little black boxes, Skinnerians would have a field day with the presenting behavior of the folks who make up Palahniuk’s world. They pretend they’re suicide hotline operators for fun. They eat lobster before it’s quite… done. They dance in morgues. The Cleavers they are not. Scary as they might be, these characters are ultimately more scared of themselves than you are, and that’s what makes them so fascinating. In the wee hours and on lonely highways, they exist in a perpetual twilight, caught between the horror of the present and the dread of the unknown. With only two novels under his belt, Chuck Palahniuk is well on his way to becoming an expert at shining a light on these shadowy creatures.

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What We Say Goes: Conversations on U.S. Power in a Changing World by Noam Chomsky (Audio Book)

October 3, 2008

This audiobook is a series of interviews with semanticist and social critic Noam Chomsky, conducted in 2006 and 2007. It explores the Israel-Palestine issue, U.S. relations with various Middle East nations, nuclear weapons, China, Latin America, and much more. Chomsky seeks to show how actual reality differs from what the United States says is reality by exploding ÒspinÓ and obfuscating language. ChomskyÕs unvarnished worldview offers a searing critique of what we are hearing out of Washington from both political parties. The conversations take a great deal of attention, so listeners are advised to take this book in small pieces. Neither speakerÕs voice changes much, so it can be easy to lose concentration and miss something important.

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The Clinton Vision: Old Wine, New Bottles by Noam Chomsky (Audio Book)

October 3, 2008

Amazon.com
In this 1994 speech–the first of three released by AK Press, oddly enough, in association with the punk record label Epitaph–Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Noam Chomsky shoots from the hip, criticizing the early days of the Clinton administration long before anyone had ever heard of Monica Lewinsky. Chomsky digs into Clinton’s bungled health care plan, his business interests, his labor policies, and his involvement with the North American Free Trade Agreement. Despite being the world’s foremost linguist, Chomsky is not exactly a charismatic speaker–he drones a bit and offers humor sparingly. His strong, simple words, though, and his big ideas are undeniably engrossing. He takes politics out of the ether and shows us how it affects our lives and the lives of those around us.

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Capital Rules For A Free Humanity For Anarchy with CHUMBAWAMBA by Noam Chomsky (Audio Book)

October 3, 2008

Disc one is Chomsky’s scathing lecture “Capital Rules” – an articulate, accessible description of Corporate America’s attack on the working class. Disc two is “Showbusiness!, a live collection of the UK’s finest anarcho-pop, Chumbawamba!

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Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance (The American Empire Project) by Noam Chomsky (Audio Book)

October 3, 2008

Amazon.com Review
Noam Chomsky is considered the father of modern linguistics. In this richly detailed criticism of American foreign policy, he seeks to redefine many of the terms commonly used in the ongoing American war on terrorism. Surveying U.S. actions in Cuba, Nicaragua, Turkey, the Far East and elsewhere over the past half a century along with the modern American war in Iraq, Chomsky indicates that America is just as much a terrorist state as any other government or rogue organization. George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq drew worldwide criticism, in part because it seemed to present a new philosophy of pre-emptive war and an appearance of global empire building. But according to Chomsky, such has been the operating philosophy of American foreign policy for decades. Opponents of the Bush administration’s tactics consistently point out how the American government supported Saddam Hussein for many years prior to the 1990 invasion of Kuwait (pictures of Donald Rumsfeld shaking Saddam’s hand are easy to come by) as a means of pointing out how the United States is happy to fund despots when it’s in American interests. But Chomsky, armed with extensive historical notation, takes this notion further, arguing how the repression of other nations’ citizenry is, in fact, the very reason Americans support certain foreign leaders. The charges made throughout the book are severe, as are the dire consequences he posits if current trends are not reversed, and Chomsky is no more likely to make friends or gain supporters from the mainstream now than he’s ever been. But Hegemony or Survival is relatively dispassionate. Instead of relying on camp or shock value or personal attacks as some of his contemporaries have done, Chomsky drives his well-supported points steadily forward in an earnest and highly readable style.

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Class War: The Attack On Working People by Noam Chomsky (Audio Book)

October 3, 2008

Amazon.com
In perhaps the most potent of his speeches released on CD (this one recorded in 1995 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), linguist and political critic Noam Chomsky frankly addresses the evident–but largely undiscussed–lines of class in American society, comparing, for example, American labor laws and practices with those of its global comrades. “The government,” Chomsky says, quoting John Dewey, his favorite Democratic philosopher, “is the shadow cast by business over society.” He bemoans corporate propaganda, the crushing of unions, and the “created wants” that have left us “a devastated peasant society…. People are scared, angry, and hostile.” Pretty tough stuff, but Chomsky does offer one ray of hope: “If you want to change something, change the substance, not the shadow.”

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Consciousness Explained by Daniel C. Dennett (E-Book)

October 3, 2008

Amazon.com Review
Consciousness is notoriously difficult to explain. On one hand, there are facts about conscious experience–the way clarinets sound, the way lemonade tastes–that we know subjectively, from the inside. On the other hand, such facts are not readily accommodated in the objective world described by science. How, after all, could the reediness of clarinets or the tartness of lemonade be predicted in advance? Central to Daniel C. Dennett’s attempt to resolve this dilemma is the “heterophenomenological” method, which treats reports of introspection nontraditionally–not as evidence to be used in explaining consciousness, but as data to be explained. Using this method, Dennett argues against the myth of the Cartesian theater–the idea that consciousness can be precisely located in space or in time. To replace the Cartesian theater, he introduces his own multiple drafts model of consciousness, in which the mind is a bubbling congeries of unsupervised parallel processing. Finally, Dennett tackles the conventional philosophical questions about consciousness, taking issue not only with the traditional answers but also with the traditional methodology by which they were reached. Dennett’s writing, while always serious, is never solemn; who would have thought that combining philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience could be such fun? Not every reader will be convinced that Dennett has succeeded in explaining consciousness; many will feel that his account fails to capture essential features of conscious experience. But none will want to deny that the attempt was well worth making.

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from AtheistMovies

Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space by Carl Sagan (Audio Book and E-Book)

October 3, 2008

From Publishers Weekly
In a tour of our solar system, galaxy and beyond, Cornell astronomer Sagan meshes a history of astronomical discovery, a cogent brief for space exploration and an overview of life-from its origins in the oceans to humanity’s first emergence to a projected future where humans “terraform” and settle other planets and asteroids, Earth having long been swallowed by the sun. Maintaining that such relocation is inevitable, the author further argues that planetary science is of practical utility, fostering an interdisciplinary approach to looming environmental catastrophes such as “nuclear winter” (lethal cooling of Earth after a nuclear war, a widely accepted prediction first calculated by Sagan in 1982). His exploration of our place in the universe is illustrated with photographs, relief maps and paintings, including high-resolution images made by Voyager 1 and 2, as well as photos taken by the Galileo spacecraft, the Hubble Space Telescope and satellites orbiting Earth, which show our planet as a pale blue dot. A worthy sequel to Sagan’s Cosmos.

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The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution by Richard Dawkins (Audio Book and E-Book)

October 3, 2008

Amazon.com Review
Just as we trace our personal family trees from parents to grandparents and so on back in time, so in The Ancestor’s Tale Richard Dawkins traces the ancestry of life. As he is at pains to point out, this is very much our human tale, our ancestry. Surprisingly, it is one that many otherwise literate people are largely unaware of. Hopefully Dawkins’s name and well deserved reputation as a best selling writer will introduce them to this wonderful saga.

The Ancestor’s Tale takes us from our immediate human ancestors back through what he calls ‘concestors,’ those shared with the apes, monkeys and other mammals and other vertebrates and beyond to the dim and distant microbial beginnings of life some 4 billion years ago. It is a remarkable story which is still very much in the process of being uncovered. And, of course from a scientist of Dawkins stature and reputation we get an insider’s knowledge of the most up-to-date science and many of those involved in the research. And, as we have come to expect of Dawkins, it is told with a passionate commitment to scientific veracity and a nose for a good story. Dawkins’s knowledge of the vast and wonderful sweep of life’s diversity is admirable. Not only does it encompass the most interesting living representatives of so many groups of organisms but also the important and informative fossil ones, many of which have only been found in recent years.

Dawkins sees his journey with its reverse chronology as ‘cast in the form of an epic pilgrimage from the present to the past [and] all roads lead to the origin of life.’ It is, to my mind, a sensible and perfectly acceptable approach although some might complain about going against the grain of evolution. The great benefit for the general reader is that it begins with the more familiar present and the animals nearest and dearest to us—our immediate human ancestors. And then it delves back into the more remote and less familiar past with its droves of lesser known and extinct fossil forms. The whole pilgrimage is divided into 40 tales, each based around a group of organisms and discusses their role in the overall story. Genetic, morphological and fossil evidence is all taken into account and illustrated with a wealth of photos and drawings of living and fossils forms, evolutionary and distributional charts and maps through time, providing a visual compliment and complement to the text. The design also allows Dawkins to make numerous running comments and characteristic asides. There are also numerous references and a good index.

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Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam by Michel Onfray (E-Book)

October 3, 2008

This tightly argued, hugely controversial work convincingly demonstrates how the world’s three major monotheistic religions-Christianity, Judaism, and Islam-have attempted to suppress knowledge, science, pleasure, and desire, often condemning nonbelievers to death. If Nietzsche proclaimed the “Death of God,” Onfray starts from the premise that not only is God still very much alive, but increasingly controlled by fundamentalists who pose a danger to the human race. Documenting the ravages from religious intolerance over the centuries, the author makes a strong case against the three religions for demanding faith, belief, obedience and submission, and for extolling the “next life” at the expense of the here and now. Not since Nietzsche has a work so groundbreaking and explosive appeared to question the role of the world’s dominant religions.

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