The God Particle pp. 76-96 and Stand on Zanzibar pp. 106-127

Oh no!

I read Stand on Zanzibar yesterday, and then I read 10 pages of The God Particle… and fell asleep! I woke up this morning with my glasses and book nearby, lying on my bed. So this counts as my first failure!

I’m not too worried about having had a failure to complete my readings. I woke up on my own time and read the remaining 10 pages of The God Particle, and now I’m making this post. But it has got me thinking about the specific way I’ve been reading. Back on Monday, I chose these books so that I could force myself to read quickly. I haven’t been doing a good job of that — I’ve been vocalizing, slipping back, and reading mostly single words at a time.

I think that I’ve been reading slowly because I’ve been doing a lot of reading-while-walking, to help fit the reading into my day easier. Speed reading (especially while learning) takes considerable focus, as well as stability of the book and preferably, constant light. While walking to work, I am paying at least half-attention to crossing streets and the like, the book moves as I walk, and shadows regularly change the light on the book! It’s very hard to speed read during this — but that’s not an excuse. If I’m going to try to achieve 30 pages / book on 3 books each day next week, I must begin to speed read.

It’s a tough to learn speed reading on any new book though — to really learn speed reading you have to initially sacrifice comprehension. The comprehension will catch back up as you become used to the pattern of catching words while your eyes move. It’s mostly about getting a steady flow of eyesight down the page and forcing yourself not to vocalize. Then you can start trying to pull phrases into your mind as your eye sweeps over them, and from there, pick up details that didn’t fit with a phrase. Ideally, an eye-fixture should be an entire line or a half of a line, and somehow people read multiple lines at once? I’ve never really grokked that bit of it, but maybe I will when I’ve got a wider fixture.

I’m worried about the effects my eyesight will have on my ability to speed-read effectively. I do not possess truly binocular vision – I am normally seeing “more” out of one of my eyes than the other. This may hinder my ability to swiftly recognize and interpret fixtures, or it may make my ability to speed-read more situation-dependent than for someone with better eyesight. We shall see.

Back to the annoyance of the comprehension-drop, I’m considering switching Stand on Zanzibar out for something I’ve read before, or which I don’t care about reading every word of. Zanzibar has become a little like a cheesecake — I appreciate every little bit of it. It’s too dense and too jumpy and too subtle and too good to let myself scan over when my comprehension goes to crap, so, like Red Mars, I will have to place it aside for now. I’ll write about what I’m picking up in the next post.

The God Particle

This passage finished up with Galileo and moved on to Newton. Big revelations covered are F=ma and F=GM1M2/R. I recall learning these things, but have lost the knowledge I gained about them. I’m kind of wishing for a physics textbook now — I’m thinking about purchasing “Head First Physics” off of amazon, but maybe I’ll stop at a used book store to check if they have any old undergraduate intro textbooks first.

This book is doing a good job of delivering the philosophy of the science. I feel like Leo has reached firmer footing in recent history, and he’s doing a great job of speaking to the search for an elegant model of our universe. He regularly brings up the drive of experimentalists to describe what they find without interpreting it, and to question whether they have made mistakes and how best to account for them. Their work is incredibly noble. I think I must be a theorist at heart, because I can’t help but try to find reasons for things. That means being wrong very often, but I feel like reasons lead to greater understanding. There will likely be more discussion on these topics elsewhere in the book.

Stand on Zanzibar

This passage was heavy on the political intrigue side of things. There was also a context from Chad Mulligan, and an odd prayer-like passage that might have been a reference to something I’m too young for. A short focus on a geneticist with family problems who is harried by some youths was included — I wonder about the conclusion the story is heading toward. There are elements of Artificial Intelligence, political subversion, genetic attacks, terrorism, religious events, all kinds of wacky stuff thrown into the mixing pot in this first hundred pages. I can’t wait to see what pieces stick!

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