Stuff to Read

The holidays left me a huge chunk of time with Wikipedia and it now seems that I can’t really stop that readily. I thought it would be nice for me to prescribe a few readings I did today so that I may take a break from all the reading I did in the day. Today’s readings will bring you through quite a couple of topics, ranging from the sciences to the humanities so you may need some background knowledge for each of the different subjects before embarking on them.

To begin, let’s start with a little stuff about logic and arguments. You might like to know a bit about the Reductio ad absurdum technique of rhetoric. To apply what you may have just learnt, it would be nice to know about the rather offending but otherwise hilarious Flying Spaghetti Monster, as recommended by the first article. While all the laughter ended, I was led into more serious stuff.

Unsure of the highest oxidation state of Phosphorus while I was working on a few Periodicity problems, I researched ‘P4O10’ and obtained Phosphorous Pentoxide, which from it’s name, confirmed I was right about the question; subsequently I found myself reading about Anthony Burgess’ The Wanting Seed while attempting to understand why Phosphorus glows. Oh yes, in case you are wondering about the inconsistency with the spellings ‘Phosphorus’ and ‘Phosphorous’ – I learnt that the word phosphorous is the adjectival form for the P3+ valency:

Just as sulphur forms sulphurous and sulfuric compounds, so phosphorus forms phosphorous compounds.

Returning to the original position where I started out, I got to know about Frederic Bastiat, an economist who employs the reductio ad absurdum to argue his case. For that matter, I read his ‘Candlemakers’ Peition’ to get a feel of his style.

If all these reading’s aren’t enough, I recommend going out to Kinokuniya and grabbing a copy of Tim Harford’s The Undercover Economist to understand the all-encompassing nature of Economics, before working on Stephen Levitt’s Freakonomics, which I guess came out a little too early (at least before most of us can get our Economics fundamentals right). I know, those prescribed cannot possibly be enough for a mind hungry for knowledge in a day so I think we’ll just end off everything with Jostein Gaarder’s Through a Glass, Darkly, a fiction I really liked (though I normally hate fictions) with a message about life I truly appreciate.


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