Sunday, April 27, 2008

Events at Stacey's

Stacey's bookstore was quite the forum of ideas this week. I went to 3 interesting book events. On Monday, LA Times columnist Steve Lopez talked about The Soloist. It's his way of bringing attention to the appalling plight of LA's poor on skid row. He recounts his relationship with a musician struggling with mental illness & homelessness. Mr. Lopez tells a tough & inspiring story, & he's really part of the story himself, becoming friends with the musician & spending the night with him on skid row. He eventually gets his friend housing & entree into Disney Hall. Soon to be a major motion picture.

On Tuesday, Gary Marcus described how our memories & thought processes can be quite faulty. His book has the amusing title Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind. There is no reason that evolution has to hit upon the optimal design, & our memories do not work like addressable computer memory at all. Sounds like the book contains good arguments against intelligent design.

On Friday Susan Jacoby discussed her book The Age of American Unreason, which is about how we've all gotten so dumb in public discourse. It's pretty disheartening to be in a book store & hear that the reading culture is going away. I was intrigued by her suggestion that the Internet actually allows people to isolate themselves from differing view-points instead of challenging them with new ideas. Ms Jacoby is an excellent speaker, concise, energetic & funny. You can tell that she enjoys a good argument.

Stacey's runs these events efficiently, not letting things go on for too long. I'm not a fan of the Q & A format, but the people attending seem to be a well-informed lot.

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