Posts Tagged ‘books’


It took me almost 30 years to get around to it, but I finally read Dune. Trying to decide now if I will continue on with the sequels (and even that has an internal decision - read just the Frank Herbert sequels, or go and read all the stuff his son did as well) or just get on with my reading list of other authors (some Charles Stross, Neil Gaiman, and the ever present Terry Pratchett).

I have seen a lot of press vaunting Dune as the greatest science fiction novel of all time, and I guess sales wise it probably is, but I can’t say that I quite see it. I enjoyed the book and thought that the Fremen portions made a great ethnography that was really entertaining, but I have some issues with the book as a whole. The main character never really has any challenges laid before him and nothing is ever hard for him. He is the best at literally everything apparently. Not only is he the ultimate genetic human, but he has training that his gender should not allow, he has the brains of a super computer, and can defeat anyone in armed combat…despite never having been in a real battle before being thrust into a situation of having to fight one of the best fighters in the galaxy. Even taking over the Universe is a seemingly simple matter for him.

In fact, the whole book is set in the superlative, everyone is the best at what they do. Thufir is apparently the best Mentat, but can’t see through some simple trickery. Duncan is the greatest swordsman, but then again so is Gurney - who is also the most rad Baliset player. The Fremen are the bestest revolutionaries…etc. Everyone is superhuman and after a while I got tired of hearing about how bad ass and clever they were.

Despite all this bitching, it was a good book and I definitely enjoyed it…Book 2 was particularly entertaining. And, I have now finished 2 books this year…which puts me behind schedule for Xeno’s challenge to read 52 books this year, but not too shabby considering I probably usually only read 4-5 non technical books a year.

└ Tags: , ,

My God, I Almost Destroyed My Computer

I like coffee, but I almost just destroyed my new (god, has it almost been a year?) Mac.  Ironically, had I drank more coffee, I would have been more awake, wouldn’t have spilled the coffee, and wouldn’t have almost had a heart attack.

In all seriousness, however, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything, so my apologies for that.  2010 has been a pretty sick year so far, with illnesses traveling through my house.  As you may notice from Estragon’s posting, I’ve been batting around the idea of reading 52 books this year.  There is nothing more obnoxious than someone talking about what they’re reading on a weekly basis on a blog, as though the universe cares.  I seem to be in a nihilistic mood, so my apologies for that as well.  It may have something to do with the coffee.

Having said that there is nothing more obnoxious than talking about what I’m reading on a blog, I will now proceed to discuss what I’ve been reading.

Week 1: The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson.  This was pretty damn good, and was a bestseller several years ago.  Also, it makes for hilarious conversations at work with IT people (”Why are you looking up serial killers on Wikipedia?”).

Week 2: Eating the Dinosaur, by Chuck Klosterman.  First book I’ve ever read of his, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  It’s a book of essays, so it can seem a bit schizophrenic when jumping from topic to topic.  Especially good was an essay comparing and contrasting David Koresh and Kurt Cobain.

This week: The Greatest Show on Earth, by Richard Dawkins.

Anyway, the 52 books/52 weeks thing will probably die a pretty quick death here in a bit.  I imagine 12 books/1 year is much more feasible. I may even try for 24, but I probably won’t tell the world all about it in a blog.

Oh, and Leno sucks.  Go Conan.

└ Tags: ,

Richard Dawkins - The Greatest Show On Earth

OK, so E and I are doing an informal “read a bunch of books” thing, which more or less was my New Year’s resolution (ie. to read more and watch less TV).

I haven’t been as vigilant as I should be, but I suppose that’s beside the point.  I just finished Richard Dawkins’ latest book last night, and the Appendix in it is full of a lot of frightening poll information.

First, there’s the polls that have been given intermittently since the early 1980s in the US by Gallup, which repeatedly show around 40% of Americans are creationists who believe that all life on earth was formed as it currently exists today.  The shocking part about that is that it’s been consistent over 30 years.  It’s never dropped below 40%.  And what that shows is willful ignorance in the face of reality.  Dawkins writes about school teachers who have children screaming “No!” when they’re told they’re going to be studying evolution.  It’s mind-boggling to me that this should be the current state of affairs in this country, but then, I guess I’m not in the 40% creationist camp.

An equally stupefying poll showed that 19% of Britons think that it takes one month for the earth to go around the sun.  Is that idiocy or did they conduct these polls before people had their coffee?

In any case, a pretty good read.  I was bogged down in the middle section, but I thought his discussion of molecular evolution was excellent, as well as the chapter on vestigial wings and unintelligent design.

Next up is Chuck Klosterman.  Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs.  A little light culture reading, like an after dinner mint.

My Year in Lists

Faithful readers, it has been some time since I have addressed you, and I know you are dying to find out what I have been reading.  Well, even if you’re not, I figured I’d go ahead and document it here with a few random thoughts.

Here’s the list so far for the year:

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman

The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman

The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross

The Reader by Bernharnd Schlink

Ripped by Greg Kot

I think I talked about all of those up to Sex, Drugs, etc.  So to sum up:

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs - cloying.  I’ve read a lot of negative stuff online where people are bashing Klosterman for being sickly sweet and lightweight, and I can see where they’re coming from with that.  Eating the Dinosaur was the first book of his that I’d read, and SDCP was pretty good, but several of his essays were half-baked, half-thoughts, which had I been an editor, I would have tossed the book back in his face and told him no.  His essay on soccer, in particular, was moronic.  He seems oblivious to the idea that soccer may be popular in parts of the world because it is really cheap, requires basically no equipment, and can be played almost anywhere.  It’s not just an “outsider” sport, which is what his argument states.

The Rest is Noise, by Alex Ross - highly recommended, but I doubt anyone will read it who hasn’t already expressed an interest in that area.  It’s about the history of 20th century classical composers, starting with Mahler and Richard Strauss at the turn of the century and more or less ending with John Adams and Thomas Ades at the beginning of the 21st.   I could go on about this book for some time, as I found it to be very well written.  It didn’t drag at all, and it expanded my grasp of a subject who, in retrospect, I can now tell I had only the faintest understanding.  The sections on Strauss in Nazi Germany and Shostakovich in Soviet Russia were wonderful and illuminating.  Fascinating people, and interesting to see them struggle with their art and their lives as the world and history pass them by.  Also, Ross had me reaching for the dictionary, as words I had not seen since my SAT days came rushing back to me:  inchoate and panegyrics.  Thanks for those, Alex.

The Reader - quick read.  Basically like Kundera-lite.  I’d already seen the movie, so I can’t separate the movie from the book.  However, the book is much better than the movie, as is usually the case.  The book focuses more on the philosophical, using the story of the man and his lover as a conduit to an exploration of ideas, rather than the focus of a love story in itself.  My shame knows no bounds on this, mostly because the copy I read had “Oprah’s Book Club” stamped across the front.  I couldn’t find a copy that was unmarred in my local HPB.

Ripped - another quick read.  This was a quick overview of the Internet and music from 2000-2009.  Radiohead’s In Rainbows, NIN’s releases, Metallica, etc.

Anyway, starting up with a new novel now, recommended to me by a friend.  He says it’s a quick read, so we shall see.  It’s not really the genre that I read, but then I went and bought the Novik Napoleon-dragon books, so go figure.  Anyway, the book is Storm Front, by Jim Butcher.

Sorry for the lack of updates.  I hope to keep you better informed in the future about things in my daily life that you couldn’t care less about.  Also, I will write more dick jokes.

└ Tags:

Update on the old Reading List

Well, May was a wash. 0 books for me.

Why, you may ask?  Well, I was working my way through Napoleon’s Wars, by Charles Esdaile.   Don’t get me wrong, I was enjoying it quite a bit, but wasn’t exactly zipping through it.  Anyway, I’m about 3/5ths of the way through that, and have put it aside to read Game Change, the book about the 2008 election.  So far, it has confirmed what I already thought, that all politicians are scumbags.  So no surprises there.

Meanwhile, Estragon has bolted past me with 10 books.  This does not bode well for me.  No matter.  Just as England expects every man to do his duty, etc., etc, I shall soldier on.

Adobe Software

Shop Borland Software shop

Symantec shop Autodesk Software Microsoft Software Shop Software VMware Software

Shop Windows Software

Shop MAC Software

Software Store