mark my words athiest father preying for a secular future


Modern Romance

Modern RomanceModern Romance by Aziz Ansari

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was expecting another autobiography, but instead I got a very funny well researched popular psychology book.

The book exceeded my expectations. I like the part about Japanese putting a picture of their rice cooker as their online dating profile. I'll never take a selfie the same way again (The books suggests guys look off to the side).

I introspect, I can see why this would be a challenging book to write. You want to keep it light. You want to keep it short and you want to keep it funny. On all those fronts the books was great. It did leave me wanting more. Maybe that is what a good book does.

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No Woman no Cry

How to Be a WomanHow to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, this was a good book except it is WAY too graphic and sexuality's explicit. Pubes, periods, abortions, taste of her 'foof' (there is a whole chapter on nicknames for her vag), eating menses. I'm not sure if this was all required. Once I got past that lot, it was extremely funny. Sometimes the jokes and similes go off the deep end. There were also many jokes, I didn't get!

I loved the personal elements, and the women's rights parts. It inspired me to want to read Greer.

I think she over does it with the Katherine price bashing. I guess she loves lady gaga.

My least favorite quote: "The abortion itself is not what I had expected, in that it is both painful and seems fairly crude. The cervix is opened manually, with some manner of ratchet. Then a spectrum is inserted, and they start to perform the abortion, which appears to be like just smashing stuff up with a spoon. it's wincingly violent. like breaking the yolk of an egg with a chopstick, I think, doing the breathing I learned for labour which is, of course a very bad joke"

British Tina Fey? more like Fifty Shades of Fey.

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as-salām ‘alaykum

Islam_and_the_Future_of_Tolerance_book_cover Alright, Sam, I was prepared to be dazzled.  But yet again I was bummed out.  I had been anticipating this book for quite awhile.  I even recommended it to someone before it came out!  However, I quickly found out that this isn't a book.  It is a transcript of a conversation.  I was expecting a full fledge book.  I was also disapointed on how small it was.  Just like the lying book.  This is such a hot topic that, I wanted to hear everything you had to say.

Okay, so I've got that off my chest.  Sam you are great and you've done it again.  I enjoyed this balanced discussion of islamic tolerance.  I love that you spelled out various terms eg. Islamism.  I did however feel slightly skeptical of Nawaz's comments, and felt myself racing through them to get to yours.

If you haven't checked out Sam Harris podcast, I highly recommend it.

Also this interview with Dave Rubin is EXCELLENT.


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images I just finished listening to the audio book 1984.   I had read the book before, and watched the movie, but it has been awhile.  I loved the quote "He who controls the past controls the future, he who controls the present controls the past".  I had forgotten how long the torture lasted and just how graphic the torture was.  I had also forgotten the fact that he got shot at the end.  I think I always appreciated the political allegory of the novel, however, this time around I started to question the religious undertones of the book.  The line God is Power made me stop and think.  I wonder if Winston's time at the Ministry of Love is an allegory for hell or even purgatory.  My only two complaints of the book were Orwell didn't do a very thorough job justifying why O'Brien has to break Winston's psyche before he is kills him.  I understood the martyrdom argument, and the evolution of prosecution from the mid evil heretics to the Nazism and Communism, but I still didn't find it justifiable.  If you are just going to kill someone, what does it matter what their dying thoughts are?  The second problem was how much resources Big Brother devoted to Winston.  First training/conditioning him throughout his whole life, then monitoring him, then torturing him.  Its not like there are an endless number of trained big brother sympathizers willing to take his place at work.

Another thing that struck me in the first half of the book, was how Winston is searching for the truth of who is behind big brother, when it reality it was himself!  He's fabricating documents, then in the next sentence wondering who is pulling the strings!  Maybe that is how our society works.  We perpetuate our own malcontent.

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Travelling to the US?

Ironic Image mocking people who mock chive

Have you ever seen the Rogers/Bell plans for texting / data?  They are like $30 for a week for unlimited texting and calling.  Or $8 / day for unlimited texting for a day.  Or $5 for 15 cent texting.  Canadians get screwed for sure.  One solution I've found is Roam Mobility.

Once you buy the $20 SIM card, you can sign up for various plans.  The nice thing is you can sign up a day at a time.  Talk + Text + Data = $4 / day.  Perfect for when you are planning to go to the US for a 3 day weekend.  The 3 day data for $8 is also a great deal.

You need to have an unlocked phone.

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Moving on Up

Old President

Old President

The thing I love about Christopher Hitchens, is that every page I read of his, I often see a word I've never seen before. Hard to believe I know, but the guy was a freaking genius. I was poised to attend his lecture at University of Waterloo, until he canceled it for health reasons.

This book is what you would expect, a shoot'em from the hip biography of Thomas Jefferson. I was reading this book at the same time as watching Downton Abbey. The vivid imagery from the TV show, allowed me to visualize what it would be like for TJ. Also we recently visited Virginia on the way back from Gatlinburg. While deep down I know that the differences in each State is diminishing, it was a real eye opener to see how much of a disparity still exists. When the waitress at VA Shoney's said 'Ain't she purty!' to Layla, it was a bit of southern culture which I thought had disappeared from modern America.

Ever since I found out Thomas Jefferson went through the Bible and cut out all the incredulous stuff, I've always respected him. Good biography, obviously well written. Would recommend to anyone interested in American History.

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Another Sociology Psychology Book?

9780199988785_p0_v1_s260x420 Okay, I think I've read too many of the same types of books. This is yet another everyday laymans psychology book. It follows the same Gladwellian format. The underlying theme is of course that we don't really have a say in what we think. By the time our conscious realizes it has made a decision, it is too late. Our mind is already made up. Our unconscious mind is busy at work in the background processing information, thinking even when our forefront conscious isn't. So take it easy, don't think so hard, your subconscious will do all the hard work. I think.

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A Life Decoded

Guy who stole the show

Guy who stole the show

I heard this guy talking on CBC Ideas.  I was fascinated by how much he knew about biology.  Also by how smart he was.  How he was going on about sequencing the DNA of millions of microbes in his boat.

That is how ignorant I was.  I didn't realize just what a science super star this guy is.  This book is an autobiography about his professional career and how he managed to sequence the human genome before the government sponsored effort.  Although a bit technical at times, it isn't to a fault, because how else is he suppose to explain all the stuff he did and his many technical insights.  He is a very captive storyteller. Often he is on the defensive, explaining why he made decisions he made.  The bottom line is he was always looking for funding his research, and sometimes that required him to get intertwined with big corporations in order to get money.

Overall I really liked the book.  He kind of inspired me to want to get my gnome sequenced.  I know that about 3 years ago it was quite a hype.  Many of the websites which offered the sequencing service were criticized by scientists claiming the application of the results were often too speculative.  I imagine things have improved a bit since public databases and number of people using the service has grown.

Also 3 years ago it was $300 now it is only $100.  They website says they have an API where you can do statistical analysis programmatically of your own DNA.  Awhile back a guy wrote on facebook that he had done it, and couldn't believe how informative/rewarding it was.

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16 year old kicks ass

16 year old kicks ass

All right here we go! This is a quick read and a likely favorite for any 16 year old girl. It is essentially a rip off of Hunger Games. I thought the writing was way better. Far more descriptive. The author also takes the time to explore characters and describe a lot of the backstory of why future is a dystopia. The different factions have hairy potter written all over them. However, each is an allegory to philosophical political and moral views. I could have done without the awkward innocent love scenes. My only annoyance with the book was how many times katniss's face blushed. Or face was was red. Or she felt a warm glow over her face. I think she might have blood circulation issues.

Anyways good book to read, I can't wait to see the move and see how visual effects will make the characters come to life!

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Rip it Up

Getting Ripped

Love Richard Wiseman. I've read a couple of his books now, and have hear him speak many times. He's also been a guest many times on SGU. I love the fact that he uses social media to help him do his research. Something most people simply aren't doing yet. Not only is he doing it, he is doing it well.
So, this book is designed to double firstly as a popular psychology book and secondarily as a self help book. In Wisemanesque fashion, he references countless studies and presents them in plain english. He does all the hard research and just shows you the results of interesting and quirky studies.

Right from the get go, he pushes his ground breaking theory that instead of thinking about doing something, you should just do it.  Often times this means acting it out.  For example he talks of the smoker who in a study was instructed to act like he was going to quit smoking.  He met with a pretend doctor and gave the reasons he was going to quit smoking.  Low and behold, people who played the part of someone who was quitting smoking was more likely to quit smoking.

The theory is a silver bullet and keeps momentum throughout the book.

The other side of things, the self-help checklists.  I didn't quite under stand them.  I found them cheesey and distracting.

But as for content a great read for anyone.

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