mark my words athiest father preying for a secular future

3Oct/140

1984

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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30Jul/141

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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15Aug/130

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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14Aug/130

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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14Aug/130

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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13Aug/130

DIVERGENCE

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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13Aug/130

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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6Aug/130

Kurt Browning

Good looking Dude

B-Fast of Champions

Slaughter House 5

Les recommended Slaughter house five to me. I read through it and I also read through B-fast of Champions. I was shocked how this guy writes. He kind of writes how I think. Or how I use to think when I was 20. Often unconnected random thoughts. He seems to break all the rules. Almost purposely. I guess that is good writing. When I write all I do is try to do the right thing. Something that is hard enough. But to be so smart that you can be good at writing and write all the random stuff that just pops into your head?! The guy is either a lunatic or a genius. I wonder how many of the phrases in these books are inside jokes to himself!

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6Aug/130

Pink when you turn out the lights

Pink Book

Alright, well I know that you are suppose to read books of all sorts of genres and not keep reading the same things, but currently my favorite type of books are those of popular psychology and sociology.  These books are great, and I'm not sure why I enjoy them so much.  After reading this book, I felt like I came across 20 situations where I thought hey maybe things are that way because of that.

So this book, is just like the rest, it cites psychology journal entries to show how everything we do in life is influenced by things we didn't even realize.  From colours biasing our decisions to people's names affecting what job they do, and how successful in life they will become.

A fun book, quick read for anyone who likes these type of books.

My only complaint would be for the couple of: 'In a recent study 11 people were divided into three groups and a significant number of the control group blah blah'.  Best to have a few more people, and a few more studies before you present the findings as fact to the masses.

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6Aug/130

Get a Job

Not sure why I have always hated Steve Jobs so much.  Perhaps I bought into the 'us' vs 'them polarization which plagues modern america.  While learning computers, I decided to side with PC/ Microsoft because that is what was available to me in my teens.  I was very hesitant to read this book, but I felt like it was so popular perhaps I could give it a try.

The book tells an authentic raw gritty story.  It describes everything you would want to know about Steve Jobs.  Often going into so much detail you want to stab your eye out.  Eg. Jan 1988 so and so sent this email and so and so said that.  Overall I enjoyed the book though.  I was fascinated to learn that SJ became a multimillionaire many times in many different ways.  I didn't realize how much money he made at Pixar and how he made more there than he did at Apple the first time round.

It was also interesting to realize how capricious he was.  Often making extreme decisions on a whim.  Often illogically.  The one pattern of his success was his ability to get really pissed off and make people scare him.  I was really satisfied how the author strived to tell both sides of the story.  Often making SJ look like a lunatic.  Other times portraying him as the genius he clearly was.

Gladwell would say that SJ was a product of impeccable timing and circumstance.  Something that seemed to be a recurring theme throughout the book.  Was SJ successful because he has the foresight to spend 1 million dollars on a logo? Was he so detailed oriented that he truly made amazing products?  Who freakn' knows.

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