I just listened to former U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy explain how he did all kinds of drugs in his youth but you shouldn’t be allowed to smoke pot – you know, that was then and he’s a Kennedy. His reason? Pot is the new big business. Pot should be illegal because the driving force behind legalization is money. He didn’t even have to take a breath before explaining that the smart money now is in rehab because pot is now the number one thing people are checking into rehab for. He didn’t bother mentioning that this because misguided courts are ordering it as an alternative to jail, and that people can check into rehab for pot now voluntarily because the social stigma is disappearing.
Remember when this blog used to be about more than just books I read? Oh well, here’s some more books I’ve read recently.
Irreligion by John Allen Paulos
I didn’t enjoy this one near as much as A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper. The subtitle of this one, “A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don’t Add Up” pretty well sums up what the book is about. What I don’t understand is who this book is for. EVERYONE knows the arguments for god don’t add up – hence, faith.
The De-Textbook: The Stuff You Didn’t Know About the Stuff You Thought You Knew by cracked.com
This is a fun, quick read. It will help to undo some of the nonsense you were taught in school. If nothing else it should give you some things to think about, and maybe to research on your own. I had no idea the pyramids in Egypt were once covered in a smooth layer of limestone which made them glisten. On the other hand, their oversimplification of the cause of the US Revolutionary war (all Ben Franklin’s fault) was laughable. It ignores the Albany Conference and the British ban on manufacturing in the colonies, for starters.
American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military by Chris Kyle
A Christian warrior goes Muslim huntin’. A real life monster story told in the first person.
Notes on the audio edition: It’s too bad they didn’t have a woman read the parts of Mrs. Kyle. It would have been a much better experience. Listen at 2x speed or more!
Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10
I was led to this one not buy the recent movie (which I haven’t seen) but by my brother, and then by a mention in American Sniper. I could really give both books the same review. This is also the story of an American who goes Muslim hunting in Afghanistan and thereabouts. It takes extraordinary mental gymnastics to follow his reasoning for how he is the good guy in this story.
If you’re not reading this in a feed reader you may have noticed the slight tweak to the url here – it now starts https! This makes it much less likely that any non-NSA employee is snooping on you while you’re reading my blog. There are still some holdouts saying this is only necessary for banking and ecommerce sites. That’s nonsense, and there’s no reason why https shouldn’t be the default on all websites.
Context by Cory Doctorow
A collection of essays by Doctorow. A few are dated, but overall it will remain worth reading for a long time to come.
The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins
It’s by Richard Dawkins and the subtitle is “Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design”. What more could I say about it?
Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
I just started getting into the James Bond books. They’re pretty fun, and they’ve held up over time.
Moonraker by Ian Fleming
‘I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a great negro criminal before,’ said Bond, ‘Chinamen, of course, the men behind the opium trade. There’ve been some big-time Japs, mostly in pearls and drugs. Plenty of negroes mixed up in diamonds and gold in Africa, but always in a small way. They don’t seem to take to big business. Pretty law-abiding chaps I should have thought except when they’ve drunk too much.’
‘Our man’s a bit of an exception,’ said M. ‘He’s not pure negro. Born in Haiti. Good dose of French blood.’
Oh wow. This is awkward.
The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality by Brian Greene
Brian Greene does a great job of making really tough concepts approachable. I can probably credit most of my understanding of time dilation to his writing. And yet I don’t really enjoy reading these books. I think the seemingly unending Simpsons and X-Files analogies wear me out.
Wormhole by Richard Phillips
The conclusion to The Rho Agenda. Highly recommended sci-fi, appropriate for all ages.
A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson
The 14th and final book in the Wheel of Time. The end of an era. I was happy with how it ended.
Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
And I call myself a Neal Stephenson fan! I don’t know why it took so long to get to this one. It’s a neat story, and one of the three weirdest stories I’ll mention in this post.
Singularity it Near by Ray Kurzweil
Published in 2006, already seems like a classic. It’s quite a bit to tackle, but worth the effort. It’s a good starting place for exploring the world according to Kurzweil.
Decoding Reality by Vlatko Vedra
As Wikipedia put it the book, “proposes information as the most fundamental building block of reality.” Interesting idea.
No Easy Day by Mark Owen
I’m not even sure how this got in my queue. It’s perfectly good military fantasy, if that’s your thing.
New New Rules by Bill Maher
Really just a collection of the New Rules from the end of Maher’s show. It’s written by his staff. I recommend the audio edition, which Maher reads.
Not Taco Bell Material by Adam Carolla
Nothing new for listeners of the show. The audio and print editions are different since it’s “read” by Carolla and he’s a functional illiterate.
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Another classic, which I read in Jr High. I don’t believe I understood it then. What a strange, strange trip.
I’m a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson
AKA Notes from a Big Country, subtitled “Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away”. Not my favorite of his works, but to be fair it’s a collection of articles he wrote in the 90s.
Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan
For you young whippersnappers, back in the 80s and 90s Carl Sagan was our Neil deGrasse Tyson.