Book Report: Universal Selection Theory and the Second Darwinian Revolution

Ron and Sua are moving soon; last night I helped Ron to pack up the library. "You should read this," he said, showing me a book. Its title was Skepticism and ... uhm, Skepticism and .... Uhm. I forget what the rest of the title was because it was a pretty boring title. I think I kinda fell asleep partway through reading it. I said "Are you sure I want to read this? It looks really boring." You might think that's a shallow way to judge books, but it's worked pretty well for me. Books with boring titles are boring. Books with interesting titles are often boring, too, but you boost your chances by choosing a book with an interesting title.

Thus, I considered reading Universal Selection Theory and the Second Darwinian Revolution as a sort of calculated risk.

This book is trying to explain some theory of natural & unnatural selection which is different from some other theory. So it talks about selection. I got a few dozen pages in without figuring out what, exactly, the book was trying to explain. What is the new theory? I missed the part where the book explained the new theory. Probably it did explain the difference between the old theory and new but the difference as so subtle that I never realized that the book was stating its thesis. I guess that's what happened. There's no way I'm going to go re-read that thing to figure out what it was talking about. No way. It started talking about the history of the philosophy of the mind. Do I need to point out that any book which discusses the history of the philosophy of the mind is probably irrelevant? I slogged through a few more pages of the history of the philosophy of the mind. One has to make sure that an book hasn't temporarily meandered into something frivolous, eventually to reemerge into relevance. One must confirm that the book has fully set its course on folly with no sign of return. And that's what seemed to be going on, so I stopped reading.

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Book Report: The Prestige

If you're an author, e.g. Christopher Priest, there is danger in writing a book that relies on its Amazing! Colossal! Surprising! twist ending. Your audience, while reading the book, will attempt to guess what the twist ending is. They'll probably guess it. Worse, along the way, they might guess something else, a better ending. And then they'll be disappointed with the stuff you wrote. The Prestige could have been a better book.

It's about dueling stage magicians yadda yadda, oh what's the point.

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LJ People: Do not be alarmed

(If you have a LiveJournal and you befriended my account, I encourage you to stay awake through this post. The rest of you folks can fall asleep. Oh, but if you have your own domain, you might want to stay awake a little bit anyhow so that you can read about the mistake I made with OpenID. Then you can avoid making that same mistake yourself if you decide to use OpenID in the future.)

The short story: I dare you to befriend

The long story: is an OpenID provider. I am an OpenID ignoramus, but I'm getting better--I even went to a lecture! Thus I learned how I can use my own URL as my OpenID instead of, say, the maybe-it's-legit-but-who-can-tell, while still letting the folks at do all of the hard programming shme.

So I'm going to stop using the LJ account. I'm going to use instead. Sorry for the extra work. Sorry for the confusion.

See, some folks are early adopters: they start using technology before other people have figured it out. I am such an early adopter that I started using OpenID before I'd figured it out myself. I am so elite.

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Puzzlehunts are Everywhere: even the Googolplex

I just woke up. I thought I was running late for work--it was 9! But it turns out it was 9pm, not 9am. I was most of the way through my morning routine before I noticed it was dark outside. Why is my sleep schedule off? Why am I so clueless? Because I pulled an all-nighter volunteering at the Googol game.

I took some incoherent notes about it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going back to bed.

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Book Report: India Authentic #1 (Ganesha)

This comic book tells Ganesh's origin story. Apparently India Authentic is going to be a series of comic books full of Indian myths. I don't know much about Ganesh, and I was sorry that the comic book authors picked one of the few stories that I already knew. I didn't get much out of this comic book.

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Book Report: Ilium

Raymond Chen, celebrity blogger, gave a talk at my place of employment yesterday. Afterwards, I went up to ask him a question. (Well, OK, to request that he apply his combination of knowledge of English, Swedish, and puzzles to blog a report of what goes on at Rebusrally.) But before I asked, he looked at me and asked if we'd already met. That was spooky. And he looked at me pretty closely. Spooky. He was just trying to figure out if/how he recognized me. Still, spooky. I haven't spent that much time in the Seattle area. And it's been a couple of years since my last visit. Spooky. I think that was the feeling that Dan Simmons went for when he wrote Ilium.

This book is sci-fi. It starts out pretty strangely. I wondered how the author was going to explain how things had reached such a strange state. Then I reached the explanation. It was pretty dumb. It might not be the "real" explanation, maybe just a wrong theory by one of the book's characters. Maybe I'm supposed to pick up the sequel to find out what's really going on. I don't think I'll bother. Still, I have no regrets about buying this book--it was something to read during a flight from Chicago when it was too cloudy outside to look down at the geography sliding past.

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Book Report: The Books of Magic

[I'm upgrading to a new Blogging service ( I wouldn't be surprised if that means that a bunch of my old articles show up as "new" in your feed reader. Or if it results in other little tweaks. Please do not be alarmed. Or don't be alarmed about this blog. Or, uhm, anyhow, on with the show...]

In the comic book The Books of Magic we find out that a young boy is prophecied to grow up into the most powerful wizard in the universZzzzzzz. Wh- what? Sorry, I dozed off there. Fanboy power fantasies do that to me. We get a tour of magical traditions of past cultures--a picture showing something Egyptian, something Greek, something Zzz. Sorry, I dozed off again. Maybe I'd want a high-level survey of different cultures' magic if I hadn't already read plenty of this crap years ago. There's a visit to Faerie. Remember, kids, there is a positive correlation between the number of elves in a book/movie/comic/whatever and its level of crappiness. This comic also features magicians from the DC universe. Here, maybe I could have learned something. I don't know much about the magicians of the DC universe. On the basis of this comic's depiction of them, I have decided: I wasn't missing much.

[2007 update: turned off commenting on this item; it's apparently a magnet for spammers]

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Book Report: the Zero Game

I just got back from a business trip to New York. I stayed in a corporate apartment. When I entered the apartment and looked around the living room, I saw that previous tenants had left some books to read, yay! But then I looked at the books--they looked like books that one buys in an airport bookstore out of desperation. One shouldn't judge a book by its cover. But I could have judged The Zero Game by its cover just fine.

It's a tale of spine-tingling intrigue and murder as our hero and heroine maneuver the halls of the Capitol in the chase of their lives and zzzzzz...

There were some nice glimpses of the way the US Government budget gets made, but not enough to make it worth slogging through a thriller.

On the positive side, this book kept me busy for a couple of days, until I had a chance to go to The Strand and pick up some better books for the apartment.

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Book Report: Old Goriot

It's a French slice of life showing how petty greed and ambition amongst the middle classes can lead to zzz....

I only made it a few chapters into this book.

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Book Report: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the Edge of the World

This book has two parallel storylines; one is interesting and one is not. I almost stopped reading the book because I found one of the storylines so boring. But it turns out that the two storylines are loosely intertwined. And the boring one is supposed to be boring.

So I'm glad I didn't stop reading this book.

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Blog Infrastructure Update: "Add to Google" Link

Yesterday was Buy Nothing Day in the USA, so I bought nothing. Actually, I didn't do much of anything yesterday. I went cold turkey on caffeine. I'd been hitting the sauce pretty heavily lately, and it was time to break the cycle. I read, napped, and didn't do anything that required much concentration. I headed over to my parents' house to help them move some furniture around. And my dad said, "How long have you had a feed?"

I said "January." I started using the service in January so that it would automagically create a feed for me.

I'd like to encourage people, especially my dad, to follow feeds. Why? Mostly because my dad keeps talking about "podcasts". I can't listen to podcasts--my computer doesn't have a working sound card. So I'm hoping that podcasts lose their hipness quotient soon. How better than by hyping feeds: it's 2002 technology for today!

To this end I have added an " Add to Google" link over in the sidebar of the main page. If you click on that link, you can slurp this site's feed into your Google Reader, Personalized Google Homepage, or whatever. I think that's pretty neat.

Disclaimer #1: my opinions are mine, and might not coincide with my empolyer's opinion. I'm pretty sure that most of my colleagues could get a sound card working. Or at least they'd prefer to get a sound card working than try to convince the world to give up listening to podcasts.

Disclaimer #2: I don't know why I said that feeds are 2002 technology. I don't know what year feeds were discovered. Developed. Whatever. I'm too lazy to fact-check it now. I'm kind of drowsy. Even though I had coffee today. But maybe it wasn't real coffee. I went into this new café on 9th Avenue, Café Gratitude. Once I was in there, the hostess dropped the bomb on me: the cafe served only organic, vegan, raw foods. I ordered a coffee, but coffee beans are normally roasted. So how did they... Oh, here is the Café Gratitude menu. It says that their coffee is cold-processed. Ah, and other articles point out that this process is healthier because it has less caffeine. Oh, I should be really upset that I settled for this coffee, but I'm too sleepy to get properly upset about anything. Oh, lookie, it's 6:30, time for bed.

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Book Report: American Hero

It's a noir political thriller. It kept promising to turn into something very interesting, but did not keep that promise.

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