Tuesday, October 30, 2007

books!

84. The Reincarnationist by MJ Rose

Full disclosure: when I got this book I was totally prepared to dislike it. The premise (a man, Josh, starts having memories of his past lives, then gets tangled up in conspiracies and intrigue, meets people from his past lives and tries to figure it all out) seemed hokey and it appears the author seriously believes in reincarnation and wants to convince others it exists. I personally don't care what the author's beliefs are, but I often find fiction written with an explicit purpose like this is not very good.

BUT despite all that, I ended up enjoying the book. It is a good adventure, somewhat reminiscent of things like The DaVinci Code. The hero and others go from Rome (ancient and modern) to New York (past and present) chasing some important reincarnation related artifacts. All the while people are having flashbacks to past lives and trying to figure out how those lives fit with their present life. I found it interesting though, kind of like a fun action movie. There are flaws in the plot (I'm still not convinced the Catholic Church would be as threatened by proof of reincarnation as they are in the book) but generally it is good entertainment. If you read it, suspend disbelief and just let yourself go with the adventures.

*this is a MotherTalk sponsored review

books!

I want to post some pictures, but Blogger is not being friendly about it right now, so you just get more books.

82. The Amazing Adeventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
This story follows two cousins who write and illustrate comic books from just before WWII until the 1960's or so. It is a long, all encompassing book and I'd heard many good things about it, but it just didn't grab me. It took me a very long time to read, and I never really grew to care about any of the characters. Just so so.

83. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
I loved this book. It is narrated by a precocious and eccentric boy (I think he is 9) whose dad died on 9/11. His dad used to make puzzles for him to solve, and he finds what he thinks is his dad's last puzzle. The story is really about him and his family coping after the death of the dad, and there is a mystery with the boy's grandparents. Unlike book #82, I loved the characters in this book, I thought it was really unique in how it was written, and I thought it used September 11 in a good way. I read another book recently where 9/11 came into it, and seemed gimmicky. It was an important event that should definitely be mentioned in fiction books, but this is the first book I've read where it didn't seem like it was just tossed in for effect, it seemed organic and it made sense for the story. Anyway, this was a great book.

My Wild Self


Build your wild self!
Seen many many places.

Friday, October 26, 2007

books!

81. The Gospel According to Sydney Welles by Susi Rajah

This is a very entertaining book about a woman who works at an ad agency hired to publicize the Catholic Church. I loved Sydney's voice and found her an engaging character. The book had a lot of the "chick lit" elements of a single woman with one eccentric best friend navigating the dating world. I liked the characters so much in this one, that it seemed fresh, as did Sydney's struggles with how to sell the Catholic Church, and questions of if we should be advertising religion. A good book!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mutating Genre Meme

I was tagged for a meme! This started at Pharyngula and I got it from k8.

First, the rules:

There are a set of questions below that are all of the form, "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is...". Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations:

* You can leave them exactly as is.
* You can delete any one question.
* You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question. For instance, you could change "The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is..." to "The best time travel novel in Westerns is...", or "The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is...", or "The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is...".
* You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is...".
* You must have at least one question in your set, or you've gone extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you're not viable.


Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the ancestry, and include these instructions.

Finally, pass it along to any number of your fellow bloggers. Remember, though, your success as a Darwinian replicator is going to be measured by the propagation of your variants, which is going to be a function of both the interest your well-honed questions generate and the number of successful attempts at reproducing them.


So, without further ado:

My great-great-great-great-great-grandparent is Pharyngula.
My great-great-great-great-grandparent is Metamagician and the Hellfire Club.
My great-great-great-grandparent is Flying Trilobite.
My great-great-grandparent is A Blog Around the Clock.
My great-grandparent is Primate Diaries.
My grandparent is Thus Spake Zuska.
My parent is a k8, a cat, a mission.

The best young adult novel in SF/Fantasy is: Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper

The best scary movie in comedy is: Shaun of the Dead

The best uplifting song in country music is: Why Walk When You Can Fly? by Mary Chapin Carpenter

The best cult novel in pre-Victorian fiction is: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The best high-carb food in Costa Rican cooking is gallo pinto

The best dissertation-related words I ever received from a scholar are: "you don't have to write THE dissertation, you just have to write A dissertation"

I am propagating this meme on to:
Plomise
Anything Said
Underwater Knitting
Girl in Greenwood
Christopher

and anyone else who wants to join in....

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

lalala

I couldn't think of a better title so that is me singing to you. I have about 10 free minutes here, before I go off to walk the dogs. I'm currently importing audio tapes that are dissertation related -- I have 45 tapes, each lasting about 45 minutes and they have to be imported in real time. It is a long job. Also, I am scared to do anything else on the computer while they are importing. I am not sure if the computer and the program are smart enough to keep the importing going while I am doing other things, so I am just leaving it alone. So there are long stretched when the computer is working, but I am not working on it. This is all for the third chapter of the diss. I have put the stats drama to the side for a bit, but should get back to it by the end of the week.

The last few days have been really nice fall-like weather, but it is getting up into the mid 70's again today and for the end of the week. I do not approve! I think 60 is my new perfect temperature.

I also like the cool weather because I am copying Katie and starting to run. I am using this Couch to 5k schedule and this podcast to tell me when to switch between running and brisk walking. So far I am really enjoying the running, which is a little strange as I have tried running at various times in my life before and not liked it. I've also been going to pilates, which will never replace yoga in my heart but is more near by, cheaper, and helps keep me stretchy and my core strong. I only go once a week and it kicks my ass every time. Tonight is my third class.

OK, just a quick update so now you can stop complaining about my lack of posting (I'm looking at you, mom. :) )

Sunday, October 14, 2007

statistician wanted

Does someone want to sell, rent, or gift me with a statistician? You won't get much more blog content until I finish my stupid dissertation, which is unlikely to happen until I receive an infusion of statistics knowledge. Alas.

Monday, October 08, 2007

book meme

These are the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing's users. As usual, bold what you have read, italicize what you started but couldn't finish, and strike through what you couldn't stand. The numbers after each one are the number of LT users who used the tag of that book.]

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (149)
Anna Karenina (132)
Crime and Punishment (121)
Catch-22 (117)
One Hundred Years of Solitude (115)
Wuthering Heights (110)
The Silmarillion (104)
Life of Pi : a novel (94)
The Name of the Rose (91)
Don Quixote (91)
Moby Dick (86)
Ulysses (84)
Madame Bovary (83)
The Odyssey (83)
Pride and Prejudice (83)
Jane Eyre (80)
A Tale of Two Cities (80)
The Brothers Karamazov (80)
Guns, Germs, and Steel (79)
War and Peace (78)
Vanity Fair (74)
The Time Traveler's Wife (73)
The Iliad (73)
Emma (73)
The Blind Assassin (73)
The Kite Runner (71)
Mrs. Dalloway (70)
Great Expectations(70)
American Gods (68)
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (67)
Atlas Shrugged (67)
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books (66)
Memoirs of a Geisha (66)
Middlesex (66)
Quicksilver (66)
Wicked : the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (65)
The Canterbury Tales (64)
The Historian : a novel (63)
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (63)
Love in the Time of Cholera (62)
Brave New World (61)
Foucault's Pendulum (61)
The Fountainhead (61)
Middlemarch (61)
Frankenstein (59)
The Count of Monte Cristo (59)
Dracula (59)
A Clockwork Orange (59)
Anansi Boys (58)
The Once and Future King (57)
The Grapes of Wrath (57)
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel (57)
1984 (57)
Angels & Demons (56)
The Inferno (56)
The Satanic Verses (55)
Sense and Sensibility (55)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (55)
Mansfield Park (55)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (54)
To the Lighthouse (54)
Tess of the D'Urbervilles (54)
Oliver Twist (54)
Gulliver's Travels (53)
Les Misérables (53)
The Corrections (53)
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (52)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (52)
Dune (51)
The Prince (51)
The Sound and the Fury (51)
Angela's Ashes : a memoir (51)
The God of Small Things (51)
A People's History of the United States : 1492-present (51)
Cryptonomicon (50)
Neverwhere (50)
A Confederacy of Dunces (50)
A Short History of Nearly Everything (50)
The Dubliners (50)
The Unbearable Lightness of Being(49)
Beloved (49)
Slaughterhouse-Five (49)
The Scarlet Letter (48)
Eats, Shoots & Leaves (48)
The Mists of Avalon (47)
Oryx and Crake : a novel (47)
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed (47)
Cloud atlas (47)
The Confusion (46)
Lolita (46)
Persuasion (46)
Northanger Abbey (46)
The Catcher in the Rye (46)
On the Road (46)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (45)
Freakonomics (45)
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (45)
The Aeneid (45)
Watership Down (44)
Gravity's Rainbow (44)
The Hobbit (44)
In Cold Blood (44)
White Teeth (44)
Treasure Island (44)
David Copperfield (44)
The Three Musketeers (44)

books!

77. Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
This book is about some girls who get into another London (UnLondon, get it?) which is much like our world but twisted around. Adventures ensue. I really recommend this book. I don't think I have ever described anything as delightful before, but this book is delightful. It is smart, so imaginative, and has a great lead female hero. Also, an extreme librarian, a sentient milk carton, and living words. Seriously. You should all read this.

78. Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein
The subtitle to this is "A tale of two continents, three religions, five infertility doctors, an Oscar, an atomic bomb, a romantic night, and one woman's quest to become a mother". Whew. Anyway, I type it out because it is very descriptive of the book. This was also a good book. I liked Orenstein's tone and voice a lot, and appreciated her honesty in how she dealt with infertility, and perhaps waiting too long to have a child. She also does a good job of not drawing broad conclusions from her experiences. She doesn't really say that you should have kids early or you'll regret it, or that you should or should not spend money on reproductive technology, or adopt, or whatever. She does present her experiences honestly, leading you to draw your own conclusions. One thing she does well is to show how a lot of these issues are bound up in greater societal issues. Like workplaces could be more family friendly to men and women, so that women don't have to choose so much between family and their career. She also has a critique of the business of fertility medicine, which may be a little more about making money now, then helping people have babies. Anyway, a well-written and thought provoking book. I liked it.

79. Intuition by Allegra Goodman
This was also a good book. I've had great luck lately! This is the story of a lab at a research institute. It follows what happens when one of the post-docs makes a discovery that could have implications for cancer treatment, and what happens when others question these results. I don't want to give too much away, but I thought it was a really good and honest look about research, what is the line between letting research speak for itself and the need to be competitive for grants and funding, etc.

80. The Birth House by Ami McKay
One more good book! Although when I began this book I at first thought the language was a little too flowery, and that I would get tired of it, but it grew on me. This book is about a young woman in Newfoundland during WWI. It follows her as she learns to be a midwife, navigates as an unconventional woman in a small town, and deals a little with the medicalization of birth. I liked the characters and the story, but did think it went a little overboard with the "doctors and childbirth=bad, midwives and homebirth = good" message of the story. But I really enjoyed the book overall.

Friday, October 05, 2007

ha!

This is a bird dancing to the Backstreet Boys.

Handmaiden of Colonialism?

R sent me this link today. Basically, it is about anthropologists or other social scientists who are embedded with US army units in Afghanistan. The social scientists help the soldiers understand what is going on with the people, which can help diffuse situations without resorting to combat. The Army maintains that this program has reduced combat engagements.

I really don't know how I feel about this. On one hand, it seems reducing combat is a good thing. On the other hand, I agree with critics who are concerned it will make anthropologists seem like informers for the Army. Should we be using anthropology to help further the US government's goals in Afghanistan? Is it ok to do so in the cases when the US's goals are the same as those of the local people? What happens in cases when they collide? I find it hard to believe that in these cases it would be accepted/ok for the anthropologist to advocate on behalf of the local people.

That is what I am thinking about this morning.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Stupid Science

So I am able to think about things while I sleep. I often wake up with good ideas that I was thinking about as I slept. Last night as I slept I realized I have spent the last three weeks doing data analysis for my dissertation wrong. Curses! I was doing something that was artificially inflating my sample size. I started fixing it today, and it won't take three weeks to re-do, as I learned shortcuts in how to do it, but still. How annoying.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Funny Typo

Did you know that Bearded Sakis weigh 3000 kg? I, too, was shocked to read this.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Happy October!

I had a good weekend. The weather has been really nice -- almost Fall like. I love fall. Saturday we went out to Brooklyn for homemade pizza and hanging out. It was fun until it took us 2 hours to get home! First we tried to walk across a bridge to a subway stop, but the bridge was a drawbridge and was stuck open. So walked back to a different subway stop, but there was some sort of change of service so we ended up on a train going the opposite way of what we wanted. We finally got it all sorted out and got home, but it took 2 hours!!! I did realize I love Brooklyn Lager's Oktoberfest beer, so that is a plus. Sunday was also nice and R and I went to a medieval fair and he had an "Australian style" meat pie and I had a veggie curry pie. We also saw people in medieval costumes, including a tiny dog. Later on Sunday I started to not feel well, though, and went to bed super early. Today I had a little sore throat and some stuffiness, but Advil Cold and Sinus got me in good enough shape to teach.

I worry my class is a little boring. It is totally new subject matter to most of the students. Right now, we discuss the readings and I try to help them connect them and tell them concrete examples, but I think I need to think of activities or something they can do to use the info from the readings in a more practical way. We only have one day of class next week and we are using that for a field trip, so I am going to think about it some more.