Monday, May 19, 2008
I think it's very clever and very smart. It shows me a perspective on the film I hadn't thought of at all, making it a chilling metaphor.
I have been keeping a book diary since 1993. Now it's online at
Here is a wrap up of the books I read in 2007. It's a short list, I think in part because I've been reading a lot of magazines.
The Paris Option by Robert Ludlum and Gayle Lynds
Mediocre potboiler novel.
What Is Your Dangerous Idea? Edited by John Brockman
Interesting and provocative. It's a bunch of people writing short essays about their ideas that they deem dangerous for whatever reason. Great fodder for conversation.
Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy
Garbage. If you want my full, scathing review, email me and I'll send it to you.
Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
Wonderful, fascinating look at how we are very bad at predicting what will make us happy. Gives me comfort. Maybe the choices I make are not that big a deal.
Pillars of the Earth*** by Ken Follett
Very good novel about reading a cathedral.
Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan
Great book, the second to last in a very long fantasy series, the author of which died before he could write the final one.
Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes by Stephen J. Gould
Decent book. Gould's a good writer. He writes broadly but has an emphasis on evolution.
Blood Work*** by Michael Connelly
Very good potboiler.
Metamagical Themas by Douglas Hofstadter
Wonderful and inspiring. Full of great ideas. All cognitive scientists should read this. It is a collection of his essays for Scientific American.
The Body Artist by Don DiLillo A boring and arty novel.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
I have to quibble with some text from Matt Ridley's otherwise awesome book Genome (1999). On page 201 he writes
Natural selection cannot weed out genes that damage the body in post-reproductive age, because there is no reproduction of the successful in old age.
The idea behind this is that natural selection works through gene propagation by those most able to reproduce. The phrase "survival of the fittest" (not Darwin's, by the way) is a bit misleading-- it doesn't really matter how well or how long you survive, only how much you reproduce. So if a person can no longer reproduce, then having great lungs in old age, or having crappy lungs in old age, it doesn't matter; it can't affect evolution.
So goes my thinking, anyway. Note that I am not an evolutionary biologist.
Pictured is Simon, the Ocelot who out-competed Alexander's genetic ass!
Ridley, M. (1999) Genome. The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters. HarperCollins.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Pictured is a pizza, an example of a food I adore.