Book Log – The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster by Bobby Henderson

This is the book adaptation of a letter written to the Kansas School Board that became an internet phenomenon. It’s pretty amusing in spots, but the joke gets old. It feels like a letter that’s been remixed into a book. (Okay, okay, I get it… your heaven has a Beer Volcano and Stripper Factory).

Overall, FSM is a delightful response to the insistence of teaching creationism alongside evolution in schools, but it probably should have stayed in letter and website form.

Somewhat related, this is an example of why I don’t let on that I’m an atheist at work…

Atheism: Reponses to “Atheists surely aren’t monsters,” @issue, Dec. 28
Brand of ‘morality’ hard to define, justify
If Sam Harris is the best apologist for atheism, then believers can rest easy. From the outset, it’s unclear why Harris believes America hates atheists when 37 percent would elect an atheist president.1
But Harris’ grossest missteps come when he justifies atheistic morality. Harris claims the Bible and Quran have nothing to offer “if a person doesn’t already understand that cruelty is wrong,” but what makes cruelty wrong absent divine disapproval? Nature is cruel. Just ask the wildebeest crossing a river full of hungry crocodiles. Cruelty often carries the day in survival of the fittest at the office, the ballot box and in society. By the time Harris suggests that “moral intuitions” are “hard-wired” into us, any rational reader should be hysterical. Perhaps, Harris could suggest who did the wiring? Harris should recall Sartre’s famous paraphrase of Dostoevsky: “If God is dead, then everything is permitted.” And so should we, if an atheist is ever on the ballot.
-ROB HARRIS, Gainesville

1 Um… because 63 percent wouldn’t?

Book Log – Aliens in America

Aliens in America by Sandra Tsing Loh

I heart Sandra. I really do. I get all sorts of excited when she does commentary on Marketplace or some other NPR thingy. She reads her stuff like Meryn Cadell (especially The Sweater) who I also love and whatever happened to her anyway1?

And I have enjoyed all of her books,this one being no exception.

Except that… well… “book” is a strong term. How about four short essays? They are funny and well-written, and an enjoyable peek into Sandra’s upbringing. But there was oh, so little of it. I hadn’t expected to add another book to the 2006 log, but this one is read almost by accident.

Ah well. Every little bit counts.

1 Well, for one she apparently has a LiveJournal, and she is now a he, or in the process of becoming one. I must reads further!

Ho Ho Ho

A productive and lucrative Xmas.

My haul this year was a bunch of books, which is what I call an ideal holiday. What’s more, they are mostly not books I requested, so it means an unexpected adventure in each one.

* Jennifer Government by Max Barry
* Aliens in America by Sandra Tsing Loh
* The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster by Bobby Henderson
* The Book That Changed My Life: 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books That Matter Most To Them by Roxanne J. Coady & Joy Johannessen
* The Known World by Edward P. Jones
* All Aunt Hagar’s Children by Edward P. Jones
* The Stories of Mary Gordon by Mary Gordon

RocketBoy got the left half of a Toys R’ Us store, and Steakette got the other half.

One of RocketBoy’s coolest presents was a Cranium brand MEGA Fort. It’s easy to assemble in different forts, saving wear and tear on the couch cushions.

I got Dance Dance Revolution, which I got by way of a used eBay Playstation One, which means I have a game console in my house for the first time since the late 70’s. The PS1 came with some games, including Crash Bandersomething 2, which RocketBoy really likes because he can make the wolf character jump into a hole and kill himself repeatedly. Although, RocketBoy just thinks that’s the way he goes to get back to his house.

Dance Dance Revolution is really hard.

My brother, my father and I have worked diligently to prepare the basement to be a livable area. We’ve finished cleaning, priming and painting the cinderblock walls in what will be the main living area with a light grey enamel. After filling in some cracks with concrete patch, we were able to get most of the floor painted with a coat of brick red polyeurathane concrete paint.

My friends from high school held a gathering and one of their homes back in Fairfield this afternoon. Through the miracle of modern technology, we were able to spend 30 minutes fussing with AOL IM Video typing “Can you see us? No? Can you hear us? Okay, I can hear you sort of…”, which is always nice. Eventually we were able to get video without audio, and we used plain old speakerphones for audio, and had a nice visit. Rocketboy quizzed people on what they got for Xmas.

and Rocketboy tried to go to see Happy Feet today, but left halfway through because it stopped being a charming movie.

I’m going to go watch a Sean Connery movie now.

Back in the Garage again

So, after an 8 month or so hiatus, I was back at Dad’s Garage tonight.

They were short a couple folks, so I said I would host. I wasn’t brave enough to actual play, but it would be good to ease back into things.

However, if I’d known they were going to do a mediocre show for almost no people, I mighta’ played.

It was good natured and it had some high points, but overall a blah show. And a tiny audience, I guess because of the holidays.

Regardless, I enjoyed myself. Good old garage.

Of course, as is typical, here I am at 1:00am, wide awake.

Maybe I’ll watch part of a Battlestar Galactica.

Oops.. no… wait… I just got tired.

‘Night!

Book Log – Return From The Stars

Return From The Stars by Stanislaw Lem

The Slice of Sci Fi podcast guys gushed about Lem and specifically this novel. I believe they were discussing it in the context of Solaris, a movie adapted from another one of his novels. It sat on my Amazon wishlist for a good while, until I was able to procure it through paperbackswap.com.

Translated from the original Polish, it’s a story about a space traveler’s return to earth 127 years after his departure and his efforts to adapt to the new world.

It’s pretty well written, but kind of… well… dull.

I read this by a reviewer on Amazon… This is a relatively contemplative work by Lem – he saved his blatant humor for other works… [cut] This might not be the best intro for someone new to Lem. I’d recommend his lighter writing to start with. Still, it’s a good one. At the end of the book there are blurbs about his other works, and I have to agree that the other ones sound more entertaining.

So, perhaps I’ll give him another chance.

Book Log – Can’t Wait To Get To Heaven

Can’t Wait To Get To Heaven: A Novel by Fannie Flagg

I think got this book for our beach vacation earlier this year, and as I enjoyed Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man: A Novel and Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe: A Novel, I added it to my To Be Read pile.

I was not terribly engaged by the read, and given that I was engaged by her previous works, I’m curious as to why. I see three possibilities…

1) Can’t Wait just isn’t as good as her previous works.
2) I’ve changed as a person since I read the other books about 10 years ago.
3) I’ve since read The Rattlesnake Master, which is a superior work in the southern-small-town-stories genre.

I’m inclined to think it’s a combination of the above.

I can’t understand why Beaufort Cranford doesn’t enjoy the same popularity as Fannie Flagg. Maybe because nobody made a movie of his one book. Possibly because he only wrote one book. , poke him on that, won’t you? Fannie is flagging, somebody’s got to pick up the slack.