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!

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.

At your service, Blood Sucking Fiends

I gave blood today, for the first time ever.

Which means I’ll finally get to find out my blood type.

When I was in 8th grade, we did blood type tests in science. After an ordeal of pricking my finger during which I felt nauseas, the science teacher came to me with the little bottle of fluid to mix with the blood and discovered he had run out. So everyone found out but me.

At some point in my young teenagerhood, someone had told me that I was too skinny to give blood. I took whoever it was at their word, and never revisited the question of giving blood, because I was terrifically squeemish about all things below the skin level. In 9th grade, I had to run out of health class during a graphic filmstrip to avoid passing out.

Sometime after college, the myth of being too skinny was busted (possibly because I was not so skinny anymore) and had had enough experience with needles to figure I could handle the ordeal.

Plus, I had heard there were cookies.

But it never worked out. Blood drives never seemed to happen around me, and I wasn’t aware you could just go give blood randomly. I’m not even sure how you would go about doing it even now. With all the other things in life that need to be scheduled, todo’d, and figured out, giving blood never rose to the top of the list.

I signed up for a few, a couple at the companies I worked for, one at ‘ work. I either got called out of town or the drive got cancelled every time.

But today, though I waited with each passing hour for the inconvenience that would crop up preventing my bloodletting, I finally got it done. In 4-6 weeks, I’ll learn my bloodtype.

I did not feel woozy or anything, and I spent a pleasant half hour reading a book.

I’ll probably do it again.