Book Log – Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Thanks to galbinus_caeli for reminding me of Project Gutenberg, which has made a number of improvements since last I had a Palm, making it much easier to transfer those books to a ebook format.

I really enjoyed the first 4/5 of this book. It’s got a Harry Potter/Oliver Twist sort of beginning, and the language is very enjoyable1. The last fifth dragged a bit, and I sped read the last few pages.

I picked it up because I’ve been reading the Jasper Fforde Thursday Next series, which began with The Eyre Affair. There was much plot of that book based upon the changing of the plot in Jane Eyre, none of which I understood. So now it all makes sense.

1 It should be noted that I find Jane Austen’s writing enjoyable as well. So… there’s your reference point.

Those Brits do pick on religion…

Does Religion Do More Harm Than Good?, courtesy of galbinus_caeli.

A quote of a quote of the original study, regarding religious belief in developed, democratic countries…
“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, (venereal disease), teen pregnancy, and abortion,” while “none of the strongly secularized, pro-evolution democracies is experiencing high levels of measurable dysfunction.”

First off, I hate that they dropped “pro-evolution” in there. Religion and Evolution are not opposites.

Secondly, is this an increase-in-preachers-causes-increase-in-criminals sort of false correlation? (or, if you prefer, decrease-in-pirates-causes-increase-in-global-warming) Perhaps is there selective data being reviewed? Dunno.

As the author of the article mentions, all of these issues are more likely to happen with the economically disadvantaged and countries with stronger belief in a higher power tend to have fewer social programs (at least, fewer governmental social programs).

My instinct is to resist the blow to religion. In a country where there are few social programs and a harsher form of poverty, I would hypothesize a tendency to look towards satisfaction in the afterlife when satisfaction in present life seems unattainable. Thus, poverty and its accompanying ills beget religion, rather than the other way around.

And Britain is “post-Christian”? Who knew?

Sucking.

Okay-

Who’s got a vacuum they love?

One what’s got all those fancy HEPA anti-dust filtration whatamajiggers. Picks up allergens and dog hairs and bad juju.

We’ve had a terrible vacuum for years now, and its complete and utter inability to pick up dog hair off the couch is the final straw.

My mom is extolling the Oreck XL series, but I see too many bad reviews out there on the internets. Allergy Buyers Club sells a host of high-end, pricey ones I’ve never heard of.

Help!

Venturing into the kitchen again

I used to cook a lot.

Not a lot of different dishes, but often. Mostly, variations on stir-fry. The wok was my friend.

I rarely used recipes, and the results ranged from perfect to inedible.

For years now, steakums has completely taken over the reins of cooking. Largely because she used to get home well before I did (upwards of an hour to two hours) and got hungry. In my bachelor days, I would often just skip dinner, or not start thinking about it until 8 or 9pm.

So, only very rarely do I take up the wok again. Less than once a year. And every time has been an abysmal failure, lack of practice does not make perfect.

But our schedules have realigned in recent months such that my commute is much shorter, and I leave earlier, and all those sorts of things, and thusly I arrive home right around the same time steakums does, or at least not before she’s started cooking. So, last night I made a stir-fry again. And it went pretty well.

I only bring all this up because my hands smell severely of garlic. This is only a complaint insofar as every time I scratch my nose, I get hungry.

Decline of websites

In this post, I tallied some website popularity, according to Alexa.

SITE 9/16/06 RANK 03/21/07 RANK
LiveJournal 68 68
The Motley Fool 974 1,508
Cisco 1,140 1,157
Keith and the Girl 38,526 6,512
Creative Loafing 42,880 55,307
Scientific Atlanta 76,996 93,267
Georgia Shakespeare 746,484 7,414,733
Atlanta Coalition of Performing Arts 971,451 882,452
Dad’s Garage Theater 1,065,810 1,069,744
Alliance Theater 1,189,508 1,056,610
TheaterReview 1,221,688 2,413,153
Shakespeare Tavern 3,130,112 3,075,352
eLucas.net No Data No Data

It’s interesting that gashakespeare.org dropped quite a bit, but I remember there were some issues with the Alexa link… the link for gashakespeare.org actually went somewhere else. That seems to be fixed, and the current low ranking prevails. Possibly as a result of being out of season.

TheaterReview.com dropped a big chunk. I attribute it to the fact that I’ve started censoring flame wars, and thus interest has waned.

Book Log – All the Myriad Ways

All the Myriad Ways by Larry Niven

If you ever recommend me a book, and I say I’ll check into it, rest assured that though it may take upwards of 8 years, I will get around to it.

Way back in the days before Internet Messenger, I had an email conversation with a friend about the Back to the Future trilogy and time travel movies in general. In that conversation, he referenced an essay from All the Myriad Ways about time travel.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago when I was pondering my excessive number of credits on paperbackswap.com, and I remembered that book. Someone had it, and it arrived in time for my latest trip to Juarez.

It’s a mixture of sci-fi short stories and essays, and includes one of the more famous and wittier essays in sci-fi history, Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex, a frank and logical discussion of Superman’s potential sex life. One imagines that the writers of Superman II had read this essay.

Ironically, the weakest essay of the bunch was the one on the various (fictional) theories of time travel. It was good to be sure, but missed some of the things we discussed in emails in 1999. Of course, the book was written sometime before 1971, but neither of the 1999 writers were purporting to be career science fiction writers describing an overview of all time travel theories.

The short stories were also well written and engaging, which almost makes up for the later Ringworld books.

Book Log – The Duke and I

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

Okay, it was free. It came with my Palm Z22. I was stuck in a lab in Mexico with nothing to do, my books were elsewhere, my internet connection failed… it was just me, a Palm Z22, and several guys who didn’t speak english.

So, I read a romance novel.

It started off a little Jane Austinesque, sort of, but then deteriorated. My expectations were low, and they were met.

But it was a little interesting to think about what makes a book “bad”, aside from an uninteresting plot. This one was a textbook example of constantly, constantly telling instead of showing.

“Really?” Violet asked, trying not to look interested.

And how, exactly, does one try not to look interested? Show me.

Though, I supposed the author simply doesn’t have the motivation to work at it. I mean, apparently this book has 6 sequels or something like that, so Julia Quinn ain’t hurtin’.

Now, I’ve got to figure out how to get some more eBooks on my Palm, ’cause all that’s left is the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Book Log – Superheroes

Superheroes Edited by John Varley and Ricia Mainhardt

Like most folks of my ilk (and here I mean geeky), I’m a sucker for superheroes.

Not all, but most. I don’t care for the Green Lantern1 or The Hulk.

I was optimistic but ultimately disappointed by Mystery Men, as I like the idea of alternate superheroes. So this book, purportedly a series of essays about alternate superheroes, sounded good to me.

It was okay. As an Amazon reviewer noted, a couple sharp pieces, and the rest just so-so, one-joke stories.

She Who Might Be Obeyed was so convoluted as to be almost unreadable.

Truth, Justice and the Politically Correct Socialist Path the story by the editor that hypothesized Superman’s life had he landed in the USSR (which served as the inspiration to do the collection) was somewhat predictable but very witty.

Others were arty and pushed the margins of what one would define as a superhero.

But, all in all, fine mind candy.

1 My sole contribution to Free Parking, a Dad’s Garage sketch show of some years back, was a piece called The Green Lantern Buys A Stamp where I itemized the lameness of GL when he fails to convince the citizenry that he needs to cut in line at the post office as a matter of life or death. He ends up being bludgeoned by the crowd, saved from death only by the sudden appearance of the Wonder Twins.