Thursday, January 31, 2008

Best of kuri's Blogroll 2007

Here are the best posts of 2007 from participating blogs in my blogroll. All selections were made by the authors themselves. Thanks very much to everyone who sent me a post. Thanks to Jon Swift for this very interesting idea. (Posts are linked in the order I received them. If you haven't sent me yours yet, feel free; I'll be happy to add it.)

Ben Warner at Community Indicators looked at what bicycle riders tell us about their communities in Indicators on Two Wheels: Measuring Bicycles?

Stephen J. Dubner at Freakonomics Blog asked How Much Does the President of the United States Really Matter?

At Grumpy's Hollow, Grumpwurst called for some consideration of other visitors by asking Do you know what your Theme Park Footprint is?

Sky Windows vlogged about how much her daughter overcame in the year after she was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer in We’ve come a long way baby!

At Rae's Place, Rae wrote about the snippets of Memories that cascade through her mind during the holiday season.

At the Mutt's Nuts, IslaSkye described how her Dangerous Thoughts led her to question her Mormon faith, and Curmudgeonly Yours how he struggled to retain his independence by Resisting the Mormon melting pot.

At juggling Cats, Brahnamin told about how he discovered he is his father's son but not his father in sins of the father.

At murketing, Rob Walker discussed the biggest changes in his lifetime and before in Totally wildly unprecedented change … and its precedents.

At OakMonster's Den, Oakley wrote of her disorientation after returning from her mother's funeral in Thailand in Time Travel.

CV Rick told of how religiosity stripped his father of the joy he once felt in music in Growing Up Mormon - The Record Albums.

At Cosmic Variance, Sean described how physics gets done in Anatomy of a Paper.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Good reads/random cool sites (1/30/2008)

I dislike hyperbole, so "heartbreaking" isn't an adjective that I toss around much, but I don't know what else to call CV Rick's memoir of Alma the Lamanite. It's so good, i.e., so painful, that I'm almost sorry I read it, if that makes sense.

In his State of the Union Address Bush asked for $20 per poor child and $287,000 in tax cuts per millionaire. Since the number of poor children and the number of millionaires is roughly equal, Greg Palast asks, why not give each millionaire $20 and each poor kid $287,000?

I'm really not sure why, but there's something about an extremely foul-mouthed robot insulting people that just cracks me up.

The funniest "lol cat" ever?

Best of kuri 2005

I'm working up my own best-of lists, so here's the year I started blogging:

My best blog posts from 2005

Being on the receiving end of charity hurts my pride. That's why 'Tis better to give than to receive.

I briefly hired an editor for my blog. It didn't work out too well. (Start reading at the bottom and work your way up.)

Ever wonder what those odd-sounding job titles in movie credits mean? I cleared that up in Hollywood Occupations Explained.

When I was 19, I met The Most Perfect Girl in the World.

I decided once to try to write a novel, a mystery story. I didn't get too far, and I don't know if I'll ever pick it up again, but here's A chapter from my novel not-in-progress.

Send me your best blog post of 2007

It's not too late! Send me your best blog post of 2007!
The list will go up this week! Best posts have been trickling in by e-mail, but I want more, more, more!

What was your best blog post of 2007? Send me a link, either in the comments here or by e-mail (kurinboism[at]hotmail.com), so I can put it in a post here. And consider doing this with your own blogroll. There's a lot of good writing out there. Let's point it out.
(Idea by Jon Swift)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

10 things I've done that you (probably) haven't

I've...
1. ...performed stand-up comedy.
2. ...dunked a basketball in a guy's face.
3. ...turned down women who asked me to sleep with them.
4. ...gone five days without eating.
5. ...spent a night sleeping on a park bench in Tokyo.
6. ...broken a man's pelvis in a fight.
7. ...worked illegally in Japan.
8. ...shared a double bed with a male friend in a hotel room in Seoul.
9. ...been interviewed for and had my picture in magazines.
10. ...made love to a woman 9 times in 16 hours.

(Via juggling Cats and Sky Windows)

Earworm!

The only way to get rid of an earworm is to give it to someone else.

The politics of dancing
The politics of ooh feelin' good
The politics of movin'
Oh-ho, is this message understood?

The politics of dancing
The politics of ooh feelin' good
The politics of movin'
Oh-ho, is this message understood?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gordon B. Hinckly dies

"President Gordon B. Hinckley of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints died this evening. He was 97."

On being nice to jerks, part 2

Every internet forum has two things in common. The first is that the regulars there are always convinced of the elevated nature of their discourse. They are always certain that their forum is home to some of the most intelligent and witty conversation anywhere. And they're always wrong.

The second thing that every internet forum has in common is that they all have at least one regular whom the other regulars treat with great deference and respect as a person of intelligence and even wisdom, when it's obvious to any outsider that that person is actually what mental health professionals like to call "a friggin' psycho." And that brings us to Jerk Number 2 (JN2).

When I look at JN2, I see an insecure, insensitive, neurotic, paranoid, narrow-minded, hostile, whining, lying, plagiarizing, sock-puppeteering, bragging, name-dropping, self-righteous, hypocritical bully, yet his internet friends treat him with respect, as if he were a normal person, or even a good one. I'm not sure where this difference in perception comes from. Are they actually incapable of seeing that he's an insecure, insensitive, neurotic, paranoid, narrow-minded, hostile, whining, lying, plagiarizing, sock-puppeteering, bragging, name-dropping, self-righteous, hypocritical bully, or do they just not care? Or, is it perhaps that they've known him so long that they've become possessive, thinking more or less, "He may be an insecure, insensitive, neurotic, paranoid, narrow-minded, hostile, whining, lying, plagiarizing, sock-puppeteering, bragging, name-dropping, self-righteous, hypocritical bully, but he's our insecure, insensitive, neurotic, paranoid, narrow-minded, hostile, whining, lying, plagiarizing, sock-puppeteering, bragging, name-dropping, self-righteous, hypocritical bully"? It's an interesting question, although not one I'll try to resolve in this post.

Anyway, JN2 and I go way back on teh interwebs, participating in some of the same forums since all the way back in 2000. And there's always been a bit of tension between us. On my part, I guess I just don't get along well with insecure, insensitive, neurotic, paranoid, narrow-minded, hostile, whining, lying, plagiarizing, sock-puppeteering, bragging, name-dropping, self-righteous, hypocritical bullies. I suppose that's an area I need to improve in. On JN2's part, I somehow seem to have touched one of his pet insecurities, which is people who "think they're better than him," or, in other words, people who aren't impressed by him. That seems to be some sort of unforgivable sin in his book, and I suppose I have to plead guilty, because besides being an insecure, insensitive, neurotic, paranoid, narrow-minded, hostile, whining, lying, plagiarizing, sock-puppeteering, bragging, name-dropping, self-righteous, hypocritical bully, he also has a habit of pontificating with great confidence on things he's obviously clueless about, plus he's a bumpkin with no taste in anything. For some reason, people like that just don't impress me very much. I guess that's another area I need to improve in.

Anyway, our "relationship," and indeed his presence in our shared forums, became an endless cycle. He would insult someone, then he would apologize, then I or whoever else he insulted would accept his apology (or just go away). Then he'd do it again. In between, mind you, he would always profess friendship towards me. And nothing stopped him -- I tried insulting him back; I tried being nice; I tried being funny. It made no difference. He always did it again. And this went on for years. So, as this cycle continued, my attitude when he'd apologize gradually changed from "Cool, we're friends again, I wonder what was bothering him," to "Whatever," to "STFU with your insincere apologies, you friggin' psycho."

Well, last summer, the sole remaining forum we were both on was discussing something or other, and JN2 started making personal comments about my life choices, and I snapped a little bit. I cursed him up one side and down the other, and I left the forum. After staying away for a month or two, though, I decided that there was no reason for me to leave. I like most of the other people in the forum -- some of them very much -- and if the conversation wasn't actually especially intelligent or witty, it was pretty amiable; at least when JN2 wasn't involved.

So I came up with a strategy: I would just pretend JN2 doesn't exist. I wouldn't post anything to him, I wouldn't comment on anything he said (no matter how dumb it was), I wouldn't talk to other people about him, et cetera and so on. That way, I could enjoy the forum, he'd have no reason to think I was actively being not impressed by him, and everyone would be happy. Seems reasonable, right? But I forgot that I wasn't dealing with a normal person, I was dealing with an insecure, insensitive, neurotic, paranoid, narrow-minded, hostile, whining, lying, plagiarizing, sock-puppeteering, bragging, name-dropping, self-righteous, hypocritical bully.

Turns out, he couldn't stand being ignored. Although I'd had absolutely no intention of using it that way -- I just wanted the guy to leave me alone -- silence was a powerful weapon. It drove him nuts(ier). He couldn't stop trying to get me to say something to him. And I can't say that bothered me; it was pretty funny, actually. So I just went on ignoring him and enjoying the forum.

After I'd been back a month or so, JN2 went too far with his insults. He threw out a couple of completely gratuitous nasty personal shots at me and another guy (which I, and the other guy too, I'm pretty sure, just shrugged off because of the source). Then most of the regulars came down on him for that, since his insults were so far outside the pale of what usually went on there and his intent was so obviously vicious.

Well, that got JN2's ickle feelings all hurt. He started whining about how nobody had said anything to me for cursing at him three months before (even though he'd subsequently said openly that he was deliberately trying to provoke me), how I was trying to steal the forum, and how everyone was taking my side against him. On his blog, he even wrote a comically bathetic post about friendships coming to an end, complete with photograph of autumn leaves. All this, mind you, when I hadn't said one word to him for three months.

Along with thinking what a psycho he was, I was kind of surprised that he actually had any feelings to hurt. But I guess I shouldn't have been, because I've noticed many other times that people who are brutally insensitive to others' feelings are often extremely delicate when it comes to their own.

Anyhow, the way I saw it, I had three choices. A) I could go on the offensive and drive JN2 out of the forum. That would probably have been pretty simple, since in my back-and-forth with him over the years I'd found him pathetically easy to manipulate whenever I was so inclined. (In the short term, that is; his long-term behavior never changed.) Considering the state he was already in, I think I could have had him foaming with rage and turning on his friends even more with just two or three well-placed posts. Or, B) I could just state my case -- i.e., say why I'd been ignoring him and would go on ignoring him -- and not worry about his friends. Or, C) I could state my case but also try to make it easier for JN2 to make up with his friends.

Since this is ultimately a post about being nice to jerks, no doubt you've already correctly concluded that I chose C). I wrote a post about why I wanted nothing to do with JN2, why I'd been ignoring him, why all I wanted from him was for him to leave me alone. But I also said that there was no fight for people to take sides in and that I wasn't trying to steal the forum. I hoped maybe that would take pride out of the equation and make it easier for him to make up with his friends.

I can't say I actually did that for JN2's sake -- really it was the pain I saw in our mutual friends that led me to do it. They seemed genuinely hurt at the thought of losing his friendship, though I find that incomprehensible. And no doubt they were e-mailing and phoning him and so on, and that had vastly more to do with their reconciliation than my little gesture did. Still, I did what I could to be nice to a jerk.

Like always, though, it did no good. Jerks are incapable of recognizing it when you do something kind to them. JN2 just went right on insulting me in the forum (I think; between rolling my eyes at his neurotic persistence and scrolling down the page as soon as I saw who the post was from, I never read much of what he posted to me), even though I never posted to him again. Anyway, I finally left that forum for good not too long ago; JN2 is probably still insulting me there in absentia.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Kakurenbo/hide-and-seek

Hide-and-go-seek is a common childhood game in both America and Japan, where it's called kakurenbo (かくれんぼ). Although the game is basically the same, there's a difference in how it's played in the two countries that I find interesting and perhaps telling.

In both America and Japan, one player is "It" and must try to find the other players, who hide. In both countries, It covers his or her eyes and counts to a given number while the other players scatter to their hiding places. But here's where the difference emerges.

In America, It counts and then shouts, "Ready or not, here I come!" Players are given a predetermined amount of time to hide. Those who cannot find a proper hiding place before the count finishes are out of luck; they will be quickly found.

In Japan, however, It counts and then shouts, "Are you ready?" (もういいかい?). Players who are fully hidden shout, "I'm ready!" (もういいよ!), while players who are still finding a hiding place yell, "Not yet!" (まあだだよ!). If any players shout, "Not yet," It has to count some more and then yell, "Are you ready?" again. This may need to be repeated more than once. The search cannot begin as long as anyone answers "Not yet!" Only after everyone has answered "I'm ready!" can the hunt begin.

So, does this variation in a children's game tell us something about American and Japanese societies? Can we conclude that, like hide-and-seek, American society is formal, adversarial, and legalistic, setting forth clear rules for antagonists and inflexibly enforcing compliance, "ready or not," while Japanese society, like kakurenbo, is more informal and collaborative, encouraging flexible cooperation between antagonists? Well, that's probably reading too much into a mere childhood game, but perhaps there is something to the idea. In any event, it is an interesting difference.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The other video Tom Cruise doesn't want you to see

Jerry O'Connell is an actor... tologist. Or something.


(Via Bad Astronomy Blog)

Good reads/random cool sites (1/23/2008)

Bush lied 935 times, people died.

Bet you didn't know that evolution and spontaneous generation are the same thing (via Bad Science).

Cigarettes and babies? Getting spanked by your husband for buying the wrong coffee? "Blow in her face and she'll follow you anywhere"? The 10 Creepiest Old Ads.

Turbo tells about the days when men in spandex were real men.

Monday, January 21, 2008

On being nice to jerks, part 1

Like most people, I've known a lot of jerks in my life and in some cases I've had to deal with them on an on-going basis. There are a lot of ways to handle jerks, and I've tried most of them. And one thing I've learned is that doing something nice for a jerk never pays off. They go right on being jerks, and, in fact, because they're jerks, they never even notice that you did something nice for them. Let me give you a couple of examples.

Jerk Number 1 (JN1) was a Japanese guy who worked for a translation client when I was living in Japan. (I still worked for somebody else then, so he was the company's client, not my own.) The project we were working on was an insurance company history. (Let's call them "M Corp.") Big Japanese companies put out these little books about themselves every 10 or 20 years to celebrate the anniversaries of their foundings. Nobody ever reads them, of course, but apparently putting out these books is a matter of prestige. It's just the done thing. And this one was for M Corp's 100th anniversary, so it was a doozy. They commissioned a full-length book -- over 100,000 words -- hiring a well-known journalist to write it (in Japanese), arranging for a complete (and very expensive) English translation, using the best paper and binding, and so on.

My job on this project was editing the English version. I had to make sure that the English translation was accurate, fix any typos or grammatical errors, ensure that the style was consistent throughout, and so on. It was moderately interesting work, and something that I'm quite competent at doing. JN1, meanwhile, was the project coordinator for M Corp. He was responsible for the final product.

We worked on this project at a pace of about a chapter a month. The translator would finish a chapter and send it to a company in Boston. That company would check the translation and send it to the company where I worked. I would check it, edit it, and send it to JN1 at M Corp. Now, one might think that these three layers of work -- translation, first check/edit, second check/edit -- would be sufficient assurance of quality. While none of us was the greatest writer ever, we all did competent, professional work. But that wasn't enough for JN1. No, he was certain that, non-native English speaker though he was, he could improve on our work. So every time I sent him a finished chapter, he'd send it back a week later with "corrections."

Since almost any writing can be improved, in principle I have no problem with clients offering suggestions. And in most cases, Japanese clients have no problem recognizing the fact that as non-native speakers working with professional writers and editors, they're unlikely to be able to make major improvements. So they make their suggestions or ask questions with a certain amount of deference, I try to listen with humility, and the writing often does get improved here and there.

But JN1 was different. What made him a jerk was that he offered "corrections," not suggestions or questions, and despite the fact that over 90 percent of them were grammatically or idiomatically incorrect and would have messed up the English, he provided them with absolute certainty of their aptness and stubbornly clung to them when I rejected them out of hand.

Since everyone on the project had developed a strong commitment to its quality, this was a serious problem. JN1 had the final say, but we didn't want him to destroy the writing with his bad English. The result was that for each chapter we had to have a two- or three-hour meeting with JN1, where I had to argue him out of each bad "correction," one line at a time.

Now, my commitment was to quality work, not to winning arguments with the guy, so I did accept some of his "corrections"; maybe about 5 in 100 actually were slight improvements. And, while JN1 was by no means a demonstrative fellow, each of those 5 accepted corrections would bring a certain subtle but clear expression of smug triumph to his face, while each of the 95 rejections was met with an air of sullen skepticism. The fact that he was only right 5 out of 100 times made absolutely no difference to this dynamic.

All right, so here's the nice thing I did for him. The book had a little preface written by M Corp's president. In it, he thanked the company I worked for for coordinating the translation, and he thanked the translator by name. So I looked at JN1 a little bit, and I thought, here's a man in late middle age, a couple of years from retirement, and he's literally dedicated his life to M Corp, even though he's never risen above upper middle management. Guys in his generation basically sacrificed everything to the companies they worked for; family, self, everything came second to the company. It's not a mindset I could relate to -- I think it's kind of ridiculous, actually -- but I respected that kind of dedication.

So I thought, let's get this guy's name into the company history book. And I said, I think JN1's name should go in this little preface too. This took him completely by surprise, but once he realized what it meant -- a little recognition after all his years of work, a kind of legacy that would live on in his company well after he was gone -- I could tell he wanted it. He wanted it bad. He politely demurred, of course, but when I politely insisted, he jumped at the chance. It was something he'd never even thought of; suggesting it himself would have been considered unbelievably crass. Coming from an outsider, though, it was perfectly legitimate. He passed my suggestion up the corporate chain of command, and it was quickly approved. He got his name in the company history, personally thanked by the company president for his work on the project.

Pretty cool for him, right? But did he thank me? Did he maybe become a little more humble because I gave him that little gift, all on my own initiative? Not a chance. He was, after all, a jerk. If anything, his attitude got even worse. Maybe he even thought that he was the shiznit because his name was going into the company history. I don't know. I do know that, even though I look back at the story and laugh now, by the end of the project I was damn sorry I'd ever done anything nice for him.

I'll tell about Jerk Number 2 another time. It'll be shorter, I promise. OK, so it isn't short after all.

No respect

It's been kind strange being a San Diego Chargers fan the last three Sundays. In their first playoff game, the Chargers beat the Tennessee Titans 17-6. The consensus of the nation's sports punditry, though, was that the Chargers won because the Titans suck.

So the Chargers went into their second playoff game as a big underdog against the Indianapolis Colts. And when they beat them 28-24, despite having several key players out with injuries, the same sportswriters and announcers called it shocking, a huge upset, a miracle, a giant choke job on the part of the Colts.

Finally, the Chargers lost yesterday to the New England Patriots, 21-12. And all the sports pundits have been saying how poorly the Patriots played.

Well, here's the thing (three things, actually): The Titans aren't that bad, there was nothing shocking about beating the Colts, and the Patriots didn't play poorly, the Chargers played well. The Chargers are simply the second best team in the league right now. I'm not kidding.

First, the Titans were good enough to win 10 games this year. They earned a spot in the playoffs. But the Chargers handled them without all that much trouble. Because they're the better team by far.

Second, everyone talks about how good the Colts are, well, the Chargers are better. Period. At quarterback, Rivers isn't as good as Manning, obviously, but if you look at the two team's other starters unit-by-unit, running backs, receivers (including tight ends), offensive line, defensive line, linebackers, and secondary, there isn't a single unit where the Colts are superior. Not one. Plus, the Chargers reserves are the best in the NFL, and their special teams are far better than the Colts'. The Chargers expect to beat the Colts whenever they play, and they usually do. Even when they were sucking earlier this year, they still beat the Colts. There was nothing surprising about the outcome of the playoff game to anyone who follows the Chargers closely. It was expected.

Third, the Patriots played poorly because the Chargers made them. The Chargers are almost as good as the Patriots. The Pats are better at quarterback, deeper at receiver, and maybe a little better on the offensive line, but the Bolts have a better defense, as well as more depth and better special teams. They still almost won despite having four of their most important players either hobbling or out with injuries.

The difference in the game was coaching. Belichick is unquestionably a better coach than Norv Turner. He completely crossed up the Chargers in the second half by going to two- and three-tight-end sets, and the Bolts couldn't adjust. All credit to the Pats for that, but it wasn't a case of a superior team playing poorly and letting an inferior team stay in the game; it was two evenly matched teams playing evenly until better coaching and a couple of key plays won it for the best team, though not necessarily the team with the best players.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Books I read during 2008

These are the 102 books I read during 2008.

**** Highly recommended
*** Recommended
** Meh
* Don't bother

Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell ****

Watchmen, Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons ****

Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, vol. 2, Laurell K. Hamilton, Jess Ruffner-Booth, Brett Booth, Ron Lim ***

Bad Boy Brawly Brown, Walter Mosley ****

Pale Gray for Guilt, John D. Macdonald ***

One Fearful Yellow Eye, John D. Macdonald ***

The Widening Gyre, Robert B. Parker ****

Boys Will Be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty, Jeff Pearlman ***

My Early Life, Winston Churchill **** (review)

The Children of Hurin, J. R. R. Tolkien ****

Musicophilia, Oliver Sacks ****

Gone Fishin', Walter Mosley ****

The Jungle Books, Rudyard Kipling ****

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, David Wroblewski ****

The Forever War, Joe Haldeman ****

Color of Rage, Kazuo Koike and Seisaku Kano ***

The Best Game Ever: Giants vs. Colts, 1958, and the Birth of the Modern NFL, Mark Bowden ***

A Little Yellow Dog, Walter Mosley ****

The Open Curtain, Brian Evenson ****

Ceremony, Robert B. Parker ***

Lady Snowblood Volume 1, Kazuo Koike and Kazuo Kamimura **

Faith of My Fathers, John McCain and Mark Salter ***

It's Superman! A Novel, Tom De Haven ****

Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri ****

Black Betty, Walter Mosley ****

Father of Lies, Brian Evenson ***

The Chosen, Chaim Potok ****

The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation (Volume One), Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, trans. by Thomas P. Whitney ****

Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times, Thomas Hauser ****

White Butterfly, Walter Mosley ****

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Barack Obama ***

Batman: The Killing Joke, Alan Moore and Brian Bolland ***

Child 44, Tom Rob Smith ****

Buying In, Rob Walker ****

A Red Death, Walter Mosley ***

Blue at the Mizzen, Patrick O'Brian ****

A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World, Tony Horwitz ****

A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father, Augusten Burroughs ***

Devil in a Blue Dress, Walter Mosley ****

The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain, Mark Twain ****

The Complete Peanuts 1967–1968, Charles Schulz ****

Bringing Down the House : The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions, Ben Mezrich ***

Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America, Rick Perlstein ****

Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body, Neil Shubin ***

Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel, Michio Kaku ****

American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis N/A

Walking Shadow, Robert B. Parker ***

Brutal: The Untold Story of My Life Inside Whitey Bulger's Irish Mob, Kevin Weeks **

The Life of the Skies: Birding at the End of Nature, Jonathon Rosen ***

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, Azar Nafisi ***

The Moon and Sixpence, W. Somerset Maugham ***

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, Dan Ariely ****

The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury ****

The Stranger, Albert Camus, translated by Matthew Ward ****

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, Michael Pollan *** (review)

Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease, Gary Taubes **** (review)

This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, Drew Gilpin Faust ***

All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy ****

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's, John Elder Robison ****

The Glass Castle: A Memoir, Jeannette Walls ***

Night Watch, Sergei Lukyanenko, translated by Andrew Bromfield ****

Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports, James Patterson **

Maximum Ride: School's Out -- Forever, James Patterson **

The 50 Best Sights in Astronomy and How to See Them: Observing Eclipses, Bright Comets, Meteor Showers, and Other Celestial Wonders, Fred Schaaf (review) ****

I Am Legend, Richard Matheson ***

Spare Change, Robert B. Parker **

The Complete Peanuts 1965-1966, Charles Schulz ****

Caricature, Daniel Clowes ***

The Complete Peanuts 1963-1964, Charles Schulz ****

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life, Steve Martin ***

The Complete Peanuts 1961-1962, Charles Schulz ****

Darker than Amber, John D. MacDonald ***

Bright Orange for the Shroud, John D. MacDonald ***

The Complete Peanuts 1959 - 1960, Charles Schulz ****

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment, James Patterson **

Remove Child Before Folding: The 101 Stupidest, Silliest, and Wackiest Warning Labels Ever, Bob Dorigo Jones **

The Heartless Stone: A Journey through the World of Diamonds, Deceit and Desire, Tom Zoellner (review) ***

Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets, Sudhir Venkatesh ***

Nazi Games: The Olympics of 1936, David Clay Large **

Rat: How the World's Most Notorious Rodent Clawed Its Way to the Top, Jerry Langton **

Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, Tim Weiner ****

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Jean-Dominique Bauby, trans. by Jeremy Leggatt ***

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein ****

Black Hole, Charles Burns

David Boring, Daniel Clowes ***

The Complete Peanuts 1957-1958, Charles Schulz ***

The Complete Peanuts 1955 - 1956, Charles Schulz ***

Now and Then, Robert B. Parker **

A Savage Place, Robert B. Parker ***

Early Autumn, Robert B. Parker ***

Why Not Catch 21? The Stories Behind the Titles, Gary Dexter ***

Cold Service, Robert B. Parker **

The Quick Red Fox, John D. MacDonald ***

A Purple Place for Dying, John D. MacDonald ***

The Complete Peanuts 1953 - 1954, Charles Schulz ***

The Complete Peanuts 1950 - 1952, Charles Schulz ***

Red Sky at Morning, Richard Bradford ****

Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell ***

How to Lie with Statistics, Darrell Huff, ill. by Irving Geis ***

Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography, David Michaelis (review) ****

Suite Française, Irène Némirovsky ***

Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer ****

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Books I finished in 2007

These are the books I read in 2007:

Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen

Scientific Progress Goes "Boink", Bill Watterson

Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush, Robert Draper

I Love You, Beth Cooper, Larry Doyle (note: noisy website)

Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, Gregory Maguire

Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson

Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali

The Family That Couldn't Sleep: A Medical Mystery, D. T. Max

The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas, Robert H. Frank

Requiem for an Assassin, Barry Eisler

Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan's Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe That Ended the Outlaws' Bloody Reign, Stephan Talty

The Best American Sports Writing 2006, ed. by Michael Lewis

Ghost World, Daniel Clowes

Ice Haven, Daniel Clowes

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, Neil Strauss

The Assault on Reason, Al Gore

Looking for Rachel Wallace, Robert B. Parker

The Judas Goat, Robert B. Parker

Nightmare in Pink, John D. Macdonald

The Deep Blue Good-by, John D. Macdonald

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, Chalmers Johnson

The Secret History of the American Empire, John Perkins

The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler

Promised Land, Robert B. Parker

Nobody, Alex Amado, Sharon Cho, Charlie Adlard

Road to Perdition, Max Allan Collins

Mortal Stakes, Robert B. Parker

Tunnels of Blood, Darren Shan

The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins

The Vampire's Assistant, Darren Shan

Cirque du Freak, Darren Shan

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J. K. Rowling

Mormon Mavericks: Essays on Dissenters, ed. by John Stillto and Susan Staker

Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince, J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J. K. Rowling (review)

The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Michael Chabon

God Save the Child, Robert B. Parker

The Godwulf Manuscript, Robert B. Parker

The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowiecki

Goldfinger, Ian Fleming

Casino Royale, Ian Fleming

Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Pop Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter, Steven Johnson

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, Geoffrey C. Ward

For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon

Breaks of the Game, David Halberstam

Cross, James Patterson

Letter to a Christian Nation, Sam Harris

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, Ishmael Beah

The Oedipus Plays of Sophocles, Sophocles, trans. by Paul Roche

The Immortal Game: A History of Chess, David Shenk

To the Heart of the Storm, Will Eisner

Man and Superman, George Bernard Shaw

Moby Dick, Herman Mellville, retold by Will Eisner

Frank Miller's Sin City Volume 5: Family Values, Frank Miller

The Contract with God Trilogy: Life on Dropsie Avenue, Will Eisner

The Prophet Puzzle: Interpretive Essays on Joseph Smith, Bryan Waterman, ed.

A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway

Iron Mike: A Mike Tyson Reader, ed. by Daniel O'Connor

300, Frank Miller

The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion

Mary Mary, James Patterson

London Bridges, James Patterson

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, Michael Pollan

Only Joking: What's So Funny About Making People Laugh?, Jimmy Carr and Lucy Greeves

The Road, Cormac McCarthy

Grayson, Lynne Cox

The Meaning of Sports: Why Americans Watch Baseball, Football, and Basketball and What They See When They Do, Michael Mandelbaum

One Train later, Andy Summers

Two Ton: One Fight, One Night—Tony Galento vs. Joe Louis, Joseph Monninger

Social Intelligence, Daniel Goleman

Ten Great Mysteries, Edgar Allan Poe

Flags of Our Fathers, James Bradley with Ron Powers

Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy!, Bob Harris

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, Michael Lewis

Ringside: A History of Professional Wrestling in America, Scott M. Beekman

Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete, William C. Rhoden

Frank Miller's Sin City Volume 4: That Yellow Bastard, Frank Miller

Star Wars on Trial, David Brin, Matthew Woordring Stover, et al.

The Crow: Dead Time, James O'Barr

Size Matters: How Height Affects the Health, Happiness, and Success of Boys - and the Men They Become, Stephen S. Hall

Summary of 2007: Kind of Zen?

I got this from Oakmonster (who got it from someone, etc.) Summarize 2007 by using the first sentences of your blog posts from each month. Since this is a a blog about nothing in particular, mine turned out kind of zen. Or just random.

Happy New Year, users of the Gregorian calendar! Most of the time, I'm clear focused all around. The long-awaited (by everyone who saw Ryan vs. Dorkman) Ryan vs. Dorkman 2 is finally here. SkyWindows gave me a Thinking Blogger Award. Time for more YouTube favorites. Andy Warhol gives an interview and eats a hamburger. Leftish blogs were all agog recently over an article about presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the Boston Globe. Two psychologists at the University of Texas have published a paper on "Why Humans Have Sex." The sweetest car anyone in my family has ever owned was a 1966 Ford Mustang. Watching "House" is a lot like watching an NBA game. Japanese TV can be very strange.... Die Stickman!

And watch out if you're a 5-year-old

30

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