One Semester Down...

>> 17 December 2010

Having just taken my third and final law school exam of the semester, I would like to share the following passage from the 1980 New York Court of Appeals case, Derdiarian v. Felix Contracting Corp:
Although plaintiff's body ignited into a fire-ball, he miraculously survived the incident.
Yep. That pretty much sums it up.


Is This Kid Too Cool 4 School?

>> 09 November 2010

...yes. He is absolutely too cool 4 school.

The best thing is how his helmet makes him look like a small--but rad--alien.



>> 05 October 2010



It's Like An Optical Illusion

>> 29 September 2010

The Dumbest Woman On The Highway - Watch more Funny Videos


A Sad Day For People Who Hate Walking To Places

>> 27 September 2010

I still don't know how to react to this headline:

Tycoon who took over Segway firm dies in freak accident after riding one of the machines off hillside and into a river

Read more:here.

For now, I intend to assuage my grief by watching youtube videos of segway crashes.

PS -- I swore I had a post long ago about segway crashes, but I couldn't find it to link to.


War on Terror?

>> 21 September 2010

It's hard to say how accurate these figures are, but even if we grant a huge margin of error...the effect is still sobering.

Originally found here: All That Is Interesting

Also of interest:


If I'm Honest, I Sort of Hate Pennies Too

>> 17 September 2010


Something your probably didn't know

>> 15 September 2010

"Do not put false fingernails on an opossum. I cannot emphasize this enough."


>> 15 August 2010

This made me cry.


Book Reviews

>> 21 July 2010

What We Talk About When We Talk About LoveWhat We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I experienced something strange while reading What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Raymond Carver's style has been copied by so many mediocre writers that my initial reaction to the stories in this collection was slightly dismissive. How many slice-of-life stories have been written about despairing blue-collar alcoholics enduring relationship problems? Answer: too many.

What sets Carver's writing apart from his emulators is the absolute precision of his writing. There are no superfluous sentences. There is no pretense in his style. Much like Earnest Hemingway, Carver has a knack for meaning more than what he says. Something as simple as a yard-sale or a trout pond embodies some great existential dilemma.

For the most part, the stories are bleak. Carver's vision of the world is not a particularly uplifting one. Nevertheless, Raymond Carver is a true master of the short story.

View all my reviews >>

Tree of SmokeTree of Smoke by Denis Johnson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This novel got a lot of positive publicity and favorable reviews, winning the National Book Award and nominated as a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Unfortunately, the book didn't have the same impact for me as it apparently did for the judges of these prizes.

The novel takes place during the Vietnam War, over the course of several years and with several point-of-view characters. Due to this organizational structure, the novel jumps around a lot from one character (and storyline) to another. Some characters disappear from the narrative for long stretches of time, before suddenly re-emerging, as if from the jungles of Vietnam. Every time I started getting interested in a character, the novel jumped to whatever character I happened to be least interested in. It was sort of amazing how this worked. At the end of each chapter, I could predict who I would read about next by asking myself who I least wanted to read about.

While there are some moments of great suspense and intrigue, on the whole, the book falls slightly flat. My score of two stars is probably a little bit harsh, but I had high expectations for this book, due to the acclaim that it has received, and I ultimately did not feel particularly impressed with the novel.

View all my reviews >>


Banana Basics

>> 13 July 2010


Big Ideas # 001

>> 29 June 2010

The other day while trying to prevent the cat from escaping through the front door it hit me: House-cats are just wild animals with Stockholm syndrome.


Junk Food Review: Doritos Tacos at Midnight

>> 01 June 2010

Today, at the grocery store, Doritos were on sale. Readers of this e-blog may be aware that I am an avid fan of Cool Ranch Doritos. However, today in the grocery store, I decided that I would branch out and try these new Tacos at Midnight Doritos. In order to spare you, my e-friends, the culinary anguish that I have experienced, I wish to share my first junk food review.

Apparently, the marketing and product development whizzes who are responsible for the creation of Doritos products think that an authentic taco tastes like the contents of one of those envelops of powdered taco meat seasoning combined with as much salt as possible. If you were to chew up a handful of tortilla chips and, then, without swallowing, add the contents of an entire salt-shaker and one of these:
...then you would have a basic idea of what these chips taste like.

The designation, 'at midnight' initially seemed to be nothing more than a way to spice up the product name. Tacos at Midnight sounds much more alluring than Chips That Taste Like Taco Meat. Now I realize that the name was carefully chosen to evoke some sort of late-night taco craving that follows a night of heavy drinking. Truthfully, it is difficult to imagine that anyone could become so intoxicated that they would want to eat these chips. Maybe as part of a dare.

In summary, do your mouth a favor and don't make the same mistake that I did. Go with Cool Ranch.


Some People Collect Stamps...

>> 28 May 2010 wife collects salad dressing.

We have thrown away the first three (the gross three, which were given to us -- this is not a joke -- as gifts), but that still leaves us with nine different varieties of salad dressing for two people. I predict that we will run out of salad dressing at about the same time that the Earth runs out of fossil fuels. The race is on!


Kung-Fu Bear

>> 27 May 2010

Humans: we are doomed.


Pink Floyd on Nintendo

>> 30 April 2010

For the rare individuals out there who find themselves lamenting the fact that Pink Floyd isn't weird enough for their tastes, I have good news for you! Some one with entirely too much free time has re-created the entire Dark Side Of The Moon album on an 8-bit synthesizer (the same technology that gave us the incredible music of the original Nintendo games). The results are pretty amazing. I have embedded the videos for your convenience, but for uninterrupted listening, visit the YouTube page and turn on the play-list feature.



>> 26 April 2010

Hatetris is a Tetris variant that purposefully makes the game as difficult as possible. The pieces don't descend automatically (you have to press the down arrow to move the block down, one row at a time), but this doesn't make the game any easier. Every turn, the game performs a series of calculations and gives you the piece with the lowest probability of completing a line. It is, in a word, frustrating. You can play it online here.

My best score is 4. Leave your best score in the comments section!


Where (When) Would You Go In A Time Machine?

>> 24 April 2010

Recently, I received a forwarded email that suggested that right now, in the year 2010, the world is worse than it has ever been. The email claimed that currently, people are more evil than they have ever been, and that things are only getting worse. As evidence for this claim, the email mentioned Roe v. Wade, the legalization of gay marriage in some parts of the US, the secularization of Europe, the fact that evolution is taught in science classes, the USA's military entanglements, and the spread of AIDS in Africa. There were other demonstrations (it was a long email with large letters and multi-colored fonts), but I'll leave them out for now.

Obviously, not everyone agrees with the claims made in this email (myself included); however, the email did make me start thinking about when would have been the best time to be alive. So, here's a little thought-experiment that I would like to conduct with the readers of this blog: Imagine that you have a device (a sort of time machine) that can transport you to any time in the history of the world. Unfortunately, the device has some limitations:

  1. You will have to be born in your new time period, and you will have to experience childhood, etc. In other words, infant mortality rate matters!
  2. You cannot choose where you will be born. The location of your birth will be random, although it will be weighted by population density. In other words, you will be more likely to be born in India, where there are many people, than in Iceland, where there are few. But then again, you could luck out and get Iceland!
  3. You cannot choose the circumstances of your life. Your race, gender, physical appearance, general health, intellectual capacity, etc. will be determined randomly, with the probabilities weighted by frequency of actual occurrence.
  4. You will not know anything which was unknown in the time that you choose. For example, if you choose to live in a time before the development of the germ theory of disease, you will think that diseases are caused by witches or evil spirits or an imbalance between the four humors.
(Readers of John Rawls will recognize these conditions as being a rough approximation of 'The Original Position,' which is a philosophical concept that Rawls thought should be used when making moral decisions. In practice, the people who make the rules are the ones who have the power to enforce the rules to their benefit. The people who cut the pie also get to choose which slice they want to take. Rawls suggests that a rule is fair only if we would agree to it without knowing what our lot in life would be. For instance, we would not agree to allow slavery if there was a possibility that we ourselves might be born into conditions of slavery. In other words, the people who cut the pie should do so as if they didn't know which slice they will get.)

I sometimes feel a little bit nostalgic about the 1990s, the time of my childhood. Things seem like they were simpler (and maybe more innocent) then, although I think this is probably a product of the fact that I was a kid during this time. There was crime and violence in the 1990s. People had abortions and got divorces and contracted AIDS in the 1990s. I was just too young to really notice it. Really, when everything is considered, I can't think of any time that I would rather be alive.

Questions for Discussion:
  1. If you could use this time machine, in what year would you choose to be born?
  2. Why did you pick this year?
  3. What is the best-case scenario for you in your chosen year?
  4. What is the worst-case scenario for you in your chosen year?


Old Man Blog?

>> 21 April 2010

So, I recently completed a minor redesign of the blog (removed left-side column Twitter-feed, changed header, etc.), but apparently, my efforts didn't go nearly far enough. I submit, for your consideration the following online conversation that I had with Rochelle.

Rochelle: I really think you should ask mary to design something for you
me: maybe i will ask mary to redesign my blog.
     do you not like the design it has now?
Rochelle: it's okay, but i think you should hear her out. it kind of looks like an old man blog now
     who's out of touch with reality
me: WHAT?!
Rochelle: that's my honest opinion
     What does that mean?
     like a guy who doesn't know how to use a cell phone?
Rochelle: kind of
me: ouch
Rochelle: plus all the book reviews...
me: I am posting everything you say on my blog

Initially, I had two principle criteria for the design of this blog: 1) that it be simple and 2) uncluttered. But now I have added a third criterion: 3) that it not look like the blog of an old man who is out of touch with reality and complains about technology.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What do you think? Does this look like the blog of an old man who is out of touch with reality?
  2. If so, what should be done to change this?
  3. Mary, what do you think?
  4. Do you even see the blog layout? I read most blogs in Google Reader, so I rarely see the actual blog.


Book Review: Freakonomics

>> 20 April 2010

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (Revised and Expanded Edition) Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
How much money do drug dealers really earn? Does your first name affect your employment prospects? Does your real estate agent really care about how much money your house sells for? When are sumo wrestlers most likely to lose a match on purpose? If you have ever asked yourself any of these questions, then Freakonomics is right for you! Even if you've never asked yourself these questions, it's still probably worth reading.

Each chapter of the book examines a different question of this nature, basing the examination on the premise that conventional wisdom might not always be supported by the data. Several months after reading this book, you will probably forget most of the details and most of the specific case studies; however, the core ideas - that conventional wisdom is not always correct and that it is difficult to predict all of the effects that a certain action will cause - are interesting, although hardly ground-breaking.

In some ways, Freakonomics is a perfect example of the sort of book that you would expect to find written in the age of Twitter and YouTube. There is nothing in this book that will challenge you or take a great deal of effort to understand (both due to the clarity of the writing and the tremendous variety of subject material). It is a book that invites you to be entertained with facts and unfamiliar ideas. If it doesn't change your life, then it will at least entertain you for a few hours. If you are dying to learn about the nuts and bolts of economics, there are probably better books out there for you. For anyone else, I'd recommend Freakonomics

View all my reviews >>


Book Review: The Lovely Bones

>> 19 April 2010

The Lovely Bones The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have put off writing a review of this novel for several months, in part because I'm still not entirely sure what I think about it. Perhaps my expectations had been shaped by seeing previews for the film (I haven't seen the actual movie), which made me think that I was about to read a gripping supernatural murder mystery. For the first fifty-or-so pages, that's what I got: a murder mystery narrated by the victim from her vantage point in the afterlife. The murder mystery gets wrapped up fairly quickly, and the bulk of the novel tells the story of the surviving family and the way that they deal with the grief of losing their daughter/sister/friend.

The characters were fairly believable and complex, but they also felt sort of anonymous. They could have been taken from the pages of any short story in The New Yorker, or Atlantic. Perhaps this is more indicative of my boredom with self-proclaimed 'literary fiction' than it is of the quality of the novel, but the only character who didn't seem like a ghost was the one who was actually dead! All of the others - the grandmother who drinks too much but is fiercely loyal to her family, the mother who feels stifled by her domesticity, the father who blames himself for the loss of his daughter, the creepy serial killer who builds doll houses - seemed like reflections of characters that I had encountered before.

The ending of the novel was satisfying, but somehow it didn't feel earned. It was like that author decided that the characters had suffered enough, so now it was time to balance out the karmic scale and make them happy again. The German philosopher Hegel is credit with saying: "To be free is nothing; to become free is everything." This concept might apply here as well. It is nice that the characters are able to recover from the emotional trauma of the loss of their daughter/sister/friend, but I guess I never felt like they did anything to earn their new happiness. I think that most people would accept the truism that 'Time heals all wounds.' I never doubted that eventually things would get better for the survivors, so it isn't very surprising when they eventually do. I don't know if bad things happen unexpectedly and it takes time to get over them is really an idea that demands a book to hash out.

Overall, you could do a lot worse than The Lovely Bones but I don't think it will be a book that you want to read over and over.

View all my reviews >>


Book Review: Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee

>> 13 April 2010

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I read Cormac McCarthy's grim masterpiece, Blood Meridian, I thought that its depiction of violence and depravity during the raids against the Apache's was surely an overblown act of literary excess. Sadly, after reading Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee it became clear that in the fictional account by Cormac McCarthy, that the violence against the Indians had been toned down.

Each chapter of Dee Brown's book - told largely from the perspective of the Native Americans - takes place in a different region of the country. The Apache in Arizona, Texas, and Mexico; The Utes in Colorado and New Mexico; The Nez Perce in the Pacific Northwest; The Arapaho and Cheyenne of the Great Plains; The mighty Sioux, who, under the leadership of warriors like Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse, for thirty-five years waged a successful war against the United States Army until the Massacre at Wounded Knee broke their will to fight.

With each tribe and in each region of the country, the story is woefully familiar: It begins when valuable natural resources are discovered on Native American land and government agents are sent out to negotiate with the Indians for the rights to this land. They force the Indians to sign a treaty that guarantees that the Indians will be given land and supplies in exchange for their compliance. The supplies are never given, and soon, when the westward-bound Americans discover more wealth on the new Indian land, the Indians are forced (sometimes literally at gunpoint) to sign a new contract, ceding their new land and agreeing to relocate to ever smaller reservations. Eventually, in despair, the Indians fight back and attack the soldiers who have been sent to enforce the illegal treaties that the Chiefs have been forced to sign. In retaliation, US soldiers attack the Indian villages, burning houses, slaughtering ponies and livestock, murdering men, women, and children, and dismembering the corpses for souvenirs. This violence provokes further violence, until (as was the case with some of the Apache tribes) no restraint or clemency is shown by either side.

Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee is certainly not an cheery book; however, I think it is one that is worth reading. Looking back, it is easy to see who was in the wrong. We all know that, if we had lived in those times, we would respected the Indians, in the same way that we all know that we would not have had slaves in the antebellum south. Or the way that we would all have protested for civil rights if we had been old enough. This book reminds us of how easy it can be for people to let their own agendas, ambitions, and prejudices lead them down a cruel path.

View all my reviews >>



>> 21 March 2010

Here is a video of Lionel Messi scoring a hat-trick (and creating a fourth goal) for Barcelona. The skill involved in the second goal in particular is colossal, and his dribble into the box to win the penalty kick is sublime.

And if you weren't impressed by this hat-trick, you can always remember that he scored three goals in his last league game.

Anyone who says that Wayne Rooney or Cristiano Ronaldo is better is out of his mind!


Book Review: On The Road

>> 11 March 2010

On the Road On the Road by Jack Kerouac

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A few years ago, I read Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums and resolved after I'd turned the final page that I would not be reading any more of Kerouac's work. During the ensuing years, I remained curious about On The Road, a novel so steeped in folklore and so pervasive in our culture that I felt like by virtue of having not read the novel, I was somehow missing out on a part of my own country. So, finally, I broke down and decided to give On The Road a chance.

The plot of On The Road follows a young man, Sal Paradise, on his three journeys across America (and into Mexico on the third excursion). Along the way, he meets a wide array of people and friends, including the (in)famous Dean Moriarty, with whom he travels for a time before parting ways. Sal leaves his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his aunt, in pursuit of excitement and adventure in the American West. As Sal himself explains:

I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn...
When he sets out, he is confident that he will find some transcendental experience. "Somewhere along the line I knew there'd be girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me." After three journeys across the country, he has still not found this shimmering ideal that he hopes to find. In the end, Sal realizes that Dean Moriarty, the man he idolized for most of the book, is sort of a jerk, and that his search for a promised land is not going to bear fruit

The legend is that Jack Kerouac wrote the entire novel during a very short period of time and then whisked it away to his publishers, but in fact, although Kerouac did use a spontaneous writing technique - his maxim was: fist thought, best thought - the novel actually underwent fairly extensive revision before its publication. The book's prose style is one of its biggest selling points. Although he does overuse some words (he must have used the words 'mad' and 'ragged' at least 2,000 times) he is able to create and sustain these long breathless sentences with so much momentum that despite the thin plot, you keep going because each sentence seems to propel you into the next.

I have read many books with less literary acclaim that I think are better than On The Road; however, I did enjoy this book a great deal. Although most of us know better than to think that we will discover Nirvana simply by crossing the Rockies enough times, I think that Sal's desire to be in all of the places where he is not is an important part of our cultural history. On The Road deserves its place in the American literary canon because of its innovative writing style and its unique insight into a important part of our national psyche.

View all my reviews

Questions for Discussion:
  1. Have you read On The Road? If so, what did you think about it?
  2. Are there any other Kerouac novels that you can recommend? The Dharma Bums has made me apprehensive about reading another one of his books.


Twitter is Sexually Harassing Me

>> 25 February 2010

In the course of the last twenty-four hours, I have received six direct messages on Twitter from people who I follow and personally know. The contents of these direct messages have been - to put it mildly - lurid.

According to Twitter, all of my friends (alleged males included) are actually lonely 24 year old women with ravenous sexual appetites who just can't seem to find the right man.

My interest in Twitter has already been in precipitous decline, but this might be the thing that pushes me over the edge. Twitter spam viruses are an annoyance that I can do without.

Questions for Discussion:
  1. Have you been harassed by Twitter?
  2. Anyone out there still excited about Twitter?


Sundries and Such: Olympics Edition

>> 22 February 2010

The Winter Olympics are underway. Here's what I think about them:

  • Ice Dancing. While I appreciate how difficult it must be to coordinate and synchronize their movements so precisely, when I see the costumes that they wear, I can't help but feel that the unrelenting teasing that they assuredly experienced as teenage ice-dancers was well deserved.
  • Two-Man Luge. Who was it who said, "You know what would make this sport better? If I got a dude to lay on top of me while I compete." What does the second guy do?
  • Snowboarding. Shaun White has a death-wish and is extremely entertaining to watch.
  • Apollo Ohno. Apparently, he is NBC's favorite person, which is why he always appears to be wearing makeup in preparation for an interview.
  • Ski Cross. This is the best event in the Winter Olympics. Snowboard Cross is pretty cool too, but crashes an skis are so much more dramatic, so it edges out the victory.
Questions for Discussion:
  1. Winter Olympics or Summer Olympics: which one do you prefer?
  2. What has been your favorite event of the Olympics?
  3. Hypothetical Question: How many ice-dancers could you fend off in a physical confrontation? What if the confrontation were taking place on ice?!


Great Moments in History: My Drive to the Barber

>> 19 February 2010

According to Google Maps, it takes 9-10 minutes to drive from our apartment to Cameron Village, where I went to get my hair cut. But Google Maps doesn't take road-miracles into account. I made the trip in four minutes and thirty seconds. 4:30!

Here is a map of the route I took. Green circles indicate times when I came to a stoplight or traffic circle (there were ten lights and three circles) and did not have to stop. The red circles represent times that I needed to stop - which as you'll notice, was only once I got to a parking space.

For any of you who are inclined towards mathematics, you might realize that the probability of making 10 consecutive green lights is not tremendously high. If we assign each light a 50% chance of being green at any given time, then the probability of making 10 consecutive lights is 0.5^10, which comes out to 0.00098, or, in other words there is a 0.098% chance of making all ten lights.

The truth is slightly more complicated, though. First, the probability of any given light being green is much less than 0.5. For some lights (like left turn arrows) the probability is probably very small - in the 0.1 range, while others (like most of the straight ahead and right turn lights that I caught) are more likely to fall somewhere in the 0.4 range. As a rough estimate, I will say that the probability of making any given green light without having to stop is somewhere in the ballpark of 0.3. At a probability of 0.3 per light, the probability becomes much lower (0.3^10 = 5.9 x 10^-6, which works out to a 0.0006% chance).

On the other hand, the status of the traffic lights is not determined randomly. Presumably, some traffic engineer had to make some decisions about how to time the lights so that traffic can move as efficiently as possible. So, let's assume that for the first light of my trip, I experienced a normal 0.3 probability of getting a green light, but, due to the dilligence of the traffic engineers, all subsequent green lights (on the same road) have a probability of 0.7. Also, the seventh light in my route is almost always green, so I will assign it a probability of 0.9. This would make my probability of getting there without a red light:
0.3 x 0.7 x 0.7 x 0.7 x 0.7 x 0.7 x 0.9 x 0.3 x 0.7 x 0.7. This comes out to a probability of 0.0067, or a 0.67% chance.

The philosopher David Hume once commented that a miracle is simply an event with a very low likelihood of occuring (I'm paraphrasing). The rationale is that if something is impossible, it cannot occur (by definition). If it could occur, then it is not impossible. The less likely the event, the more miraculous it is if that event occurs. So, in this sense, I am going to claim that my green lights, with a probability of 0.0067, constitute a minor Humean miracle.

Questions For Discussion:
  1. What is your greatest driving achievement of all time?
  2. What is the top speed you have ever driven (as the driver, not a passenger)? I think my top speed is probably a dowdy 85 or 90 mph.
  3. Yellow light. Do you brake or speed up?


TV Time: Comedies

>> 18 February 2010

Rhetorical question: Which is more fun, watching TV or reading about me watching TV? If you said that it was more fun to read about me watching TV, then you're in luck because that is exactly what this post is about - me watching TV! Let's break it down by show:

How I Met Your Mother: This show has become a venerable television institution. Currently in its fifth season, HIMYM has made me laugh for 102 episodes and has only disappointed me once (an episode in season 3 called 'The Yips,' which, for some reason, was not funny to me at all). For a while during this season, I have felt that the main story has sort of been derailed (Ted looking for the girl of his dreams) but the characters are all so funny and the minutae of their lives is so entertaining that I don't really care when (or if) they ever get back to the main story in earnest.

Parks and Recreation: The funniest show on television right now.

The Office: In LOST!, they used an atomic bomb to reset the time line. In The Office, they used a business acquisition. Following Dunder-Mifflin's acquisition by the Sabre Corporation, the show has basically been rewound to season two. We have: a salesman in love with the receptionist, but afraid to tell her how he feels (was: Jim & Pam; now: Andy & Erin), an incompetent boss and a more talented subordinate (was: Michael & Jim; now: Michael & Jim), and a boss who is going to clash with Michael as she tries to keep him under control (was: Jan Levinson-Gould; now: Jo Bennett). So, we are basically back where we were at the beginning of season two. For a while, I thought that The Office was going to be the story of how Jim comes to understand Michael (and maybe acts like Michael a little bit). Each time Jim gets promoted and takes on more responsibility and more frustration at his co-workers, he gradually becomes more and more sympathetic to Michael and begins to recognize some method in the madness. Now, I don't think that is going to happen. I don't care, though. The show still makes me laugh, so I'll go along and follow the show back to season two.

30 Rock: The last two episodes have rekindled my excitement for the show. Along with Arrested Development, 30 Rock remains one of the few shows that can bring the jokes so fast that I miss some of them because I was laughing too hard at others.

Community: I still haven't completely made up my mind about this show. On one hand, it is pretty funny on a fairly consistent basis and the ensemble cast is pretty excellent. On the other hand, so much of the humor is referential humor (about films that came out when I was two years old) that a lot of jokes don't make sense to me. Also, the whole 'meta-TV' thing is sort of heavy handed. Consider How I Met Your Mother. HIMYM is 'meta' in a clever way; the narrator's euphemisms are shown on screen exactly as he describes them (for example, when he censors 'smoking weed' and instead says 'eating a sandwich' and we see him and his friends passing a sub sandwich in a smokey dorm room). This sort of meta-commentary brings attention to the fact that you are watching a television program by reminding you that they can show you anything that they want to, regardless of what 'actually happened' in the fictional world of the show. Community tends to be a little more obvious about its artifice. Often, a character on the show (usually Abed), will say something like, "Wow, this is just like in X movie where character Y has to accomplish task Z." Many films and television programs exist in a sort of world-without-TV. In real life, we might say in response to something strange, "This reminds me of the X-Files." On a science-fiction show, however, (V, Fringe, Flash Forward, etc.) you will never hear a character say, "Wow! This is just like the X-Files." Community seems committed to creating a world where the characters watch a lot of TV and a lot of movies and draw parallels to their own lives. And although it can be a little much for my taste in the show, it is also interesting to see what it's like to watch TV-watchers on TV.

Modern Family: There's nothing particularly ground-breaking about the show, but the great cast really brings the laughs. Phil's Valentine's Day alter ego, Clive Bixby (complete with nametag!), was a particular highlight.

I still need to talk about Fringe, LOST!, and Chuck, but since this post has already turned fairly book-report-ish, I'm just going to cofine myself to comedies at this time. Stay tuned for more writing about watching TV!

Questions for Discussion:
  1. Which of these shows do you watch?
  2. What hilarious comedies am I missing?
  3. Which is more fun, watching TV or reading about me watching TV? (not rhetorical this time).
  4. Favorite comedy series of all time?


Book Review: The Fountainhead

>> 16 February 2010

The Fountainhead The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

A novel is like a chocolate souffle; it contains only a few ingredients but can be very difficult to make correctly. In the case of the chocolate souffle, the ingredients are sugar, eggs, and chocolate. For a novel, the ingredients are character, setting, and plot. Setting is important, but not vital. Conrad's Heart of Darkness was still good when it was translocated to Vietnam in Apocalypse Now and just about everything that Shakespeare ever wrote has been re-imagined in a different setting (Hamlet set in a pride of lions in Africa, Macbeth set in Feudal Japan, Romeo and Juliet as gangsters in Miami, and so on), usually with results that don't diverge too much from the original. You could even make the case that all a novel really needs are good characters, because in many cases (and in most good novels) the plots arise from the characters and their motivations. For example, if Odysseus had been happy to remain in Troy following the war, then the events recorded in The Odyssey would not have taken place. If Odysseus didn't want so badly to get home, then there would have been no plot and no story. So we have whittled it down to the bare essentials: A good novel has characters with desires and motivations. And unfortunately, even on this extremely generous criterion, The Fountainhead fails to deliver.

First, the writing is atrocious. I will share with you the following passage from the novel and then, will say no more on the matter because this passage speaks for itself. In this passage, Rand is describing a newspaper, published by the billionaire maverick (and self-made-man, who, according to the novel, never received a favor from anyone in his entire life! [I'm not making that up. Not one favor. Ever.:]).

It's enormous headlines, glaring pictures, and oversimplified text hit the senses and entered men's consciousness without any necessity for an intermediary process of reason, like food shot through the rectum, requiring no digestion.
The Fountainhead p 395
700 pages of this.

Second, the characters in this book are little more than crudely imagined ciphers which Rand uses as place-holders for her philosophical ideas (more on this later). The hero, Howard Roark is committed only to the principle that he will do exactly what he wants to do and nothing more. But as it turns out, the only thing he wants to do is 'refuse to compromise.' He doesn't care if his career as an architect is successful. He doesn't care if his designs are ever built and turned into buildings. He doesn't care when his magnum opus, The Temple of the Human Spirit, is ruined. What does Howard Roark want? I have no idea. The other characters are equally baffling. The villain of the novel, Ellsworth Toohey, appears to be motivated only by the idea that talented people should be crushed. He has no personal stake in the matter; but simply wants to make sure that Howard Roark can't succeed. Why? Because Rand was more concerned about making sure that her characters represented certain ideas or attitudes than she was about making them interesting.

You might think that if Ayn Rand was going to forgo interesting characters and plot for the sake of philosophical discourse, that the philosophy would at least be 1) interesting and 2) intellectually defensible. Unfortunately, it is not either of these. Her idea, called Objectivism, is basically the claim that rational self-interest is the highest moral good. This idea is represented by Howard Roark, whose unwillingness to compromise his principles is the principle theme of the novel. Roark sometimes takes the pursuit of his self-interest to uncomfortable lengths, like in the scene where he rapes Dominic Francon, but Rand seems to suggest that Roark's actions are excusable because he is acting out of rational self-interest and anything done in rational self-interest is morally praiseworthy. But frankly, the fact that rape is permissible in Rand's moral system is not the coup-de-grace for her theory of Objectivism. The problem is actually much deeper than this. In her formulation of of Objectivism, Rand presents her theory as if it were true without offering any evidence for why this should be the case.

In a sense, Objectivism is Nietzsche made inconsistent. Nietzsche said (in a nutshell) that there are no objective moral values - there is no such thing as right or wrong - and that each individual must exercise his or her own freedom to decide what sorts of things he or she values, and must then take responsibility for acting according to those values. He calls this ability to create and exert our own moral code, 'the will to power.' Or in other words, according to Nietzsche, we must abide by our own unique principles and values because there is nothing else to rely on. Rand tries to reverse this equation. She says: everyone must create and adhere to their own system of values and doing so is a correct objective moral value. Unfortunately, the only way that her premise seems plausible is if there are no objective moral values. This problematic because it is essentially begging the question. Her argument looks like this: there are no objective moral values, therefore, everyone must live by his own values, therefore, living by ones own values is an objective moral value. She asserts that rational self-interest is an objective moral value because it allows the individual to live and subsequently, makes all of the individual's values possible, as if it were axiomatic, when in fact, she hasn't shown that a person may not rationally prefer to have no values, or even, prefer not to live.

I know many people whose tastes and opinions I respect who like this book; however, I fail to see anything in it. The characters don't even rise to the level of caricature, the plot is a long and jumbled mess that never really got anywhere, and the philosophical insights might seem impressive if you aren't used to philosophy, but any rigorous inspection reveals that the ideas don't hold water. Do yourself a favor and read something else.

View all my reviews >>


Disc or Disk?

>> 10 February 2010

Fact: they are not the same thing.

After always feeling confused when I wrote the word 'disc' or 'disk,' I finally decided to look it up. The results were educational.

A disc contains optical data, encoded in binary format on the surface of the disc as a series of non-reflective pits (0) and reflective lands (1). The information on a disc is retrieved when the disc is spun and illuminated with a laser diode. Examples include: CDs, laser discs (remember these?), DVDs, mini-discs (remember these?), and Blu-ray discs.

The term disk refers to a broader category of data storage devices that stores digital information on rotating platters by magnetic, optical, or physical means. So, a disc is always a disk, but in many cases, a disk is not a disc. Got it? Some examples are hard disk drives and floppy disks (remember those?).

The hard disk drive was a substantial upgrade from magnetic tape which had been used prior to its advent. Now, it is only a matter of time before solid state drives (your USB drive is a prominent example) replace hard disk drives for most consumer use.

Congratulations! We've learned something today.

Questions for Discussion:
  1. Which obsolete media storage technology do you miss? Laser discs? Casette tapes? Beta-max?
  2. Was this disc vs. disk question weighing on you as heavily as it weighed on me?


Sundries and Such

>> 09 February 2010

Lots of things to blog about. No time for full paragraphs. Let's get down to it:

  • Re: LOST! season premiere last week. The 2 hour episode was pretty good but included what has got to be the worst scene I have ever seen on any television program ever, in which a dying character says: "There's something really really really important that I need to tell you before I die..." and then the character dies. On the other hand, in true LOST! fashion, there was a pretty good amount of pistol whipping going on.
  • Re: Catchy songs. Bill Callahan's 2009 release, Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle is as excellent as its title is cumbersome. Here's a song from it. I love how the last phrase of the song gradually gets completed over the course of the repeated chorus: "If you could only stop your heart beat for one heart beat." I guess it doesn't make tons of sense, but it's still a pretty great song.

  • Re: Books. I've been flying through the books lately; I'm finishing up my seventh book of 2010 (The Savage Detectives, by Roberto Bolano), although some vacation days and a snowy weekend helped and I doubt that I can maintain this pace through the rest of the year. Anyway, I am not bragging - I know that most of you know how to read - but rather, I am trying to explain the recent profligacy of book reviews on this e-blog. In fact, the only reason that there aren't more of them is that I don't get the sense that they are too popular with the readers of this e-blog, so I'm trying not to alienate the people who keep me company on this little corner of the Internet.
  • Re: 'Internet.' Turns out that this word is supposed to be capitalized. Apparently it is a proper noun. I would never have guessed. Also spelling related: is there a word that is harder to spell than 'occasion?' I swear, this word is insane. Why would you have two C's and only one S? That is totally backwards. If you are going to have two of any letter, it should be S.
  • Re: iPad. I'm not going to buy one. Although, in fairness, I might not be the target market. After all, my cell phone is still only that: a cell phone. I can call and text and that's it.
Questions for Discussion:
  1. Do you watch LOST!? If so, what do you think of the season so far (please avoid spoilers insofar as it is possible to talk about LOST! without spoilers)?
  2. Bill Callahan: thumbs up or thumbs down?
  3. Do you hate reading my book reviews? Give it to me straight Intranet!
  4. Will it always be the lower-case internet to you?
  5. iPad: discuss.


Bruce Hornsby + Spoon

>> 04 February 2010

Dear Internet,

Since their newest album, Transference, came out, I have been listening to Spoon a lot. Specifically, one song, "Who Makes Your Money?" is particularly addictive.

Here's another live version. Audio only.

I am also addicted to Bruce Hornsby's 1986 hit single "The Way It Is." Maybe it is that little piano riff before the chorus. The triplets: G-B-G, F-A-E, C-E-G/D. The melody: "That's just the way it is..."

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Are you currently addicted to any songs? Which ones?
  2. Is it lame to be 'really into Bruce Hornsby?'
  3. How many of you heard the Bruce Hornsby song and thought: Wait, isn't that a Tupac song?
  4. Most addictive, stuck-in-your-head-for-days song of all time?


Book Review: the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

>> 31 January 2010

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
We got this book to give as a gift, but a few unfortunate kitchen spills meant that I had to keep it. After reading this book, I think that the best way to describe its cumulative effect is to say that it's like eating at the Cheesecake Factory: it won't be the best food (or novel) you've ever experienced, but by virtue of having so much on the menu (this metaphor isn't going well) you're basically assured of finding at least something that you like.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Marry Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows, tells the story of a writer named Juliet Ashton who travels to the island of Guernsey in the wake of World War II to write a book about the Nazi occupation of the island and the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which met in secret during the occupation. The novel is presented as a series of letters, telegrams, and other correspondences between Juliet Ashton and her various cohorts: the members of the GL&PPPS (I can't write out the whole name any more!), her publisher in London, her friend in Scotland, her boyfriend, etc.

If you're in the mood for a story of courageous resistance to the Nazis, you can get it in this novel. If you're in the mood for a story of forbidden love, you can read about Elizabeth's romance with a Nazi officer. If you're in the mood for some comic relief there's Isola, a batty old woman who makes potions and casts hexes on people (and who lacks any and all social understanding. If you want to read about a woman who must choose between two suitors - one wealthy and flamboyant, the other humble and brooding - then you can read about Juliet. And so on. This book will probably please just about any one who reads it. Some of the characters are just cut-and-paste stereotypes, like the prudish and condescending neighbor, Adelaide Addison. Others are very compelling, like the deceased Elizabeth McKenna, whose influence over the island continues even after her death. Many of the others feel like mannequins - draped and spangled with eccentricities and personality quirks - but without any compelling motivations or desires. In some ways, this is a positive; anyone seeking to identify with a character will be able to do so, because the characters don't always go much deeper than their quirks. The downside is that the novel doesn't have any urgency, any sense that the things that are happening really matter to the characters.

My main complaint is that nothing in the novel feels very surprising at all. I was probably about 1/3 of the way through the novel when I saw how everything would end. SPOILER ALERT: periodically ask yourself 'what is the best (i.e. happiest) outcome possible?' and that is what happens. I like a story with a happy ending as much as the next, but there was never any suspense in this novel. In fact, I never really felt that the characters had anything to lose. Juliet, the main character, is a wealthy and successful writer with lots of good friends and a promising career. In other words, she has a good life. She never has to put it at stake, or take a major chance - she just goes to Guernsey and things get even better for her, almost by magic.

TGL&PPPS is a quick read, and a fairly enjoyable one. In fact, it occurs to me that my criticism of the book might be a little too harsh, but after reading the glowing reviews printed all over the cover (and the first few pages of the book) I had high hopes, which weren't quite met.

View all my reviews >>



>> 25 January 2010

Fans of Lost, take heed! Beginning on Tuesday, February 2nd, Lost will return to the airwaves for its final season. Fans across the country will be watching with great anticipation - wondering if, after five long years, their questions about the show will finally be answered.

According to the internet, this season is primed to make Lost fans even more obsessive than before. Check out this video, reporting on the upcoming pandemic of frame-by-frame video analysis, frantic wikipedia searches to investigate any in-show references, and ceaseless refreshing of the message-boards that Lost fans are sure to participate in.

Final Season Of 'Lost' Promises To Make Fans More Annoying Than Ever

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Do you watch Lost? Excited for the final season to start?
  2. Do you think they will actually be able to tie up all the loose ends and give us a satisfying finale?
  3. Locke or Jack? Discuss.


Book Review: Olive Kitteridge.

>> 22 January 2010

Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories by Elizabeth Strout

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Let me begin by saying that a score of three out of five stars might be lower than Olive Kitteridge actually deserves, but as a winner of the Pulitzer, I might be holding it to a higher standard than I would most other books. The past few Pulitzer Prize-winners that I have read (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, The Known World, The Amazing Adventures of Kavelier and Clay, The Road and others) have all been excellent. Olive Kitteridge was, in my estimation, a cut below those others.

The "novel" is actually a series of stories involving the denizens of a small town in Maine. The main character, Olive Kitteridge, appears in each story. In some, she is the central character, in others, she appears only briefly, as is the case with "The Piano Player," in which she enters a restaurant, waves to the pianist, and then disappears from the story.

The writing is - as you would expect - excellent. The prose is clear and the details and observations are astute. The characters, likewise, are believable and expertly drawn.

Throughout the course of the novel, we see Olive suffer personal loss: a son who fails to meet her (unreasonable) expectations for him, a husband who she treats cruelly for decades only to realize how much she cares about him after he suffers a stroke which leaves him in a vegetative condition, as well as numerous personal feuds. She is sometimes petty, sometimes kind and noble-spirited. She is brutal in her honesty with others and in complete denial with herself. In fact, the picture painted is fairly bleak. In the final chapter, Olive seems to experience some sort of hope for the future; however, it is implied that she will die soon and will have, in the end, lived a largely joyless and petty life.

My problem with this novel is largely an ideological one. This novel seems to paint a picture of a world in which every smile is actually a mask to cover some unrelenting sadness and every promise is insincere. Literally every married couple in the novel is involved in an affair and every parent is a petty and manipulative puppet-master, pulling the strings of their children's lives. While I understand that these things happen and that every person alive experiences sorrow - it may even be the case that the sorrows outnumber the joys - the tone of this book amounts to little more than a bromide: bad things can happen to anyone at any time. To convince people that life is hard is a trivial task; everyone knows that this is the case. The central thematic idea of the novel is simply not one which merits a novel's-worth of exploration.

So, read this book for the wonderfully-crafted characters and for the pitch-perfect prose. But thematically, expect to get hammered over the head with bad-things-happen-and-it-is-very-literary-when-they-do.

View all my reviews >>

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Have you read the book? If so, what did you think of it?
  2. Are you getting tired of book reviews? (I hope not, because I have a few more books to review, and I'm reading them faster than I'm writing reviews for them!)


In Which We Get Personal

>> 20 January 2010

From time to time, it is brought to my attention that the contents of my e-blog are not very personal. Rather than detailing the events of my life, I instead choose unleash upon the unwary internet a deluge of inane twaddle. So today, I've decided to get personal. I feel like I have reached a watershed moment in my life, a sign-post on the road to maturity and wisdom, a momentous point from which there is no return.

I have reached a point where I no longer pay for sandwiches.

This should not imply that I steal sandwiches, which I don't (besides, there isn't much of a market for stolen sandwiches so the resale value would be terrible), but rather that I try to avoid purchasing sandwiches in the first place.

The virtues of a sandwich - the reasons that they ever became popular in the first place - are:

  1. Deliciousness
  2. Ease of preparation
In fact, ease of preparation might be the most important factor behind the ubiquity of sandwiches. There are plenty of foods that taste better than sandwiches; however, the sandwich maintains its popularity because it is so easy to make. A sandwich is really only a small step above hot pockets in terms of ease of preparation. If you can follow two steps - 1) take two pieces of bread, 2) put stuff between them - then you can make your own delicious sandwich.

The last time I purchased a sandwich, I began thinking about what I was actually getting for my $7.50 + tax. What was it that made that sandwich so much more valuable than the sandwiches I make at home? Was it the toasted bread? No. I can toast bread. Was it the pickle wedge served on the side? No. I have pickles in the refrigerator. Was it the deli paper? Maybe. I don't have deli paper at home, although I don't think I would be willing to pay $7.50 + tax just to have a sheet of deli paper wrapped around my turkey club. Then it hit me: I was not buying a sandwich; I was buying laziness. I was paying $7.50 + tax because I didn't want to 1) take two pieces of bread, 2) put stuff between them. And that was it for me. I turned the corner.

I'm sure that I will buy a sandwich again at some point. There are some sandwiches out there that I cannot make conveniently: hamburgers, sandwiches with exotic ingredients which I am unlikely to purchase or have, etc. I might even buy a deli sandwich while on a road trip or something. But my days of buying sandwiches are dwindling.

Questions for Discussion:
  1. What is your favorite kind of sandwich?
  2. Have you ever had pastrami on rye?
  3. Keeping that pastrami on rye sandwich in mind, would you like to change your answer to question #1?


Apples, Ranked From Best to Worst

>> 16 January 2010

  1. Fuji - The Fuji apple (pictured) has it all: sweetness, crispiness, and a good firm flesh. This is the undisputed champ.
  2. Honeycrisp - The only apple that really stood a chance against the Fuji, the Honeycrisp is - the name gives it away - crisp and has good density. The flavor is sweet with a bit of tartness. I am VERY excited about this apple, and in a few years, it could be on the top of this list. Currently, it sits in second place primarily because it is 1) more expensive than other apples and 2) I have had a bad Honeycrisp, while I cannot recall ever having a bad Fuji. Could we say that this apple is Rocky Balboa to Fuji's Apollo Creed?
  3. Gala - This apple boasts function over form - outstanding sweetness and flavor with a disappointing texture. When I bite into an apple, I want to hear it crunch, not squish. Hit the gym, Gala.
  4. Braeburn - Honeycrisp's kid brother. Good sweetness and tartness, but it gets K.O.'d in the first round with the big three.
  5. Golden Delicious - The Golden Delicious apple has excellent flavor and decent texture, but it bruises like a welterweight (I'm getting my mileage out of this boxing metaphor). Don't set your Golden Delicious down, because when you pick it up, it will be covered in unsightly and unappetizing bruises.
  6. Pink Lady - Pinkish flesh feels like a gimmick, but it's a pretty tasty apple. It is a cross between a Golden Delicious and some other apple that no one cares about. Still, it's a pretty impressive pedigree. (The metaphor has changed to horse racing).
  7. McIntosh - Come on, let's be honest. Does anyone really eat these things? Who goes into a grocery store, passes by the Fuji, Honeycrisp, Gala, Braeburn, Golden Delicious, and Pink Lady apples and fills up a grocery bag with McIntosh? Maybe the hardcore Apple Computer fans do, because they can't overcome the marketing associations. "I can't explain why, but it's just better than other fruits. It's just really well designed, you know? It comes with a skin around it, but rather than peeling it, you can just bite right through it. You know? It's that attention to detail. Also, my MacBook Pro really helps me be creative while I check Facebook on the free wireless at the coffee shop."
  8. Granny Smith - Good for pies, but if you eat one of these things, you are out of your mind. (Pictured)
  9. Red Delicious - The name is not a complete lie because they are, in fact, red. But calling these things delicious is a stretch. If you are ever tempted to eat a Red Delicious apple, do yourself a favor by drinking a glass of ice-water and taking a vitamin instead. It will taste the same, and this way you are at least getting some zinc. It's good for the immune system. I hear.
Questions for Discussion:
  1. What are your top three apples?
  2. Did I leave any good ones off the list?
  3. Which new apple cultivars are you most looking forward to trying in 2010?


Book Review: Strength in What Remains

>> 12 January 2010

Strength in What Remains: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness Strength in What Remains: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness by Tracy Kidder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Strength in What Remains tells the true story of a young man named Deo, who flees from his home country and tries to re-establish his life as a refugee in New York City. Burundi, a tiny African nation bordering Rwanda, was engulfed in violence in the 1990s when a Hutu politician was murdered by members of the Tutsi-controlled military, setting off a chain reaction of mob violence and brutal military crackdowns that eventually spilled over into Rwanda.

Deo was a medical student in Burundi's only medical school when the violence broke out. He traveled for weeks on foot with nothing to eat, while militias armed with machetes and hand-grenades massacred entire villages. When he finally escaped the country - with the help of a well-connected friend of Belgian descent - he found himself struggling to start a new life in which he was no longer a promising medical student, but instead, a homeless refugee who spoke no English and couldn't sleep for fear of the terrible dreams about what he had seen in Burundi and Rwanda.

Long story short: things turn out all right for Deo. He ends up getting an education and returning to Burundi to try to make the war-torn nation a better place. Hurray!

I thought that the portions of the book that took place in New York City were substantially better than the portions that took place in Burundi. I can't put my finger on exactly why this is the case, but the portions that occur in Burundi - the portions that are supposed to be the most riveting and the most disturbing, don't really come across that way. While the causes of the genocide are interesting, the question that most interested me was: how can a person continue to live a normal life after witnessing such atrocities? Whether it's the tribal massacres in Burundi and Rwanda, the mass executions in Cambodia or in the Soviet Union, ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, or the gas chambers of Bergen-Belsen - how can a person witness these things and feel anything but bitterness and rage? How could anyone live through these things and still believe that human beings are good and worth trusting? These are the questions that arise after Deo has escaped the genocide, as he tries to adjust to a new culture, a new language, and a new life in which he must accommodate the memory of the things he has seen.

Deo's story turns out far better than those of most of his compatriots. Nevertheless, it isn't exactly a happy ending; the fact that he managed to salvage a life from the wreckage of the genocide is tempered by the fact that the genocide occurred at all. Strength in What Remains is equally the inspirational story of man who overcomes tremendous odds and the tragic story of what could have been - for Deo and for Burundi - if the violence had never occurred.

View all my review 

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Have you read this book?
  2. What is your favorite non-fiction?


New Year's Resolutions

>> 08 January 2010

The beginning of a new year is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the past year in order to evaluate what you have accomplished and what you would like to improve about yourself. Often, in an effort to make the coming year better than the previous, we make New Year's Resolutions - goals and objectives which will help transform us into the people that we want to be.

This year, I have come up with many New Year's Resolutions. Two of them apply to me, and the rest are resolutions that I have for other people - things which I believe will make 2010 the best year yet. So, without any further delay, here are my New Year's Resolutions:

  • Keep the novel-in-progress on track by writing every weekday, even if only for a few minutes. (Me)
  • Exercise for 30 minutes, three times per week. (Me)
  • Perform a concert in Raleigh, NC. (Radiohead)
  • Begin prototype development for Terra-formed moon colony. (NASA)
  • Amazon Kindle price drops to $150. (Amazon)
  • Remind us what it felt like to laugh! (30 Rock)
  • DIE! (sharks, mosquitos)
  • Keep on working your burrito magic! (Dos Taquitos, Baja Burrito, Chipotle)
  • Don't disappoint me. (LOST!)
  • Unscheduled pay raise (My Employer)
  • Release another album (Grizzly Bear)
  • Win the World Cup (US Men's National Team)
  • Write another book (Michael Chabon, Cormac McCarthy, Jonathan Safran Foer)
  • Use more semi-colons; they are a great punctuation mark! (Everyone)
I will likely add to this list as the year goes on; however, I think this list represents a pretty good start. I hope that I will be able to accomplish all of my goals; I know it will be a challenge!

Questions for Discussion:
  1. What are your New Year's Resolutions?
  2. Do you have New Year's Resolutions for someone other than yourself? If so, what is the resolution and who is it for?
  3. Can you dunk a basketball?


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