Kite Runner

I’ve heard some people refer to the Kite Runner as a book about two boys growing up in Afghanistan.  While it does start out about two boys growing up in Afghanistan, I think the book is much more about Afghanistan, what it was like before the Taliban and what has happened to its people since the Taliban.

Parts of this book were difficult to read because the main character is so likeable and so horrible at the same time, but it was definitely worth reading.  I recommend the Kite Runner.

The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers

You have to read this book with the understanding that Ayn Rand never meant for these lectures to be published in print form.  They were recorded, transcribed and edited.  Even knowning that, she still comes across as extremely full of herself.  She is the best fiction writer and she critics some of the masters.  She does give good advise on writing and on recognizing good writing.  I can now explain why some of the books I read are entertaining but I just knew they weren’t “good” books.  In the fiction book I’m reading now I can point out numerous ways that the author could have made it a better book, thanks to what I’ve learned from Ayn Rand.

So, if you want to learn more about writing, this is a great book for you.  If you hate analyzing what you read and have no intentions of ever writing anything, then you better leave this one on the shelf.

Note that I listened to the audio version of this book from Audible.com.

The Web That Has No Weaver : Understanding Chinese Medicine

The first half of The Web That Has No Weaver is a good introduction to Chinese medicine.   The author explains the basics of both the practice and philosophy of Chinese medicine.  The second half of the book, which I did not finish, was about the specific ways to examine and diagnose a patient using Chinese medicine.  While I enjoyed the first half of the book, the second half was a bit too much detail if you aren’t planning on practicing Chinese medicine.

Virtual Girlfriends

Tired of searching for the perfect girl on Match.com?  Now you can just sign up for a virtual girlfriend.  For a low monthly fee you can have conversations with your virtual girlfriend, see pictures of her on your phone and send her virtual flowers and chocolates.  For a fee of course.

The New York Times > Technology > Sad, Lonely? For a Good Time, Call Vivienne*.

This did remind me of one of my favorite science fiction books, The Diamond Age, about a little girl who finds a book that becomes her teacher.  The book is really a very complicated piece of technology that adapts and changes to the girls’ needs.  I’ve always wanted a book like that.  Maybe some guys have always wanted a girlfriend like that.  A secret friend who’s always on your side.

Talking through Brainwaves

The ability to control computers via brainwaves has made big news in the medical field as it allows people with paralysis to communicate better.  I think this technology also has huge potential for the entire population – it will change the way we use technology.  Imagine having your iPod, Google and wikipedia in your brain, available anytime you had a question.

How To Talk When You Can’t Speak – Communicating with unconscious minds. By Clive Thompson.

Polar Bears Lives are Changing

Polar bears hunt seals on ice.  When the ice melts they move back to land and fast, waiting for the ice to come back.  In some parts of the world, the water is now frozen over 2.5 weeks less a year, meaning that polar bears have 2.5 weeks less a year to hunt, eat and store up energy for their fast.

Yahoo! News – Endangered Status Sought for Polar Bears.

Smart Mobs: Morphing Faces: Hidden Persuaders

You are more likely to vote for a candidate that looks like you – or rather you are more likely to vote for a candidate that you think looks like you no matter what they really look like.  In this experiment researchers morphed voters faces into one of the two candidates.  When shown the morphed picture, voters were much more likely to vote for that candidate a week later.

For an example of morphing, check out the Smart Mobs blog post.  They posted a couple of examples of faces morphed into the presidential candidates.

Smart Mobs: Morphing Faces: Hidden Persuaders.