Sunday, May 31, 2009

Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters - Book 58

Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters
by Alan Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa

I haven't had this much fun reading AND discussing a book in a long time. And how can you not pick this book up given its title? Begin with the premise that humans are merely another animal with the same needs as any other species, so we are not special. When analyzing every behavior you come down to the basic quest, we are just trying to propagate the species, i.e. we just want to have sex (aka evolutionary psychology). So the authors have gotten metrics on all sorts of human actions and traits and then tried to explain them using the lens of evolutionary psychology.

Now this book just addresses the natural man so there is grains of truth to be found in all of it, but it totally ignores the spiritual man. So the book consists of a series of questions and their possible explanations using the latest research on the field. Remember just because it naturally happens doesn't make it good and just because something is good doesn't mean that is the way it is. The desparately try to just present things the way they are (i.e. that is what the statistics tell us) and leave out any judgements. So the text is not politically correct at all - Why do women get paid less? They want less.

Psychology Today has a great article online which discusses 10 of their questions if you want a taste.

The midlife crisis is a myth—sort of
Many believe that men go through a midlife crisis when they are in middle age. Not quite. Many middle-aged men do go through midlife crises, but it's not because they are middle-aged. It's because their wives are. From the evolutionary psychological perspective, a man's midlife crisis is precipitated by his wife's imminent menopause and end of her reproductive career, and thus his renewed need to attract younger women. Accordingly, a 50-year-old man married to a 25-year-old woman would not go through a midlife crisis, while a 25-year-old man married to a 50-year-old woman would, just like a more typical 50-year-old man married to a 50-year-old woman. It's not his midlife that matters; it's hers. When he buys a shiny-red sports car, he's not trying to regain his youth; he's trying to attract young women to replace his menopausal wife by trumpeting his flash and cash.

Mormon Mentions: None because they avoid pointing fingers at any one group, but their fascinating discussion about polygamy versus monogamy is a hair's breadth away from it.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Dirty Quotes Out of Context

From JT:

I have to help Mason. He is doing his business in our front yard.
Mason being JT's best friend and business being selling gum for charity.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I Have Smelled the Future

And it isn't good.

Last week Lisa is doing her exercises (you go girl) and she asks me about her gluteals and her hamstrings. Apparently she wasn’t feeling the burn and wanted exercises to activate them. I suggested deads, split squats, and lunges; but I did offer this caveat:

Me: Remember, feeling it doesn’t mean it is working better. In fact it might just mean you are pushing for an injury. Be careful and take it slow.

Lisa (being very, very condescending): Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. I know.

Anyways by the time I get back from work she is basically crippled with several pulled/strained muscles from her lower back through her butt down into her leg. She didn’t get out of bed until Tuesday.

But back to my smellavision. When I get into bed and lift the cover the odor is almost overpowering. The scent of old age and sadness. Lisa reeks of it and in that moment I see our future laid out in front of me, like Paul on the road to Damascus.

If you want to experience it yourself, just rub Ben Gay all over your damn ass, and then cuss.

The Book of Lies - Book 57

The Book of Lies
by Brad Meltzer

Here is how I think it went. Mr. Meltzer was pondering the success of the Da Vinci Code and said “I could write that book easily.” And then he did.

Instead of wondering what the Grail is with the professor chasing it and the mad monk chasing him, all to be betrayed by a friend, we have a disgraced Federal Agent chasing the Mark of Cain with a mad cop chasing him all to be betrayed by a friend. Plus you get Superman instead of Jesus and the excitement of Cleveland in place of Europe. The book is also structured in the short time frame with 82 quick chapters over 334 pages. I read the Da Vinci code many years ago (plus 100’s of other books ago) and this still felt a little old to me.

In and of itself the plot was okay and is worth reading, unfortunately the similarities were a distraction. If you are one of the 2 or 3 people who didn’t read Dan Brown’s book, now is your chance to read some exciting stuff.

Mormon Mentions: None

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The creative habit - Book 56

The creative habit: learn it and use it for life : a practical guide
by Twyla Tharp

Twyla Tharp is world famous for her dance choreography, so ordinarily I wouldn’t have picked up this book up. Fortunately I watched an on-line video of a speech given by Merlin Mann at Mac World. It was a funny presentation in which he shared a few things that resonated with my beliefs and he mentioned this book. He said it was best book on creative thought ever written, and luckily my library system had it.

Through many clear examples the author lays out some clear steps for everyone to get in touch with their creative side. First of all their isn’t any magic, or any special gift. Successful creative people work their asses off. Reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers really works well with this. Put in the time, practice, and formulate rituals. The problem is most people just wait for something to happen to them without putting in the work. People who work are able to capitalize on and use what happens to them. It is a small but important difference.

You want to write – then write! Yes your first stuff will be crap, but if you write everyday ultimately you will probably write something good. Want to paint, then paint! Practice, practice, practice. There is no secret, no magic formulas, no shortcut. As I tell my kids when they pick up something valuable, “What is the chance of you breaking that if you leave it alone?” That example is a little self serving, but there is truth at its core. What is the chance of you playing the guitar if you never pick it up?

Mormon Mentions: Nada

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Dad finally proven right

As some of you may know, my Dad worked in a law enforcement field of sorts prior to retiring. Anyways he used to say that there were some really good pickpockets out there. Some were so good that they could remove a woman's bra and she wouldn't notice. This of course led to peels of laughter from any woman who heard this followed by the patronizing "yeah right."

Well I guess we all owe him a big apology.

via Bits and Pieces

My Bike Commute Could Be Worse

I have hit a few puddles, but nothing like this

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What were they thinking?

Some one sat in a meeting and shared there vision of a great add campaign; and then everybody else agreed.
I present the butt in advertising:

The original - very cute
Funny & Cute
Not technically the butt, but very clever
Wrong, but awesome
From Ireland

Magazine Pull Out Ad

European Toilet Paper Campaign - it makes me laugh but I am a nut job

This could go very wrong

And then you get to this condom ad. Funny, yes. But very, very wrong.


Please Note JT FINALLY lost his first tooth (he truly was the last in his class)

JT comes in the house and finds Lisa.
JT: Mom, Mom. A a guy on the street just told me if I give him a dollar I can hit his car with my stick (JT has small tree limb in his hand).
Lisa: NO! Don't you dare JT. You never hit people's cars and it probably isn't his car anyways.
Lisa tells me this when I get home from work, and how disappointed JT was; I share with her what I know.

That's right. The church across the street is running a charity car bash.
Separate note. Last year I found 67 cents on my bike commuting and walks. This year I am up to 9 cents already. Given that my office is having a walking and cycling contest this summer, I have high hopes of beating that number.
BTW, I finally had to replace someting on my bike, so here is some exclusive full-frontal bike porn of my new crank. Oh yeah baby!
If you are not into the close ups, here is a full body shot. Notice that I work at a large corporate headquarters with several hundred employees, most of them working within 5 miles of the office. I am the only one who rides a bike to work in the whole place. The other two bikes (including the sweet bent) are from the night time cleaning crew. That is pretty sad.

The Omnivore's Dilemma - Book 55

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

Fascinating book on the state of food consumption in the United States. The book is presented in 4 sections and I will not do them justice here with my simple summaries. In section one he follows corn through the production cycle as it involves food. This chapter is a shocker and will really open your eyes to how integrated corn is within the American diet, plus it will show how much corn you are eating. It makes me rethink the corn is responsible for obesity rather than dismiss it as extremism. Understand that isn’t necessarily Pollan’s position.

In part two he buys a baby cow and then follows him through his entire life cycle to the slaughterhouse. While not judging, he does present a fairly stark and accurate picture of factory animal production. In part three he travels to an alternative farm and spends a week working the land with the owners. It demonstrates the value of small scale responsible farming while at the same time showing a nice slam on the bunk that is the current “Organic” policy in the US, especially people who shop at Whole foods or the specialty section of their local grocery store.

Finally he goes hunting, both for feral pig and mushrooms. He had never been hunting before (and I can empathize with that) but he states he is ashamed to say how exciting and empowering it was. Ultimately his goal was to prepare a full meal for the people he met in the book utilizing only food he found, killed, or grew. Anotherwords he wanted to use “non barcoded food”. Not as easy as you would think.

Ultimately this was a very interesting book which will motivate you to look at your food choices more closely. It even made me want to farm a little. But given I work in the food industry, maybe you won’t find it as good as I did.

Mormon Mentions: Nothing

The Draining Lake - Book 54

The Draining Lake
By Arnulder Indritason

Book four in the sad and lonely life of Iceland’s top Police Inspector, Erlunder. A small plate shift has caused a local lake to drain, revealing a few secrets long thought buried and forgotten. One revelation was a male skeleton with a hole in his head and a 1960’s era Soviet radio / spy equipment tied around his waist. Clearly investigating a murder, Erlunder must piece together small clues from the Icelandic Socialist party, East German University students, and a decades old missing persons case.

This book is slow and deliberate, and the supporting character storylines are developed. Very good in context with the other books in the series.

Mormon Mentions: None

Thursday, May 21, 2009

No One Is Blinder …

... than he who will not see.

Having read the Twilight books and seen the movie, I was puzzled by what was Stephanie Meyer’s true message. Mostly I hear from a lot of women about how it is like the greatest book ever. And it is really funny to see a popular blog (i.e. way more popular than mine) when they dare say anything negative about them. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the books and felt the plot was interesting.

That said, I couldn’t shake the feeling something more sinister, more political was going on. Anyways, last week it finally dawned on me. The whole thing is subtle propaganda piece supporting proposition 8**. Let me list a few facts.

You have a bunch of Vampires proving to themselves and their wider Vampire community that they can be content and truly happy not living their true nature.

Vampires that give in to their true nature are vile and evil people to be hated.

When a true Vampire is killed we see it is Male and in a Ballet studio (thus accessing a subconscious stereotype people have about male dancers being gay).

Speaking of clichés, how do you suppress natural sexual urges, that’s right, you play Baseball.

The suggested gay couple in the book, Charlie & Billy (Bella and Jacob’s dads respectively), spend their together time doing what? Watching baseball. And do you notice how she puts forth Charlie as a lonely loser who couldn’t keep a woman happy so she left him for a Baseball Player! And poor Billy is shown to be defective (handicapped) thus not a real man either.

Finally, the main point people seem to make about the book is it is the most erotic and sexual book written, yet it’s completely sex free. There you have the main point, it is entirely possible for someone to deny who they truly are, have a completely intimate relationship but without having sex; it’s superfluous. All you need is baseball, not same sex marriage and you to can be completely happy. To be fair, I know a lot of people in allegedly heterosexual marriages that believe the same thing, that they do not need the sex to be happy together.

Remember, you read it on the internet so it must be true. I ask you, would I make stuff up just to because I amuse myself??

**NOTE: I realize that the book was published before prop 8, but I was using the prop 8 term generically to represent the escalation of the gay marriage debate in California. The turning point of the whole issue (at least for me) was Gavin Newsom sanctioning almost 4,000 marriages between February 12 and March 11, 2004.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I didn't know you could put a price on it

The Devil's butt goes for 99 cents a pound - who knew?

Butt Roast - 666

The Return - Book 53

The Return
by Hakan Nesser

A body is found in the woods missing its head, hands, and feet. Can thy ever learn its identity and ill the police even care when they do. Recovering from surgery to remove cancerous intestines, Chief Inspector Van Veerteren is back on the case and he isn't going to let it go.
The book by itself was okay, but I never saw the ending coming and it is vital if you want to understand the character in further books. So only read this if you plan on reading the others, because you will get something in Van Veerteren that you will find no other fictional policeman.

Mormon Mentions: None

Not sure where to use this

Sometimes brilliant ideas just come to me and I don't even know what to do with them. The other day I was pondering all the talks I have heard about how internet pornography is destroying marriages because some married men cannot leave it alone. They even say they are addicted. Anyways, thinking about this the following came to mind:

A boob in the hand is worth two on the internet

I fully expect President Packer to use that phrase next conference. So to keep up the theme here are some nice pictures:

Coming soon - funny and just wrong uses of the butt in advertising.

PS: Saw Star Trek last night and it was really good

Icelandic Fiction

Having a hard time sorting out all your Icelandic fiction needs. Well a new website has been launched in English dedicated to Icelandic literature and its authors.

Friday, May 15, 2009

My Booky Wook - Book 52

My Booky Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs, and Stand-Up
by Russell Brand

Russell Brand is a English comedian best known in America for portraying the rocker Aldous Snow in the comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall. In England he was famous for outrageous behavior and being The Sun newspaper’s three year running champion of the “Shagger of the Year.”Anyways in this biography he details his thirty years of missed opportunityand lost time, as he sank deeper into the world of severe drug addiction. Usually I find the cliché statement if I hadn’t have done some behavior (in this case rehab) I would have been dead. I hear this a lot at LDS testimony meetings wherein someone says without the church I would be dead or in prison – REALLY?? If that was to be believed the church is packed full of felons in waiting. One bad service project and they are going to be out robbing liquor stores. It is a load of crap by people who are incapable of having an ounce of introspection. But to Brand’s credit I find it amazing he survived as long as he did, let alone his future if he kept up the crack and heroin use.
The book opens with him entering rehab to address his last addiction, having been drug and alcohol free for a few years, he begins working on his sex addiction. The book details his tragic life but with a lot of self-depreciating humor. He recognizes he has problems and was a bit of an ass, but he finally got clean and his career began to take off. I learned a few things including insight into racism as explained by penguin bars, a funny picture from his youth where he states “The moment I began to act gay to get girls. It took 15 years to show results.” Finally, I always keep the term Knobstacle Course dear to my heart.
Should you read this book? If you find Brand funny, or if you want to gain some insight to a world you probably will never see; then it is worth it. It just might give you some compassion for people who are addicted instead of just passing them off as weak willed.

Mormon Mentions: Absolutely None.

He is our smartest

If you have a lot of children I suggest having them all in band or in orchestra, but not both. We have been to four school concerts in the last week alone and it is tiring. Luckily Gunnar has settled on just being in band like Qatar so that is keeping the events down, but we have already told the next three – No String Instruments for you. Cenneidigh wanted a violin but will probably play the flute now (girlie), but I am hoping for the trombone. Have you seen the cost of band instruments lately? We have yet to buy anything for the boys as we just can’t afford it, and that is with being told Gunnar could get a Tuba scholarship for college.

Anyways we are at the middle school band concert and it is a lively affair with guitars and drums in the mix when JT states he wants to play the drums. It was right after the drum solo during Smooth. Well they have a rule in our school system that you cannot play percussion without two years of piano under your belt. Well Lisa relates this to JT because we can’t afford drums or to get him into lessons, but unlike the rest of our children who would have accepted that without pause.

JT says: That is not the law Mom. That is just a school rule. You are allowed to play drums without piano in real life. Now you have to say that with all the “exasperated at the dumbness of your parents” that a 7 year old can generate. I turned to Lisa and ask her to refute our little genius. She can’t and says that is just the way it is JT.
After a few seconds he quietly asks to start piano lessons. Three kids at piano at $18 a lesson with the next two needing to start lessons as well. This innate musical ability our children have – not from us – is killing us slowly.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Timewasting Television Tidbits

If you are a user of Hulu than I have great news for you. They have loaded up season one of Green Wing, an hour long comedy show about an English hospital. Imagine Scrubs on steroids, with the humour a lot more dry, and the language a little more raw. A very funny show overall starring several great English actors including Sarah Alexander from Coupling (brilliant show) and the original Worst Week of My Life.

Be forewarned, while this scene is HILARIOUS, you more sensitive types should know that there is one use of profanity.

I also learned yesterday that ABC has all five seasons of Lost on-line for free viewing. I have never really watched the show because I got behind early in Season 1 and gave up. I was waiting for someone to buy them – like Wayne – and then I would just borrow them. That is how we saw all of the Gilmore Girls.

And for my fellow lovers of Swedish crime fiction I see PBS is going to show several Masterpieces using Henning Mankell’s books, starring Kenneth Branagh as Detective Wallander. The first one airs this Sunday May 10th.

Old Joke Comes True

If you look up idiot in the dictionary it will have your picture. Ha Ha - Old Joke

I learned a new English term called Corpsing - itis when an actor can't keep a straight face during a comedy scene. Most famous for this would be Harvey Korman and Time Conway on The Carol Burnett Show.

So I was looking the word up in Wikipedia and it literally says at the bottom:
See Also
Breaking character
Jimmy Fallon

That's right, if you look up corpsing in the dictionary they have a picture of Jimmy Fallon.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Last Ritual - Book 51

Last Ritual
by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Another Icelandic novel available through my library system. The story was okay, but the writing was incredibly formal and stilted. Consequently there wasn't much flow. In this case I blame the translation. Pronouns were switched or incorrect, and other words were just wrong (like See when they meant Sea). I will read the next book, but probably give up if these problems aren't fixed.

A German exchange student is found murdered at the University, but with Satanic symbols carved in his body and his eyes cut out. Was it due to his thesis in ancient witchcraft, or maybe his like minded friends, or even his drug dealer who was last seen with him? The parents don't believe the police are really trying so they hire Thora, the divorced attorney mom of two to investigate.

Yrsa Sigurðardóttir (born 1963) is an Icelandic writer, of both crime-novels and children's fiction. She has been writing since 1998. Her début crime-novel was translated into English by Bernard Scudder. The central character in the crime novels is Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, a lawyer. Yrsa is married with two children, and she also has a career as a civil engineer.
Mormon Mentions: None

Even More Fun

Do you know what is more fun than trying to talk your Mom through instant messaging on Facebook through the phone? (and I know that is hard to beat)

That would trying to talk your wife through folding an origami box through the phone.

Lisa: Hey, do you remember that box you should me a few weeks ago?
Me: Yeah
Lisa: Can you tell me how to do that, I am teaching a class on geometric shapes.
Me: Okay

And so the fun began.

Anyways, here it is the directions for those of you want to play the home game.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I'm Stuffed

You know what is great about my company on Cinco de Mayo?

We produce chips and salsa.

That's right, all you can eat chips and salsa in the breakroom.

I am a big supporter of all things Mexican, Chipotles generally, Salma Hayek specifically.

Cold Light - Book 50

Cold Light
by John Harvey

Book 6 of the Charlie Resnick series. The writing is getting really good, but I felt Harvey cheated by using a few extensive red herring sub-plots while almost spending almost no time on the real bad guy. Anyways, the positives were some incredible character development story lines, especiallyat the conclusion when Charlie defines his relationship with Lynn, another detective in the department. So the story was okay, the writing a little to loose, but the continuing characters are developed. A great book to have in the series.

A young woman disappears after a Christmas Eve party. Was it the social services client who tore up her office and held her hostage that morning, the boyfriend who she dumped the day before, a drunken participant at the party, or some other person. With the angry father pressuring them for a result and the tabloids writing everyday, Resnick needs some answers. Then the ransom demands shows up, just like last time, when they didn’t get the girl back.
Mormon Mentions: None

Saturday, May 2, 2009

More Iceland Crime

by Arnaldur Indritason

I started reading this series of books (This is book 5 in the Erlundur series) because we are going to Iceland in June for vacation. So what better way to get a feel of a foreign place than through their fiction, crime fiction at that. As I said in my last book post, this follows pattern for all Scandinavian police procedurals; you have an older, divorced, loner Inspector who slowly gathers the necessary information to put the big picture all together.

In Voices the body of a long time doorman is found in his small basement room in the hotel. He is wearing a Santa suit and a prophylactic as he sits on the bed with his pants around his knees, dead from a stab wound to the chest. As they dig deeper into his life, Erlundur must face his own failings as a father, of his father, and the traumatic events of his youth. An excellent book and a heartbreaking life, Lisa and I will be prepared for any murders in Iceland.

There is also some talk about tourists since the story takes place at a hotel at Christmas time. How they seem to buy their traditional Icelandic sweaters before they even get out of the airport, or how the gift shops are filled with strange gifts that no Icelander could afford. I think we are safe here, we can't afford it either.
Arnaldur Indriðason (born 28 January 1961) is an Icelandic writer of crime fiction. He has repeatedly proved to be the most popular writer in Iceland in recent years - topping bestseller lists year after year. In the year 2004 his books were seven of the ten most popular titles borrowed in Reykjavík City Library.
Mormon Mentions: None

Friday, May 1, 2009

Parker HATES when we... the Dog Whisperer. But if Cesar is to believed, Parker secretly loves it.

Time will tell, but his Diet Coke binges on the couch are soon to be over.