In Hunter S. Thompson, Rolling Stone magazine found a voice that legitimized the periodical from its' earliest musical journal trappings. In Rolling S...moreIn Hunter S. Thompson, Rolling Stone magazine found a voice that legitimized the periodical from its' earliest musical journal trappings. In Rolling Stone, Hunter S. Thompson found himself the perfect home from which to fire off breathtaking, foul-mouthed, drug-fueled, and superbly crafted missives against the political and social monsters slowly destroying the American Dream he still believed in. Clearly, the magazine and writer found kindred spirits within one another, forging a mutually beneficial, if often times toxic and irritating, relationship that lasted until the Good Doctor decided Football Season Was Over, and made mouth love to his beloved .357 Magnum.
This collection of HST's works published by Rolling Stone rank as some of the most essential reads of Thompson's illustrious and misbegotten career. Nearly 1/3rd of this collection is dedicated to the stories he wrote while covering the 1972 Presidential campaign, which were later chronicled in the now-legendary Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail 1972. That work is a must-read for anyone interested in the barbaric and incestuous orgy of clumsiness and deceit that is a Presidential campaign.
Later chapters don't seem to have quite the zest that Thompson's earlier missives have, but no matter. Thompson on a bad day was better than 99% of the writers that slavishly came in his wake. There will ever be only one Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.
Long may you live, Dr. Thompson. We miss you like fucking crazy. (less)
Right off the bat, I will state that "Columbine" is one of the most riveting, fascinating, heartbreaking and revolting works of non-fiction you will e...moreRight off the bat, I will state that "Columbine" is one of the most riveting, fascinating, heartbreaking and revolting works of non-fiction you will ever read.
What sets "Columbine" apart from all of the investigative reporting done during the aftermath of perhaps the most notorious school shooting in US history is Dave Cullen's skillful ability to cut through the mythology and hysteria surrounding the entire event. Many of the myths that were accepted as "fact" - that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were bullied loners who sought revenge against the jocks and the elites of Columbine - are irrevocably shattered. Utilizing countless pages and hours of testimony from survivors and others directly involved in the school shooting, including the infamous "Basement Tapes" recorded by Harris and Klebold just days before their rampage, Cullen paints in vivid detail the story of how an idyllic suburb suddenly became a buzzword for everything that was bad about everything; high school, parents, gun control, religion, etc.
Cullen smartly deflects the blame cast on Harris and Klebold's parents. If anything, the journals those two kept demonstrate teenagers have a tremendous capacity to mask their true feelings in the face of authority. In Eric Harris' case, he masked a case of classic textbook psychopathy; no amount of intervention or psychological evaluation could have revealed both his lack of empathy towards others and his massive superiority complex, both which led him to eventually conclude that he was indeed like a God, ready to enact his wrath on a world he deemed too stupid and lazy to live. Klebold, on the other hand, was, on the surface, just melancholy, but hid suicidal thoughts and tendencies, and saw his own death as the only way of truly achieving any peace and tranquility in his life. Apart, the deadly rampage at Columbine may never have taken place; together, with Harris' cold-blooded planning and Klebold's eagerness, Columbine became all but inevitable.
There is blame to be cast, and the villain0 of this story is the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. Their incompetence during the shooting and after inadvertently gave rise to much of the hostility and mythology that took place during the aftermath of the shooting.
Regardless of all the details, Dave Cullen, on every page, painted a masterful image of the human tragedy that was Columbine. We became riveted with what Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold unleashed upon Columbine on April 20, 1999; Cullen reminds us that it's the "who" and the "why" of this event that gave it the gravity it deserved.
"Columbine" is recommended ready for everyone. Everyone.(less)
There's a paragraph or two that best summarizes the empathy Benjamin Nugent feels for his fellow nerdy brethren:
Jack Jenkins and Zack Malitz found in...moreThere's a paragraph or two that best summarizes the empathy Benjamin Nugent feels for his fellow nerdy brethren:
Jack Jenkins and Zack Malitz found in their debate community a way to rebel against what they considered an overly regimented high-school existence. Their nerdy activity was a way out of a cage of false certainties.
Then there are other nerds for whom order is not a cage but a bright, clean Radisson in the snake-infested wilderness that is their daily life. For them, being a nerd is not a flight from an overly ordered existence; it's a flight from a life of fear and confusion into order...
Although there's too much of an emphasis on the most nerdiest of nerd passions, role playing games, I strongly agreed with Benjamin Nugent's assessment of nerd culture. Indulging in passions that may seem somewhat antisocial - manga, gaming, RPG, comic books, etc - are actually more socially integrating than most commonly accepted forms of social networking. Nerds are nerds not because of what makes them passionate; it's their passion that drives their nerdiness.
Well worth reading. Do read it when you get a chance.(less)
In his book, Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier, Edward Glaeser, Professor of E...moreIn his book, Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier, Edward Glaeser, Professor of Economics at Harvard University, eloquently and emphatically states the case for the singular importance of the city in our evolution. At times provocative and insightful, Glaeser shatters the myths perpetuated by centuries of anti-urban bias; without cities, booms in industry, technology, and finance would never have been made possible; cities are actually more ecologically sound that suburbs or exerbs; higher rates of poverty mean cities are actually working as places where rural poor flock to in search of better lives and opportunities. As an urbanite, I'm already inclined to agree with Professor Glaeser's analysis; his thoughtful, elegantly researched book validates my inclinations.
A fun read, yet also a serious read, one that will shatter all misconceptions about urban living, and will introduce you to fresher perspectives. You may not agree with all of Professor Glaeser's conclusions - personally, I think he sidesteps the issue of urban crime a bit too much for my taste - but you will agree that a fresher approach to embracing urban life, its' people, and its tendencies towards innovation, are the keys to past and future successes.
When the decision was made to broadcast Jay Leno in primetime, it solved 3 problems for NBC: one, it kept Leno at NBC, away from the lure of ABC; two,...moreWhen the decision was made to broadcast Jay Leno in primetime, it solved 3 problems for NBC: one, it kept Leno at NBC, away from the lure of ABC; two, since Leno brought in big bucks for NBC, surely his show at 10PM weeknights would do the same, and, three, Conan O'Brien would still retain The Tonight Show. Simple, right?
In a decision that sent shockwaves throughout all of television, The Jay Leno Show went on to become one of the biggest flops in television history. To satisfy the affiliates who were losing ratings, NBC execs proposed moving Jay Leno back to 11:35 (but not give him The Tonight Show), push O'Brien and The Tonight Show to 12:05, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to 1:05. All of this under the assumption that O'Brien would agree to this request. Which, of course, he didn't.
Bill Carter's new book, The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy, documents how that ill-fated decision was years in the making, and the dysfunctional atmosphere at NBC, especially how high-ranking senior execs at NBC would fawn over Leno, ultimately created a toxic relationship that would lead to Leno returning to The Tonight Show and O'Brien leaving the network.
As he did with his previous book on late night talk show, The Late Shift, Carter skillfully details the decisions and the environment that lead to Leno initially abdicating his Tonight Show throne to Conan O'Brien (who passed up far more lucrative offers on several occasions from Fox to jump ship, solely to fulfill his dream of one day hosting The Tonight Show), then accepting the 10PM slot in a decision that would nearly cripple NBC.
The final chapters of this book read like an edge-of-your-seat thriller; Carter's innate ability to draw the complete story from all the participants in this mess, including Leno and O'Brien (in seperate interviews) serves to flesh out that tumultuous 12-month period between Leno agreeing to star in his own 10PM show, to O'Brien's last show as host of The Tonight Show. (less)
The gist of Predictably Irrational is quite simple: given several choices, we will almost always make the wrong choice. Why? Because we make choices b...moreThe gist of Predictably Irrational is quite simple: given several choices, we will almost always make the wrong choice. Why? Because we make choices based upon impulse and ease, and not because we weigh our options clearly and rationally.
So, basically, our behavioral patterns are things we are very much aware of, yet we continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.
Gee, thanks, Dan Ariely. Not to be smug, but I didn't need an Duke University Behavioral Economist to tell me I'm too stupid to know any better.
OK, so that's not really the gist of this book. While I appreciated Ariely's insights into human behavior and the predictability of such, I was bothered by the "empirical evidence" he provides. The evidence seems very incomplete - his use of his students as test subjects smacks a bit of impartiality to me - nor is it conclusive as he suggests. Additionally, Ariely scolds us for continuously making the wrong decisions, but offers no real-world solutions in helping us understand how our built-in behavioral patterns can be adjusted to serve us better.
Finally, his attempts at humor fall very flat. He's got this weird Borscht-belt comic vibe he's trying to live up to, and it doesn't work. I swear, I felt as if I was hearing Jackie Mason's voice while reading this text. Oy!
This is a useful read, but ultimately not very rewarding or revealing. (less)