When I was in college I learned a bit about the Simple Model of Rational Crime which basically states that people lie/cheat by rationally looking at t...moreWhen I was in college I learned a bit about the Simple Model of Rational Crime which basically states that people lie/cheat by rationally looking at the pros and cons and make a decision based on that. Needless to say, this never sat right with me. People don't make rational decisions, they just don't.
In this book Ariely puts forth another theory, one that he calls the Fudge Factor. The theory goes that there are basically two opposing forces when we decide whether to lie or cheat. One of the forces is that we want to think of ourselves as good and righteous people. The other force is that we want to get more out of situations. So the question is: how much are we willing to "fudge" the truth and still think of ourselves as honest and good people?
Through quite a few experiments, Ariely explores this, along with what may influence it in one way or another. Personally, these theories and experiments sat a lot better with me than the SMORC ever did. The author makes lying and cheating an incredibly interesting topic, and the experiments are novel and informative. The author is clearly an entertaining person and knows how to tell a good story. This book basically felt as though he wanted to show off his super-awesome experiments and findings, excitedly. It made it a fun read.
My biggest complaint is that in all the experiments the reward far outweighed the consequences of being caught. What about in situations, like cheating on a spouse, where the consequences could possibly destroy lives? What about when the consequences outweigh the reward, and yet we lie/cheat anyway?
Ariely, what would you make of this?: A few years back, my boyfriend at the time had a soft-top Jeep. One morning we came outside to find that someone had cut out the back window, and gotten into the car. The thief left all the expensive electronics (stereo, ipod, etc), but took all the change off the floor. It seemed like the guy had gone through quite a lot of effort for a fairly minuscule reward.
"'[Y]our wife. Let's say she's been through menopause and she's being eaten alive by hot flashes so her doctor gives her some Premacore. After that the same doctor finds that her bone density isn't quite what it should be and so he gives her some Ostafoss as well. But on top of that she's a little depressed. Can you blame her? She's just been through menopause, and you're working all the time, so he gives her some Singsall, just a touch just to brighten up the picture.' [...] 'She didn't pick this combination out for herself, it's given to her. Then one morning you wake up and you've got nothing in your arms but a nightgown.'"
What would you do with invisibility? If you woke up one morning and realized no one could see you, would you use your "power" for good, or would you shrivel up?
The quote above, from the Uncorrected Proof that I received from Goodreads Giveaways, pretty well sums up the entire plot of the book. Clover wakes up one morning and discovers that, due to a pharmaceutical snafu, she's invisible, not in a I feel invisible way, but in a tangible, my clothes are hanging on thin air, way. Her family, and most of society for that matter, doesn't even notice. The empty set of clothes walking around the house fixing breakfast and doing laundry attracts zero attention.
I was honestly pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this book. The plot as I summed up above, seems gimmicky, and to an extent it really, really is. It's one of the most gimmicky, convenient plots, I've seen in quite some time, and I can't say I was expecting to enjoy the book.
However, somewhere along the way, the book that I thought was simply a convenience for the author was making a fabulous point. The plot of the book is sort of lame and gimmicky, but the point, goes so far beyond that. I was in NYC yesterday and because of this book was realizing exactly how little we actually truly look at the people around us, and yet, we all like to fancy that everyone is looking at only us. When the truth is, we barely look at ourselves.
Happily, this book is a quick read, with a poignant commentary on the way women see themselves, others, and the way society sees them.(less)
Gee, what do you think this book is about? It might be the Kennedy Assassination. But with a title like 11/22/63, who could really tell. Hah. Jake Epp...moreGee, what do you think this book is about? It might be the Kennedy Assassination. But with a title like 11/22/63, who could really tell. Hah. Jake Epping finds a way, via a friend, into 1958. So, they decide, after much bickering, that Jake will return to the past and find a way to stop the assassination of JFK. Time Travel! Hoorah!
After the last pages made me cry, the first thought I had was: This was first and foremost a love story.
I'm not saying that the time traveling saving Kennedy story line wasn't epic and important. It was. I'm not saying it was an afterthought. It wasn't. The time traveling was a theme and a setting, certainly not a passive theme or setting, either. However, I was still left feeling as though for the first King novel that I can remember feeling that the romance was the point. Maybe I'll re-read it in a few years and decide that I'm crazy and that the time traveling is most fucking certainly the point. But that's half the fun of re-reading.
At it's heart I felt as though this were a story of two people who met in utterly impossibly and irresponsible circumstances and though their world falls apart, over and over again, find each other. Maybe that's just the sappy chick in me, though.
Stephen King: You are the reason I will never live in Maine. I don't think I could handle living there without fear of clowns in the sewers or falling through holes in time.(less)
While I was reading this book that I received from Goodreads Giveaways, I came across this article written by Stephen King. Tax Me, for F@%&’s Sak...moreWhile I was reading this book that I received from Goodreads Giveaways, I came across this article written by Stephen King. Tax Me, for F@%&’s Sake! I found it very appropriate, considering the book I was reading.
This collection of essays by some 50+ economists, and other various intelligent people, on the validity of the Occupy Wall Street movement and what can be accomplished through it, really opened my eyes in a lot of ways. I agree with what OWS stands for, and I do agree with the way it's been carried out so far - it truly is only in its baby stages. I guess "opened my eyes," was the wrong phrase. I think what this book did was clear up a lot of the issues behind OWS. While I have agreed with the movement, and did camp out a couple days, the exact hows and whys of well, how and why our country is so fucked at the moment pretty much eluded me. I knew there was something wrong with the financial sector. I knew there was something wrong with the education system. I knew there was a mortgage crisis. I knew there was a vast disparity in both wealth and political belief in the country. But I'm no economist.
This book was paramount to seeing people who hold my beliefs but are much, much smarter than I am, explaining in both words I can understand and more eloquently than I could have, how and why we got here, along with a handful of suggestions for solutions. Oh, there were essay that went way the fuck over my head, using graphs and dense terminology that left me scratching my head; that's really the only reason this book got four instead of five stars. But the essays that made me think, "OH! I actually get it!" on issues that I have always wished for a better understanding of, by far outweighed those that left me lost and confused.
Align yourself with the OWS movement? Not really sure what OWS wants? Feel as though OWS isn't being carried out effectively? Simply curious? Read this book. It was long and hard to read sometimes, and certainly requires undivided attention, but it was 100% worth it.(less)
On March 20, 1995 a Japanese religious cult, called Aum Shinrikyo released sarin gas onto five subway trains during the morning rush hour. Cult member...moreOn March 20, 1995 a Japanese religious cult, called Aum Shinrikyo released sarin gas onto five subway trains during the morning rush hour. Cult members entered trains near the front with two or three newspaper-wrapped packets of sarin, piercing the packets with sharpened umbrellas the members were able to get off the train with minimal injury due to the gas.
In Japan, this book was published as two: the first being interviews with sarin survivors that had been affected in some way, even just having their day disrupted; the second being interviews with members and ex-members of Aum that agreed to be interviewed. The first part of the book definitely deserves five stars. The second part of the book I found less intriguing, which surprised me. Maybe it's the way that the Aum talk about enlightenment that I really just had trouble with because it's so foreign to my western thought processes.
My lack of knowledge of this attack is pretty disgusting. But the thing is, that even spell check didn't recognize "sarin." Leads me to believe it's probably not just me that doesn't know enough about the attack. Hell, I didn't even know what sarin was or did until the last interviews in the first part of this book which were interviews with doctors who treated the sarin. The only thing I really knew about sarin, I learned from the introduction to the book, in a foot note.
Sarin is a nerve gas invented by German scientists in the 1930s as part of Adolf Hitler's preparations for World War II. During the 1980s it was used to lethal effects by Iraq, both in the war against Iran and against the Kurds. Twenty-six times as deadly as cyanide gas, a drop of sarin the size of a pinhead is sufficient to kill a person.
In the interview with the doctors, the most helpful part was this:
If you want to move a suckle the nerve endings send out an order to the muscle cells in the form of the chemical, acetylcholine. It's the messenger. When the muscle receives that they move, they contract. After the contraction, the enzyme cholinestrerase serves to neutralize the message sent by the acetylcholine, which prepares for the next action. Over and over again.
However when the cholinestrerase runs out, the acetylcholine message remains active and the muscle stays contracted. [...] when they stay contracted we get paralysis.
As I mentioned earlier, I enjoyed the first half of this book quite a bit more than the second half. What was really striking was how surreal the event felt to the people who were involved. None of them really seemed to know what was going on or how to handle it. Even if they did hear that it might be sarin gas, the the overwhelming response seemed to be: "well, it couldn't be me, better be off or else I'll be late for work!"
My favorite interviews were the ones with Tatsuo and Shizuko Akashi. Shizuko was on Marunouchi Line, towards Ogikubo. She was the one most affected by sarin that agreed to be interviewed for Murakami's book. She lost much of her memory, ability to speak and walk. At the time this book was published she was in the hospital doing therapies to attempt to help her regain her life. The two interviews felt, to me, to be the two most emotional, and therefore resonated best with me.(less)
Dear Judd, You've certainly got a deliciously dark side to you, don't you? Tell your critics who complain that your title is deceiving that perhaps the...moreDear Judd, You've certainly got a deliciously dark side to you, don't you? Tell your critics who complain that your title is deceiving that perhaps they should actually read the entire title, especially the ...and Some That May Not Be Funny At All part. However, considering you're one of the men behind some of the laugh-out-loud movies of our day, just putting your name on the book would probably be considered "deceiving" and "false advertising."
That being said, I think your book probably could have done with some more editing. I loved a few of the stories, and really didn't care for some of them (most notably most of the Funny stories). For almost 500 pages of short stories that I did overall like, there were quite a few that seemed to meander in unnecessary places - short stories that didn't fit like the rest of them.
My Favorite Parts? A Mother's Tale, by James Agee: Hell, there's even a warning in your introduction:
And skip James Agee until you can handle the hard stuff
Even though I knew exactly where this story was going from the first few lines, sometimes it's nice to read a story that reacts and flows in just the way that you expect it to. I'm not saying it was boring, but that it went in such a way that stories as such go. It was certainly not funny, and I can see how you consider it "the hard stuff," but for people that have been reading for as long as I have, the issues addressed have all already been addressed. It felt like I'd already read the story before - again, not in a boring way - in a comforting, homecoming sort of way (for all its disturbing aspects).
I Demand To Know Where You're Taking Me, by Dan Chaon: I was honestly surprised that this was written by a man. I felt as though everything going on in the mind of the main character (mother/wife/sister-in-law) was true. I'm not saying that men can't write women, but that I can usually tell the difference, and this felt more like it was written by a mother. Again, this was perhaps one of the more disturbing stories. With the main character's brother-in-law in prison, and his stuff being stored indefinitely at her house, she and her family have also inherited his pet bird. The foul mouthed bird with an attitude becomes her nemesis and a catch all for all her bad feelings towards her husband and her brother-in-law. The story ends with a strong finality that so many short stories seem to be missing.
Selected Drawings, by Hugleikur Dagsson: Now see, these had me rolling. I have a very dry sense of humor, and frankly, Judd, most of your movies are not my cup of tea, but these comics? Fucking Hilarious.
Six Selected Pieces, by Simon Rich: With stories a page or less in length, these all packed a powerful punch. They were funny, but they weren't crass.
Overall, Good book, but dear Gods, did it really need to have so many stories? Sometimes, less is more.(less)
The book was chilling, really. And because of today's political climate, and the sort of crap that went on during the American election cycle before i...moreThe book was chilling, really. And because of today's political climate, and the sort of crap that went on during the American election cycle before it finally ended last week was frighteningly accurate to the book I just finished. However, I've heard so many conservative people say that Obama is going to cause 1984 to be real. I'm sorry, of our Democratic and Republican parties, who do you think is more full of hate? Who do you think would ban sex and orgasm? Who do you think would find no use for the past? Who do you think would find art invalid? Oh, wait. The Republican Party. Now, I want to clarify, not all conservative people are bat-crap crazy, but the Republican Party has moved so far to the Right recently, that they should really be considered a fringe party. The fact that they have such a strong voice and seek power for the sake of power is terrifying. If anyone is going to bring on 1984, it's the party who has moved so far Right in it's ideology that it cannot see anyone else. I happen to believe myself to be moderate, but that's damn near impossible in a world where we've been convinced by our own version of Big Brother that politics are completely black and white. Holy Political Ramblings, Batman. I apologize. For obvious reasons, this book put me in the mood to rant about politics.
Now I feel like this:
This book really lost a star only because of Julia. I know she was a means to an end in the point of the story, but dear Gods she annoyed the crap out of me. Maybe it wasn't so much her as the "Oh, I fucked you, therefore I Love you," attitude. Love with a capital "L." As a character, all she was was a sex object. She put on forbidden makeup and ate forbidden food, and was only interested in the forbidden sensuality. Granted, Winston should have been more interested in those things, but I really, really wish that Julia had more personality in her than sensuality. She was flat, completely. At one point she even said the words about the revolution that she'll do whatever Winston does, without a thought of her own. Again, I understand that she was a product of her dystopian culture and the fact that she was sensual was HUGE, but I wish she had a thought of her own in her entire head. Her big empty head was only full of sex and pleasure - beyond that, she had nothing of her own. I respected that she owned her sexuality, but in owning one's sexuality, maybe there should be a reason beyond "Hey, it feels good." It made her a boring, annoying character.(less)