This was a fast and enjoyable read. Day tells the story of her life in a very easy and engaging manner punctuated by some very, very, VERY unflatterinThis was a fast and enjoyable read. Day tells the story of her life in a very easy and engaging manner punctuated by some very, very, VERY unflattering pictures from her life (the 1980's and 1990's were not good to any child's fashion history). And Day does have a fascinating life. She was a military brat who was mostly home schooled (though schooled might be too strong of a term), picked up two college degrees with a 4.0 and without a high school degree, and went on to be a success on the internet. Because she didn't socialize much with children growing up Day thought that allowed her weirdness to grow and flourish instead of being peer pressured to conform to normality. It was this weirdness that gave her such a unique outlook on life and eclectic interests (gaming, Violin, math, acting).
I was surprised by how much Day struggled with and continues to struggle with such mental problems as depression, anxiety, and a nasty bout of World of Warcraft addiction that cut her off from her professional and social life. I say continues to because even after all her success, all her accomplishments and acclaim, she still suffers from impostors syndrome and questions her own self worth constantly. But she was able to eventually overcome, or at least manage, her problems enough to attain an impressive strong of successes.
I think Day shows a remarkable amount of courage with this book. She truly lays the darker aspects of her life to bare, revealing the many low points of her life and just how bad it gets and how hard it was for her to overcome them. It is truly inspiring what she has been able to overcome to achieve her goals. For the people out there struggling to overcome their own mental health issues or seeking success in entertainment she offers a beacon as to what can be accomplished.
I was a bit surprised by what areas Day choose to cover. Naturally she spends a good time talking about The Guild, a web series she wrote and starred in that initially introduced me to her and launched her into web stardom (if you haven't watched it yet, you should). But Day spent very little time discussing her other major pop culture appearances (Buffy, Dr. Horrible, Supernatural, etc). And while there are hints that she has a boyfriend several times (possible different people?) throughout the book (and he was probably the reason she eventually got the medical help she needed) he was mostly invisible. Given the crappy things stalker and #GamerGate (aka: the worst thing that ever happened to video game/nerd culture ever) have done to her privacy I can certainly understand why she would want to keep some parts of her life private, but it still struck me as a bit odd he was mostly left out. But I am sure she had her reasons and the book did not suffer for he absence.
All in all this was a very fascinating read and I highly recommend it to just about anyone, nerd and non-nerd alike. Day has done some incredible things and overcome some brutal hurdles. She is an inspiration to all and is a delight to read....more
I have been a long time fan of xkcd, a delightfully nerdy and funny webcomic that has a wonderful mix of science, humor, and the occasional pun. If yoI have been a long time fan of xkcd, a delightfully nerdy and funny webcomic that has a wonderful mix of science, humor, and the occasional pun. If you like science and humor and aren't reading xkcd you need to zip on over there stat.
When I heard that Munroe, the artist/writer of xkcd, announced he was going to put out a book explaining things using his simple, yet elegant art style, I was excited. Here was a person who knew science, had a passion for educating the masses about it, and had a subtle, but wicked sense of humor to help deliver the information. And for the most part I greatly enjoyed the book, all 64 (very, very dense) pages of it. But I felt the book hamstrung itself a bit too much.
In the course of trying to make this book as accessible as possible (a good thing!) Munroe limited himself to the thousand most common words in the English language. While I commend his enthusiasm and goal of making the book accessible to the masses I thought this tactic limited the book in several places. This book delves into both the common place (dishwashers, light, elevators) and the complex (nuclear weapons, biological cells, computers), and while it is nice to have components explained in straightforward ways some pieces are just so complex or specialized that using this plain language is either unhelpful or provides a very vague description of what process is occurring.
For instance, Munroe typically has to use the word 'water' for liquids and 'air' for all gases. Because they were used in some many places it would be easy for a person to get confused and mistake different kinds of 'water' and 'air'. In these cases the goal of simplifying the language for the masses could easily result in confusion. Maybe if he had upped the number of allowable words to 2,000 or 3,000 things would have been much clearer and probably still as accessible.
But that doesn't detract too much from some of the great great art and humor in this book. Munroe has some very straightforward but detailed drawings of the various subjects with some nice little humorous asides or pictures folded in. This book is quite educations and would be a great resource both for children just starting to learn about the world (sort of an updated The Way Things Work) and adults who just want to learn more about the world. Even areas I was already familiar with were shown in a new and humorous light....more
After the pure, distilled joy NPCs brought me, I was eager to dive into the next book in the series. While Split the Party (which is such a bad idea tAfter the pure, distilled joy NPCs brought me, I was eager to dive into the next book in the series. While Split the Party (which is such a bad idea there is even a book about aptly titled Don't Split the Party) was a great, action packed read, it lacked some of the charm the first book's premise brought to the table.
In this installment our once minions turned reluctant adventurers have more or less fully embraced the mantle of adventurers and all the baggage that entails:
Eric realized how crazy that last part made him sound, only to conclude seconds later that it would have only seemed crazy if they weren't currently in need of exactly such information. Paranoia was only a hindrance where it didn't pay off.
So our brave heroes are on the run from a power-mad king who wants to hunt them down for a magic item they had recovered in the previous book. Of course, being adventurers now in a world whose rules are bent to provide adventurers quests and challenges, they naturally stumble into those two things. Circumstances force them to, you guessed it, split the party to achieve their goals (which mostly involve staying alive).
As with NPCs, Hayes does an excellent job introducing both the reader, who may be unfamiliar with the cliches and tropes of RPGs, and the heroes to the life adventuring in a very seamless way. For most of their lives the heroes have lived in a town where a few gold coins was considered a lot of money. In adventuring a few gold is considered pocket change. When confronted by this harsh reality by the traveling merchant it becomes clear just how they are expected to build their wealth to be effective adventurers:
"Ah, just starting out then. I've seen plenty in that position on my travels as well. Nothing to worry about; once you slay your first dragon or mad wizard, there's bound to be a bounty of gold for you to scoop up. Not sure why they always have huge stacks of uninvested income lying around, but they do."
When the rules of a table top RPG are the physical laws of a universe very strange things happen.
Even with all the hacking and slashing Hayes still finds space to further develop and grow his characters. We see Gabrielle worry over her value to the team, especially after her pilfered ax breaks and she feels like the others are far surpassing her abilities. We see Grumph's iron determination to protect his friends by risking life and limb to becomes a member of the Mage's Guild:
After coming this far, there was no way Grumph would allow himself to be halted by mere drizzle and a chance of painful death. It took far greater dangers than that to dissuade a half-Orc with his mind made up."
We see Thistle continue to grow into his role as a Paladin and further his relationship with Grundle, the God of Minions whom he serves. Even poor, formerly mind controlled Timuscor begins to figure out what he really wants and how to achieve it. All said, as fun as the winks to RPGs were, the heart and soul of this series are the great characters and their relationships with each other. Even a person in complete ignorance of RPGs can appreciate the craft and care put into the characters and enjoy this for the adventure book that it is.
But is isn't all hacking and slashing and serious character development. Hayes expertly sprinkles in humor and real world wisdom as well:
"...They [undead] are by far the most dangerous enemy one can end up facing, and if you are lucky, you only end up being killed by them."
"Wow, that is really depressing. I was actually asking if you knew any ways to turn them back or drive them away. Glad to know we're in a 'hoping for death' situation, though."
In comparison to the multitude of plans that had been hatched throughout the history of their world, it was not a great one. In comparison to the ones created just in that year, it still fell pretty far short. In comparison to the drunken ravings of men soaked through with mead about how they would slay a dragon and become the new king, however, it was downright coherent.
Lying on the table as the priest removed his hands from the half-orc's chest and motioned for his sack of gold, Grumph realized that just because someone could call upon the power of the kind gods did not mean they themselves weren't something of an asshole.
Finally, on top of the great action, excellent character development, and well balanced humor, Hayes also advanced the greater plot of the series (how our world interacts with this fantastical one) and laid seeds for future developments (Gabrielle's new ax, MR. PEPPERS THE GREATEST PIG TO EVER BE SUMMONED, the machinations of gods, etc.). I wait in eager anticipation of the third installment, it cannot get here soon enough!...more
Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits delivers on both of its promises (namely futuristic violence, of which there was a boat load, and fancy suits, whiFuturistic Violence and Fancy Suits delivers on both of its promises (namely futuristic violence, of which there was a boat load, and fancy suits, which were quite fancy), but it does so much more than that. It subtle explores the themes of violence against women within the frame work of masculinity, the dehumanizing affects of massive wealth on those who possess it, and the impact of just around the corner technology. Stylistically it does a wonderful job flirting with the super hero genre just enough to make you buy into the conventions before yanking the rug out from under your feet.
So, high level premise: Zoey Ashe is the only living off-spring of an absurdly rich man, Arthur Livingston, whom she has been estranged from her entire life. One day he dies in a warehouse explosion and she is willed his entire vast, vast fortune of ill gotten gains and his continued criminal enterprise. That inheritance comes with complications in the form of an alpha male villain named Molech and his posse of technologically enhanced followers. This all takes place with the desert libertarian utopia (dystopia for many) city of Tabla Ra$a.
I quite enjoyed the story itself. Wong does a wonderful job populating it with very colorful bordering on appropriately absurd characters. The Suits, Arthur Livingston's inner circle of confidants were fantastic, and Armando, Zoey's private body guard, was as cool as a glacier. But the heart of the story was Zoey, a somewhat damaged young woman who was just worrying about how to make ends meet and keep the trailer she and her mother lived in livable. She is thrown into the madness that is Tabla Ra$a and Arthur Livingston's world and has to cope with deranged people trying to kill her for something she has no connection to or idea about, but merely because of who she is. She is sometimes defiant, sometimes overwhelmed, sometimes completely confused, but she always stays true to her self and tries to do the best she can, even if it is only to spit into the face of fate:
"So, here is how this is going to go. I'm going to bite you eight times. Those bites will sever eight tendons, and they will render your legs and arms both inoperable. Then, over the course of days and weeks, I will slowly, and completely at random-" "No." Zoey crossed her arms. "What?" "No. I'm not doing this. I'm not running and screaming, I'm not letting you put on a slasher movie chase for your creeper fans...I'm not giving you a show. I'm sick of it... I've done nothing but run for the last eight hours. I'm done with that. I don't run anymore... "You've got quite a mouth on you. And I'm going to cut out that tongue and eat it in front of you. Bu first I'm going to-" "No. You don't get to monologue for you audience. You're not cool, you're not menacing." "I don't think you're in any position to tell me what-" "LA LA LA LA LA NOBODY CAN HEAR YOU! LA LA LA!"
She might not be in total control of her fate, but that doesn't mean she will go down without a fight. Throughout the story we see time and again a resolve in Zoey that she didn't even know she had.
The writing is also quite excellent. Wong is quite adept at getting into the minds of characters and determining a reasonable outlook for them. For instance, one of the few cops who still works in Tabla Ra$a had this to say about the erstwhile heroes going after Molech:
"Oh, so you're still trying to fight this guy. Got it. You have any special requests for me when I process your corpse tomorrow? And don't ask us not to make fun of your dick, because we do that with every body that comes through, it's how we cope."
Here is this overworked, cynical policeman from an understaffed department hearing that some of his acquaintances are taking on the equivalent of a suicide mission and his response, in my mind, is pitch perfect.
Wong also shows that he knows exactly what drives the motivations of cats as well:
Zoey let [her cat] out if his crate. He prowled the area around her bench, hoping to find a bird to eat. He wasn't much of a hunter, so when he saw no birds had died of natural causes within five feet of the bench, he just gave up and lay down in the dirt.
His dialogue is great, the way he describes Tabla Ra$a shows great vision, and he avoids any mid-book plot dragging.
So, as you can see from the above quote, Zoey has a bit of violence directed against her. In fact the main villain of the story, Molech, pretty much represents the masculine ideal gone terribly, terribly wrong. He brays about living for the juice, the natural high a person experiences when they achieve something that helps ensure their survival (in his mind). He rails against modern society substituting the juice with cheap thrills like pornography and video games that enslave man to society. Think Tyler Durden from Fight Club without the charisma or compassion or introspection. Molech believes that women are nothing more than trophies to be acquired from alpha males and that those that do not live up to his ideal are fair game for killing.
He identifies this violence and disregard for human (especially female) life as a keystone of authentic masculinity. If a man does not conform to them then, in Molech's mind, they are merely prey. He is quite clear about the many terrible things he will do to her and her mother if she does not comply with his demands. And unlike internet trolls and MRA jackasses, he backs this up with a cult of followers who feel likewise and advanced augmentation technology he stole from Arthur Livingston.
Another interesting theme Wong explores is how wealth affects those who hold it. Arthur Livingston, by all accounts of people who interacted with him, was a very warm and gracious man. He threw tons of parties with an open invite list, gave freely, and never raised a hand to a woman. But he was also massively wealthy and do extremely unscrupulous things to maintain and expand that wealth. During a period of unrest in North Korea he provides aid to displaced families while secretly recruiting the best looking young women to become prostitutes stateside. He cared little for what ended up happening to them (often a young death to violence) just so long as the money kept rolling in.
Likewise one of his lieutenants, Will, is very good at manipulating people during negotiations. He is more than willing to sacrifice other people to achieve his goals with nary an eye lash batted. He operates in the same economic stratosphere that Livingston does and doesn't view the little people as people, merely pieces to be moved, manipulated, and sacrificed in whatever game he is playing.
Contrasted with Zoey who, until Livingston died, was one of the little, worthless people. She is able to show compassion and empathy for the normal citizens of Tabla Ra$a. She cares that their city is under attack by Molech and his madmen. She tries to use her wealth to uplift the people or at least give them a better life. She hasn't been severed from human contact by vast wealth and high stakes deal making.
I think this is contrast isn't just existent in the book, but exists in the real world as well. We can only conceptualize so many people as actually being people. The people within our empathetic sphere we can deeply care for on a personal level. Beyond that humans are just broad brush strokes of demographics. When the super rich reach a point where they are power over those people and no accountability to them or empathetic link, bad things happen. Bad things like what occur in this book.
One pretty great thing Wong does with this book is add in some new technologies and extrapolate the impacts they would have on human society. For instance there are tons of drones everywhere in Tabla Ra$a, either providing surveillance, delivering food, or just streaming interesting things. Smart, self driving cars are the norm. Advances in recording and broadcasting technology allows for literally everyone to be able to broadcast their day to day life in a searchable format (called the Blink network). So if you wanted to see some fight that occurred or an embarrassing celebrity event there is a good chance there were several people "blinking" it. People can amass huge blink followers which naturally leads to people willing to do ANYTHING to achieve that fleeting fame. all these technologies and more smartly informed the story and produced a believable just-around-the-corner look at what these technologies might do for us.
So yeah, if you like speculative fiction with a wicked sense of humor, lots of action, a social message, and a good grasp on how technology affects society this book is for you....more
What does a street urchin, a emperor, a hobgoblin, and a god have in common? They are all Non-Player Characters (or NPCs) that populate and bring to lWhat does a street urchin, a emperor, a hobgoblin, and a god have in common? They are all Non-Player Characters (or NPCs) that populate and bring to life the world of table top role playing games (RPGs). They are controlled and the game master and can be friends, foes, or just background to the characters players control (PCs). While essential to the game, they are often abused, ignored, or exploited by PCs and seen as an end to the PCs' goal of gaining my power, levels, and wealth.
"Who cares? He's just an NPC...someone who doesn't matter. They're the background scenery, like the buildings and trees."
Think of them as the poor schmucks in the crowd when the hero of an action movie gets into a big shootout with his enemies. Most of them are often overlooked and taken for granted, acknowledged by PCs only when they are needed. They aren't the heroes, just the people that try to survive the heroes.
So what happens when NPCs have to take up the mantle of heroes for one reason or another? Hilarity and fish out water encounters is what. But this book doesn't just lean exclusively on this conceit. Hayes takes time to develop his characters, their motivations, and their relationships while deftly playing into many RPG/fantasy cliches and exploring the absurdity of some RPG conventions.
No one understood why, but the more adventurers were around, the greater the number of monsters that were drawn. It was like they grouped up in scale to the number of adventurers present to give a proper challenge.
"I still don't get it," Eric said..."Why did he burn the bar?"
"Let me put it to you this way. What usually happens to abandoned taverns and inns?" Thistle asked him.
"They get inhabited by monsters, or bandit gangs," Eric replied. It was common knowledge, after all. Adventurers often sought out such locations when hunting for a good fight.
So yeah, this world is sort of bonkers, but in a way that is very familiar to RPG veterans. For those most part the craziness doesn't impact PCs because the world is tailored to meet their needs, NPCs be damned. So seeing this crazy world through the perspective of NPCs was quite enjoyable. It is clear Hayes has a deep appreciation for RPGs but also recognizes the absurdity of the worlds they reside in.
As I said, Hayes doesn't rely on one gag to carry the book. He deftly weaves a story that balances the traditional hero's quest, the fish out of water-ness of NPCs pretending to be adventurers, and a pretty nifty take on how our RPG games influence the world of the NPCs. I had a lot of difficulty putting the book down as the action flows so quickly and smoothy. I found myself emotionally invested in the characters and can't wait to get to the sequel. I will admit that being a long time player of Dungeons and Dragons I picked up on a lot of winks and nods that the uninitiated would probably miss. You don't have to be an RPG player to appreciate this book, but it does help a lot....more
I wouldn't be surprised if Lysistrata was the first sex comedy (that's a genre, right?). Sex (or lack there of ) drives the plot and innuendos abound:I wouldn't be surprised if Lysistrata was the first sex comedy (that's a genre, right?). Sex (or lack there of ) drives the plot and innuendos abound:
Lysistrata: But I tell you, here's a far more weighty object. Calonice: What is it all about, dear Lysistrata, that you've called the women hither in a troop? What kind of object is it? Lysistrata: A tremendous one! Calonice: And long? Lysistrata: Indeed, it may be very lengthy. Calonice: Then why aren't they here? Lysistrata: No Man's connected with it; if that was the case, they'd soon come fluttering along. No, no. It concerns an object I've felt over and turned this way and that for sleepless nights. Calonice: I must be fine to stand such long attention.
On its surface this play is about the women of Greece withholding sex from the men to force them to make peace during the destructive Peloponnesian War. In truth I am pretty sure Aristophanes just wanted an excuse to make as many sexual innuendos and gender stereotypes as possibly.
Lysistrata: We must refrain from every depth of love... Why do you turn your backs? Where are you going? Why do you bite your lips and shake your heads? Why are your faces blanched? Why do you weep? Will you or won't you [join me in the sex strike]... Myrrhine: No I won't. Let the war proceed.
Cinesias: Don't go, please don't go, Myrrhine [his wife and a sex striker]. At least hear our child... don't you feel pity for the child? He's not been fed or washed now for six days. Myrrhine: I certainly pity him with so heartless a father... ... Cinesias: You love me! Then dear girl, let me also love you. Myrrhine: You must be joking. The boy's looking on. Cinesias: Here, Manes, take the child home! ... There, he's gone. There's nothing in the way now.
The women fret about their homes going to ruin while they are away. One even tries to fake a pregnancy:
Lysistrata: What nonsense is this? Woman: I'll drop any minute Lysistrata: Yesterday you weren't with child. Woman: But I am today. O let me find a midwife Lysistrata. O Quickly! Lysistrata: Now what story is this you tell? What is this hard lump here? Woman: It's a male child. Lysistrata: By Aphrodite, it isn't. Your belly's hollow, and it has the feel of metal... Well, I soon can see. You hussy, it's Athene's scared helm, and you said you were with child.
Some, however, are pretty damn good at messing with the mind's of their men:
Myrrhine: But how can I break my oath? Cinesias: Leave that to me, I'll take all the risk Myrrhine: Well, I'll make you comfortable Cinesias: Don't worry. I'd as soon lie on the grass Myrrhine: No, by Apollo, in spite of all your faults I won't have you lying on the nasty earth... Rest here on the bench, while I arrange my clothes. O what a nuisance, I must find some cushions first. Cinesias: Why some cushions? Please don't get them! Myrrhine: What? Plain, hard wood? Never, by Artemis! That would be too vulgar Cinesias: Open your arms! Myrrhine:...Here the cushions are. Lie down while I - O dear! but what a shame, you need more pillows. Cinesias: I don't want them dear. Myrrhine: But I do... Why, you've no blanket. Cinesias: It's not the silly blanket's warmth but yours I want. Myrrhine: Never mind. You'll soon have both. I'll come right back... Would you like me to perfume you? Cinesias: By Apollo, no! Myrrhine: By Aphrodite, I'll do it anyway!
etc etc etc
(Sufficed to say, the oath was not broken, though I think the poor man's will was)
Aristophanes also takes plenty of opportunities to insert sexual innuendo because he can:
[after peace has been agreed upon] Athenians: I want to strip at once and plow my land. Spartans: And mine I want to fertilize at once.
Men's chorus: We must take a stand and keep to it, for if we yield the smallest bit to their importunity then nowhere from their inroads will be left to us immunity...And if they mount, the Knights they'll rob of a job, for everyone knows how talented they all are in the saddle, having long practiced how to straddle...
In spite of all the sex and joking, the play does have a few good messages:
Lysistrata: You [men] wrack hellenic cities, bloody Hellas with deaths of her own sons, while yonder clangs the gathering menace of barbarians.
Lysistrata: It should not prejudice my voice that I'm not born a man, if I say something advantageous to the present situation. For I'm taxed too, and as a toll provide men for the nation while, miserable greybeards... contribute nothing of any importance whatever to our needs.
But mostly this was a play about sex and sex jokes that were shockingly modern in their convention (might have just been the translation). This was a quick and enjoyable read, just remember this was meant to be a bit of an absurdist satire so don't take the actions and decisions of the characters very seriously. ...more
Legal disclaimer: I have never listened to an audio book before. I have never read a John Grisham book before. I have never read a courtroom/legal booLegal disclaimer: I have never listened to an audio book before. I have never read a John Grisham book before. I have never read a courtroom/legal book before. I am not a lawyer. I do have some good lawyer jokes though.
With all that out of the way let me say I enjoyed the heck out of this audio book and it served me well on long car trips.
Right off the bat Dennis Boutsikaris does a very nice job with the audio portion of this audio book. He has a nice cadence, great inflections, and does a wonderful job giving each character their own voice. I could tell who was speaking in a long conversation just by the speech patterns he was using. I think his Chicago accent would occasionally stray into a Bostonian accent but it wasn't very distracting. Boutsikaris was a great voice for this and I was pleased by the quality of his contribution.
As for the book portion of the audio book, Grisham presents the reader/listener with a very colorful cast. From the grumpy Oscar Finley, to the hustling Wallace "Wally" Figg, to the earnest David Zinc, to all the many supporting characters we come across there is more than enough personality to go around. Grisham does a great job having the characters play off against each other and giving relationships a deep sense of history. I really liked how Grisham crafted the characters and relationships, making them all feel very natural and real.
The story was also a lot of fun. Instead of just focusing on the courtroom drama of a major litigation, the vast majority of the book detailed all the out of court maneuvering by the mass tort bar, the tiny firm of Finley and Figg, and the pharmaceutical company that manufactured the questionable drug. It was fascinating to see how these sorts of things play out, how opportunistic the lawyers in question were, and strategy the corporation used to defend themselves.
But beyond the legal drama, this was a book about people. We learned and sympathized with Oscar's marital troubles, we got to know Wally and his challenge to stay sober, and we got to root for David as he cast off the golden shackles of a giant legal firm for the uncertainty of street law. More importantly, we got to see some of the other law they practiced and what drove them as people. I greatly enjoyed how the characters and story lines interwove themselves and was left with a very satisfied feeling as all the loose ends were (logically and reasonably) tied up by the end.
All in all this was a great first audiobook for me. I was constantly engaged, laughed out loud many times, and found the story lots of fun. The audio was great, the book was great, it was all great!...more
Texts from Jane Eyre takes a nice poke at some of literature's greatest characters and works, re-imagining them in a world with texting. Ortberg doesTexts from Jane Eyre takes a nice poke at some of literature's greatest characters and works, re-imagining them in a world with texting. Ortberg does a lovely and loving job magnifying the flaws of great literary characters through this medium. Here are some of my favorites:
Medea: anyhow so to SHOW YOU how soft my feelings are I got you guys a wedding present!!!... Glauce [Jason's new bride]: oh! you must mean the box that came on Thursday Medea: yessssss I TOTALLY MEAN THAT Glauce: it's a dress Medea: It's a wedding dress Glauce: thank you I mean, I already have a wedding dress picked out but this is very sweet Medea: do you know what you should do though you should put it on you should put it on your skin and wear it for just a minute (be sure to put it on your skin) :-):-):-)
Medea: I sent you guys something Glauce: I don't think we have anything Medea: look outside Glauce: it's another box Medea: THE BOX IS FROM ME (are you surprised) Glauce: a little bit how did you know where we live Medea: i mean how does anyone know anything right you should open the box right now Glauce: it's a cake Medea: for your wedding! so just go ahead and eat some right now to make sure that it's normal and good for the wedding and tell me if you like it!! Glauce: Medea Medea: are you eating it how does it taste Glauce: Medea I'm not eating this cake Medea: oh sorry can you not eat processed flour i should have asked do you have allergies Glauce: Medea I'm not going to try on the dress or eat this cake Medea: why not??? Glauce: you know why they're both full of poison Medea: whaaaat Glauce: the cake is black and the icing ate through the box Medea: how would poison even get in there Glauce: the dress caught on fire that's how much poison was on it Medea: well i'm going to i'm going to have a very stern talk with that seamstress ill get you another present to make up for it Glauce: please don't
Rudyard Kipling: I'm bored Let's shoot something Friend: okay What Rudyard Kipling: i don't care a tiger or a Boer Friend: what was that last one? Rudyard Kipling: I mean a bear Friend: oh OK Rudyard Kipling: haha must have been a weird typo it's illegal to hunt men but exhilarating Friend: what? Rudyard Kipling:I said it was illegal and also execrable execrable was the second word I said
Enjolras: where are you? Marius: I am so there this barricade is going to be an absolute HAPPENING you guys don't start without me I am on my way in like five minutes Enjolras: Marius I'm concerned that you don't really understand the reason for our movement MArius: oh my god what do you mean Enjolras: I sometimes question your commitment to the cause Marius: how could you possibly even question that Enjolras: I don't know Marius maybe it's because you have missed every one of our clashes with the police because you were still studying for the bar Marius: to bring down the system from within! Enjolras: Marius your father is a baron He's an actual baron Marius: well only a Napoleonic baron Enjolras: That's still a baron Marius: well when you say it like that
Jake: Brett Brett did you get that picture I sent you Brett: I did, yeah Jake: the picture of my penis I mean Brett: yes Jake: Brett guess how much of my penis I still have left you know after my accident after my penis accident Brett: I don't really want to play this game, Jake Jake: come on, guess Brett: I don't have unlimited texting these messages are kind of expensive for me Jake: I'll give you a hint it's definitely SOME
Holmes: this is quite a puzzle, Watson Watson: damned right, Holmes hell of a puzzle what I want to know is how did the vicar know the archbishop's Pekingese had developed an immunity to snake bites? Holmes: there's only one thing we're missing only one thing we need that will help us solve this case Watson: we need to question Lady Emily again Holmes: no, Watson Watson: oh it's not ... Holmes: COCAINE, WATSON Watson: ah Holmes: we're going to need loads of cocaine SCADS of it
As you can see no cow is sacred and there is more than a little truth in these portrayals (especially Marius, man do I loathe that guy).
I will say that, even though I am somewhat well read, there were many references that went right over my head. Overall though, this was a brisk and entertaining read. I would certainly checkout a sequel if one was written and if you are familiar with the classics you will also enjoy the heck out of this book....more
There is so much I want to say about this book. It is so jammed packed with interesting ideas and characters that there are a million places to start.There is so much I want to say about this book. It is so jammed packed with interesting ideas and characters that there are a million places to start. Perhaps I’ll just get the crude and vulgar out of the way first.
The world of Jennifer Government reads like an Ayn Rand wet dream. Corporations have free reign in what is called the United States of America but actually comprises North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, and the British isles (or, for you George Orwell fans out there, Oceania). The government makes Nozick’s Night-watchman state look like Soviet Russia and even most basic services are provided by companies.
The teacher jotted something in his folder. McDonald's sponsored schools were cheap like that: at Pepsi schools, everyone had notebook computers. Also their uniforms were much better.
But all is not happy go lucky in this Capitalist Paradise. Where the government does not have a monopoly on violence, those that deal in violence are attracted to the highest bidder. A corporate Cold War is on the verge of heating up, and in this case the customer isn't always right.
The battle lines have been drawn. Every Team Alliance company is in competition with every Team Advantage company. Every customer who flies T.A. airline will buy a computer from Compaq instead of IBM. Boeing is with us because otherwise United Airlines won't buy from it.
With this as the backdrop we are introduce to a wide cast of characters whose threads eventually get entangled with each other and much bigger events.
John Nike (because in this world you are your job, or at least your last name is your company) is what John Galt would be if Ayn Rand had a halfway decent editor. He condenses Jon Galt’s (in)famous ninety page radio speech into two paragraphs that absolutely represent the spirit of the age:
Look, I am not designing next year's ad campaign here. I'm getting rid of the Government, the greatest impediment to business in history. You don't do that without a downside. Yes, some people will die. But look at the gain! Run a cost-benefit analysis! Maybe some of you have forgotten what companies really do. So let me remind you: they make as much money as possible. If they don't investors go elsewhere. It's that simple. We're all cogs in wealth-creation machines. that's all.
I've given you a world without Government interference. There is now no advertising campaign, no intercompany deal, no promotion, no action you can't take. You want to pay kids to get the swoosh tattooed on their foreheads? Who's going to stop you? You want to make computers that need repair after three months? Who's going to stop you? You want to reward consumers who complain about your competitors in the media? You want to pay them for recruiting their little brothers and sisters to your brand of cigarettes? You want the NRA to help you eliminate your competition? Then do it. Just do it.
He is a ruthless, amoral, sanctimonious, asshole and thrives in the world corporations have constructed.
It's my job to increase sales. Is it my fault that [killing kids to create buzz] was the best way to do it? If Government had the muscle to enforce the law, it wouldn't have made economic sense, but they don't and it did. this is the world we live in. If you don't take advantage of the rules, you're a sucker.
If it doesn't have a dollar sign in front of it, isn’t connected to a board of directors, or doesn't wear a short skit, he isn’t interested. He is pure id in the empire of id.
Jennifer Government, the book’s namesake, is a bit rougher around the edges, hemmed in by Government limitations that prevent her from seeing justice done. In order to pursue a murder investigation she has to convince the victims' families to pony up money for a budget.
"The Government's budget only extends to preventing crime, not punishing it. For retributive investigation, we can only proceed if we can obtain funding."
She fit nicely into the loose cannon cop trope while still delivering both a softer side with her daughter, and a more interesting backstory than most who populate the trope.
In a way, Jennifer felt bad, busting into such a nice place in full riot gear and scaring the crap out of everybody. But in another, more accurate way, she enjoyed it a lot.
The world itself is quite dystopian. All the places in the USA are homogenized (be they LA, Australia, or England). The overwhelming cultural impulse is to do anything to get ahead, to get yours and to hell with other people. People have internalized this to the point where that commit immoral actions (child abduction, murder, assassinations, etc) or suffer psychological breakdowns when they finally burn out. It is a culture driven by consumerism and consumption at the cost of overseas workers, the environment, and our shared humanity.
Thankfully things like this:
The cheap roads were clogged, even at six-thirty, but he was only four blocks from a premium Bechtel freeway and that was eight lanes, two dollars a mile, and no speed limit.
Well, at least emergency services will never devolve into this:
"Sir, I need to know if the victim is part of our register. If she's one of our clients, we'll be there within a few minutes. Otherwise I'm happy to recommend-" "I need an ambulance. I'll pay for it, I don't care, just come!" "Do you have a credit card, sir?" "Yes! Send someone now!" "As soon as I confirm your ability to pay, sir. This will only take a few seconds."
(Goddamnit world, this book was not supposed to be a how to guide!)
Anyway, doomsday prophesying aside, this was a very fast read. Chapters were just a few pages long and the action jumps among a wide cast of characters. The writing is sharp (see below for some of my favorite quotes) and Barry does a great job bringing this Calitalizm nightmare to life. I did think the ending was a bit lacking, much like Lexicon, but I greatly enjoyed this book in spite of this. If you like economic dystopias or just think the setting sounds fun then by all means check this out.
Also, if you are feeling ambitious, start and run your own nation at Nationstates, a site affiliated with this book.
Now, without further ado, fun/horrifying quotes:
Companies were getting a lot tougher on labor contracts these days; Hack had heard stories. At Adidas, if you quit your job and your replacement wasn't as competent, they sued you for lost profits.
"I want to commandeer your vehicle for Government business. We pay three hundred dollars per hour of use, plus any necessary repairs. Also, you have the satisfaction of knowing you've helped prevent crimes in your community." "Three hundred up front?"
Companies claimed to be highly responsive, but you only had to chase a screaming man through their offices to realize that wasn't true.
There was no place for irony in marketing: it made people want to look for deeper meaning. there was no place in marketing for that, either.
There are lots of other brilliant and funny lines as well, you should read it and see them for yourself! ...more
I have often felt that web-comics (such as Digger) really embody the idea that "If you want to sell something, you have to give it away for free."
WhenI have often felt that web-comics (such as Digger) really embody the idea that "If you want to sell something, you have to give it away for free."
When I first encountered Digger (I can't recall where), only the first 75ish pages were available for free viewing. At the time I was following plenty of other free web comics and didn't think it was worth paying for. Sure it was a pretty interesting story of a no-nonsense wombat getting magically transported to a land very far from home and her quest to return there, but I didn't think it was good enough to pay a subscription fee for it.
Fast forward several years and I stumble across Digger again, now free to view as the artist (the amazing Ursula Vernon) was closing in on the ending.
Sufficed to say I was captivated by the story, the art, the characters, the message... really everything about it. The black and white art is gorgeous and masterfully used. The characters come alive off the page and feel just as real as any character in a book I have read. The world Vernon has created was saturated with amazing and novel ideas and creations (such as the mythology of the Hyena tribe).
But what I thought was most endearing about the Digger series was the many positive messages it conveyed (loyalty to friends, respect to others, proactive attitudes to solving problems, not to mention a kick-ass female protagonist). I think one of my favorite pages, not just from Digger but from any web-comic, dealt with morality, amazingly and concisely explained.
This series made me laugh, cry, and think. It also made me rush out to not only buy all the books, but also support a kickstarter that got all the books published in one glorious hardcover. Remember what I said before? The only way to sell something is to give it away for free and boy did Digger achieve that with me. I cannot recommend this series highly enough. ...more
Fun little book of cartoons outlining just how much cats can be bastards. As a cat (demon?) owner myself I can attest to the accuracy of most of thisFun little book of cartoons outlining just how much cats can be bastards. As a cat (demon?) owner myself I can attest to the accuracy of most of this book. Thankfully my cat (harbinger of doom?) does not go outside so I have not enjoyed the gift of dead animals on my birthday. Really quick, but entertaining read. Inman does a fun job illustrating his point in a variety of ways: charts, comics, lists, tables, etc. Great for coffee tables and cat lovers....more
This was a really fun, light read. I cannot speak to the accuracy of the book's treatment of a person with Aspergers Syndrome, but you definitely getThis was a really fun, light read. I cannot speak to the accuracy of the book's treatment of a person with Aspergers Syndrome, but you definitely get into the head of the main character (Don) and see he is wired very differently from most folks. We see Don get challenged, change, grow, and reflect on himself throughout all the highjinks that ensue when he gets mixed up with a very unconventional grad student.
What appealed me to most about this book (apart from the many instances of humor) was how reflective Don was. The book took time to run through his line of thinking when assessing the social pitfalls he encounters and why he behaved the way he did. By the end of the book you can see just how much he has changed for the better.
Like I said, this is a light, humorous book, but it does an excellent job treating the subject matter (mostly the vagaries of human relationships) in a very serious manner. Through Don's unique perspective we get a fresh perspective of how people behave with and towards others. I eagerly await the next installment from Simsion....more
Fun little coffee table book about the history of weapons. Nothing too heavy, each weapon gets a short description, some humorous passages and a pictuFun little coffee table book about the history of weapons. Nothing too heavy, each weapon gets a short description, some humorous passages and a picture. Good to pick up if you find a few spare minutes during the day and surprisingly extensive. The book covers a good chunk of the world and most of human history up to 1900. Note there is a fair amount of profanity so it may no be age appropriate for younger readers. Definietly a fun little book with some nice information and good wit....more
Really fun, silly, quirky story. It takes place in an alternative Ununited Kingdoms where magic exists (but is fading) and a powerful prophecy foretelReally fun, silly, quirky story. It takes place in an alternative Ununited Kingdoms where magic exists (but is fading) and a powerful prophecy foretells the slaying of the last dragon. Caught in the middle of all this is a (almost) 16 year old indentured servant who runs a wizard service agency and manages a colorful cast of magic users.
Don't expect Shakespeare here, but do expect a rollicking good time. The characters are a well written, the world is very developed, and the story is quite engaging. Overall a very fun, quick read for those looking for some lighter fare in their book rotation....more
This book was roughly 99% fluff and 1% message (which itself was remarkably banal and pedestrian). This book may have been better in audio format, butThis book was roughly 99% fluff and 1% message (which itself was remarkably banal and pedestrian). This book may have been better in audio format, but as written word it mostly came across as Ellen's random thoughts. Which is a shame because she has lived a very interesting life that would have been fascinating to read. Instead we get a somewhat forced stream of conscious. Not worth the time I invested in it....more