Entertaining read for sure, especially the stories of life on the trains in France when people think you are an American who can't understand French....moreEntertaining read for sure, especially the stories of life on the trains in France when people think you are an American who can't understand French. Will read some of his other stuff at some point, but not my favorite contemporary author. (less)
The expression “Those who can’t do, teach” is a curious one, because if you look at the world, you’ll see that t...more**spoiler alert** My notes and quotes:
The expression “Those who can’t do, teach” is a curious one, because if you look at the world, you’ll see that teachers aren’t particularly worse at doing things than anyone else, so perhaps the expression might be better worded as “Nobody can do anything.” (p. 36).
It is one of life’s bitterest truths that bedtime so often arrives just when things are really getting interesting. (p. 57).
Everyone should be able to do one card trick, tell two jokes, and recite three poems, in case they are ever trapped in an elevator. (p. 68).
No matter who you are, no matter where you live, and no matter how many people are chasing you, what you don’t read is often as important as what you do read. (p. 71).
A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up late reading them. (p. 75).
Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them. (p. 87).
It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things. (p. 111).(less)
Book that answers readers' questions concerning a whole host of interesting scientific questions. 1. Bruises cha...more**spoiler alert** My notes and quotes:
Book that answers readers' questions concerning a whole host of interesting scientific questions. 1. Bruises change color because of the breakdown of red blood cells by white blood cells and the chemicals bilirubin (yellow) and biliverdin (green). The yellow color is the same that causes jaundice in children. 2. The darker your liquor the more likely you will have a hangover because of congeners (which give alcohol the intoxicating effect). So clear/light colored drinks like vodka lead to less severe hangovers than whiskey, brandy, etc. 3. Your appendix is most useful when you are a developing embryo (immunological function), but continues to work even into adulthood. 4. Beheading (via a guillotine, etc.) may in fact be painful because it is likely that brain functioning still occurs possibly up to 25 to 30 seconds after disconnection with the body (although consciousness is probably lost after a few seconds). Many decapitated heads continue blinking after the separation and even respond to their name. 5. Cats that have fallen from between 2 and 32 stories have about a 90 percent survival rate. Their terminal velocity is about half as much as a human and their increased flexibility allows them to absorb more force from impact. They are also more likley to survive a fall once it is above 7 stories high (compared to between 2-5 stories). This is thought to be because after such a distance they start to relax, thereby increasing their flexibility and absorption ability when they land.(less)
Okay, now let’s have some fun. Let’s talk about sex. Let’s talk about women. Freud said he didn’t know what wome...more**spoiler alert** MY FAVORITE QUOTES:
Okay, now let’s have some fun. Let’s talk about sex. Let’s talk about women. Freud said he didn’t know what women wanted. I know what women want: a whole lot of people to talk to. What do they want to talk about? They want to talk about everything. What do men want? They want a lot of pals, and they wish people wouldn’t get so mad at them. Why are so many people getting divorced today? It’s because most of us don’t have extended families anymore. It used to be that when a man and a woman got married, the bride got a lot more people to talk to about everything. The groom got a lot more pals to tell dumb jokes to. A few Americans, but very few, still have extended families. The Navahos. The Kennedys. But most of us, if we get married nowadays, are just one more person for the other person. The groom gets one more pal, but it’s a woman. The woman gets one more person to talk to about everything, but it’s a man. When a couple has an argument nowadays, they may think it’s about money or power or sex or how to raise the kids or whatever. What they’re really saying to teach other, though without realizing it, is the: “you are not enough people!” A husband, a wife and some kids is not a family. It’s a terribly vulnerable survival unit. (p. 48-49).
The imagination circuit is taught to respond to the most minimal of cues. A book is an arrangement of twenty-six phonetic symbols, ten numerals, and about eight punctuation marks, and people can cast their eyes over these and envision the eruption of Mount Vesuvius or the Battle of Waterloo. But it’s no longer necessary for teachers and parents to build these circuits. Now there are professionally produced shows with great actors, very convincing sets, sound, music. Now there’s the information highway. We don’t need the circuits any more than we need to know how to ride horses. Those of us who had imagination circuits built can look in someone’s face and see stories there; to everyone else, a face will just be a face. (p. 133-134).(less)
“I want to have kids,” she says. “Hey, who said different?” “But not right away.” “No, I know. We’ll have kids, but...more**spoiler alert** My Favorite Quotes:
“I want to have kids,” she says. “Hey, who said different?” “But not right away.” “No, I know. We’ll have kids, but when we’re ready.” “Right …” Beat. “But I don’t want to wait too long …” “No, we won’t,” I assured her. “We’ll wait, like, you know … just the right amount of time.”
I’m well aware that not everybody gives the if-and-when of having kids this much time and deliberation. A lot of people have kids who, frankly, didn’t mean to. Many people choose to have no kids at all and live quite happily. But most people have kids simply because you’re “supposed to.” The rule book says once you get married, start churning ‘em out. It’s just “the next step,” part of that nonstop momentum that keeps us all sprinting through life. (p. 8).
It becomes a matter of which self-centered impulse you want to service; the need to be free and unencumbered now, or the need to secure yourself a caretaker to whom you can be a huge encumbrance later. “Let’s see … we’re going to need someone to put our things in order, someone to take all our junk when we die, and someone to take care of us and worry about us before we die … I don’t know anybody who’s going to do that … I know – let’s make someone. Let’s manufacture a whole new person, and then that’ll be their job.” (p. 10).
New parents always sound like hucksters in a pyramid scheme. Anyone who has kids and then gets you to go and have kids gets a check from Huckster Headquarters. They’re like newly converted religious fanatics, these people. They’re not only hooked, but they won’t rest till they bring you into the fold, too. (p. 11).
When you’re trying to get pregnant, you both take a veritable crash course in biology and anatomy. Names of procedures and body parts that were once faraway places on that big map in your doctor’s office become second nature. But for men, this transformation is even more remarkable, because before this, they knew next to nothing. It’s remarkable –sad, but still remarkable – how little they know of the actual mechanics operating within women’s bodies. The whole business is referred to simply as “Down There.” (p. 21).
So where do these cravings come from? I concluded it’s the baby, ordering in. Prenatal takeout. Even without ever being in a restaurant, fetuses develop remarkably discerning palates, and they are no shy about demanding what they want. If they get a hankering, they just pick up that umbilical cord and call. (p. 38).
In addition to cribs and cradles, you also have to consider playpens, which at first impression struck me as no more than brightly colored, miniature jails. Is this really how we want to treat a brand-new person? Poor thing spends nine months cooped up in the womb, and first thing we do is toss him in a cage like a zoo animal. At least zoo animals get shrubbery and little ponds and schoolchildren tossing them peanuts. (p. 45).
Once you go ahead and buy every piece of merchandise with the word “baby” in the name, you still have another problem: How do you get all this stuff home? The answer, of course: Get rid of your car and find yourself a big ugly four-wheel-drive/trucky/sport utility/”just-throw-everything-in-the-back” vehicle. Suddenly you understand those behemoth station wagons your parents had. But because we are, as a group, so much more clever, we now surround ourselves instead in hulking tanks – uglier by far than anything we sat in the back of when we were five. But this time they have much cooler names, Outback, Range Rover, Land Cruiser, Four Runner, Trooper, Pathfinder … Where do we think we’re going? We’re picking up diapers and dropping off a video. We’re not bagging a cheetah and lugging it across Kenya (p. 49).
Observing my relatives with the baby, I realized they fall into a few different categories of adult-to-infant communications: There’s the Greeter: “Who’s that? That’s your mommy. Who’s that? That’s your daddy …” Who works hand in hand with the Tour Guide: “This is the living room, can you say living room? And this is the foyer! You don’t want to spill anything in the foyer …” Who’s not quite as annoying as The Embarrasser: “Did you make a stinky? I think you made a stinky. I’m going to tell everyone you made a stinky, even though we’re not a hundred percent sure …” Or the Entertainer: They just lean over the baby and make amusing noises. “Ha-cha-cha-cha … Ha-cha-cha-cha … Boo-ti-boo-ta … chook-chook-chook-chook …” These of course, are all derivatives of the quintessential and official baby-speak noise – “Coochie-coochie coo.” I’m not sure how that became the industry standard, but it is. I imagine that at some point there must have been a meeting. “Coochie coochie coo” beat out perennial favorite “goo-goo-gah-gah” and the straightforward but too-literal “Greetings, Small Bald Round One.” (p. 86).
When you’re the parents of a new child, all the craving and desire you’ve ever felt for sex is transferred over to sleep. It’s like somebody sneaked into your brain, found the wires going to the sex button and the sleep button, and just switched them. I didn’t realize how extensive the change was till I found myself one day staring at a lingerie ad with a photo of a beautiful, seductive, young woman sprawled practically naked across a satin-sheeted bed, and all I could think was, “Man, that bed looks comfortable.” (p. 106).
But as miraculous and moving as this is, I can’t get past the fact that food is coming out of my wife’s breasts. What was once essentially an entertainment center has now become a juice bar. This takes some getting used to. It’s like if bread were suddenly coming out of a person’s neck. Wouldn’t that be unsettling? Let’s say you’re a woman. If you were nibbling your husband’s ear and came away with a piece of toast, wouldn’t you be a tad skittish? That’s all I’m saying. (p. 133).
And again the accepted convention is: Lie. For all the sharing and being open and vulnerable, the truth is that all new parents are Big Fat Liars. We lie about things that don’t even mean anything. Like Sleeping Through the Night. You wouldn’t think your newborn baby’s ability to sleep or not sleep consecutive hours would be potential grounds for ridicule. But you’d be wrong. “Our daughter came home from the hospital, and from that night forward, she slept perfectly. Went down at eight-thirty, woke up the next morning at nine.” Lies, lies, and more lies. Because if you told the truth, it might make you look bad. If your baby doesn’t sleep through the night, it’s a cultural stigma. It’s like The Scarlet Letter –where the “A” stands for “We’re still Awake, thank you very much.” So even if you both have bags under your eyes the size of steamer trunks –lie. (p. 180-181).(less)
As I mentioned in this book’s introduction, by tragic historical coincidence a period of abysmal under-educating...more**spoiler alert** My notes and quotes:
As I mentioned in this book’s introduction, by tragic historical coincidence a period of abysmal under-educating in literacy has coincided with this unexpected explosion of global self-publishing. Thus people who don’t know their apostrophe from their elbow are positively invited to disseminate their writings to anyone on the planet stupid enough to double-click and scroll. Mark Twain said it many years ago, but it has never been more true: “There is no such thing as ‘the Queen’s English’. The property has gone into the hands of a joint stock company and we own the bulk of the shares! – Following the Equator, 1897. It hurts, though. It hurts like hell. Even in the knowledge that our punctuation has arrived at its present state by a series of accidents; even in the knowledge that there are at least seventeen rules for the comma, some of which are beyond explanation by top grammarians – it is a matter for despair to see punctuation chucked out as worthless by people who don’t know the difference between who’s and whose, and whose bloody automatic “grammar checker” can’t tell the difference either. And despair was the initial impetus for this book. I saw a sign for “Book’s” with an apostrophe in it, and something deep inside me snapped; snapped with that melancholy sound you hear in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, like a far-off cable breaking in a mine-shaft. I know that language moves on. It has to. Not once have I ever stopped to feel sorry for those Egyptian hieroglyph artists tossed on the scrapheap during a former linguistic transition (“Birds’ heads in profile, mate? You having a laugh?”. But I can’t help feeling that our punctuation system, which has served the written word with grace and ingenuity for centuries, must not be allowed to disappear without a fight. (p. 184).
“I can scribble the word “bomb” barely legibly 18 times in one minute and “bom” 24 times, saving 25 per cent per minute by dropping the superfluous b. In the British Commonwealth, on which the sun never sets, and in the United States of North America, there are always millions of people continually writing, writing, writing … Those who are writing are losing time at the rate of 131,400 X x per annum … -George Bernard Shaw on Language, 1965 (p. 186).
You will know all about emoticons. Emoticons are the proper name for smileys. And a smiley is, famously, this: :-) Forget the idea of selecting the right words in the right order and channeling the reader’s attention by means of artful pointing. Just add the right emoticon to your email and everyone will know what self-expressive effect you thought you kind-of had in mind. Anyone interested in punctuation has a dual reason to feel aggrieved about smileys, because not only are they a paltry substitute for expressing oneself properly; they are also designed by people who evidently thought the punctuation marks on the standard keyboard cried out for an ornamental function. What’s this dot-on-top-of-a-dot thing for? What earthly good is it? Well, if you look at it sideways, it could be a pair of eyes. What’s this curvy thing for? It’s a mouth, look! Hey, I think we’re on to something. :-( Now it’s sad! ;-) It looks like it’s winking! :-r It looks like it’s sticking its tongue out! The permutations may be endless: :~/ mixed up! <:-) dunce! :-[ pouting! :-0 surprise! Well, that’s enough. I’ve just spotted a third reason to loathe emoticons, which is that when they pass from fashion (and I do hope they already have), future generations will associate punctuation marks with an outmoded and rather primitive graphic pastime and despise them all the more. “Why do they still have all these keys with things like dots and spots and eyes and mouths and things?” they will grumble. “Nobody does smileys any more.” (p. 193-195).(less)
Humorous journal-like book detailing the life of computer geeks working for Microsoft in the early 90's. The wri...more**spoiler alert** My notes and quotes:
Humorous journal-like book detailing the life of computer geeks working for Microsoft in the early 90's. The writer of the journal is Dan and his friends are Karla (girlfriend), Michael (head of new company), Bug (newly gay), Todd (bodybuilder), Dusty (Todd's girlfriend), Susan (boy crazy), Abe (oldest one, already a millionaire), Dan's mother and father, Ethan (in charge of raising money for company), and a few others that aren't in the whole book. It begins with all of them working at Microsoft and describes the culture that exists there. They frequently refer to Bill Gates throughout the book as the ultimate geek computer genius. Michael is the genius program designer that leaves Microsoft to start his own company. He later invites all of his friends to come join him designing a program called "Oops". The rest of the book is about their general social dynamic in this start-up company. The whole book is basically a good description of geek culture and their attempt to do more than just write computer code and be by themselves for their whole life. It constantly uses funny examples of how geeks spend their time and gets into deep philosophical questions usually centered around technology and computers. In the end the company begins to become successful and they all learn to appreciate and value their group friendship above all else.(less)
This book successfully combines two of my favorite subjects, philosophy and dumb jokes to great effect. It's a quick little read that uses humor to de...moreThis book successfully combines two of my favorite subjects, philosophy and dumb jokes to great effect. It's a quick little read that uses humor to define philosophical schools of thought, or maybe uses philosophers to explain humor, I'm not sure which. Either way, it is a fun time for those with a penchant (and background) in philosophy and a knack for telling bad jokes.
And to add to the many quotes other reviewers have shared, here's one on situational ethics: "Armed robbers burst into a bank, line up customers and staff against the wall, and begin to take their wallets, watches, and jewelry. Two of bank's accountants are among those waiting to be robbed. The first accountant suddenly thrusts something in the hand of the other. The second accountant whispers, 'What is this?' The first accountant whispers back, 'It's the fifty bucks I owe you.'"
Although not for everyone, I find Colbert's brand of humor quite entertaining. The problem with this book for me was that I'm used to hearing Colbert'...moreAlthough not for everyone, I find Colbert's brand of humor quite entertaining. The problem with this book for me was that I'm used to hearing Colbert's routine in short bits instead of a continuous narrative. I'm guessing this book is much better suited for the audio book format, although I'm not really sure how he would relate the comedy of the side and footnotes (which really make the book). Overall a good read, although not quite as good as the first Stewart "America" book. (less)
This book earned a 4-star rating from me solely based on the chapter "Dreams, part 2". A great story of unbelievable success and heartrending collapse...moreThis book earned a 4-star rating from me solely based on the chapter "Dreams, part 2". A great story of unbelievable success and heartrending collapse. Of course I'm a little biased as an avid Veggie Tales fan, not to mention my little girl is big-time Bob groupie right at the moment so this book came at just the right time for me. I would recommend this to anyone interested in business, theology, or just plain fun. (less)
What can you say about a book like this? First, why would an adult read it? Well, my wife (a teacher) said it would be a great resource for her to hav...moreWhat can you say about a book like this? First, why would an adult read it? Well, my wife (a teacher) said it would be a great resource for her to have for her 6th graders, but for me, it was simply a useful text to add to my own bag of tricks. Of course, I wouldn't say it had that many revolutionary or even slightly clever tricks and gags, but out of over 400 pages, I probably found at least 2 dozen ideas that I'm going to file away for future use. What kind of future use, you may ask? Well, for example, have you ever found yourself at a restaurant waiting almost an hour for your food with your little cousins who aren't really interested in having a spirited political discourse? If so, there are about 20 different ways to amuse yourself (and twice that many if you want to get thrown out of the restaurant) using only the materials available on any diner table. So while you may prefer to sit at the boring adult table and complain about the decline of civilization/restaurant service, I'll be happily showing a new generation of kids how to balance a salt shaker on its corner or pop a straw. Now that is good old-fashioned entertainment!(less)