Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Reality Check: What your mind knows but isn't telling you by David Weiner

Ok, essentially the same premise as Zen Physics except where Zen Physics left me feeling positive about life and death and gave me some faith, Reality Check just left me in despair. He looks at the same astronomically infinitesimal odds of life springing from matter, the vastness and infinite smallness of the universe and sees nothing, meaninglessness whereas I see more meaning than ever. He thinks that because each of us won a 300,000,000 to 1 sperm lottery then we are each insignificant whereas I feel like a winner. My dad could have coughed at a crucial time and I'd be a boy or brilliant, but he didn't, and I am as I am, and I am grateful. The thing was full of typos anyway.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Diaper Diaries: The Real Poop on a New Mom's First Year by Cynthia Copeland

I recommend this to all new mom's and not new mom's. It's hilarious and all so true. It's quick with cute little cartoons. I've read a lot of books that only deserve one line reviews and I don't bother posting them. But in this case it was worth the mention in case anyone's reading this might check it out.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex by Olivia Judson

I had fun reading about all the buggies and fishies and how they mate or spawn and eat each other and all that good stuff. It was enjoyable in a zen way, but I am disappointed that I don't feel like I have a bunch of knowledge to show off. It was just so much information whizzing by. Mostly reading or watching anything about the animal kingdom makes me glad to be a human. So to make this more interesting I'll just randomly open to a page and share the most intriguing animal on it. OK, hmm, let's see, male bowerbirds. They're related to the birds of paradise that do those awesome dances for their women and puff out their feathers like fuzzy UFO's. Anyway, bowerbirds build and elaborately decorate huts and towers. They use leaves and twigs like a normal nest, but they take the time and care to decorate them all fancy by painting them with berry juice and hanging shrooms, flowers, feathers, shells, bug parts and other goodies. But what's even cooler is that they seem to have various fashion districts. Plus they're totally not random. If you go and move some dude's art around, he'll put it back the way he had it. They've also been known to steel camera equipment and socks. If you think you're helping him out by adding your own touch, he'll throw it out. Don't go messing with his vision.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Better Than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream by Carl Elliott

It's hard to sum up this observant report on how we Americans live. Each chapter goes on its own little adventure through the psychosis that is identity. I guess if I were forced to say what it's "about" I'd say enhancement technologies and their place in American culture but it really doesn't take a stand on them. What I found telling is the point made in various ways that most people who purchase enhancement technologies (i.e. Prozac, boobs, amputations [?!]) claim that they do so to feel "more like themselves". People don't see themselves as depressed, fat, flat-chested, anxiety ridden, short, or rather their egos refuse to see themselves as such. The medicalization of stupid, old, home-body-ness, prone-to-blushingness has come about because our egos can't stand those labels as part of our identities. Surely I am none of those things, the real me is just like all those people on tv, all I have to do is fork over my hard earned money to buy the surgeries and pills I need to show the world who I REALLY am. I am thin, my body is just fat so I'll pay for liposuction so I can jump out and say "ta-da, look world, I was a skinny girl hiding in a fat suit all along, take that, I kept telling you all I was thing but no one believed me!!" I am a happy person, my BRAIN is just depressed. And a country like America where the economy is so wholly dependent on the "self" as a deity is happy to oblige. I guess I'm giving away my opinion on matters here a little =) What I also found interesting was the discussion of group identities (goths, punks, bodybuilders, etc). If you don't fit in with the mainstream, you can always join a subculture and fit in with them instead. What they don't like to admit though, is that subculture is just a "sub" division of our mainstream culture. You can't truly opt out, ever. You can pretend like you're "above it" that you don't "buy into it", but people are still judging you, always, you don't get to just not play. If you go outside of your house you will be observed and deduced about. Even Adbusters has its own anti-brand brand called Black Spot. No one's original, and if your thing is being original, there's a whole bunch of other people out there whose thing is being original too. They call you "alternative" or "indie". And once those get too trendy they'll come up with something originaler. All that high horse crap of mine aside, the final and more interesting adventure took us through territory inhabited by people who feel they were born in the wrong body, either the wrong gender, or with, ahem, two legs and two arms. Yes people are begging to have their limbs amputated to feel "more like themself"!! This is the kind of thing (the only kind of thing) that might make me think twice about my above position. Amputees in past lives perhaps?