Breaking Bad recently wrapped up its fourth season, leaving us despondent that it will be a good couple months until we see the further misadventures of cancer victim/chemistry teacher/crystal meth chef Walter “Heisenberg” White and his brash partner Jesse Pinkman.
If they’re like Hermione, they can take two classes scheduled for the same hour. If they’re like Fred and George, they can skip class altogether. They can paint on the walls, recite poetry in the garden and call all the teachers by their first names.
The article is about a Northern Virginia school that started off as an experiment in 1971. What caught my eye, however, was this Harry Potter reference thrown in so casually (and without explanation)! I love it. I don’t care that not everyone has read Harry Potter, I love it.
In the past two days, I’ve spent four hours on the Metro getting to and from D.C., an activity that is out of the ordinary for me since I usually work from home.
That translates to approximately 100 pages read in my latest book, House of the Spirits by Isabelle Allende. This is the same book which I’ve been sitting on for a month having gotten through just 40 pages or so.
The problem, therefore, was not the book, but me. Me and my lack of time on the Metro.
What is it about that rattling tram, the plastic seats, and the low hum of the train that make reading on the Metro so inviting? Do you think those in cities that don’t have mass public transportation end up having fewer commuters who read?
There’s an army of commuters on the train who hide behind their books. Maybe part of it is that we’d all rather delve into our own worlds then eavesdrop on the conversations of our fellow riders, or God forbid, talk to each other.
The novel follows a young Indian man, Siddhartha, as he explores his faith (primarily Hinduism and later elements of Buddhism). Siddhartha goes from being a born into the priestly Brahmin class, to a merchant, to a ferryman all while delving into what it means to be enlightened and human.
As a realist and a person who rolls my eyes at modern-day 20-somethings who head off to “find themselves” on Mommy and Daddy’s dime, I can say that what Hesse presents and honest spiritual quest, stripped of pretention.
Indeed, the novel was written in 1922, long before the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow in her $120 yoga pants could soil the notion of spiritual exploration forever with her faux intellectualism.
Siddhartha takes true risks and true sacrifices, with fasting and thoughtfulness being his two self-described best qualities. Siddhartha frequently abandons the comforts of his station find his path to enlightenment.
It’s important to note here that despite the fact that we are following a Hindu man’s quest, Hesse does not seek to isolate Judeo-Christian readers. You can almost substitute any religious exploration in the context of this text. Theologians know the importance of examining one’s faith, and do so frequently.
One illuminating passage: “One can pass on knowledge but not wisdom. One can find wisdom, one can live it, one can work wonders with it, but one cannot speak or teach it.”
There are many more from there. If you are interested in the elusive book-that-makes-you-think, this is the one.
A woman who was targeted by Toyota in a creepy, stalker-themed online advertising stunt will be allowed to sue the company, despite the carmaker’s argument that she unknowingly agreed to the whole thing. Amanda Duick sued Toyota in 2009 over its intrusive “Your Other You” campaign, after she began…
Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash fills in nicely as a precursor to 90s cyberpunk favorites The Matrix, Hackers, or the Fifth Element.
The novel, published in 1992, is set in that decade’s near distant future and follows the story of a protagonist, Hiro Protagonist, and a Kourier (spelled with a “k”) named Y.T. (not to be confused with whitey).
Hiro is a blaysian hacker and pizza delivery boy living in what is now Southern California. Except that in Snow Crash, the United States government has all but dissolved and its residents are instead grouped by franchises.
Hiro meets Y.T., a kourier of the future who rides a skateboard and uses a harpoon to latch onto cars to make deliveries. Y.T., a 15-year-old girl, saves Hiro from failing to deliver a pizza on time in one of the novel’s many chase scenes. Y.T., with her hypersexuality and oftentimes cheesy dialogue, (“Jack this barrier to commerce, man,” she said in one scene)screams “Girlz Rawk” like a lost Spice Girl.
Stephenson has a somewhat juvenile approach to characterizations. Hiro is a self-described “best swordsman in the world,” which, if he is in his mid-20s, just is a lame thing to say, none the less have on his business card. It’s supposed to be clever, but it’s not.
Though Stephensen writes paper-thin characters, his central theme is an interesting and worthwhile topic to explore. That theme, in a nutshell: ideas spread like viruses. Expect for in his novel, hackers are the host to a computer virus that is able to spread on a biological level and control the user through radio signals, or something (there’s a radio antenna on the back of their brainstem at one point). The central theme is mostly explored in what I like to call “expository hammers” that the reader gets pounded over the head with every couple hundred pages or so. Stephensen uses religion in this case as an example of how ideas are spread like viruses, etc., putting the biblical tale of the Tower of Babel to use.
The fact is, however, that surrounding this central theme is an endless series of chase and fight scenes designed to keep a young male interested. Through the first 70 percent of the book, I read these scenes diligently, keeping my eye out for any possible symbolism to be found. However, I quickly realized that the chase scenes were shallow, boring, and best done in an action movie rather then a novel. By the end of the book, I was “speed reading” through these sections and didn’t miss much.
Bottom line: the book may be a fun summer read, but offers nothing beyond the surface.
Last weekend, the cast of The Walking Dead took the stage at Dragon*Con and fielded questions from the audience — with one big restriction. Dragon*Con attendees were told eight times not to ask about former showrunner Frank Darabont.
Really hope this doesn’t ruin the show. It’s one of the greats.
The NY Times discusses young people today in the back of the campaign buses once populated by grisly, seasoned, veteran reporters.
The Times essentially editorializes that news organizations are increasingly hiring younger reporters to be on the campaign trail for the sole reason that they work for cheap.
But let’s face it: the days of waiting until the end of the day to file a 1,000-word story is over. Reporters should strive to be accurate and be first.
Here’s one interesting quote from the article:
“If Jon Huntsman drops out of the race, we want to know back at the news desk,” Caroline Horn, senior producer of politics for CBS News, told them. “We don’t want to find out about it on Twitter.”
With all due respect, Twitter should be where the news hits first, because, and this is shocking, those young people? They’re your future readership. And they’re on “the” Twitter and the Facebook. And CBS news should be there first if they want to stay competitive.
A reporter shouldn’t have to get the okay from an editor hundreds of miles away before they tweet breaking news (once the information is confirmed, of course). By the time one gets that okay, the Twitter population has already created a hashtag, blog posts have already been written, and tech savvy reporters are using Vimeo to capture reactions to the news.
Here are their top five, check out their site for more:
The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
I’ve read 10 of the books on that list so far (at least it gives me something to aspire to!).
The latest book I gave a try on that list was Foundation by Isaac Asimov. I have to say, I wasn’t enthralled.
I only read the first in the multi-part series written by Asimov in the 1950s. He is the same author who brought us I, Robot, the book that was later made into a Will Smith movie.
There is something alluring about reading science fiction from the 1950s. There’s a sense that plots are less derivative and self aware, simply because the genre hadn’t been around as long.
I was drawn in by the publisher’s description of the Galactic Empire where a scientist, Hari Seldon, uses an obscure branch of science, psychohistory, to predict and therefore manipulate history. Seldon promises the leaders of his day (sometime far into the future) that he would be able to reduce 30,000 years of suffering through his techniques.
I’ve been there! Sure, being a print reporter on Hurricane coverage is largely a thankless job (especially if you’re just providing the feeds), but there’s a certain amount of excitement that comes along with it as well.
I’m a multimedia journalist who, when not reporting, writing, taking photos or producing, is a pop culture junkie. Though I have a lot of guilty pleasures (think Jersey Shore and store-bought buttercream cookies), I also enjoy reading anything I can get my hands on.