Tag Archives: books

The Boy Who Couldn’t Put Down the Book about the Family that Couldn’t Sleep

13 Mar

During my trip to Vegas, I finally got around to reading the book The Family that Couldn't Sleep by D.T. Max.  From a lay perspective, Max traces the science behind the prion, the infectious agent behind, among other things, Mad Cow disease and Kuru.  Since prions are made up of only proteins, they challenge some of our basic assumptions about biology and infectious diseases. 

Max begins his tale with a story about of a middle-age Venetian man who, in 1795, suddenly began suffering from an strange and fatal malady marked by incurable insomnia.  Over the next two-hundred years, many of this man's descendants also found themselves suffering from the "family's curse" — death from incurable insomnia at middle age.  The cause of their death was
frequently misdiagnosed as encephalitis to alcohol withdrawal until the early 1990s when their disease was recognized as a rare genetic form of prion disease named fatal familial insomnia. From here, Max then interweaves the history of prion dieases including the mad-cow epidemic, odd deaths among New Guinea aboriginals, and scrappie in European sheep herds. Max ultimately uses this fascinating history to suggest a radical theory: early humans may have been nearly wiped out by a plague spread by cannibalism, which also made us resistant to prion diseases today.

Bottom Line:  I highly recommend this book.

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Impatience makes the world go round. Or maybe soccer.

4 Mar

I am getting very restless.  I want that baby out now.  I can only imagine how I would feel if I was the one actually carrying the baby.  I've been tormenting the cats all morning because I want to play with the baby and they are the most baby like things in the apartment.  Gabe even runs away when he sees me coming.  I know, it's sad.

When I'm not obsessing over the baby, I habe been doing all that other stuff that I do.  I'm reading an interesting book, How Soccer Explains the World, which tries to use soccer as a metaphor to explain the effects of globalization.  While the book is not very rigorous in its methods, it is a very unique way of exploring the topic.  Perhaps its best contribution is showing how the global and the local interact.  Soccer is a global phenomena, but one that takes on the color of the local in which it is played.  For example, Brazil plays some of the best soccer in the world, but has been unable to turn it into a profitable league sport like professional athletics in the United States because of corruption, a local specialty.  I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding just how meaningful soccer is to the world outside the United States.

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Baby: Annotated

15 Feb

As we get closer to the arrival of Samrick, I plan on using my Vox page a little more to post my thoughts and reactions about fatherhood.  Of course, you'll just want to read it for all the adorable baby (and cat) pictures I'll be posting.  Here's a lovely picture of my daughter in the womb that I annotated so everyone knows that they are seeing. 

In preparation for fatherhood, I have been reading several books.  I've found the following three to be the most useful and/or interesting.  The Baby Whisperer, although a little sexist in that it usually focuses on the Mom, is nice because it encourages you to treat your child like a human being.  Rookie Dad is cool because it is written for men, so it actually has practical advice in it rather than the usual make Mom feel bad about herself stuff in most baby books.  Samantha likes it too because she is very practical (how masculine of her!).  Making Babies is not about parenthood at all, but rather the science of pregnancy.  There are so many interesting details in there that you don't get in other books.  Like the fact that during pregnancy a woman's brain shrinks!  I enjoyed it a lot.

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Is Jumping the Shark illegal anywhere?

27 Feb

From the Guardian (via Boing Boing) comes this at first highly amusing story about a pair of students from England:

… A couple of students from Cornwall are intent on making American criminal history by spending their summer breaking as many US laws as possible.

Starting in the liberal state of California, they hope to evade the attention of local police officers when they ride a bike in a swimming pool and curse on a crazy-golf course.

In the far more conservative – and landlocked – state of Utah, they will risk the penitentiary when they hire a boat and attempt to go whale-hunting.

If they manage to outwit state troopers in Utah, and perhaps federal agents on their trail, they will be able to take a deserved, but nevertheless illegal, rest when they have a nap in a cheese factory in South Dakota.

The reason for this trip? They want a book deal. Now I think it was really funny when Tony Hawks (not the skater) traveled "Round Ireland with a Fridge," but crazy British people traveling around a former colony doing something strange isn't that funny in itself. I think the getting the book deal to pay for your drinking in a foreign country gravy train needs to stop because it has jumped the shark.

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Book Review: All the Presidents’ Pets

20 Oct

I just got done reading Mo Rocca's new book, All the Presidents' Pets. This is an odd book and I must say I don't recommend it unless you are a really big Mo Rocca fan. It reads alternatively like Mo Rocca, Helen Thomas, or Barney (GWB's dog) fan fiction. If you're into that sort of thing, great. But I really wasn't.

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30 Jul


It may also be the most specifically articulated argument about killing a sitting US president ever published by a major commercial publisher.

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Amazon Glitch Unmasks War of Reviewers

15 Feb

According to the New York Times, writing a review of your own book to increase sales is apparently quite vogue:

Close observers of Amazon.com noticed something peculiar this week: the company's Canadian site had suddenly revealed the identities of thousands of people who had anonymously posted book reviews on the United States site under signatures like "a reader from New York."

The weeklong glitch, which Amazon fixed after outed reviewers complained, provided a rare glimpse at how writers and readers are wielding the online reviews as a tool to promote or pan a book — when they think no one is watching.

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