Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Books I'm Reading 27) Why We Suck by "Dr." Denis Leary

Am I the only one who finds it difficult to think of the guy from Rescue Me and Demolition Man as "Dr."? Don't get me wrong, Denis Leary is a great comedian who's commentary I thoroughly enjoy but damn if it doesn't scare me a bit to think of someone going for a checkup to a guy who's probably sucking on a cigarette while he does a pap smear.

Regardless, this was just what I needed to get past most of the bullshit that's been annoying me at work lately. Escape greatly appreciated. Plus he's got this great diagram of the male and female brains that I find logically, if not anatomically, accurate.

And I too find it difficult to order coffee in a Starbucks. Large, not grande, not venti, large. The one that's bigger than all the other ones, fill it with coffee, let me drop a couple of packets of sugar in it and I'm good to go. whilst I appreciate your highly addictive (I suspect crack filled) brownies, I just want fucking coffee, not a John Tesch CD, COFFEE.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Books I'm Reading 26) Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox

I'm not sure why it matters, but there are some things that I remember, things that just stick out in my head. For example the fact that Michael J. Fox's middle name is actually Andrew, which unless it's some weird Canadian spelling, doesn't start with a J. And there are other things.

I actually read his newer book, Always Looking Up, first in this set. And after watching some kind of TV special he did, decided it would be worth the Amazon purchase to go ahead and read the memoir written before Always Looking Up. It wasn't something I expected and yet that's not a bad thing. The "turtle moment" that I remember mulling over in my head when I read Always Looking Up, makes an appearance near the end of this book and the back story paints a more complete picture of a man who despite his fame, goes out of his way to try to stay low key and grounded.

This wasn't the typical Hollywood memoir in the E! True Hollywood Story sense, and maybe that's why I liked it so much. One of the things Fox describes in his post-Parkinson's diagnosis world is this, almost Taoism, sense of being and universal correctness. If you don't know what the correct course is, wait. Be still. Be patient. More information will be coming. That's something I recognize in myself as lacking. Oh, I know I need to slow down some. I even know when I'm stressed and when I'm burning out. That doesn't stop me. It's like watching yourself drive into a wall in slow motion. The "textbook definition of Inertia" his wife, Tracy, calls it. Almost a manic depressive sense of urgency and comatose-ness.

About the only negative thing I can think to say about this book is that I should have gotten the paperback. For some reason the dust jacket that came with my hardcover was for shit. Other than that it was that missing bookend to Always Looking Up. The thing that placed the lessons of the latter book in a perspective, the light shone into the room, just right, to give it that sense of depth and volume.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


There things I love about the Internet. Google for example, is my bitch.

And then there are tools like Crossloop which proide me remote access to computers so that when friends, family, and even customers call me, I can actually see what they're seeing.

For example, last night I ended up using it to walk through an installation of Adobe CS4 on a computer in Kona while I was in Honolulu. A couple of nights prior, to help someone fix a printer problem, before that, remote installation of some software.

In fact my only complaint isn't so much with crossloop as it is with the default User Access Control built into Windows Vista that keeps disconnecting my sessions at inopportune times. Much as I do like the improved security, I have yet to see UAC in Vista actually protect something, most of the users I deal with end up clicking on "allow" anyway which effectively does nothing to improve the security of the machine.

Solid product, easy to use, been a savior on more than one occasion. At worst all I have to do is walk someone through downloading and installing it over the phone then make sure they speak clearly and slowly enough to provide the access code.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Emmanuel Jal on - Music of a War Child

An amazing story and narrative told through music and spoken word. 18 minutes well spent.

Books I'm Reading 25) On The Wealth of Nations by PJ O'Rourke

I tried once, over a decade ago, to actually read Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations. Figured it was good material to learn when I was doing debate in high school and afterwards when I was coaching. I never did make it through the entire thing. It was better at putting me to sleep than the ABA's Guide to Wills and Estates. I'm glad to know that somebody who's writing I've always enjoyed actually managed to wade through the entire thing.

Ironically enough i think I started reading The Atlantic and O'Rourke when I was in high school as well. I still thinks it's one of the best magazines around and the content for the book was published as a review by the Atlantic a couple of years ago.

The real gem of the work isn't so much O'Rourke's explanation of Adam Smith, it's in the explanations of the 'diversions' that Smith takes and the ancillary people surrounding Smith, like David Hume and other thinkers of the day. Oh and yes, I do recognize the irony of my writing what amounts to a short review of a review of a book that was published nearly two and a quarter centuries ago.

We're I still coaching debate, I'd make this required reading for my LD kids. It's an easy read of complex subjects and provides a solid foundation for me to drill them on Hume, Kant even Locke and other social contract theorists. Locke's ideas on property and justice would have probably made a nice contrast to some of the other viewpoints like Hume that O'Rourke goes into, come to think of it.

Regardless, it was well worth the weekend going through this even if I don't put it to much actual use anytime soon. And I do agree that it's somewhat annoying that the term "bullshit" didn't come into the vernacular sooner.