Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Hawking: A Brief History of Time

In Stephen Hawking's  A Brief History of Time, Hawking goes to great lengths to make this a readable popular science book. While striving to make it concise and educational I found that the constant name dropping of other scientists annoying and his writing style to be so droll that I could barely continue reading. While I already had a basic grip of the nature of physics, I finally put a name to a few things I already knew.

This book isn't so necessarily a history of time. It's more a science book explaining why there is no God and if there is one, why he has his limitations by which he created a Universe. Every other sentence he has to credit another scientist with their dues of creating a masterwork in their own right and explaining why Einstein was either right or wrong. He does a lot of explaining how our thoughts on a certain theory evolved and was generally accepted. Hawking goes out of his way to make it understandable and for anyone who doesn't know much about science and physics in particular (or astronomy) this book would be helpful for an introduction to a college course. I had a basic knowledge of most of this and just found the book to be utterly boring.

Watched some Big Bang Theory while reading this book and Hawking is so highly revered in the nerd community it feels sacrilegious to write anything negative about him. I have many more positive things to talk about about that show, but I will take a stand right here. I have so many problems with Sheldon, I could right a twenty page essay on it. Hating to be so concise here about one of the books in the list, I just have to suffice with this:

This is a science book. It has no narrative. Do not expect to be entertained. You will not. It has a lot of math in it. If you don't like science or math do not bother with it.

That said, I'm happy to be moving on to something more narrative based that actually has something to do with humanity. This is after all a growth project and a social experiment on my part. I am excited to move on to book three: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015


I diverge from the usual with a short post here. I am a passionate reader and over the years I have read a lot of books. I have several hundred in my home now. Hate to say it but most of them are unread and I amass a huge amount of them to read and never get around to it. This reading/writing project only takes two books from my shelf toward this list. I personally have read about 10% of the books before undertaking the project. I only own two books that are on the list that I haven't read, Dune and Gone Girl. I haven't seen either movie either so I am excited about that. I know this was pretty random of a post, but I wanted to do an interim post between books and talk about the sidelines a little bit. I have for too many years put myself on the academic sidelines and find this as a way of getting back in the game if even for a little bit. My big boy life plan was to get my Master's and then PhD in History and try to make an impact on academia. Years after college later and I am still sidelined waiting on the 'right' time to move back to college and finish this chapter of my life.

I'm sidelined even in life at the moment. I haven't given up a lot of character background on myself yet, but I am a car salesman. Just a dishonest guy right? Nah. We aren't all that bad, at least not all of us. Regardless of this technology laden society and the way our world is going, I am a little anti-tech. We need people to do some of these jobs and the car business is trying to go technological and I don't believe this is the right direction for it to go. Computers can't tell you everything and some recent academic research shows that American's reading comprehension is waning. So do we really want a bunch of people learning their automobiles from computers and technology? Nope. Sorry.

Okay random rant completed. Also, all of these books that I am reading and writing about will be physical, actual, real paper books. Sorry e-reader fans. I pay no credence to this revolution. And therefore I have sidelined myself from technology. I guess I am very old fashioned about some things for a liberal. Anyway, I am going to stop sidelining myself in life. I am going to make things happen and it's time to make some changes. I am inspired. Let's do this!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Nineteen Eighty-four. (I was wrong)

I was wrong. 1984 is a masterpiece. It has a bit of a sad ending but, it is Orwell. He was one of the greatest writers of his day and this work is deserving of every homage it gets and belongs to an elite class of literary classics that has influenced our culture in such a massive way. This book is massively important and it's implications of what our future could become (or is becoming) is slightly horrifying. It's a book that makes you think while stirring emotions that the protagonist is currently feeling. Winston Smith (Mr. Generic Name) struggles for a better way of life in his own ways throughout the book. He strikes back at the Party's doctrines by personally rebelling against their mores by sleeping around on his missing wife, writing in a journal, drinking beer in a pub with a stranger, just by actually living; stepping out from such a regimented humdrum life.

The novel  is truly about the human struggle against regimes, political entrapment, and against the infringement of personal and social liberties. Our protagonist has no rights. Although there are no laws, everything is actually illegal except what you are instructed to do. You are not allowed to live. His struggle ultimately culminates when he falls for another party member and cannot take it anymore and has to be with her. He does what any person would do to be with the one they love. He can't be with her out in the open so they have to hide their love by sneaking out of London, the principal city of their 'superstate'.

Sometimes you read a novel that affects you in ways you didn't expect. I didn't expect this book to cause me to reflect so much on our current government and how often we are moving away from a free market system. I'm not a raging communist or in any way do I believe that capitalism in and of itself is a perfect system. It's 11/16/2015 and we are going into a very decisive election year. 2016 will be a year (or at least as it is projected based on the front runners now) where both major party nominees are very divisive candidates. On one hand you have Donald Trump (a complete joke) who is a celebrity and successful business man in his own right versus Hillary Clinton a successful lawyer, first lady, and politician. She has accomplished a great deal in her own namesake and can function as a commander-in-chief. Her only catch is that she is involved with the scandals of her husband and her own debacles of her past record. That's the problem with being a politician seeking a higher office, you have held office before and no record is or can be perfect. Trump has his own skeletons as well. From multiple past marriages, racist and sexist comments, to just not being able to keep his mouth shut, he comes with his own baggage. Aside from who I think will be a better president, they both move us forward to a 1984-esque government. Clinton as a Democrat will move for more government control of our own personal liberties, as is the case with her party. Less personal liberties, more government control makes for a more functional government. Trump would do the opposite. Restrict personal liberties less (gun ownership, less taxation, etc.) and give the government less control yet fuel big business giving them more lobbying power and more of an ability to control the lower class just like that of The Party in the novel. But all of these things Trump would do would be under the banner of better for the people and better for the party. Sound familiar?

If you haven't experienced this book, add it to your list. If you can get through the initial forty pages or so, you'll love the book if you have any love of political thrillers at all. It's such a great work anyone should be able to relate to the characters and overall story. I would sincerely recommend 1984 to any adult. Buy it, read it, pass it on. This is a great one.

Confession time: This is my first blog and so I am finally getting into the rhythm of writing. Finishing the book was no problem. Most blogs posts tend to be longer than these, but I am working on that and I figure the more I write the more I will be able to put into words. I appreciate anyone who may be following along. This will get better.

What's next? The list is taking us to non-fiction this time with Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes.  I am looking forward to this one. I'm a nerd (a huge one) and I haven't read this one, so not only will I learn a lot, I will really enjoy this one. Or I could be wrong again.

Friday, November 13, 2015

1984 Part One

George Orwell, socially aware for his time, thought so fluidly about the social and economic injustices of his time. I don't know if he truly thought that the things he wrote in 1984 would ever come true, but they really hit home when you think about the current times and some of the accusations of the last ten years of American politics such as the spying on American citizens and other such events such as the Edward Snowden controversy. I won't get too political with this writing, but I have a big political opinion too.

Orwell was a rampant supporter of democratic socialism. 1984 coined many terms that I personally didn't connect to him. I had no idea 'big brother', 'cold war', 'Thought Police', or many other terms came from him and his writing. I missed out on a lot of pop culture references over the years not having read 1984.

That said, I really don't like the book. I assumed earlier, that this would be the case. I got a paperback off of Amazon for like three dollars so I am not that sad that I am missing a couple bucks. Orwell's writing is very lucid and very well written prose. The protagonist's tone is one of someone so subject to the fallacies of the government that he is literally forced to support that even a single thought of distrust or malice toward the government, he can be killed. The known world is so different from ours and so far I think the leader of Oceania or superstate is just a made up figure that the party has embellished.

I'll keep reading and won't give up the entire plot line in my writings just an overview and my feelings about the book's implications, legacy, whether I think it deserves a place on this list of books you should read in your lifetime. This is going to be a journey.

Monday, November 9, 2015


Welcome to my new endeavor. Recently, I stumbled upon a website called where I took a few of these random internet browsing fan/opinion fueled quizzes as just a time waster online. We all go through those times where we have almost nothing better to do to fill in a few minutes of our day with a wasteful internet binge. So thankfully thanks to our friends at List Challenges, I found a list called 'Amazon's 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime' which has inspired me to read all one hundred books on this list and document my experiences here. There are about 12-13 books on the list that I have already read (much to my suprise that it wasn't more.) I hope someone draws some fun or some inspiration from my experiences here as I will be documenting some of my thoughts and musings on the titles as I go through them.

The first book on the list is Orwell's 1984.  Having never read this particular work by Orwell, I am slightly worried as to what I will find. I have only read one of his other works, the classic Animal Farm, which is a world famous and time honored political satire, which I personally hated. I am no authoritarian on classical works of literature or on English at all, but I am college educated and can stumble through a book review. Really just a guy fascinated with reading, writing, and having a big ass opinion that no one really wants to hear.

This is a seminal writing project that I believe will enrich my life in more than one way and is my way of remaining academically active in a world that is as far away from that as possible with our smart-phone-technologically-laden universe. I always thought myself as well-read (which is obviously wrong) and now am seeking to actually make that a reality. One hundred books may seem a nominal way to make myself a literature Nazi and will not make me 'well-read' but it is a step in the right direction.

So, here is my intent, boring as it may seem, read all the books on this list and grow not only as an academic but as a person, experience a little more literature and a lot more humanity.

You can find a link to the list here. If you want to read along with me, you'll probably get ahead. But feel free to participate and we can make this a group experiment. I'm game. Email me with any questions, pointers, objections, opinions or just 'cause ya want to. Or, comment below.

1984 experiences coming soon.