Friday, March 25, 2011

Books Read in 2011: "At Home" by Bill Bryson

Yeah, yeah, another unabridged audio. You know what? I just downloaded, like, eight more of them last weekend. Get used to it!

(I don't really know who I'm arguing with here.)

This book made me think of the James Burke series "Connections," in that it uses the rooms of the home that Bryson has moved into in Britain as a launching point for and examination of the evolution of the things that occupy it or have brought it into being. The chapter about the dressing room was about fashion, and what lengths people have gone to in order to look ridiculous. The bathroom wound up being about the disposal of waste, particularly human, and the control of the spread of disease. The bedroom was about sex, its consequences, and the mores that surrounded it. The whole house, in fact, was once a parsonage, and there's a chapter on what it meant to be a well-off rector, and the economics and politics that went with it.

One strange thing that I realized, though, as I was finishing up the book tonight, is that I started listening to it back in October or November of last year. I started it, got distracted by something(s) else, and then dipped back into it recently. Not that it's of any particular import, just something I realized.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Andy Ihnatko on the iPad 2

From Andy Ihnatko's review of the iPad 2 in the Chicago Sun-Times:
"Did you really need a notebook in the first place? Or did you buy it just because at way back in the Pre-iPad Era, a notebook was the only mobile device available that could handle such a wide variety of tasks?"

Bingo! The very thing that I'm trying to figure out. I have a 12" PowerBook that I love, but have never used quite as extensively as I imagined I would. And while it certainly has come in handy while traveling, it's a bit more than I've ever really needed on the road. I don't need it for work, so it's useful mainly for entertaining myself on a plane or in a hotel room.

Of course, I'm setting this up as an either/or problem. Either an iPad OR a MacBook Pro. I did the same thing with the Kindle and the iPod touch. They're different machines that do different things. I still have and use the Kindle, and I liked the iPod so much I traded up to a full iPhone. It would be a chunk of change, but if I found I really needed both, I could probably find a way to swing it.

But, for now, while the ol' PowerBook still powers on, I'll probably go for the iPad at some point this summer.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Books Read in 2011: "A Princess of Mars" by Edgar Rice Burroughs


Short, yet it took me forever to get through. Not sure why. I started pretty strongly, but then -- oh yes, the dialogue started. When John Carter is incapable of understanding or communicating with the inhabitants of Mars (a.k.a. Barsoom), the observations and descriptions are fine. But then the tortuous purple prose begins, and my eyes alternately roll and glaze over.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Books Read in 2011: "Life, Inc." by Douglas Rushkoff

"Life, Inc." at Douglas Rushkoff's website.

Another unabridged audiobook.

Not bad, but a little light and unfocused. Not a bad diagnosis, and a decent primer on how things got to where they are, but not much in the way of prescription or prognosis. If anything, it's probably a little soft on the responsibility we all have for willingly handing over so much money, information, and control to corporations. Like Google, who owns Blogger, where I'm posting this. Or Audible, a property of, from whom I downloaded the audio files to my Apple iMac computer and later put them on my iPhone for listening.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Books Read in 2011: "Tales for a Winter's Night" by Arthur Conan Doyle

Unabridged audio. What can I say, they keep me going on long walks.