28 February 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 89

"Who wants to volunteer to write our last post?"
-- Enbrethiliel

A few days ago, I thought about scrapping my "plan in the sand" for State of Fear: after all, Ash Wednesday is looming and I'm feeling too lazy (not to mention unqualified) to write one more book club post just for the author's note, appendices and bibliography. And I did go ahead and read the rest of the book as if I'd be cramming it all into one more meeting. But sand is stronger than I thought. Here's hoping that I can pull something spectacular off on attract a volunteer book club meeting host before Shrove Tuesday!

One last note before the jump: if my impressions are correct, then exactly one commenter has already read State of Fear and exactly one other is reading along but not commenting along. That's totally okay with me, but now I have to warn all the other lovely souls who are joining the discussion that this meeting will go into some really big spoilers.

26 February 2014



When Mrs. Darwin posted her answers to the Immediate Book Meme, I didn't share my own in her combox because I realised that I might have to use the meme as blog fodder. If only to drive Bat batty. =P

And I was right! So here are six books that let me answer six questions . . .

23 February 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 88

"Why do horrified critics deny that many societies have found cannibalism acceptable?"
-- Jared M. Diamond

Because they'd start to see signs of the same basic phenomenon in their own societies?

Does cannibalism count as human sacrifice? My first instinct was to say no, because we draw a distinction between animals we kill for food and animals we kill for the gods: so it stands to reason that we would do the same for people whom we see as cattle. But from the moment I started thinking about it, I couldn't shake the feeling that historical accounts would prove me wrong. Perhaps cannibalism is more superstitious at root than I realise.

The closest our own society comes to cannibalism--the harvesting of organs from the brain dead or stem cells from the unborn--is a medical rather than culinary practice. But inasmuch as there is an element of improving your life at the expense of someone else's, we may be looking at the same thing.

Which brings us to the question of what human sacrifice has to do with global warming . . .

21 February 2014


Sliders: No Place Like Home

While watching this episode, I was pleased to realise I remembered it from TV! I wasn't a Sliders fan back in the 90s, but I often watched TV for the sake of watching TV; and I know that I'd seen at least one Sliders episode before my best friend properly introduced me to the series. Since it wasn't this one, though, I can say that I had seen at least two episodes.

So, yes, I watched this one yonks ago, but for some reason, didn't think of it as "that show in which people jump from dimension to dimension." Perhaps it was because of the odd framing device with the therapist, which is so not typical of Sliders. But it's not too out of place in this story, in which one of our sliders does appear to be going off the deep end. 

19 February 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 87

"Science is what we have learned about how not to fool ourselves."
-- Richard Feynman

After spending the weekend and most of Monday trying to force a post that didn't want to be written, I have given up and admitted that it won't kill me to have two Book Club posts one after the other in February. Besides, I really want to start reading further. Don't you? =)

And in case you are way ahead of me and want something else to read . . . Last meeting, Melanie pointed out some connections between our fears about the environment and our fears about the economy. And it was while taking part in a seemingly unrelated discussion on another blog did I realise that there are also connections to our fears about autism and cancer. Read on and weep!

14 February 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 86

"I am getting tired of this conversation. It's like a political argument:
it has no end, no possible way to persuade the other person. Ellen wants to be frightened.
She is much more comfortable being frightened than she is being reassured.

Why, I wonder, is that?"

-- Michael Crichton

Before Crichton wrote about global warming in State of Fear, he wrote about AIDS in the essay Panic in the Sheets. I thought it would be an appropriate link to share on St. Valentine's Day. =P

There are interesting parallels between Crichton's friend Ellen and his character Peter Evans, but my favourite part of the essay is his suggestion that some people obsess about AIDS because it gives them a great excuse not to worry about intimacy. I buy it, but now it makes me wonder what the global warming crowd are trying to distract themselves from. What does an intense focus on saving the planet (from something that may not even be a danger) help to distract us from?

12 February 2014


Sliders: Psychic Circle

Three more Sliders episodes to go before I get through my incomplete set, and I can't wait! It's getting harder and harder to come up with titles for these posts. =P While blogging Season 1, I took my cue from the idea of alternative earths and picked titles that gave a sense of place. But Season 2 itself can't seem to be bothered about its own settings. 

If I had known that it would be this bad . . . that is, if a psychic had told me that it would be a huge bust . . . oh, I would be watching it anyway and kicking myself for not having listened. LOL!

11 February 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 85

"There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact."
-- Mark Twain

If a conjecture is based on incomplete information, then it implies that information can be complete. Well, theoretically, yes. But practically? I don't think 100% completeness is possible, but is there a certain level of completeness we can achieve before we can call it a day? And if so, how do we even know that we have reached that level?

I'm not asking just to be difficult. The same questions came up for me last week, when my hair started breaking out in split ends and I had to be all CSI (as in Cuticle and Scalp Investigation) to figure out the likely culprits. After a few days, I knew more about acids, bases, humectants, and proteins than I had ever learned in high school, and I was able to narrow down the possibilities to two suspects working as a tag team. Then when I made changes based on my research, my hair went back to the great way it was. I think my diagnosis and prescription were spot on . . . but if this "CSI" episode involved putting the evidence on trial, I'd be a wavering witness. For I'm neither 100% sure nor able to give a confident estimate of my certainty. 

09 February 2014


On J.K. Rowling and the "Book Boyfriend" Wars

Read about West Leavitt and other Book Boyfriends
@ Stuck In Books

Whoever is doing J.K. Rowling's publicity should be earning his weight and then some in Gringotts galleons. That latest promo of an interview in which she says she regrets not having let two of her main characters end up together has got Potterheads newly buzzed, and everyone just has to toss his two knuts into the pot. In my opinion, no one will top my friend Otepoti's analysis that Rowling may be "projecting issues around her own failed first marriage onto her fictional creations," but that just takes the pressure off me as I write my own post on the matter.

These opening paragraphs are very vague, just because I'm conscientious--even scrupulous--about spoilers; but I do let them all rip after the jump, so if you haven't read the entire series yet, consider this your last warning! =)

07 February 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 84

"Nothing is so firmly believed as that which is least known."
-- Michel de Montaigne

Now that quotation is more like it. =) It would have made a better epigraph than the line which may or may not be from George Orwell, but I can see why Michael Crichton would have wanted to save it for another part of the book.

I hope I'm not moving too quickly for everybody else who is reading along. But State of Fear is turning out to be such a quick read, and these posts are practically writing themselves, and it's better for the host to be ahead of everyone than to be behind everyone, and I want to be done before Ash Wednesday, so here we go . . .

05 February 2014


Sliders: Vacuum Tube City

The problem with getting your Sliders set used, without having checked out what a brand new package is supposed to have, is that you might not find out until much later that you're missing a few episodes. =( So instead of As Time Goes By, I'm afraid that what I have for you today is Gillian of the Spirits.

On the bright side, it's one Season 2 episode which actually has a good reason for not telling part of the story with a TV and which makes an excellent substitution with a radio instead. But since the above screen cap isn't worth a thousand words, I have to spell out the twist for you here. This post is about a world in which national beauty pageants are broadcast live, but not on a visual medium.

04 February 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 83

"Within any important issue, there are always aspects no one is willing to discuss."
-- George Orwell

Oh, of all the epigraphs to choose . . . The above is so generic that it needs the attribution to Orwell to pack a halfway decent punch--which it doesn't deliver anyway. 

By the way, did anyone else try looking it up for the context? I did, and found Wikitalk's quote page for George Orwell suggesting that there is no source for it apart from State of Fear! Why do you suppose that is? Hmmmmm . . .

02 February 2014


Let's Try This "Book Boyfriend" Thing Again . . .

Read about Charlie Johansson and other Book Boyfriends
@ Stuck In Books

Given the overwhelming reaction from the Book Boyfriend of the Week regulars, my first "book boyfriend" went down like a lead balloon. Maybe the following iron balloon will be better received. ;-P

This weekend, I am writing about a man whom an immortal goddess once fell passionately in love with, but whom their daughter was so miserable with that she ran away from home. He may not sound like such a great catch, but when I finally "met" him in the series, it was love at first sight and without any guilt.

01 February 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 82

We shaved it really close this time, but we finally have another winner! Apart from the two Michael Crichton novels I picked at the beginning, there was a popular suggestion I counted as a "write in": and although it didn't make it, I'm happy to give it an honourable mention.

Congo = 4 votes
State of Fear = 5 votes
The Andromeda Strain = 2 votes

Thanks to Bob, Christopher, Melanie, LTG, Mrs. Darwin, Noel, Pennyyak, R, and Sully for voting, and to Bat and Shaz for chiming in although they abstained. =)

I'll start reading tonight, so I can have the first post up by the middle of next week. My current reading plan, which I may or may not stick to, is: