Unseen Academicals - Terry Prachett
Jennifer Morgue - Charles Stross
The Truth about Organic Gardening - Jeff Gillman
Carrots Love Tomatoes - Louise Riotte
1635: The Dreeson Incident - Eric Flint, Virginia Demarce
Natural Capitalism - Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins
Spook Country - William Gibson
Beginnings, Blunders, and Breakthroughs in Science - Surendra Verma
Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters - Alan S. Miller & Satoshi Kanazawa
The Elements of Moral Philosophy - James Rachels & Stuart Rachels
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik
Consilience - Edward O. Wilson
Space on Earth: Saving Our World by Seeking Others - Charles S. Cockell
Fundamentals of Hazardous Waste Site Remediation - Kathleen Sellers
After the King: Stories in Honor of J.R.R. Tolkien - Various Authors
A Beautiful Math: John Nash, Game Theory, and the Modern Quest for a Code of Nature - Tom Siegfried
Billy Boyle: A World War II Mystery - James R. Benn
A Deepness in the Sky - Vernor Vinge
The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-line Pioneers - Tom Standage
The Engines of God - Jack McDevitt
Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature - Janine M. Benyus
The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution, and the Birth of America - Steven Johnson

22 books, not too bad. See how this coming year goes, without school work to workaround.

And happy New Year everybody, a proper post on New Year later (or maybe not).
School's been keeping me too busy to read often, much less to get on LJ and comment about much of anything. But I did make some time to read, so here's the update.

Unseen Academicals - Terry Prachett
Jennifer Morgue - Charles Stross
The Truth about Organic Gardening - Jeff Gillman
Carrots Love Tomatoes - Louise Riotte
1635: The Dreeson Incident - Eric Flint, Virginia Demarce
Natural Capitalism - Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins
Spook Country - William Gibson
Beginnings, Blunders, and Breakthroughs in Science - Surendra Verma
Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters - Alan S. Miller & Satoshi Kanazawa
The Elements of Moral Philosophy - James Rachels & Stuart Rachels
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik
Consilience - Edward O. Wilson
Space on Earth: Saving Our World by Seeking Others - Charles S. Cockell
Fundamentals of Hazardous Waste Site Remediation - Kathleen Sellers
After the King: Stories in Honor of J.R.R. Tolkien - Various Authors
A Beautiful Math: John Nash, Game Theory, and the Modern Quest for a Code of Nature - Tom Siegfried
Billy Boyle: A World War II Mystery - James R. Benn
A Deepness in the Sky - Vernor Vinge
Unseen Academicals - Terry Prachett
Jennifer Morgue - Charles Stross
The Truth about Organic Gardening - Jeff Gillman
Carrots Love Tomatoes - Louise Riotte
1635: The Dreeson Incident - Eric Flint, Virginia Demarce
Natural Capitalism - Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins
Spook Country - William Gibson
Beginnings, Blunders, and Breakthroughs in Science - Surendra Verma
Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters - Alan S. Miller & Satoshi Kanazawa
The Elements of Moral Philosophy - James Rachels & Stuart Rachels
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik
Consilience - Edward O. Wilson
Space on Earth: Saving Our World by Seeking Others - Charles S. Cockell
Fundamentals of Hazardous Waste Site Remediation - Kathleen Sellers
After the King: Stories in Honor of J.R.R. Tolkien - Various Authors
A Beautiful Math: John Nash, Game Theory, and the Modern Quest for a Code of Nature - Tom Siegfried
Billy Boyle: A World War II Mystery - James R. Benn

I haven't commented on too many of the books I've read since that'd get too long, but I do have a few comments this time. First, the short stories in After the King are really quite good, my favorites in many ways are the fairy tale style ones. "Silver or Gold" by Emma Bull, "Reave the Just" by Stephen R. Donaldson, and "The Fellowship of the Dragon" by Patricia A. McKillip are three that stood out the most for me. And of course Terry Pratchett's "Troll Bridge". There's a couple that aren't so good, but that's the deal with short story collections.

As for the Game Theory book, he spends a good bit of one chapter talking about game theory and economics, including the physicists who ended up going to Wall Street and applying somewhat similar theories from thermodynamics etc. to make themselves lots of money, rather than going into science. In retrospect, considering how those very same 'innovations' just siphoned off money and helped crash the economy, that calls into question the rest of its conclusions, I think.
Unseen Academicals - Terry Prachett
Jennifer Morgue - Charles Stross
The Truth about Organic Gardening - Jeff Gillman
Carrots Love Tomatoes - Louise Riotte
1635: The Dreeson Incident - Eric Flint, Virginia Demarce
Natural Capitalism - Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins
Spook Country - William Gibson
Beginnings, Blunders, and Breakthroughs in Science - Surendra Verma
Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters - Alan S. Miller & Satoshi Kanazawa
The Elements of Moral Philosophy - James Rachels & Stuart Rachels
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik
Consilience - Edward O. Wilson
Space on Earth: Saving Our World by Seeking Others - Charles S. Cockell
Fundamentals of Hazardous Waste Site Remediation - Kathleen Sellers

Anybody have any recommendations? I've finished everything I currently have with me.
Unseen Academicals - Terry Prachett
Jennifer Morgue - Charles Stross
The Truth about Organic Gardening - Jeff Gillman
Carrots Love Tomatoes - Louise Riotte
1635: The Dreeson Incident - Eric Flint, Virginia Demarce
Natural Capitalism - Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins
Spook Country - William Gibson
Beginnings, Blunders, and Breaktrhoughs in Science - Surendra Verma
Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters - Alan S. Miller & Satoshi Kanazawa
The Elements of Moral Philosophy - James Rachels & Stuart Rachels
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik
Consilience - Edward O. Wilson

More Books!

Jun. 9th, 2010 03:21 pm
Unseen Academicals - Terry Prachett
Jennifer Morgue - Charles Stross
The Truth about Organic Gardening - Jeff Gillman
Carrots Love Tomatoes - Louise Riotte
1635: The Dreeson Incident - Eric Flint, Virginia Demarce
Natural Capitalism - Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins
Spook Country - William Gibson
Beginnings, Blunders, and Breaktrhoughs in Science - Surendra Verma
Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters - Alan S. Miller & Satoshi Kanazawa
The Elements of Moral Philosophy - James Rachels & Stuart Rachels


Anybody have any reading suggestions while I'm up in Atlanta with access to a HUGE academic library? (They also have fiction.)
'Cause it's only been three months. I think I'm forgetting at least one.

Unseen Academicals - Terry Prachett
Jennifer Morgue - Charles Stross
The Truth about Organic Gardening - Jeff Gillman
Carrots Love Tomatoes - Louise Riotte
1635: The Dreeson Incident - Eric Flint, Virginia Demarce
Natural Capitalism - Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins
Spook Country - William Gibson
And a book of one page summaries whose title I forget and I don't have with me.
"Libro al viento" (Book on the Wind) and other mobile books An article about mini-libraries and book dispensers in public transit stations. A really neat and simple idea.

Collapse Roger Ebert's review of a movie interview with Michael Ruppert and unrelated to Jared Diamond's book Collapse. In it, he spells out a lot of the worst case scenario results of Peak Oil, when demand for oil outstrips the speed we can dig up oil, because the easy oil's gone. Chances are, we're there, or will be there soon, and are headed down the far side of the Hubbert curve. It's not a pretty picture, and check out the wikipedia article for more about Peak Oil. A lot of it's scary, because we've built our civilization on oil, both for energy and for lots of our stuff.

And Peak Oil's just one of the many problems we are headed into. We should have been using the easy oil to set ourselves up for when it wasn't easy any more, sort of like investing lottery winnings in stuff that'll work when the lottery money is gone. I think we still can, but it's a lot harder now than it would have been if we'd started forty years ago.

Books Read

Feb. 12th, 2010 11:46 am
No reviews right now, just a list of the books I've read this year. I'll update whenever I remember to, in new posts. Think I've already forgotten at least one. Textbooks I'm not counting unless I actually read it the whole way through.

Unseen Academicals - Terry Prachett
Jennifer Morgue - Charles Stross
The Truth about Organic Gardening - Jeff Gillman
Carrots Love Tomatoes - Louise Riotte

A Quote

Jan. 2nd, 2010 11:16 am
Death: Humans need fantasy to *be* human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.
Susan: With tooth fairies? Hogfathers?
Death: Yes. As practice, you have to start out learning to believe the little lies.
Susan: So we can believe the big ones?
Death: Yes. Justice, mercy, duty. That sort of thing.
Susan: They're not the same at all.
Death: You think so? Then take the universe and grind it down to the finest powder, and sieve it through the finest sieve, and then show me one atom of justice, one molecule of mercy. And yet, you try to act as if there is some ideal order in the world. As if there is some, some rightness in the universe, by which it may be judged.
Susan: But people have got to believe that, or what's the point?
Death: You need to believe in things that aren't true. How else can they become?
So now I'm studying engineering, which means I'm studying more advanced math, like linear algebra and differential equations. Which are hard, or at least Diff EQ is. But then, math is a game for the young;.

But that's not the thing I'm noticing.  I'm noticing things where the different math I've learned mets and intersects, and works together.  And because this is engineering, how it works to predict and calculate the real world. Which sometimes seems really damn weird.& I can sit here with a pencil and paper and predict all sorts of physical things to decent degrees of accuracy. Why should it be that we can figure things like acceleration and stress out by putting numbers in columns and then messing with them? Take numbers and just mess with them and the answers fall out.

Now, the obvious answer to this is that math works to describe our physical universe, because it was created by people living in the physical universe, so naturally enough the rules we develop for mathematics are going to match up to the way the universe works, since we're using it to describe the universe. At least if the universe is broadly comprehensible and follows rules of cause and effect and repeatability. If it doesn't, then all our effort at trying to find rules is just us finding patterns that don't exist in chaos.

The problem with that is what about mathematics that doesn't describe things we can currently observe? Nth dimensional algebra, fractal spaces, and the most rarefied bits of math that don't seem like they have any relation to the universe? Do they represent things like strings and exotic matter bubbles? Or what?And if they represent those, how freaking weird is it we can figure out the rules before we find the things? And what about the N dimensional universes we can describe that may or may not be correct? Do they describe the non-spaces where other entities exist, which we would describe as squamous and rumose?

(Don't mind me. I've been reading Charlie Stross. But this kind of feeling does hit me every so often, it's just so WEIRD sometimes to do these complicated math to numbers and find out that yes, this reflects something that really happens)
Okay, I've been bad about keeping this updated, so here's a burst of the books I've read the past couple of weeks. They may be out of order. They probably are. But oh well. The reviews will also be short.

#16: Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came Into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming by Paul Hawken

Paul Hawken makes a good case that the goals of environmental and social justice groups are intertwined. Because how much justice can you really have while people are suffering from the wastes of others? And how can you protect the environment when there's people who don't have the power to protect themselves? There's a lot more to it, and he traces a lot of the history and inspirations. The book is shorter than it looks, because the entire second half is a printed compilation of many different groups. The "world's largest group" in the title is his umbrella to include all of those groups, which he makes a pretty good case for.

#17: The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde writes the Thursday Next novels, which I haven't read yet. They've been highly recommended though. But the first one is "The Eyre Affair", and as I've never read Jane Eyre, or a good bit of other "Great Literature", I'm afraid I'd miss some of the jokes.

Nursery rhymes on the other hand, I know pretty well. And I'd been wanting to read some mysteries, so a murder mystery comedy seemed like a good bet. And it was. Jasper Fforde is a very good writer, and has many good turns of phrase. Perhaps this series isn't quite as dense on the amazing writing as I've heard about others, but there's still plenty in there to keep me going.

#18: The Conscience of a Liberal by Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman has the dubious honor of being one of the first major op-ed columnists to notice what an unmitigated disaster Bush and the rest of his crew were. For his perceptiveness (it really wasn't that hard to notice, all of Bush's jobs as an executive had been disasters and bought out by his daddy's friends, and his time as Texas governor was nothing to write home about) he was rewarded by being dismissed as "shrill" or blinded of "irrational Bush hatred", even after it turned out he was right all along.

The book is a defense of liberalism, in the guise of a short political history of the United States in the 20th century, starting with the Gilded Age, and up through the present. Condensed, it goes as such: Until the Great Depression and the New Deal, most of the money in the country went to the top very few percent. Then with the New Deal's social safety net, and then World War II's war economy, price controls, and unionization, income inequality shrank dramatically. Over the past few decades, that trend has reversed. And this is in large part due to policies and politics, not impersonal economic trends. Most of which can be traced to the Republican party and the Movement Conservatives who run it.

Which seems to me to be pretty much right. His other two main points are that the Republicans electoral successes are due in large part to the switch of the South from Democratic to Republican, starting in the 70s. Because of civil rights and the Southern Strategy of appealing to racists, using code like "welfare queens" and "State's Rights" and playing up neo-Confederate resentment, and then using all of that to attack the social safety net programs.

The third tier is an argument for providing health care for every American, like every other major industrialized nation does, and which would get rid of the horrible sucking tick insurance companies whose profit margins depend on not paying for things and keeping people who need medical treatment off their rolls.

I already knew much of it, it's things he and others have said on the Internet, but it's good to have it all in one place. I dunno if it'll convert anybody who reads it, but at least now it's out there.

#19: The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde

The second in the Nursery Crime series. This is already long enough, so see most of the comments about The Big Over Easy.

I know there's at least two more books I've read, but I don't have them here and don't remember at the moment. Damnit, me. Keep better records. I'll update them later.


Previous Books:
#1: Grave Peril
#2: Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War
#3: DMZ Vol. 3: Public Works
#4: Bad Prince Charlie
#5: Making Money
#6: How to Win Friends and Influence People
#7: H.I.V.E. - Higher Institute of Villainous Education
#8: The World Without Us
#9: Marx for Beginners
#10-13: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
#14: The Unhandsome Prince
#15: Mutant, Texas: Tales of Sheriff Ida Red
# 14: The Unhandsome Prince by John Moore

Another of John Moore's comic fantasy books. My aunt has several of his, and I've been staying at her place occasionally since it's near school, so I read this before going to sleep. This one wasn't quite as good as Bad Prince Charlie, but I think it was written first, so wasn't quite as polished. But it was a good fun read.

#15: Mutant, Texas: Tales of Sheriff Ida Red by Paul Dini and J. Bone

I had some time at the library earlier this week, and grabbed one of their TPBs to read. This was written by Paul Dini, of Batman: The Animated Series fame. It's about the town of Mutant, Texas, where years ago, a radioactive comet hit a faulty satellite and brought the whole thing down on the nuclear power plant outside town. I think you can figure out where the "Mutant" part came from after that. It's half superhero story, half Texas tall tale, and good light fun.

It sure sounds like most of my reading's been fluffy fun books, but they're quicker to read. Especially comics. I try to have one non-fiction book and one fiction book I'm reading at a time, for balance.boo


Previous Books:
#1: Grave Peril
#2: Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War
#3: DMZ Vol. 3: Public Works
#4: Bad Prince Charlie
#5: Making Money
#6: How to Win Friends and Influence People
#7: H.I.V.E. - Higher Institute of Villainous Education
#8: The World Without Us
#9: Marx for Beginners
#10-13: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
#8: The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

This book was absolutely fascinating. The idea behind the book is what would happen to all our stuff, and the world, if humans all disappeared suddenly? No specifics as to why, if it's zombies, aliens, the Rapture, nanotech, whatever, because that's not the point. But in the process of that, it ends up being much more about society and civilization and what it takes to keep them running. And what effects humans have already had on the world, and continue to. It's extremely well written. The parts about wildlife returning to Chernobyl, and sea life returning to nuclear weapons test atolls are scary, yet amazing. They have photos of the mountaintop removal "mining" for coal, and I'd heard about it, but pictures are worth a thousand words. See some here.

This book is amazing, and I totally recommend it to everyone.

#9: Marx for Beginners by Rius

It's a cartoon introduction to Marx and his economic theories, and the history he lived in. It was published first in 1976, so it's kind of dated. I'm trying to read some more economics stuff and so figured I'd start with the cartoon compressed version.

And frankly, some of the quoted passages of Marx looking at the inequalities of capitalism could come from a modern analysis of how Wal-Mart works and treats its workers. (In short: Not Well.)

#10 (or 10-13): Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazaki

I'm not sure to count this as 1 or 4, since it's a 4 book manga series, but all one story. I guess I've included other comics as individual books, but sometimes it feels slightly cheaty. Depends on the comic, I suppose.

Anyway. I haven't seen the movie version yet, though I've seen many of Miyazaki's other ones. It was interesting, and good. Though the end, like a couple of Miyazaki's other stories (such as Castle in the Sky) makes it seem like he has serious issues with technology. I think I'm just tired of the trope of "Humanity can't be trusted with this knowledge! So now we'll destroy it!" Aside from that gripe though, it was a very good read. Fantastic environments, good characters, and the other main theme is the futility and waste of war, which I don't have any issues with.

Previous Books:
#1: Grave Peril
#2: Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War
#3: DMZ Vol. 3: Public Works
#4: Bad Prince Charlie
#5: Making Money
#6: How to Win Friends and Influence People
#7: H.I.V.E. - Higher Institute of Villainous Education
#7 H.I.V.E. : Higher Institute of Villainous Education by Mark Walden

I have the distinct feeling the phrase "Hogwart's for supervillains" came up in the pitch for this novel. Because that's largely what it is.
A group of 13 year olds with talents for mischief and crime are abducted by a mysterious organization to their elite training facility on an island inside an active-looking volcano. There they're taught courses like Basic Villainy by a cast of colorful teachers.

Now, with a description like that, your first reaction is going to either be "How lame!" or "How awesome!" Mine was the second. I loves me some supervillainy. Though for budding supervillains, most of the characters are friendly, courageous, loyal, etc. So they're not really that bad. Not even the big baddie who runs the place. Which is really the easier way to write "bad guys", make them pretty much admirable people, then add the trappings like mechanical hands and death rays and henchthugs and so on. The ending leaves it wide open for a series (presumably following the further years of the class) so it remains to be seen how things will be handled if the kids actually start doing nefarious deeds. All in all, probably not worth a hardcover price, but decent enough to read from the library or similar.

Previous Books:
#1: Grave Peril
#2: Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War
#3: DMZ Vol. 3: Public Works
#4: Bad Prince Charlie
#5: Making Money
#6: How to Win Friends and Influence People
#4 Bad Prince Charlie by John Moore

This was a nifty humorous fantasy novel. Somewhat in the vein of Terry Pratchett's, who he even mentioned by name, when he was using footnotes. Kinda like the stuff I wanted to write at one point. It's quite good though, and I'm probably gonna read the other books he's written too.

#5 Making Money by Terry Pratchett

I love pretty much everything Pratchett's ever written. I'm an unabashed fanboy. And Moist Von Lipwig is a nifty character, the or I just have a weakness for con men characters who mean good in the end, really. I was a little disappointed in this one, though. I don't regret reading it at all, but it wasn't the best Discworld book I've read. The plot and the main villain both seemed a little weak. Things felt a little too easy. And I'm nerd enough I wish he'd gone more into the economics of money part, with the "gold standard" and all of the rest. A novel about trying to fundamentally change the entire financial structure of Ankh-morpok could have been fascinating. It just wasn't quite there. Some of the characters were excellent though, including Mr. Bent, the accountant, and the golem with an identity crisis. And it gave us some of the best looks at lord Vetinari.

#6 How to Win Friends and Influence People

It took me a while to finish reading this. Not because it was bad or hard, but because it was chopped up into short chapters. So I'd read one or two, and then figure I was done for now. It's easy to see why the book's been in print continuously since 1930something though. There's a lot of good advice in it. And some things I definitely have to work on changing with how I communicate with people. I think this is going to join Getting Things Done on a stack of books to read every so often, to get new perspectives and to see how else I can improve.

Previous Books:
#3: DMZ Vol. 3: Public Works
#2: Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War
#1: Grave Peril
#3: DMZ: Volume 3: Public Works Written by Brian Wood and Drawn by Riccardo Burchielli

DMZ is an amazing comic. It's set in Manhattan, during the Second American Civil War. Volume 3 picks up with the effects of a no-bid reconstruction contract given to a shady company with connections to the President and a reputation for corruption. Oh, and hiring mercenaries.
That's not the only part of it, though. But even with that, what makes DMZ great isn't the individual plots. It's the depiction of life in a war zone, for the civilians who live there. And then it places that in New York City, to bring it home. That and the art both make it much more direct.

Man, I suck at literary-type reviews. It's a good comic. Read it.

I'm still working my way through How to Win Friends & Influence People.


Previous Books:
#2: Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War
#1: Grave Peril
[livejournal.com profile] graveyardgreg was doing this before, I think as some part of an LJ challenge to read 50 books in a year. Obviously, I won't make it by the end of this year (well, probably not), but I can still keep track and provide mini-reviews, and thoughts, and things.

And give me a reason to update, which I haven't been doing so much. So therefore, I give you the first three books.

#1: Grave Peril by Jim Butcher
Book 3 of the Dresden Files. I got into these a while ago, and I've been borrowing the books from my friend as I get through them. Harry Dresden is the kind of character that appeals to me. Yeah, he's a smartass. And he says things like how his trench coat flapped like Batman's cape. If you want more details, you can find them easily enough. This one was quite good, with ghosts and a vampire costume contest and a showdown in a burning building. Harry gets the crap beaten out of him every time, too. It's not like some series where the characters just keep picking up new powers until it's just ridiculous.

#2 Deer Hunting with Jesus by Joe Bageant
The first chapter of this book made me the angriest I've been in months. But not at the book, at the situation it described. It's about Winchester, VA, which is less than 50 miles from where I live, so it hits close to home. But it's mostly about the white working poor in rural areas. By a self-described redneck socialist, who grew up there and came back after he retired, and didn't like what he saw. It's angry, and sad, and a celebration and evisceration of that whole culture all at the same time. And though I've lived in the same areas, and worked the same crappy underpaid exploited jobs, I've not really understood some of the things, the way they're explained here. It's an excellent book, that I recommend to anyone who wants to understand part of the reason things are how they are in America.

There was another book I read, but I forget what it was now, so I'm not sure if I should count it or not. I'll probably have more thoughts on some of these later. Next book: How to Make Friends and Influence People. I really need to learn to deal with people better. For many reasons.
"Food cannont cause you to put on weight, unless you think it can."

From The Secret, Page 59.

And with that, The Secret, you completely and utterly fail. I may skim the rest of the book, but at this point I know this book is utter and complete trash, and now I'm going to feel even more rotten having to sell it to people. I wonder if I'd get in trouble if people asked me about the book and I told them it was a complete pile of gibberish and nonsense.

Because The Secret is complete rubbish, it really is.
...is to write a self-help book and fleece a bunch of people who need help out of their money.

Okay, context. I've started reading The Secret, this book that's been on Oprah at least twice and a couple of the other daytime talk shows and we've been selling a zillion copies of it, the DVD, the audiobook, and the CD soundtrack. I'm only about 30 pages in, because I can't keep reading it that long, because it's crap. Seriously. It fills almost every cliche of crappy new-agey self-help books. But as far as I can tell, "the Secret" is "What you think is what you get". Which is crap. And now as I read this, I feel worse and worse about all the people we sell it to. But let me get back to "the Secret" they're talking about, and why it's crap.

Basically, it takes the power of positive thinking and dresses it up in a lot of pseudo-mystical and pseudo-scientific gobbledygook without caring about the accuracy of either. They talk about the "law of attraction" which means what you think about is what you draw to you, and try and couch it in terms of "frequencies" or "magnetism" or even more fun, quantum physics. And so by this theory, everybody who's ever died in a natural disaster or through something like say, war, violence, heart disease, or having a piano dropped on them is responsible for their own deaths. What a crock of shit. Not just because it shares the same flaw as the whole idea of karma, which is to blame the victim, but because it denies the existence of any sort of objective reality. Yes, I know the arguments that our entire world we see is created by our brain interpreting the messages from our senses, so we can't REALLY know, etc, blah blah blah. And that's stupid too. Not something you can disprove with formal logic (or even by smacking the True Believer sometimes), but it's absolutely no help. If the rest of the world's an illusion, how do you know you're not too? Or it's not all just a giant simulation using you as a battery (or co-processor, in a slightly more scientifically plausible version of The Matrix). You can't. But since pretty much all of our observations match up to the idea of their being a real objective world outside of ourselves that we can touch and influence but don't have complete control over, that sure seems like the best bet. Or at least the best bet to act like.

So with objective reality as a working hypothesis, that nullifies the whole "Secret" right there. Yeah, positive thinking is good to an extent, especially for people who continually undermine themselves with their own actions because they expect to fail (not that I'd know anything about that, personally, of course), but just thinking doesn't do anything. Thoughts are just patterns in your brain until and unless you act on them. So they only have any effect in how they get you to act. By their deeds they shall be judged.

So, I might force myself to finish reading the rest of The Secret and see if there's anything at all useful in there, but I'm not expecting much. And it's sad, it's not even entertaining crackpottery, or anything new and interesting that can make me think "Man, that's not true, but it'd be kinda cool if it was." Everything The Secret tries to do has already been done better, like by Mage: The Ascension.

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