Finished Dragonharper [7/31/2009]

After reading Dragon's Fire, I wasn't expecting that much from this book. It is another Todd and Anne McCaffrey collaboration. This one is a lot darker, full of death and doom. So, I can't really justify calling it cutesy. Unfortunately, I didn't like the characters much at all. Kindan, Koriana, and Vaxoram were all annoying to me. I think I may have grown to like Nonala and Kelsa had they been given more time.

Finished Dragon's Fire [7/23/2009]

This book was a collaboration between mother and son, and predictably did not live up to Anne's earlier solo works. I still love the world of pern, and enjoy reading stories set there. I was disappointed that the characters and plot both seemed so cutesy and childish. In the end, I was unhappy with Pellar's decision to stay at the mine. It didn't seem the right place for him.

Oran's Spicy Indian Cabbage [7/20/2009]

1 head cabbage chopped
1 large onion chopped
1 can peas
3 tablespoons oil
3-8 garlic cloves chopped (depending on how big they are)
1 tablespoon cumin seed
2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon hot madras curry powder
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Put the oil and cumin in large pot and heat on high. Add in the onion and cabbage and stir for 5 minutes. Cover for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic. Add a little water if the cabbage or onions are sticking to the bottom. Add the salt and the remaining spices. Stir in the peas and serve.

Maiyui is 80 [7/17/2009]

On my third span of WoW playing, for the first time, I've finally reached the current level cap. (I hit 60 during BC and 70 during WOTLK.) I can start raiding now! Yay! : )

Here's Maiyui with one of her pets behind

Chili Con Carne [7/15/2009]

1/2 onion diced
1/2 bell pepper diced
1/2 jalapeno diced
1 lb ground beef
1/2 can roasted tomatoes
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seed slightly crushed
3 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
3 dashes cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons salt

Mix the beef, onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, and tomato in a small saucepan over high heat. Add 1/4 cup water and cover for 10 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, and spices. Turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Top with a dollop of sour cream.

Finished The Third Culture [7/01/2009]

I had very mixed feelings about this book. The concept of short essays by scientists is great, and I definitely plan to read more of the collections. This one is quite outdated having been written in 1995, as a lot of the issues on the forefront of science have changed significantly since then. It was nevertheless interesting and thought-provoking.

In some cases, I wished there was more meat to the arguments and less pretty floweriness. Not having read their research papers, and with little background especially in the physics sections, I had a lot of difficulty judging what was reasonable and what wasn't. Depending on my mood at the time cynical/argumentative, or relaxed/happy I found myself much more or less receptive to the ideas presented. I often found myself switching between thinking, "He might really be on to something here." and "This is complete and total BS."

This got me thinking about a general but important problem, how are the laypeople supposed to recognize the true masters among the quacks? The language used to describe the theories is often very philosophical and obscure, and it changes dramatically between people. Almost everyone seems to invent their own strange terms. Unfortunately, it seems this makes it easy for charlatans or sub-par theorists to slip into the mix. If we flock around these esteemed professors as if they were preachers, following them based only on what appeals to our personal aesthetic, we are probably missing out on something big. They can't all be right, right?

The conversational tone of the essays made them easy to read. I was quite surprised though, by the amount of emotion and personality that came through. At times, the defensiveness and/or overconfidence was a bit much for me. I am encouraged though to try to branch out and read more popular science books, even if it is frustrating in parts.

Here are the scientists included in this first book:

George C. Williams

Stephen Jay Gould
Richard Dawkins
Brian Goodwin
Steve Jones
Niles Eldredge
Lynn Margulis
Marvin Minsky
Roger Schank
Daniel C Dennett
Nicholas Humphrey
Francisco Varela
Steven Pinker
Roger Penrose
Martin Rees
Alan Guth
Lee Smolin
Paul Davies
Murray Gell-Mann
Stuart Kauffman
Christopher G. Langton
J. Doyne Farmer
W. Daniel Hillis