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Reading 2008

Taking a cue from my good friend Brent, I've been tracking what I read, and here's the list of 19 books from 2008 (in reverse chronological order):

My goal for 2009 is 26 books, one every two weeks. You can see what I'm currently reading, as well as what I read in 2007 and prior (from what I could remember reading), over on the Read page.

Gifts that keep on giving

Yesterday, I put to good use the Barnes & Noble gift cards I received for Christmas and my birthday. (I get at least a couple every year.) The "big" card was used online a few days before, to purchase two other items which were on my wish list: + Planet Earth - The Complete BBC Series, narrated by David Attenborough. I've wondered how many HDTV sets this series is responsible for the sales thereof. + Blade Runner (Five-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition) The in-store Barnes & Noble shopping resulted in: + The Shooters, by W.E.B. Griffin. The fourth in Griffin's Presidential Agent series, which I've thoroughly enjoyed to date. W.E.B. Griffin writes some of the best military fiction out there, and this current-day, antiterrorism series is no exception. + Spirit of the Wolf by Shaun Ellis and photographer Monty Sloan. Wolves are among my favorite animals, and I believe a lot can be learned from their pack behavior. (Especially when you have a dog, and therefore a pack, of your own.) Sloan's got some stunning photos in this coffee-table book, and I'm looking forward to reading Ellis's commentary. + Star Wars Jesus - A spiritual commentary on the reality of the Force by Caleb Grimes. Any book that combines the movie franchise which impacted, informed, and defined my tweener childhood (and which continues to impact and inform my son's childhood), and the Author and Finisher of my faith, well, that's just something I've got to give a whirl. I think all of my other book reading just went on hold... So my thanks to my family members who were very generous this year with the gift cards. They were well invested, I assure you.

Life now has meaning

According to the rules laid out in Punk Rock Dad, my punk rock name is:

(Are you ready for this?)

(Are you sure?)


(Okay, you've been warned...)

Larry Leprosy.

How much has actually changed

Mark Steyn, in the introduction to America Alone:

1970 doesn't seem that long ago. If you're in you fifties or sixties, as many of the chaps running the Western world are wont to be, your pants are narrower than they were back then and your hair's less groovy, but the landscape of your life--the look of your house, the layout of your car, the shape of your kitchen appliances, the brand names of the stuff in the fridge--isn't significantly different. And yet that world is utterly altered. Just to recap those bald statistics: in 1970, the developed nations had twice as big a share of the global population as the Muslim world: 30 percent to 15 percent. By 2000, they were at parity: each had about 20 percent.

And by 2020?

September 11, 2001, was not "the day everything changed," but the day that revealed how much had already changed. On September 10, how many journalists had the Council on American-Islamic Relations or the Canadian Islamic Congress or the Muslim Council of Britian in their Rolodexes? If you'd said that whether something does or does not cause offense to Muslims would be the early twenty-first century's principal political dynamic in Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom, most folks would have thought you were crazy. Yet on that Tuesday morning the top of the iceberg bobbed up and toppled the Twin Towers.

This book is about the seven-eighths below the surface--the larger forces at play in the developed world that have left Europe too enfeebled to resist its remorseless transformation into Eurabia and that call into question the future of much of the rest of the world, including the United States, Canada, and beyond. The key factors are:

  1. Demographic decline
  2. The unsustainability of the advanced Western social-democratic state
  3. Civilizational exhaustion

Let's start with demography, because everything does. I'm already enthralled.

Recently added

New additions to my ever-increasing Amazon wish list: + The Immortal Game: A History of Chess, or How 32 Carved Pieces on a Board Illuminated Our Understanding of War, Art, Science and the Human Brain - David Shenk + Infidel - Ayaan Hirsi Ali + Evangelism for the Faint Hearted - Floyd Schneider + Drive - James Sallis Just thought the readership might be interested in some of these titles for their own reading (and learning) pleasure. (And in the interest of full disclosure, all of the above links are through my Amazon affiliate ID.)

Happy Birthday, Brent!

Wishing a joyous and loving birthday for you, my friend. As I stated in my comment to your post, I shall celebrate with some Lost And Found and by starting This Beautiful Mess. See you at lunch. :D

<em>The Cat in the Hat</em> as business-lesson book

Stanley Bing:

This little tale, which appears to be a book for children, is actually a clever evocation of what happens to a corporation when a management consultant is hired by absent, clueless senior management to evaluate its organizational structure and to effect change. Beginning slowly, the Cat proceeds to take everything apart, make a total mess and get everybody in potentially the worst trouble in the world--all at no personal cost to itself. By the time the Cat leaves, it has frightened everybody, and very little has changed except the mind-set of the protagonists, which has been forever disrupted and rattled.

On my birthday in history

You know, if it weren’t Lee, and it wasn’t about history, I’d ignore this meme. For one, I don’t utilize Wikipedia, and two, I don’t usually go in for Internet memes. However, since it did come from Lee, and it is about history, on December 3d: Events - 1805 - Lewis and Clark Expedition mark their explorations from the Missouri River overland to the Columbia River on a pine tree.
- 1818 - Illinois becomes the 21st U.S. state.
- 1973 - Pioneer program: Pioneer 10 sends back the first close-up images of Jupiter. Births - 1368 - King Charles VI of France (d. 1422)
- 1826 - George McClellan, U.S. Civil War general (d. 1885)
- 1970 - Christian Karembeu, French international footballer and World Cup winner (had to include someone born the same year as I) Deaths - 1888 - Carl Zeiss, German lens maker (b. 1816)
- 1894 - Robert Louis Stevenson, British writer (b. 1850)
- 1919 - Pierre-Auguste Renoir, French impressionist painter (b. 1841) Due to the facts that (1) as previously mentioned, I don't like Internet memes, and perhaps more importantly, (2) Lee and Lawson have already tagged pretty much anyone I would, I'm going to be a nice guy and let this die here.


If you're new to the world of weblogs, and looking to start a blog yourself, Hugh Hewitt's Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That's Changing Your World is not a starter tome. Rather, it is a work that examines the impact blogs have had on American culture, notably in the realms of politics and the mainstream media. On his radio show, Hugh has repeatedly gone to the blogosphere as a source of news and correction of news from the mainstream media. He cites four major events from the past two years as showing the power of weblogs: the removal of Trent Lott as Senate Majority Leader, the Jayson Blair scandal at the New York Times, the campaign against John Kerry spearheaded by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and the 60 Minutes Bush National Guard forged documents scandal. Hugh is a huge champion of weblogs, and his constant encouragement of people to start their own blog led Joe Carter to begin a running list of blogs inspired by Hugh. Hugh offers advice to pastors, entrepreneurs, and a wide variety of occupations on starting their own blogs. His conclusion is that you never know where it may take you. I was so inspired by Blog that I passed it on to my pastor; I would love to see Tim blog on a regular basis.

<i>Of course</i> they made <i>Jarhead</i> in to a movie

Anthony Swofford's book Jarhead, which I will not link to, was a sad account of a mentally disturbed--which Swofford admits to--man's time in the Marine Corps and his deployment to the first Gulf War. Panned by myriad current and former Marines as riddled with half-truths, the book became a minor cause célèbre for the mouth-foamers on the angry Left. Anything that is anti-military, especially when it's written by someone who was in the military, is always accepted as gospel by the radicals. Brad Torgersen has a good summation. So of course the book was optioned for a motion picture, which debuts in November. Looking over the cast of characters, and knowing their politics, I'm not the least bit surprised to see who signed on. Non-mouth-foamers are advised to pass.

Mac hacking

A dual reading selection today, mostly because both are sitting next to me, waiting to ship up New England way to my friend Rich, and both deal with the same topic. Mac OS X Hacks, by Rael Dornfest and Kevin Hemenway, was one of the early--if not the first--books in O'Reilly's Hacks series. The authors, along with numerous contributors, take the reader through many different aspects of the Mac OS X operating system. The book was published in 2003, and covered OS X up through the Jaguar edition. The second title, Mac OS X Panther Hacks, is the follow-up to the aforementioned book, and will soon be supplanted, I'm sure, by Mac OS X Tiger Hacks. Credit must be given to Rael and co-author James Duncan Davidson for not regurgitating hacks from the first book, but rather, again with the help of contributors, introducing one hundred new ways to make using OS X easier, more efficient, and more fun. Both tomes are highly recommended for those who want to get under the hood of Apple's great operating system.