Speed Reader

July 31, 2008

http://www.spreeder.com/

This is an interesting site that allows you to speed read any text you insert into the box, but I doubt that it really helps people. I am a firm believer that a sentence’s structure must be completely laid out in front of the reader for total comprehension. Of course speed reading has it purpose for mindless reading of legal texts or something like that, but when someone is writing some of importance that must be tasted like a fine wine and left on the tongue to unlock its full flavor it is truly a mistake to chug it like a Miller product at a keg party. Speed reading is a the pedestrian form of pretending to comprehend that which they don’t take the time to understand.

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A Summer Reading Choice

July 28, 2008


I’ve heard a lot of buzz around Sorrows of an American by Siri Hustvedt and that is why I am recommending it for my summer reading list. Here is the the plot summary from the BBC:

In her stunning new novel, Siri Hustvedt draws on the real-life diaries of her Scandinavian-Minnesotan father to weave a story of second-generation American immigrants in love, at work and at play. A breathtakingly lyrical prose style intensifies the drama as siblings Erik and Inga, transplanted to New York, come to terms with their father’s death and the changing values of a new generation.

Novels about the transplantation of cultures and people are really hot right now as we continue to globalize as a world. It is a topic that is hard to deal with for most people and that is why it is so interesting to see other people’s experiences and understand how they learned to cope with this growing and changing world. I really think this one will help you with that search and understanding of self in this rapidly changing environment.

If Fonts were People

July 23, 2008

Typically College Humor comes out with some funny stuff and some not so funny stuff. I think that their videos just tend to run a little long. But I think this video of Fonts as people is hilarious and I just had to share it with everyone. See the link below to see more of “If Fonts Were people.” It’s totally profanity neutral and there is no real bad stuff in it so check it out with everyone.

http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1823766

hehe. Mailbox, open mailbox.

This stamps is a great one. It shows us a glimpse of the actual Cannery Row that Steinbeck talked about in his novel by the same now. Today if you were to walk in that area of Monterey you would see nothing at all similar to the hard living, factory and canning world that Steinbeck describes. Now is it Bubba Gumps, Candy stores and screaming children. There is something in me that hates it for what it is now. Something about the somber, hardness of it, turned into a tourist hellhole just makes you want to vomit and scream all at the same time…Here’s to better times, or maybe I should say harders times.


Cannery Row - Postage stamp

Cannery Row – Postage
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JLegry

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Who was Ayn Rand?

July 17, 2008

Ayn Rand is probably one of the biggest thinkers of the modern era and acclaimed author of Atlas Shrugged, and famous “objectivist.” Read this quote from a 1964 playboy interview with Rand about people that lack purpose:

Because that aspect of their character lies at the root of and causes all the evils which you mentioned in your question. Sadism, dictatorship, any form of evil, is the consequence of a man’s evasion of reality. A consequence of his failure to think. The man without a purpose is a man who drifts at the mercy of random feelings or unidentified urges and is capable of any evil, because he is totally out of control of his own life. In order to be in control of your life, you have to have a purpose — a productive purpose.

I totally agree with this, purpose is what drives us from evil and toward movement and harmony with the universe. If we don’t act toward the betterment of our species then we are acting against our nature and therefore have a fundamental flaw. That is another facet of what I think Rand is talking about. To have a purpose means that you advance the human race and work in congress with the world, not against it. Rand was a very interesting and opinionated woman, I highly recommend reading the interview.

The Google Knowledge

July 13, 2008

So Google seems to be the only company that is still making digital copies of books so that they are indexable for the internet. Does this not bother anyone other than me? The point of books and knowledge is that once you have a book there is no changing it and if one copy gets destroyed there is about a thousand other copies out there. By putting all the world’s digital knowledge on just Google’s servers we are setting ourselves up for a colossal failure if Google goes out of business (which can happen, they are a private business, not a government business). ALSO, if one company holds all of the world’s knowledge what’s to say they can’t just change something when they feel like it. This is not a good thing for the world, since knowledge is power, we seems to be fine with Google holding all the power. What happens when their famous expression “Don’t be Evil” becomes “Evil is ok if it helps google?” Dark times…

The Dumb Soldier

July 11, 2008

OK, let’s talk a look at this poem by Stevenson.

The Dumb Soldier by Robert Louis Stevenson
When the grass was closely mown,
Walking on the lawn alone,
In the turf a hole I found
And hid a soldier underground.

Spring and daisies came apace;
Grasses hid my hiding-place;
Grasses run like a green sea
O’er the lawn up to my knee.

Under grass alone he lies,
Looking up with leaden eyes,
Scarlet coat and pointed gun,
To the stars and to the sun.

When the grass is ripe like grain,
When the scythe is stoned again,
When the lawn is shaven clear,
Then my hole shall reappear.

I shall find him, never fear,
I shall find my grenadier;
But, for all that’s gone and come,
I shall find my soldier dumb.

He has lived, a little thing,
In the grassy woods of spring;
Done, if he could tell me true,
Just as I should like to do.

He has seen the starry hours
And the springing of the flowers;
And the fairy things that pass
In the forests of the grass.

In the silence he has heard
Talking bee and ladybird,
And the butterfly has flown
O’er him as he lay alone.

Not a word will he disclose,
Not a word of all he knows.
I must lay him on the shelf,
And make up the tale myself.

So what is so dumb about the soldier, because he lies in the grass and doesn’t seem to do anything all day long. Well that is not really the case, in fact, the soldier is dead. He is literally pushing up the flowers. So why does the narrator call the soldier dumb if it is not for just laying on the ground for a long time? Well the narrator is calling the soldier dumb because he is a soldier. The fact that he wasted his life and missed out on all the beauty that grows around him makes him dumb. That is the sad fact of being in a war. It destroys the world, and most importantly it destroys your ability to see the world.


Three Unidentified Men Daguerreotype 1853 card

Three Unidentified Men Daguerreotype 1853
by

lc_prints

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So what do you think these guys are saying in this picture? I like to think that they are talking about a special piece of legislation in the early congress of the United States. Here is how I think the conversation is going…

The main person talking: “This decision is not about us, or any of the few educated, rich and privileged elite. This decision, this little law, is for the greater masses that did not receive the opportunities that we did. We need to provide them with the services they need to make a nation of pure equals and give all the a fair and reasonable chance to succeed. If this is not done it will create great suffering and stunt the growth of this new nation.”

now what do you think I am talking about, when I make up what he is talking about?

(Answer: education! But mainly reading and writing!)

Whether or not you agree with the war, don’t take it out on the veterans. They risk everything so that you and I can be safe. This poem I found is for them and I highly recommend we each enact what the poem tells us to do.

Take A Moment To Thank A Veteran

When you see someone in a uniform
Someone who serves us all,
Doing military duty,
Answering their country’s call,

Take a moment to thank them
For protecting what you hold dear;
Tell them you are proud of them;
Make it very clear.

Just tap them on the shoulder,
Give a smile, and say,
“Thanks for what you’re doing;
To keep us safe in the USA!”

By Joanna Fuchs


What is the Harry Potter Dilemma? Well it something I think about each time I see people reading and scrambling to get themselves anything Harry Potter, I wonder to myself “Does Harry Potter really help bring reading back into the mainstream?” Sure it has made reading interesting again for young people, but is it the type of reading we want them to be exposed to? I would put Harry Potter on the level of romance novel for the depth and deeper meaning that each book has, they are all surface story and no substance. To really be engaged with reading the audience needs to have a deeper meaning to tease out of the work in conversation with others or essays they write. Maybe I am being too hard on Harry Potter, I know that there are some serious themes, but it doesn’t explore them deeply, the books only briefly touch on them and then let the plot continue to drive the story. My hope is that all those children that started reading Harry Potter will move up to better novels that make them think just a bit more. I guess these next couple of years will be the deciding time for this generations’ interest with books.