April 20, 2008


For those of you living under a rock, BoingBoing.net is a compendium of neat links, videos, pictures and news stories. It's won numerous web awards (for the Weblog Awards, they are disqualified from some categories for winning so many times). It is updated by Mark Frauenfelder, Cory Doctorow, Xeni Jardin and David Pescovitz.

I used to read it religiously, every day, sometimes even multiple times a day. Here are some things that bugged me so much I just couldn't read it anymore.

  • Steampunk - Holy god in heaven is steampunk the dumbest crap ever. Cory Doctorow has the weirdest, creepiest love affair with steampunk and can't refrain from posting about ANYTHING steampunk, even a fucking coffee mug. Whenever I think steampunk, I think it's just all those nerds who liked Wild Wild West and have a fetish for making everything twice as complex as it was before.
  • Xeni Jardin = Sex - If there's a post about sex, it's Xeni's. She is the classic internet attention whore- constantly tries to prove how smart she is, how nerdy she is, how she's soooooo open-minded her brains leaked out, that she's sexually liberated by constantly drawing attention to the fact she has boobs. It's women like this that make it frustrating for me to post on forums and message boards.
  • Transportation Security Administration - This issue was what pushed it over the edge. BoingBoing has harped about the TSA for ages, as if it's the most evil, corrupt entity in existence, that they stomp on rights, are overbearing, etc. etc. as if flying is some inalienable right listed in the Constitution. That's what happens when nerds with too much free time and liberty have to find something to feel prosecuted about. Here's an example of the extensiveness of their bitching about the TSA:
One day, Xeni posted an account of where she and other passengers of her flight were harassed by the TSA for no apparent reason. She says:
After 30 minutes, the TSA people said, okay, you may leave now. And everyone unfroze, and went and got their bags. No explanation. I guess I should have pressed for an explanation, or demanded to know why we were being held without our consent and without a provided reason, but I was really tired and just wanted to get the hell out of there and go home. Perhaps I was wrong to have just walked away.
She GUESSES she should have pressed for an explanation? After all the whining and complaining and Nazi comparisons?! I left a comment that told her she should be ashamed of herself, but since their comments are moderated, it never showed up. Funny.

Here's a great example of most of my BoingBoing pet peeves being put into action:

Sex, Xeni, and the TSA

Discovery Channel- I Love the World

I saw this while watching Mythbusters. It's very touching, sweet, and lighthearted. Kudos to the Discovery Channel for making it (although they tried to fit in as many of their shows as possible). Watch for the Stephen Hawking cameo.

April 6, 2008

Nutrisystem Nuttiness

For people who want convenience because they're too lazy to cook, that sure seems like a deal-breaker to me.

Book Review: What is the What

What is the What by Dave Eggers

Acquiring this book was unusual for me in two ways: I almost never, ever buy new books, much less ones I haven't read (my rule is usually to buy a used copy after I've read it a few times); and to buy a book from an author I've never read. I had heard plenty about Dave Eggers, both online and from a few friends whose opinion I trust, but I hadn't so much as read a paragraph of his.

The title is a little awkward, but it makes sense once you read the book. The book is an account of the life of Valentino Achak Deng, a Sudanese man who is forced to run away from his village at the age of six due to raids by Arabs. He journeys around Sudan, joining other groups of boys, ending up at one refugee camp after another until one day he is selected to go to America.

It is not a fiction book, nor is it a biography. In the introduction, Valentino explains that he didn't think he could write the story himself, and the work is classified as fiction because of course he cannot accurately recall small events or conversations from when he was young. Many reviewers on Amazon had a problem with this, saying that Valentino should have written the book himself, that Eggers (or anyone, for that matter) can't tell someone else's story. A few were confused about the whole 'classifying it as fiction' thing. Once you start to read the story, though, it is very easy to just read his account of his life.

The way the book was written made my opinion of Eggers very favorable. It is chronicled in one day of Valentino's life here in America, with the rest of the story told in flashbacks. This is extremely hard to do without losing the reader, and he does it wonderfully. There is a nice balance of explaining the situation in Sudan (which I was woefully undereducated about), having the 'gory details', and injecting raw humanism (to use a very navel-gazing phrase). Valentino isn't made out to be some sort of tragic little hero, struggling through oppression and death with a brave heart. He is just very human, scared and defeated at times, and joyfully optimistic at others.

The few problems I have are not such big deals. Having written for so long, it is very rare for a book to suck me in enough to where I just read, instead of analyze their writing style, tricks, methods, etc. About three-quarters of the way in, the length and layout of the flashbacks, especially the way he wraps them up, became very predictable. Also, I would've liked to see a little more of his experiences with America. There is an adequate amount of anecdotes regarding this, such as when he and his roommate at first don't know what food goes in the fridge, the freezer, or the pantry, but being the egocentric American, more details of culture shock would've been a nice insight.

The book was not trite, nor did it play up to your emotions by being overly despondent or overly optimistic. It's definitely worth a read, especially if, like me, you know little or nothing about what is going on in Sudan. All in all, it was a beautiful book that makes you sit back and appreciate everything you have, especially love and life itself.