August, 2010

Aug 10

The Matching Family

I always used to view parents who dressed their kids like them at places like Disneyland with amusement and/or derision.

Well, after 3 days of SPL waiting for me to get dressed, I now realize that maybe it’s the kids, not the parents, setting the fashion agenda.

It’s a little mortifying to my finely honed sense of style :-), but is more than made up for by how endearing it is to have a hopper want to be like you. And knowing that it’s a phase that won’t last forever makes it more precious.

SPL really wanted us to match on the way home today. How can you say no to a five year old on his vacation?? Irresistible.

And voilà: the matching family.

I will happily ignore a little fashion ignominy for SPL to enjoy things even a little bit more.

Aug 10

Johannes Cabal, the Detective, by Jonathan L. Howard

I liked the first book in this series, Johannes Cabal, the Necromancer, pretty well.This book was pretty different — the main character is still this necromancer named Johannes Cabal, and the setting is still this sort of Victorian era steampunk type of universe. But this time instead of a Faust type story, it’s more like a locked room mystery on a blimp.

It’s weird & quirky, and not the sort of thing I generally like all that much, since it’s a little, um, overly Victorian for me, but I read this one in a weekend, and liked it pretty well.

Not for everyone, for sure, but a fun read for me.

Aug 10

The Family Trade, by Charles Stross

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how great Stross is — I think this was the wrong book to start with. It’s the sort of book that mostly made me want to reread Roger Zelazny’s Amber Chronicles (not on Kindle yet — what’s the deal with that?)

I didn’t like this one much — found the plot pretty derivative of other stuff I’ve read, didn’t like the writing much. Some good parts, but not really my favorite.

Aug 10

Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer

This book is a full-out assault on the ethics and principles of eating meat. Foer is one of the most talented novelists that I’ve read in the past decade, and he’s a very compelling writer. This book is a bit of why he’s become vegan himself, as well as an attack on industrial ranching and meat production, not to mention an illustration of the many ways we’re cruel to the animals that we eventually eat.

I’m not a vegetarian (or vegan) myself, although I’m trending that way. It used to be that I’d have meat for every meal — now as a family, we tend to eat vegetarian at home at least half the time. (We probably eat salmon 30% of the rest of the time, and chicken the remainder.) We’ve been looking for more recipes that use garbanzo beans and black beans — found some good ones, especially Indian dishes.

In any case, intellectually, I’m pretty sympathetic to Foer’s arguments here, and wholly in agreement that industrial ranching is a very bad development. In practice, I still eat meat that’s produced like that. I tend to think we’d be healthier with more vegetables compared to meat, it would be more sustainable globally, and would be overall ethical. I’m not quite the guy I want to be in this regard yet, but this was a good book to remind me about how I’d like to be.