Tuesday, February 5, 2008

50 Books in 2008

Here's my updated list. The goal again is to read 50 new books in 2008. It's only 1/6 of the way through the year and I have already read ten, not counting official textbooks, so I may just make it to sixty if I play my cards right.

The tenth in the list actually is a textbook (on culinary techniques), but I decided that I am still going to count it since I am not actually reading it for any of my classwork.

1) Patricia Cornwell - Trace
2) Brian Greene - The Fabric of the Cosmos
3) Steven Pinker - The Blank Slate: The Denial of Human Nature
4) George Orwell - Animal Farm
5) Robert Greene -The Art of Seduction
6) Richard Dawkins - The Ancestors' Tale
7) Ayaan Hirsi Ali - Infidel
8) Bertrand Russell - Why I am Not a Christian
9) Daniel Dennett - Breaking the Spell
10) The Professional Chef, 8th Edition (Culinary Institute of America)

My first (good) sushi experience

There's something to be said for getting the flu. It makes it a little easier to try new things. Or at least, my rationale is that I am sick anyway so it's not like I can make it any worse.

I'm also a proud and confirmed omnivore in that I'll eat anything that isn't nailed down and on fire. But there's been a couple of things I've been pretty reluctant about. Sushi is one of them. What's so appetizing about rice and raw fish? Well, scientist that I am I decided that for lunch today I was going to find out.

Since I didn't have any of my handy-dandy prepackaged homemade lunches today, I decided to go for one of the local restaurants. "Asian Buffet". Which Asian, you may ask? Who knows. Either the restaurant likes keeping their bases covered, or they realized that the average redneck around these parts has no idea that Asian cultures are quite dissimilar. But the food is good, and as I bellied-up to the bar, I noticed that they had a very attractive display of sushi. So I got adventuresome. Mr. Scientist decided to do a little 'speermint.

The first thing you do is get your soup and your sushi. They didn't have miso soup, so I settled for hot and sour. Then I picked out a handful of each type of sushi, grabbed a stack of pickled ginger and some wasabi, and grabbed some soy sauce packets and a set of chopsticks, then high-tailed it back to the office.

Once at the office, I had a little soup and mixed the wasabi and soy together. I dipped the first nori roll into the light-brown mixture, and took a big bite. That's about when my sinuses exploded. Next time, I'll remember to lay off on the wasabi--it's potent stuff.

And so I ate. There were some great finger-rolls, filled with crab, shrimp, and vegetables, dusted with tiny orange bits of caviar. There were California rolls, small and large nori rolls, and a really attractive finger roll with a slice of avocado draped across the top.

The flavor is what struck me as odd--once my taste buds had recovered from the wasabi, that is. I was expecting something like mackeral or tuna straight from the can. Instead, the flavors were complex, light, and had a strong vegetable flavor. Overall, good stuff. Even though what I got was plenty for lunch, I almost wish I had taken the hostess' advice and eaten in, so I could get more.

Monday, February 4, 2008

New findings on HIV battle

Original Article:


Now this is the kind of stuff that I really like seeing. Swiss Scientists have recently come out with a consensus that HIV patients with no viral load and no other sexually-transmitted infections are incapable of transmitting the HIV virus.

This is great, in my opinion, because our methods of treating this disease have reached a point where it's not uncommon for a patient in the advanced stages to get treatment capable of getting the viral load down to nondetectable levels. Or to wrap it up nicely, that we're able to get many patients to the point where the disease won't spread. We're winning, slowly but surely--and new breakthroughs are made every year.

This is one thing I love about science. Religion has offered a heaping helping of condemnation and blameshifting and a few mushy hugs--all geared toward that "other" group of people, who are the ones that get the disease. Science at least recognizes that it's everyone's problem, and it offers a much more potent weapon in this battle than any crusty demagogue ever could dream of wielding.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Attention Bibliophiles! Take the 50-Book Challenge!

One of my friends on the Richard Dawkins Foundation's forums shared a great idea with the group: Read 50 books for 2008. That's roughly one a week, so it's really not all that daunting.

Here are the rules:
1. Pick the books. Try to challenge yourself. Fiction or Nonfiction--doesn't matter.
2. Keep it interesting. Don't bore yourself to tears.
3. Keep a listing of them, and hopefully make it public so others will get ideas for good reads.

In my case, it really helps that I have a commute. It's not a grand commute, but there's a lot of traffic and I spend roughly an hour and fifteen minutes per day on the road. That's a great time for books on CD since it gives you something other than the traffic to focus on. One book is roughly 10 CDs, which amounts to about one per week and a half.

I'll let you know what I think later. Care to take the challenge? All it takes is a library card--note that they are starting to get a good supply of audiobooks as well.

Here are the books that I've finished up since New Years'. Keep in mind that I'm a literary whore, so I am prone to read several at a time:

1) Patricia Cornwell - Trace
2) Brian Greene - The Fabric of the Cosmos

3) Steven Pinker - The Blank Slate: The Denial of Human Nature
4) George Orwell - Animal Farm

Currently reading :
The Art of Seduction
By Robert Greene
Release date: 07 October, 2003