In the News

  • Today’s top story: LOLcats are awesome. Among the usual stories of politics, business, and school shootings, today’s LA Times featured an entire article about I Can Has Cheezburger, the internet’s leading provider of pictures of cats with poorly written captions. It’s actually an interesting read; I never really considered that people are making a living off of internet fads. The owner of the site also has an awesome name: Ben Huh. Huh? Huh. (I found this via Tony Pierce’s Twitter).

  • How to Slow Aging is an article at Canadian Living. Among medically questionable (eating lots of protein, taking vitamin supplements) and trivial (be around stuff that smells good, relax) advice is “get 9 hours of sleep a night.” The thing is, if your goal is to slow aging and extend your life, isn’t spending an extra hour or two a day unconscious kinda the opposite of that? If most people can happily get by on 7 hours of sleep (and I think most can), is it really worth sleeping more to live longer? Let’s do math!

    – Wasting an extra 2 hours out of every 24 means that waking time for each day is reduced by about 8.3%
    – People in Canada live to about 80. To extend that by 8.3% would mean living to almost 87.
    – Can sleeping 9 hours a night extend one’s life expectancy to 87? I doubt it. And even if it did, I’d rather be enjoying waking hours while I’m young and virile than while I’m old and fragile. Screw sleep.

  • Gmail has a new feature that warns you when you said you’ve included an email attachment, but never actually attached the file. I do this all the time so this will save me lots of sorries. It should also cut down on hearing “no I swear to baby Jesus God damn it, I attached the file. There must be something wrong with your email. Or maybe I have a computer virus.”

Book Review: American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis


Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho describes a few years in the life of Patrick Bateman, a successful investor and psychopath. That’s about all there is to it.

American Psycho is not so much a story, but a drawn out snapshot of the nightmare world of yuppies in late 80s New York. This setting is as much of a character as Patrick Bateman is (the first third of the book is purely about his everyday life in this world, and we only later get a glimpse into the “psycho” part of it). I think that it’s not so much that this world created the monster that is Patrick Bateman (the only description of his father is something like “there is something wrong with his eyes”, implying that his psychosis has pretty deep roots), but that this world allows him to exist. Everyone is so self-centered and focused on superficial crap that they don’t notice the serial killer in front of their noses. In a way, many of the characters in the book are as inhuman as Bateman is.

This is not a straightforward novel; it is very much open to interpretation in both its narrative and its message. Both the matter-of-factly described scenes of brutal violence and the overly detailed descriptions of fashion and music often had me wondering why the hell I kept reading it. But I did keep reading, and while it may not be an entertaining novel in the traditional sense, it did make me think. And it made me want to go out to a cheap restaurant where I don’t need a reservation and make real connections with people, because dude, the world depicted in American Psycho is a shitty place that should be avoided at all costs.

I have to go return some videotapes.

LHC

I love Google’s title image for today:

It’s a nice mix of recognizing an extremely important scientific accomplishment with just a pinch of end-of-the-world paranoia.

The truth is that the world has about the same chance of ending today as it did yesterday. But I think the dimwitted people protesting the large hadron collider aren’t all bad. It’s seriously nice to be reminded that the world could end at any moment. All of human history is just a brief blip in time on a cosmic scale; it could end right now and the universe would barely notice. But the thing is, in a universe with a past almost completely devoid of our existence, and a future that could very easily be the same, all we’ve got are our short little lives here in the present.

The fact that the universe is vast, cold, and uncaring does not make our lives meaningless. It’s the opposite; it shows that we are the exception rather than the rule, so we damn well better take advantage of this fleeting gift and make our lives mean something. It also makes it all the more incredible that we are on our way to understanding this vast, cold, and uncaring universe with technology like the LHC. Even if it did end human existence, at least we went out trying to understand our place in the universe. And with a good excuse to have sex.

(xkcd rules)