Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

I'm currently listening to "The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution" by none other than Richard Dawkins. It's a good book, an almost perfect balance of scientific and layman terminology. I particularly enjoyed the story about the flog with a bit of belly skin grafted onto its back... read the book if you want to find out about it. It was also fascinating to learn how quickly physical changes can occur in lizard and fish populations when their gene pools are isolated from one another.

But, and it's a big one, there is one problem with the overall argument made. While the whole evolution argument is sound and I have no trouble accepting it, what I do have an issue with is the concept that there is no overall designer. Yes, I get that there is no blueprint and cells do things on their own, independently of one another, independently of any global picture. So?

There may not be a design an embryo follows. That may be exactly how The Designer designed it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Witch Hunts on the Internet

If you enjoyed Harlan Coben's "Caught", you might like "Witch Hunts on the Internet".

See book trailer here or read the blurb:

Danger!!! Internet chat are immediate and intimate, but sometimes they only create the impression of a relationship. Sometimes they break hearts. Sometimes they claim lives.

Danger!!! The Internet makes many things look ok even though they are not: porn, sex parties, talking to strangers. It changes the rules and the way the world works.

Danger!!! Internet People are not always what they seem. When your 13-year old daughter pretends to be 15 and in a dating chat room with a 40-year old guy... how far would you go to protect her?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Harlan Coben - "Caught" - Review

I've just finished reading "Caught", and a good thing it is too, because I've been neglecting my long-and-getting-longer list of urgent tasks in favour of curling up in the winter sunshine with this latest Harlan Coben.

Overall, this stand-alone novel deserves a 5 out of 5. It contains the usual magic ingredients: a protagonist you want to root for (and if you're a man from Down Under, you probably want to root her, too), snappy dialogue with that unique HC rhythm, pace for Africa, gritty realism of parental emotions, moral dilemmas to mull over long after the last page is turned and a f-ing good plot.

Mind you, sometimes a writer has to have enough reader cred to get away with a plot like this one. With a lesser writer, I'd be screaming But-what-about-the-fact-that-Wendy-managed-to... and Why-doesn't-Hester-simply-tell-him-to-write-an-anonymous-letter-to-the-cops-with-the-exact... and Yo-have-you-forgotten-the-timeline-question. Not to mention (OK, to mention) my personal darling: NOW-you-expect-us-to-buy-the-trophy-theory????

So. A lesser writer, I'd be reading with my eyebrow cocked. Because it's Coben, though, I just read, giving him my full trust that all the niggles will be tied up at the end. Which they are. This book is a perfect example of "nothing is as it seems". A marvellous job.

I know he says he doesn't plan the stuff in-between the beginning and the end, but I still wonder whether this complex plot was designed or resulted from being written into a corner and having to twist the ways out.

As a huge Win fan, I welcomed his cameo appearance in this non Myron-B book. Again, I can't help wondering how that came about, whether the author sat there with writer's block one morning, forcing himself to type in something, anything, already excited by the idea of his next book and throughly sick of this one....

Hard to imagine being sick of "Caught". I'm planning to read it again. Soon.


Thursday, August 05, 2010

Let's go to the movies - Inception


Inception is simply brilliant and brilliantly not simple. In fact, it is so not simple that I spent the first ten minutes wondering what the hey is going on... and not in a good intrigued way, but in a completely lost way.

It probably would have helped to have read the movie's blurb. Had I known it was about entering people's dreams, I would have been ok. But when I sat down in the Gold Class reclining chair, cocktail in hand, I couldn't even remember which movie we were going to see. Di Caprio's face was the first clue this was not the "I want to be a teenage vampire Part 3" movie.

Anyway, once I got past the confusing bit, the rest was simply brilliant. It deserves being said twice. I loved the way Inception stayed with me for days as we discussed the possible meanings. Leaving the ending open interpretation was also a stroke of genius.