Thursday, September 27, 2007

Funky Winkerbean Comic

When I read the comics, I'm looking for some levity, some laughs. I enjoy Dilbert and Doonesbury as I also get some very cogent political, business and cultural commentary.

One of the other comics I have viewed lately is Funky Winkerbean. I've been following the losing fight against breast cancer by one of its characters, Lisa Moore. Lisa is a young woman with a five year old daughter. Her husband, Les teaches school.

Lisa's character is scheduled to succumb to breast cancer in the October 4th strip.

Even though it's just a cartoon, one can imagine thousands of brave young women involved in the same fight.

The cartoonist Tom Batiuk has told this story poignantly, effectively without becoming too maudlin. Batiuk deserves "Cartoonist of the Year" for his public service.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Rain Storm by Barry Eisler

One of my friends at work mentioned that Eisler gets better with each new book.

Rain Storm is the third book of the John Rain series. And this was a more compelling and exciting book than the previous two I read. Rain is a paid assassin with some scruples (no women, no kids).

Well researched. Great character development. Plenty of action and violence. The villains are deadly and many. Plus another lovely lady for Rain's charm. Much more thrilling than the usual spy fare on the shelves.

If you're a fan of the TV show 24, you'll love the John Rain series!

I can't wait to read Requiem for an Assassin next....

Monday, September 17, 2007

Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush

Here are the good things about George W. Bush in Robert Draper's book. He is very athletic and fit. He loves his wife and daughters. He doesn't like to keep people waiting and insists on starting meetings on time. Despite popular perception, he reads books and may be more analytic and intelligent than he is currently portrayed.

Unfortunately the book also covers the not so good things about his Presidency and his judgment. The book largely revolves around Iraq and how the war was hugely mismanaged. Throw in the debacles of Harriet Miers for a Supreme Court nomination, the Hurricane Katrina fiasco, Alberto Gonzalez....well you get the idea.

Draper's book is a decent portrait of George Bush and how he has performed in his Presidency. If you're a "Bushie," you'll tend to dismiss it. If you are not a Bush supporter, nothing in this book will change your mind though I feel the author did not provide any additional ammunition for your distaste.

The book is 419 pages and it took me a week to read.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

From the Publisher:

"A black swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was. The astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11.

For Nassim Nicholas Taleb, black swans underlie almost everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives."

Very interesting book and theory. However at times, I found it very hard to understand what the author was saying or where he was leading me.

What I took out of it was a confirmation of my skepticism towards "experts", predictions, advice and what passes for knowledge.

I was thinking about some sports related black swans like the 1969 Mets, the 1980 U.S Hockey Team and the recent Appalachian State victory over Michigan in college football.

Taleb discusses black swan examples in religion, history, politics, business and philosophy.

A very deep book. Not a page turner. The book's theme challenges how you think, seek knowledge and experience the world.

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Art of Power by Thich Nhat Hanh

Hanh's book was my moment of Zen (or Buddhism) for the Labor Day weekend. If you are not familiar with Buddhism or Far Eastern thought, this is a good book to read.

The focus of the book is on how you think and act now.

Hanh discusses the five spiritual powers of faith, diligence, mindfulness, concentration and insight. Hanh provides stories and anecedotes to explain his teachings.

A very good read for someone seeking meaning and perspective for their life.