Posts on December 13, 2011

The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment review
Mood: busy
Posted on 2011-12-13 13:36:00
Tags: reviews books
Words: 385

The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an ExperimentThe Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment by A.J. Jacobs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this book up at Half-Price Books and was pleasantly surprised. The hook is that the author spends one month (and one chapter) trying out a bunch of different ways of living. The list of things he tries includes strictly unitasking, outsourcing as much of his life as possible, living very rationally (to the extent of trying 40 different toothpastes to find which is best, although if you include the time spent deciding I'm not sure this is actually rational. But I digress!), emulating George Washington, and being his wife's devoted servant (which seems fair after all she has to put up with :-) ).

I was hesitant about the book because I was afraid it would be excessively gimmicky. The author mostly avoids this (although there is one chapter where he describes posing nude, which doesn't really fit with the rest of the book), and he gives a good background as to why he thinks this experiment will be valuable, as well as ending each chapter with how he hopes to take the lessons he learned and apply them to his life after the month is over.

During one chapter he tries "radical honesty", which includes a similar discussion as Lying, the Kindle Single I read a while back. He comes to the conclusion that it works great for your own flaws and mistakes but he has a harder time calling out other people's (a.k.a. being a jerk) which makes sense to me. The author also interprets "radical honesty" to mean you basically speak every thought aloud, which seems to be taking the concept a bit far.

Things I'd like to work on:
- I try to multitask a lot even though I'm not very good at it. His unitasking chapter convinced me to try to cut down on this and stay focused on whatever I'm doing.
- George Washington was very civil and proper. I guess I could do that more?

The author has a couple of similar books - one is "The Year of Living Biblically" and one is "The Know-It-All" (a year spent reading the encyclopedia). After having read this book I'm eager to give these a shot!

(paper book, available for borrowing)

View all my reviews


just a bunch of links
Mood: busy
Posted on 2011-12-13 14:30:00
Tags: politics links
Words: 264

Sorted by the amount of politics, in ascending order:

- The Day I Saw Van Gogh’s Genius in a New Light - was Van Gogh partially color deficient? His paintings, viewed through a filter, suggest they might be.

- A technique for memorizing the two-letter Scrabble words...or at least the ones that start with "a".

- Looks like we're pretty sure the Chinese military have been attacking US companies such as Google, Lockheed Martin, and RSA. Frightening but not surprising.

- Fancy tax graph - the graph is a little confusing, but the different colors/percentage indicate the marginal tax rate, and the y-axis is how much percentage of the total tax revenue that was generated from that marginal rate. You can clearly see the effect of the Bush tax cuts, as there was a sharp drop in the amount of income that was generated by higher tax brackets.

- Speaking of tax policy, a comparison of Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain's tax plans. The graphs are very tall because the tax cuts for the rich are so huge.

- Lowe's pulled its ads from the show "All-American Muslim" because right-wing groups complained that it was "propaganda" for Muslims or something. This really really makes me sad. Lowe's has faced some backlash but is not planning on restoring their ads.

- I angrily tweeted earlier, but: Rick Santorum says that "science should get out of politics". This is the backward-est thing I've heard in a long time, and still angers up my blood every time I read it...

- Romney Accidentally Crashes Married Gay Vet’s Date While Trolling for Anti-Gay Votes - whoops!

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