Category Archives: books

da vinci code

Not going to post a review of the book yet but I solved the second puzzle riddles @ dan brown’s website so I’ll post those for my mates so they can check their answers against mine.

  1. the mona lisa
  2. paris (louvre museum)
  3. the priory of sion (although they SHOULD accept priori de sion aswell 😉
  4. kryptos (friend of mine told me about this. it’s a sculpture in the garden of the CIA headquarters in langley, virginia)
  5. WW (look at the previous link)
  6. is there no help for the widows son (masonic phrase)
  7. masons (obviously enough)
  8. e pluribus unum which means “out of many, one” and is located on the great seal of the US(stumped me for a while until I remembered some of the masonic symbols on the dollar bill, the founding fathers could have formed their own lodge :-D)
  9. click her right eye (your left) as droit means right in french

So there you go treasure hunters. Gee, I loved that book. One of the most exciting and entertaining reads in a long time. Coincidentally (if you believe in such things) I read a book called The Golden Ratio by Mario Livio just before I read the Da Vinci Code. The result of all this was that I was well primed for the 1st few clues. Especially the crime scene sequence and the bank account number based on the fibonacci series. Still, great book.

microserfs

I reread microserfs again this week.It occured to me that this book, like no other, encapsulates geek culture, beliefs, paraphenalia and anxieties of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. When Coupland notes how computer companies strategically delay the process of growing up to prolonging the naeivety and harnessable productivity of youth it occured to me that most geeks suffer from Peter Pan syndrome. If we actually grow up, abandon the child-like wonder and unworldly innocence and submit to real cynicism (as opposed to trite observations about whose OS is better), we lose our edge. Instead we shuffle willingly off to the techno-ghetto to live in our beautifully modular cubes where we can be maintained with dietary and spatial efficiency as producers of commodity klocs. I feel my desire to blog myself into your consciousness growing. LOL…
Luckily for the geeks, microserfs is a microcosm for pretty much everything else. Different jargon, worse hair and higher IQ’s but damn similiar nonetheless. The grass is not necessarily greener or more fragrant anywhere else.
This is a fantastic book that really captures your imagination. For example, I’ve found myself using the word interiority in conversation.

“Learned a new word today: “interiority”–it means, being inside somebody’s head”

It doesn’t all ring true however. The random/linear behavioral categorisation still leaves me a little bit confused. I’m not sure that most of what is categorised as either isn’t actually pseudo-random but hey, we’re heading towards a metaphysical (read: useless) argument about free-will there.
I remember when I first read it about 5 years ago thinking how absolutely disgustingly talented Douglas Coupland must be. Brilliant writer, sculptor, designer and obviously damn smart. There’s a stunning insight on every page (sometimes even more than 1 to prove that he wasn’t rationing himself ;-)).
One of my favourites is reproduced below. During a conversation about marxism and capitalist values the geeks come up wiht reasons why some US cereals are decadent and others aren’t.

“TRIX:
Reason this cereal is decadent:
Well-meaning rabbit, “Trix,” kept in continual state of malnutrition/
subservience by dominant children of the parasitic bourgeoisie. “Silly
rabbit, Trix are for kids” can only be construed as a call to class
warfare.
LUCKY CHARMS:
Reason this cereal is decadent:
Man with no known adult friends lures children into forest for purpose
of nutritonal (ideological) seduction. Sprightly twinkle motif on
packaging (putatively an allusion to “flavor”) are, in fact, metaphors
for soul-deadening sucrose.
RICE KRISPIES:
Reason this cereal is decadent:
Snap, Krackle, and Pop thinly veiled emblems for the Trilateral Commission.
COCOA PUFFS:
Reason this cereal is decadent:
“I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs,” the demented cackle of Sonny the
Cocoa Puffs bird/spokesmuppet, is resonant with the insanity inherent in
the needless enslavement of the proletariat.
COUNT CHOCULA-FRANKENBERRY:
Reason this cereal is not decadent:
Gay relationship offers an excellent role model for this new era of
diversity. Witty empire motif plays on never-ending struggle of the
oppressed to topple the ruling classes.”

Hell, there are several wonderfully touching love story in there aswell. The most fascinating and best developed is that between the narrator Dan and Karla:

“This was unexpected, my soul’s connection to you.
You stole my loneliness
No one knows that I was wishing for you, a thief, to enter my
house of autonomy, that I had locked my doors but my Windows were open, hoping, but not believing, you would enter.”

So to get right down to it. What would my 7 jeopardy categories be?
Why limit myself? Here’s 10.

  • 80s TV Theme tunes
  • History of Rock Music
  • Distributed Systems Programming
  • The Java language specification
  • European cars of the past 20 years
  • The life and times of Steve Jobs
  • Guitar Shredders from Uli Roth to Rusty Cooley
  • Obfuscated (not objective) C programming
  • cellular automata
  • Useful ways to kill time in airports

For more quotes see here. For a more in-depth review see here. If you want to know more then just google it. More importantly whether you’re an “information leaf-blower” or a “liquid engineer” read this book.