Sunday, June 28, 2009

In The Land of Invented Languages by Arika Okrent

In the Land of Invented Languages by Arika Okrent is about artificially constructed languages. Okrent's style in this book closely resembles that of a travelogue. For several of the languages Okrent gives a little historical background mixed with a description of her personal experiences with the language in question. At times the material can be a little dry, it is linguistics after all. But don't let that discourage you because Okrent can be uproariously funny too.

I found the topic and Okrent's style so engaging, I read the book in a little over a day. I enjoyed it immensely, recognizing several of the languages she discusses. My only disappointment was that, at times, Okrent may have been a little too breezy. I would have enjoyed a little more background in linguistics and perhaps a more description of how the constructed languages she discusses worked.

If you don't know anything about artificial languages, Okrent is a capable tour guide. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the geeky world of constructed languages, even if that interest is only a passing one.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie is an iconic whodunit that lives up to its promise. The prose felt a little archaic, but the plot and mystery were compelling. If you are looking for a quick and enjoyable beach read, you won't go wrong with this mystery novel.

As an aside, I have decided to count this toward the Numbers Challenge. I believe it is within the rules because "None" is a number word in the same sense as "First". Also, this novel has also been published as Ten Little Indians, which would definitely qualify as a "Number" book.


The Overflowing Brain by Torkel Klingberg

In his book The Overflowing Brain: Information Overload and the Limits of Working Memory, Dr. Klingberg discusses what working memory is and how it is highly correlated with attention control, IQ, general intelligence, and problem solving ability. He goes on to explain how this topic relates to ADHD and the treatment of this disorder.

I have a B.S. in Psychology that is several years old, so I had high hopes of updating my knowledge about attention and working memory. But, I was disappointed to find the book did not really add much to my understanding of these topics. In addition, the quality of the book itself was underwhelming. There are numerous spelling mistakes and other typographical errors throughout the book. However, if you don't have the benefit of a Psychology degree and you can look past the typos, you might find this book to be an interesting book about how the brain works.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

7 Deadly Sins by Aviad Kleinberg

7 Deadly Sins by Aviad Kleinberg is an essay like book that takes the reader through ideas about sin from Jewish, Christian, and Classical perspectives. Kleinberg is quite erudite in his writing, citing a variety of sources. I found the book to be quite intriguing, but so wide ranging that it is hard to summarize. For anyone interested in the topic directly or just fascinated by religion or philosophy, I think 7 Deadly Sins would be a quick enjoyable read.


Monday, June 01, 2009

Movie Review: Up

This weekend my wife and I took our seven year old son, Cullen, to the movie Up. It is always a gamble when you go to a movie aimed at children. Many are a barrel of laughs for the child, but will bore the adults in attendance to tears. I am happy to report that this is not the case for Up. This movie is a wonderfully constructed story that is entertaining for children and adults.

As a boy, Carl Fredrickson worships his adventurer hero, Charles Muntz. The explorer is eventually disgraced as a fraud when he brings what scientists believe is a fake bird skeleton back from a trip to South America. Carl, on the other hand, soon meets a young girl, Ellie, who shares his passion for adventure. They become lifelong friends and eventually marry. Their whole life together, Carl and Ellie want to go on a South American adventure. But, life's little mishaps are always getting in the way. Sadly, Ellie dies before the two can fulfill their shared wish for adventure.

So, Carl decides to attach thousands of balloons to this house and fly away to South America in a bid to fulfill his promise to Ellie. But Carl didn't count on eight year old wilderness explorer Russell to be on his porch when he took off. So, Carl and Russell go on the adventure of a lifetime.

This movie is uproariously funny. I highly recommend it. If you don't have a child of your own to take with you, borrow one, or just go see it yourself.