—Help these folks build their very own hobbit hole. Please. It’d be hilarious.
Malcolm Gladwell reviews Jared “Guns, Germs, and Steel” Diamond’s new book, “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.”
We had an enjoyable Christmas weekend here in Kaohsiung. Here’re some photos of our celebrations (I contributed my world-famous deviled eggs and chocolate-covered strawberries to the turkey dinner feast).
You’ve probably heard the news already: an enormous earthquake early today triggered massive tidal waves in Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia; approximately 5,600 people have perished.
As you may remember, Jill and I spent the Thanksgiving weekend last month at a beach resort in Phuket, Thaland, an area which was hit hard.
A sad, sad, day.
–An HR assistant from the Starbucks corporate office exchanges emails with the CEO. Hilarious.
–Media, technology, and search: Predictions for 2005.
–Santa, dear Santa, please please puh-leeeeease bring me a meat air freshener.
—Robert Birnbaum discusses “his wave-making book Moneyball and the current state of baseball, plus what’s good and bad with journalism today, Red Sox paranoia, and the joys of screenwriting.”
Zimran Ahmed, author of Winterspeak, which is one of my all-time favorite Weblogs (despite the fact that so much of it is over my head), writes:
– The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson (Quicksilver, The Confusion,
The System of the World)
– This book(s) is enormous, messy, funny, smart, stupid, etc. The man
has clearly transcended editing, and *this is not a good thing*.
However, his characters were smart, interesting people tackling what
were, at the time, genuinely new and confusing ideas, including money,
the economy, trade, class, and markets. We take these things for
granted now, but I think they are still fundamentally alien to humans
and therefore not understood by most of the people who have benefited
so much from them.
– The Last Lion, a biography of Winston Churchill, by William Manchester
– Another too-long, sprawling book. I resolve in ’05 to read only
shorter books, maybe only comics. I read this mostly to learn about
WW2, but instead, I learned about how the world ignored the rise of
Nazi Germany, ridiculed the one man who said it was a threat, and
beleived that appeasement would save the day even in the face of
continual aggression. I learned how old alliances and prejudices kept men from making the decisions they needed to recognize the threat
and nip it in the bud. I learned how an unwillingness to see and
confront evil resulted in carnage.
Sobering thoughts in our time. Manchester died before writing the last
volume, so the series ends on the dawn of WW2. Nazism has finally been
unmasked, Winston comes in from his long political exile to lead a
nation that honestly beleives it is finished as Britain stands
absolutely alone against Fascism.”
The second annual Bloggers’ Favorite Books survey is attracting some eyeballs, thanks to links from Maud and Lizze and Mark and Jen and Laila and Dale and Derek (as well as the newfound Tingle Alley).
Also, Daniel Olivas, a writer from LA, sends along his thoughts:
“one of my favorite books of 2004 was the debut short story collection by michael jaime-becerra, “every night is ladies night” published by harpercollins/rayo. i included it in my suggestions for the holiday season on latinola.com. the list included books from the last few of years, not just 2004: