Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Sir Anthony Hopkins and Hannibal in book and movie form

I have read all of the Hannibal Lecter books by Thomas Harris. I thought some were better than others but Thomas Harris is one of the more intreguing writers stylistically speaking that I have on my shelves.

Now normally at this point the screen adaptation would be torn apart for a variety of reasons. However, I think you could not have made a better choice than Sir Anthony Hopkins. He is an amazing actor who can take on a variety of characters and make them very real. This is absolutely no exception.

Now you may ask why I’m talking about a movie that is this old and a book this age now. Well I have the DVDs on the shelf and was watching Hannibal. I know the character of Lecter was loosely based on several real life serial killers from research Thomas Harris did. That being said I believe that I couldn’t have chosen a better actor on the planet than Sir Anthony Hopkins for this character.

I must ad a tag line to this. I have been lucky enough in my life to speak to Mr. Hopkins….Not for hours for a few minutes once. He is nothing like this character in person. He is a delightful man with a variety of personal interests none of which involves eating people.


Alpha Inventions Ranking

In the name of John Galt, current Government officials

I have been reading a lot lately for many reasons.  One because it is an ingrained habit, another because it is a great escape with things bug me.  There are a lot of things that bug me.  I used to just argue, point it out and not do much about it.  I was busy, career, graduate school, etc all got in the way.

Now I am down to Career and family.  But looking at what is going on these days I see America on what I believe to be the wrong track.  Someone must stand up and do something so I for one am working political campaigns in which I believe.  Then I have the real right to complain because I at least tried to make a difference.

I think at some level I do this in the name of John Galt.  If you know who that is you’ll understand.  If you don’t know who that is; he is a fictional character from a book called Atlas Shrugged. 

It is a very long book but worth reading.  The basic premise is what if all of the people who knew how to produce things, (e.g. cars, airplanes, electricity, food) all went on strike.  What if they only produced what they needed and no more.  They made no profit, therefore paid no taxes.  The lack of making money and paying taxes made government have no resources.  Those who were on the government dole (e.g. low income housing, welfare, unemployment, etc) had no resources with which to work.  In the book those who continued to produce were taxes higher and higher until nothing was left to tax.  Then the whole system crumbles. 

Personally I think that bit of fiction was interesting but rather than quitting and going home….I for one choose to try to affect change.  Real change, for what I believe to be the better.

I think the President is trying to do the very same thing.  I for one give him points for trying to do what HE believes is the right thing.  I disagree so rather than arguing…I am doing.

If you are interested in John Galt, my father found some online videos about the character.  A sort of adaptation.

Check it out at:

Alpha Inventions Ranking

Fiction and Thriller Books

I have been reorganizing my personal library of non fiction things in the past few days.  I can’t help but notice that I have  a lot of thrillers.  I seem to have a tendency to lean that way.

I must say that I absolutely love science fiction when it is good.  The problem is my barrier is high for this.  If I can figure out how the ‘fictional’ science in it works I don’t care that much.  There is a problem, when you work at MIT it is challenging to not find a guy down the hall who can help you at least come up with a theory about it over a beer.

We could be wrong and it could be the beer.  But we usually come up with something.

A few sci fi that I liked regardless:

Lucifer’s Hammer

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

The Last Gasp

If you are curious you can find my personal collection (still going up) at and my user name is nanoscale2

(Yes I work and have worked in Nanotech for a number of years)

DaScienceGuy – My personal library obsession

I have been obsessed lately with a new website.

This place lets you put all your books in their database and match other users libraries for similarities.  There are discussion groups, local groups, you can even match your library to various authors both dead and alive.

I found an interesting quote on one of the posts by an author in a discussion group.  It said that many authors are obsessive readers (there may be hope for me then in retirement or something).  When this author continued they explained that they have routinely over the years thought about quitting because the stuff they were turning out wasn’t any good.  Then they read someone else’s book.  They were then motivated to keep going because ‘wow if that piece of garbage can be published……’

I like that quote and may have to book mark it.  I certainly have some disappointing books on my shelf from across the years which I read cover to cover hoping they would improve.  Unfortunately they did not but there the book sits (pack rat that I am).

Fiction Platforms

I have been reading more lately than I have in years.  Perhaps its escapism from a job where I get bored a lot.

I have been noticing that much fiction lately has been a very specific length and very formulaic in nature.  I have a half a dozen Baldacci books standing on the shelf and its amazing how close in length (and mostly storyline) they are.

There are some exceptions to this rule but they are becoming more rare.  Perhaps it is because the market has been changing over the years.  I think that e-books are going to change a lot of this.  It will allow a greater number of options.  Interestingly I have been seeing e-book readers showing up in lots of places lately.  I hope that it will extend out non-formula driven books.  Perhaps something unique and different will start, once again, to appear in the market.

Scientists as Fiction Writers

I am a very avid reader as my wife will attest.  Perhaps not as voracious as my father but whenever I can sneak the time that is where my head goes.  Interestingly my 4 month old son is fascinated by baby books and bookshelves.  Hmmmm, chip of the old block?

I have been a scientist for a while now and love my job.  I complain about it but I do enjoy it.

I have read a number of science fiction books in my life, ok more than a number.  However, out of those I have read several sci fi books written by reformed scientists who decided to write fiction (an inner fantasy of mine).

These books for the most part are horrifyingly deep in details.  Way to bound by the art of what we know to be possible.  Fiction is exactly that fiction, a departure from reality.  It should be based in reality sure and perhaps not that unimaginable but must be somewhat fantasy.

They also make the mistake of taking the, what I’ll call, professor angle and explaining in great detail why what they are tying on the page is possible.  Perhaps there are lessons there if I ever decide to take that plunge.

If anyone has a comment or suggestion on what I should read please leave it here I’m always looking for something good to read!


New day a new book, Under the Dome, Stephen King

Ok I finished reading Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged.  So I decided to start a new book (pretty typical).  So I started a new oh so large one.  The new Stephen King Book called Under the Dome.  The only thing I know about it other than the Author (whose books I have read almost all of much to my father’s chagrin) is that it must weigh 5 pounds.  Its a monster.  I hope its good and he didn’t just fire the editor or stop listening!!

Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand and Who is John Galt?

So I finally finished this book.  I am not sure what can be said about it that hasn’t been said before.

I could describe the story line but everyone else has.  So here is my take or thoughts on it.  The book goes to a few extremes.  I don’t think every thinking person would leave many are too passionate to do that.  However if they did the world would crumble.  I do know a bunch of people too timid to make a decision now so that was kind of interesting to me.

I do however think one thing about this book that I think is probably new.  It should be REQUIRED reading for any person wanting to hold the office of Mayor or higher in Government Service.  If not this book at least a look at the underlying philosophy of it or something near it.  I am not saying that one should get preachy that is where everyone screws up.  It just shows what can happen at the various extreme positions and perhaps get people to not be that deep into any of those extremes.

Literature, Movies and America’s Attention Span

I have spent a good chunk of time working as a professional scientist now.  I have also spent even more time being a relatively avid (although that wanes from time to time) reader.  I have to say I think America’s attention span is declining.

I remember when people would read a book and not claim, ehhh I’ll just wait for the movie.  Then complain when the movie was a whole 2 hours.  What has happened to our attention span.

I see it in our taste in movies, books (nothing past 200 pages or so now gets taken seriously unless your name is Stephen King).

You also see it in politicians.  The statement seen on the news often that ‘well, so and so doesn’t have to worry about this bad decision the election isn’t for 14 months and no one will remember’…..

We need to focus on things as a country and think long haul.  If we don’t we will continue to have issues which I am seeing more of as I grow older.  Lack of engineers, lack of trained scientists that are American born, next to no manufacturing.  This is due to us only thinking if fiscal quarters rather than fiscal years.  What helps us immediately is our concern, not what sets us up for a successful year next year, or a dominant future.  We need to think about that future more.

Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand

I have been reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.  I am maybe 150 pages away from finished.  I have to say it is a good book, not bad.  Its well written (although she could have used an editor and the author is looooooong winded).

I agree with various people.  You can probably go through the current administration and assign some of the characters in the book to various people in the administration and come close.  But I think you can probably say that of the last three administrations.  Maybe not to the extreme that is happening today but it probably works.  That’s the good point to the book.

I have always wondered what would happen if the hard working folks ever left and decided to stop.  I think the book captures it well of the consequences of that.

It is a good book, it probably works for our time and the last 20 years.  More extreme as we go forward in time which is kind of the point of the book…