Feb 042019
 

I’m on a Criminal Minds binge. There is an interesting episode called “The Internet is Forever” near the end of Season 5. If you are unfamiliar with the show, each episode begins and ends with a quote from some philosopher or influential mind. The closing quote in this episode suggests that the Internet is an experiment in anarchy. Here is the full text of the quote:

The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” – Eric Schmidt

Yes, ironically that quote is from Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google (aka. Alphabet Inc). It is so profoundly accurate it sparks many thoughts of just how much anarchy the Internet is creating. I decided on this topic on the 25th of January and since that day I witness nearly daily examples. It’s equal parts frightening and uncanny.

The Internet has Made Us All Sociopaths

I wish I could say I am exaggerating. Surely there are not daily examples of Internet induced anarchy. How often is there a story on the news where someone’s behavior was the result of a post on social media? How many suicides or suicide attempts are the result of cyber bullying? If you don’t want to think about it then how about a couple of examples. Tide Pods. The cinnamon challenge. The Bird Box challenge. People are lemmings! Yes, people did stupid things in the 80’s and 90’s, before Facebook, but it wasn’t as widespread. The consequences were more prolific because it made the news.

Unfortunately anarchy has become the social norm; and I blame Social Media. Everyone feels so indemnified by the facelessness of Twitter and even Facebook (ironic, I know). We’ve all become sociopaths because we post things on the various forms of social media with a complete lack of conscious. People don’t care who they harm, all they care about is what’s trending. A perfect example is this “Fyre Festival” thing that Hulu has been advertising. It shows just how dangerous social media can be. I don’t think Billy McFarland is a criminal, I think it’s hilarious that those people got what they deserved.

The Internet is now the digital mountain top from which people scream their opinions thinking the rest of us care. I admit that some people do care and many agree. However, what makes it absolutely absurd are the people who are trying to promote tolerance and inclusion are first to demonize anyone that disagrees with them. You can’t preach inclusion but ostracize anyone that disagrees. This is as much of an example of cognitive dissonance as this entire blog post (yes, I’m fully aware of what I’ve done). I’ll openly admit that joining Facebook and Twitter has turned me into a sociopath. In retrospect, I should have avoided them completely.

/cheers

minions_icon

I could accomplish so much more if I only had minions!

 

Jan 282019
 

The Straggler's MaskThe Straggler’s Mask by Juho Pohjalainen
My rating:
Link to the review on Goodreads.

It’s been a while since I had the opportunity to review a First Reads book that I won from Goodreads. In fact this is perhaps my third book since creating my Goodreads account. Be that as it may, let’s get on with my book review of The Straggler’s Mask.

Since this book is an ebook I had no idea how long it was; although I rarely check. The length of a book is hardly a factor as to whether or not I’ll read it (although it might be a factor as to when I read it). Good books that are long rarely feel long, for example the first couple of books in George R. R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series (aka Game of Thrones). Unfortunately for this book, there are parts where it feels like it drags on. I’m actually going to skip the synopsis this time, and the reason for that will become clear shortly.

Biggs’ Review

Based on a few Amazon and Goodreads searches I couldn’t find any other book written by this author; therefore I’m going to assume this is their first book. I know it has to be hard to publish your first book not knowing how its going to be received by readers. As much as I don’t like giving mediocre reviews to a debutante author, I did struggle with this book, a lot.

This is a bugbear from Dungeon’s & Dragons

I found it difficult to keep track of all the characters as well as the story. Sometimes I forgot where they are as they traveled. I honestly forgot what their ultimate goal was (until I got to the actual face off with Nirvana). There are times when the point of view of the storyteller would change, without notice and I had no idea who was speaking in the first person. I went through about a 3 week dry spell where I didn’t pick the book up at all because I was bored. However, I still finished it because I refuse to leave a book unfinished, but it felt a little arduous.

Peal is an Interesting Character

I did enjoy the concept of the story (an unsuspecting creature picking up the mantel of a legendary hero). Peal is an interesting character, though his skittishness and small stature don’t really correlate to what I expect a bugbear to look like or behave. Granted that’s based on an old D&D reference point. The world the author created felt pretty imaginative and thought out. However I don’t know if I would have used Earth; otherwise you are setting the readers up to identify familiar areas of the planet which they’re not going to find.

I guess I’m more disappointed that I didn’t like it as much as I wanted to. I feel like this book could have been broken up into two novels. If you’re an aspiring new author, perhaps a 600+ page book with a complicated list of characters isn’t the way to start. This, by no means, deters me from reading more by this author, unless the next novel is equally as disappointing. Honestly, I may go back eventually and try to read it again to see if a second time will more easily capture my attention.

View all my reviews

diablo3-reading“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” 
– Dr. Seuss

 

Jan 152019
 

Lego has a very humble origin story. They began with a carpenter in Denmark in 1932; The Lego Group formed in 1934 and they have been producing the iconic interlocking bricks since 1949. Of course that was long before I was born. Regardless, Lego is a timeless toy that is spanning generations. I grew up on Lego and now my kids are growing up on Lego. The funny thing is, even as an adult I still collect Lego sets. I have many friends that still collect Lego sets. So once you’re a Lego fan, you’re always a Lego fan.

Obviously as an adult in his late 30’s, I’m not constructing Lego sets for the purpose of post-construction entertainment. The sets I collect are mostly Star Wars themed and they sit on a shelf for display. The task of assembling is a perfect way to relieve stress and collect my thoughts. It has also become something I do with my daughter on the weekends.

Lego is clearly something you never outgrow; even as you age you just learn to appreciate them differently. There has to be a study out there that proves building Lego sets has some kind of positive cognitive impact. If there isn’t one, then someone should start one. When “adulting” has you in a death spiral, I’m glad Lego is there to straighten you out.

The things that go through my mind when I’m alone with nothing but my thoughts for entertainment is dangerous. Some might even say eccentric. Consider this your warning about today’s Random Thought of the Day

 

Jan 062019
 

The 2018 Reading Challenge was 12 books. Since I barely missed 15 books from 2017, I actually started the year at 15 again thinking I could easily complete it. Half way through the year I was nearly 4 books behind so I reduced it down to 12 books.

I wish there is some brilliant excuse I could use to explain why I only read 9 books. I hit a huge lull late in the summer, which is right around the time I got a new First Reads book from Goodreads. Little did I know that book is over 600 pages. When it’s past June I rarely try to start a book that long so late in the year.

My 2018 Reading Challenge Book List

At any rate, below you will see the list of books I did read in 2018. I tried to write a review for all of them so feel free to click on the name if you’re curious about my thoughts. Below the list is the book I chose as the 2018 Best Read.

My Pick for the 2018 Best Read

Picking the best read for 2018 is difficult. These are 9 excellent books to choose from so its hard to pick just one! I want to go with Timothy Zahn, the man, the myth the legend. However, picking Timothy Zahn won’t work because 1) I read two of his books and I can’t pick just one; and 2) it’s Timothy frakking Zahn! It also wouldn’t be fair to pick Ready Player One because I re-read that one and I’d prefer to pick something that I hadn’t read before.

So there are the immersive worlds and cultures of the Olympus Union and the Shadowhunters, the suspenseful time travel of Executed or the remaining Star Wars books. It’s hard to pick one but I feel obligated to do so. I really enjoyed reading about Phasma’s origin and Ahsoka is my absolute favorite Jedi Padawan. However I’ve always had a soft spot for Ventress so learning more about her as written by Christie Golden is serendipitous. It is for that reason that I chose Dark Disciple as the 2018 best read.

FWIW, I recommend reading every book on this list!

diablo3-reading“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
– Dr. Seuss

 

Jan 022019
 

Alliances (Star Wars: Thrawn, #2)Alliances by Timothy Zahn
My rating: 
(Click here to see this review on Goodreads)

This is the second book in Timothy Zahn’s new Thrawn series (I’m assuming there will be a third book the third book has been announced titled Treason). I really loved the first book (simply titled Thrawn)! You simply must read it if you haven’t already. It’s the story of how Thrawn came into the service of the Empire and how his strategic military prowess made him a Grand Admiral. At the end of the book we learn that the Emperor has a new mission for Thrawn, but he needs to work with Darth Vader.

Brief Synopsis

As we learned in the first book, Grand Admiral Thrawn is unaware that Anakin and Vader are the same person. Therefore, Zahn takes an interesting approach in this book; it takes place at two points in time. Both times it is Thrawn working with the same person, only he doesn’t realize it. In the past Anakin and Thrawn work together to find Padme. In the present Thrawn and Vader are on a mission for the Emperor to investigate a disturbance in the Force. Coincidentally both missions take place on the same planets.

Biggs’ Review

I equally enjoyed this book. There are several things that I found interesting from a canon perspective. It’s interesting to see Thrawn work with Anakin and Vader. While Thrawn initially seems unaware that they are the same person, by the end of the book I suspect that he’s figured it out. I assume, in the third book, Zahn will verify this theory.

One of the character traits I really love is how Vader refers to Anakin as “The Jedi”, creating a bit of dissociative identity disorder in Vader. I’m also curious about Thrawn’s age! There are rumors he’s going to be in Episode 9, yet here he’s appearing 20 years prior to Episode 4. How long to Chiss live?

diablo3-reading“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
– Dr. Seuss

 

Jan 012019
 

It is now 18 years after the dreaded Y2K scare. I wonder if there is anyone still hiding in their bunkers. While the Y2K date issue was a valid bug in most software, it would never have caused the catastrophe the fear-mongers were predicting. Be that as it may, 2018 is over and another year is in the books. Most of us are still here but its hard to tell if any of us still like each other. Lots of people still have a hard time seeing past party boundaries and misguided political correctness. I’m going to cover a lot of the usual retrospective topics, I might throw in a couple of new items. So with that said, time for the 2018 Year in Review.

Notable Celebrity Deaths

I know this is rather macabre but I like to take this opportunity to talk about the celebrities we lost this year. I have two reasons for doing this. The important reason being to honor their memory. These people brought joy and entertainment to our lives, we owe them some homage. The other reason is merely for acknowledgement. There have been times in the past when I did not know a celebrity has passed away (e.g. when Leslie Nielsen died).

I’m only going to mention those in the entertainment industry. While I believe any person in political office definitely deserves recognition, I avoid making any political statements or allude to political leaning. Therefore I avoid mentioning specific names so as to not show favoritism toward any one political party. I will say that I appreciate their valuable service to our country and that I hope their actions were driven by their heart and values and not by kickbacks or constituent persuasion.

Celebrity Deaths: TV

John Mahoney as Martin Crane

Jerry Van Dyke (86) is widely known for his role as Luther in Coach. He was also the younger brother of legendary actor Dick Van Dyke. I didn’t watch a lot of Coach but Luther was hilarious, much like Jerry himself. Going from brother’s to father’s, I was really sad to learn about the passing of John Mahoney (77). My all time favorite show is Frasier and John Mahoney was Martin Crane, the crotchety father of Niles and Frasier. One of the most surprising facts about John Mahoney that blew my mind, he was born in the UK, he should have had an accent very similar to Daphne Moon in Frasier. Speaking of great shows from the past, Night Court was a fantastic show from the mid-80s with the honorable Harry Stone portrayed by Harry Anderson (65) who left us too soon from a stroke.

Celebrity Deaths: Movies

I know several of the TV actors that passed away were also in movies, but they are better known for their TV roles. So, with that said, we start notable movie deaths with R. Lee Ermey (74). Everyone probably knows him best as Gny. Sgt. Hartman in Full Metal Jacket, I think a drill sergeant is a role he was most comfortable playing as it seemed its a role he

Mini-Me

was always playing. We had to give a heartfelt good-bye to “the Bandit“, Burt Reynolds (82) was definitely one of the “good ol’ boys” and watching old Celebrity Jeopardy videos will never be the same. Speaking of iconic roles, Verne Troyer (49) will always be known for his role as “Mini-Me” in the Austin Powers franchise. He brought a lot of joy to the role however, despite all that Verne Troyer drank himself to death. Please watch your friends for early warning signs of depression. There were far too many celebrity suicides this year and I’m sure it represents a mere sample size of the number of deaths by suicide in the country.

And Then There’s Stan Lee

I’ve already said a lot about Stan Lee. Losing him is a mighty blow to Marvel and comic book fans. X-Men is the only comic book I ever read as a kid and I’ve enjoyed all of the comics brought to the screen. Stan Lee inspired all geeks to be ourselves and fight for your dreams. He would have been 96 this past December; while nearly a century old, his legacy will live on for many centuries to come.  

Continue Reading for Movies, FitBit Stats and Biggs’s Lab projects