Weekly Update #3

Again, not much done this week because of wedding planning and job stress. ^^;

However, I got through 3 chapters of A History of Western Philosophy:

  1. The Rise of Science
  2. Francis Bacon
  3. Hobbes’s Leviathan

(and a little bit into Descartes but I’ll leave that for next time…)

“The Rise of Science” summarizes the work of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton. It talks about how Protestantism led the way for the rise of science because it broke up of the Roman Church into national churches, which weakened the Church so it was less able to suppress science. Continue reading

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders


Rating: ☆☆

January 2016


I’ve been following Charlie Jane Anders’ career for a couple of years now, and so I was super excited when I heard that she released a science fiction/fantasy novel. She was a writer and editor at i09, a science, science fiction, and pop culture news blog. Charlie Jane Anders is also the host of Writers with Drinks, a cross-genre reading series which you should definitely go to at least once if you like science fiction or literature and live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before All the Birds she published two short stories for Tor, a coming-of-age novel about a choir boy, and a humorous guide to casual crossdressing for men and transwomen (The Lazy Crossdresser).

Since i09 and Writers with Drinks are both crossgenre mashups, it’s not surprising that All the Birds in the Sky follows suit, sitting directly on the line between science fiction and fantasy and refusing to be pushed to either side. The structure of the story weaves the two threads of magic and technology together as well as is probably possible (the plot does have a couple of holes, I’ll get into those later). It’s about a girl named Patricia who’s a witch and a boy named Laurence who is a computer wizard. The story starts with the main characters in middle school, skips a few years, and then picks up their story again when they are young adults living and working in San Francisco. Continue reading

Weekly Update

Another week, another, uh… 25 pages.

Oy this book goes slow!

I’ve been reading A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell, slowly, a couple of pages every morning. It’s kind of relaxing but I wish I could read faster and I don’t know how much of it will stick. I’m taking notes and I’m planning to go back through them and type them up at the end (and probably post them here as a kind of very informal, personal Cliff’s Notes).

Anyway, I got 25 pages into the Modern Philosophy section, though the chapters on “The Italian Renaissance”, “Machiavelli”, “Erasmus and More” (Thomas More), and “The Reformation and Counter-Reformation”. In these chapters, Russell points that the corruption of the Church in Renaissance Italy and the strife over religion during the Reformation pushed people towards secular modes of thought. Continue reading

But Why is the Blog Dead?

It’s not dead, it just looks that way… 

I realize I haven’t posted in a while, and this is for two reasons:

  1. Life Stuff – I’m engaged! And we bought a house! Unpacking boxes + decorating has taken a significant chunk out of my reading time. Also Fanime happened and my parents came to visit and…
  2. I’ve been reading one very long somewhat dry book that I started the summer of 2013 and have been reading off and on. It’s A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell.

I really love Bertrand Russell’s writing style. He never shies away from making a statement and he peppers his history with bits of dry snark (not so much that it distracts from the subject matter… maybe every 25, 50, 100 pages). Continue reading

Why do you study Japanese?

japan-650033_960_720If you’ve ever studied Japanese at university or you’ve applied to a job that involved knowledge of Japanese, you’ve probably been asked some variation of this question: “Why did you decide to study Japanese?” On its face it seems like a simple question, but as most people who have taken Japanese in school know, the majority of Westerners learning Japanese are doing so in order to watch anime or read manga in the original language. You could give the honest answer: “I am learning Japanese because I like manga and anime”, but this brands you with the stigma of otaku. You don’t want your interviewer to think you are lazy, annoying, or anti-social, but unfortunately this the impression most people have of otaku. So how do you answer the question honestly while sounding like a professional?

You can tell a story, like “My best friend in 3rd grade was from Japan and we used to watch Doraemon and other Japanese shows together” or “I’ve been interested in Japanese art and culture since I learned how to make paper cranes in middle school.”

If some of your family is Japanese, you can give that as a reason, or talk about family vacations in Japan or plans to visit Japan in the future.

But what if you don’t have any friends or family who speak Japanese? Continue reading