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From the Notebook

English: Salman Khan, famous for the Khan Acad...

English: Salman Khan, famous for the Khan Academy, speaking at TED 2011. Cropped from the original. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just more boring summer reviews. Nothing else going on.

– Saw the movie “Prometheus” a couple of weeks back. And it was unwatchable. I would have walked out, but my theater has no pinball machine and I was with friends. It’s a prequel to “Alien” but I didn’t know that going in (and I found myself thinking, almost through the entire movie “this is just a ripoff of Alien”). The plot makes no sense; you have to fill in all the gaps that are left completely unexplained with your own imagination. And my imagination was much more interested in trying to clip my fingernails (which will make you a very unpopular person in a movie theater). I asked for, and got, an apology from the friend who chose this movie.

-Watched the entire Khan Academy MicroEcon Playlist; Sal explains most of the common topics covered in an introductory MicroEcon class. He actually covers more information than what was included in my MicroEcon 1001 course. It’s remarkable this level of instruction is available for free.

-Also got through the American Civics Playlist on Khan Academy. Here, Sal explains some of the basics of American polity, including how we pick a president and what our present budget situation looks like (it’s ugly). Another very good playlist to watch. Some of it will be reivew material for the politically interested, but it never hurts to review the basics.

-At the end of June, I will have been on Khan Academy for a full year, though I didn’t create an account until July 20th. On average, I have watched a video every day, and completed a math skills test every weekday. I can’t describe how edifying the hole experience has been, and how great it is to fill the knowledge gaps left by 12 years of government schooling.

Books Read:

John Sandford‘s “Silent Prey“; Sandford finally gets back to what made his earlier Prey books so good: a fast moving story filled with real jeopardy, interesting characters, and a dose of humor. 

Plato‘s “Statesman”; in this dialogue, Plato tries to pin down exactly what is the true nature of a “statesman” and what constitutes the science of statesmanship. There are some fascinating passages, including more material attacking democracy. A true statesmen is like a basket weaver; if you’re wondering. (This text is part of the GBWW 10-year reading plan)

– “Kill Shot” by Vince Flynn; it’s Flynn’s second retrospective Mitch Rapp novel. And it’s not fun. There is a great scene in the first part of the book, as Mitch Rapp gets ambushed by some bad guys. Then there’s almost 200 pages of plodding, boring, uninteresting plot points (mostly scenes of people having meetings). Finally, there’s some gun play at the end. And because we know Mitch Rapp lives to save the US dozens of times later on in the timeline, we know Rapp isn’t going to die. It’s possible to make retrospective novels interesting, but Flynn fails here.

-“101 Golf Tips” by Peter Ballingall; I’ve read it before, but I haven’t reviewed it before. The copy I have is dated, but from what I can tell there’s a newer version available. The tips are somewhat helpful, and I’ll probably pick this book up and review some things on occasion. It’s definitely for true beginners.


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