Tuesday, May 13, 2008

1001 Books to read

Here's a list of great books one is apparently supposed to have read. Sadly, great non-fiction works are omitted. Here's how I add up:

Book - Author (Reason)

Choke – Chuck Palahniuk (last year, I think)
Life of Pi – Yann Martel (borrowed from Dad two years ago)
Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson (read two years ago, must read again)
The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul – Douglas Adams
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – Douglas Adams
The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco (read after an undergrad class in Semiotics. Great.)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams (all Douglas Adams is excellent. I have read each of three multiple times)
Watchmen – Alan Moore & David Gibbons (A graphic novel. Excellent.)
Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (Finished recently. I tried reading when I was 11, but I was too young and gave up.)
Slaughterhouse-five – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (in Southeast Asia last summer)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick (read in an anthology a few years ago)
Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert Heinlein (read a few years ago)
Catch-22 – Joseph Heller (my favourite novel. ever.)
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee (for high school english)
The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien (Long, but imaginative. My opinion is mixed on whether books should have multiple appendices.)
Lord of the Flies – William Golding (for high school english)
The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger (during high school, outside class)
A Modest Proposal – Jonathan Swift (not sure why this is on the list, as its an essay. But I have read it)
Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe (during high school, outside class)
Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell (during high school, outside class)
Animal Farm – George Orwell (during high school, outside class)
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien (I think when I was younger than 12)
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley (during high school, outside class)
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald (for high school english)
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad Defoe (during high school, outside class)
The Time Machine – H.G. Wells (when I was much younger)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain (in Southeast Asia last summer)
Little Women – Louisa May Alcott (Mom gave it to me?)
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens (for high school english)


In Progress:
Ulysses – James Joyce

Saw as a movie:
Atonement – Ian McEwan (recent)
Trainspotting – Irvine Welsh (twice)
American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis (on David's recommendation)
The Cider House Rules – John Irving (few years ago)
Schindler’s Ark – Thomas Keneally (motivation for Schindler's List, which I saw on Sunday.)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson
The Godfather – Mario Puzo
2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C. Clarke (I actually really don't like this film. It does nothing new for me and is horribly paced.)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick (Bladerunner)
Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak (Mom's favourite movie)
Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell (This was playing a few times around the Freeman household in my youth)
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad (As the excellent adaptation Apocalypse Now)
Ben-Hur – Lew Wallace (Dad's favourite movie)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Victor Hugo (yay Disney!)

Gave up:
Foucault’s Pendulum – Umberto Eco (A book profoundly stupid in detail. I realized I wasn't gaining by reading it)

Want to read:

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson
The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
Neuromancer – William Gibson
Trainspotting – Irvine Welsh
Naked Lunch – William Burroughs
The Island of Dr. Moreau – H.G. Wells
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky
Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There – Lewis Carroll
A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Tristram Shandy – Laurence Sterne
Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
Foundation – Isaac Asimov

Originally taken from John August's blog.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Can you copyright a brain?

I just got back from an interesting (although limited) session on Canadian copyright for artists at Kingston's Artel, which got some mental juices going from something I heard about when I was visiting the Dynamic Graphics Project (where I'm doing my Master's)

There is currently ongoing research in augmenting participant's memory and other cognitive abilities using recording devices, for both Alzheimer's and Autism. From what I have heard, the results of using a recording device is incredibly valuable. In one case where a camera would hang around an Alzheimer's patient's neck and intermittently take pictures throughout the day, memory performance was compared to a control group and the use of a diary. It was found that not only did reviewing the recorded pictures perform better in event recall but that, whereas other memory-recording techniques would fade over time, the use of pictures which were reviewed once ensured that the memories created were permanent. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find the original paper to link to.

Now, let's return to copyright. Recently, there has been an unfortunate movement to ban public photography, frequently on the basis of copyright as a guise to prevent terrorism. While I think that this is clearly ridiculous, not to mention simply impractical, it raises the question of where the information is going (and how can we wrangle it!). I mean, should my friend with photographic memory not be allowed out in public, unless she is equipped with some sort of distraction device so she can't concentrate on creating a "copy" of the surroundings? I think we all can agree that we cannot control the existence of a "copy" in a human brains, except perhaps that which falls under a non-disclosure agreement. This is illustrated humorously above in the ingenious xkcd.

So then, if we cannot copyright brain contents, yet we can copyright pictures, then what about the Alzheimer's patients who could use photography to augment their daily lives. In fact, they would not be able to function as normal human beings without it. You could say, then, that the camera is, in fact, an extension of and therefore is a part of their brain and similar laws should apply. I'm on the patient's side.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Weekend Roundup

This past weekend:

- My best friend Dave came up from Guelph.
- I volunteered for Admitted Students Day at Queen's.
- I saw Iron Man with Dave, and my other friend Daniel and housemate Jack.
- Visited Free Comic Books Day, saw nothing I really liked.
- Watched three famous movies I had not seen before: Shawshank Redemption, Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock and Amadeus.
- Started playing with some Image Processing stuff on paper.
- Went for a bike ride.
- Had a recording session for the radio play I'm in.

Generally, I had a pretty sweet weekend. Let there be more!