Musings of Navigating The Finite remainder of life from Porchville, with the hope of a glimpse of The Infinite

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Google Doodle Masthead, Robert Bunsen's 200th Birthday

Today's Google Doodle Masthead is Robert Bunsen's 200 th birthday.  The image was an animation so I had to do a screen print and hack the doodle out of the pasted screen.  It is 1:00 AM and I am falling down tired, so you can find out about Robert Bunsen and his famous Burner at:

Wikipedia, Robert Bunsen

which is also the source of the image of Bunsen.  If you read this while the doodle is still displayed on Google, try moving your mouse around the screen.  The flame changes colors and the various vessels change liquid level.  Time for bed.

Check Out This New Blog, La Salle River Ramblings

EDIT 9/21/14: This blog has been resurrected with the new name of Flatlander's Ramblings

I picked up a new follower the other day which is great, I need all the readers I can get, but more importantly I became a follower to my follower!  VW Busman started a new blog:

La Salle River Ramblings

Flatlander's Ramblings

and I am excited about it.  He has several excellent blogs already on rebuilding old trucks which will appeal to those with such an interest, but his new blog should have a wider appeal.  He has some posts going already and he writes in the style of our mutual late hero John Jerome.  I very much enjoy his work.  Not only does he have a talent for writing but he has a keen eye for framing beautiful photos.  There is a stark boldness about his photos of winter in Manitoba that just pervades my Soul with loneliness.   I have included one of his photos here.  As I read his posts, I feel like I am reading a letter from an old friend.  I feel that we may be kindred Souls--well kindred weirdos anyhow--few people love walking down railroad tracks.  We certainly have many of the same interests and sensitivities. Check out his blog, I think you will be delighted.

Image Credit:

La Salle River Ramblings, Meanderings, VW Busman 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Love For Old Pick-up Trucks

The subject today is old pickup trucks and it is inspired by the synchronicity of a comment from a new follower who mentioned John Jerome’s book Truck which I have been reading for the past week.  Synchronicities are odd occurrences to which I think we should pay attention.  Why when I am reading Truck does a person out of blue comment on the book?  Is it just one of those things or is there an unseen current that flows?  I have run into this before and I just wonder is there something more to the world than what meets the eye?  I would like to think so, but probably not.  We just are probably tuned to finding otherwise random occurrences and making a big deal about them in our minds.   Well that will be a topic for another day.  Today’s thoughts are on a love for old pickup trucks.  So first I have to mention John Jerome’s book Truck.  John Jerome was one of those guys who exuded a homey wisdom without getting prissy about it.  He wanted a better way to bring horseshit to his garden, so he decided to restore an old truck.  I haven’t finished the book yet, but it is one of those classic Jerome works where hidden right under the surface of the words is all this woodsy Walden Pond New England wisdom on the proper conduct of life—led simply away from large cities and with a woman with whom you can go skinny dipping.  Yes in a book about restoring a truck Jerome tells of how he and his wife Chris go skinny dipping in the creek on their farm.  God how I hate living in the suburbs!  The fact that minor obscenities peppers his writing as it does in mine, doesn't hurt his standing in my favorite writers hall of fame.  A worthless laurel, but exceeding rare., Truck, John Jerome   

Jerome goes into a good bit of detail of the parts and the various problems encountered.  He provides simple but remarkably accurate and effective line drawings to help the reader understand a particular aspect of his rebuilding effort.  He speaks of his lack of competency—a battle which I have fought all my life.  How can I be so damned incompetent when it comes to working with my hands?  The field of carpentry being a prime example.  “Measure twice, cut once” so the old saw about sawing goes.  Why is it that I measure 50 times and cut 10 times each time whittling away at too much material until I make the final fatal cut too short and always at some cockeyed angle rather than square?  I have a repository of wood laying in the cellar with visibly crappy angles cut in them from various failed projects over the years.  In mechanics, I am better, but too damned slow.  So I can richly identify with his concerns on competency.  For the most part I am a buffoon when it come to working with my hands.  Unlike Jerome, however, I have made damn little money with writing.  I sold a half dozen magazine articles and co-authored a really crappy book on computers back in the early days of Commodore PETs.  I don’t believe that I made much more than $1,000 from my total writing efforts.  Incompetent indeed! 

In my image search for the cover of Truck, I found a really good review of the book:

Pif Magazine, Review of Truck, by Rachel Barenblat

By the way it should be noted that the ratty truck on the cover is not a 1950 Dodge, but rather (I am guessing) either a 56 or 57 Chevy or GMC.  An older version of the book had a closer version of the real truck on the cover.  Why the new cover with totally the wrong truck is a mystery, but it should be noted that curmudgeons such as myself do note such things and it counts against the publisher—although not the author who is in no position to protest unfortunately. (John Jerome died in 2002, truly a tragic loss of a great writer).  You can’t just slap any picture of a shitty old truck on the cover of a book devoted to a 50 Dodge. 

For some reason this is turning into a post about books on old trucks rather than a post on old trucks.  Next book, Truck, A Love Story by Michael Perry.  A small town Wisconsin volunteer fire fighter tells us of rebuilding an old International pickup.  The story parallels his developing love for a woman.  The romantic in me liked that.  He also tells us that he has the hots for Irma Harding.  It seems that International Harvester had a line of freezers and they invented Irma Harding as a Betty Crocker like cook to give one a bunch or recipes for that corn that you plowed with your IH Farmall tractor, planted and harvested with your IH implements, and froze in your IH freezer.  With all this preponderance of corporate initials, I wonder why General Mills chose Betty Crocker rather than Gertrude Miller., Truck, A Love Story, Michael Perry

Again an image search for the cover revealed that Michael Perry is doing quite well.  Here is his website’s ad for the book:, Truck, A Love Story

Irma Harding
I always like when I can steal an image from the author’s website, less chance I will hear from lawyers.  If I am pitching your book in my lowly blog, it would be downright rude to ask me to remove the cover image.  Anyhow Perry’s book is both entertaining for the restoration of a truck and the making of a marriage.  Two things I really love in life, old pickup trucks and good marriages.  I highly recommend both. 

Irma Harding's Initials
So for all my love for old pickups how many have I owned?  Exactly one, which by the way is the same number of marriages that I have had, and I intend to keep it that way no matter how much like a bonobo I am.  When a bonobo restores a pickup truck, I will consider another woman.   I bought a restored 59 Dodge with a flathead 6 (probably the same engine as Jerome’s) a few days before I left for Thailand.  Why in the hell would I buy a truck several days before leaving for Thailand?  Well it is complicated but the truck was a good deal.  I was going to live in California and go to school when I got out of the service and work for a guy that had just retired from the Air Force.  He ran into the truck and it was a good price.  So I bought it and he kept it for me while I was in Thailand.  Unfortunately my father had a debilitating stroke and rather than going back to California, I returned to Pittsburgh.  I give the truck to my buddy to pay for some work he did on my car for me.  So while I owned the truck for about year, I only drove it for a couple of days.  It was cool but kind of frumpy.  The max speed was about 60, but it could pull a stump out of the ground with low end torque.  And perhaps as an odd example of synchronicity (although hardly synchronous) my buddy had restored an early 50’s International pickup truck.  He did a beautiful job with it and sort of used the truck as an advertisement to his body work abilities.

If I had more money and was not so lazy I would consider owning two old trucks, any year of Dodge Power Wagons (the real ones made from 40’s to the 60’s that looked like military trucks—not the phony regular Dodge pickups with Power Wagon emblazoned on the hood)  In fact if I won the lottery (not likely to happen due to the fact that winning the lottery requires the purchase of a ticket—an activity to which I remain a virgin), I would go buy this truck.

Hot Rods & Custom Stuff, Power Wagons

I love this truck, if I had the cash I would just keep offering more until the guy sold it to me.  Everyone has their price.  Alas no cash, so what the hell I keep a picture of it on my screen saver.


Another truck I love is a 56 Ford.  Here is a lovely example (although I hate the fact that it has been lowered—which to me looks as dumb as it is impractical).

Advanced Connected, 56 Ford Restore

I do have enough cash to own a 56 Ford—the Hallmark ornament.  It hangs on the Christmas tree every year.  Hallmark needs to come out with a Power Wagon (the old kind).

And to my new follower, I see you like VW buses.  So I have a story regarding such.  When I was in college I worked in a gas station.  A woman had a VW microbus and often stopped for gas in the morning while driving her lovely daughter to a private school.  The daughter was always dressed in an austere private school uniform that left everything to the imagination.  I had never seen this girl in anything but the VW microbus wearing her austere uniform and a rather austere look on her face.  Then one day she came in driving a brand new Mustang convertible—a graduation present from her parents.  She was wearing a low cut mini-dress, showing a lot of cleavage and a lot of leg—neither hard to look at.  We had a rather pleasant chat for about 15 minutes and she had the most wonderful smile.  I left for the Air Force two days later.  Shit!

EDIT 3-27-11: Going back to the Jerome Post my follower left another comment, he is not only rebuilding an 1951 International, he has a blog here on Blogger about it:

1951 International L110 Project

Talk about synchronicity!  My buddy's truck in California was a L110.  I think it may have been a 53 or 54 but it looked almost identical to this one.  Very cool.

EDIT 3-30-11: I found another article on the Power Wagon at Hot Rods & Custom Stuff that gives a nice history of the Power Wagon:

Hot Rods & Custom Stuff, 1957 Power Wagon Truck

Upon further reflection, had I been asked to create a name for International Harvester's mythical cook, I would chosen Ina Harvey,  Betty Crocker would have been Genny Miller, and Phillis Berry would replace that stupid dough boy. This is probably why I don't work in advertising. 

 Image Credits:

IH Logo: Tractor

Irma Harding:

Other images, web sites listed near image.  

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Harry Houdini's 137th Birthday Google Doodle Masthead

Damn a Google Doodle Masthead and I am on this stupid business trip working God awful hours and have no time to write anything.  Well look on the bright side, the world is saved yet another bunch of blather on a subject in which I know nothing about.

Well I think I remember one thing about Houdini.  He died from the trauma he received by betting people that he could take any blow to the gut that they could deliver.  What a stupid way to die.  OK I couldn't resist, I looked it up in Wikipedia, apparently the blows were delivered before Houdini could properly tighten his abdomenal muscles.  Still what a stupid way to die.  Chalk one up for testosterone.  I wonder if the individual delivering the blows took some pride in defeating Houdini?  Idiots, both!  Sorry but I just don't see the glory in being able to withstand punches to the gut. 

Wikipedia lists Houdini as an "escapologist".  I don't believe I have ever heard that term before.  I must quit and get ready for work.  Happy birthday Harry Houdini. 

Image Credits:

Google Doodle:   Google  

Houdini 1899:    Wikipedia, Harry Houdini

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bittersweet Part II

I am on what should be the last business trip of my career…my career is quick running out. I am retiring on May first. I am in Georgia to test one of our products at our customer’s test facility. I have been here before numerous times but not for the past 4 years. Again I experience a wisp of a bittersweet sentiment trickling through my veins. It will be good to never come back here again. This facility is a pain in the ass, yet I find myself regarding the place with something almost approaching the mourning for a lost friend. It is very odd. Of course I am going to miss the people, I already miss some of them. The vagaries and ravishes of life have taken some of the people I worked with previously…one having died from cancer and many others laid off. It hurts to find out that people with whom you have worked and grown to like have suffered some dire physical or economic calamity.

This is the place where the three young women whooped my ass on the canal walking trail. I have been down to the trail and in my memory relived my sorry walking defeat to the three cheering women at the 2 mile marker. I would not attempt such foolishness now. Because I am wiser? No, because the pain in my knees and back will put me on immediate notice of the ill-advisement of such an endeavor. I haven’t grown wiser, only more decrepit. If I regard work with some notion of loss, I find a notion of desperation with the thought that I may never see the canal trail again. Well you dipshit you could drive down anytime you want and walk the canal again. True, but why would I return to a place that I have been numerous times when there is so much of the country that I have not seen at all? More bittersweet sentiments.

My father was the baby of his family, significantly younger than his siblings, and as such my sister and I are the grand babies of the family being significantly younger than our cousins. I never remember any of my cousins from my father’s side not being adults. One of my cousins and his wife left Pittsburgh before my teens. All I knew was that he lived in the south and I have only seen him twice at funerals since the early 60s. I was surprised to find out that he lived only 3 hours from where I work in Georgia. I went to visit him and his wife over the weekend.

It is odd to sit down with a couple you barely know and yet share a family history. We spoke of family members, yet from entirely different perspectives. My grandfather died in a car accident when I was a toddler, so I asked my cousin what he was like. We spoke of far flung relatives, people that I have heard names yet probably have never met.

What struck me talking to my cousin was not so much the information that I garnered about the family, but rather his mannerisms and facial expressions, the likes of which I have not seen since 1972--the last time I came home on leave from the service. Talking with my cousin was like talking with my father, their shared mannerisms and tone of voice was spooky. My father had a debilitating stroke in 1974. When I came back from the service my father’s mannerisms of speech were gone, destroyed by the stroke. So chatting with my cousin was like climbing in a time machine and listening to my dead father from 39 years ago.

My cousin’s life has not always been easy. His father died when my cousin was in his teens, my cousin’s first child died of a childhood disease, and his sister died relatively young. My cousin has known his share of pain and heartbreak. Now in his “golden” years he suffers from a pulmonary disorder and is on oxygen. Walking across a room is an exhausting effort. His wife has her share of health problems as well and her hands are cruelly deformed from crippling rheumatoid arthritis.

Despite their infirmities both have a wonderful sense of humor, are stoic about their situation, and give thanks for each other. They are very much still in love with each other after a half century of marriage. They are a cute couple to watch. They have developed an effortless symbiosis to deal with their disabilities. She brings a jar to him and without a word passing between them he opens it for her and hands it back. Every now and again he would say to me “I think I will get a glass of water” or some other minor want. A moment later she would appear from another room with his glass of water. He said to me repeatedly that she was his angel and that if she went first that he would follow within a day. Therein lays the bittersweet rub of my cousin and his wife. No, bittersweet is too tame of a term. Cruelty is more like it. We fall in love, we marry, we live together for decades, become dependent on each other for love, security and a sense of purpose, and then one dies and leaves the other to face the world alone. How terribly damned cruel life can be.

As I drove back from my visit, I found myself deeply depressed and very much missing my wife. I was glad to have visited, yet was morose over their health and the impending doom which they face. Yes they were cheerful and stoic, but still I could not get over the depressing thought that it is only a matter of time before the world shatters for them. Well that is true for all of us is it not, only a matter of time?

Joyce Carol Oates has recently published an account of the loss of her husband in her book A Widow’s Story. You can read an interview with her regarding this experience here:

PBS Newshour: Joyce Carol Oates on Widowhood's World of Absurdity

Joan Didion also wrote a book a few years ago on the same topic, The Year of Magical Thinking. Both books detail the shock and grief of the loss of a lifelong spouse. I have added both of these titles to my must read list.

So again I am drawn to the darker side of the navigation of the finite. I feel the weight of impending doom crushing down upon what little time I have left, and again regard my forth coming retirement with a jaded eye. I just can’t get beyond the notion that I am about to celebrate the ribbon cutting ceremony of the final chapters of story that is not going to end well. Bittersweet indeed!

You can read all of my retirement related posts at:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Google Doodle Masthead, 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day

Yesterday, Google had a Google Doodle on their masthead commemorating the 100 anniversary of International Women’s Day.  Google along with Women For Women International also helped promote the “Join Women On The Bridge”.  Supporters were to meet on hundreds of bridges through out the world in a show of support for women and women issues.  The United Nations theme for 2011 is “Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women.”  The global theme is women and men united to end violence against women and girls which is being actively supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

You can read more on the history of International Women’s Day and how it is observed in various countries at Wikipedia, International Women's Day.

In Pittsburgh there was “Join Women On The Bridge” on the Rachel Carson Bridge in downtown Pittsburgh.  A group of women were on hand expressing concerns for the women of Afghanistan especially after the Nato and US forces leave the country. 

You can find out more information on International Women’s Day and the “Join Women on the Bridge" programs at the following websites. 


Google, International Women's Day, Join Women On The Bridge 

 Women For, Women for Women International and Google Team Up to Present “Join Me on the Bridge”

International Women's 

International Committee of The Red Cross, International Women's Day: the fight against sexual violence must not falter

WDUQ 90.5 FM News, Women’s Day Celebrated on Bridge 

Image Credits:

Google Doodle: Google

Photo Women on The Rachel Carson Bridge:  WDUQ 90.5 FM News, Women’s Day Celebrated on Bridge 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Google Doodle Masthead, Will Eisner's 94th Birthday

Click On Images To View Full Size.

Today the Google Masthead is commemorating Will Eisner’s 94th birthday.  So who is Will Eisner?  I never heard of him.  I clicked on the masthead and then clicked the Wikipedia article.  American comics writer.  Well that’s that, I have no interest with comics and I started to close the article.  I had departed with the comics about the time I was 12 years old, and have never found any interest in the medium since.  Before I closed the article, I grabbed the page slider and whipped down through the article and found three cover images that spiked my interest.  The first was a busty dame in a slinky red dress saying that this story is not for little boys.  Well that appealed to my lecherous side.  The second was very odd.  It looked like an Army maintenance manual done in comic book form.  The third though floored me, Contract With God, what a religious comic book?

OK so now I had to check this guy out.  Again comics are not my bag so forgive my brevity.  Eisner was one of the most influential people in the medium and the industry created awards and a hall of fame named after him.  You can read about him at Wikipedia, Will Eisner.  What interested me was his interest in writing comics for adults (the old usage of “adult”—people over 21 not X rated content) and this series involving God.  The aim for an adult audience first showed when Eisner created The Spirit.  The newspaper wanted a superhero and asked if The Spirit had a costume.  Eisner wanting a character appealing to adults put a mask on The Spirit and replied yes he has a costume.

Eisner employed his drawing ability in the Second World War by creating maintenance manuals for the Army in a comics format.  Eisner continued to create manuals for the Army until 1970. 

The desire to appeal to adults appeared again to Eisner in the 1970s.  After attending a comic book conference, it occurred to him that his audience of the 1940’s had grown up.  So he decided to develop a graphic novel that would appeal to adults and part of that novel would be devoted to God.  Eisner later stated in the preface to the Contract of God trilogy that the death of his daughter was a motivating force for the novel:

“My only daughter, Alice, had died of leukemia eight years before the publication of this book. My grief was still raw. My heart still bled. In fact, I could not even then bring myself to discuss the loss. I made Frimme Hersh’s daughter an “adopted child.” But his anguish was mine. His argument with God was also mine. I exorcised my rage at a deity that I believed violated my faith and deprived my lovely 16-year-old child of her life at the very flowering of it. This is the first time in thirty-four years that I have openly discussed it.” ~ Will Eisner*

Now here is something I can sink my teeth into.  No I have no interest in comics or graphic novels, and no I am not going to order Contract With God from Amazon.  But here is something that appeals to the grief voyeurism that is defining property in my Soul resulting from my Irish “abiding sense of tragedy”.   A comic book creator is so grief struck over the death of his daughter that he creates a graphic novel in which he rails at God.  This is the reason I wrote this post, not to celebrate one of the greats of the comic industry and the father of the graphic novel, but to commemorate a father’s love for his daughter and his despair with God. 

You can order The Contract With God Trilogy  and Eisner’s other books at Amazon:, The Contract With God Trilogy

If you go to the above web page at Amazon, you can see some of the artwork employed in the book by clicking on the “Click to Look Inside” feature.  The available pages are limited, but it will give you a flavor for Eisner’s work. 


*Eisner's quote from the preface of The Contract With God Trilogy: Bookie Mee, The Contract With God Trilogy 

Google Doodle: Google

Cover Images:  Wikipedia, Will Eisner

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I Can't Think

I just read an interesting article in the March 7, 2011 issue of NewsweekI Can’t Think by Sharon Begley, one of my favorite science writers. 

Newsweek, I Cant Think, by Sharon Begley

The main thrust of this article is that the many sources of information available to us instantly may be causing us to make poorer choices in lieu of better more thoughtful decisions.  The article speaks of how functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) has been employed to show that the area of our brains responsible for good decision making, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, can literally shut down under information overload.  However the problem is compounded in a double whammy in that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex also keeps the emotions in reign.  So in essence, one’s ability for wise choice suffers from two problems, the decision making hardware shuts down, and the emotions begin to run amuck.

Begley reports in the article that the research in this area is pointing to specific problem areas:

•    Total Failure To Decide:  Too many choices can create a failure to decide.  Begley mentions experience with 401K plans.  The more choices offered by the plan, the less the rate of participation and those who do participate tend to choose the worse options.  I have had direct experience with this.  I found the choices and the explanation of the risks to be daunting and opted for the plan with the absolute lousiest return.  I always told myself that one of these days I will sit down and figure out what is the best plan, and I never did. 

•    Many Diminishing Returns:  As one collects more and more information on the various choices of a problem or decision, the advantages of the unselected choices tend to breed contempt for the choice made.  One will tend to suffer buyers remorse because all of the choices offered a huge cornucopia of advantages but any one selection has a limited number of advantages.  Hence instead of seeing your choice as the wisest among a set of competitors, you may see it as a poor choice among a total set of all the advantages—thus none of your choices could live up to your expectations.  Anytime I buy something somewhat complex, I am usually surprised to find within a day or so that “Jees this thing doesn’t have the franistat, and I was sure that it did.”  I will go back and look at my research and sure enough this model did not have the franistat but somehow in my decision process, I added the franistat in my mind.

•    ‘Recency’ Trumps Quality:  We tend to value the most recent information over older information often ignoring the importance of more relevant albeit older information.  This tendency leads to this observation by Eric Kessler, a management expert at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business:

“We’re fooled by immediacy and quantity and think it’s quality.  What starts driving decisions is the urgent rather than the important.” 

Hmmm.  I know some people that I would like to tattoo that quote on the back of their hand.  Which while I have my tattoo equipment out, I would tattoo this observation regarding immediacy on the back of their other hand:

“We’re being trained to prefer an immediate decision even if it’s bad to a later decision that’s better,” says psychologist Clifford Nass of Stanford University. “In business, we’re seeing a preference for the quick over the right, in large part because so many decisions have to be made. The notion that the quick decision is better is becoming normative.”

•    The Neglected Unconscious:  Have you ever had the experience of a choice or an answer to some problem just jumped into your mind at some seemly unrelated time?  You are not even thinking of the problem yet your mind is ruminating on it, off in one of the little visited side offices far from the control room of your conscious decision.  Such decisions should be embraced because one of the most powerful tools known to man have been quietly working on the problem trying to find a solution.  But for this process to work the incessant inflow of information must stop.  Your unconscious needs a stable set of fixed data to work with, it can not handle a constant ticker tape of new and immediate information.  The sheer rapid availability of huge amounts of information short circuits our unconscious processing because we find it difficult to stop inputting information on the problem.  This next web page or email may be the decisive factor, but invariably it is just more noise and that wonderful problem solver in your unconscious mind never gets the process command.  

So what to do about this influx of endless information which threatens to undermine our thinking and decisions?  Begley recommends realizing that your unconscious is a powerhouse of decision making.  She states that one should collect a reasonable amount of research on the subject, then stop…get off-line.  Focus on a limited number of strong points and ignore the chatter.  I would further recommend to stop thinking about it altogether after laying out the important parameters of the problem.  Just put the problem to rest and work on something else.  Take a walk outside or occupy your self with mindless busy work.  Give it a little time and suddenly you may be floored with the insight that just drops out of nowhere.  Then have the courage to run with the decision that your mind handed you, free of charge, and almost guaranteed to be the best solution available.

When you think of it, we are part of a massive social experiment.  For those of us old enough to get junk mail from AARP think back to when you were a kid and you had to research some project for school.  You went to the library and found a few books and some periodicals.  You copied as much information as you could and basically regurgitated it to your paper switching around enough words and dumbing down the language so the teacher wouldn't accuse you of plagiarism.  Now with a few clicks of a mouse on a high speed Internet connection, you can have a volume of information that would take months to sort through. What does the weight of this onslaught of instantly available information do to our ability to critically think about a problem? How does one discern the facts from opinion or outright propaganda?  There is no control of what appears on the Internet.  How does this affect the mass thinking of a society or culture?  Are we going to lose the ability to think for ourselves because the apparent correct answer is two clicks away?  How vulnerable are we to manipulation?  For instance, by merely applying a few easily changed logic rules, search engines can manipulate the order in which results are displayed.  Could we be manipulated by a search engine posting what it considers favorable results on a specific issue first and burying detrimental results 4 or 5 pages deep?  In some ways technology can be extremely frightening.     

The article mentioned a book by James Gleick The Information.  A History, A Theory, A Flood.  In one of those of odd coincidences, I have seen this book referenced in several other places in the past few days.  Some internal counter clicked but the book seemed to fail to take root in the dim light of the fire of my conscious.  When I saw it mentioned in the Newsweek article, I immediately went to Amazon and bought the book for my Kindle without even reading the description.  Click…slam, bam, in less than 60 seconds I am the proud owner of a book that I made little effort to research.  I don’t believe the gist of the article was to buy impulsively, yet that is what I did.  James Gleick is an excellent author.  I doubt I will be disappointed.  Yet why would I, in the middle of an article on decision making, buy a book without reading the description?  I had a flash of insight that this would be an excellent book!

Book Cover

Below is a description of The Information from Random House.

James Gleick, the author of the best sellers Chaos and Genius, now brings us a work just as astonishing and masterly: a revelatory chronicle and meditation that shows how information has become the modern era’s defining quality—the blood, the fuel, the vital principle of our world.

The story of information begins in a time profoundly unlike our own, when every thought and utterance vanishes as soon as it is born. From the invention of scripts and alphabets to the long-misunderstood talking drums of Africa, Gleick tells the story of information technologies that changed the very nature of human consciousness. He provides portraits of the key figures contributing to the inexorable development of our modern understanding of information: Charles Babbage, the idiosyncratic inventor of the first great mechanical computer; Ada Byron, the brilliant and doomed daughter of the poet, who became the first true programmer; pivotal figures like Samuel Morse and Alan Turing; and Claude Shannon, the creator of information theory itself.

And then the information age arrives. Citizens of this world become experts willy-nilly: aficionados of bits and bytes. And we sometimes feel we are drowning, swept by a deluge of signs and signals, news and images, blogs and tweets. The Information is the story of how we got here and where we are heading.

The book is available at, The Information.

Image Credits

Newsweek, Matt Mahurin

Dr. Shock MD, PhD.Neurostimulating Blog,   Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex

Random House, The Information Book Cover