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6/23/08 / Papyrus

6:58 PM I take back what I said earlier about HP support. I received a call earlier from them, telling me that they can’t repair my computer under warranty because their tech determined that whatever happened to it was due to my error. This after I have the repaired PC in my possession! Apparently the left hand doesn’t know what the right one’s doing.

5:21 PM I have a question. Lately I’ve come across religious literature where they justify some of their edicts as follows (I’m loosely paraphrasing):

Prohibition against drinking: If people didn’t drink there would be less DUIs.
“Modest dress” for women: When women are modestly dressed, men are less aroused; when men are less aroused, there’s less sexual activity and promiscuity; from that it follows that there are fewer STDs transmitted and spread throughout the world.

My question is this: When these laws or orders were decreed, there was no such thing as DUI or the vast prevalence of STDs as there is today. So, instead of conveniently modernizing old laws by adapting and applying them to today’s ills, I want to know, what were the original reasons these and other such rules were adopted and enforced?

4:44 PM Finally have my computer back from HP, after two trips to the factory, first for a factory recall and then after the new motherboard fried only a month after it was replaced. Their tech support is good, but it’d be nicer if their products worked better out of the box.

I just want to write very briefly about the books I’ve read lately or am currently reading:

I think it’s impressive how well-read William James was, in a time before the internet and easy access to information. It is also wonderful to see how progressive and open-minded he is to other religions and systems of thoughts and beliefs, apart from the Christianity of his time and family. This is a wonderful and insightful read, if you can bear with the ornate and roundabout language of that time.

I’m finding it tough to finish, now that I’ve read over 95% of it and have less than 30 pages left. I feel discouraged because there are parts I read through that I didn’t understand, especially the arguments between Settembrini and Naphta. Frankly I’m surprised how I read through almost all of the book, but then I think it must have been easier reading in the start. There were some good passages, but maybe Mann’s writing style just doesn’t mesh with my reading preferences. I tried reading Doctor Faustus three years ago and had to abandon that midway, because I was utterly lost in all the detailed references to music theory in it.

I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll finish this one. If I do it’ll be more than anything else for the satisfaction of finishing it, especially after coming so close to the end.

I was wondering recently what young adult books are like. Everything I’ve read over the past years (with few exceptions I don’t even remember) has been pretty heavy reading. So I read this book, which I think I also read in 9th grade for English class. It was good overall, but some of the author’s phrasing struck me as being maybe too visceral for the young adult to fully comprehend. I’ll post examples later.

I enjoyed the book, and it felt like a satisfactory read when I was finished.

The world loves Paulo Coehlo, and I thought The Alchemist was OK but not great. I felt the same way about this one. At some points I thought it was a bit too out there or even plain bizarre, but there were brief patches where I could see the wisdom of his message and his talent as a writer – which isn’t the same as me saying he’s not a talented writer.

After reading Vonnegut a while ago, I was intrigued to read his most popular book. I liked it, and again, like Paulo Coehlo, I saw patches of brilliance, but the book overall I wouldn’t say I loved as much as just liked it. It is a compelling commentary on war and the savagery of it, which is what it’s best known for.

Maybe my reading style is outdated, because I like reading books from a time slightly before now (with the exception of Kundera, and maybe a couple of other authors I can’t recall right away). I enjoyed this book, especially the smooth flow of time it encompasses, from before the plague, through it, to after it. Time and the world and life seem to flow seamlessly through Camus’ words. I enjoyed this more than The Stranger, which I read many years ago but personally didn’t find all that special.

Simply brilliant. In content, in style, in everything.

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