Book Review: The House of Tomorrow

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My friend Kate B. intrigued me with the storyline of The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni, and recommended that I read it. I’m glad she did, because it truly was a good read.

This is a novel about a teenage boy named Sebastian who is raised in a futuristic geodesic dome by his grandmother whom he calls Nana. She home schools Sebastian under the teachings of the dead, futuristic architect and philosopher Buckminster Fuller. Nana is convinced that Sebastian is destined to save humanity. She also tries to prevent him from uncovering or thinking about the past, particularly in regard to his dead parents. She asks him at the end: “Just tell me how were you supposed to innovate if you were constantly stuck in a past you didn’t even remember?”

But when his Nana has a stroke and is temporarily incapacitated, Sebastian is forced to venture out in the world and befriends a boy his age named Jared, as well as his mother Janice and his sister Meredith.
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Comments (0) Aug 09 2011


Book Review: Endless Forms Most Beautiful

Posted under: book review, education, philosophy, video.
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Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Brent has been participating in a science book club. I love reading books about science; however, going to school in addition to working full time makes it difficult for me to find the time for leisurely reading. Fortunately I had a week of vacation from work scheduled simultaneously with a break between semesters of nursing school. I eagerly picked up this month’s assigned book, Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo from the library.

Author Sean B. Carroll discusses evolutionary developmental biology which is the relationship between embryonic development and evolutionary changes. He explains how “tool kit genes,” a small number of genes which emerged 600 million years ago, are the primary components for building all animals. He discusses how the amazing diversity in the world is controlled by “genetic switches” which instruct these tool kit genes where to act and what to do.

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Comments (0) Jan 08 2011


Book Review: Predictably Irrational

Posted under: book review, education, food, philosophy, psychology.
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I just read a fascinating book called Predictably Irrational by Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Behavioral Economics at MIT, Dan Ariely. He explores the idea that our irrationality happens the same way again and again. He performs several experiments and examines the way we make decisions, coming up with some interesting findings.

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

Ariely begins the first chapter by discussing relativity:

There’s one aspect of relativity that trips us up. It’s this: we not only tend to compare things with one another but also tend to focus on comparing things that are easily comparable and avoid comparing things that cannot be compared easily.

He writes that evaluating two houses side by side yields different results than evaluating three: A, B, and a somewhat less appealing version of A. The subpar A makes it easier to decide that A is better–not only better than the similar one, but better than B. The lesser version of A should have no effect on your rating of the other two buildings, but it does.

Most people don’t know what they want unless they see it in context. Ariely performed an experiment at MIT in which he selected pairs of photos of random people: one of them physically attractive (A), and the other one noticeably less so (B) in each pair. He then doctored the photo in Photoshop, creating a slightly but noticeably less attractive version of each of them–a decoy (-A and -B). He then approached students, presenting them with three pictures. Some of them had the regular picture (A), the decoy of that picture (-A), and the other regular picture (B). Others had the regular picture (B), the decoy of that picture (-B), and the other regular picture (A).

Whenever I handed out a sheet that had a regular picture, its inferior version, and another regular picture, the participants preferred the regular person–the one who was similar, but clearly superior, to its distorted version over the other, undistorted person on the sheet. This was not just a close call; it happened 75 percent of the time.

Humans rarely choose things in absolute terms. We don’t have an internal value meter that tells us how much things are worth. Rather, we focus on the relative advantage of one thing over another, and estimate value accordingly.

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Comments (3) Jun 14 2009