The Last Lecture

This book, written by computer scientist Randy Pausch after his "last lecture" (which he gave after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer), has some common-sense advice for living one's life. A bit overrated, though; it wasn't as moving as I thought as it would be. It was illuminating, and mildly thought-provoking, but a little too self-absorbed (unsurprisingly).


Nicholas Kristof's article in the NY Times pointed me at this petition. I signed it, as I tend to trust Kristof and Michael Pollan's judgment.

Tropic Thunder

I needed a funny movie, and Netflix obliged by sending me this funny spoof. Great cast, decent writing, and a semi-predictable plot (with many unpredictable details). Tom Cruise was hilarious as a crass movie mogul!

The Ascent of Money

The Ascent of Money is an interesting book, although pretty flawed as a general piece of non-fiction. It covers rather quickly the evolution of four underpinnings of modern finance: the bond market, the stock market, insurance, and the real estate market. Niall Ferguson brings up rather interesting (and relevant) historical warnings that show that today's financial meltdown should not really have been unexpected. However, the book is not written for a layperson: Prof. Ferguson tosses around lots of financial jargon without much explanation. The Economist's review is pretty apt. Still, I found it to be a mildly entertaining read, and it complemented the book A Splendid Exchange well (although Bernstein's book is better).

The Norman Conquests

I read the entire trilogy of plays, The Norman Conquests, by Alan Ayckbourn. (That reminds me of an episode of The Family Guy I saw recently, where the family goes to London and watches an incomprehensible play.) After we saw the first play on Broadway, I decided I wanted to read the whole trilogy. Very funny, although I think I would appreciate it even more to see it performed: I kept envisioning the actors we saw in their roles.