Monday, September 30, 2013

Two very different books

Bossypants by Tina Fey - We have watched about 80 episodes of 30 Rock, which is short for an address at the Rockefeller Center in New York city.  Much of the show is simply silly and some of it is definitely crude by my standards, which are pretty loose.  However, some of the show is very clever and interesting.  Lynn read Bossypants by the talented Tina Fey, who is a real TV writer and also acts in the 30 Rock show.  She was part of Second City improv previously. 

Now, after seeing the show many times and hearing Lynn laugh over it, I am reading her book.

Many young writers and actors seem to find that any and every use of the "F" word very funny and try to use it regularly.  I don't find that word or any word that is overused to be funny.  But reading Fey's book, there are many sentences that are very clever, funny and good writing.

The Universal Sense by Seth Horowitz - I am a fan of Mary Roach, another clever writer who writes about real life, often scientific, subjects.  Looking through the science, math and computing section of a large Barnes and Noble store, I came across the Horowitz book with an endorsement by Mary Roach, "this book is for anyone with ears."

I was and still am impressed by statements from the Posit Science group that hearing and brain sharpness are closely related.  I have some hearing loss and often wear hearing aids.  I find that I can tell when someone is talking but decoding their utterance into a meaningful message is difficult. I can tell from everyday interaction with my wife how much not being able to hear affects social relations.  Also, I have read that the first sense a baby develops is hearing.

So, I respect hearing and am interested in it. 

Hearing is the universal sense Horowitz is referring to..  He is a sound engineer and researcher.  He says that there are species of animals that are born blind and stay that way throughout life, such as fish that live in a completely dark cave.  But, there are no species who have no hearing or sound-decoding at all.  I have tweeted some of the best parts of the book up to where I am and the tweets include citations on fish that signal each other with farts, snapping shrimp that have very high-powered sounds, and general discussions of the power of sound as signals.

While writing this post, I learned about the mosquito ringtone.  It is a signal of an incoming cellphone call that is so high in pitch that only people under the age of 25 can hear it.  The ringtone is specifically designed to allow kids to hear it but not their teachers.  Lynn could hear the easiest one but I could not hear any of them.

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