Altering the Blueprint: the Ethics of Genetics taught by Alexander McCall Smith

English: Static thumb frame of Animation of th...


Altering the Blueprint: the Ethics of Genetics is a “course” taught by Alexander McCall Smith as part of the Portable Professor series published by Barnes and Noble. This one was not nearly up to par with some of the others I have encountered. It was really just an extended philosophy/history of reproductive science. Nothing new or groundbreaking. There was very little to the ethics, just a recitation of the opposing camps…


Lying by Sam Harris

English: Sam Harris


This was a short e-work, free on Kindle. Free was a good choice. There was nothing really new or interesting; Harris’ entire argument seemed to boil down to “don’t ever lie, you’ll feel better about yourself.” I thought there might be some sort of psychological approach to why people lie, but alas not. Do you really need to read a book to know that lying is bad?


The Vault of the Heavens Taught by James B. Kaler (Portable Professor series)

Not one of the better offerings in the Portable Professor series. While quite informative, it was full of way too many instances that required visuals. Professor Kaler repeatedly described objects as “about this big” or as moving “like this”. I believe that taking a class from him in person would be fascinating and very enjoyable, but this did not translate well in the audio format.

Astronomy For Beginners

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Cover of "Persepolis"


I might have gone into this book with too-high expectations. Persepolis has won numerous awards, as has the film adaptation. That being said, I felt a little let down after reading it. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good story and an intriguing look behind the scenes of the Islamic Revolution in Iran as well as general Iranian culture. But Marji herself does not come across as a very sympathetic figure. I loved her ten year-old self in the beginning of the book, but by the middle, she had lost most of what made her so adorable and strong. I will grant that most of us go through the same thing during adolescence, but the fall did seem much more precipitous for Satrapi. Is she redeemed in the end? I won’t say here, but would love to hear other’s thoughts on the subject.