Book Hangover?

A new word for you, book hangover:

Book hangover:

The headache you get after staying up into the wee hours of the morning staring at teeny tiny print. Generally an ailment experienced exclusively by book nerds, but becomes a nation wide issue after the release of a new Harry Potter book.

Guy 1: Man, I stayed up all night reading the Deathly Hallows! I have such a book hangover!

Guy 2: You nerd.

Guy 2 then pushes his copy of the Deathly Hallows deeper into his book bag and longingly eyes the aspirin bottle guy 1 has just opened.

Although, in all seriousness, I would not be reading Harry Otter. What? You’ve never heard of Harry Otter? Here (link warning- very amateurish):

Hairy Otter is a regular otter who very much dislikes being called a wombat. One day, a strange yellow creature whisks him off to Owlpoops School of Magic. Turns out he isn’t so normal after all!

If I were in the mood for political economics (and who isn’t) I would perhaps be reading The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die, by Niall Ferguson:

From renowned historian Niall Ferguson, a searching and provocative examination of the widespread institutional rot that threatens our collective future

What causes rich countries to lose their way? Symptoms of decline are all around us today: slowing growth, crushing debts, increasing inequality, aging populations, antisocial behavior. But what exactly has gone wrong? The answer, Niall Ferguson argues in The Great Degeneration, is that our institutions—the intricate frameworks within which a society can flourish or fail—are degenerating.

Representative government, the free market, the rule of law, and civil society—these are the four pillars of West European and North American societies. It was these institutions, rather than any geographical or climatic advantages, that set the West on the path to global dominance beginning around 1500. In our time, however, these institutions have deteriorated in disturbing ways. Our democracies have broken the contract between the generations by heaping IOUs on our children and grandchildren. Our markets are hindered by overcomplex regulations that debilitate the political and economic processes they were created to support; the rule of law has become the rule of lawyers. And civil society has degenerated into uncivil society, where we lazily expect all of our problems to be solved by the state.

It is institutional degeneration, in other words, that lies behind economic stagnation and the geopolitical decline that comes with it. With characteristic verve and historical insight, Ferguson analyzes not only the causes of this stagnation but also its profound consequences.

The Great Degeneration is an incisive indictment of an era of negligence and complacency. While the Arab world struggles to adopt democracy and China struggles to move from economic liberalization to the rule of law, our society is squandering the institutional inheritance of centuries. To arrest the breakdown of our civilization, Ferguson warns, will take heroic leadership and radical reform.

Too many books to read, too little time. . .

Daniel Radcliffe, Harold Potter, Fashion Victim

Look, my rule of thumb when it comes to dressing myself is: Would Harold (Harry to a select group of friends) Potter wear it? Otherwise known as: WHPWI? So when I saw this picture, I felt encouraged. I have piles of camouflage pants and sports coats that are a steak dinner or three too tight. Quite obviously, camo and sports coats don’t go together. Nor would Harold usually wear it. Until now:

Daniel Radcliffe and Erin Darke, His camouflage pants with sports coat
Daniel Radcliffe at Sundance in camouflage pants with sports coat.

Oh, hell yeah. Time to get my fashion victim on. . .

A Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling

Harold Potter author, J.K. Rowling, has gone and written a book, an adult book. It’s called A Casual Vacancy, and despite the title, the novel is not about Motel 6:

J.K. Rowling, The Casual Vacancy

What it’s about: An empty seat on the Pagford town council leads to a heated election marked by what Rowling’s publisher calls “passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations.” 

Why it’s hot: Hold on to your Quidditch stick. The book is under tight wraps, but everyone is wondering: Can the creator of Harry Potter, the world’s most popular young-adult series, write just as compellingly for adults?

Any novel about a town council is bound to be a white-knuckled literary romp!

The University of Texas Invisibility Cloak

Didja’ catch the latest news from the science front? Invisibility, it is ours. The Longhorns, they have an invention worthy of Harry Potter. Get a load of this:

It may not be a cape of magical, silvery material, but it’s still an invisibility cloak. A tube made of an insulating material striped with long, thin strips of copper makes objects within it invisible tomicrowaves. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin reported their cloaking chamber Jan. 25 in the New Journal of Physics.

This newest cloak makes three-dimensional objects invisible without using reflective surfaces or specialized microwave chambers. “We don’t need mirrors, we don’t need waveguides, we just built a cloak with a cover around an object,” said Andrea Alù, an engineer at Texas-Austin who led the research.

In the interest of science, I went on a quick road trip and got my hands on this special gear. Below is a picture of me cloaked in it:

In the University of Texas Invisibility Cloak

I am strongly considering using this picture as my official Navy photo. Per NAVADMIN 103/07:

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) — All officers are now required to have a full-length color photograph in their official military file, according to NAVADMIN 103/07 distributed to the fleet April 24.

“We are professionals and demonstrate that every day around the world,” said Vice Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., Chief of Naval Personnel. “Having officer photos back in the records reinforces our commitment to ensuring our leaders display military bearing, and provide an example for those they lead.”

Demonstrated professionalism, military bearing. I think I meet the example, no?

Update: A reader, Greg, sent this great video link on the project. Thanks!