The Big Short, a book review

THE BIG SHORT Inside The Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis.  You could alternately call it The 2008 Recession Explained.  Remember how everything kind of fell apart in 2008?  Lewis tells us how the subprime morgatge crisis was created, the players in that giant house of cards, and the handful of people who saw it coming.  A brave (and brilliant) few saw the mess for what it is and shorted the entire market to the tune of billions.  

Michiko Kakutani when reviewing Lewis' books says,  
"No one writes with more narrative panache about money and finance than Mr. Lewis.  His entertaining new book does not attempt a macro view of the financial crisis, but instead proposes to open a small window on the calamities by recounting the stories of some savvy renegades who cashed in on their conviction that the system was rotten."

I had fun reading this book.  A few times I even yelled out at a particularly incredulous portion of the story.  I really wish Obama and his entire cabinet would read this and then take the criminals who cheated us all to task!  Like how about putting a few of them behind bars and changing the way we regulate these crooks so it won't happen again.  We got burned folks... 

Michiko Kakutani review for the New York Times here

Steven Pearlstein review for the Washington Post here

The author Michael Lewis

More about Michael Lewis at Wikipeida

Edit:  This is the first book I have read on my new Kindle.  Loving it!

Lara Stone "Lara en rêve"

Nan Goldin is one of the contributing photographers for French Vogue February 2009.  Goldin does not normally shoot fashion but I thought her photos were the best for the entire issue. 

I think Goldin's work is amazing, the pictures of Lara above are somewhat representative of her work. You can check out more of Goldin's photography here.  Also an interview with Goldin here. Just a heads up, much of her work involves nudity, drug use, and abusive photographs so be prepared. 

A Self Portrait 


Often I dream of a seriously epic backpacking trip.  A lifetime achievement, a trip where you can lean back put your feet up and with confidence know you had meet the ultimate challenge.  Well this is such a trip and more... Never have I seen such an amazing journey.  The idea, the execution, and general badassery is off the charts!  Prepare for awesomeness defined.  Below is a sampler with a link at the end.  I recommend having at least a half hour and a good cup of coffee when you click thru at the end.  This is the best you'll ever see...

The dudes

The route, thats right alaska baby!

Deep in the wilderness.

They walked untouched valleys

Crossed unnamed glaciers

Floated the wildest rivers imaginable. 

By the numbers:
Size of Wrangell St Elias NP and Preserve: 13,200,000 acres or 20,587 square miles
Distance traveled: 430 miles: ~220 miles on land and ~210 floating
Time: 33 days: 25 on foot / 8 paddling
Distance on-trail: 0 
Resupplies: 3
Bears: 14 
Other park visitors: 0
Jars Nutella eaten: 5
Gallons olive oil used: 0.7
Hours of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) performed: 1.2
Width of tent space space, per individual: 15”
Width of foam sleeping pads: 20”

Check out the journey here, not a single thing sucks.  It's pure mind, muscle, and magic. You guys are my heros!

The Wave, a book review

Recently I read "The Wave" by Susan Casey.  I liked it, being a surfer helps but this is a good read.  Casey easily weaves the story of big wave riders and their search for huge ridable waves into a larger picture of what makes gigantic waves.  Interesting science, dudes doing really crazy shit and surviving, a compelling story for sure.  I loved the part about this sketchy spot in Alaska that gets pounded by 300 foot waves.  I say read it.

Dropping in to this?  WOW!

The main big wave rider Casey writes about is Laird Hamilton.  Watch the wave he catch's it is INSANE!

Author Photo + Website



I hope all users of these de-drm tools will be sensible enough to realise that de-drmed ebooks should not be uploaded to open servers, torrents, or other methods of mass distribution. It is illegal and phony.
Authors, bookshops and publishers all need to make a living, so that they can continue to produce books for us to read. Don’t be a parasite.

I trust the the above message is clear enough.  Lets proceed... 

Is this the feeling you got when you downloaded your first e-book on to your new Kindle?

I think when you buy an e-book you should have control over it.  If you buy something it's yours, right?  Not so in the shady world of e-book publishing.  Now that I have a Kindle this bullshit concerns me.  Below are a few tips in how you can free your e-books of publishers Digital Rights Management software (DRM).

1. Go and get the amazing program called Calibre.  This program can take any format of e-book and convert it to any other format with just a mouse click.  It is also a fantastic way to organize your e-books on your computer and integrates seamlessly with your e-reader of choice.  Oh... did I mention it is FREE, yes thats right the program doesn't cost anything.  Of course if you like it and use it please throw some bucks towards the developer he is a very generous fellow. 

Calibre is available here

This is the introduction video you watch when first going to their website.  

2. Most books are DRM protected so you'll have to remove the DRM before converting with Calibre.  Apprentice Alf was kind enough to explain what DRM is and provide the instructions on how to get rid of it. 

DRM and how to strip it, instructions here.

For MAC users who are not using Calibre go here.

3. Once you have done the two steps above your ready to go!  I suggest checking out MobileRead Forums for info and questions that might pop up.  

MobileRead Forum home page here

Edit: A comprehensive article by a man named John Schember, a member of the Calibre team, on e-book DRM and how to deal with it here.  Don't forget all the free books available over at the totally awesome Project Gutenberg



Into The Wild, a book review

You might have already seen the movie, I have not.  Either way I think this is a superb book and I recommend it.  I'm a huge fan of Jon Krakauer - In To Thin Air,  Under The Banner Of Heaven, and I think, Into The Wild might be his best.  

Krakauer tells the compelling story of Chris McCandless aka Alexander Supertramp in his journey of self discovery from his comfortable and safe middle class upbringing to his death as a lonely and desperate young man starving in the Alaskan wilderness.  

Alexander Supertramp a few months before his death.

The story is about McCandless and his travels as a modern day hobo prior to his death but Krakauer weaves in much more.  He investigates why some people risk it all for adventure including himself.  Indeed I found one of the most riveting chapters to be when Krakauer tells a story from his own reckless youth as a climbing bum.  He discovers much about his own sprit while attempting a solo climb of the Devils Thumb deep in the mountains of Alaska.  

The author John Krakauer

I found this to be a haunting story, one that I think of often.  Below are the words of the last known correspondence from McCandless. 

“Greetings from Fairbanks!
This is the last you shall hear from me Wayne.  Arrived here 2 days ago. It was very difficult to catch rides in the Yukon Territory.  But I finally got here.  Please return all mail I receive to the sender.  It might be a very long time before I return South.  If this adventure proves fatal and you don’t ever hear from me again, I want you to know your a great man.  I now walk into the wild.
— Chris McCandless, in postcard sent to Wayne Westerberg in Carthage, South Dakota, from Alaska

I now walk into the wild...  This is inspiring to me and a lesson.  If nothing else when you read this you will be better prepared before you embark on your next journey. 

McCandless waves goodbye in a final self portrait. 

Below is a rough scan of the message he is holding.  The message was found pinned to the doorway of the shelter where his body was discovered. 

Posted by his family where Chris McCandless was found in Alaska.  R.I.P man...

Read it it's worth it.

A Decent HOT DOG In SF?

I stumbled across Chrissy Loader while wandering around on the web and feel compelled to share this most excellent find.  She's a writer and food critic here in SF and helps us out with her fantastic  "Girl Bites Dog" article on the what and where of HOT DOG in SF.  

Me? Well... I'm partial to the original Rosamunde in the lower Haight, right next door to the Toronado 


The author Chrissy Loader