Monday, August 27, 2007

Two recent books that are pretty good

I've recently read two books that made me feel like I've not only been to another country, but lived there too. They both give such a lucid account of the culture through the lives of the characters that I felt like I had been there. I guess that happens every time a book is read...

The first was The Savage Detectives by Roberto Belano
I'm not going to try to explain what it's about except to say that the setting in Mexico
There are better reviews at Amazon and Harper's...

I also read My Name is Red.
This one actually has three stories in one... a love story, a murder mystery, and a philosophical commentary on art. It's told from many different perspectives through different characters. The setting for this one is Turkey, specifically Istanbul. Again, there are better reviews elsewhere.

Monday, July 23, 2007

New Music I like

Lately I've been listening to two bands that I like and would like to suggest to any of my friends that want to know about them. I'm not going to try to write a review for these bands... if you like the same kind of music that I do then try them out... if not still try them out they're great!
Menomena is a band from Portland that makes great music.
They have a myspace page:
and a website:

I've been listening to Seabear a lot too, and have been getting their songs stuck in my head.
The songs are amazing! They're from Iceland
myspace page:

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Great Geometry at Plus Magazine

Plus magazine is a great online mathematics magazine that I used to read regularly when I was in college. I've just recently started doing that again. The current issue is all about geometry. The greatest of the mathematical sciences in my opinion. The article on quantum geometry is especially interesting. If you have some time to spend improving your analytical mind... try it out. If you're interested in math you can look into the archives of the magazine online as well.

link to Plus site:
link to current issue:

My Used Book Weekend

I have an addiction to used book stores, and usually waste a few hours on Saturday mornings getting my book fix. This weekend I found a book that was amazing. It's a bit old, but the subjects it deals with are still relevant.
Our brains are what makes us human. Without them we wouldn't be able to communicate or design the modern technologies we enjoy in modern civilization. This weekend I read Carl Sagan's The Dragon's of Eden. In this book he constructs the biological events that led to the evolution of the human mind. It's both fascinating and a little scary to realize how much of an accident we all are. Without random changes and natural selection the greatest works or art and the most complex engineering constructions would have never occurred.

The book talks about three different structures of the brain and how they evolved throughout time. These three parts: the R-complex, limbic system, and neocortex provide the functions needed for the mind. The latter provides the parts that make us distinctly human, and connect with the older parts that are left over from evolution.

For me, the fragility of our existence gives a good argument against war. In the book Sagan also makes a good case that being sufficiently evolved means that we should stop trying to find ways to kill each other. Instead, maybe we should try to work together... unfortunately this doesn't seem to be popular right now.

He also gives a good argument for a compromise on abortion using the information from previous chapters of the book.

This is one of the best popular science books i've read in a long time. Even though it might be old, (some of the computers he mentions are no longer used) I would still recommend it to every thinking person who likes to read.

It also won the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction in 1978.

There are good reviews on amazon
There is also a good review on scinet:

A good overview of the brain structures that are discussed in the book:

Friday, July 13, 2007

Info about my blog

This blog is just going to be a place for me to collect my thoughts on the web. That's why I named it mental storage. It will be filled with things I've found on the web, and maybe some reviews of books, music, and movies that I like. I spend most of my free time reading so I'll probably write something about books that I like here. I'm also a computer programmer and math hobbyist so there will probably be some stuff on here about those subjects. If you like the things I write about then feel free to read. If not, you can still read if you want to... but why waste your time?