June 22, 2011

Bonus Material: Game Widow

Game Widow
-What’s with her right foot? It looks like she’s wearing heels, but her left foot is wearing a flat shoe. Why is she up on the ball of her right foot?

-What exactly is her left foot doing? Is she tapping her toes in impatience, or rocking on the ball of her foot and tapping her heel? If that’s the case, why are her toes off the ground? Wouldn’t that be incredibly uncomfortable?

-Is she wearing a bustle? It looks like her ass sticks out a full hand’s width from her spine, and/or her right leg doesn’t connect to her torso.

-What is going on with her left hand? The arm makes it look like it should be in front of her body. Are both of her hands so hideously deformed that they need to be hidden behind her body?

-Who actually stands like that, anyway? That’s some serious, cartoon-level impatience getting emoted right there.

The Game Widow’s missing head. Sure, you could say that they wanted her to be an everywoman, an amalgam of all long-suffering gamer spouses out there. I think that there’s more to it than that. I think that they’re trying to make it easier to objectify her, illustrating how gamers only think that two things in life are worth focusing on, games and sex. And the gaming element is such a large part of their life that it threatens to eclipse everything else.

The gamepad. Based on the structure of this book, their target audience can’t tell an XBox controller from a novelty dildo, (“There’s a little booklet included in most video game boxes with a list of vocabulary specific to that game, but if you don’t want to dig through game boxes, or if you’d like to understand the live or chat conversations scrolling by on game screen, check out vocabulary guides online”[p.104]. When it comes to slang words, “oftentimes, the ones that don’t sound scary, such as ‘frag’ and the other words for kill, are the ones that should get your attention if used in a regular conversation”[p.105]) so they need something that’s recognizable enough to say “video game” without calling out a specific brand. It’s also big enough to blot out the sun, and larger than the widow herself.

The title. This isn’t one of those books that parades its contents on its sleeve spine with a pointlessly elaborate subtitle like Game Widow: An in-depth exploration of video games, their creation, and the forces that drive people to forsake their families for them. It’s just the two words, making potential buyers ask questions like “Who is this game widow?" "Where is her head?" "Did her husband just get crushed by that enormous controller in the foreground?” and most importantly, "Does this mean she's available?"

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Bonus Material: Grand Illusions

I'm too lazy to transcribe the entire page, so here's the part where Grant argues why Planned Parenthood is rolling in cash:

Planned Parenthood Fees

You might be tempted to suggest that this argument says more for reform of the healthcare system than it does against Planned Parenthood. You are wrong. "The fact that despite all its grave faults and ominous foibles, the American health-care system is still by far the best the world has to offer, that it is the envy of physicians and technicians everywhere, and that it affords almost universal access and care doesn't seem to matter to the utopian reformers"(p.242).

Grant also makes an argument that Planned Parenthood is doomed because they had a "Flash Gordon Worldview" that was never fully realized. "The future that never quite happened was born of a pretentious spirit of modernism that is laughably passé today"(p.33). The weird thing is that he gets awfully descriptive when discussing someone else's vision of the future:

"A distant gleaming skyline soars up from the fruited plains through plump cumulous clouds to sleek zeppelin docks and mad neon spires. Roads of crystal unfold between the towers like an origami trick. They are crossed and recrossed by thousands of satiny silver vehicles like choreographed beads of running mercury. The air above the city crackles with remote radio-laser signals. It is simultaneously thick with ships: giant delta wing-liners, dragonfly-like gyro-copters, electro-magneto aerial cars, and vast hovering helium blimps. Searchlights sweep surreally across the horizon illuminating streamlined buildings ringed with bright radiator flanges.
Thronging the broad plazas of pristine marble below are the happy citizens of this jaunty utopia. Orderly and alert, their bright eyes are aglow with enthusiasm for their floodlit avenues, their shark-fin robots, their care-free conveniences, and their elysian prosperity. They all look wise and strong, striking a uniform pose of youthful health, energy, and cooperation.
It is a heroic world of fluted aluminum, slipstream chrome, lustrous Lucite, burnished bronze, and the unfettered dreams of progress.

Grant gets in some real zingers, insisting on referring to abortion clinics as "abortuaries." Regarding RU-486, he says that Planned Parenthood " brought excellent credentials to the task of sanitizing the public perception of pharmaceutical child-killing"(p.193). Then again, he also fails pretty spectacularly in a few places. There's his claim that "when that power is cavalierly couched in sluggardly bamboozlery it is all the more frightening"(p.195), and this passage:

" I was in town for a couple of speaking engagements. Several pro-life advocates, including the two men currently playing 'Eliot Ness' in the back seat of my 'getaway car,' had invited me to participate in their regular Saturday morning picket of a local abortion clinic. Such invitations for me are like the bite of a silk piranha."(p.13)

Silk piranhas aside, the Elliot Ness comparison is just sloppy. His friends are unarmed and wetting their pants in the back seat of a car that is fleeing from the bad guys while Grant is driving. (It should be noted that the bad guys are driving "an ominous and carnivorous pickup"[p.13]. That's right. Carnivorous) Grant would have been better off saying that they were "playing Bonnie to his Clyde," but he probably didn't want to invite the association with criminals (even though he had, in fact, removed property from the clinic). We know that this adrenaline-fueled chase totally happened for reals, because "certain personal, geographical, and architectural alterations have been symbolically altered […] but otherwise, the events and conversations are absolutely accurate"(p.366).

I thought that this quote was particularly funny:

"It seems this is the modus operandi of Planned Parenthood. There can be no challenge to its sacrosanct vision of the future. There can be no question about its revered formulas, its hallowed rituals, or its consecrated dogmas. The fallibility of its scientific and secular cultus simply cannot be countenanced civilly. Anyone who dares to contravene its sanctity is therefore mercilessly demonized."(p.56, italics in original)

Dr. Grant notes that "this book was especially written so that you could take whole paragraphs and even whole sections word for word, verbatim, and use them as ammunition in your testimony or presentation"(p.336). And you know what? I did.

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Bonus Material: Lessons in Depravity

There was too much in this book to work with effectively. Take a look at the back of the book:

That yellow crap on the left? When I find something quoteworthy, I put a post-it note on the page.

Croydon is the hometown of Kate Moss, noted for modesty and chastity, and sexual psychologist Havelock Ellis "Impotent for most of his life, he suffered from urolagnia (sexual excitement at seeing a woman urinate)"(p.66, parentheses in original source),

Dr. Williams' interpretation of the bible is fascinating. He relates the story of Noah's sons finding him naked, and says that "This incident shows the sin of the indecent look, and illustrates the principle of sexual modesty"(p.252). And he really has issues with women. "Because woman is created in the image of God, she has an inborn, innate understanding of the maternal role. This is seen in her desire to have children and also in an understanding that she should have children only within the marriage relationship."(p.268). Also, "God has placed within the conscience of womankind strong natural inhibitions to restrain them from abusing their gift of motherhood by giving birth outside marriage"(p.268).

Fortunately, "It is natural for the chivalrous man to protect a woman from physical danger; he defends a woman against the designs of brutish men"(p.259).

This passage was my favorite, for its "The end of times! Cats and dogs, living together!" hysteria:

"When modesty is destroyed, girls lose their innate protection against sexual lust. They lose their sexual innocence and appear to be sexually available; they become objects of pleasure, to be used and discarded. Casual sex becomes the norm and there are no restraints. Sex is no longer an intensely private matter between husband and wife, but a trivialized game, a plaything, something to give pleasure to lustful males. When boys lose their God-given chivalry, they lose respect for the female sex and themselves, and become sexual predators, who feel entitled to satisfy their lusts on the objects of their sexual desire."(p.262)

He tries to discredit AIDS-prevention programs. "In the 16 years [1982-1997] of the so-called epidemic [....] on average, there had been about 20 new cases of AIDS per year acquired by way of heterosexual intercourse within the UK. So the risk of children acquiring AIDS through sexual intercourse was so remote as to be almost non-existent"(p.239). So he's saying that 1) children only have heterosexual sex, and 2) the infection rate would have stayed exactly the same without the government's education efforts.

He's violently opposed to the sexual revolution, and blames the ills of society on "sexual revolutionaries":

"Sex education ideology demoralises sexual conduct, teaching young people in a climate that encourages promiscuity and homosexuality"(p.31).

"A theme that runs through this book is that the underlying objective of the sexual revolution is the demoralisation of sexual behaviour"(p.295).

I'm pretty sure his nonstandard use of the verb "demoralize" is supposed to mean "removed from a moral sense of right and wrong," but when I read it I always pictured sex education looking sad and sitting under a blanket on the couch, eating ice cream and wondering why it was such a failure.

"The story of sex education is a story that must put fear into the hearts of most parents"(p.294), and he provides scary examples:

"The book [written by Mary Stopes], which was supposed to be directed at married couples, was unique in that it described in explicit language the physiology of the sex act."(p.74) It was condemned by "a distinguished psychiatrist," and "members of the public were equally outraged. [....] A private letter enquired [of Ms. Stopes] whether it was the desire to put bank notes in her pocket that had made her write such a book."(p.75)

"Dr. Martin Cole, a genetics lecturer at Aston University and sexual freethinker, hijacked the debate on sex education films. [....] The film upset Mary Whitehouse who complained that Dr. Cole’s amoral approach was turning people into animals"(p.122) That’s right, the Mary Whitehouse, head of the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association in 1970.

"The board game, Contraception, which has been developed in line with the Government’s sex education guidelines, is another enterprise for teaching children about contraceptives. [...] Children throw dice to move their counters, shaped like condoms or packets of pills, around the board. Players come into contact with various contraceptive and sexual health services, condom machines and family planning clinics"(p.2, and the game's website is here).

I could keep going, but I think you get the idea.

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Ecotopia: The Notebooks and Reports of William Weston by Ernest Callenbach (Banyan Tree Books, 1975)

Ecotopia is a harrowing masterpiece of terror by Ernest Callenbach, a visionary who dares to explore the societal, technological, and moral damage that would be wrought by rampant marijuana usage and “environmentally friendly” policies run amok. Designed as a cautionary tale that horrifies responsible conservatives, it is set in a dystopian future where the imaginary country of Ecotopia (composed of territory in the Pacific Northwest) has seceded from the United States and developed on its own for several decades. The chilling narrative, written in the form of a reporter’s news dispatches and personal journal entries, follows the protagonist as he examines their perverse ideals and struggles not to be corrupted by them.

Facts about the original secession of Ecotopia from the United States are in maddeningly short supply, as the narrator claims to have “no time” to sum up historical events and instead visits the country fully formed. Who fired the first shot? What heroes arose to lead both nations to stability? The lack of information makes it equally likely that Ecotopia was founded by breakdancing aliens, time-traveling mormons, pirates with herpes, or space cats from beyond the crab nebula. We know that it was started by some crazy broads1, and that’s about it—although there are also subtle hints brought to light during the narrator’s discussion of trade agreements that indicate it may be a Japanese plot2 to undermine our country.

It’s difficult to say whether the book is hurt by this omission. Some aspects of the alternate history are ridiculously improbable, like the way that the United States faces shortages of important products3 after losing the Ecotopian territory, as if they wouldn’t just invade Canada. Despite this, the book is still able to describe some of the devastating effects on our country’s most beloved landmarks. One of the most heart-wrenching scenes in the early pages is the author’s description of the cruel devastation that has fallen upon Reno. That’s right, Reno4. I’ll give you a moment to collect yourself.

As you’d expect, Ecotopia is a country full of tree-hugging5, stinky6 potheads living in a giant Renaissance Faire7 full of insufferably self-important jerks8 who like to pretend that they’re artists9. Basic amenities like microwave ovens10 and kitchenware11 have taken a giant leap backwards, and people stay warm by lighting their own farts12. However, they have made some advances, most notably in the field of baby-killing13 and other areas that can be inferred by textual clues. For example, their precious wood must either be cut by saws made from rock or (magic, plant-based14) plastic15 or super-concentrated jets of body odor, because Ecotopia doesn’t have any metals16. The narrator also raves about the Ecotopian telecommunications system linking the entire country, which could only have been developed from spit and feces.

Ecotopians themselves are a study in contradictions, only able to reconcile their cognitive dissonance in a haze of bong smoke and body odor. Although everything in Ecotopia shuts down at night17, the narrator is encouraged not to take medication for his insomnia so that he doesn’t miss anything18. While Ecotopians claim to detest heavy industry, they had no problem seizing and operating industrial properties to build their nationwide railroad19. And even though they’ve resorted to desperately scavenging for pre-secession metal20, they still make sure that piles of war debris21 are neatly stacked in a junkyard so that the narrator can find them later as evidence that the U.S. tried to restore sanity to Ecotpia by force.

It’s no surprise that Ecotopian weed is legalized—actively spread by the government22—and available to the point where factories are booze-fueled pot orgies23 and even a broken bicycle is an occasion to pass a spliff24. The only people smart enough to devise a way of overcoming the country’s marijuana addiction are themselves kept docile and befuddled by joints and tinker toys25. At the same time, the government has completely outlawed all drugs designed to treat mental illness26, but that’s okay because no one in Ecotopia suffers from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ADD, or reefer-induced paranoia27.

Similarly, no one in Ecotopia wants to wield political power or impose their will on others. This means that political meetings are giant affirmation sessions where everyone gets a chance to talk about their feelings28. Instead of political contests, Ecotopians indulge their taste for competitiveness by participating in “war games,” although this may just be a ruse that keeps the men distracted while the women fight over who gets to run the country and have babies29. There’s no point in having either drive or ambition in Ecotopia because accumulated wealth is next to worthless. If you can’t spend it yourself, it reverts back to the state when you die30.

Minorities in Ecotopia are self-segregated31, with blacks retreating to urban centers32 where they can enjoy their malt liquor and spinning rims33 in peace. Sadly, no one bothers to dream that peaceful racial co-existence is possible, because the destabilizing influence of Ecotopia on international politics has kept Apartheid alive and well in South Africa34. The narrator still hopes that some kind of resettlement can be worked out by shipping all the minorities elsewhere, looking to Israel as an example of how well it can work out35. Meanwhile, Ecotopia’s complete lack of morals has led to the repeal number of criminal statues36, making the country a safe haven for drug dealing rapists37.

Callenbach spends less time discussing the citizens of the remaining United States, probably because they have changed very little in the absence of society’s more dangerous, drug-crazed radical element. We know that they share our hatred of recycling38, and are afraid of the dark—or rather, the “crime panic” brought on by the dark, as the narrator notes when thinking about Ecotopia’s unlighted nighttime streets39. (The remaining) U.S. citizens are also happy living under a totalitarian regime40 where they aren’t trusted with anything more dangerous than a pointy stick41, for good reason42. They have also taken a more moderate stance on environmental policy, choosing not to let the outraged shrieks of a vocal minority tie the hands of the business that keep their economy afloat43.

Callenbach’s skillful writing combines his prophetic warnings of liberalism run amok with prescient descriptions of modern American society, but his talent really shows when discussing the narrator’s slide into madness. The foreshadowing begins early44, but the narrator is unaware of his gradual contamination45, possibly because of his focus on the sexual frustration 46 that he keeps writing about47 in his personal journal. By the time he begins to notice the change in his attitude48, it is too late49. He is dragged into the Ecotopian war games (and tricked into thinking that it is of his own free will) as a pretext to subject him to abhorrent medical procedures that make his Ecotopian conversion irreversible50. The book ends with a letter written to the narrator’s editor back in the United States, but not before the completely unhinged narrator contemplates a scheme to abduct and convert his own children.


Ecotopia: The Notebooks and Reports of William Weston by Ernest Callenbach (Banyan Tree Books, 1975)

Note: The material in parentheses appearing inside the quotes is part of the original text. My alterations are noted in brackets.

1. “Secessionists filched uranium fuel from power plants for the nuclear mines they claimed to have set in New York and Washington. […] Those damned women, managed to [take over]” (p.2)

2. “Medium of exchange would have to be yen, but this could be concealed from our public.” (p.147)

3. “Many Americans still remember the terrible shortages of fruit, lettuce, wine, cotton, paper, lumber, and other western products” (p.3)

4. “Reno a sad shadow of its former goodtimes self” (p.4)

5. “Once I saw a quite ordinary-looking young man, not visibly drugged, lean against a large oak and mutter ‘Brother Tree!’” (p.58)

6. “Her sexual odors are powerful. I lost consciousness of the hard floor beneath.”(p.52)

7. “I even saw a juggler and magician team, working a crowd of children—it reminded me of some medieval movie.”(p.12)

8. “The Ecotopian at the train ticket window simply wouldn’t tolerate being spoken to in my usual way—he asked me what I thought he was, a ticket -dispensing machine?” (p.10)

9. “One young artist went so far as to refuse even to give me his name, lest it be bruited about the world through my columns. ‘We’re like the Balinese,’ he insisted. ‘We have no “art,” we just do everything as well as we can.’” (p.135)

10. “Microwave ovens being illegal in Ecotopia” (p.18)

11. “Cooking pots have no stick-free plastic lining, and are usually heavy iron.”(p.21)

12. “A companion unit, a large plastic tank, is buried outside, and connected by two flexible hoses. This, it turns out, is a septic tank, which not only digests sewage but produces methane gas in the process, which in turn operates the heater!” (p.124)

13. “Abortion costs have fallen further, and the number per year has stabilized. The use of contraceptive devices now seems universal. (They are all, incidentally, female-controlled; there is no “male pill” here.)” (p.63)

14. “plastics are entirely derived from living biological sources (plants)” (p.77)

15. “another line of plastics development led to a variety of durable materials, which were increasingly needed in place of metals.” (p.77)

16. “metals became deliberately scarce” (p.77)

17. “Most Ecotopian streets are pitch dark at night—evidently their power policies have caused them to curtail night lighting almost entirely” (p.15)

18. “In Ecotopia it can be fun to stay up all night, you know” (p.97)

19. “[Ecotopia] took temporary advantage of the Boeing facilities to help build the new national train system.”(p.8)

20. “formerly worthless heaps of junk skyrocketed in value, and were hauled up from creekbeds, pulled out of vacant lots, unearthed in abandoned barns, and of course salvaged from scrap yards.” (p.77-78)

21. “hundreds of wrecked U.S. Army helicopters”(p.120)

22. “One of the riskiest experiments of the new government was to deliberately make marijuana a common weed. Not only were legal prohibitions ended, but free top-quality seeds were distributed, in a campaign aimed at providing ‘do-it-yourself highs.’”(p.161)

23. “I have seen a whole section close down without notice; somebody will bring out beer or marijuana, and a party will ensue, right there amid the crates and machines.”(p.159)

24. “If a bicycle loses a chain or has a flat tire, its rider is soon surrounded by five people volunteering to help fix it. As they do during many casual social encounters, someone will bring out a marijuana cigarette and pass it around; people joke, touch each other, and take turns helping with the work” (p.160)

25. “The atmosphere of the research institutes, considering the great national responsibility they bear, is surprisingly playful. There is a great deal of sitting around with coffee or tea or marijuana, and many projects seem to make constant use of children’s construction-set materials” (p.128)

26. “The Ecotopian medical profession went through the pharmacopeia after Independence and ruthlessly eliminated many tranquillizers, energizers, sleep-inducers, and other drugs such as cold remedies. In fact, they now license no behavior-control drugs at all.”(p.96)

27. “It is claimed that mental illness has shown a decline since Independence, but it would be extremely difficult to evaluate such claims because of the drastically altered circumstances. I can confirm, however, that Ecotopian streets are not enlivened by the numerous and obvious crazies we are familiar with in our cities” (p.144)

28. “A meeting has no formal agenda [….] there are no Robert’s Rules of Order, no motions, no votes—instead, a gradual ventilation of feelings, some personal antagonisms worked through, and a gradual consensual focusing on what needs to be done. Once this consensus is achieved, people take pains to assuage the feelings of those members who have had to give ground in order to achieve the consensus” (p.85)

29. “It appears, by the way, that women never participate in the war games […] Ecotopians prefer to focus women’s competitiveness in other ways: through contests for political leadership, through organizing work—at which women are believed to excel—and through rivalry over men to father their children” (p.74-75)

30. “Laws formalizing the forfeiture of of property by the owners, plus confiscatory inheritance taxes, were legislated. (Aside from personal articles, no Ecotopian can now inherit any property at all!)” (p.91)

31. ”Black separatist parties grew up to dominate the ghettoes of Oakland and San Francisco—having been strangled by the white suburbs earlier, the black population now wanted to control their own territory. After a long and bitter political struggle, the black areas (and also Chinatown in San Francisco) were officially designated city-states within Ecotopia.” (p.98)

32. “often referred to as Soul City”(p.99)

33. “a few private cars are still mysteriously tolerated, and people cling to certain symbols of the old ways: there is a brisk trade in high-quality Scotch whisky and other imported luxury goods” (p.99)

34. “and this admission that the races cannot live in harmony is surely one of the most disheartening developments in all Ecotopia” (p.101)

35. “One scheme, which is currently being debated, would relocate the entire black population in a new territory […] The political and economic problems posed are monstrous, of course, but such things were carried out in Eastern Europe after World War II” (p.98)

36. “’Victimless’ crimes such as prostitution, gambling, and drug use are no longer on the books” (p.86)

37. “amnesties were declared for prisoners whose acts would no longer constitute crimes. A few guilty of ‘sex crimes’ and crimes like loitering, drunkenness, and vagrancy were also freed.” (p.99)

38. “It may seem unlikely to Americans, but I observed that during our trip my fellow travelers did without exception dispose of all metal, glass, or paper and plastic refuse in the appropriate refuse bin. That they did so without the embarrassment Americans would experience was my first introduction to the rigid practices of recycling and re-use upon which Ecotopians are said to pride themselves so fiercely.” (p.7)

39. “Can’t tell why this doesn’t lead to the crime panic it would bring among us.” (p.15)

40. “Our Bill of Rights was incorporated into the Ecotopian constitution, though in its original form which would seem dangerously sweeping and unqualified to most Americans today.” (p.85)

41. “Government’s control over population seems to be primitive compared to ours” (p.3)

42. “we had tried it [a militia system] in 1789 and couldn’t make it work. (And if we tried it now the units would probably turn into gangs of armed looters!)” (p.121)

43. “of course the Ecotopian situation has allowed their government to take actions that would be impossible under the checks and balances of our kind of democracy” (p.18)

44. “I just hope I can preserve my own sanity”(p.10)

45. “I’m experimenting, trying to imitate them”(p.30)

46. “breast-shaped green hills”(p.9)

47. “A little trouble with the maid last night, when she thought I was taking liberties […] seemed to be giving me the eye, yet wouldn’t play”(p.15-16)

48. “Realize that my attitudes toward the place have changed a lot in three weeks”(p.94)

49. “It seems likely that different ways of life always involve losses that balance the gains, and gains that balance the losses. Perhaps it is only that Ecotopians are happy, and miserable, in different ways from ourselves.”(p.144)

50. “‘Now you have a little Ecotopian blood in your veins!’ (because of the transfusion during my operation)” (p.140)

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June 9, 2011

GUEST POST: Get Rich Without Trying

The following guest review was written by Unpleasantly Surprised, a gentleman scholar and respiration enthusiast.

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

This book was written by: Tim Ferriss, a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, kickboxer, writer, health guru, polyglot, lifestyle designer, philosopher, tango dancer, blogger, horse archer, angel investor, and lifehacker.

What is in this book: Outsourcing. Ferriss recommends using the developing world to outsource your work away. He maintains that "getting a remote personal assistant is a huge departure point and marks the moment that you learn to give orders and be commander instead of commanded"(p. 119). It may have occurred to you to ask how much of your white-collar job is actually outsourceable. Ferriss responds, "It's a good question, but I don't want to answer it. I want to watch Family Guy" (p. 123), and proceeds to outsource this section of the book to two overseas workers. "The truth be told, it's a hell of a lot of work writing about not working. Ritika of Brickwork and Venky of YMII are more than capable of writing this section"(p. 123). However, he does address what to do if your boss is reluctant to keep you on the payroll while you dump your work on the developing world: "Learn to imitate any good child: 'Just this once! Please!!! I promise I’ll do X!' Parents fall for it because kids help adults to fool themselves. It works with bosses, suppliers, customers, and the rest of the world, too"(p.101).

What is not in this book: The examined life. Tim Ferriss recommends that you "develop and maintain a low-information diet"(p. 83), because "most information is time-consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside of your influence"(p.83). He counsels his readers that "information is useless if it is not applied to something important or if you will forget it before you have a chance to apply it"(p. 88). For developmental reading, Ferriss states, "I consume a maximum of one-third of one industry magazine (Response magazine) and one business magazine (Inc.) per month, for a grand total of approximately four hours"(p. 84).

Would you recommend this book to business majors? Most definitely. In college, Ferriss mastered the technique of whining his way to academic excellence. He explains, "If I received anything less than an A on the first paper or non-multiple-choice test in a given class, I would bring 2–3 hours of questions to the grader’s office hours and not leave until the other had answered them all or stopped out of exhaustion"(p. 91). This ensured that "the grader would think long and hard about ever giving me less than an A"(p.91).

Would you recommend this book to someone who wins fighting games by using the same cheap ring-out move over and over? Yes. Tim Ferriss used this strategy in real life to win the gold medal at the Chinese National Kickboxing Championship. The distinction was earned by "using dehydration techniques [...] I lost 28 pounds in 18 hours, weighed in at 165 pounds, and then hyperhydrated back to 193 pounds"(p. 29), and manipulating the rule that, "if one combatant fell off the elevated platform three times in a single round, his opponent won by default. I decided to use this technicality as my principal technique and push people off"(p. 30). Ferriss laments that "it's hard to fight someone from three weight classes above you. Poor little guys"(p. 30).

What was interesting about this book? The Amazon reviews. Currently this book has 1,550 five-star reviews. As a point of comparison, Crime and Punishment has 425 reviews of the same rating. Thanks to the wonders of cheap Indian labor, Tim Ferriss may have engineered the most extensive astroturfing campaign in the history of the internet.

The Four-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss (Crown Archetype, 2009, ISBN 9780307465351)

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