Friday, April 29, 2011

A Book Review: City of Fallen Angels

Title: City of Fallen Angels
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Urban Fantasy (YA)
Length: 424

Quality Rating: 9
Content Rating: PG-13

Read First: City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, Clockwork Angel

Journey once more into the world of Jace, Clary, Simon, and the Shadowhunters. Despite my intense dislike of vampires, one of the aspects I liked about this book was Simon's POV. His POV came almost as often as Clary's, and it was definitely nice to have a completely different perspective, especially a perspective that isn't so enamored with Jace.

This book is considered technically a continuation of The Mortal Instruments but its more like the first book of a sequel trilogy (sort of like Sinner is to The Wayferer Redemption series). The big bad guy of the last set of books is dead (or so we hope, fingers crossed), but a bigger even badder guy comes forth for this book. We're introduced to some new characters and the story lines of our beloved characters continue. (I'm looking at you, Alec. If only he were straight so I could have a legitimate crush on him...err, as legitimate a crush you can have on a fictional character--and of course he still doesn't hold a candle to Mat Cauthon).

So basically read the first books, and if you like those, you'll love this book.

Content rating is still PG-13 though it was close to R. There are some pretty heavy sexual scenes that don't actually cross the line to sex but its getting there. There is also a brief discussion about sex, just fyi. The violence actually isn't that bad in this book, its glossed over, though there is a pretty intense vampire drinking a human scene. However, there are some creepy dead babies (but not zombies thank goodness) that are well...creepy...for lack of a better word.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Book Review: Clockwork Angel

Title: Clockwork Angel
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Urban Fantasy with a Steampunk feel (YA)
Length: 476

Quality Rating: 8
Content Rating: PG-13

Read First: City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass

If you liked the Mortal Instruments, you'll like this book. If you like Steampunk, you may like this book, which is an Urban Fantasy that takes place in Victorian England. If you can't tell from the name, it has plenty of clockwork inventions and an inventor who definitely seems like he walked out of a steampunk novel.

So you may notice that I ranked this book as liking it slightly less than the Mortal Instruments. Why is that? Well, possibly its because I really wanted Jace, Clary, and Alec to be in the book and since its a prequel they weren't and that made me unhappy. I had to go about learning a whole new set of characters. However, its also possible because these characters felt very similar to the Mortal Instruments characters. Will seemed like a little more extreme Jace. Jem was like a straight and sickly Alec. Tessa, a non-Shadowhunter Clary. They were so close to the characters I wanted to read about but not quite them. I would have been happier with completely different characters.

Of course, I still got Magnus, and quite a different viewpoint of him. It was interesting to see him in the past, dating a vampire chic.

Plot wise the story is completely unique from the Mortal Instruments so definitely worth a read from that aspect. I did like this book immensely despite feeling that the characters were very similar to the characters of the Mortal Instruments. I'm hoping that's just a first book impression and that in the sequel they're more fully realized as unique individuals. I have great hope for these characters and this novel.

As for rating, these books are PG-13. No sex, plenty of violence, and some characters are killed. So just keep that in mind.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Brief History of the British Royal Family

I was going to post on Evolution today as part of my series, but it has come to my attention that far too many of my friends basically have no idea who the members of the British Royal Family are. When posed with the question, "Who is Prince William's parents?" I got the following responses:

1) I don't know.
2) The Queen of England.
3) Is Prince William the guy getting married this week?

People, this is atrocious. Not because I'm a huge fan of royalty or follow them or anything. Everything I know about British royalty I learned in history class or watching the news (which I rarely watch). The reason this is atrocious is because I believe its a symptom of many Americans not having any idea of what's going on outside of the world.

So to help everyone out, here is your crash course. Everything I know about British royalty in Timeline Form:

Ok, so I have no idea why its adding a billion spaces between my words and the table. I can't find an error in my html. So just scroll down.

1066The Battle of Hastings. William the Conqueror came from Normandy (France) and basically conquered England. So he's the first king of England. William I if you will.
The Magna Carta. So Richard the Lionheart is king, goes out during the Crusades and leaves Prince John in charge. Because he wasn't the head honcho, he got pressured by nobles to hand them over more power via Magna Carta.
The War of the Roses. I'm really not sure what this is all about. There were different factions represented by different colors and they were fighting over the throne and killing each other and a lot of chaos happened.
early 1500s
Henry VIII. He really wanted a son, but his wife Catherine of Aragon only gave him a daughter (Mary). So he wanted to divorce her but she was like cousins with the pope so the pope was like "No way, Jose." So he broke away from the Catholic Church and created the Anglican Church, divorced her, and married Anne Boleyn. But she didn't give him a son either. All in all he went through six wives. Can't remember what happened to them? Just remember "Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived."
mid 1500s
Bloody Mary. After Henry VIII died his only son Edward ruled for a little while, but he was a sickly child. When he died the daughter of Catherine of Aragon was brought in to rule. But she had been raised by her mother in Spain, so she was Catholic and thought all the Anglicans were heretics. So she killed a whole lot of them off. Hence Mary I became known as Bloody Mary.
late 1500s to early 1600s
Elizabeth I. After Mary, her sister Elizabeth I was brought in. Her rule was basically considered a golden age. Shakespeare was around during her rule.
1588The Spanish Armada. Spain thought they could overtake Britain while Elizabeth was queen, but they were sorely mistaken. The British defeated them with their lighter, quicker ships. This marks the end of Spanish as a big power in Europe.
post Elizabeth, pre-1688
The Cromwell Sandwich. Elizabeth had no kids, so when she died James I became king, James was the King of Scotland the son of Mary Queen of the Scots (not to be confused with Mary I). This brought Scotland in under British rule, so now Britain is made up of England, Ireland, and Scotland. After he died, his son Charles I took over. He had some problems as ruler and was beheaded by his people. Thus Oliver Cromwell (not a royal) came into control of England. He was basically dictator of England. But in the end, Charles II was called back to England to be king. When he died, James II was brought in to be king. Thus completing the "Cromwell Sandwich": James, Charles, Cromwell, Charles, James.
The Glorious Revolution. So James II was Catholic, which caused all sorts of problems. But Parliament didn't want another Cromwell-esque fiasco. But James II had a daughter, Mary, who had married a guy named William of Orange. So Parliament sort of politely invited him to invade England. James II fled and William was made joint king with Mary as joint Queen: William III and Mary II. As far as I know this is the only case of a joint King/Queen situation in England. Despite common thought, marrying a king does not make you queen (or vice versa). It just makes you their spouse.
early 1700s
First Prime Minister. William and Mary died around 1700 and Anne became Queen. But she also died without a successor. And somehow the only viable member of the royal family left was a German. So George of Hanover (George I) was made king. Now, this could be all wrong, but my AP Euro teacher way back in the day gave me the impression that George I didn't speak English very well. So Robert Walpole, a powerful statesman, ended up with a lot of power. And he is generally recognized as the first Prime Minister of Great Britain.
Queen Victoria. I really have no idea what happened between Robert Walpole and Queen Victoria but I think Disraeli and Gladstone were involved (rivals in the British Parliament). And all I know about Queen Victoria was that she married a guy named Albert and not only had a lot of children but married them off extremely well. Which is why all the rulers involved in WWI were actually first cousins. They were all grandchildren of Queen Victoria.
I actually have no idea who was monarch. But I know a lot about the three different movements that almost destroyed Britain before WWI was declared (the suffragettes, the Irish Home Rule, and the workers unions). And about Churchill and WWII. Just not who was King/Queen.
Queen Elizabeth II ascends the throne. She is the current Queen of England.

So now that we're all caught up to the current monarch, let me give a brief family tree.

Queen Elizabeth's heir is Prince Charles. Prince Charles married Princess Diana and they had two kids, William and Harry. William is second in line to the throne. Prince Charles and Princess Diana got divorced and then in 1997 Princess Diana was killed in a car crash.

Prince William is marrying Kate Middleton on Friday.

Are we all caught up? My friends, you no longer have an excuse about not knowing this stuff.

And I now feel an urge to look up who was monarch during WWI and WWII as well about all that Disraeli/Gladstone business.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Book Review: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Title: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer
Author: Lish McBride
Genre: Urban Fantasy (YA)
Length: 342

Quality Rating: 8
Content Rating: PG-13

I picked up this book because it was about a necromancer. Necromancers are not the most common creatures in Urban Fantasy (or Fantasy in general). That honor of course goes to vampires, and since I am currently working on my own WIP that involves necromancers, I'm trying to read as much as I can the other books about them. Thus, this book. However, I was really hesitant to read it. While in the bookstore I read the first chapter and the voice just really didn't catch me. I don't know what it was. Maybe it was the fact that Sam struck me as a slacker (which he is sort of--with good reason), or maybe it was just the fact that it started pretty mundanely at a fast food restaurant. I don't know. But I avoided reading this book for a month after I bought it.

And then the chaos of the semester reached a lull. I met my research deadlines and finally had time to read. I didn't want to buy a new book until I had read this one, so I sat down and made myself read it....

...and finished it a few hours later.

That first impression? The one that said I wouldn't like this book? It was wrong. Dead wrong. This story was fantastic. Sam is a bit of a slacker, but for a reason! He's a complex young man (and though this is YA, Sam is a college-dropout, not a high schooler) and so are his friends. In fact, by the end of the book you still don't know his friends completely. They have their own secrets. The storyline was also surprisingly complex. Though Sam's perspective is written in first person, there are other POV characters (and their sections are written in third person).

A basic plot summary: Sam is a college-dropout who thinks he's ordinary. But he's actually a necromancer, and he's found out by the local head-honcho necromancer, who also happens to be evil. Head honcho has plans that are far bigger than Sam (whose really just a side plot to him) and yet Sam somehow ends up in the middle of it all. Add to it that Sam has no freakin' clue how to use his powers, which the head honcho assures him are minimal anyway, a best friend whose willing to do anything to secure Sam's safety, a girl who gets killed and brought back as a head, and a captured hybrid werewolf/faye hound princess, and you've got a story.

As for content rating, this book is PG-13. There is violence, but its not too descriptive. There is also sex, but once again, not descriptive. Perhaps the most disturbing thing is the talking head girl and the zombies and other aspects of necromancy but its not that bad. Definitely only PG-13.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Nerds are Hot

That's probably not a normal title you would expect from a post by me--or you would expect it to be about something that has nothing to do with the title. But the hotness of the nerd population of America is exactly what we're going to talk about. And yes, I felt this was important enough to post on a Friday instead of waiting until after our Evolution vs. Creationism discussion.

Mainly, that's because I went to JordanCon this past weekend, which is what made me think of this topic and I wanted to talk about it before I forgot.

There seems to be this stereotype in the world that nerds fall into one of two categories when it comes to looks: 1) skinny, glasses, pimply, messy hair, socially awkward, works for a major CS firm like Google, Apple, or Microsoft or 2) overweight, bearded, socially awkward, still lives in Mom's basement. And even though I am a nerd (a female one so slightly outside of the stereotypes), I sometimes get the mistaken notion into my head that my male counterparts fall into these categories. And this past weekend, this stereotypical notion crept back into my head as I went to JordanCon, the Wheel of Time convention.

A Wheel of Time convention? I know. I'm a nerd. Did you forget my exploits at Dragon*Con and that one of the highs was that I bought a Great Serpent Ring? I am a nerd. I have no shame. And being a nerd is nothing to be ashamed of.

Anyway, I don't know why these stereotypes would pop in my head for JordanCon. You would think of all the areas of nerdom this would be the one where I wouldn't have the stereotypes. After all, all of my guy friends who read Wheel of Time are hot. (Yeah, yeah, stop blushing you guys who I know who read WoT. You're hot. Now get over it).

So I went to this con, expecting the awkward guys and instead met guys of all types: suave, charming, well dressed (err..costumed?), and just all around nice. (One stereotype that I love that is usually true. Nerd guys are nice). Seriously, if I hadn't been there with my mom AND if I was looking for a boyfriend right now, I would have been seriously putting my charm on (if I have any. Not a master of flirtation here, but I do love talking Wheel of Time, which in this setting might have sufficed).

I guess the moral of this post is we should all try to get past the Breakfast Club view of the nerd and embrace the Chuck Bartowski view. Chuck is awesome, nerdy, nice, and hot. And this should be the new stereotype because its often true. Or at least make it the third stereotype. The other two types of nerds do exist, but I would say the hot ones are in equal if not greater proportion.

Oh, and just in case I have a future husband* who is reading this blog post. I love Mat Cauthon. Yes, we've established this. So, if you're trying to meet me/impress me at a Con, please dress up as him. There were at least two Mat Cauthons at JordanCon and both had excellent costumes and I loved it. But please don't be Mat Cauthon in real life, because I'm pretty sure in real life our personalities would clash. So you can dress like Mat Cauthon but act like Chuck Bartowski. :)

*I want to get married one day, but I'm not 100% convinced its in God's plan for me, so its always "if I get married" never "when".

Thursday, April 21, 2011

5 Billion Years, Seven Days, or Yesterday

Last Thursday I talked about Galileo and why I never out of hand disregard a scientific discovery. Today I'm going to talk a little bit about the craziness that is the Evolution versus Creationism debate.

There are a lot nuances to this debate that I don't think most people even consider, but I'm going to divide up our conversation into three topics: 1) Traditional Seven Day Creationism, 2) the Universe is 5 Billion Years Old, and 3) the World was Created Yesterday. In this post, I'm just going to talk about the first of those topics. The other topics will follow next week.

1) Traditional Seven Day Creationism
I do not disbelieve in the Seven Day creation. I think that's an important point to make. If I get to heaven and God says, "You know what Mandy? You were meant to take that very literally and the universe was actually created in seven 24 hour periods (give or take the little bit that adds up to leap year)", I won't be surprised. Now the scientists out there might cry out and say, "How can you possibly believe this is true? All scientific evidence points directly to the universe being much older!"

The apparent age of the universe is a good point that I feel like people don't discuss enough when it comes to this debate. Yes, the universe seems very old. The scientists are not lying when they say measurements point to the universe being old (I'm pretty sure I covered that in the Galileo post but I just wanted to remind everyone). So if the universe seems to be 5 billion years old how can it really be..uh...much less than that. (I'm not sure what the agreed upon age of the world is by the traditionalist view, but its less than 5 billion).

Well that's actually pretty easy to answer if you think about it. The Bible is pretty clear that Adam was created as a man. Not a baby, not a child or teen, but a full grown man. So I'm willing to bet he would seem in every sense to be grown up.

Let me put it in another way. God creates a whole bunch of trees at creation. Do you think He created a whole bunch of saplings? Or do you think He created trees at varying stages of the life cycle (so that an entire generation wouldn't die off at the same time)? So if I went up to one of these freshly made but old seeming trees right after God created them, and cut through the trunk to see the tree rings, do you think it would look like there were no tree rings or God would really have made the tree be 20 years old and have the appropriate yearly rings? So if a scientists saw those rings he would swear the tree was 20 years old, when it reality it was literally created 5 seconds ago.

So the universe seeming old doesn't have to be contrary to a seven day Creation. God is smart, and He's certainly smarter than we are. If He wants the universe to seem 5 billion years old than its because we people need it to be that old to survive in it. It's like God fastforwarding through all that pesky other stuff (or skipping right over it) to create a world that's the exact right age we need to survive. I fully believe God is capable of doing something like that.

Now I feel I should note here that some people believe in a more of "seven distinct stages of creation". This sort of merges into the 5 billion year old, evolution universe, but it doesn't have to. I fully believe God is perfectly capable of creating our universe and all the life in it in 7 nanoseconds. How do I rationalize this with the Bible which clearly states days? Well, God is outside of time, so I don't think He would need to feel constrained by a period of time He had not necessarily yet created. He could if He wanted to--I don't doubt that--but I don't think He had to. However, I also think if God had said to Moses (the usual person believed to have written Genesis), "It took be one nanosecond to create all the animals in the world", Moses' mind might have exploded. Sure, God could have explained to Moses and make him understand. Completely possible and within God's power. However, then Moses would have to explain to everyone else and that's just a hassle. God could have been just talking in terms He knew people would understand.....

Thus we segue into a discussion of evolution and the possibility of Creation taking much much longer. However, that is a post for next Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I forgot

So I forgot to write up today's posts. I blame it on school. This week is often lovingly called "hell week" at Georgia Tech. I suppose its because officially during next week, "dead week", professors aren't supposed to assign homework or give tests, so this week is the week all that stuff would fall on. But in reality, the two weeks have sort of melded into one awful time period where everyone shuffles around campus like zombies.

But I only have five things left to do this semester and then I can call it a quits:

1) Homework due tomorrow (that I honestly haven't started yet)
2) Test on Friday
3) Paper due on Monday
4) Make a poster for final presentation
5) Statistics final exam

So if I can survive all that, it'll be summer and you guys know what that means! It means my Tuesday/Thursday blogging schedule will morph into a daily blogging schedule! (Or at least a Monday, Wednesday, Friday blogging schedule--I haven't decided yet).

So if my posting in the next three weeks is sporadic, I hope you'll forgive me. I'm sprinting to the end of the semester.

Friday, April 15, 2011


(Sorry about not posting this yesterday. My mom is coming to stay with me for the weekend starting today and I went into a cleaning frenzy. All thoughts of posting sort of fell out of my mind. But I'm back with the long promised science and religion post!)

Science and religion are often regarded as oil and water: two things that cannot mix. I have friends who are not religious who think believing in God is daft, to say the least. I have friends who have very strong faith who think a lot of science is completely bogus, like scientists are making information up purposefully to undermine Truth. And then there is my little sister and me, who believe in both science and religion. My sister and I are both strong (Baptist *gasp*) Christians. My sister is a Master's (soon to be PhD) student in anthropology and has no problem (faith-wise) TAing a class called "The Origins of Man" or something like that. I'm an aerospace engineering Master's student who has been known to say that the Matrix could be real and if it is please don't tell me.

So I think the most publicized science vs. faith debate is Evolution versus Creationism. Scientists firmly believe that nature, observation, and science point towards evolution. Let me assure my Christian readers that most scientists do not just make stuff up. They believe stuff based on math, observation, and experimentation. They're not stating it to mess with you. If math, observation, and experimentation could prove a seven day Creation, they would not hold back the information from the public. (Why would they? They'd probably win a Nobel Prize). Now let me assure my atheist, scientific type readers that Christians are not a bunch of blathering, head in the sand idiots. Christians believe in God because of personal experience, observation, and experimentation (though we call it "fleecing" or if we're real brave "doubt"). Christians, like any group of people, do come in varying levels of intelligence, but there are actually scientists and engineers among Christians. You can be smart and have faith.

Now that we've all put our prejudice aside and can look each other in the eye without thinking "that person is an idiot or bogus or fake" let's talk about something else: Galileo.

Galileo lived in the late 1500s and early 1600s, so think Elizabethan Era--except in Italy. He was a physicist and astronomer among other things. He was fascinated by the sun, stars, and heavens in general, as many were back then (and still are).

Now by the time Galileo lived, Copernicus had already made the insane statement that the Earth revolved around the Sun. I know, crazy right? Clearly the Sun revolves around the Earth. I mean, just watch it move across the sky. It's obvious. At least, that was very much the thought process of people back then.

Galileo and Kepler were both two dudes who wanted to figure out if this Copernican theory was real. But we're not here to talk about Kepler, who was living in Germany. We're here to talk about Galileo, who was living in Italy--which was very much controlled by the Church.

Now, I feel its very important to note that Galileo was actually a pretty religious guy. He had considered going into the priesthood. And honestly, he probably would have stayed under the Church's radar even with publishing his ideas, if he hadn't been such a religious man. You see, Galileo believed in heliocentrism (fancy word for the Earth revolving around the Sun) and God. And he went to Rome, to try to explain to the Church that one could believe in both heliocentrism and the God of Christianity, to try to convince them that those who like him believe in both were not heretics. Because of his love of the Church and science, he was banned from further defending this to the Church (though he was not banned from working on his science).

You see, heliocentrism and the Bible could not both possible be true, in the mind of the Church 500 years ago. The two things cannot possibly be reconciled. There is no way heliocentrism can be true if you believe the Bible is true. The two things directly conflict. Obviously.

After all:
"The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
The Lord has clothed and girded Himself with strength;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved."
~Pslam 93:1

"Say among the nations, "The Lord reigns;
Indeed the world is firmly established, it will not be moved;
He will judge the peoples with equity."
~Pslam 96:10

"Tremble before Him, all the earth;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved."
~1 Chronicles 16:30

"Also, the sun rises and the sun sets;
And hastening to its place it rises there again."
~Ecclesiastes 1:5

"He established the earth upon its foundations,
So that it will not totter forever and ever."
~Psalm 104:5

Clearly, the Bible indicates the world is not moving but sitting still in space. In fact, I'm not even sure the Earth should rotate according to these verses.

Now, I'm not here to point out supposed contradictions in the Bible. I do not believe that any of these verses contradict the idea that the Earth revolves around the Sun. I think the writers (and through them God) were trying to make the point that God very carefully placed the Earth. That this Goldilocks zone we are in is special. And that God will not allow anything to move us from this zone. And that we can depend on the Sun. He put it there for us. And as long as He wants us to be here, the Sun will be there.

The point I am trying to make is that today, in the modern world, we all believe in heliocentrism (as far as I know). Christians are not protesting in the streets, not angrily overrunning school board meetings, to protest that heliocentrism is being taught. We believe in heliocrentrism. And we believe the Bible. Yet, the angry feelings and denials people had back then are very similar to the feelings Christians have about Evolution.

So maybe 500 years from now future Christians will laugh at us for disregarding Evolution as true.

In short, as Christians we shouldn't dismiss science out of hand because we think it contradicts. It doesn't always. Sometimes it just involves thinking out of the box. As for my feelings about evolution (and the Matrix), that's a post for another day. For now, I just want you to remember Galileo when your first thought is "Scientists are just making this crap up!" Galileo was a scientist and a believer and he really did believe both (as most of us now do when it comes to heliocentrism).

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Feminism and Geordi LaForge

So when I was taking a five minute break from my research over the weekend, I read this article on Feminist Books. Basically the point of the article is that its not the behavior of the characters in the book that make the story Feminist, it's the attitude of the reader. I didn't really think much about that at the time (due to my head being overloaded with control laws, algebraic riccati equations, and saturation blocks), but while I was driving into the office this morning, it sort of popped into my head.

I was thinking about how Amanda Tapping is going to be at Dragon*Con this year, and how I need to add her signature to my collection of science fiction engineer/scientists. And I started thinking about how recently in SF a lot of the engineers and scientists are mainly females. It started with everyone's favorite Klingon Engineer, B'Elanna Torres. Then came Samantha Carter of SG-1. Then Kailey of Firefly. It's a trend. And I get it. We're trying to tell girls--hey! you can be in the position! See! Here is a girl engineer. You can be one too.

And thinking about all of this is what made me realize what the article is saying. That is sort of anti-Feminist. Saying "Here is a girl doing it so you can do it to" is not the point of feminism (in my mind). The point of it is the same point as getting rid of racism. I don't want someone to look at me and pre-judge me based on my sex, race, or anything. A person shouldn't think "Look! A black man has become president of the United States! I can to!" A person should think "Hey! A person can become president! I can to!"

What the article is trying to say, what it means, is basically that a girl should be able to look at an character/role and know they can be that. And I think the best example of this is one that happened to me and is very near and dear to my heart.

I was not inspired to be an engineer by the female B'Elanna Torres or Samantha Carter. I was inspired to be an engineer by Geordi LaForge, as played by LeVar Burton. I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation as a kid, and I saw how cool and wonderful being the Chief Engineer of the Enterprise was. I wanted that job. I wanted to be Geordi. It never crossed my mind that Geordi was male or black or blind (though with the visor he actually had better vision than any other person on the Enterprise). It was a job a person was doing and therefore I knew I could do it. Geordi was a person (fictional, yes) and I am to, and that's the only correlation necessary. That is feminism.

It doesn't matter that the Lord of the Rings is mostly about guys. What matters is that I can relate to the characters and can see myself being one of them.

I've always liked boy books better than I like girl books and I think in a way this is part of the reason. Girl books make me hyper aware that I'm a girl, that I'm different somehow, somehow a different sort of human from a boy (or other girls apparently since I can't relate to them). Boy books just deal with life, without making it a big deal. It's not a big deal that Harry is a boy. He just is. And I can imagine myself in his place, taking down Voldemort.

Yes, I think it is important to have females portrayed as engineers to help girls overcome their own un-feminist minds, but in the end a girl (or boy) should be able to look at any job/role and say "I can do that" regardless of the gender of the person portraying it. It's all in the eye of the beholder.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Summer Reading

So I was going to have a nice, thoughtful post on how science and religion don't have to conflict in all situations, but a thoughtful post requires thought. And due to a statistics test tomorrow and a research deadline on Tuesday, all of my thought processes are currently in use. So instead a less thoughtful post.

Every summer I go back to my co-op, which is wonderful. It's like three months of vacation. Not because I don't have to work--because I do. I go to work everyday for eight to ten hours (depending on how I feel) and then I go back to my apartment. So how is this like a vacation? Well, when I go back to my apartment--I don't have homework. I don't have to fret about school. I don't have to feel guilty about watching TV or reading a book because I have work I should be doing. I can leave work at work, and that is the most wonderful thing ever. It's a vacation from 24/7 stress. Wonderful.

So I do a lot of reading in the summer (as if you couldn't tell from the large quantity of book reviews I posted last summer). But this year I'm being slightly more intentional about my reading, I'm creating a list of all the books I want to read. And I can read a lot in the summers. Three books a week is a minimum. I've been known to devour a book a day in the summertime (I have very few friends at my co-op, so though that means I have no life it means lots of time to myself which means lots of reading).

So my current list is:

1) The Forest of the Hands and Teeth Trilogy by Carrie Ryan
2) Bumped by Megan McCaffery
3) Memento Nora by Angie Smibert
4) Dark Parties by Sara Grant
5) Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
6) City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
7) Divergent by Veronica Roth
8) The Malazan Book of the Fallen Series by Steven Erikson (I think its 10 books long)
9) The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett
10) Ghost Story by Jim Butcher
11) Thunderstruck by Erik Larson

So far my list is a lot of new YA books, an entire series of fantasy, and one non-fiction book. (I don't usually read a lot of non-fiction, but Thunderstruck is apparently really good and its a narrative which is all that really matters). This is only 22 books, which is not enough. Even if I limit myself to three books a week I still need about 22 more books. So does anyone out there in blog land have a recommendation? I would greatly appreciate it.

So please! Suggest books!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Faith and Work

The other day one of my friends was told by his research adviser that because of my friend's personal beliefs, he was unfit to be an engineer. My reaction to this news was three-fold.

First off, say what? Aren't we past that now? Isn't America supposed to be beyond religious persecution? If my friend thinks his beliefs don't conflict with his work, who is his research adviser to tell him otherwise?

Second, what the heck does engineering have to do with what I believe? Last I checked engineering and science were not the same thing and let's be honest--what does robotics have to do with evolution? Not much.

Third, why do people still have the ridiculously mistaken belief that science and religion are incompatible? (And I'll also admit that people have this ridiculous belief on both sides of the fence! Religious people think they can't believe in science and science people think they can't believe in religion! Ridiculous! But more on this in Thursday's post!)

I will be the first to admit that there are some beliefs that are incompatible with some job options. If you believe modern medicine is wrong, then you shouldn't be a modern doctor. Firm believers in seven day Creationism probably wouldn't make good evolutionary scientists. I get that. But no one should ever be told they can't do something because of what they believe.

Yes, I wouldn't want to work on anything that conflicts with my beliefs. But if I think something doesn't conflict with my beliefs, who are you to tell me they do?

I think this all comes back to my fundamental belief that no one should ever try to tell me what I should and shouldn't do (outside of the law, of course). That is for me to decide. If I think I can and should be an engineer, then I will be an engineer. If I think I can and should be a doctor, then I'll be a doctor. It is not an outsider's place to tell me otherwise--to tell me my capabilities or supposed place.

Yes, I'm a girl. Yes, I'm a Christian. But that doesn't mean I can't or shouldn't be an aerospace engineer, or so I believe. And that's what matters.