Freakonomics – A. Dawn Journal Book Review

Freakonomics – A. Dawn Journal Book Review

First Published:  Aug 12, 2008 ADawnJournal.com

Recently, I wrote an article about Freakonomics and mentioned that I would write a short review on Freakonomics. Today, I am going to jot down my thoughts briefly on this book. As you may have noticed, my book reviews consist of both recently published and not-so-recently published books, and I keep my reviews simple so my readers can make the most out of it.

Freakonomics is a collection of empirical data to show that things are not the way they appear on the surface. The authors question many of the general views that we have on lots of things we come across in everyday life and present them differently by analyzing data and drawing distinct conclusions from it. The authors' goal is to piece together human behaviors and look inside the hidden parts of everything. Here are some of the interesting views presented in Freakonomics:

- What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?

They both cheat in their own way and the authors use economic data and analysis to catch them.

- How is the Ku Klux Klan like a group of real estate agents?

This is all about abusing information. If you control information, you control everything. The authors try to connect the KKK and real estate agents by showing how individuals or groups can commit sins of information by hiding real information or promoting false information.

- Why do drug dealers still live with their mom?

Not all drug dealers are created equally; some of them can't even earn enough to live on their own. The authors present statistics to back this up.

Freakonomics is full of intriguing facts and information; however, I do find it boring at times. If you read the beginning and the end of each chapter, you will find it riveting; in the middle, it feels far too overloaded with statistical facts and economic data. I am unable to rate this book as "A Must Read." I give it a "Worth Reading."

NB: My ratings are very straightforward and simple. I go by only three different ratings: A Must Read, Worth Reading, and Do Not Read. I hope these are self explanatory

A Moment for “The Dark Knight”: EPIC film that goes beyond comics

I would like to introduce my first guest author - Shayan Mannan. 
The following article is written by Shayan - who is an ADJ reader and also my nephew. At 21, he is a musician, an entrepreneur, a soon to be professional blogger, and a Law & Society student at York University. He just released his first album, the "No Cure" EP which is available on iTunes. Check out his music at his MySpace Page I'm personally into new age music, and after listening to his album (which is electronica) my first comment was "This sounds just like a professional musician. I couldn't have guessed that this wasn't made by well-known artists such as Vangelis or Enigma."

A Moment For "The Dark Knight": EPIC Film That Goes Beyond Comics

The lines were packed to the back of the theater, and Batman shirts and joker-painted faces were out full-fledged. What an AMAZING, EPIC movie.

"So where do I begin...now a year ago these cops and lawyers...”

The Dark Knight delivers on all fronts, but let’s get something straight - this isn't your typical summer blockbuster - sure, there's action, but this movie is really a character piece and it explores themes of order and anarchy. It raises questions about morals, society's duplicity, when to cross the line, what is good/evil and looks at philosophical musings.

This is the best Batman film EVER. That title easily belonged to Batman Begins, and how the hell Christopher Nolan was able to continue and make even a better one is a mystery all by itself. This movie is 10 times better; it makes Begins look like, as a friend said to me, "Some bonus feature on a DVD that would be there 'just for flavour.'" Remember, sequels almost always SUCK, so what was done here is nothing to be overlooked.

Christopher Nolan:

This film is dark to the core. Thank you Christopher Nolan. Not only has he revived Batman, he's taken it to levels I don't think any filmmaker who tackles future Batman movies can reach. It makes all the other comic-book movies look like child’s play. Nolan balanced out the screen time decadently and gave both the villains their due diligence (unlike Spidey 3, let's try to forget that one). One of the things that really make it special is the REALISM that Nolan's injected into a fictional character and his world that's made everything believable. I think Nolan and Ledger both deserve Oscars. It's really too bad films like these don't get considered for nominations because "comic-book" movies are looked at as derogatory and something you can't take seriously - which is true for most films, but not this.

I don't know how you go out and make a better Batman film. Seriously. And just like Begins, this was packed with great quotes that you'll remember.

Christian Bale:

Once again perfect, portraying Bruce Wayne/Batman's struggle as a warrior whose city crumbles to the ground after being so close to restoring order thanks to the arrival of the Joker. I agree with my friend that Bale's best times were when he's picking away at his gadgets in the basement or contemplating alone about his horrifying and depressing situation. I'm glad they included a bit more of the playboy Bruce Wayne scenes, and they were hilarious; showing up late on purpose to the party with not one or two but THREE women in his arms, making fun of Dent, and just being an arrogant jackass. I also loved that scene where he sacrificed his Lamborghini to save that dude and then was pretending he has no idea what's going on.

Heath Ledger:

You've heard about how sensational he was, and you really have to SEE it to grasp just how scarily good he was as the Joker. The smallest details, like how he puts down the champagne glass softly instead of throwing it, the slight slouch he walks with instead of standing straight, how he licks his face, his movements in general and his facial expressions add to his creepiness factor. His voice is haunting, and anytime you see him on camera it feels uneasy. The best part is though, is that he's believable because he's human: because if you didn't believe he was human he wouldn't be nearly as scary. Ledger really disappeared into this role, you can't even recognize him. And one of the people in the group I went to see it with really didn't; she had no idea it was Heath Ledger. It's tragic the man passed away, and we'll never see him reprise his role again. Oh yeah, Heath Ledger's Joker slaughters every other Joker before him, including Jack Nicholson's...he makes Jack Nicholson look like...well...a clown.

The joker as a villain - what makes him unique is that he does all the crimes, just for the FUN OF IT: "I don't have a plan. I'm just a...dog chasing a car. I-I wouldn't know what I'd do if I ever caught it!" He doesn't give a damn about money, women, sex or drugs. He just wants chaos, and that's what makes him so scary, because he fits into the type of guys that Alfred explains: "…Aren’t looking for anything logical. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn." This joker is sadistic, psychotic and just simply psychologically disturbing. And he's so smart and can read people well; he understands how people think which is quite ironic since he's a crazy sociopath.

Maggie Gyllenhaal:

I originally didn't know what to think, but was just happy that they replaced Katie Holmes (she was so awful). Alas, Gyllenhaal was SOLID and has the personality that was originally needed which Katie Holmes could just not fill.

Morgan Freeman:

never gets old. Plays the same guy in every movie? Yes. Does he ever get boring though? Love the playful conversations he has with Bale.

Michael Caine:

plays that father-figure perfectly and provides that dead-pan humor needed amid a serious scene with Bale. He's got some of the best lines when he gives his advice.

Gary Oldman:

I'll let my friend sum this up - "The man's a chameleon. He really just brings the a-game to every role he does, and it really is hard to believe he played Sid Vicious, Count Dracula, and a drug dealer all with the same dedication." Also, remember Hannibal? You know the rich old guy in a wheelchair who had the deformed face because Hannibal peeled it off and therefore he wants to exact revenge on Hannibal? That's Gary Oldman.

Aaron Eckhart:

another brilliant casting. Let's face it, when we originally heard that Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhart were chosen to play Joker and Two Face, we didn't know what to think. That scene when he's on the hospital bed and commands Gordon to say the nickname that they used to call him started the whole transformation into Two-Face nicely. "SAY ITT!!!!" And his face was nasty, scary, and REAL as hell. Easily throws Tommy Lee Jones off the bench (but that’s not really his fault, Batman Forever was just an atrocious movie in all angles).

Random thoughts:

If I had to pick one SPECIFIC action scene as my favourite, it was when the Batpod goes by Joker's trailer truck and....FLIPS OVER that thing like it's nobody's business, and then the Batpod turns back around off the wall in a slick Transformers way. And I never would've guessed that the Batpod is literally a part of the Batmobile; when it shot out and ejected, that was ABSURD!

That blue flame in the beginning - MESMERIZING.

It was nice to see Cillian Murphy/Scarecrow in the beginning, and although it wouldn't be necessary at all, I would've enjoyed seeing Carmine Falcone as well just because I liked Tom Wilkinson so much in the first one.

The scene showing Batman's bruises on his back was awesome and important - because it reminds you he's only human, not one of those typical heroes who fight a 100 men and don't even get a scratch.

Batman Begins' main colour for all the posters, promo, etc. was beige/light-brownish/yellowish, Dark Knight's was blue.

Thank GOODNESS Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard was back to do the score - neither of these movies would be the same without them. The music was masterful and I'm going to buy the album like I buy a lot of Hans Zimmer albums.

The ending again was left open, and it was dark. My friend summed it up perfectly:
"even as the credits are about to roll, you really have to sit back for a minute and think "wait a minute, the good guys didn't win at all". And they didn't. The only one that really comes out ahead here is Joker, accomplishing his mission to show the city just how low it can really go."

For a two and half hour movie, it wasn't long enough - you heard right. It goes by so fast and you're left wanting more. The length is justified with all the complexities involved and giving all the characters a deserving screen time. There isn't a single bad moment; it's hard to criticize anything.

Make sure you see this in IMAX - this movie was specifically MADE for IMAX - they shot several important, long scenes in IMAX and it's something to experience, like those shots of Batman gliding through the sky (and of course the incredible action scenes itself).

Movie of the year. I'm not just saying that because I'm a Batman fanatic; you can't tell me there's been a better film so far, nothing comes close. Granted there's still half a year left, so we'll just have to wait to see. This wasn't just the best Batman movie, it's one of the best movies ever made period.

Don't forget Jonathan Nolan, Chris Nolan's brother who actually wrote the story with him. This is obviously a key reason why this movie rocked.

Sequel:

I want to see The Riddler. I think he'd be sly and DANGEROUS, especially the way Nolan does films. Just think of all the puzzles and mazes he could put Batman through.

I'm going to go see The Dark Knight again. And again.

- Shayan Mannan

First Published: ADawnJournal.com Published on: Jul 29, 2008

The Internet Habits of Personal Finance Bloggers - Get Rich Slowly

J.D. Roth - Get Rich Slowly

On April 30, 2007, I wrote an article on Web 2.0. The web has evolved so much that it is an indispensable part of our life, and we don't use the web the same way it used to be. Professional Internet users, such as bloggers, or any others who depend on the Web for a living, use the Internet differently than average users. I thought it would be helpful for my readers to know how a professional, such as Get Rich Slowly's author J. D., uses the Internet on a daily basis. Here is what J. D. provided for A D Journal readers.

A Day in the Life of a Blogger

I am an internet junkie. I have been addicted to the net since 1994 - and earlier if you count USENET newsgroups and the bulletin boards of the 1980s. I've always craved a connection with other people, the mad exchange of ideas that interconnectivity allows.

Since I began blogging full-time this March, it's become painfully apparent just how much time I spend online.

The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is roll to the edge of the bed and grab my MacBook Pro from the floor. While I grog awake, I make a quick pass to verify that Get Rich Slowly hasn't imploded. (It never has!) I also tabulate statistics from the day before, entering them into an Excel spreadsheet.

After I get out of bed, I spend half an hour in Apple Mail, processing the most urgent messages. I used to reply to every piece of mail I received, but that's physically impossible now. It bothers me that I have so many unanswered messages in my mailbox, but there's nothing I can do about it.

After breakfast and after exercise, I spend time gathering information in my web browser (Safari) and composing articles in my text editor (BBEdit). This generally takes several hours of my day, during which I'm also on iChat with other bloggers and friends.

I also try to make time to visit other personal finance sites, especially blogs. I used to read everything via RSS feed, but like my e-mail, this has become unmanageable. I've abandoned my feed reader (NetNewsWire) and now read blogs the old-fashioned way: via the web. But this means I don't catch new stories as soon as I once did. Sometimes I miss great stories completely.

I try to wind down my heavy internet use by about mid-afternoon so that I can spend time with my wife when she gets home. Still, I check in on the site every hour or two to make sure things are okay. And then before bed, I show Kris the preliminary numbers for the day.

All told, I spend about 70 hours a week online. According to the marvelous utility RescueTime, I spend about three hours on my computer every Saturday, about five hours each on Friday and Sunday, and then about 14 hours a day Monday through Thursday.

Of this, about 12 hours a week is spent in BBEdit, performing that physical act of writing. About ten hours is spent at Get Rich Slowly performing a variety of blog-related tasks. I spend nearly eight hours a week processing e-mail — and remember, that's just handling the barest essentials. Finally, I spend about three hours every week fussing with Excel. Those four tasks take 33 hours of my time every week, and that doesn't include research for various articles.

I'm not happy with how much time I spend online. Tracking my habits with RescueTime is the first step in determining methods to reduce the madness. My goal is to become more efficient, to become less wired. My goal is to spend more time in real life again!

First Published: ADawnJournal.com Jun 13, 2008