Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book reivew "Sight Unseen" by Budd Hopkins and Carol Rainey

Sometimes, when someone discovers that I’m reading a book about UFOs - Unidentified Flying Objects; to a knitter, a UFO is an Unfinished Object, a project that hasn’t been completed, something which all knitters have - they look at me as if I’ve suddenly grown a third eye in the middle of my forehead or sprouted pin feathers behind my ears.

You see, in the twenty-first century, in most circles, you don’t admit any interest in “flying saucers” or little green men or Men In Black, or any of the other common memes that surround the subject in popular culture, because expressing interest is tantamount in most people’s eyes to admitting that you’re either expecting the Space Brothers to swoop in and save us any day, or that you’re sure that the invasion will happen a week from next Tuesday, at the very latest. Never mind that this isn’t the case; it’s what most people believe, and they are not about to be dissuaded.

Well, I’ve been reading books about UFOs since I was about eight or nine years old, and I haven’t turned into a true believer yet. However, I haven’t turned into a debunker, either. Both English astrophysicist Sir Arthur Eddington and British geneticist and evolutionary biologist J. B. S. Haldane have been quoted as having said “The universe is not only stranger than we imagine; it is stranger than we can imagine.” I subscribe to this belief, and in order to give the universe its due, I believe that it is at least necessary to consider all possibilities, even those that aren’t very likely. So, I consider the idea of visitors from another planet, another galaxy, another universe, or wherever they might possibly come from.

And so, I occasionally read books about UFOs.

The one I’ve just finished reading Sight Unseen: Science, UFO Invisibility and Transgenic Beings (Atria Books, 2003; 406 pages), by Budd Hopkins and Carol Rainey, is a much more serious book about the topic of UFOs than many that have hit the shelves of libraries and bookstores in the past couple of decades, a period of time in which it has seemed to me that books like this one have gotten sillier and less substantive than earlier offerings have been. More and more, the books are written either by “true believers” who don’t seem to be willing to be bothered by presenting evidence for their claims or by debunkers whose stance is generally “UFOs can’t exist and so they don’t”. I don’t find either stance very helpful.

I only picked up Sight Unseen at the library because it was co-written by Budd Hopkins, who has been studying UFOs since the mid-1960s and has specialized in the claims of those who have claimed to have been abducted by aliens. While he has come in for some criticism for using hypnosis as a way of recovering memories of these alleged abduction experiences, I’ve read earlier books of his and found them to be far less sensationalistic then many others on the subject that I’ve either read or become exasperated with and given up on.

Sight Unseen presents parts of some interesting cases that Hopkins has worked on, specifically addressing two issues, UFOs and invisibility and the claims that some experiencers make that whoever is carrying out these alleged abductions are creating alien/human hybrids, or what he calls “transgenic beings”. The stories of some of these claims are alternated with chapters on current scientific research that the authors believe might be headed toward explaining how UFOs and their occupants might attain invisibility and on how the occupants might be able to create such hybrids.

The stories reported here are interesting, not especially sensationalistic in that those who claim to have undergone them are rabid believers in UFOs and aliens aside from the experiences they claim and not told in a breathless, tabloid style of some accounts. The stories suffer, in the mind of some skeptics, from being merely anecdotal evidence but, as Carol Rainey points out in one of her chapters on the science that might explain how some alleged abductees’ claims jibe with things we are learning about the universe through mainstream science, that large studies like the Framingham Heart Study, carried out by the National Heart Institute, which studied the citizens of Framingham, Massachusetts over a fifty-year period, relied heavily on anecdotal evidence reported by study participants over the years. The point is, science does use such evidence, and to rule it out in the study of UFO experiences is just a bit ingenuous.

Most of the problems in the book, however, also come from Rainey’s chapters. I’m not sure she is quite as familiar with the science, especially physics, as she claims to be, and she makes some mistakes in stating scientific facts. Some of those mistakes could be typographical errors. Even if that is all they are, they should have been caught in proofreading and editing. They make the book and its claims not as strong as they might be otherwise.

For example, on page 89, she got the speed of light wrong, stating that light travels at 186,000 miles per hour. Later on the book, she uses the correct figure of 186,000 miles per second for the speed of light, indicating that the first reference might be a typo, but as a commonly known fact for anyone who has taken college, or even high school, science, it is something that she should not have gotten wrong.

Then, on page 185, Rainey refers to “…the billions and billions of hears that homo sapiens [sic] have been pairing off and reproducing.” Since there was no life at all on land on the earth, according to most accounts, until less than half a billion years ago, in the Ordovician, and those were all plants and fungi, with the first amphibians making it onto land in the Devonian Period, which didn’t begin until around 416 million years ago. The genus Homo did not appear until approximately two and a half million years ago and Homo sapiens, modern humans, did not come on the scene until less than a million years ago, a figure that is subject to change as new discoveries are made. So, clearly, Homo sapiens, as a species, has not been “pairing off and reproducing” for billions of years. Again, Rainey’s statement might be a typo, but it detracts from the believability of what she reports in the book.

It is true, however, that some of the scientific advances Rainey reports on concerning both ways to achieve invisibility and in cloning and genetic manipulation, are interesting whether or not you accept the existence of UFOs. Some advances, such as the cloning of Dolly the sheep, are widely known. Others are not, and I can’t speak to whether Rainey has reported them accurately or not, although I’m interested enough in a couple of them that I’m considering doing a little looking around to see what they really are about. At least, Hopkins and Rainey have provided endnotes to make that research a little easier.

Still, even with the problems, I would recommend Sight Unseen to readers who are interested in UFOs generally, and in alleged abductions by beings presumably associated with them. It isn’t a bad book, and what I perceive as problems could be partly my own problem, since I expect that when someone is making money from a book they’ve written, in the form of royalties, facts will be reported accurately. This isn’t something I only blame the writers for. There are editors, proofreaders, and fact checkers for a reason, and I expect writers to make use of them.

Reading Update - Saturday

It was a busy week around here, but it didn't completely keep me from reading.

I finished reading Sight Unseen last night. I'll have more to say about that very soon.

I'm still reading Mercy, Mercy Me, and I'm still looking for some good fiction. Is it just me who has trouble these days finding fiction that seems worth reading? I find myself tending to go back to the same writers time and again, and even re-reading novels because very little that is new seems interesting to me.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday reading update

After I posted my most recent book review, I meant to put up a current reading update. Obviously, I didn't. But I am reading.

I've got two books going now, from very different parts of the spectrum.

First, I'm reading Mercy, Mercy Me: The Art, Loves & Demons of Marvin Gaye (Basic Civitas Books, 2004; 290 pages), by Michael Eric Dyson. This isn't a biography, but an analysis of Gaye's music, his influences, and his impact on American culture. Quite interesting, so far.

On a completely different note, I'm also reading Sight Unseen: Science, UFO Invisibility and Transgenic Beings (Atria Books, 2003; 406 pages), by Budd Hopkins and Carol Rainey. It's the first UFO book I've read in a few years, having read a lot on the subject when I was young but then abandoned the subject a few years ago when they just kept getting more and more stupid. I haven't made up my mind about this one yet. There are problems with it, as far as proofreading and typographical errors and with a seeming overreach for explanations that are "scientific", but there's also some information that I'm finding interesting. We'll see how it progresses.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Review: The Miracle Detective, by Randall Sullivan

The first thing I need to say about The Miracle Detective (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2004; 450 pages), by Randall Sullivan, is that you shouldn’t shy away from reading this book if you aren’t religious. In fact, the non-religious or the differently religious might have a better time with this book than those of you who are more devout Christians. In the book, Sullivan asks many more questions than he answers, and he ends the book still asking them, and without coming to any solid conclusions. This is not a criticism, by the way.

As the book opens, Sullivan, who is an investigative journalist, goes off to investigate an alleged visitation by the Madonna (that would be the woman Christians hold to be the mother of Jesus, not the singer), in an old, dilapidated trailer in Oregon. The young woman who first sees what she immediately interpreted as the Virgin Mary in the corner of a yard-sale painting, is not especially devout. But she’s sure of what she sees, word gets out, and soon the trailer is full of and surrounded by people who want to see for themselves.

During his visit to cover the story, Sullivan has a couple of eerie experiences in Powell’s, a bookstore in Portland, discovers that a much bigger series of visitations have been reported in Medjugorje, in what is now the Herzegovina region of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in the course of his research decides that he could make a book out of the process the Vatican goes through to authenticate, or more often not authenticate, such visitations and the miracles that are often claimed to accompany them. He proposes the project to his publisher, who agrees to fund a research trip to Rome and to Medjugorje and to go forward with the book if what he finds there warrants it.

This sets Sullivan off on a years-long journey to discover what is really going on in such events and, as it turns out, to try to discover what he believes about them, about God, and perhaps about himself. Along the way, he meets visionaries, expatriates, believers, non-believers and maybe-believers, hangers-on of various sorts, and Roman Catholic clerics with a wide range of opinions about the subject of visitations and miracles. He might even have seen the Devil in Rome. There is a side trip to Scottsdale, Arizona, to investigate a series of alleged visitations there. There are questions about whether or not the claims of visitations violate the laws of physics, and where do the laws of physics come from, anyway?

Near the end of the book, Sullivan talks to a priest who also holds a doctorate in psychology and is considered to be one of the Roman Catholic Church’s foremost theologians. The priest, Father Benedict Groeschel, advises Sullivan to leave the question of what the apparitions and miracles really are, fact or fantasy, open because, he says, nobody actually knows what they are. They only have belief, and belief is a decision and a gift, and would be so even if any particular visitation or miracle could be proven beyond doubt, in a scientific sense.

At one point, Sullivan comes to the conclusion that visionaries are either lying, hallucinating, or telling the truth. What he comes to realize is that the answers are much more complicated than that. He also realizes that it is much easier to believe in the visitations and the miracles, and even in the experiences he himself had gone through in association with his investigation, when he was close to the source of them. Later, away from the environment where they were experienced, he began to doubt that the experiences he had really happened, or that they meant what he thought they meant at the time. And, he reports, sometimes the visionaries themselves begin to doubt that what is happening to and through them has really taken place.

So, it turns out that The Miracle Detective is much more a book of questions than a book of answers. Which is, perhaps, what I like most about it. I’ve always been much more comfortable with questions than with answers.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A reading update, and a book you don't have to read from cover to cover...

Time does tend to get away from me sometimes. It's Thursday already.

I'm still working my way through The Miracle Detective, and I'm making progress, but there's been a lot going on this week. Monday night was an SCA business meeting. Tuesday night was knit night. Last night I was just a bum, watching NCIS episodes on DVD while waiting to go pick up a friend after her night class. In the mornings, there's work. And...well, you get the idea.

Also on Monday night, I started looking through a book I picked up at the library Sunday, Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits, by Fred Bronson (Billboard Books, 1995; revised and enlarged edition). And couldn't put it down for hours.

It's a book of lists. I love books of lists. Probably has something to do with the fact that I love making lists. Which is likely why I love the movie High Fidelity. I have the book around here somewhere, but I haven't read it yet. But I digress.

What Bronson did with this book was take all the Hot 100 lists from Billboard magazine, since it began publishing that particular list on a weekly basis on August 4, 1958, and assigned each song on each chart a numerical value based on its position that week, the did something mathematical with all the information and came up with a list of the 5000 hits of the rock era. But that's at the back of the book. He also worked up "top" lists for every year from 1956 (he used a series of Best Sellers in Stores charts for rankings before Billboard started publishing the Hot 100 chart) through 1994, for each decade from the 1950s through the 1980s, and "top" lists for a number of artists, writers, producers, record labels and so forth. There is also a series of specialized "top" lists, of which my favorite is probably either to Top 100 One-Hit Wonders or the Top 100 Songs that debuted at 100 on the Hot 100 list.

I guess you could say that Bronson is kind of a geek, with maybe too much time on his hands. He reports in the book's introduction that he did the same sort of thing with each week's top 30 list as broadcast on KRLA radio in Los Angeles, which he wrote down faithfully as it was broadcast on Friday afternoons. Until he discovered that the station reproduced the list and distributed it to record stores and he could just pick one up instead of writing them down. I can't laugh too hard at this. When I was growing up in Southern California in the late 1960s, I used to do the same thing on Wednesday evening (as I recall, although it's been a long time and I could be wrong) when KRLA's rival rock and roll station, KHJ, played their Top 30 countdown. Which of course means that I was a geek with too much time on my hands, too. This is something I'm glad to own up to now, although at the time I would have denied it.

Anyway, the book is great fun. If you like music, and if you stumble across it in the library, you might want to give it a look. It is also the ideal book for when you have some time on your hands but don't want to commit to reading a book all the way through. You can dip into this at any point and find out something interesting that you probably didn't know before. The only thing I wish is that there was a newly updated edition on the shelves at my library. There may well be such an edition, but I haven't come across it yet.

I'd really like to see what changes a decade and a half has made in that Top 5000 Hits of the Rock Era list.

Now. Back to The Miracle Detective.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday afternoon update...

Well, so much for plans and best intentions.

I'm still reading The Miracle Detective, although I'm over halfway through it now. I had hoped to finish it by the end of the weekend, but Saturday was full of a knitting meet-up and movie night with my SCA friends, and I spent a good deal of Sunday working on my writing rather than reading other people's.

But, it was a fun weekend, so I don't begrudge the time.

This week's goal is to finish what I'm reading now and start in on something new. Not sure what it will be yet, though. There are several possibilities, and that's just from the books I've got checked out of the library and doesn't include all the books I've got on my shelves that I haven't gotten around to reading yet.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Review: Trilobite! Eyewitness to Evolution, by Richard Fortey

I’ve been trying to figure out what to say about Trilobite! Eyewitness to Evolution, by Richard Fortey (Alfred A. Knopf, 2000; 284 pages), other than that it is a good book and you should read it, ever since I finished it the other day.

But really, it is a good book, and if you value good science writing, something that is all too rare in this world, and you should read it. You should read it because you’ll learn something new, always a good thing. But you should also read it because it isn’t just science writing. Fortey is a good writer in general, not just a good writer in communicating the facts of science.

He is funny, for one thing, and absolutely genuine for another. How could anyone resist a book, and an author, who writes, about getting a job: “When I received my first job description it said ‘to pursue research upon trilobites’ which was rather like saying ‘amuse yourself for money’.” How many of us wish we could say that about our work? Well, I rather like my job, but I honestly don’t know very many people who really love their jobs, on a day-in-and-day-out basis.

He is a master of understatement, as well. In a footnote (there aren’t many, which most people would think is a good thing, but have an affection for them), Fortey describes a book about trilobites that was published in 1832 and which came with a set of models of the species described therein. And then he ends the footnote with this: “Sadly, some of the reconstructions are somewhat approximate.”

His comparisons are generally spot-on. In describing irregular shape of some lenses in some trilobites’ compound eyes (some species eyes had thousands of lenses) due to the curved surfaces of the eyes, Fortey compares it to the difficulties of “wrapping a football in Christmas paper.”

But don’t think that because Forety’s writing is charming and literary to a degree that most science writing is not, it is not serious science. Fortey might love his job (he fell in love with trilobites at the age of fourteen on a beach in Wales), but he is also serious about it. He has made serious contributions to the study of trilobites and has, in fact discovered, and thus had the privilege of naming, a number of species. Because he is serious about his work, he discusses the science of paleontology seriously, relating the structure, the history and the evolution of trilobites from their appearance in the fossil record about 540 million years ago to their disappearance around 250 to 260 million years ago.

Fortey also discusses science more generally, including some of the disagreements between paleontologists about how evolution proceeds and the general rules for naming species. He warns that paleontology contains no final truth because new discoveries are always being made.

But, when it comes down to it, the best thing to say about Trilobite! is that it is a good book, and you should read it. Even if science wasn’t ever your best subject in school. And even if you aren't quite sure what a trilobite is. There isn't a better way to learn.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Another book finished...

I've finished reading Trilobite!: Eyewitness to Evolution, by Richard Fortey.

It was as good as I had hoped it would be, and I'll have more to say about it soon. Right now, just let me say that I have a huge urge to go off and study historical geology and palenotology. In fact, I've got a friend who just started a course in historical geology tonight, and I'm a bit jealous even though I've taken that particular class at that particular school already.

Now, I'm just reading The Miracle Detective, by Randall Sullivan, but I'm looking at a couple of different possibilities for a second book to start. I've always liked having more than one book in progress at a time, and it is very rare that I will read one book straight through without dipping into other books along the way.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Currently reading...

Two books in progress:

First of all, still working on Fortey's Trilobite! It's very good, although just a bit dense in places. That means I need to take breaks from it occasionally.

So, I'm also reading The Miracle Detective: An Investigation of Holy Visions, by Randall Sullivan (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2004; 450 pages. I'm only about 50 pages into this book about how the Vatican investigates miracles and visitations. Quite interesting so far. I never knew that they classify miracles as either medical, physical or moral. Pretty much only the medical miracles count toward canonization of saints, at least since the last century.

My goal is to finish both during the coming week. We'll see how that works out in a full work week. I got spoiled, having so many days off during the holidays. I actually had time to read.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Some thoughts on "American Conspiracies", by Jesse Ventura

The reputation of conspiracy theories and theorists in the United States today is so bad that I felt almost dirty when I occasionally found myself nodding my head and agreeing with something Jesse Ventura had written in American Conspiracies: Lies, Lies and More Dirty Lies that the Government Tells Us (written with Dick Russel; Skyhorse Publishing, 2010; 288 pages).

But the fact remains that I did agree with a few of the opinions shared by Ventura in the book. For example, he wrote that he believes we should go back to using paper ballots in elections in this country, and that they should be tabulated by hand (p. 130). I get the strangest looks when I say that, but I’ve been saying it for years. I worked as a precinct officer and as a precinct inspector in too many elections to trust any voting method that doesn’t leave a paper trail.

Ventura also writes that he advocates the abandonment of the Electoral College, and I’m right there with him on that, too. Any electoral system that lets the person who gets the most votes still lose the election is too open to manipulation and abuse for my comfort. Certainly, the 2000 election, which Ventura (along with quite a few other people, to be honest) believes was stolen, is not the first time the Electoral College system has put the loser of the popular vote into the White House.

So, I found myself agreeing to a point with Ventura’s chapter on the elections of 2000 and 2004, both of which he believes were stolen, the former in Florida and the latter in Ohio, by the manipulation of electronic voting machines, by the purging of voters from the rolls who shouldn’t have been purged, and by voter intimidation.

I suspect that Ventura is on less stable ground with some the other conspiracy theories he explores in his book, although his explanations of them did make me stop and think about them before wondering just how accurate his facts were and how plausible were the hypotheses he wove from them. And even if his facts were accurate the fact is, there is no way of ever knowing for sure whether the events he describes were driven by conspiracies or were just the way things turned out. This being the case, I suppose the real value of American Conspiracies, like other books on conspiracies, is as a series of thought experiments or “what if” questions. I do think there are legitimate questions about some of the events Ventura looks at, such as the assassinations of the Kennedys, Dr. King, and Malcolm X. As I have said before in this blog, I don’t believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, even if I’m not convinced of some of the wilder theories about the killing of John F. Kennedy.

Similarly, I’m not opposed to asking questions about the attacks of 9/11, even if I’m not ready to say, as Ventura does, that either some in the US government were involved in it, or else knew about it and did nothing to stop it. There are those who would hold that there is no room for any questioning of the official explanation of what happened on that day, and that to ask those questions amounts to treason, or very nearly so. But, as Ventura points out in the book, the First Amendment to the US Constitution is there to protect unpopular speech (his emphasis), because popular speech doesn’t need to be protected (p. 120).

I suppose the question becomes, does the fact that I’m open to some of the questions that Ventura asks in the book and the fact that I did in fact agree with some of the things he writes, make me a conspiracy “nut”? I don’t think so. What I do think is that if we stop asking questions about the things that happen in our world, and if we discourage others from asking such questions, even if none of the conspiracies Ventura theorizes about in his book were really conspiracies, it will make it easier for budding conspirators some time in the future to put a real conspiracy into motion and be successful with it. Asking questions like Ventura does, and examining the answers closely, rather than just accepting those answers either in favor to or opposed to a verdict of conspiracy, can only work to strengthen critical thinking skills in individuals and in society. And I don’t think that is a bad thing.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thursday update

Finished reading American Conspiracies, by Jesse Ventura.

I'll have something to say about the book in a day or two. I want to think about some of what I read before I try to write about it. I will say that I found the book to be less extreme than I expected it to be.

Now, on to finish reading Trilobite!: Eyewitness to Evolution, by Richard Fortey. I'm also looking around for some fiction to read; Fortey's book will make 4 non-fiction reads in a row. But I'm also interested in getting into Voodoo Histories, as a counterpoint to Ventura's book.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Still reading...

Just dropping in quickly to say that I'm still reading American Conspiracies. I'm less than 20 pages from the end, but it has been a busy couple of days (I'm helping a friend get ready for a trade show this weekend) and I haven't found much time to read. I had been hoping to finish the book up tonight and write something about it (because I have a few things to say about it), but I've got the headache from Hades and I think I'm just going to go load the dishwasher and start it and then go to bed.

I had also planned to share a few thoughts about the guy who has issued an "n-word" free edition of Huckleberry Finn, a story that has been all over the news today, including an interesting piece on NPR this afternoon (which I only heard because it was on while I was in my car on the way from work to helping my friend and I happened to tune in while it was on). But, again, I'm fairly sure that if I attempted to write about that, or much of anything else, tonight, I wouldn't manage to make much sense. So, I'lll just leave well enough alone for now.

Monday, January 3, 2011

My Library Cards

Do you remember the old American Express commercials? The tag line was "American Express: Don't leave home without it."

Well, my paraphrase of that has always been: "My library card: I never leave home without it." And that's the truth. I got my first library card when I was five years old (although, at that point, it wasn't an actual card; just an entry in the library's records that I was allowed to check out books. By the time I was six or seven, they'd gone to a card that looked very much like a credit card and was run through a machine like credit cards used to be, before they could be swiped electronically. Each book also had a card, and you got a separate receipt for each book you checked out.

Then we moved, and again for a few years, the library kept the card instead of the individual patron, and I kind of felt like I was missing something. Now, of course, library cards have barcodes, at least where I live, as do books, and in some places you get to check them out yourself, at a self-serve machine, without having to even talk to a library clerk.

I actually have two library cards. Of course, there's my public library card, which gets lots of use. But I also keep a Community Borrower Card at the university library at the school where I graduated with my BA. It costs me $25 per year to maintain, but that seems like little enough to pay for access to that very good collection of books, which specializes in books about religion (its a private Christian school, run by the Mennonite Brethren) but has a nice general collection as well. I mean, how many Christian university libraries do you know that keep up a subscription to The Skeptical Inquirer?

Soon, I hope to have a third library card. If I can find the money, I'm also going to get a Community Borrower Card for the local branch of the California State University's library. It costs more than the one I already have, but as far as I'm concerned, you can never have access to too many books.

So, when did you get your first library card? Do you have more than one? And if you don't have one at all, why not?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Article of the Day: How bored are you?

Besides writing about books, from time to time I’ll write about other things I’ve read here and there, including articles I come across on the internet.

One of the things I like about the Internet is the potential it presents for finding odd, random things to read. You have to know where to go to start looking for these sometimes, or you can Google randomly. I suppose you could say that it’s the online equivalent of browsing the library or bookstore shelves for something to read. There are nearly endless possibilities for discovery in both pursuits.

Today’s discovery is an article from the Wall Street Journal, called "Boredom Enthusiasts Discover the Pleasures of Understimulation”, by Gautam Naik. It relates the story of a conference called Boring 2010, held in London in early December. Boring 2010 was the brainchild of James Ward, who first proposed it as a joking tweet after he heard that something called the Interesting Conference had been canceled. Ward got such a positive response to his idea that he ended up actually organizing the conference.

The article, which I encourage you to go find and read (you can find a link at Arts & Letters Daily as one of its Articles of Note; the link I tried to insert to the Wall Street Journal would not work), details the conference and some of the topics presented there, which were apparently guaranteed to bore the socks off anyone. Ward, for example, talked about his tie collection, while another man spoke about his project to count his sneezes, which has been going on for three years so far.

Reading the article got me thinking, though, that what is boring for one person, even for most people, can be absolutely fascinating for someone else. Another of the presentations at the conference came from journalist Naomi Alderman, who talked about her experiences as child in observing the Jewish Sabbath. I think her talk, which was titled “What It’s Like to Do Almost Nothing Interesting for 25 Hours a Week”. I think that sounds quite interesting. Then again, I studied the anthropology of religion at university. As I said, boring for some is enthralling for others.