So I want all the folks who graduated high school and college prior to 1977 who know what a meme is to raise their hands! Did lots of hands go up! If they did then you’re better than me. Until I read Richard Dawkins The God Delusion I did not know about memes. But now after reading that book and Book Number for 2011 Virus of the Mind by Richard Brodie I know a little more about this basic unit of cultural transmission and imitiation and memetics which is the study of the working of memes, how they interact, replicate and evolve. A meme (rhymes with cream) is an idea that forms itself into a distinct memorable unit and then is spread through a culture. They are the cultural equivalent of the gene. The term was coined by Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene. Memes can exist concerning any thing in life like danger, fear, sex and religion. Those that are best at replicating themselves keep evolving while others don’t far as well and are replaced. An example would be the Roman and Greek Gods for many years their memes were strong and dominated the culture but when science explained things they lost their ability to replicate and soon faded. Likewise religions like Mithra-ism a and other pagan religions flourished and died, while the memes of Christianity and Islam continued to replicate and be spread.
Book No 6 is another book concerning the Middle East The Rise of Islamic Capitalism – Why the New Muslim Middle Class is the Key to Defeating Extremismby Vali Nasr. Nasr was born in Iran and is a professor of International Relations at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University. The main thesis of the book is that the way to win in the Middle East is to support and strengthen the capitalism of the growing middle class. He believes that the majority of the populous of the Middle East want not a fundamentalist Islam but a more modern Islam that will blend religion with a strong economy. The book traces the failures of secularism throughout the Middle East and delves into the failure of the Iraniam Islamic revolution to spread. He discusses the current Iran predicament, Pakistan and finally folds up Turkey as a country that may have gotten it right. I found the book enlightening and informative! Here is a quote from the cover:
Book 5 is British biologist Richard Dawkins’ 2006 bestseller The God Delusion. I will not get into any long discussion of what I believe or don’t believe, that is for everyone to decide on their own, but if you want to read a book that opens your eyes to religion and science read this book. From Wikipedia:
So I finally finished the second book for 2011 and it was a Kindle ebook and non-fiction The Devil We Know:Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower by Robert Baer. Baer is an ex-CIA operative in the Middle East and considered one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Middle East. The book chronicles Iran’s rise to superpower in the Middle East and the range of their influence, which extends from control of southern Iraq to Lebanon and the Palestinians. At times the book is scary because you see that the policies of the US have only helped to extend Iran’s influence in the Gulf! But his final synopsis which has the US negotiating with Iran and maybe even becoming allies is potentially (in my opinion) the best course for US policy. The book also explains the differences between Shia and Sunni particularly as it comes to terrorism. The book is highly recommended for anyone who is interested in politics and US policy in the Middle East! I would certainly read another book by Baer and may pick up Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude at the library!!
Book 33 for the year is a collection Lewis Black’s thought about religion Me of Little Faith. The book is hilarious and at times makes me laugh out loud as Black takes on all religions including his own! I’ve said before that Black is one comedian who consistently cracks me up and I can watch the same concert performance over and over and laugh all the time “If it wasn’t for that horse. I wouldn’t have spent that year in college”. John Stewart and George Carlin’s praises on the back of the book cover are so true!
So Book 18 is Lewis Black’s book Nothing Sacred. Even though it’s a short book it’s taken me a while to get through, mainly because I only read it while I’m waiting for the computer in the back room to either boot up or load a webpage something that may take a long time and I need a laugh, and Lewis Black makes me laugh! Whenever I see him on TV either on The Daily Show or his own Comedy Specials, he makes me laugh. I could hear the same stories over and over and I’ll still laugh. Whether he’s talking about halftime at the Super Bowl with Britney Spears and Aerosmith or a Starbucks across from a Starbucks I’m laughing, And while some of the stories in this book I’ve heard before the book I’m still laughing out load. In very short chapters he tells his life story (which makes it convenient to read while you’re waiting for a computer) from his early years, through college and the start of his stand-up career! So now I have to go find his next book Me of Little Faith because while the computer is working ok now I know it won’t last and I’ll need some good laughs!