Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Daily Sound Off 01-28-09

The Daily Sound Off is a new segment where we ask readers to give their answers to a daily question. There's no right or wrong answer, just your opinion. Answers can be as short or long, as serious or silly, as you feel the question deserves. We have no hidden agenda here, we just thought it'd be fun. Credits to, from whom I totally stole this idea.

Today's question: What is a book you have read recently that challenged your preconceptions? (It does not have to be about religion, it can be about politics, history, sports, or anything; just let us know how it challenged your preconceptions).



  1. I might as well start. One book I've read recently that really shook up my preconceptions was called "The Meme Machine" by Susan Blackmore. It basically treats cultural units (dance, song, language, art styles, fashion, etc.) as replicators akin to genes, and suggests ways in which these units (memes) might multiply and "evolve". Blackmore, a psychologist, is very aware that what she's writing is hypothesis, yet in these months after I read it, I'm still contemplating the possibilities of those hypotheses.

  2. but, what if I only read books with low viscosity? I mean, I only read books by authors that I agree with.

  3. An article in Composites Techonology enlightened me to the reasons behind why I was having problems winding springs with carbon fiber. The customer wanted to use carbon fiber because of its stiffness and strength but I struggled with it for months. I ended up taking a different route and provided a spring made of e-glass a month ago but the article helped me understand why my previous preconceptions about carbon fiber were not accurate in that particular application.

  4. Zee:

    I take it you're an engineer. Can you explain to to the technologically-challenged (like me) what sort of products you design?

  5. Engineer is a very over used word these days. Janitors calling themselves sanitation engineers and what not. I have my Bachlors of Science in Mechanical Engineering and have worked most of my professional life as a Product Development Engineer.

    All the products I work with are composites. Composites are engineered materials made from two or more constituent materials with significantly different physical or chemical properties and which remain separate and distinct on a macroscopic level within the finished structure. All products I am involved with include fiber glass (with the exception of the failed carbon fiber protypes) and some sort of epoxy or resin.

    The main products that I am developing at the moment are for the wind power industry and are used on 45 meter (about 148 feet) long wind turbine blades. The other projects I'm involved with are man hole covers, hydraulic cylinders, springs for submarines, parts for office funiture, and more.

  6. I recently read The Hidden Face of God by Friedman. This was an excellent read. The first portion of the book does a spectacular job illustrating the progressively apparent absence of God from biblical narrative. For example, in Genesis God walks with Adam. Yet, in Esther, God is not even mentioned. Friedman argues that this movement away by God is a movement toward practical atheism (in a crude sense).

    I was challenged by the use of the Bible to argue for atheism. This made for a good study. I have not otherwise read many books recently that were of great challenge. I have been reading a lot about natural history, theology, biblical criticism, developmental psychology, etc. Though I read from a varied spectrum of views, I am overall fairly familiar with most of the perspectives, so nothing is incredibly challenging. I don't mean to sound arrogant.

  7. I have two books:
    The Bible Unearthed

    Why: I thought archeology supported the Bible. Boy, was I wrong!

    Atheism Explained

    Why: I didn't realize at the time that Evolution had so much evidence behind it. I was starting to finally accept it, but only that it started to "make sense". The hard proof hadn't really dawned on me until reading this book.

    Also, I didn't realize the idea of God being omnipotent and omniscient was such an issue for the existence of God and the problem of evil in the world and the "free will" of man. This book challenged my preconceived notions there, too.