numbers, telemarketing, and snow crash

I finished reading Snow Crash for the 5th time about an hour ago. I read the book on average once every 3 years with the first time being right after it was published in 1992. Great book.

Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson, was an early book in the Cyberpunk literary movement in the science fiction genre. While it kept with the incredible idea-rich legacy of other founding Cyberpunk authors like William Gibson and Rudy Rucker, it differed in that it emphasized satire and black humor. Many parts are truly "laugh out loud" in nature.

Here's an excerpt from Wikipedia's plot summary of the book:

The hero and protagonist whose story the book follows is the aptly-named Hiro Protagonist, whose business card reads "Last of the freelance hackers and Greatest swordfighter in the world". When Hiro loses his job as a pizza delivery driver for the Mafia, he meets a streetwise young girl nicknamed Y.T. (short for Yours Truly), who works as a skateboard "Kourier", and they decide to become partners in the intelligence business.

The pair soon learn of a dangerous new drug called "Snow Crash", which is both a computer virus capable of infecting the brains of unwary hackers in the Metaverse, and a mind-altering virus in Reality, being distributed by a network of Pentecostal churches via its infrastructure and belief system. As Hiro and Y.T. dig deeper (or are drawn in), they discover more about Snow Crash and its connection to ancient Sumerian culture, the fiber-optics monopolist L. Bob Rife and his enormous Raft of refugee boat people who speak in tongues, and an Aleut harpooner named Raven, whose motorcycle packs a nuke triggered by a type of dead man's switch called a "fail deadly". The Snow Crash meta-virus may be characterized as an extremely aggressive meme.

Stephenson takes the reader on a tour of the mythology of ancient Sumer, while his characters theorize upon the origin of languages and their relationship to the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel. Asherah is portrayed as a deadly biological and verbal virus that was stopped in Ancient Sumer by the God Enki. In order to do that, Enki deployed a countermeasure that was later described as the Tower of Babel.

The only thing I don't understand is why I wait 3 years between readings. This book should be read every year! It's really amazing how Stephenson's book has aged so well. Despite being 15 years old, many of the situations he describes still seem quite viable and the computing aspects of the novel still ring true despite his having written the novel back in the 286 motherboard days.

New topic. Telemarketing. I just read in Newsweek something that either I didn't know or had forgotten. That "Do Not Call Registry" thingy that made such a splash across the country a while back had a 5 year expiration built-in. Well, it's been almost 5 years now and the telemarketers are just raring to start calling again. So if you haven't done so, now's the time to renew your registration with the list. Consider yourself warned!

The ad over there on the left was in the same issue of Newsweek. Now I'll admit that Honda has great cars and their engines do seem to eek out a little better gas mileage than their rivals--however this ad makes it seem like Honda manages 20% better mileage. You always have to watch those sneaky numbers.

What Honda doesn't mention is that until recently they had no trucks in their product line. As a result their CAFE numbers look great. It's those big trucks and SUVs that really drag down the numbers of other car manufacturers. Even with their SUVs Honda does well since they're build on car platforms not light trucks (since Honda didn't have any light trucks to build SUVs out of).

I'm not complaining about Honda here--I'm just saying think about numbers when you see them in ads, political campaigns, or even on the side of a box. Of course when you see numbers in a scientific publication then you can trust them implicitly. Really. :-)


tiff said…
The book sounds like something that would be right up my alleay. Once i get done with the next three Terry Pratchett books that are in queue, I might just pick me up this 'un!

Also, yeah....numbers lie, don't they?
SassyAssy said…
I love my Honda! Excellent gas mileage.

I will have to look into that book...maybe I will find it in the secondhand bookstore.
rosemary said…
I'm pretty much a contemporary novel scifi or mythology. Honda and Tpyota both took a beating in Consumer Reports but CR had flawed data....never though about the truck factor.

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