Two Articles

January 12, 2010

Friends, what are you reading these days that’s not design or mom related? Lately, the most interesting stuff I’ve found is in Ben Blair’s magazines. Two that I liked:

1) This article about thorium energy in Wired. So neat! Apparently the element thorium gives all the benefits of nuclear power without the risks (no awful waste to store for thousands of years and no byproduct used for making weapons). The history as explained in the article was fascinating — and made me a little ashamed of the US. We abandoned thorium research and went with uranium-based power precisely because it allowed us to make more bombs. Oh dear. Kirk Sorensen is leading the way with his thorium advocacy programs. You can see more on his blog here.

2) This article about Ayn Rand followers in GQ. (Did you read Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead in college? For me it was the summer after my freshman year. While listening to Cat Stevens. I still like what Cat Stevens had to say. Not so much Ayn Rand. (Where’s the compassion, Ayn?)

EDIT: I forgot! There’s one more article I loved and wanted to share:

3) Also from the January GQ, an article about The Singularity (no link yet, but it looks like it’s coming). Ben Blair read the book, The Singularity Is Near by Ray Kurtzweil, sometime last year and we have been talking about robots and their eventual takeover ever since. The book is enormous, and I thought the article did a great job of summing up the idea in a much shorter space. The basic thought is that either we’re all going to become cyborgs and live forever or that robots will take over the world and destroy the weak humans. For something so sci-fi, it is sort of amazing to realize how many intelligent people believe this as fact. (Instead of Team Edward/Team Jacob t-shirts, at our house, we wear robot t-shirts.)

Aren’t Katie Sokolor’s fingernails happy? What are you reading? Anything good? What would you say is the women’s magazine with the most interesting articles?

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meredith January 12, 2010 at 10:20 am

My sister in law's sister's husband (get that?) is Kirk Sorensen – he is the greatest!!!! We all pretty much think he is going to save the world.


2 Kirk Sorensen January 12, 2010 at 11:06 am

Hey, thanks for the link Gabrielle!


3 KJ January 12, 2010 at 11:19 am

I suddenly want to watch "The Saint" with Val Kilmer. Reading now: the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon (adventure/history/scotland/passion) which has me obsessed, even though it's a tad bit silly. And the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which everyone but me has already read and I'm in love with it, charmed by it. Magazines: national geographic, real simple.


4 jeannie January 12, 2010 at 11:26 am

Gabrielle–what a wonderful surprise to see that Kirk is getting recognition on all types of blogs! He is married to my sister. I can't wait to call her and talk about this connection. Our family believes that Thorium is Kirk's destiny! And hopefully this planet's too!

Have a good day.


5 lnz January 12, 2010 at 11:28 am

My new favorite book is The Help. Good luck putting that one down. REAL SIMPLE has great articles. They are simply written but the message goes a long way.


6 mskaz January 12, 2010 at 11:30 am

I am currently reading, What the Dog Saw by Malcom Gladwell, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and catching up on magazines.

I always enjoy Vanity Fair and Real Simple, Metropolitan Home (RIP) and different cooking magazines (yet I don't really cook?). I've gone through phases of different women's magazines but none really stick. Although as a Canadian, I do get Chatalaine. It seems like the Canadian thing to do!

I'm now off to read that Wired article.


7 JLJ January 12, 2010 at 11:32 am

My grandfather's life's work was dedicated to the exploration and refinement of nuclear energy. He was not a political man but a scientist. It is easy in our position of relative security and with hindsight knowledge to make judgements about the morality of past actions, like abandoning thorium research. Times were different then. We understand more about energy conservation now. We are past the threat (or getting past) of nuclear inhalation which was very real to people living in that time. I'm not ashamed of my grandfather, who was a peace loving man, and the work he did.

I'm not trying to open a political can of worms here, just offering a different perspective.


8 mamacita January 12, 2010 at 11:41 am

There are all kinds of great stories in The New Yorker and O.


9 Rachel January 12, 2010 at 11:51 am

Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are some of my all-time favorites. If only I could get my book club to read them…it seems there aren't many people to discuss those books. I heard that they might make Atlas Shrugged into a movie and that Angelina Jolie would play Dagny Taggert. But condensing that Bible novel would be impossible…


10 karey m. January 12, 2010 at 11:59 am

first the perfume…and today what we're reading.

we are officially soul sisters. although your reads sound way smarter.

i will work on this. by the time we meet again at alt, i may not be brilliant…but i will be wearing a robot tee!

baby steps. and xoxo.


11 Design Mom January 12, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Kirk – Thanks so much for dropping by. For those who don't know, Kirk Sorensen is known as the first and best advocate for thorium. (Just realized I didn't link to your blog directly. I'll edit the post.)

Meredith, jeannie – What a fun surprise to hear from relatives of Kirk! Who would guess you read Design Mom? Too hilarious.

KJ – I often forget about National Geographic. Thanks for the reminder. (I thought the Guernsey book was super charming as well.)

Inz – I agree. Real Simple is totally helpful. And always so pretty.

mskaz – I have never heard of Chatalaine. Intrigued. Must google now…


12 Design Mom January 12, 2010 at 12:04 pm

JLJ – Thank you so much for your comment. I actually think we're probably pretty aligned on our thinking. When I wrote the post, I added the qualifier "little" to "ashamed," because I'm really not. I think you're exactly right that it's easy to judge 30 years after the fast, and I don't mean to. Your grandfather sounds like a good man.

No doubt our grandkids will wonder at our decisions — like choosing SUVs over more earth-friendly options…


13 Design Mom January 12, 2010 at 12:06 pm

mamacita – Oddly, I have yet to subscribe to O, but I know everyone loves it. I should probably start.

Rachel – You're not alone. I think both of those books have lots and lots of fans. Angela as Dagny? Fascinating.

Karey – off to see what you have to say today…


14 Rachel January 12, 2010 at 12:15 pm

I started reading Open, Andre Agassi's biography, it's fascinating and I hate putting it down. Disclaimer: I love tennis and sports in general so I'm pretty inclined to be interested. But I think it's really well written (his co-writer also wrote The Tender Bar) and it's an account of his life and relationships not just tennis.


15 In Honor Of Design January 12, 2010 at 12:31 pm

LEFT TO TELL- an absolutely amazing book written by a Rwanda genocide survivor. She is changing the way I look at life..

Thanks for the post:)


16 UM London January 12, 2010 at 12:42 pm

One of my favourite reads are the Op-ed's by NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. He recently wrote a great op-ed called 'The Happiest People'. It's about how Costa Rica has been ranked as the happiest people and coincidently how they also invest in education first (they dissolved the military and decided to put that money into education). The idea is that if we put education first, the rest of the problems tend to work themselves out (in most cases!). It's an interesting article!

I am also reading Outliers. And People magazine. :)


17 Quincy Sorensen January 12, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Hello Design Mom, first time at your very fun blog. I loved that you mentioned my husband and thorium–thank you! Good luck to you on your on your pregnancy; I am 14 weeks myself. This will be Baby Five.

I read The Fountainhead in high school (loved it!), but when I tried Atlas Shrugged after college, I just had to take the spoon out my throat. However, Kirk says all the time that Atlas Shrugged is a perfect reflection of our times.

Take care.


18 shari berry bo-berry January 12, 2010 at 1:03 pm

I recently read The Hunger Games, and the 2nd book, Catching Fire. 3rd book due out in august! Can't wait.

I am currently reading Sarah's Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay — love it…only about 50 pages left!

Not much of a magazine reader…but I subscribe to BH&G;, and Parents.


19 SmartBear January 12, 2010 at 1:41 pm

I am very much still grieving the loss of Cookie magazine…sigh…


20 Beth Brown January 12, 2010 at 1:52 pm

I am a definite Ayn Rand fan, having read both The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged multiple times since introduced to them in high school (eeek, what an eye opener THAT was!).
As for periodicals/books to recommend:
More Magazine – there is a brain behind this publication, and I like it!
Hybrid Moms – although I have only bought it once, I thoroughly enjoyed the perspective.
Real Simple – already voted for repeatedly, I see.
Womans Day/Family Circle – oddly enough, both of these titles have swum back into my view as of late, even though they both still feel "elderly" in magazine life. Extremely topical articles, excellent tips, and simple straight-shooting copy.
I will also vote for "The Help" – unusual and lovely book. Also just read "Handle With Care" by Jodi Picoult – a great read. I DETESTED the ending, however.

I recommend any book by Elizabeth Berg or Elizabeth Noble, too.
: )



21 Christy January 12, 2010 at 2:18 pm

I recently read the Exercise Myth in Time Magazine (online – it was printed a while ago). And I found it really interesting.


22 kim January 12, 2010 at 3:41 pm

I also have read The Book Thief and The Help recently and can't give them enough praise–awesome, awesome books. Another recent favorite was The Guernesey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. That was was a little lighter than the other two.

And another Real Simple fan here. Only magazine I manage to read everything month. I've had a lot of luck with the recipes, too, which is always nice, to have a monthly source of new easy ideas.


23 kim & co. January 12, 2010 at 3:41 pm

I also have read The Book Thief and The Help recently and can't give them enough praise–awesome, awesome books. Another recent favorite was The Guernesey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. That was was a little lighter than the other two.

And another Real Simple fan here. Only magazine I manage to read everything month. I've had a lot of luck with the recipes, too, which is always nice, to have a monthly source of new easy ideas.


24 Jessica Jo January 12, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Wow, you are a lot smarter than you sometimes come across. The only magazine I read is Body and Soul by Martha Stewart, love it! Love her! And the only magazine my husband reads is Game Informer, at home at least. I am interested in That thorium stuff, I may go check it out.

Right now I am reading the Complete Collection of Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Anderson to my baby while we nurse. Much different than I thought it would be.


25 Abbie January 12, 2010 at 3:57 pm

My husband and I both read the article about Thorium and and a very similar reaction. I know we can't judge the past, but what's holding us back from adopting a better way now?!!!! Frustrating.

I'm reading "3 Cups of Tea" for Janurary. I'm loving it!


26 Lain January 12, 2010 at 8:10 pm

I really don't read many mags anymore (too much to keep track of online) but I do read a ton of books. The latest: The first Pendragon book by DJ McHale. One of my resolutions was to read a book a month recommended by my 12YO son. This was the first one, and I really enjoyed it.


27 Apryl January 13, 2010 at 12:29 am

I heard this really funny NPR show about Ayn Rand a few months ago. I think it was the Diane Rehm show. Anyway, they said that part of where she got her philosophy of men being responsible for their own lives, abhorance of unions and social programs (like welfare), was from her personal experience. She immigrated from Russia to this country on her own and MADE IT. So anyone else can too. Then the commenter said, "Um, except that she didn't recognize that she had MAJOR breaks that not everyone gets. You know, like meeting Cecil B. DeMille and getting a job with him…" That just made me laugh.


28 Meg January 13, 2010 at 3:13 pm

I'm reading David McCullough's John Adams right now and it is awesome. Can't wait to read more abt thorium. Thanks!


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