Saturday, January 01, 2011

A Sunday Review

TV this week:

  • Doctor Who: "A Christmas Carol" - To save a ship in danger, the Doctor must convince an old man to change his ways. I really don't like it when the Doctor messes with the past. And while his cause was just, I really felt like he was going way too far with way too much recklessness in this one. Still, ignoring that, it was a fun story. I loved the appearance of "Bruce" (as we've dubbed it) and WOW can that lady sing. I adored the running gag of what Amy and Rory were wearing. And you know, it just wouldn't be a Doctor Who Christmas story without snowfall. Also, I loved the steampunk inspired setting of the story, and would have enjoyed seeing more of those costumes.

This week's movie was Despicable Me. A villain threatened by a younger and more successful villain finds his schemes backfiring. Over the Christmas break, my sister took the family out to see this at a second-run theater, and I really enjoyed it. Nice contrast of the three girls, and the villain was likable enough to make you want to root for him, even though you know darn well he's a bad guy. And making a Bill Gates look-alike as the real baddie was a nice touch. I loved the pyramid in his back yard painted to look like the sky. Of course, the high point of the movie was the minions. They were a delight, and I'd love to see more of their antics. Their hunt for a toy unicorn was one of the best bits of the film. Definitely a good one for the kids, and a fun little popcorn movie for adults.

This week's comic book related review is Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle. This is the story of an artist working for a French company who goes to Pyongyang in North Korea to supervise the animation of a show. He gives a scattered account of his trip through his notebooks. Each day he sketches in his notebook on the right-hand page, and writes a few notes on the left. The result is a stark portrait of a terrifying society in which people are cogs in a great machine, and are so used to it that they aren't even aware that they are oppressed. At least, as far as the author can tell. It was a little jarring how Delisle describes the attitude of the North Koreans towards Americans, including using cut-outs of American soldiers as target practice and having a museum dedicated to the American atrocities during the Korean war. It's a quick read, and by its nature not a complete view, but it's more than most of us will ever see inside North Korea, and so worth a read.

My book this week was Reengineering Health Care: A Manifesto for Radically Rethinking Health Care Delivery by Jim Champy and Harry Greenspun. I ordered this when it came up on the free Kindle books from I have a strong interest in the state of health care in the United States, and I found this to be an informative read, even though it is squarely aimed at health care professionals rather than patients and other end-users. The ideas in the book are all about the delivery side and wisely didn't touch on health insurance at all. A topic covered heavily but not in great detail was the use of technology in health care, with commentary on just how backward our systems really are along with why it is so difficult to successfully update and integrate tech in the medical industry.

I want to go off the topic of the book for a second... when I lived in the Seattle area, my health care providers wrote out prescriptions by hand, my files were all on paper, and everything was done the same way I have always seen it done from the time I was a child. When I moved out into the boonies, far away from the big city, my new health care providers have netbooks that the doctors consult to determine what medicines you are on, instead of paper charts they have to manually update. They can send my prescription directly to the pharmacy from that same netbook. If the doctor wants to check on a symptom they aren't sure about, there is an internet connection they can use. In short, I think the health care delivered in Churchville is superior to what I was getting in the Seattle area as far as the use of technology to improve record-keeping goes. And you don't have to worry about a doctor's bad handwriting when they are sending the prescription electronically.

And that's just one of the kind of things this book covers. I don't recommend it unless you are either very interested in health care or involved in health care delivery (doctor, nurse, staff member), but if you have the interest this is a very good read.

Agatha Christie this week was A Caribbean Mystery from 1964. Miss Marple is relaxing on a Caribbean vacation when death starts to stalk the hotel. I got this one. I got the motive and the murderer well before the reveal. True, I doubted that I'd gotten it at times, but was eventually vindicated in the end. And I did mess up on one of the facts. So it wasn't a 100% victory, but it was as close as I've come in the novels so far. I seem to have access to all the rest of the mystery novels, now, with only the collections of short stories in some doubt. So I might end up running through the rest very quickly this year.

One last note. I don't think anyone has ever purchased anything for me from my wishlist without either telling me first or being related to me, but I've gone ahead and created a Kindle Wishlist for myself where I'll be adding books that I'd love to get on my Kindle. From here on out, it will be listed with my regular wishlist at the bottom of every review post. As usual, you may ignore it, but if you've enjoyed this blog over the years and want to pay something back (as well as give me more material to write about), it shouldn't be too hard to buy me a Kindle book. Even if you don't buy something for me, if you use my links when you shop at, I'll get a tiny cut. I'll probably use that cut to buy more Kindle books. Every little bit helps. Thanks for reading!


Carolyn said...

I rented Despicable Me on Xmas eve and I really enjoyed it! I loved the Unicorn scene too. :)

Roger Owen Green said...

I took my 6 y.o. to Desciplable Me in the theater this summer and she insisted we leave. she found it too intense, and the breaking point was when one of the girls walked into the iron maiden and her juice container got punctured, giving the viewer the idea the child had been impaled.

Rich Johnston said...

Christmas Carol was very much modelled on Steven Moffat's short Doctor Who story Continuity Errors, which he has mined before for other TV episodes. It really is my favourite time travel story ever... and it worked better than Christmas Carol did.

Though I did like the effect of walking into the video...