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Bottom of the Barrel Book Reviews — The Lost Blogs 235

Posted by samzenpus
from the If-thine-eyes-offend-thee dept.
We get a lot of books for review here at Slashdot. Most are sent out to users on our reviewer list within a few weeks. Others become part of an impressive wall of books on my desk before they find a home. There are a choice few however that are doomed to never see the inside of a Fedex box. This is mostly due to the complete and utter stupidity or absurdness of their subject matter. I've decided to give these failed intellectual endeavors a chance and explore just how big a waste of time a book can be. We start scraping the bottom of the barrel with a little number written by Paul Davidson called, The Lost Blogs. Read below to find out just how bad it got.


I used to work at a restaurant in college. After I was there for a year it was my job to help train new employees. One evening they had me train a nice young girl on the dessert station. The dessert station was one of the easiest places to work all you did was bake and slice pies and make the occasional ice cream sundae. An order for a hot fudge sundae came through the ticket machine so I got out a bowl and got her started. We used hot fudge packets that had to be warmed up in the microwave before being squeezed out onto the top of the ice cream. I told my new young trainee that the hot fudge needed a thirty second bath of microwaves and to get me when it was done and I'd show her how to pipe on the whip cream all fancy like. After a few minutes she came up to me and said that the ice cream had all melted, so she tried it a second time with the same melting results. I looked over both bowls of liquid ice cream and asked her how they melted so fast? I asked her to make another one while I watched to see what she was doing wrong. She scooped out the ice cream, opened up a packet of fudge squeezed it out and put the whole bowl into the microwave. I didn't know what to say. She microwaved ice cream six times that night while I watched, not once did it occur to her that ice cream would melt in a microwave. I comped the mans bill for the sundae he never got and had a good portion of the restaurant employees gathered to see if the trainee would ever solve the melting mystery. She never did and until I opened the first page of The Lost Blogs the six sundaes in the microwave was the stupidest thing I have ever seen.

The book starts off with a rambling two page acknowledgments section that drunkenly wanders from subjects like the South Beach diet to petty theft. It pauses to discuss the difference between Abe Vigoda and Bea Arthur and finally embarrasses Paul's family by forever linking them in ink with this sham of a book. This section does serve a valuable purpose however. Anyone with any level of discernment would be so turned off by it's incoherent nature that they would be saved the agony of reading The Lost Blogs. Discernment is not a luxury I had, so it was with much regret that I read on. The premise behind The Lost Blogs, like talking fruit and a submarine for babies, seems like a good idea until you see it in action. Quoting the back of the book, "What if the most famous, brilliant, obsessive, dumb and evil people throughout history had blogs? Wonder how Charles Lindbergh kept busy during his transatlantic fight? Wonder how Napoleon could possibly have reached the keyboard? In The Lost Blogs, you'll read the intimate weblogs of 175 iconic historical figures writing about their stupid pets, shaving rituals primate romances and plans for world domination-just like any other blogger...maybe even you!"

What it delivers is 271 pages of nonsense that is reminiscent of an assignment in your high school creative writing class. Many of the blogs are a few hundred words or less, which was fine with me since most of them are historically inaccurate. Alexander The Great's blog talks about how great his blog is. Joseph Stalin's blog talks about how he's going to purge his blog of all links. I assume because he purged his country of ethnic minorities, political opponents and other undesirables, killing millions. Hilarious! Samuel Morse just has five paragraphs of dots and dashes. Noah has a list of animals he still needs. Louis Pasteur talks about how germy his keyboard is. Herman Melville is obsessed with fighting a giant black cockroach that lives in his toilet (alright I kind of like that one). Fifty-one out of the first 100 words in the Howard Hughes blog are urine. That's over half urine! I took this as a metaphor for the whole book. Lastly, Jim Morrison posts the lyrics to a new song he's working on called, Light the Fire

You know I've opened up the flume
and thrown inside a rubber tire
so can you please just follow through
and finally, please, start the fire

Come on baby, light the fire
Come on baby, light the fire
but please don't light the house on fire.

I know that somewhere Weird Al is crying. I could go on and on but you get the idea.

It seems to me that anyone with nothing to do, I mean absolutely nothing, could sit down with a few beers, a note pad and Wikipedia and crank out something like The Lost blogs. Lets pray that they don't. Almost every historical figure in the book has surviving writings that you can read. Some have a huge amount that you can sift through. So in addition to being inaccurate and unamusing The Lost Blogs is also redundant. My favorite part of this book is that I finished it and never have to open it again. The Lost Blogs is an exercise in mental masturbation that doesn't have the decency to let you finish. It is the bottom of the barrel.

*

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Bottom of the Barrel Book Reviews — The Lost Blogs

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  • Goggles &c (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Goaway (82658) on Monday August 18, 2008 @12:53PM (#24648185) Homepage

    Really? We're supposed to read a book review in white-on-teal?

  • What gives? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThanatosMinor (1046978) on Monday August 18, 2008 @12:55PM (#24648235)
    Doesn't putting Idle stories on the front page detract from the "stuff that matters" claim of /.?
    • Re:What gives? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Zadaz (950521) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:43PM (#24648895)

      Agreed. I was much happier when this stuff was hidden in a dark corner of Slashdot Labs.

      If they'd pull idle off the front page and off the newsfeed I'd even be willing to use all of those mod points responsibly instead of throwing them around randomly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by martinw89 (1229324)
      To all those that would like to not see Idle when logged in (I definitely don't):
      1. Go to Help & Preferences
      2. Under the Index preferences go to Sections
      3. Set Idle to Never (all the way to the left)

      Maybe if the front page Idle stories get enough bad comments and not enough views, Idle can go back to it's corner.

      • Maybe if all the comments were not simply "idle should go away" the stories would actually be interesting.

    • Re:What gives? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DigitAl56K (805623) * on Monday August 18, 2008 @03:16PM (#24650035)

      The big problem with idle so far for me is that there is no scope for comments. What are we supposed to say about this story, for example?

      "Thanks for your funny anecdote and warning us not to read this book none of us would ever have seen anyway!" /. is famed for the quality of the discussion, and so far the promoted idle stories aren't really providing any possibility for that. Heck, the summary/story does not even go so far as to pose a question, and defines the book in question as the bottom of the barrel, so what remains?

    • Just go to your user preferences section on /. and go to the Index/Sections settings and select the thin bar setting for 'idle' topics.

  • hmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2008 @12:57PM (#24648273)

    The Lost Blogs is an exercise in mental masturbation that doesn't have the decency to let you finish.

    Funny, I felt the same way about this review.

    • by PCM2 (4486)

      The book starts off with a rambling two page acknowledgments section that drunkenly wanders from subjects like the South Beach diet to petty theft.

      Strange that this would be a turn-off to the author of this review.

    • Well they did call the section "Bottom of the barrel book reviews"....and that review was definitely the bottom of the barrel.
  • Editors? (Score:5, Informative)

    by porcupine8 (816071) on Monday August 18, 2008 @12:57PM (#24648283) Journal
    Come on. The day is Sunday. The ice cream dish is a SUNDAE. Don't let the editors write things without someone else editing them!
    • Re:Editors? (Score:4, Funny)

      by evil agent (918566) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:02PM (#24648355)

      Come on. The day is Sunday. The ice cream dish is a SUNDAE. Don't let the editors write things without someone else editing them!

      But who will edit the editors' editors?

    • Re:Editors? (Score:4, Funny)

      by Daimanta (1140543) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:07PM (#24648429) Journal

      A cookie for the appropriate Star Trek episode on this...

    • by Speare (84249)

      Come on. The day is Sunday. The ice cream dish is a SUNDAE.

      The book review starts off with a rambling two paragraph anecdote section that drunkenly wanders from subjects like overnight delivery services, to the water content of frozen milk, to poor management practices.

      You know I've opened up the flume

      What is this, a log-jammer ride in an amusement park? I'm pretty sure that flue would rhyme better with through, so I suggest using something better than a spell-checker.

    • Re:Editors? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sen.NullProcPntr (855073) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:11PM (#24648497)
      "She scooped out the ice cream, opened up a packet of fudge squeezed it out and put the whole bowl into the microwave. I didn't know what to say."

      Maybe "No that's not what I meant, just heat the packet not everything."? You're not very good at training people are you?
      • Indeed. It's been a long time since "samzenpus" has had to train for a new job. Every time I have a new job, I always make the mistake of trying to use common sense, and get slapped for it every time.

        Me: "So... why exactly do we need to incubate all these triple sterilized agar plates in the incubator?"
        Trainer: "So we can be sure they're sterile."
        Me: "But they're double bagged, sealed, and have been subjected to radiation several times, they're more sterile than surgical instruments!"
        Trainer: "It's in the

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by WillKemp (1338605)

          and didn't correct her 6 times.

          And as he's standing there watching her and not telling her she's doing it wrong, it would be reasonable to assume that she's doing it right, but for some reason it's just not working. And if she was nervous (young and first day in the job) she probably wasn't thinking clearly enough to work it out herself.

          Hilarious!

          (Actually, being prepared to admit to it is even more hilarious!)

      • Re:Editors? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:29PM (#24648733) Homepage Journal

        Well, if he was training her to have low self-esteem when she realizes someone she trusts is letting her humiliate herself over and over, then he's great.

      • by Bryansix (761547)
        Seriously! I could watch someone send out emails that should have attachments with them all day long and laugh at them but what I SHOULD do is show them how to add an attachment.
        • Seriously! I could
          watch someone
          send out emails
          that should have
          attachments with
          them all day long
          and laugh at them
          but what I SHOULD
          do is show them
          how to add an
          attachment.


          Especially if your
          job is to train
          them.

          PS--Blame the
          comment box.
  • by hardburn (141468) <hardburn@@@wumpus-cave...net> on Monday August 18, 2008 @12:58PM (#24648287)

    White text on green background make eyes bleed.

    The book sounds like something that could work if done right, it was just hobbled by bad implementation. That old Darth Side [blogspot.com] blog comes to mind as a good way to do essentially the same idea.

  • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Monday August 18, 2008 @12:59PM (#24648301)

    That poor customer never got his sunday just so you could watch the trainee fail six times? Six? Why?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That poor customer never got his sunday just so you could watch the trainee fail six times? Six? Why?

      Cause he's a jerk.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Trust me, it gets funnier after the 3rd time.

    • by arth1 (260657)

      Personally, I think the "critic" (and I use the word loosely) should go back to his career in the fast food industry.

      And then write a bookabout his experiences.
      We'd be happy to review it.

    • by LearnToSpell (694184) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:25PM (#24648681) Homepage
      Six? Why?

      Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday...
  • by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Monday August 18, 2008 @12:59PM (#24648305) Journal
    I quite like the white on teal.
  • by comp.sci (557773) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:00PM (#24648319)
    The "review" did not give me any useful information whatsoever, I was expecting at least some interesting insight or real argument but what I found was just unnecessary bashing of this one book. Please keep stuff like this without substance off the front page, there are plenty of articles and topics out there that deserve that spot.
    • Negative book reviews are as worthwhile as glowing positive book reviews - they help me try to figure out what might and might not be worth reading in a world of a billion books, where I certainly don't have time to read more than a tiny minority of extant works.

      If I ever see "The Lost Blogs" in the Library or a bookstore, now I'll know it might be a good idea to skip it.

      • by comp.sci (557773)
        You have a good point there and I agree that negative reviews also can be quite useful. However I feel like this was less of a real book review but more of a bashing of a book the author deemed especially silly. Many of /.'s book reviews are well researched and full of good information but this was simply a humor-piece, trying to only make fun of the book... (thus the placement in the idle section)
    • by asynchronous13 (615600) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:19PM (#24648601)

      Help & Preferences -> Sections

      "You have the ability to choose how much or how little content you want to see from each section. Further, you have the ability to choose if you want to view each type of article in 'Full Text' or 'Abbreviated' format."

      Idle -> Never

    • by McFly69 (603543)
      I agree that this reviewer is not provided any information about the book. They appear to be biased and have read only a few pages to provide quotes from. Shame on this post making to the front page of /.
    • Yeah, this was pretty bad. Pretty fucking bad as a matter of fact. The first paragraph has nothing whatsoever to do with the book, and the rest is extremely uninformative and not even entertaining.

  • did you fire her? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Tenrosei (1305283)
    The first question was did she get fired? The second follow up question to the did she get fired is how hot was she?
    • by 91degrees (207121) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:09PM (#24648447) Journal
      If I was in charge, I'd have fired her supervisor.

      Sometimes people are stupid. You solve this by education.
      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        Sometimes people are stupid. You solve this by education.

        You can only solve sometimes-stupid with education.

        You can't really do much for the always-stupid, except to pad the sharp corners for them and hope they learn from their failures without hurting anyone else in the process.

    • by residieu (577863)
      And did they fire the trainer for wasting time by letting her make so many bad sundaes. And for wasting so much ice cream by letting her make the same mistake over and over again without pointing out her mistake. And for probably pissing off the customer by telling him, "Here's your money back, out stupid trainee can't figure out how to make your sundae, and I'm a trainer, so I'm far too important to make your sundae myself. Go find a Baskin Robbins"
  • Bad example (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Jorsett (171560) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:04PM (#24648381)

    What's dumber, a rookie ruining ice cream six times or you watching it happen? I'm going with the latter. Did the owner know you were in the habit of letting employees flush his profits?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by greg1104 (461138)

      Having everyone gather around to mock one employee is a classic team-building exercise, he saved the restaurant a bundle on training doing that himself.

  • First of all, many of the people mentioned already kept blogs, except on paper with a pencil or pen - you know, journals or diaries.

    A good expample, now being distributed by RSS is George Orwell's journal. [wordpress.com] Admittedly the content posted thus far is at least as lame as many of those "three months then abandoned" personal blogs, but still it's cool.

    The barley from the 22-acre field is not stacked yet, but the wheat is stacked & makes two stacks measuring so far as I can judge it 30' by 18' x 24' (high)

  • Does anyone have a greasemonkey fix for this visual insanity?

  • Oh, ooohhh. (Score:4, Funny)

    by BitterOldGUy (1330491) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:12PM (#24648511)

    It seems to me that anyone with nothing to do, I mean absolutely nothing, could sit down with a few beers, a note pad and Wikipedia and crank out something like The Lost blogs.

    Ahhhh, yeeeahh. Um, well, that's basically sums up my entire posting history here on Slashdot. Come to think of it, I don't think I'm alone on this one.

  • by WankersRevenge (452399) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:16PM (#24648557)
    Wow ... I'm speechless. The crappy design. The pretentious asshole of a reviewer. This idle section is the worst thing happened to slashdot since the days of Jon Katz. ... and by the way ... speaking to the reviewer for just a sec ... letting your employee fail once or twice is once thing, but watching her fail six times for your enjoyment is a sign of a true douche bag. Is it any surprise that you are writing crappy reviews of shitty books that no one wants to read?
    • by LarsG (31008) on Monday August 18, 2008 @02:42PM (#24649573) Journal

      Not only that, but he even "had a good portion of the restaurant employees gathered to see if the trainee would ever solve the melting mystery". Not only did he do a bad job of training her, he went out of his way to deliberately humiliate the poor lass.

      To top it off he did it to what he describes as a "nice young girl", which makes me wonder how he treats people that aren't nice and young. In short, samzenpus just outed himself as a first-class douche bag.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:20PM (#24648623) Homepage
    I had an incident happen [codemonkeyramblings.com] with my coffee at a Starbucks in a Target that was almost as bad as the sundae story.
  • How do we place out names on the reviewer list? I would am willing to volenteer myself to provide a decent (detailed) review unlike how this reviewer did.
  • by Ambiguous Coward (205751) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:28PM (#24648723) Homepage

    I'm not sure what the etiquette is for this, but I'd like to propose a new tag for these idle articles that hit the front page:

      pleasestop

    I, for one, will be tagging all future idle articles in this manner.

    -G

    • by iamhigh (1252742) *

      How do you tag an article??? I have been trying to figure that out since I joined. Faq is no help.

  • by philspear (1142299) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:33PM (#24648771)

    a submarine for babies, seems like a good idea until you see it in action.

    Two things wrong with this statement

    1. It does NOT sound like a good idea and shouldn't sound like a good idea at any point.

    2. You've seen one in action?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Webs 101 (798265)
      Never mind that. I wonder what his talking fruit said to make him think it was a bad idea. Was it a banana? They just won't shut up about where they've been. Pears, on the other hand, make philosophical debate a great way to spend an evening, especially the Anjou variety.
  • More edits (Score:5, Informative)

    by Webs 101 (798265) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:34PM (#24648779) Homepage
    OK, so "sunday" was fixed, to "sundae".

    Now....

    "a thirty second bath" should be "a thirty-second bath"

    "fancy like" should be "fancy-like"

    "the mans bill" should be "the man's bill"

    "two page acknowledgments section" should be "two-page acknowledgments section"

    "by it's incoherent nature" should be "by its incoherent nature"

    That's enough. I'm bored. Let me just add that the Morse and Hughes entries in the book sound hilarious.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by colourmyeyes (1028804)
      Courtesy of "fortune":

      William Safire's Rules for Writers:

      Remember to never split an infinitive. The passive voice should never be used. Do not put statements in the negative form. Verbs have to agree with their subjects. Proofread carefully to see if you words out. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing. A writer must not shift your point of view. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposit

  • by eagee (1308589) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:34PM (#24648789)
    I thought that first paragraph was an excerpt and not part of the review ... I thought, "Wow! This book really does suck!"
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Xybre (527810)

      This is a pointless me too comment!
      News that doesn't matter!
      Mod me +4 funny!

  • so (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:40PM (#24648857)

    She never did

    And thus you utterly FAILED in your training duties. And heaped ridicule upon someone who did you no wrong or harm.

  • Argh! My eyes! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by brkello (642429) on Monday August 18, 2008 @01:41PM (#24648867)
    She never did and until I opened the first page of The Lost Blogs the six sundaes in the microwave was the stupidest thing I have ever seen.

    Use punctuation or form better sentences. This really hurt to read.
    • by Cheesey (70139)

      Until I reached the end of that paragraph, I assumed I was reading an excerpt from the awful book... after all, it does sound like an awful blog entry of the sort that would quite justifiably be "lost".

      The Idle conspiracy theory. [slashdot.org] Do you Slashdot guys draw straws for who has to write the "idle" articles? Is there a prize for the worst "idle" article? Poll idea: let us vote for the worst "idle" article after a few more weeks of this. No way is this the bottom of the barrel - you can do worse!

  • I am going to disable the Idle section in my user prefs.
  • They actually do the stuff that's talked about in them.

    Or some jerk makes a fake-someone blog like FakeAdolfHitler.blogspot.com (Goodwin?) or FakeAbrahamLincoln or something...

  • by Slightly Askew (638918) on Monday August 18, 2008 @02:20PM (#24649321) Journal
    • Laughed at a cripple and tripped my coworker coming up the stairs this morning.
    • Day 27 of not using commas and so far I've only managed to piss off half of my coworkers. Going to start leaving off apostrophes today.
    • Noticed that nobody is buying my book. Think Ill lambast it in a review on slashdot so everyone will come to my defense and boost the sales of my book
    • Hmm nobody defending it yet. Oh well Im sure its just a matter of time.
    • Oh God wont someone please notice me
  • What are you, 13? You complain about the writing of the book in a review filled with awkward sentences and the occasional typo? This review really sounds like it was written by someone still in middle school. Maybe 9th grade.

  • People do funny, silly things sometimes, and yes, it can be amusing and even educational to share these stories.

    HOWEVER. . .

    I have found that if one spends a great deal of energy belittling and scorning others, it starts to have a negative effect upon you personally; repeated actions have a way of becoming who you are on a deep level; it becomes hard to stop.

    People around you will recognize these qualities, and start to limit their own experimenting with the world for fear of making a mistake and bein

  • I can't mod the entire thing down. I can't believe I got suckered into another idle post. Note to self: Look for word "idle," skip.

  • Stop It! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by alexborges (313924)

    Jeeesus....

    Please, please, please make it STOP.

  • You dick!
  • Anybody tell me how I can get black text on a white background, instead of white text on a cyan background?

  • The most irritating part of all of this is that that got published, and I can't.

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