Tag Archive: books

July 27 2010

Essential books for atheists, skeptics, freethinkers, or whatever

This is something I’ve been meaning to put together for a while, but I was inspired to finally do it by the American Freethought podcast. They put out a list of essential books, with the results taken from numerous important atheists/skeptics/freethinkers/whatevers. Their list is good, but there’s a lot of stuff on there that I have no interest in, or I think is overrated. (On the Origin of Species is an important book historically, but there are far better books on evolution for you to read, with up-to-date science.)

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June 23 2009

What’s so bad about living forever?

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I just read a very interesting article about a girl who hasn’t aged in 16 years (which isn’t exactly an accurate statement, but fits well enough). The story briefly talks about how studying the girl’s bizarre condition could potentially teach us a lot about human aging, and perhaps even how to prevent it.

But I was a bit troubled when I read this:

In the long term, the idea that the aging process might somehow be manipulated raises serious questions about what human beings might do with that knowledge.

“Clearly, that’s the science fiction aspect of it,” said Walker, describing the social and ethical dilemmas that would arise. “We can’t have continued reproduction and people who don’t age.”

This confuses me, and makes me wonder why a doctor would say such a thing. Surely he has no problem with treating people medically to prolong their lives. Aging is a natural process, but so are cancer and seizures and disease. Thanks to medical science, the average human lifespan has doubled over the past 2000 years or so (I didn’t bother to look up that number, by the way). In a way, aging is just another problem with our bodies for scientists to fix.

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April 22 2009

Book Review Quickies #1

I read a lot of books, and if I have the time or inclination, and if a book is good enough or relevant to this blog, I like to write reviews for them. However, my time is not infinite, and I have a big backlog of books to review. So rather than just let my mental list get longer and longer until I forget what’s on it, I decided to just do some “quickie” reviews, to urge others to check these books out.

In this edition:

  • Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine
    by Dr. Edzard Ernst & Simon Singh
  • How We Believe: The Search for God in an Age of Science
    by Michael Shermer

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March 4 2009

Richard Dawkins returns

Richard Dawkins, biologist, retired Oxford professor, writer, and the most well-known atheist in the world, is back in Minnesota to do a lecture at the U of M. That’s today, so obviously I’m not writing this to break the news. In fact, I’ll be there tonight; I bought my ticket the day it was announced. I’ll also probably write about it here in the next few days.

But anyway, I wanted to point to an interview he did just this morning on MPR (Minnesota Public Radio, the local branch of NPR) that I think was pretty good.

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One thing I’ve noticed about Dawkins, and I’ve heard/watched many of his interviews, debates, and discussions online, is that he sounds almost exactly the same regardless of his mood. He often sounds irritated, and he may very well be, but I think that’s mostly just the way he talks. He’s also very careful with what he says, and for good reason: there are lots of people out there who are looking for him to slip up somehow so they can take his words out of context.

I think the best way to hear the “real” Dawkins is to listen to his audiobooks. I’ve read both The God Delusion and The Ancestor’s Tale, and both via audiobook, and he’s much more relaxed in those. You get a much better sense of the wonder he feels about science, and he doesn’t come off as the angry fundamentalist atheist that many of his opponents seem to think he is.

Of course, what he’s talking about goes against what many people believe, and Dawkins doesn’t sugar-coat anything.

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February 3 2009

Something I’ll never be capable of understanding

I was in Barnes & Noble just now, browsing through the science section. I came upon a book called “String Theory Demystified” by David McMahon. I’ve been meaning to find a good book that lays out String Theory and Quantum Physics in a way that even a Graphic Designer can understand, and this book looked perfect. Just 306 pages, well organized, seems well-written.

Here’s what I see on page 5:

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That’s from the friggin’ Introduction. The rest of the book is filled with even more complex equations.

I’m sure the book is great, but it’s clear to me now that this is WAY over my head.

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January 24 2009

Meeting Dan Barker

DSC00842My signed copy of Dan Barker’s book “Godless”. Yes, my real name is Bryan (for those of you who don’t know). 

Last Sunday, I went to a Minnesota Atheists meeting, where Dan Barker (Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, author of the book “Godless”, and former evangelist) was giving a talk.

But before I talk about that, I want to talk about why that’s such a big deal for me.

One of my deepest, darkest secrets (besides being an atheist) is that I’ve been struggling with social anxiety disorder for the past several years, probably longer. It’s not something that I ever talk about, and only a handful of people even know that it’s a problem for me. Most people just think I’m shy and awkward, which of course is also true.

This problem is something I’ve wanted to write about on this blog for a long time, but it’s been very difficult for me (and you’ll find out exactly why if you continue reading). In fact, one of the big reasons why I started this blog was to help me work through my own “issues”. Staying silent hasn’t worked for me, so maybe getting things out in the open will.

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October 7 2008

Addressing the religious claims of a guy I’ve never heard of

james-macmillan_1002045c "James MacMillan said that that embracing spirituality is now one of the most radical and counter-cultural moves a musician can make." Kinda like having eggs for breakfast is a radical and counter-cultural move.

A friend of mine, whose religious views are basically exactly opposite to my own, but whom I nevertheless have a lot of respect for, recently posted this story on Facebook. I tried to think of a way to come up with something to say about the story in less than 3 paragraphs so it would fit in Facebook’s comment field, but I finally realized that there was far more that needed to be said.

I have no idea who this MacMillan guy is, but what he’s saying needs to be addressed. This kind of intollerant thinking needs to be confronted as soon and as often as possible, because inevitably somebody will believe it.

The best way for me to comment on this article is to just cut-and-paste it here, and address its contents paragraph by paragraph.

James MacMillan, one of the conductors of the BBC Philharmonic orchestra, claimed in a speech last night that the "ignorance-fueled" hostility to faith shown by "metropolitan arts, cultural and media elites" risks making society bland and uniform.

First, the most obvious: hostility to faith. He’s probably not talking about religion in general, but the one that he believes in.

He also accused pop culture of inhibiting musical curiosity in the young and leading to greater conformity.

No arguments there.

MacMillan, regarded as the pre-eminent Scottish composer of his generation, added that embracing spirituality is now one of the most radical and counter-cultural moves a musician can make.

So, doing what most other people are already doing is radical and counter-cultural? I think he’s got this backwards.

In a lecture at the Royal Institute of British Architects to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Sandford St Martin Trust, a charity which promotes radio and television programmes about religion, he said: "The ignorance-fuelled hostility to religion, widespread among secular liberal elites, is in danger of colouring society’s value-free ‘neutrality’ in ways that are both bland and naïve.

This guy’s lashing out at a boogeyman that doesn’t exist.

Something that this guy doesn’t seem to understand is that atheists don’t just wake up one day and say "gosh, I hate God and Jesus and I’m going to make everyone else hate them too". Atheists, by and large (there are exceptions to every rule, of course) have simply come to the conclusion that God does not exist, after years of considering the idea. And when an atheist says "God does not exist", that’s basically a short way to say "there’s no compelling evidence that God exists, and I see no reason for him to exist." Most atheists were brought up in one religion or another, and have chosen to stop believing that their religion is true by examining their religion, and other religions, carefully. If there’s one thing that atheists are not, it’s ignorant. In some ways, we want to be proven wrong, and if anybody could do so, we’d gladly convert.

I also find it interesting, and telling, that he’s using the term "elites". First, what’s bad about being elite? Would you want an average doctor, or an elite doctor? An average president, or an elite president?

"They are also impractical, unattractive and, I suggest, oppressive. A true sense of difference, in which a genuine pluralism could thrive, is under threat of being reduced to a lowest common denominator of uniformity and conformity, where any non-secular contribution will automatically be regarded as socially divisive by definition."

Most atheists don’t want to stamp out religion, just as most Christians don’t want to overthrow the Constitution and replace it with literal Biblical law. It’s hard to even address such ridiculous fantasies.

MacMillan said surveys have shown only one in five people who work in TV consider themselves as religious, compared with seven out of 10 among the general public.

"If this is the case with the TV industry, you can be sure it is the same for the metropolitan arts, cultural and media elites," he said. "These are people who speak only to themselves and have convinced each other that the rest of the country thinks just like them. They are wrong."

This guy sounds like a conspiracy theorist. He saw a relatively unrelated poll and is connecting it to other branches of society. There isn’t a cabal of elite liberal atheists running the media, making sure that religion is stricken from everything the public sees. Besides, people watch, listen to, and read what they want to. Nothing can ever change that.

However, the composer, who is Roman Catholic, claimed that atheists have not succeeded in "beating religion into a pulp".

Nor do we intend to. We criticize religion, certainly. But we do so as a way to learn more about it, and to get people to think about religion more, rather than just accept it blindly. The worst thing you can do to a mind is not use it. Besides, if a religion can’t stand up to criticism, what good is it?

"The campaigning atheists, as opposed to the live-and-let-live variety, are raising their voices because they recognise that they are losing; the project to establish a narrow secular orthodoxy is failing."

That’s an interesting phrase: "campaigning atheists". Usually it’s "militant atheists" or "angry atheists". He prefers the quiet, do-nothing atheist over the uppity ones who won’t let religion walk all over them. Atheists aren’t trying to establish a "narrow secular orthodoxy", we’re trying to keep religious zealots from making a religious theocracy out of our secular society.

Secular doesn’t mean "Godless", it means "non-specific in regards to religion".

I can’t speak for the UK (which is where MacMillan is from) but here in America, our government and constitution were set up specifically so that no religion is favored over any other. Despite the revisionist history being spouted by many in the Religious Right these days (including John McCain), the Founding Fathers were staunch secularists, and the fact that no religion-specific statements are found in any of our founding documents was not an accident.

The First Amendment guarantees the separation of Church and State, because we don’t want a theocratic government (that’s why people came to America to begin with: to escape religious persecution) and we don’t want the government interfering with religion.

Some religion has snuck into government (such as the Pledge of Allegiance, which I’ve previously written about), but it’s unconstitutional, and people who are concerned about maintaining a secu
lar society that is fair to all people have been working to overturn such things for decades.

He added that the religious must carry on expressing their beliefs in the face of growing opposition.

Go for it. There are few things that atheists agree about, but freedom of speech is almost always one of those things. Just don’t be surprised if we argue with you if we feel you’re mistaken about something. It’s your job to be informed about what you believe.

"A smug ignorance, a gross oversimplification and caricature that serves as an analytical understanding of religion, is the common intellectual currency. The bridge has to be built by Christians and others being firm in resisting increasingly aggressive attempts to still their voices."

Again, an imagined conspiracy. And I wonder why he thinks that the atheist viewpoint of religion is an "oversimplification and caricature" when there have been thousands of books written over the centuries examining every aspect of religion. I recently attempted to read Daniel Dennett’s "Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon", and he spends the first 95 pages examining the question "Should we study religion scientifically?" Atheists certainly aren’t guilty of oversimplifying religion. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that religious people often DO oversimplify religion.

He concluded by saying that our lives will become meaningless unless the "mists of contemporary banality" are penetrated and the idea of the sacred is restored.

This is basically the idea that atheists lead bland, pointless lives. Ho hum. If anyone actually believes that, I recommend reading "50 reasons people give for believing in a god" by Guy P. Harrison (which I reviewed just today).

"I believe it is God’s divine spark which kindles the musical imagination now, as it has always done, and reminds us, in an increasingly dehumanised world, of what it means to be human."

There doesn’t seem to be any difference in imagination for those who are religious versus those who aren’t. So either God favors the religious and non-religious equally in terms of imagination, or imagination is "distributed" equally, regardless of religion.

 

MacMillan’s thinking is rather intolerant, and shows an apparent hatred and obvious ignorance of those who do not think as he does. But I feel like I’ve already said enough, and to say more would just be beating a dead horse. So I’ll close with a quote.

Some believers accuse skeptics of having nothing left but a dull, cold scientific world. I am left with only art, music, literature, theater, the magnificence of nature, mathematics, the human spirit, sex, the cosmos, friendship, history, science, imagination, dreams, oceans, mountains, love and the wonder of birth. That’ll do me."
          – Lynne Kelly

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October 6 2008

Book Review: “50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God” by Guy P. Harrison

I couldn’t find a good image on the net to steal, so I just tossed my copy in the scanner. I do plan to actually buy the book someday.

This is the book I wish everybody on the planet would read. Or at least my friends and family.

The best thing about this book is that it conveys the reasoning behind atheism without being even remotely condescending toward believers. It wasn’t written to convert people, or prove who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s just trying to inform.

Not only does the book inform you about atheism and, being a book with a “western world” mindset, Christianity, but it also delves into many other world religions, some of which I’ve never even heard of. Harrison seems to have led a fascinating life so far, traveling the world and seeing many different types of people and cultures, and he gladly shares some of his stories and experiences while at the same time using them to illustrate the idea he’s trying to convey in a given chapter.

The format of the book is ideal for this sort of topic. Each of the titular 50 reasons is given its own chapter, and each chapter can be read on its own, without having read any of the previous chapters. The chapters are, on average, about 7 pages long. This means that each chapter covers its intended topic thoroughly without going overboard with unnecessary prose or over-elaborate explanations.

No matter what you believe, this book will give you a lot to think about.

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September 14 2008

To the library!

centralThis doesn’t even LOOK like Minnesota…

I used to buy a lot of books, which I’d almost always read just once and then put on my shelf. Having a full bookcase makes me feel smart, even if most of them say “Star Wars” on the spine. However, when I went broke, I realized how much of a waste it was to buy books, and eventually remembered that I could always go to the local library for most of the books I want, like I did when I was a kid.

My local library system (the Ramsey County Public Library) has a pretty good selection (including comics, to my surprise) but their collection of atheist and religion-critical books is unfortunately limited to the big names (Dawkins, Dennet, Hitchens, etc.) and they don’t have any of the interesting-sounding books I’ve heard about on Point of Inquiry. (Seems like I add a new book to my “To Read” list every time I listen to a new episode.) For a while, I thought I’d have to buy the books if I wanted to read them (or even download them on the internet) but then I decided to think bigger. There’s a bigger library!

 

So today, I wandered out into the rain, drove into downtown St. Paul, and eventually stumbled, dripping, into the Central Library for the first time, about 20 minutes before they closed. An employee set up my Ramsey County library card to work with their system (awesome, I don’t have to carry around another card in my wallet) and I immediately came to the Non-Fiction section, where I picked up 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God by Guy P. Harrison, and Irreligion by John Allen Paulos. I was looking for something by Robert M. Price, but I didn’t find any in the limited time I had.

The Central Library is amazing. It’s one of those huge, old stone buildings with thick walls and dark wooden shelves. There are pillars and arches, and elaborately decorated ceilings. It feels like the kind of library you only see in movies, and except for the computers and barcodes and handicap accessibility, it doesn’t look like it has changed at all since it was opened, in 1917. I only got to see a small part of it because I got there as they were closing, but next time I’ll be sure to give myself lots of time to gawk.

The history of the library is also pretty interesting, and includes some pretty familiar names in Minnesota history – people who now have counties named after them. It was surprising and sad to hear that the previous St. Paul Public Library burned to the ground, taking 158,000 books with it.

Anyway, I’ll definitely be spending more time at that library in the future. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to check it out.

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September 7 2008

Searching for Douglas

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Lately I’ve been taking walks at the local nature center. It’s free, it’s within walking distance (I still drive though), there are very few people (and usually none on the unpaved trails), and it’s so nice and peaceful that I can sometimes even stop being a nervous wreck.

I carry my MP3 player (the classic iRiver H120) so I can listen to audiobooks and podcasts as I walk, and I’ve recently been listening to The God Delusion. There was a part where Dawkins mentioned an interview with Douglas Adams, where Adams explained why he called himself a “radical atheist” and mentioned that part of the reason why he became an atheist in the first place was that he read two of Dawkins’ books.

Dawkins also mentioned that this interview was reprinted in The Salmon of Doubt, a collection of Adams’ miscellaneous magazine articles, interviews, and even the first couple chapters of his last, unfinished book. That got me thinking. I’d purchased Salmon of Doubt back when it first came out in 2002, and at the time I probably read the interview without thinking about it much (I was still a semi-believer). I suddenly had an urge to dig it out and read it again.

Since I moved out for college, all of my books have been stored in large Rubbermaid containers. I’ve got at least 4 of them, and they’re all full of books, textbooks, and comics. They’re all in my garage right now (I’m leaving them in the boxes until I move again) and they’re all stacked underneath other huge boxes full of other stuff. But I really wanted to find that book, so I went digging.

Well, after going through all those books, I didn’t find it. I’ve got several boxes filled with miscellaneous crap, but I didn’t feel like going through all those. I did find my copy of Last Chance To See, which I’m going to start reading instead.

But…I really wanted to read that interview. So I looked it up on Amazon, and thanks to the “Look Inside” feature, was able to read the first couple pages, and I eventually found my way to the interview’s source publication’s web site, American Atheist magazine. They still have the text of the interview online, even after all this time. (They mention that Disney and Jay Roach are working on the HHGTTG movie, with the goal of having it out in 2000.)

I read all of Douglas Adams’ books in high school. At the time, I just thought he was a clever and funny writer, and his books were some of my favorites. (And actually, most of the books I read in high school are still some of my favorites.) But as I get older, his books mean a lot more to me, and the fact that he was an atheist makes them even more relevant to me now. I go back and read them, and I see a lot of stuff that I missed back in high school; lots of witty criticisms and commentaries on topics I knew little about back then.

I read my 812-page copy of the Hitchhiker’s Trilogy once every couple years, but I haven’t gone back to read any of his other books since high school. It’s actually been over a decade since I read the Dirk Gently books or Last Chance to See! I’m sure they’ll seem almost new to me next time.

(I was going to write about the time I actually got to meet Douglas, but it’s getting late and this post is getting long, and it’ll make a pretty good post on its own at a later date.)

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August 17 2008

Book Review: “Letter to a Christian Nation” by Sam Harris

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This is one of the first atheism-oriented books I read once I realized that I was probably an atheist and that it was ok to read books on the subject to learn more. If I remember correctly, it was #4, after The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (great), God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens (I couldn’t get into it, even though I really liked his writing), and Harris’ own The End of Faith (mostly pretty good).

This book was written as a direct response to the criticism Harris received from The End of Faith. It’s written directly to “Christian America”, and attempts to address the biggest issues and apparent omissions from his previous book. As a result, it reads more like a conversation than a lecture, which really helps.

Though I enjoyed The End of Faith, I found Letter to a Christian Nation to be much easier to read, to understand, and to recommend to others. Harris addresses specific questions that you commonly hear when theists are questioning the atheist point of view (as they should, even though they rarely apply similar questioning to their own religion), and in a calm, matter-of-fact way.

In fact, this book seems more mellow and casual when compared to The End of Faith. This helps it a great deal, because the book can’t be as easily dismissed as the angry ranting of a “militant atheist” (a term which seems to refer to any atheist who doesn’t just sit down, shut up, and let the Christians do what they want).

The best part is that it’s short. It’s only 144 pages long (or 2 hours in audiobook form), which makes it much easier to digest for the common reader. Harris doesn’t ramble or tell unnecessary anecdotes or quote other books very often. He specifically focuses on Christianity (as if the title of the book wasn’t a big clue) in order to tailor this book to the general public. If you want to read his opinions on other religions, he covers them at great length (especially Islam) in The End of Faith.

I listened to the audiobook version on my MP3 player, which I think is a great way to go. (I’ll address my inability to actually read non-fiction in a future post.) The narrator is very good, and either believes the material he’s speaking, or he’s an excellent actor. His calm voice lacks any venom that could distort what Harris is really trying to say.

(I was just thinking…it must be hard finding book narrators who don’t have a problem with narrating an atheist book. It’s probably a good thing that they’ve never done an audiobook of Mein Kampf, because anybody who takes that job is going to come out of it sounding like a nazi. They’d have to get someone who can in no way be mistaken for a nazi, like Morgan Freeman or Woody Allen.)

The best thing about this book is that it’s actually something you can give to your believer friends to help them understand why you can’t believe in God. It specifically addresses the common Christian throughout its pages. Will it convert them? Probably not, unless they’re already on the fence. And true believers won’t be swayed by any of the arguments Harris makes, of course. But most rational believers will probably come away with a better understanding of who atheists really are, and they’ll probably never look at their own religion the same way again.

On a slightly unrelated note, I find it hilarious that someone wrote a book called The End of Reason in response to Harris’ The End of Faith. Guess they didn’t give much thought to that title, did they?

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March 12 2008

Saving money, the Bevans way

I am, by most accounts, the brokest person most people know. But being as broke as I am, I’ve learned a few key ways to save money that many people may just overlook.

1. Use the library.

This is moronically simple, but many people I know just don’t use the library. And why not? It’s free. They have nearly every book you’ll ever want, although you may have to wait a bit if the book you’re looking for is checked out or at another library. But the nice part is, they’ll hold it for you once it’s in, and if it’s at another library, they’ll bring it to the library of your choice for you. And it’s still free.

And it’s not just books. They have magazines, DVDs (new releases must be rented, but they’re far cheaper than Blockbuster), CDs, audiobooks, and shockingly enough: comics. I was very surprised to find out just how wide a selection of comic trade paperbacks the Ramsey County library system has. I quickly grabbed up the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books (far better than the movie) and picked up Watchmen on a whim (which is fucking phenomenal).

I’m one of those people who likes to have my own personal library, so I can lend books and movies and stuff to anyone, whenever I feel like it. And I do still buy books and movies sometimes, if they’re something really special. But there’s just no reason to buy most books if you can just get them at the library. They’ll probably always be there if you want to read them again or have a friend read them.

And the best part about the library is, if you see something you think you might like, it doesn’t cost you anything to just grab it and try it.

The downside? The more popular books can get kinda worn out, and if you’re not careful you can start to wrack up late fees (which are quite reasonable). Fortunately, you can renew your books online (at least in the Ramsey County libraries you can).

2. Get a Netflix subscription

There’s really no reason to buy most movies. You watch them once, maybe twice, and then you don’t think about them for years. And thanks to Netflix, you don’t even have to go to a rental store anymore. What is Blockbuster up to now, $4.00 for a 3-day rental or something? 9 bucks will get you a month of Netflix, where they’ll send you one movie at a time, and send them back to you as fast as you can watch them. If you rent or buy one or more movies each month, it’s worth the cost.

Also, they let you download some movies onto your computer whenever you want, so you don’t even have to wait 2 days for the next movie to come.

I must admit, I miss having a constantly-expanding, ever-current DVD collection. But keeping a collection costs a hell of a lot of money. 9 bucks a month is much more manageable.

3. Play World of Warcraft (or some lesser MMOG)

Sounds crazy, I know. How do you save money by playing a game that costs 15 bucks a month? Well, for starters, you spend less because you’re not buying as many OTHER games. A new game will cost you 50-60 bucks these days, and let’s say you get an average of 25 hours of gameplay out of them before you beat them. Well, WoW never ends. Even if you get a character to 70, you can still hit the battlegrounds and fight other players, duel it out in the arenas, hit the dungeons, join a raiding guild, start a new character, or just sit around and talk with your guildmates.

Also, Blizzard is constantly creating new content for the game. Major patches feature new quests, activities, dungeons, areas, and so on. They also release an expansion pack ever 1.5 years or so, but those only cost $40.

The downside, of course, is that you wind up missing a lot of good games. But if you’re having fun with WoW, who cares? You can’t play everything, and the games that REALLY stand out will be $20 in a year.

4. Buy second-hand

Half-Price Books is my store of choice for buying used media. They’ve got tons of great, cheap books, CDs, DVDs, games, and even some collectibles. If you really want to buy something rather than just use the library as mentioned earlier, just about everything you’ll want can be found second-hand. There’s no reason to buy anything for retail price, unless it’s brand new and you absolutely MUST own it.

5. Buy online

You know what traditional stores are good for? Physically checking something out before you go and buy the item online. You can find EVERYTHING cheaper online. Let me repeat this. You can find EVERYTHING cheaper online.

For example, I and some friends (you know who you are) were looking for a boxed set of 3 large, hardcover books. The store we went to was selling them for about 90 bucks. But I found it online for $41. Brand new. Last week, I decided I needed an HDMI cable. A 15-footer at Best Buy or Target costs about $80-90. I bought one online for nine dollars. NINE. Brand new. Very nice.

Of course, the trick is knowing where to look. Personally, I always check PriceGrabber first. You’ve gotta be a little bit careful though; always choose a seller with at least 4 stars, and over 500 votes. Read the reviews too.

6. Quit your bad habit

I used to go down to the local gas station at least once a day for a big-ass Mountain Dew. It was only $1 each time, but that’s $30/month, or $365/year.

I don’t even want to think about what smokers pay.

It can be hard to quit, of course. I love my delicious Mt. Dew, and I like being caffeinated. But you’ve gotta make sacrifices. And not only are drinks, coffees, and cigarettes expensive, but they’re not exactly good for you either (and cigarettes are, of course, basically poison). So you’ve gotta drop the habit. You’ll probably backslide, but don’t feel bad; just stop again. Maybe try cutting your intake by half at first, then half again and again. Special occasions are ok.

7. Buy from the fountain, not the bottle.

Ok, I know I just told you to stop drinking soft drinks. But if you must, buy from the fountain. A 20oz bottle of Dew will cost about $1.40 these days. You can usually get a 32oz fountain drink for $1.

8. Only buy fast food at Taco Bell or Wendy’s

It’s usually cheaper to cook your own food of course, but if you need to eat out, Taco Bell and Wendy’s are cheapest. Wendy’s has a pretty good dollar menu, and most Taco Bell combo meals will cost less than $5. Mind you, this shit’s not very healthy.

9. Carpool

This sounds like a cliché, doesn’t it? Well, it works. You can’t save money on gas, so you need to find ways to use less of it. It’s nice to be able to come and go as you please, and listen to your own music and all that, but if you can work something out, do.

Wherein I solicit validation from strangers:

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