Only Nate Silver could get me to read a book about probability and statistics on my day off. I appreciate his clarity and his agile use of examples. H...moreOnly Nate Silver could get me to read a book about probability and statistics on my day off. I appreciate his clarity and his agile use of examples. He walks through Bayes's Theorem by calculating the probability that your spouse is cheating on you given that you find a strange pair of underwear in your dresser drawer (29%). In a long chapter on poker -- he played professionally -- he patiently explains Texas hold 'em, hand rankings and probabilities, and what you can know at each stage of play about your opponent's hand. Very lucid.
Covers Kasparov and Deep Blue matchup in minute detail. Baseball, political punditry, weather forecasting, climate change, professional gambling, search relevance tuning -- this book lays open up a probabilistic world.
Tons of material in here -- notes, graphs, great writing, & good quotes:
"All models are wrong, but some are useful." George E.P. Box.(less)
In the 30s, Stalin sent a "petite Bolshevik", Anasta Mikoyan, to tour the U.S. and bring back intelligence on American food production. Mikoyan was am...moreIn the 30s, Stalin sent a "petite Bolshevik", Anasta Mikoyan, to tour the U.S. and bring back intelligence on American food production. Mikoyan was amazed by popcorn, corrugated cardboard, self-service cafeterias, mechanized cow milking, and Macy's display windows.
"Perhaps what struck Mikoyan most was the American guy at a stainless-steel griddle who swiftly cooked a curious-looking kotleta, which he inserted into a split white bun, then flourished with pickles and dabs of red sauce. 'For a busy man it is very convenient,' marveled Mikoyan. Didn't Soviet workers deserve this cheap, filling snack on their parades, their outings to Parks of Culture and Relaxation?
Mikoyan plunked down Stalin-approved scarce hard currency for twenty-two million hamburger grills, with the capacity to turn out two million orders a day. Burger production launched in select major cities, to some acclaim. But World War II intervened; the bun got lost in the shuffle. Soviet food planning settled instead for a take-out kotleta, unsandwiched."
One can only wonder if glasnost could have come decades sooner had they not omitted the bun.
This is a fascinating memoir of family and food through several decades of Soviet life. The author gives us the child's perspective of these tumultuous times, so it's a happier account than an adult's might be. Life in the USSR changed so quickly, transformed each decade it seems. From feast to famine and back again -- enough to give you culinary whiplash.
Enjoyable and informative, for cooks and modern Russian history buffs alike.(less)
A dark tale set in dark, frozen Iceland in the middle of the 19th century, concerning the true life of Agnes, a woman convicted of murder and executed...moreA dark tale set in dark, frozen Iceland in the middle of the 19th century, concerning the true life of Agnes, a woman convicted of murder and executed for it. This was the last execution in Iceland -- a beheading, in the countryside, by a local farmer selected for the task and supplied with the axe by Danish authorities.
The book's writing is restrained, well suited to the lives depicted, which unfold on cold remote farms. Anyone seeking a detailed description of annual sheep slaughtering will find it here.
This is a first novel for Hannah Kent. Well done.(less)
Everything necessary for a blockbuster movie is here -- action and pursuit from DC to the hot Australian desert, a mega-weapon, a teenaged heroine tra...moreEverything necessary for a blockbuster movie is here -- action and pursuit from DC to the hot Australian desert, a mega-weapon, a teenaged heroine trained to resist the machine, a love story, a little unresolved mystery at the end. I usually abandon sci-fi after a few pages of lousy dialog, but this was pretty good. (less)
Originally letters to her children. Fashioned into a book after Lydia Kirk's return from her stint as Ambassadress posted to Moscow just as the Cold W...moreOriginally letters to her children. Fashioned into a book after Lydia Kirk's return from her stint as Ambassadress posted to Moscow just as the Cold War is beginning, 1949-51. Her husband (Admiral) Alan Kirk, dealt mainly with Gromyko. The family had four "Little Men" -- minders -- with them at all times. The Soviets went out of their way to make life for foreign delegations miserable.The "satellites" were all present -- the Czechs, Poles, Bulgarians -- but they were all part of the big snub of The Western democracies, Since there was little actual communication going on between the governments, the social interaction became the diplomacy. Mrs. Kirk ran Spaso, the U.S. Ambassador's residence, and was den mother to the rest of the US delegation. The delegation appeared to consist of ambitious and well-connected young men, and a few of our "prettiest girls" to make things gay. (It was still the 50's then. ) She writes what she knows -- the household, the servant problem, the streets, the clothes, the food, the landscape. She found Moscow very grim and clearly worked hard to endure it with grace. It's historic and personal and well written -- she got a capsule review for it in Foreign Affairs when it came out in '52.
A very palatable way of learning about the English colonial towns on Cape Cod in the mid-1700s. Much of the plot revolves around property law and the...moreA very palatable way of learning about the English colonial towns on Cape Cod in the mid-1700s. Much of the plot revolves around property law and the customs of inheritance in these settler families. The prevailing assumption was that a widow would live under the protection of a male relative -- such as a son in law. The interaction between the settlers and the dwindling ranks of Native Americans was part of the story; also whaling, daily household chores, and the town grapevine. Enjoyable and informative.(less)