I really enjoyed this book. While this book is essentially several extended blog posts strung together, Frauenfelder is a capable writer. He knows how...moreI really enjoyed this book. While this book is essentially several extended blog posts strung together, Frauenfelder is a capable writer. He knows how to take his various DIY projects and spin them into an entertaining story.
He's also remarkably humble and honest. One of the central themes of the book is that the best way to learn is to make mistakes. And Frauenfelder has made some doozies, from moving his entire family a tropical island to inadvertently killing his much-beloved chickens.
I suspect if you've spent any amount of time working with your hands, Frauenfelder will come off as what he is and admits to being: a bumbling amateur. This book probably isn't for you.
But if you—like me—have spent much of your adult life working at a computer and would like to try a few things you don't have the first clue how to do, this book is fantastic. It will inspire you to try something new get it terribly wrong and learn from your mistakes.(less)
This is an exploration of what define consciousness. A small crew of clones has been sent into space and been given the challenge to create a consciou...moreThis is an exploration of what define consciousness. A small crew of clones has been sent into space and been given the challenge to create a conscious entity.
Most of the book is taken up with philosophical dialogue between the various characters. While the dialogue is interesting from a philosophical point of view, it's fairly stilted. The characters are one-dimensional and not very believable and there is virtually no character development. Perhaps this because the characters are clones who have been conditioned to behave in prescribed ways. (In fairness, many of them are aware of and try to overcome this conditioning, but without success).
In the end, the characters are little more than a way of exploring different viewpoints about what constitutes consciousness.
While I certainly found the discussions interesting, I wouldn't say that I actually enjoyed the book.(less)
This is a whistle-stop tour of the planets of the solar system. It's not a comprehensive guide. Instead, it focuses on interesting aspects of the scie...moreThis is a whistle-stop tour of the planets of the solar system. It's not a comprehensive guide. Instead, it focuses on interesting aspects of the science and history of each of the nine planets (plus the Earth's moon).
Dava Sobel's prose is a pleasure to read. The narratives she spins for each planet, while sometimes a bit silly, are always compelling. (less)
This is a book of two intertwined parts. The author has a background as an academic, but now prefers to work as a motorcycle mechanic. This book refle...moreThis is a book of two intertwined parts. The author has a background as an academic, but now prefers to work as a motorcycle mechanic. This book reflects this.
The tone of the book changes quickly from the academic language of a PhD thesis to engaging narratives of his work as a mechanic.
Much of the first 50 pages felt like a slog. Most of those pages are dedicated to setting up his argument in the stilted language of academia. It's worth persevering, though.
While the ideas he puts forward of learning by getting wrong, the value of mentorship, the satisfaction of seeing you work in use and thinking with your hands aren't ground breaking, the stories he uses to support these ideas make for great reading.
I very much support his call for reinstating shop class, but I also believe that the much of what he describes can be found outside of the the traditional trades. Many of his stories were familiar to me not because I have a mechanical background, but because of my background in software design and development. (less)