Great book. Unfortunately, I didn't care for the audio recording. Sarah's own reading was fine, but I didn't care for the way they had actors read quoGreat book. Unfortunately, I didn't care for the audio recording. Sarah's own reading was fine, but I didn't care for the way they had actors read quotations in the book. ...more
Fun with science! I am a chemical engineer by education (though it's not what I do for a living) so I can vouch that the chemistry and physics parts oFun with science! I am a chemical engineer by education (though it's not what I do for a living) so I can vouch that the chemistry and physics parts of this book are pretty accurate - much more so than basically anything I've ever read that was written by a non-scientist.
The fun part of the book for me was realizing how much I don't know. I think of myself as bright and well educated - I know a lot about science, literature, history, all that well-rounded general-knowledge stuff. So how the hell did I not know Pluto had a moon? I realized I don't know squat about astronomy or geology. Seriously. Nothing at all, it seems like.
So it seems to me that this book is turning out to be a great jumping off point for finding topics I want to read more about in the future....more
In a single phrase: "everything I thought I knew is wrong."
I was in college when Columbine happened. I remember hanging out with my friends in the aftIn a single phrase: "everything I thought I knew is wrong."
I was in college when Columbine happened. I remember hanging out with my friends in the afternoon, when people started talking in the hallway, and soon everybody had their televisions on. We were shocked. I was a sophomore, so i wasn't so far out of high school myself.
I've followed the reporting on Columbine that has come out piecemeal in the intervening 10 years, including Cullen's own articles on Slate. I was familiar with the idea that most of the theories put forth by the media after the shooting turned out to be false. Even so, it is extremely heavy to read about it all in one place.
The biggest shock, though, was the extent of the cover up by the Jefferson County sheriff's department. And it's not like they were covering up something enormous. They spent years destroying evidence, hiding documents, and lying to the public all seemingly over whether or not they knew about a web site. Seriously, did not one person there have the balls to tell the truth? ...more
I don't often cry over books, but I was sniffling into my coffee over this one. It's kind-of the story of William building his windmills... but that'sI don't often cry over books, but I was sniffling into my coffee over this one. It's kind-of the story of William building his windmills... but that's a very small part of it. It is, at it's heart, a simple window into life in rural southern Africa. And it feels like a completely different world than the one I live in (which it obviously is)
The first half of the book revolves around major famine in Malawi in 2000. While I know there have been catastrophic famines all over Africa (after all, who hasn't seen pictures of starving orphans in Ethiopia?) But that's an extremely narrow and incomplete picture - Kamkwamba tells a much broader story of how the food shortage started slowly, and how things slowly spiraled worse and worse until the survivors were finally saved by the next year's harvest.
The story really underscores the importance of education in improving people's lives - yes, Kamkwamba dropped out of secondary school, but he could read and had access to a library, even though it was small. Plenty of children in Africa, and elsewhere (and embarrassingly for such a rich nation, in some of the poorest and most troubled areas of the US) grow up illiterate or nearly so. Literacy is too important to worry about "later" - it is the foundation of improving people's lives.
(Let me interject a little shout out: The International Book Project is a small non-profit sending books to schools and libraries all over the world. They're awesome.)
The book was a pleasant read. It is clear that his co-author helped a lot in getting the book into clear English, but the book has a very plainspoken, honest tone. It is the story of a young teenager surviving a horrible tragedy (perhaps this book should be required reading for self-absorbed angsty suburban teenagers) and an incredibly inspiring glimpse at what one person with a dream can achieve. I look forward to hearing more about Kamkwamba after he graduates from school and goes back to Malawi. I hope windmills will spring up all over....more
I totally understand that it will be a few years before the really meaty well-researched books about Madoff will be written. It takes time and distancI totally understand that it will be a few years before the really meaty well-researched books about Madoff will be written. It takes time and distance to write them. But just because this was obviously a quickly thrown-together, sensationalistic book designed to capitalize on the scandal still being in the papers... would it have killed the publisher to arrange for the book to be edited?
All that aside, it's a fun romp, if I could get over the disorganization and ocational repetition. the world of Madoff's circle seems crazy and foreign. I've never known any New York investment bankers, so maybe he's just a part of a bigger crazy subculture, but is still sounds so different from the world of business and investment banking in the rest of the country.
Finally, I was really awestruck by how broad the fallout has beem. I mean, how often do you hear about Elie Wiesel and ZsaZsa Gabor's insane husband in the same context?...more
I was disapointed with this book. It's a full-length book about the use of statistical methods and data mining to model people... but there is no discI was disapointed with this book. It's a full-length book about the use of statistical methods and data mining to model people... but there is no discussion at all of those statistical methods or data mining techniques. It's full of talk about the data that's collected, and the predictions that are or could potentially be made, but the middle bit, the way that analysis actually happens is simply not addressed.
Now, I understand that other people are not as interested in statistics as I am. I get that. However, people manage to write extremely accessible pop sci books about neurology, evolutionary biology, economics, etc - so why is statistical analysis something to be treated like a black box?
This book brings up some interesting things, but ultimately, it's just a little too fluffy....more