This is a pretty neat book and got me excited about trying some fermentation. There's something deliciously nerdy and compellingly simple about just pThis is a pretty neat book and got me excited about trying some fermentation. There's something deliciously nerdy and compellingly simple about just putting a bunch of stuff in a container and letting it ferment for a week or more.
I started a batch of sauerkraut within a day or two of starting the book and really enjoyed the whole process. I think I used too much salt, but am looking forward to trying a new batch soon. Also it has prompted me to sign up for a Miso class next month.
I checked this book out from the library but I think I will just buy a copy. ...more
I once volunteered as an extra in a photo shoot with the model on the cover, Mischa. I'm a fan of hers, and I always liked the stuff from the old nervI once volunteered as an extra in a photo shoot with the model on the cover, Mischa. I'm a fan of hers, and I always liked the stuff from the old nerve.com so I gave this a shot.
Damn awful. Although to be honest, I didn't make it past the second short story. My wife and I tried reading it together. I read one aloud, she read one. Somehow it seemed somewhat entertaining when you were the listener, but it was painful to read.
The best erotic literature is first and foremost literature. The only acceptable difference is that when the sex scenes start it doesn't shy away from the details. This was just crap.
This was the most entertaining thing I've read in awhile, I could hardly put it down.
That said, I'm just going to plagiarize Amar's reveiew:
This bookThis was the most entertaining thing I've read in awhile, I could hardly put it down.
That said, I'm just going to plagiarize Amar's reveiew:
This book frequently had me thinking, "is this for real?!" But I did some googling and it seems like it is. The funny thing is, when you see Strauss on YouTube, he comes across as very effete... in general none of these pickup artists look like ladykillers.
I tried listening to some of their lines but it's kind of excruciating, the banality of it. But clearly these guys are onto some basic truths about human psychology, depressing as they may be
Highly recommended , it's a great sleaze-read. Strauss is actually a pretty decent writer, but even if he weren't, the story is ridonkulous....more
I consider this book to be essential reading for anyone attempting to seriously understand Mathematics. In fact this book or should probably be requirI consider this book to be essential reading for anyone attempting to seriously understand Mathematics. In fact this book or should probably be required for anyone teaching Mathematics!
I've long believed that there was no way to break down thought into discernible mechanistic-like chunks and analyze the thought process in a non-hand-waving manner. I am delighted to discover I was wrong about this. It turns out cognitive scientists have developed what seems to be a very solid method and vocabulary for doing just that, and this book explores using the methodology to analyze Mathematical ideas. The results are impressive. The authors do a good job in arguing their central notion that Mathematics can be understood as something that emerges not from an objective discovery of universal abstract truths, but from a sometimes messy set of thought processes building upon a few basic neurological capabilities, and these basic neurological capabilities are firmly embedded in our physical reality. Along the way of making this point, they do a thorough job of laying bare the conceptual trickiness in certain Mathematical ideas.
The first third of the book was a little tedious. It felt like programming in Assembly language, the "close to the metal" language of computers: the operations and ideas were extremely simple and repetitive. The payoff for making it through this however was a wonderful jaunt through the land of Infinitesimals and the battles between Geometers and the Discretization program (I think a good companion to this book would be the Donald Coxeter biography King of Infinite Space: Donald Coxeter, the Man Who Saved Geometry). The last third of the book is a case study of all the ideas inherent in understanding Euler's beautiful and somewhat mysterious special identity formula e**(pi*i)+1=0. I'm setting the book aside for now until I have more spare time to commit to consuming this last part.
I come away from all this with the wish that there were a Wikipedia-like reference that gives every Mathematical idea this level of analysis. If you can speak this language of the cognitive scientist, it seems like the most clear way to express any Mathematical idea....more
My shakuhachi teacher is also a vegan chef. He hosted a dinner concert a week ago (Kaoru Kakizakai, a master shakuhachi player, was the headliner). WhMy shakuhachi teacher is also a vegan chef. He hosted a dinner concert a week ago (Kaoru Kakizakai, a master shakuhachi player, was the headliner). While there I had a conversation with a fellow player, Karl, about my dream of writing a screenplay based on the tragic story of Evariste Galois, the early 19th century mathematician. Galois is known as the father of modern algebra, which led directly to the development of group theory. Group theory is a highly esoteric branch of Mathematics that a century later was finding use in such fields as quantum mechanics. I mentioned how I wanted to set my screenplay in modern times (sort of like the 1996 movie Romeo + Juliet) and that I wanted it to not only tell Galois' story but also attempt to explain the Mathematics he developed.
Karl urged me to look up Arcadia, a play by Tom Stoppard. I haven't read a play since Delillo's Valparaiso seven years ago, but I'm glad I took up this one! Within the first page I was drawn in by the witty wordplay and didn't put it down until I had finished it a couple of hours past bedtime. The characters are colorful and compelling and effortlessly draw one into the scientific philosophies being discussed. The time shifting construct of the play is interesting and so wonderfully meta. To think of the evenings I waste watching a lame movie when I can be watching a theatrical tale like this in my mind. I should read more plays....more
This is a pretty quick read; I got through it in merely 0.000054 of the days it suggests I may have in this life. She spends a few chapters quickly goThis is a pretty quick read; I got through it in merely 0.000054 of the days it suggests I may have in this life. She spends a few chapters quickly going over the reasons why it's not crazy to suggest humans may double their healthy lifespan (once again). After that, the bulk of the book runs through the effects such a lifespan may have on various aspects of self and society. While Arrison doesn't delve too deep into any particular area she does manage to consider a lot, from the economic to the religious to the family structure.
It could have earned another star with less author bias and more depth....more
A typical old school textbook. Published the same year I was born, intended for engineering vocational schools. It's dry and straightforward. There arA typical old school textbook. Published the same year I was born, intended for engineering vocational schools. It's dry and straightforward. There are exercises in each chapter with answers to the odd numbered problems in the back. My only complaint is that, I swear, the very first answer for the first chapter is wrong. It really crushed my enthusiasm for doing the exercises....more
A quick read packed with history, science and humor. The author talks about the science of sex with a manner that is both informative, nonchalant, andA quick read packed with history, science and humor. The author talks about the science of sex with a manner that is both informative, nonchalant, and hilarious without being lewd. Sort of the way new parents talk about poop....more
As a non-neuroscientist lacking any formal academic background in chemistry or biology, this was a difficult book due to the technical depth involved.As a non-neuroscientist lacking any formal academic background in chemistry or biology, this was a difficult book due to the technical depth involved. I borrowed it via the Link+ interlibrary loan system, which only allows one renewal per checkout so it took me three checkout/returns over the many months I spent slogging my way through it. I owe my persistence to the compelling nature of the subject matter and the warm, expert and comprehensive delivery of Dr Panksepp.
The book starts with the most thorough explanation of the history and development of neuroscience I've been exposed to. It covered issues of cellular biology, the anatomical layout of the brain (and it's evolutionary implications), and the intricacies of the electrical and chemical systems involved. The experimental techniques commonly used are also explained in enough detail to understand why their results are meaningful.
Panksepp then proceeds to cover the major emotional and motivational processes from a personal standpoint (Sleep/Arousal, Regulatory/Seeking, Anger, Fear/Anxiety) and a social one (Love/Lust. Love/Nurturing, Loneliness, Play). Each concept is covered in detail from anatomical considerations to chemical and neuronal circuit dynamics, including details on the history of scientific thought in each area and the experiments that have shed new light. This covers the final two thirds of the book. Along the way many fascinating insights and hypotheses are shared.
One notable part of the text is an early addressing of the role of animals in neuroscience experiments. Honestly I forget the details now, but it painted a picture of how we must balance the suffering induced in animals with the benefits gained both for human suffering and perhaps an eventual scientific acknowledgement of animal emotions. Some of the experiments described later in the text were pretty rough to imagine, such as rat trials in REM sleep experiments and others involving cats. It is clear from Panksepp's commentary in this introduction and throughout the text that he represents the compassionate scientist who foresees a time when our understanding of the true nature of emotions gives basis to improved treatment of other species.
Our knowledge of the mammalian/human brain and its emotional mechanisms has been greatly advanced in recent decades. Affective Neuroscience wraps a lot of that knowledge up into a fairly comprehensive overview with plenty of new hypotheses and pointers for future research....more
Goleman, a science writer for the New York Times, does a great job of making accessible the impact of neuroscience research on modern understanding ofGoleman, a science writer for the New York Times, does a great job of making accessible the impact of neuroscience research on modern understanding of psychology in social matters. This was one of the most personally interesting books I've read, as large swaths of it were directly applicable to my life. For example, the impact of parenting styles on neurological development of children and the passages that led me to understand that I had at least a mild case of Asperger's Syndrome n my younger years. Additionally the general subject matter of how two brains intertwine physiologically when people interact, especially in situations of romance and friendship, is directly applicable to my current professional endeavors.
The only reason I'm not giving it 5 stars is because I would have preferred more details had been pulled from the footnotes into the main text. It's not as bad as a Gladwell book, but it could have gone deeper into the details. I bought an electronic copy before returning the book to the library, as I expect to return to this repeatedly. It also has served as a starting point for further dives into this area of research. The book I'm currently reading, Affective Neuroscience: The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions, came from tracking down some research referenced here....more
This book goes over a lot of recent phenomena of which I was moderately aware, so it was nice to get some details, but overall I didn't get as much ouThis book goes over a lot of recent phenomena of which I was moderately aware, so it was nice to get some details, but overall I didn't get as much out of this book as I had hoped. It was short on theory and heavy on case studies. It was good to get a sense of how much massive immersive experiences created by marketers are starting to gain traction however, especially among the younger generation.
The main impact this book had was to highlight that my tendency to avoid these new marketing experiences has caused me to not keep up with a new force in our culture that is gaining in power. Rose talks about an "arms race" between advertisers and audience, with each getting more sophisticated all the time The changing context of our culture from mass distribution to personalized streams of entertainment is having a powerful effect on this arms race....more
I believe this is the best autobiography I've ever read. It feels raw and intimate and intense, the kind of experience you would expect if you actuallI believe this is the best autobiography I've ever read. It feels raw and intimate and intense, the kind of experience you would expect if you actually got to know someone as they told you their life story at length over a series of encounters in pubs and over tea. Ironically, since the process of editing is central to Nelson's life's work, it could use some serious editing, but this just adds to the sense of sometimes breathless focus that comes from someone telling the most personal story they could ever tell. It is a story that is both under-told and important to our understanding of the past (and how it defines the present).
Ted Nelson's influence on the shaping of our digital culture is hard to trace. He was incredibly prescient and exposed his ideas to many of the people who ultimately directly shaped this culture. It took decades for some of his predictions to appear. He clearly saw a vision of the future that was such a leap forward that it was incomprehensible to nearly everyone at the time. Perhaps the seeds he planted helped others eventually see the vision themselves when they began to implement their interpretations (interpretations that were twisted away from Nelson's in various ways). Or perhaps Nelson just read the writing on the wall first, but others independently figured it out on their own, as often happens in innovation.
I've been a fan (apparently one of the few) of Ted Nelson and his ideas since first reading about him back in the early 90s. I even tried downloading some of the open source code related to his ideas back then (I guess it was one of the ZigZag projects) but couldn't make heads or tails of it. Because of this long-time (if sporadic and slight) influence, I suppose I'm predisposed to be sympathetic to his viewpoint. I had never really known much about him though, so I was surprised to find out how intellectually similar our tastes ran.
For instance, one thing I have recently been contemplating is how computer interfaces are becoming more cinematic in nature, especially in mobile platforms like the iPhone and iPad. It turns out cinema was one of the main intellectual forces shaping Nelson's thoughts (he calls himself a Showman-Intellectual). For instance, he says in the book that computer interfaces are
a branch of movie-making, because they are all about what the user thinks and feels, and inviting the user to think certain ways [...] and feel certain ways.
Another sentiment I appreciated was Nelson's reasoning that:
The computer is a philosophy machine. What is philosophy? The search for the best abstractions. What was the fundamental problem of the computer? The search for the best abstractions. It was philosophy written in lightning.
Possiplex joins a circle of other books I've read recently that all tackle the history and cultural implications of the digital revolution from different perspectives. The others are You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto, What Technology Wants, Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age. Each of these tell a different version of the common history. The characters, and often the authors, of one book appear in others and sometimes in not flattering ways. The future of our culture will continue to be shaped by the digital revolution. If you are interested in that future then you should be interested in the relevant history, so I suggest reading all four of these as they each give different analysis of the past and the present.
In the end, this autobiography is plainly stated to be Nelson's attempt to make sure his version of history does not go unwritten. He states:
"History" in a popular sense is a tale of the past that gets simpler and simpler, from which connections, depth and outliers -- in other words, stories like mine -- are gradually deleted in the popular mind.
In Xanadu, the system that Nelson has spent his life trying to create, nothing ever gets deleted. In the absence of that system, this is his attempt to avoid deletion himself. ...more
Quite dated now (this was pre-iPhone) but a thorough analysis of how the maelstrom of the consumer internet era slammed into a willfully unsuspectingQuite dated now (this was pre-iPhone) but a thorough analysis of how the maelstrom of the consumer internet era slammed into a willfully unsuspecting world of Big Music. Many of the predictions have indeed come to pass, which underscores the quality of analysis and vision. I would have preferred a less opinionated style, but hard to argue with the authors' points of view even if they stretch things a bit in occasion....more
While the use of a restricted alphabet may bring to mind the avant-guard delight of Ella Minnow Pea, I found this ham handed effort to be stifling andWhile the use of a restricted alphabet may bring to mind the avant-guard delight of Ella Minnow Pea, I found this ham handed effort to be stifling and misdirected. Easily the least palatable offering from jjjj's oeuvre (the most still being her romance novel about a Tahitian air traffic controller and a New Zealand sheep herder: Baa Baa Faaa)....more
I thought I knew most of this story, but really I just knew some of the major points. It is stunning how much innovation was first created by, or at lI thought I knew most of this story, but really I just knew some of the major points. It is stunning how much innovation was first created by, or at least attempted by or related to, the brilliant maniacs who started up Xerox PARC. The lessons to be learned from this true tale of success, failure and all the human bickering in between are myriad and sobering. Almost every technologist I know should read this book, because anyone arrogant enough to think they can shape the future should be humble enough to learn from the past....more
This is a wild, ambitious novel that focuses on two of my favorite things: Brasil and Quantum Physics. I would like to give it 4 stars because I enjoyThis is a wild, ambitious novel that focuses on two of my favorite things: Brasil and Quantum Physics. I would like to give it 4 stars because I enjoyed much of it immensely, but it had a rambling overly wrought tendency that never cohered into a satisfying story. I think he was just trying too hard. Toward the end it really just went off the rails for me.
I read a lot of it while lying in bed feverish and, when too tired to hold up a book, mixed in with periods of listening to the audio format of the somewhat trippy What Technology Wants. I think this enhanced the pleasure somewhat although it didn't help with lack of the coherence....more
McDonald fabricates a fascinating tale that is as audacious as Brasyl but much more coherent. The story, set in Istanbul in 2027, is even more exotic,McDonald fabricates a fascinating tale that is as audacious as Brasyl but much more coherent. The story, set in Istanbul in 2027, is even more exotic, decorated heavily with Turkish names and the Turkish alphabet. I was drawn in from first few pages and McDonald kept the novel engaging throughout, unlike Brasyl. By the end of the first chapter I had spent an hour on the iPad spinning Google Earth down into the region and looking at photos from Flickr to get a feel for the place.
The story centers around religion, terrorism and nanotechnology. There is a decent dose of Economic theory as well. In fact, one character briefly inserted is quite obviously Nassim Nicholas Taleb who wrote a great Economics book I just finished recently: The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. It is a very cinematic book as well, easily lending itself to big screen projections in my mind, but this leads to my one complaint (in spoiler section below).
(view spoiler)[The ending to this one was much more satisfying than Brasyl, however it felt a little too Hollywood to me. This is what seems to most fully separate McDonald from greater literary authors. Sometimes his writing seems a little Pynchon-ian to me, but he lacks Pynchon's sense for wrapping it up with just enough unexplained to leave you tantalized, so in the end it more like a vastly more interesting Tom Clancy story. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I have to give this one five stars, if for no other reason because it was the book I was reading when I finally started to understand group theory. ItI have to give this one five stars, if for no other reason because it was the book I was reading when I finally started to understand group theory. It covered the history and importance of this branch of mathematics much the same as Why Beauty Is Truth: The Story of Symmetry but in a more concise manner. Another difference is this book was thematically structured around the development of a particularly interesting artifact of group theory known as the Monster (this is actually what mathematicians call it by the way, due to its sheer unprecedented size). I think using a concrete example throughout the discourse was a good choice. Ronan also chose well to sometimes stop the progression and say "let's remember how we got here," proceeding to review the series of discoveries for a few paragraphs that led to a certain new advance.
I had been prepared to never understand group theory. For all I knew, it wasn't something that someone with a lack of formal math education (beyond calculus 20 years ago) was capable of learning from just reading books without a teacher. But somewhere halfway through this book things started to click into place a little bit. After that the book became immensely more enjoyable since I could follow along with the challenges and successes of the researchers with a significantly more understanding.
It is an interesting story, and something that surely will be of particular importance to understanding the future we will be experiencing in the coming decades. I don't ever want to be the typical post middle-age person who has checked out of modern times just because they couldn't keep up with the scientific advances, and I am more convinced than ever that a basic understanding of group theory is going to be necessary for any hope of hanging on....more