If advances in design should take inspiration from natural phenomena, this is a great book.
While the author meant it as a photographic compendium of...moreIf advances in design should take inspiration from natural phenomena, this is a great book.
While the author meant it as a photographic compendium of fluid-dynamics, I think its hidden value is in observing the figures that fluids make when they move -- be it at crawling or supersonic speeds -- as works of art. Some of the images are of great beauty: in a way it's surprising to discover it, but from another point of view we "know" these shapes intuitively because we have observed them or thought about them already in the past.
Plus, while I am no designer, I do think there's something to be learned in how nature spaces things, how it draws curves and creates angles, how it brings order to total chaos, and how it adds back the excitement of chaos to boring blandness.(less)
Deludente. L'unica parte che parla veramente di come scrivere bop consta di 15 pagine in tutto. Il resto sono brevi scritti inediti di Keruac, sulle o...moreDeludente. L'unica parte che parla veramente di come scrivere bop consta di 15 pagine in tutto. Il resto sono brevi scritti inediti di Keruac, sulle origini della scrittura bop e della Beat Generation. Il libro parte bene, con un elenco di dottrine brevi. Poi si espande facendo un parallelo tra scrittura e musica Jazz, gli assoli improvvisati, il tempo che scorre, molto interessante e ispirato. "Soffia! ora! Mai ripensarci per "migliorare" [uno scritto]" Poi pero' si perde... Forse alla fine non c'é molto da dire. Il resto del libro ho fatto fatica a leggerlo, alla fine non m'é rimasto molto. Ho trovato i vari aneddoti (o presunti tali) piuttosto faticosi, quasi forzati. Ah, una cosa e' bella: il significato della parola "Beat" in "Beat Generation". Significa "beato", essere in uno stato di beatitudine, cercare di amare tutto e essere sinceri sempre.(less)
Bella raccoltina. Ho scoperto Cesár Vallejo grazie alla bella autobiografia di Richard Hell, primo poeta del punk. Inoltre, scopro ora che Vallejo era...moreBella raccoltina. Ho scoperto Cesár Vallejo grazie alla bella autobiografia di Richard Hell, primo poeta del punk. Inoltre, scopro ora che Vallejo era contemporaneo di Borges e Macedonio Fernández. Non sono a conoscenza di un loro eventuale rapporto. Non si può affermare che ci fosse un'influenza sicura dell'uno sugli altri (o viceversa), ma un certo clima si respira.
Una cosa che mi ha colpito di Vallejo è l'uso di ritmi più o meno classici in molte di queste poesie. Putroppo l'edizione non specifica (abbastanza criminalmente) l'anno in cui ognuna è stata scritta. La mia ipotesi è che i primi lavori risentano di più dei classicismi, anche se poi il loro uso non è mai spocchioso o ingiustificato. E' come se un ritmo usuale, tipo un 4/4, fosse stato scelto per rompere il ghiaccio e veicolare la propria voce. Il chè ha senso. Ciò viene comunque superato in vari pezzi di questo libercolo.
Da ignorante quale sono, certi passaggi di Vallejo sono da vertigine:
Oh, le quattro gole spalancate, con spaventosa costanza in lamento, madre: i tuoi mendichi. Le due sorelle piccole, Miguel che è morto e io che ancora tiro una treccia per ogni lettera dell'abbecedario.
Pazzesco. Ma è solo il primo esempio che mi è capitato sott'occhio. In altri risuona un momento, tipo la tranquillità piena della sera (XXXIV), o le possibilità dell'alba (LVI), o gli echi della notte che prima richiamano il passato, poi i giorni successivi, per poi richiudersi inesorabilmente e senza speranza (LXI, forse il mio preferito).
Non ho trovato fastidiosi certi richiami surrealisti.
Sono poesie da leggere in silenzio, possibilmente. Penso che debbano decantare senza il frastuono del BART o della città. Credo che rileggerle di notte aiuti. (less)
Richard Hell comes out as pretty full of himself judging from how he writes, but he is so damn honest describing his ego that you have to forgive him,...moreRichard Hell comes out as pretty full of himself judging from how he writes, but he is so damn honest describing his ego that you have to forgive him, even when it entails very private moments. And his love for sex. One time I kind of cringed because I really didn't need to know all that detail. But it's great to have people that can just say things like they are, unfiltered, with no shame, in your face. I don't think Europeans can do it like that, with the same openness. The music-related anecdotes are so great though.... how he auditioned Dee Dee Ramone (it's short, but that alone is worth the book in my opinion), how Malcolm McLaren basically took the look of the Voidoids and brought it back to England, the role of the CBCG's, his relationship with Tom Verlaine, Patti Smith, Nico, the drugs, New York,.... Great stuff.
By the way: this autobiography only covers Hell's life from childhood to his exit from the music making business, in 1982.(less)
There were quite a few surprises in the Man Suit. The biggest was its form, meaning this is poetry that actually has the form of prose, and many poems...moreThere were quite a few surprises in the Man Suit. The biggest was its form, meaning this is poetry that actually has the form of prose, and many poems are often presented as short paragraphs. There are more traditional verses, but even those "flow" like prose if you were to unwind them.
However, the added rhythm of the verses brings life into them. I found the more syncopated cadence pretty effective, like in
"Death is falling gently onto all our collars and it is spreading out on the floor and then a million things"
I mean, it's a pretty spastic poem to my ears, but "it works," it's intense, has strong images, it's short and sharp like a dagger. (I suppose it ends more traditionally than other poems in the book.) Unfortunately, the Man Suit is not always like that, and especially the longer compositions left me lukewarm. Probably the many images they evoke were just too confusing for me, or did not resonate as well.
Oh, the images... very surrealist: "At a Halloween party, a lung went as a haircut, and a haircut went as a lung." There's a lot of dark humor too, which is sometimes pretty funny, and some recurring sexual references, which came out a little awkward, I gotta say. Not to say the latent misogyny I felt here and there.
Going back to the "paragraph poems," they are often like the lines that a demented news reporter would read every midnight. I found their absurdity funny but tiring after a while. Perhaps it's a book to be read slowly. I read it kind of fast, and likely that's bad because you may get overwhelmed by it, or at least I did. Re-reading non-sequentially might be appropriate.(less)
This is a photography book about the early punk scene in downtown LA. The photos are huge (letter-sized, sometimes spanning two pages) and often shot...moreThis is a photography book about the early punk scene in downtown LA. The photos are huge (letter-sized, sometimes spanning two pages) and often shot from the middle of the action. It's easy to lose yourself in them, you can almost hear the music, smell the odors and feel the dirt.
Pretty much everyone is portrayed: Germs, Bags, Weirdos, Fear, Screamers, etc. My favorite is the photo of a young Michael Gira with Curtain / Strict Ids. I did not expect to see Belinda Carlisle, either.(less)
As I started reading this book I wasn't impressed. The format — photographs and some random stories behind it — seemed too loose and incoherent. Was t...moreAs I started reading this book I wasn't impressed. The format — photographs and some random stories behind it — seemed too loose and incoherent. Was this just the catalogue of the eponymous exhibition at the EMP museum in Seattle, or was there something more? However after 50 pages or so the dots started to connect and the book became a touching read.
Essentially, "From Nowhere to Nevermind" is a chronological history of how punk rock become palatable to the mainstream, thanks to Northwest bands like Nirvana and Alice in Chains. The book is written from the point of view of Seattle: I do think it succeeds giving credit to the rest of the American underground that developed elsewhere during the 80s, but still this is a book about Seattle.
The format, like I said, is interesting. On each even-numbered page there's a big picture of some object (a broken/damaged instrument or a fragments of one, some clothing, a poster, an album cover or other art, a manuscript, etc) and on the odd-numbered pages there's the story of that object, with a few comments from people involved with it. This seems fairly simplistic, but there's a lot being told with these images — nice closeups in thick paper — just as much as it is with words. This might not work for everyone, but I think it adds an angle that's missing in most books. And especially for rock music, the visual element, with all the extra connotations that come with it, narrates a story that words can't quite capture.
The anecdotes are pretty insightful.
"Seattle scene found dead" poster, in 1984. "That particular summer was totally dead in Seattle." The calm before storm.
"27 reasons why WA is a cool place to live" poster by Sub Pop, 1987, containing local bands records.
Nirvana recorded and mixed their first demo (10 songs) with Jack Endino in 5 hours, in January 1988.
Cobain was smashing guitars before (!!) he could actually afford it, all the way back in 1988. This is before Nirvana's first single; he was broke at the time. This hit me: only a conflicted yet brilliant artist could do this kind of stuff. This is the difference between making music because you want to and making music because you need to. "He's so serious about the show that he wants you to remember it."
And that's it: since noone was paying attention, all these bands needed to blow people away in their live shows. And they did. They started from zero, no money, little techical competence but loads of passion, and kept at it. And that's what make that music and this book great. You see the artifacts, the history, and the connections between people (musicians, artists, engineers, promoters, and fans) that made this possible. "Nevermind" now just seems the natural consequence of a decade of hard work and incessant dedication.
Underneath the bridge The tarp has sprung a leak And the animals I've trapped Have all become my pets
I really enjoyed this book. It's not a great chess book; but it is one that taught me how to play a fun attacking game even if it's often unsound. I d...moreI really enjoyed this book. It's not a great chess book; but it is one that taught me how to play a fun attacking game even if it's often unsound. I do think there are good lessons on how to open up the board as white, although white's point of view is the only one covered here. Gambit accepted, gambit refused, and a couple ways to transpose to the opening are analyzed.
The main problem of the book is that somehow white always manages to win the game: the author does confess at the end of the book that the whole book was written a little tongue-in-cheek. Still, I think it's an enjoyable read to anyone who wants to explore crazy un-orderly styles of play.
Oh, one final complaint: what's up with these chess books who only show 5 or 6 board positions in a 40 moves game? Some of us require a little more hand-holding, guys.(less)
It was cool to read historic reviews of records of the 60s, 70s, and a little of 80s and hear what people thought of those records when they came out....moreIt was cool to read historic reviews of records of the 60s, 70s, and a little of 80s and hear what people thought of those records when they came out. Willis talks a lot about Dylan, Janis Joplin, and Creedence. Other artists discussed here include the New York Dolls, Beatles, Bowie, who all get a generous treatment, and then Clapton, the Who, the Doors (just 1 essay I think), Black Sabbath (1 article, at least it's about Vol 4), Patti Smith, Elvis and a few others. My favorite chapters were by far the ones about Lou Reed and the Velvets. There were too few, but those few were great.
The problem with this book is that it's too much a collection of articles. It lacks cohesion. Being about musicians, it gets very interesting if you care about that particular artist, but at the same time it gets very boring if you don't like that other band.
I found the format of this book preposterous. There are sections titled "The Sixties Child," "The Feminist," "The Sociologist" and so on, attempting to group articles by some kind of theme. I found this distinction useless, perhaps because I approached this a music book. So I wanted to read about music and musical movements (say, psychedelic music, punk rock, whatever). Instead this book focuses on the writer: it's as if it tries to define who Ellen Willis was, without just letting her speak for herself. The funny part is, if I understood who she was -- a stoic writer who only cared about the message, not the self -- this is exactly what she wouldn't have wanted.
A strict chronological order would have been more captivating. (less)
- be humble or perish - when it's your turn to move, build a tree of analysis (or plant a house) - evaluate a bran...moreHere's the short version of this book:
- be humble or perish - when it's your turn to move, build a tree of analysis (or plant a house) - evaluate a branch once and only once (doing it twice is a waste of time) - beware of the blind spot (it exists) - if a position is closed and lacks hand-to-hand contact between the forces, moves involving positional factors are likely best - don't leave your pieces hanging - never rely on your opponent making a mistake - don't play wishful-thinking chess - if your opponent spends a long time and then sacrifices a piece, and if you know his analyses to be often exact, you should probably trust him and refuse the offer straight away - possession of an open file/diagonal is only meaningful if it can be used for some strategic purpose - don't leave your pawns on the same color square as your remaining bishop - in a rook ending, keep your rook behind a passed pawn, either yours or your opponent's - make a plan between move 6 to 10; - a plan is essential, but be flexible to change it - if the centre is closed, baring your king is not very risky, but you must stop your opponent from opening it on the side where you are attacking - if the centre is open the role of the center is greater - during the end game, bring the king out toward thr center - basic rule of endings: don't hurry (Capablanca repeated moves often returning to positions he had had before) - know all the main lines of a couple openings and the basics of the others
The rest of the book wasn't useful to a beginner like myself. Very hard to follow, and most of the time the author doesn't provide clear suggestions beside "move well!" or "think more!" Plus, it's tacky that he often discusses his own games but in not a single one of them he ends up losing! Come on now. (less)
A me è piaciuto parecchio questo libro. Le idee di Perotti sono elementari da un certo punto di vista. Ma sono rivoluzionarie perché allo stesso tempo...moreA me è piaciuto parecchio questo libro. Le idee di Perotti sono elementari da un certo punto di vista. Ma sono rivoluzionarie perché allo stesso tempo suggeriscono un movimento individuale di opposizione pragmatica al capitalismo sfrenato. La palese assurdità dell'auspicio capitalistico della crescita perenne, la sua apparente necessità, il meccanismo dei bisogni finti, il lavoro centralizzato, i premi ai manager delle aziende che falliscono, lo Stato che fa riforme per mandare in pensione i suoi cittadini più tardi, o progetta missioni di guerra in loro nome... c'e' di che deprimersi. Eppure il messaggio di Perotti è molto positivo: è un inno alla sobrietà. A che serve il denaro? Per quale motivo è necessario accumularne fino a sessant'anni bruciandosi gli anni migliori della propria vita facendo un lavoro che magari non piace? E poi a sessantacinque anni riusciremo davvero a goderci quei soldi? Perotti non dà soluzioni universali: fa queste e altre domande e le argomenta.
"Avanti Tutta" è il seguito di "Adesso Basta" e ci sono spesso rimandi a quel libro. I due terzi di "Avanti Tutta" sono infatti una sorta di reportage sul feedback ricevuto dopo la pubblicazione del libro originario. In essi si discute delle varie paure, felicità, esperienze di chi è uscito (o vuole uscire) dal Sistema. L'ultima parte infine è dedicata ai problemi di azienda, sia quelli strutturali, sia quelli legati alle colpe dei dirigenti e degl'impiegati.
Interessante anche il ragionamento sulla dipendenza dal salario. Una dipendenza che è sia economica che psicologica. Il salario dà una garanzia. E' un paracadute. Ci assicura la vita in cambio di una spesa costante di tempo e energie. Inoltre ci dà un ritmo di azioni e di emozioni. Se uno stacca la spina questo viene a mancare e una delle cose più difficili è darselo, questo ritmo. Trovarlo.
La metafora più bella é quella delle barche: invece di essere tutti sulla stessa barca (lavora-consuma-crepa) agli ordini di un unico badante/comandante, immaginiamoci una flotta di gente che sa navigare da sola, libera di andare dove meglio crede. É un messaggio logico di indipendenza e di speranza.(less)
Much, much better than the Loveless book. This one is actually really well done and structured in a logical, chronological way. There's an introductio...moreMuch, much better than the Loveless book. This one is actually really well done and structured in a logical, chronological way. There's an introduction describing the atmosphere that lead to In Utero, a couple chapters on the demo sessions Nirvana did before the actual recording, song-by-song descriptions of the Albini sessions, and finally two chapters about the mixing and artwork process.
No gossiping, zero fanboy writing, just short and to-the-point facts. The style is terse and clean. Quotations are used regularly.
A good companion for this is the "With the lights out" collection of B-sides and demos. Apparently Gaar worked on that as well. It's cool because for example she explains how Scentless Apprentice was developed in the course of one jam session, from an embryonal idea by Dave Grohl. "With the lights out" contains the recording of that session. Thanks to this book, listening to it after reading the book gained a fuller meaning: you can see how little by little from a magma of noise a song emerges, like a sculpture from a block of rock. (Actually made me think of Michelangelo's Unfinished Slaves...) Anyway, it's pretty amazing yet also ordinary: after all these are just guys in a band despite all the media gossiping and whatnot.
For whoever cares about Steve Albini, there are some pretty funny/abrasive quotes from him too. Overall Albini praises the band, their new (heavier) musical direction, and their professionalism (down-to-earth, hard workers, on time, knowledgeable... which could be surprising to some) and throws shit at everyone else beside the musicians.
There's even a whole chapter dedicated to Sappy, this gem of a song recorded a bunch of times and played in several different arrangements from 1987 all the way to 1994, and never officially released. Apparently Cobain was never fully satisfied with it, and yet every single recording of it is just breathtaking.
Anyway... a must-read for anyone interested in how rock music is (was?) recorded and released.(less)
If this book was supposed to make me a better designer, it failed. It's a collection of thoughts on design taken from a more abstract/holistic point o...moreIf this book was supposed to make me a better designer, it failed. It's a collection of thoughts on design taken from a more abstract/holistic point of view. This wouldn't be a bad idea in itself, if only these reflections were a little more insightful. For some (most?) of them I failed to read between the lines. Example: What good is to explain how the TAB key works and how powerful it is in organizing data? Or forcing gratuitious acronyms upon your readers and pretending they'd remember them?
Speaking about acronyms: what do they have to do with design anyway? The author discovers new ones in every page, and it gets annoying quickly.
However, I liked the idea of "laws," or abstract guiding principles. I think it would have been better to be more schematic and simply discuss examples of each one. When Iwata does so he's pretty good, for example explaining the iPod UI evolution across the years. What's wrong with keeping it... simple and just do that?(less)
Pretty good introduction to TDD on iOS. Throughout the book an entire app (a basic StackOverflow browser) is built from scratch using TDD, covering al...morePretty good introduction to TDD on iOS. Throughout the book an entire app (a basic StackOverflow browser) is built from scratch using TDD, covering all its functional requirements. This included model and controller code. A long time is spent discussing UITableView and its data sources and delegates, which makes sense since they are such an important piece of UIKit. The author stops at the view level, so things like testing the positioning of UI elements in relation to others is not discussed.
I really appreciated the rigor with which TDD is employed here: the author is pretty relentless in the red-green-refactor mantra, designing mocks etc, although sometimes, especially while following the various table views callbacks, the testing code gets intricate and it's not exactly obvious how to write those in-depth controller tests.
The main drawback of this book is that it focuses on the testing framework bundled with Xcode, OCunit. OCunit does its job and it's well integrated, but I don't think it's the best testing solution available nowadays. Perhaps something more than a half page could have been spent on BDD; and perhaps a discussion about additions like OCMock or an analysis of other established testing frameworks could have been useful.
The biggest plus is that after reading this you want to do TDD! Yes you're going to have to invest some time on it to get used to it, but I liked how the author stressed that the payoff on overall quality (OO design, stability, maintainability) is gonna be big.(less)
The book is not for complete novices to programming: e.g. the while loop is explained in 2 lines. Syntax diagrams are used to explain every construct. However, if you have programmed in other languages but know nothing about JS, you should be able to follow along just fine.
The "not recommended" parts of the language are still presented in 2 chapters (with explanations about the nature of their evil): the "bad parts" and the "awful parts."
This book is divided in two parts: note reading exercises and then actual syncopation. The first part just introduces you to basic figures up to 8th-n...moreThis book is divided in two parts: note reading exercises and then actual syncopation. The first part just introduces you to basic figures up to 8th-notes triplets and 16th notes. The second part is the real core of the book. As a beginner drummer I found the syncopation exercises useful to get my first exposure to accented notes. Accented 8th, dotted 8th, 16th, 8th triplets are covered at length. Mixed sticking is also covered. I feel like all of this made me grow a lot and gave me more confidence even when playing simpler patterns. The best part is that many of the syncopated patterns proposed here are actually very musical, and not just mere assignments. That's a very nice bonus and definitely made the task more interesting and stimulating.(less)
Ho iniziato a leggere questo libro senza una vera ragione. Volevo qualcosa di veramente italico e mi sembró una buona idea studiare le legioni romane....moreHo iniziato a leggere questo libro senza una vera ragione. Volevo qualcosa di veramente italico e mi sembró una buona idea studiare le legioni romane. In effetti questo è un libro abbastanza interessante, spiega la vita attorno alla legione più che la morte da essa creata. I particolari non mancano e sono citati. Che dire. C'è una prima parte che spiega piuttosto bene l'organizzazione interna della legione, le coorti, le centurie, gli ausiliari e l'ispirazione greca della stessa e la sua evoluzione, tipo l'uso del giavellotto, le variazioni sullo scudo, eccetera. La seconda parte, che poi occupa i due terzi del libro, si concentra di più sulla relazione della legione con la civiltà romana e il ruolo da essa ricoperto non solo a conquistare genti, ma anche a costruire strade, ponti, acquedotti, edifici e in generale a mettersi al servizio della comunità, peraltro non solo a scopi militari. Il libro poteva essere organizzato un po' meglio: i dati (specialmente sull'evoluzione dell'organismo legionario) sono sparsi un po' ovunque, e lo stile del libro è un po' colloquiale e un po' troppo trionfalistico e esaltato. Mi è sembrato anche un po' prolisso: verso i tre quarti della lettura ero bello che a posto. Ah, in appendice c'e' anche una breve storia di tutte le legioni romane di cui sono pervenute notizie.(less)