I bought this as part of an ebook Humble Bundle some time ago, and finally got around to reading it. It only took me me three flights to or from BostoI bought this as part of an ebook Humble Bundle some time ago, and finally got around to reading it. It only took me me three flights to or from Boston to finish it! (This was largely due to finding other activities on the plane, like movies, iPad games, and designing D&D encounters.) That is for me a somewhat unusual context for reading a book, but it's a good chance to find time to do so.
This is very political fiction; Doctorow has a strong copyleft position that comes out both in the overall plot of the book, and occasionally in multipage lectures conducted in the voice of one of the characters. If you agree with that position, you'll probably like the story. The main character is famous for his recut films, using the movies of a particular actor to tell new stories; this naturally gets him in trouble with intellectual property authorities, who in this dystopian near future have significant powers. As the popularity of his repurposed art grows, the powers that be in Parliament and Hollywood try to put a stop to his art.
As a quick aside, from someone who strongly believes in Fair Use protections, I would recommend watching Kirby Ferguson's series "Everything is a Remix". It uses several examples (including Star Wars, The Matrix, and Steve Jobs) to demonstrate how art stands on the shoulders of giants even when considered a new work. The films the main character creates are to me clearly transformative works that are new art, so I definitely agree with Doctorow there.
The story is set mostly in London, so there's a fair bit of British slang throughout. That, combined with the Chaotic to Neutral alignment of most of the characters, did make it a little hard for me to identify with them. The story is mostly interesting; there weren't really any slow parts. I did find the denouement kinda disappointing; in that regard it reminded me of older Stephenson. It felt like the book very quickly wrapped up the remaining threads after the climax in an unsatisfying way. On the other hand that probably means I wanted to see more from these characters.
This is the first novel of Doctorow's that I've read, though I have tackled a few of his essays online at various points. I didn't really notice anything distinctive about his style, outside of the political statement underlying the story. I liked it well enough, so I definitely want to read some of his other books....more
I got this as a free promotional download from I think Drive Thru RPG. I'm using it to get some interesting ideas for a one-shot involving draconic thI got this as a free promotional download from I think Drive Thru RPG. I'm using it to get some interesting ideas for a one-shot involving draconic threats. This book is a very tropeful example of everything that is wrong with fantasy RPG settings. I've never played D&D in Faerun, or read any of the numerous novels set there, and I think in hindsight I'm glad that's the case. The history is riddled with ridiculous intrigue, kingdoms changing hands, world-changing magic spells, and dragons with unpronounceable names. On the other hand, I can see where Blizzard got some of its more... involved... ideas for draconic lore in the Warcraft Games.
I won't know until we play, but I think this does have a few interesting spells and dragon-associated organizations and items that I can integrate into a generic campaign setting, without worrying about which color dragon lives on which mountain and hates which elf hero....more
I have read every one of Siracusa's epic OS X reviews since 10.5 on. Lately they provide my feature overview before I get around to installing the actI have read every one of Siracusa's epic OS X reviews since 10.5 on. Lately they provide my feature overview before I get around to installing the actual update; this year is no different. One of the best values he brings to these is his history with Macs - he can connect the past and present like few other Apple observers.
This review's section on Extensions, with callbacks to the Classic era, was interesting because of my own fond and frustrating memories dealing with extension conflicts on System 7 through Mac OS 9. The absolute highlight of this review, and I say this in part as a computer scientist, is his overview of the new Swift programming language, and how it fits into the Apple ecosystem and developer toolchain. The technical detail he gets into with intermediate languages and type systems is fascinating. The future in that regard is particularly exciting, and I hope to find time to work in Swift myself soon.
I read the iBooks version of the review, but I would recommend the Ars Technica web version for a couple of reasons. First, John himself considers that the canonical version. Second, it has better image layout and some dynamic content demonstrating the various interface changes. Third, the reference links provide important context, and are easier to jump out to on the web than leaving the iBooks app on an iPad (especially on a poor A5-powered mini that likes to swap the book out of memory as soon as you open a link in Safari). I read the web version up until last year's Mavericks review, but now I see that the iBooks experience, while an easy purchase, is an inferior read of (almost) the same content.
Obviously I am a Siracusa fan, so I'm predisposed to like his analytical style, but I also appreciate his Mac cultural references sprinkled throughout, like titling his conclusion using a quote from the "1984" commercial for the original Macintosh. If you are interesting in exactly what you are getting by upgrading your Mac's operating system this year, read this....more
As you might have heard, our son Theodore was born two weeks ago. Since he is our first child, I naturally wanted to become more knowledgeable about lAs you might have heard, our son Theodore was born two weeks ago. Since he is our first child, I naturally wanted to become more knowledgeable about little things like soothing him when he's upset. We bought this book based on recommendations, and I think it met those expectations. The short summary is that the techniques described in the book work, but it is highly repetitive, and problematic in the way its thesis is presented.
The core concept is the 5 Ses: Swaddle, Shush, Swing, Side, and Suck. You can pretty much get that from the back of the book, and from some general knowledge of baby care. However, there were a few adjustments I learned that really helped:
* I needed to swaddle more tightly * I needed to shush more loudly * I needed to swing more vigorously
With those minor changes, I've been able to calm him fairly quickly and in some cases even put him completely asleep. It's worth noting that I am certain we are being helped by his apparent easy temperament. We generally have not needed to change his position to side or stomach holds (he prefers being upright anyway, I think because of womb position). Obviously a feeding works pretty well too, but I can't help with that yet.
Given that, I think this book could have been much shorter. Mostly I would recommend reading the five core chapters on each S. He's just very repetitive, which I guess drills things. I think that you can skip every personal anecdote (the stories in bold italics); nearly every one is of the form "My baby wouldn't stop crying because of X. Dr. Karp showed me how to S, and now they calm themselves!". They don't add anything to the learning experience, but maybe they benefit other types of learners?
I had two major problems with the way the techniques were presented, both related to the narrative that American culture lost certain baby soothing techniques over the last 150 years. I think that change is true, and there are probably many factors (smaller family sizes, less intergenerational housing, consumer marketing of baby products, etc.) that have contributed to this shift. That discussion is out of scope for this book, but that didn't stop Dr. Karp from trying, despite being a pediatrician and not a sociologist, anthropologist, or evolutionary biologist. I also took issue with some non-scientific pandering in the later chapters.
My first issue was in the area of evolutionary biology. Obviously I am not an expert in that field, but I know enough to note his errors regarding the Neanderthal timeline, when humans lived in caves, and being contemporaneous with dinosaurs! His idea that the soothing techniques work because in the womb a calm fetus is less at risk of umbilical cord entanglement sounds believable, but he provides no citations. I realize this isn't that kind of book, but I'd like at least some justification.
Much more problematic was his presentation of baby care in other cultures. It smacked strongly of Romantic primitivism, perpetuating the stereotype that non-Western cultures are inherently more in tune with the natural world and our bodies' needs because they don't have industry and modern medicine so on. Relatedly it treated several examples as cultural monoliths, at one point even implying that Indonesia was a monoculture with a single belief about how babies should be swaddled. These examples annoyed me every time they came up, and were a reminder that the book is written for what seems to be a pretty narrow white middle class American audience.
An additional quick complaint: the chapter on dad's duties was terrible. First I don't appreciate the assumption that only moms would read the book, and second, it implied that dads barely help with the baby and are mostly just waiting for the post-partum "all clear" for sex.
Finally, there were some approving comments about non-scientific stuff like homeopathy that I felt didn't have a place in this book. I figure they were there to pander to an audience looking for more natural solutions to colic?
Overall, a useful book for the basic calming techniques, but one with redundant problematic content that you probably won't need to refer back to. Grab it from the library and skim it....more