I just finished How I Killed Pluto and Why It Deserved It and loved it! It is written by the astronomer who discovered what they called Xena, which wo...moreI just finished How I Killed Pluto and Why It Deserved It and loved it! It is written by the astronomer who discovered what they called Xena, which would have been the tenth planet. It forced the International Astronomical Union to decide whether to call this (and many large bodies in the area he was starting to find) planets, or to remove Pluto from the planet list.
On one hand, this is a really nice story of how science is done. He struggles with decisions of when to reveal his discoveries, points when he has to decide on methodology, and working with colleagues and competing research teams. Think astronomers spend all their time looking through telescopes? I identified with him spending a year programming computers to find what he's looking for (not staring up at the sky); I spend an inordinate amount of my research time (in the completely different field of educational psychology) also programming computers to work with data.
On the other hand, he weaves in the story of his marriage and the birth of his daughter, which to me made him quite likeable. When his daughter was born, he created a blog documenting all her feeding, sleeping, and changes everyday to try to find patterns. Those of us who work with data will recognize this impulse to try to find order in the world.
Really not worth the time (and I read it in about 3 hours). I am predispositioned to like mysteries set in a university environment and I was hoping t...moreReally not worth the time (and I read it in about 3 hours). I am predispositioned to like mysteries set in a university environment and I was hoping to pick up a bit about sound in psychology too.
This book (published in 2010) seemed to paint such an unrealistic picture of today's psychology departments that I couldn't get past it. I can't count the number of times the author referred to "special research databases" that could only be accessed on these four special computers. Yes, she confirms she's talking about things like Dissertation Abstracts Full Text. Anyone with university authentication has been able to access these from their university library from any computer in the world for at least a decade. And the victim got this huge computer lab to do survey research? And the sound specialist shares it? But there's only three computers that record? But there's a long line of research participants? And the researcher specializing in sound doesn't have headphones on her office computer (always concerned about others hearing her play the recording of the murder)?
Then the use of sound is dumbed down so much as to make it hard to imagine that this is someone who specializes in this. There is zero detail about doing sound comparisons or anything that really brings out what this sound person was able to do that the police couldn't have.
I got this as a 0.99 NookBook and I'm glad I didn't pay more.(less)
I found this book suffers from multiple personality disorder.
It started out as seemingly tracing the development of communication from African drums t...moreI found this book suffers from multiple personality disorder.
It started out as seemingly tracing the development of communication from African drums to telegraphs to telephones to beginnings of computers. The thesis appears to be that the development of communication and the increase in information are inextricably intertwined. I was expecting this to continue into artifical intelligence and machine learning, where machines are now creating information.
Instead it veers off into chapters on entropy, memes, and DNA. Yes, these are all different ways to look at information and the breadth of research needed to write all these chapters is impressive, but I just lost the thread of any argument or thesis heading through the book. Maybe it is just me, but I needed the author to connect the dots more clearly in these latter chapters. (less)
The most interesting part of the story is the struggle of the main character with the responsibilities the community is thrusting on her. I suspect fu...moreThe most interesting part of the story is the struggle of the main character with the responsibilities the community is thrusting on her. I suspect future books in the series will play that up more. Other than that, it is a fun tale of a "terrible, horrible, very bad day" in Alaska. (less)
Well done! This is a really nice example of the courthouse/ lawyer genre. There are lots of reviews already out there on it, so I won't repeat most of...moreWell done! This is a really nice example of the courthouse/ lawyer genre. There are lots of reviews already out there on it, so I won't repeat most of them. I somehow missed the hype around this, but will just add my name to the list of those who couldn't put it down. (less)
This is a well-done biography of Steinbrenner, and I walk away thinking we have perhaps recently been engaged in bit of revisionist history about him....moreThis is a well-done biography of Steinbrenner, and I walk away thinking we have perhaps recently been engaged in bit of revisionist history about him.
Without hammering the reader, the parade of GM after GM, manager after manager, and insane rant after insane rant reminds us that Steinbrenner really was a bully. Most baseball followers know the higher visibility dealings with Billy Martin and the string of managers, but some of the details of other staff are amazing. He made an employee carry a bag of garbage around with him all day after he saw it not picked up from the suites. He threatened to fire people because it was raining and a game was postponed.
Also, after he fired managers, he often then made overtures to get them back. Anyone ever work for a boss who was unpredictable, micromanaged, acted impulsively, and kept had a hair-trigger on the button to fire people? Ugh! Recent defenses that "he was a winner" don't make this right.
These views of Steinbrenner's character, however, are part of what makes this an interesting read (and it isn't a hatchet job). The book contains a lot of details and behind-the-scenes looks that I wasn't aware of (or was too young to appreciate). I think both Yankee lovers and haters will enjoy this book (although I find it hard to speak for the latter category, as a member of the former).(less)