Not so much a biography of Licklider as an accessible history of computing -- especially the one-off (ENIAC, EDVAC, Illiac, ad nauseam) era -- tied to...moreNot so much a biography of Licklider as an accessible history of computing -- especially the one-off (ENIAC, EDVAC, Illiac, ad nauseam) era -- tied together by Licklider's story (Waldrop leaves him for dozens of pages at a time, especially to cover the von Neumann/Eckley/Mauch early days, and later again regarding Xerox PARC). Less dense than From Whirlwind to MITRE and less slapdash than Where Wizards Stay Up Late, it's probably the best single pop history of computing I've come across. With that said, while it's technically and historically excellent, it alludes to rather than possesses verve; look to The Soul of a New Machine to really truly grok what drives we lucky folk, the music-makers and dreamers of dreams, the hackers.(less)
Before I head off to Google in NYC next February, I'm doing three months of contract work for a Java shop in Atlanta. I picked this up to refresh my J...moreBefore I head off to Google in NYC next February, I'm doing three months of contract work for a Java shop in Atlanta. I picked this up to refresh my Java skills, which have grown rusty in the decade-plus since taking and then TA'ing the Java-based Introduction to Computer Science as a freshman at GT. A quick and useful guide in the line of Scott Meyers's Effective C++ and More Effective C++, on which Mr. Bloch seems to have consciously based his book.(less)
a pretty big goddamn book, but easily read in a day. ok so first off am i the only person who noticed that the logo imprinted on the Dome's generator...morea pretty big goddamn book, but easily read in a day. ok so first off am i the only person who noticed that the logo imprinted on the Dome's generator is the same glyph as that rendered on It's lair in It? check it, Faithful Readers:
same mysterious-ass alien who-knows-what. some planet really has it in for the Pine Tree State. the version in Under the Dome is rendered less gracefully, with broader strokes, than that in It, which pretty well sums up UTD -- same plot of enigmatic xenoforce hits small town Maine, same kaleidoscope of characters, same band of Losers saving the unknowing, uncaring town from a rot confined to the declared geographic limits of incorporation, Rennie Junior replacing Henry Bowers, same godawful problems with ending and anticlimactic revelations, hell the town explodes at the end of each book -- but while It was replete with beautiful touches of character and backstory, all we get in Under the Dome are some horrible caricatures of conservatives (spending most of their time either insulting Obama or praising Jesus), some pages about somebody not stopping an execution in Fallujah, and aliens having their heartstrings pulled by a plucky newspaperwoman's story about a bad day she had at school (in It, a bad day at school means a homosexual encounter with a psychopath followed by flying maggots exploding in your mouth. In Under the Dome, you don't even necessarily get your ass kicked).
I did like the Chef's tweeked-out lectures:
'In the Garden of Eden there was a Tree,' Chef said, passing him the pipe. Tendrils of green smoke drifted from both ends. 'The Tree of Good and Evil. Dig that shit?'
'Yes. It's in the Bible.'
'Bet your jackdog. And on that Tree was an Apple.'
'Right, right.' Andy took a puff so small it was actually a sip. He wanted more—he wanted it all— but feared that if he helped himself to a deep lungful, his head would explode off his neck and fly around the lab like a rocket, shooting fiery exhaust from its stump.
'The flesh of that Apple is Truth, and the skin of that Apple is Meth,' Chef said.
but the Chef and the skateboarding whizkids (though I'd hope no self-respecting young male hacker would really use a Mac) straight out of Hackers were about all that was really good here.
not as good as the first book in the trilogy (The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt), but then it's hard to imagine how that would be possible. less punch-ou...morenot as good as the first book in the trilogy (The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt), but then it's hard to imagine how that would be possible. less punch-out narrative here, likely because even so ursine a character as the Knickerbocker can't get away as President with all the roughhousing of a free citizen, l'outrance qui est dans sa nature notwithstanding. there's also a wider cast of characters here, despite fewer pages; they tend to enter, drive disparate drama for a score of pages, and leave. i was forced to turn to the index several times, which never happened in volume 1. still, well worth reading by any measure, though more on the level of Caro's LBJ books (though at least here you're assured conclusion of the work, whereas we're all wondering whether Caro will last through the fifth volume of The Years of Lyndon Johnson).
i'd summarize by saying that The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt is required reading for all people, whereas Theodore Rex is optional, though i doubt anyone who reads the first volume will skip this one. i'm a bit worried about the third volume, though it's definitely in the on-deck circle.(less)
great practical guide, lots of fun to read on the subway. probably a better book to carry around in one's professional life than CLR, though it lacks...moregreat practical guide, lots of fun to read on the subway. probably a better book to carry around in one's professional life than CLR, though it lacks some of the theoretical intensity of the Big White Book. i'm interviewing with Google and Amazon this week and picked it up to refresh myself on graph algorithms and strategies for NP-complete problems, and it delivered, with perhaps greater effect (and certainly less time) than rereading Algorithmic Graph Theory and The Theory of NP Completeness.(less)
pretty solid, but more pop sociology than pop science (what the hell is "feminist medicine"?). don't go in expecting much in the way of chemical analy...morepretty solid, but more pop sociology than pop science (what the hell is "feminist medicine"?). don't go in expecting much in the way of chemical analyses, despite the central tenet that the vast majority of drugs which have meant to replace amphetamines are mere amphetamine cores with (patentable) Ready Whip-like candy toppings. don't expect much in the way of neurophysiology or neuropharmaceutical theory either. i'd have enjoyed seeing things like the expression of serotonin reuptake inhibition and dopamine release in theoretical neuroscientific models. no such luck! a quick, fun read, though.(less)
this would get 4 stars if the history of atomic weapons wasn't already so incredibly well-covered by a variety of other books. had the author held thi...morethis would get 4 stars if the history of atomic weapons wasn't already so incredibly well-covered by a variety of other books. had the author held things to the Demascus, Arkansas incident, it also would probably get 4 stars. instead, he alternates chapters of his very well-researched, Sy Hersh-esque Demascus exposé with more general chapters, which while perhaps a nice introduction to the field, won't be anything new for the likely purchasing demographic (obsessive guys who traded in their Clancy for Rhodes and line their libraries with all things nuclear). worth reading for Damascus, though, the tales of life in the silos and command complexes, and the solid coverage of Titan II fueling and maintenance. bibliography is kinda lacking.(less)
BillC wrote a preview for every one of 125 FBS teams this year over at SBNation, vying quite candidly to become the Bill James of college football. St...moreBillC wrote a preview for every one of 125 FBS teams this year over at SBNation, vying quite candidly to become the Bill James of college football. Statistical innovations with which he is affiliated include F/+, PPP, and Success Rate, as well as the general movement towards opposition-weighted numbers. His essay to launch this year's season, "It's Personal: Why we love the silly, irrational, ridiculous, beautiful world of college football" was one of the finest pieces regarding my favorite game I've ever read(*):
We hang around, join arms, and sing the alma mater after the game. We think we're trying to set an example for others, but really we just do it because it feels good and we don't want to leave the stadium yet. We eventually make the weary walk back uphill for liquids, brownies and some general lingering. We are hoarse, tired and dehydrated. Some have to make a two-hour drive east or west to get home.
Maybe you grew up in a large metropolitan area, where pro football is king. Maybe you attended a school that was smaller or more prestigious (and less football-inclined). Or maybe you simply grew up in an area of the country that doesn't give a damn about college football. You may like pro football more than college - plenty do - but you aren't me. When you grow up in an area obsessed with this sport, and when you take in the collegiate game day experience enough, it becomes a large portion of your identity, more than perhaps any other sport in this country. You cannot fathom another way to spend autumn Saturdays. You get nervous when friends announce they're getting married in September. Cracking open a beer at 8:00 a.m. is, on Saturdays, completely defensible. Driving 12 hours round trip for a big conference game? Not only logical, but necessary. NFL fans who say things like "Well, I don't really follow college football..." make you question both their integrity and their morals. You perhaps cannot justify some of college sports' shadier dealings, but you believe there is enough good to outweigh the bad, and it is difficult to imagine what might change that.
NFL fans who say things like "Well, I don't really follow college football..." make you question both their integrity and their morals. i could not agree more.
so i was expecting a lot from this book, but felt kinda let down (then again, for $12, not so much). maybe i just expected my Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to get more than two lines, one relegated to a footnote. i started the book still soaking wet from watching us beat UNC at the Flats a.k.a Historic Grant Field at Bobby Dodd Stadium (NCAA's oldest continuously-used facility, where I've been a season ticket holder since my freshman days back in 1998), voice gone, reveling in a 3-0 start and what looks like the best GT team since at least 2009...but I digress. There's a lot of emphasis on interviews of other writers and coaches (primarily coaches who shot their bolt in the last decade---you'll not find Mr. Saban quoted here at any length), but these quips are used haphazardly and without great effect. Connelly is best when basing his conclusions on deft use of innovative stats, and many of his best contributions shine through in the form of tabular data. I was hoping for quite a bit more insight from chapter 13, "Beating and Becoming Goliath", particularly more detail on recruiting at academically intense schools (obviously of relevance to my Engineers) and player/scheme development. Protean offenses like that of Jim Grobe's at Wake Forest are dealt with in summary fashion---yes, we all know Riley Skinner led to adoption of a pass-heavy attack after years of the wishbone, but how? what pressures did this put on an O-line and wideout corps recruited for a ground game? etc.
The best chapters are 7 and 8, "The New Box Score" and "Advanced Stats 101". Here, Connelly plays to his strengths, deftly analyzing several big games from the past lustrum replete with oodles of insight. His arguments for counting sacks against passing yards (already done in the NFL), looking past time-of-possession, and the need to account for tempo are clearly and convincingly presented. Lots of good data here.
Also, I learned that the Colorado School of Mines' team is the "Orediggers."
(*) Diane Roberts did us all a service with her "Game of Tribes" a fortnight later:
During a 1960 road trip, John Steinbeck observed: “Sectional football games have the glory and the despair of war, and when a Texas team takes the field against a foreign state, it is an army with banners.” By “foreign state,” Steinbeck means Arkansas. Or Louisiana. But it could as easily be a team from a couple of counties away. When Georgia and Georgia Tech played for the first time, in 1893, it was like the Orange Order marching down the Garvaghy Road or the Kosovars versus the Serbs: Georgia fans hurled rocks from a newly plowed field at Yellowjacket players...It’s not that Michigan or Minnesota or Arizona or Oregon isn’t just as crazy for college ball as the next ESPN-U subscriber, it’s just that the South, the land of the Hatfields and the McCoys, has this highly developed vocabulary for “us” versus “them.” Who the hell are we? If you tailgate in the Grove, the answer is, of course, flim-flam, bim-bam, Ole Miss, by damn! At Georgia Tech, you’re a helluva helluva hell of an engineer! even if you majored in economics. In Gainesville, when the Pride of the Sunshine marching band plays the theme from Jaws, you extend your arms, one on top of the other, palms facing, and slowly move your hands together and apart, affirming your Gatordom. This is your tribe; these are your people; you belong to a nation with invisible borders.
i generally establish whether a girl has read pride and prejudice early on. if she hasn't read it, bu...morehilarious and touching. fun for the whole family.
i generally establish whether a girl has read pride and prejudice early on. if she hasn't read it, but i take her out again anyway, i point out that i'm doing it against my better instincts. once amidst an anguishly-texted breakup i received the message, "it always lingered in my mind that you said you wouldn't typically date a girl who hadn't read pride and prejudice. you never thought i was smart enough." to which i responded, "if you were worried about that why didn't you just read the book in four months." that elicited a "you're an asshole" and my "well you're no elizabeth bennett honey". the pause that followed was, i assume, one-half wikipedia and one-half cold stone girlrage. checkmate!
this is not austen's best book(*) (ordering the Austens has been a favorite parlor sport for over a century, played by Wilson and Nabakov with great verve), but it's good enough if you're only gonna read one, and probably the most useful in terms of common cultural heritage.
(*) as anyone with a lick of taste knows, her best book was Clueless(less)
weird story: i lost my first copy of this book in either publix or a package store. i went back to the publix and was like, "do you have my book? it's...moreweird story: i lost my first copy of this book in either publix or a package store. i went back to the publix and was like, "do you have my book? it's a grey hardback named berlin diary." and they rummaged around and asked, "what'd you say it was?" "berlin diary," leaning over the counter like one approaches catfish aquaculture, establishing a physical presence. "no dust jacket. grey hardback."
"nah it's called private berlin." stare "no i'm pretty sure it's called berlin diary. it's by william shirer. i mean, i'm certain it is called berlin diary." "well i'm certain it's called private berlin." she fends me off with a black hardback, private berlin by james patterson. "ahhh. my good woman, while this book does indeed also have the word berlin in the title, it is a different book entirely, lost by someone else. with some hesitation i also point out that this is black, and i specified a grey hardback." shestare "i mean if the title had matched my specification i wouldn't have cared about the color. it's unlikely that two different editions of berlin diary would be lost in this publix--everyone does love hitler, i guess--but yeah, none of the facts here checked out." i felt like the most autistic person on earth. she evaluated me with steady, hard eyes. "i appreciate it, though! i mean, definitely i'm not criticizing your effort or, like, chastising you for wasting my time producing that james patterson novel." my soul burnt with the fire of asshole. what the hell is wrong with me. "haha maybe there's some guy out there wondering why his novel of psychological crime or--spies, does james patterson write about spies? i'm unsure--has switched to the format of a correspondent's diary and what the hell all these Stukas are doing in the air, haha." failure. "that's cool thank you maybe i'll come again tomorrow. i think i left it by the salmon maybe." by this time i was already hastily retreating. fifteen minutes until wapner!
so that's a quick insight into the socioreading life of nick black.
anyway, this serves as source material where applicable for The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, which is probably where you heard of it in the first place. these diaries are pretty much expanded upon and annotated for [The Nightmare Years], and between those two works, you get almost everything you find here.
when shirer is riding along with the german front in May 1940 through the Ardennes and Low Countries, he's given some evacuated city dweller's apartment or home. invariably he bitches long and hard about the "disgusting bourgeois furniture of the departed owners", generally right before launching into a jeremiad about Germany's illicit violation of "sacred neutralities" and "willingness to perpetuate terror on this innocent population". certainly there's a lot to criticize in german foreign policy of the war years, but you can't help but think shirer believes the armies of Leopold I would have fought a bit longer, gone the extra mile to blow a few more bridges, if they'd taken their decorating cues from Bauhaus-University Weimar and had a few cantilever chairs at home worth fighting for.
interactions with the Wehrmacht generally ran rather worse than free transport and lodging, so it's hard to feel overmuch sympathy for shirer. (less)
A smart book that doesn't really go anywhere. Lots of interesting ideas at the level of a TEDtalk--i.e. a book that makes you sit up and say "hrmmmmmm...moreA smart book that doesn't really go anywhere. Lots of interesting ideas at the level of a TEDtalk--i.e. a book that makes you sit up and say "hrmmmmmm!" but then you think about it for a few seconds and realize things are full of holes (and thus a grand book for pretentious literary types without much formal training). Owes a tremendous debt to Pynchon, especially The Crying of Lot 49, which is made explicit by a roaming, destructive glacier (a clear homage to the giant adenoid from Gravity's Rainbow). A fun read, with fewer scientific mistakes than most books of its kind. Starts off better than it ends and doesn't really wrap up some/most of its plotlines, but neither does it invest heavily enough in them to piss you off.(less)
A spectacular end to the Border Trilogy, and a book that would have stood on its own merits had All the Pretty Horses and The Crossing not have been w...moreA spectacular end to the Border Trilogy, and a book that would have stood on its own merits had All the Pretty Horses and The Crossing not have been written. That said, I don't care if I never read another page about caballos, at least not for several years.(less)
Part two of the The Border Trilogy, read in the Everyman's text. Wish I'd known more Spanish for this one. Of course, the McCarthy Society has put out...morePart two of the The Border Trilogy, read in the Everyman's text. Wish I'd known more Spanish for this one. Of course, the McCarthy Society has put out translations, but cutting away to a PDF rather takes away from the experience of reading fiction, and furthermore wrecks the sense of mystique I feel McCarthy to be aiming for with his digressions into español. Great, probably better than All the Pretty Horses in parts, but (unlike any other McCarthy I've read) felt a bit longer than it needed to be. Then again, a thousand pages of Cormac is a heavy load to take on in a week. I'm not sure it would have stood well on its lonesome. Looking forward to Cities of the Plain!
text: everyman library's collected Border Trilogy. Much better than the Road but no Blood Meridian, but then again, what is? Looking forward to The Cr...moretext: everyman library's collected Border Trilogy. Much better than the Road but no Blood Meridian, but then again, what is? Looking forward to The Crossing and Cities of the Plain.(less)
Written in the 1980's, well after Shirer's place in journalistic history had been cemented with The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Reads largely as...moreWritten in the 1980's, well after Shirer's place in journalistic history had been cemented with The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Reads largely as an expanded, annotated version of his Berlin Diaries, which are at times extensively quoted. Given that some of this material was also reproduced in Rise and Fall, this is the third time reading it for the dedicated Shirerist. This book covers almost the same period as Berlin Diaries (the first fifty pages or so, covering Shirer's early Chicago Tribune work in Kabul, is entirely new), and follows that text fairly closely, primarily adding background regarding the nascent radio broadcasting industry, some gossip about CBS/Hearst affiliates, and a generous helping of leftist hokum that wouldn't have flown in Shirer's earlier, more rigorously journalistic work.(less)
so the content here (and my god but there's a lot of it) is of a superior quality. i went into this somewhat suspicious of john updike, Champion Liter...moreso the content here (and my god but there's a lot of it) is of a superior quality. i went into this somewhat suspicious of john updike, Champion Literary Phallocrat, given DFW's enmity in the NYO and especially that abominable cover picture, which quite aside from being a dead ringer for john kerry, is simply the new england faggiest thing upon which my eyes've ever lain (odd for a man whose question for "one neighbor's wife" in interviews with insufficiently famous americans (an otherwise choice essay in the superb first collection of this volume) is, "what does your pussy look like?", and for whom impotence is secondary only to The Ineluctably Calamitous Loss of John Updike in terms of threats to grand Western Civilization)--who sneaks a goddamn boat into the Olan Mills booth? but i digress. then again, I've read one-half of the Rabbit tetralogy (the two on the ends: to answer your inevitable question, because those are the two i had available), and thought them ultramegaok if not ultramegaok-tothemax.
well, this is all of the highest calibre. man updike has a vocabulary to envy (i only learned from this book deliquesce, which i see myself using at least once a day from now on), though i suppose he does have all that time sitting in boats along stormy new england, pondering pussies and looking like an undeservedly wealthy massachusetts stalinist scion who couldn't even beat george w. freakin' pigs-trotters-for-brains bush--sorry! the biggest problem with the book's contents are the sheer catholicism of mr. updike, and his unnerving recall (keep in mind always that these essays were written in the antepedian era, the long long ago of easy reference). it's one thing to read 30 pages of anne tyler reviews, having never read mrs. tyler nor spent more than a week in baltimore; it's quite another to realize that these reviews expect casual conversance with all of mrs. tyler's previous work, the history of baltimore, eudamnsure eudora welty and i mean all the eudora welty, controversies involved in awarding the O'Henry Prize and two baseball players to be named later. i don't care to be reminded that there are people fundamentally better read than i'll ever be, and updike can't really help but do that. the major problem is that this hefty tome, easily had used in a bludgeoning hardback for less than $10 from amazon, will inspire several hundred dollars of further book purchases and back up your queue for god knows how long. not such a problem, i suppose.
sorry kids, there'll be no christmas this year! here's the collected stories of Günter Grass. my advice is that you get a good dictionary and some serious volumes on german aesthetics. Sturm und drang, ahoy!(less)
As Amar Pai notes in his review, most of this is old hat to anyone who's paid attention to their undergraduate computer science curriculum and the pop...moreAs Amar Pai notes in his review, most of this is old hat to anyone who's paid attention to their undergraduate computer science curriculum and the pop math of the past 20 years. That said, it's exquisite writing, a wonderful intro for anyone new to computability, and has absolutely lovely digressions (often clearly offset as such). I found the material on computing via chaos via method of linear transforms new and fascinating. As Amar also notes, the title is kind of misleading; I was expecting a good bit more "nature" in this book. Still, well worth reading (you'll tear through it if you've got a sufficiently technical background; I read two-thirds of it waiting to meet my probation officer), and a charmingly deceptive book to leave out on the coffee table--softies will pick it up and actually learn something.(less)
5 stars for pictures, 1 star for text. I think this was pitched at the six-to-eight-year-old cohort, so I'm likely being a bit ungracious with that la...more5 stars for pictures, 1 star for text. I think this was pitched at the six-to-eight-year-old cohort, so I'm likely being a bit ungracious with that latter. Then again, I refuse to give more than a star to a book which begins every page with an italicized, 18pt direct excerpt from the page's text.(less)