pretty amusing, though uneven: the first part is wonderful, really; the second something of a farrago marked by somewhat shockingly uninformed externa...morepretty amusing, though uneven: the first part is wonderful, really; the second something of a farrago marked by somewhat shockingly uninformed external references). definitely went from having no desire whatsoever to hike to being willing to hike, sometime, maybe, so long as it's not very hot, as in under 22C probably, and i can just eat adderall instead of packing food, and we shoot anything and anyone we see, and there's neither large nor particularly slimy bugs. during the first sixty pages or so i was all like, "maybe i should take vacation and go hike the appalachian trail...i could do it. it starts in georgia, and so did i!" because that's the kind of person i am. then i remembered i've been engaged three or four times yet never married, and figured i should sit on this one for a minute.(less)
first off, is it just me, or shouldn't it be Capital, not Capitol? anyway...
plutarch? seneca? cato? it's a classics party and everyone's invited! not...morefirst off, is it just me, or shouldn't it be Capital, not Capitol? anyway...
plutarch? seneca? cato? it's a classics party and everyone's invited! not as good as the first book, Catching Fire really highlights Mrs. Collins's inability to build a convincing world. why were the victors allowed all that unsupervised free time between the Quell's announcement and the Reaping (remember that they were directly escorted from the Reaping in The Hunger Games)? what's with this ridiculous division of Districts into things like Textiles, Lumber and Agriculture on one hand (goods requiring minimal processing) and Electronics and Nukes on the other? Did District 13 also just happen to have all the advanced metallurgy and engineering necessary for a nuclear enterprise, not to mention the entire industrial infrastructure involved? Where's the Sulfuric Acid District? In what Composite Explosives District were the slow/fast shaped charges critical (pun intended) to an implosion weapon stirred? Where do the Capitol's mysterious hovercraft get their sheet metal? How will the 250mph trains, fences, and force fields be powered without electricity from the defunct Twelfth District's coal? Why is a society capable of manufacturing solar-powered deathray pistols still using VHS? Why doesn't the Electronics district conquer the Capitol by itself? Who makes all these cosmetics?
Why are there elaborate force fields to keep tributes from hurling themselves from buildings or cliffs, yet no one bats an eye at giving presumably suicidal people weapons and poisons? Where are the infinity of cameras required to get decent footage of these Games, which by the way seem pretty wholly unwatchable as a sporting event save for the moments of melee? If I wanted to watch people drink water from trees for hours on end...well, I don't know what I'd do, the desire having never occurred to me. What baroque rules exist regarding these silver parachutes and their dei ex machina? Surely after 75 years the theory and practice of Hunger Gaming have been debated ad nauseam; surely the Moneyball and The Science of Hitting of the Games have been written (if not for general District consumption, certainly by the TV announcers; the ideas would filter down eventually)? Why don't the Tributes ever use fire as a weapon (especially in book 1, when Katniss is up in that tree, but also at other points)?
Between 5% and 10% of the population is diabetic. Why hasn't anyone been tapping trees for insulin?
Also, let's face it, there's no way this kind of event goes on without some rape (some of it probably homosexual), or at least sex coerced for the lifetime of uneven alliances (same deal). Not a chance.
Societies without basic medical care or adequate food tend not to offer much of a life expectancy. Admittedly, Victors get fed better, but it's not as if they have access to dialysis machines or effective colorectal cancer screening. Call it a life expectancy of 50 on the generous side. There's been 75 Victors (73 from the first 73 years, 2 from the last); the youngest Victor ever was 14, and we can assume (and, I think, were told) that they were typically at the top of the age bracket. That's an expectation of 33 Victors still alive. Be super generous and call it, say, 47. That's 44 from the other 11 Districts. Assuming an equal probability of male and female Victors (pretty dubious -- we'd expect primarily male Victors -- but let's run with it), AND uniform distribution of Victors among the other 11 Districts (directly contradicted by the text, which favors 1, 2, and 4), you've got 22 males and 22 females for 11 Districts. The probability that not a single District has 4 male or 4 female Victors is a choose-without-replacement prob/stats problem left as an exercise for the review's reader, but not apparently considered by the book's author. That there was definitely not a uniform distribution of Victors renders the Quell's design only vanishingly satisfiable. I thought the Bible really jumped the shark when it brought in a virgin birth, and take similar issue with Catching Fire's math.
Finally, it's a bit hard to believe that Peeta could announce "she's pregnant" without some Cornelius Snow-funded doctor saying, "no she's not." It's not like District 12 has any CVSs at which one might pick up a First Response Early Result kit any damn way. You read the line and are like, "oh my! how clever and audacious!" but then you think about it for two seconds and remember he's a baker, not an obstetrician, and would in any sane world be called out on it.
Also, Gale's annoying, and Peeta is a godawful name. I liked ol' Beetee and even Mags, though, and Finnick is straight-up, and I'd take Johanna to Hunger Prom for sure.(less)
lots of fun! the last fifty pages dragged, though, and i'm not too excited about this love triangle that's been set up. i want more discussion of the...morelots of fun! the last fifty pages dragged, though, and i'm not too excited about this love triangle that's been set up. i want more discussion of the sociology of Panem and its history and such! we'll see how things go in the next two books.(less)
Pretty good! People who talk about "long passages of technical detail" either read a different book, or have a morbid fear of the scientific argot wit...morePretty good! People who talk about "long passages of technical detail" either read a different book, or have a morbid fear of the scientific argot without which it is simply impossible to tell a detailed story about engineers and researchers. a quote from the text is relevant:
"She had suffered from the divide in the English education system, which holds that scientists do not study Milton, and those who love Milton have no comprehension of Newton's gravity, which brought Lucifer tumbling down from the heavens."
which is a fantastic line both in its implicit comment on the creation of belief systems and mythos, and humanity's attitude towards that which is inward vs that which is outward (a theme developed richly by Danielle, a strong black female scientist lead character, and lord knows there's too few of those), and also in its summation of and reference to C. P. Snow's lecture The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution:
"A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is the scientific equivalent of: Have you read a work of Shakespeare's?"
Submergence is not a Tom Clancy level of technical detail, nor a Michael Crichton level. It's not even an old-skool Thomas Pynchon level, certainly not in terms of esoterica. There's nothing here an educated person has any excuse for not knowing. Oceanic gyres and the global thermohaline cycle? If you don't know these terms, you really probably shouldn't be talking about climate change. Chemosynthesis, hydrothermal vents, and bioluminescience? If you don't know these concepts, please don't talk about evolution or biodiversity (that includes "saving the rainforest (*)"). Manganese nodules? Somebody's going to work out a system to mine deep-sea polymetallic nodules, and start printing money, and earnest kids will begin wandering 8th Avenue agitating to put an end to deep-sea mining of polymetallic nodules. Russian light metal concerns escorted by missile cruisers will enforce their own territorial claims, and you'd better believe the Chinese will be in on the party. Position on the International Seabed Authority will become a sudden major focus of foreign policy of hip, forward-looking, manganese-hungry nations. Failure to understand seabed hydroxide concentrations implies ignorance of a hotbed issue in maritime relations over the next two decades, and you will either crack open an introductory earth science textbook, or go around thinking five Jewish bankers control all the world's rustproof steel.
Similarly, accusations of a "Bond novel" are nonsense. Yes, the male protagonist is an intelligence agent. There's no use of this in the plot (there isn't really much plot); Submerged is anything but a "thriller". On first response, I'd classify it in the Imagist tradition, with strong elements of novel-of-ideas. At times, especially when a paragraph ends with a question posed directly to the reader, there's strong stylistic hints of (of all things) House of Leaves.
With that said, the author is a writer for the Economist, and the book does at times read like the Economist did Special Reports on the aphotic zone and East African jihad, and one writer did both Reports in their entirety, and that correspondent was drinking steadily and quoting the opening scene of Apocalypse Now:
and a hard-pressed Economist editor was like, fuck it, throw it between the writeup of Honduran elections and our latest screed regarding ZANU-PF.
You won't come out of this book liking Somalis, especially Somali jihadists, any more than you did going in. That said, Somali jihadists were already trading pretty low on my personal exchange. Other reviewers have called it "orientalist" and "imperialist", which I (as an unapologetic Western Traditionalist) am really not qualified to judge , but this is no Heart of Darkness. Also, the guy who called it "stunningly orientalist" is currently (as of 2014-07-06) reading something called The End Of Capitalism As We Knew It A Feminist Critique of Political Economy. Assuming this isn't just a joke, we capitalists will be sure to address the contents during our next earnings call; either way, I'd take that rather hysterical criticism with a grain of salt.
some great quotes, too. worth reading.
(*) yes, the rainforest is also an important oxygen producer, but is not a meaningful long-term carbon sink in the absolute (though deforestation does account for a one-time release which makes up a significant portion of current greenhouse gas emissions). you can plant trees anywhere for oxygen value, and indeed one does (for carbon emission credits). the unique appeal of the rainforest is its tremendous biodiversity, though frankly most of that biodiversity is fucking terrifying. nuking the rainforest from orbit might really be our best bet.
found on the side of 31st street walking back from penn station. ummm, definitely no Ghost Wars (still the book of record for those interested in such...morefound on the side of 31st street walking back from penn station. ummm, definitely no Ghost Wars (still the book of record for those interested in such things). not much detail regarding...anything, really, save perhaps the office politics and side affairs of john o' neill.(less)
read on the plane from NYC to Savannah. it was alright, though parts felt unsubstantiated (note to author: please don't quote scientific studies and T...moreread on the plane from NYC to Savannah. it was alright, though parts felt unsubstantiated (note to author: please don't quote scientific studies and Taoist philosophers on the same page, treating them as equally valid sources), and two- and three-page chapters are a bit much in peacetime, and you don't have to keep throwing "cunnilinguist" in quotation marks after you've introduced it the first time.(less)
there are roughly 40,000 books which cover this material better, with less nonsense, fewer insipid metaphors, and no appeals to assumed judeo-christia...morethere are roughly 40,000 books which cover this material better, with less nonsense, fewer insipid metaphors, and no appeals to assumed judeo-christian sympathies.(less)
this series is officially not very good. what did we get in book 5?
- bran continues to suck, but disappears mid-book, a mercy - arya's story ceases s...morethis series is officially not very good. what did we get in book 5?
- bran continues to suck, but disappears mid-book, a mercy - arya's story ceases sucking, but arya as a character is gone; what's cool about arya now is the ender's game-like mythos and tone of the house of a thousand faces, which latter was used in a mid-90s cypress hill lyric. you could have taken a totally new character, lost the entire arya storyline to now, given her a list of people to kill, and the house of a thousand faces would be just as fascinating. it's good storytelling. arya was not. - the tyrion plotline's credibility is in free fall - cersei does nothing - jamie does nothing - the "character dies to end chapter....surprise they didn't!" technique is used multiple times - we get it, swords/dicks, hahahaha, please stop it - lots of words about dany, none of which end up mattering - jon snow is thankfully killed after hundreds of pages of boring crap, but probably he's not really dead! because that's happening now! - lots of ships, none of which matter
who cares at this point? is there any possible "ending"? regicide, royal wars, famine and rigid caste systems were the rule for most of human history. what i'd like to see in book 6 is a goddamn engineer working out an internal combustion engine and saying, "look we don't have to wallow in shit anymore, time to build a real economy, let's do some genetic engineering on those dragons and test cosmetics on them, the end." but i'm predicting another few thousand pages of flat characters and logorrhea.
everyone who pushed this series on me can suck it.(less)
what a mess that was (the buildup in vietnam, not Secrets). this reads like an informed moral justification for ellsberg's security violations more th...morewhat a mess that was (the buildup in vietnam, not Secrets). this reads like an informed moral justification for ellsberg's security violations more than anything, though, which is certainly going to result in a biased view. more interesting for large-scale analysis of decision making than details (for the latter, consult e.g. stanley kurnow's Vietnam).(less)
fun, with some gem anecdotes, but very superficial. worth reading if you (like me) loved liar's poker, or (also like me) have just moved to NYC, lured...morefun, with some gem anecdotes, but very superficial. worth reading if you (like me) loved liar's poker, or (also like me) have just moved to NYC, lured by gobs of money, and need to make sure you look around now and again. you certainly won't learn anything about banking or finance.(less)
best book of the series thus far, despite no direct daenerys. arya stops sucking (who'd have thought?), we get cersei chapters (and they're just as go...morebest book of the series thus far, despite no direct daenerys. arya stops sucking (who'd have thought?), we get cersei chapters (and they're just as good as we'd hope), Casso the King of Seals emerges in all his grandeur, brienne has a rough time of it, margaery has a rough time of it, etc. plus no horrible Bran, though i understand he comes back in the next book :/. ending on a samwell chapter was a bit of a downer. catelyn, catelyn, what is this bullshit?
publication bitching: the back copy has moved from "masterpiece of imaginative literature" to "redefined imaginative literature", which as Big Ghost might say is some straight up eye-rolling shit, b (come to think of it, plenty of the Hands of Zeus' review of Drake's Take Care could be said about the Song of Ice and Fire(*)). when you sell me a box set, you needn't reproduce the same 50 page appendix in all five books, and "special previews" of the next book seem likewise gratuitous.
i've plowed through these first four books in about twelve days, but i don't really think i'm going to do the fifth one right away. i seriously can't take Bran.
vocab! lichyard - a graveyard linden - one of three English names for the tree genus Tilia, also known as lime and basswood quintain - mechanized lance/jousting games
(*) "I dont even know what to say b. Like forreal…after hearin this shit...I wouldnt be surprised if this nigga could pollinate a flower wit his fuckin breath son. Im pretty sure that son gets up in the morning n plays his harp for his cats n then slides down the muthafuckin banister in his satin man nightie n has a full glass of breast milk before he goes to the studio n hammers out some pooned out shit like this b." indeed. go read that review.(less)
first off, the back text is preposterous: "destined to be regarded as a masterpiece of imaginative literature" or somesuch. Italo Calvino wrote master...morefirst off, the back text is preposterous: "destined to be regarded as a masterpiece of imaginative literature" or somesuch. Italo Calvino wrote masterpieces of imaginative literature. Georges Perec wrote them in France; Mikhail Bulgakov wrote one in Soviet Russia, burned it, and wrote it back out from memory. Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges sometimes wrote several a day in Argentina, and there's a case to be made that Mark Z. Danielewski wrote one on the internet, or something, though it could have used an editor and the typography was at times really just too fucking much.
George R. R. Martin is not Italo Calvino. George R. R. Martin is not Thomas Pynchon or even Margaret Atwood. George R. R. Martin doesn't build characters as compelling as Marion Zimmer Bradley, setting as detailed and memorable as Tolkien (and I hated Tolkien), or plots as gripping as Michael Crichton. At this point we've moved well beyond "imaginative masterpieces". If you put a spear to my throat and demanded comparison to a "serious" writer, George R. R. Martin is Ayn Rand. I can't imagine these books continuing to be a phenomenon in any kind of long term. Anyway!
Poor Ygritte :/. She was my favorite character of the series so far, and we knew her such a short time. Brienne was better in the books than on the show. Jamie and Cersei are hot together, and both are solid characters. Joffrey seemed a much less major character in the books. Bran and everyone around him are the worst characters since everyone in Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and from now on I will skip to the end of his chapters upon first encountering the word "hodor". What would be great is if a raven came down from the North bearing the message, "Bran and his friends, even Hodor, have been eaten by a kraken", and everyone said "who the fuck is brad and what is a hodor?", and they were never mentioned again.
Arya continues her best impression of a space-filling curve, with predictably verbose results. I was glad to see Catelyn go -- the Starks are insufferable as a clan. Her reappearance in the last pages seemed misguided at best. Daenerys remains fascinating, in the way ass-kicking desert princesses with adolescent dragons are fascinating no matter how they're bolted onto the side of a plot. Tywin Lannister was a study, righteous dude, and it'll be interesting to see how Tyrion plays his hand.
But man, I'm sad about Ygritte. You know nothing, Jon Snow!
This book had the best lines of the series thus far, though (at just over the 3000 page mark) we still have yet to come across a truly inspired passage. And, for the first time, this book taught two new vocabulary words:
chalcedony - A cryptocrystalline form of silica, composed of very fine intergrowths of the minerals quartz and moganite. These are both silica minerals, but they differ in that quartz has a trigonal crystal structure, while moganite is monoclinic. The fattest Dothraki Jaime had ever seen was sitting on the Mother’s chest when they rode up, prying out her chalcedony eyes with the point of his knife.
pinnace - A small vessel used as a tender to larger vessels amongst other things. Jarl had looped his rope around a wind-carved pinnace and was using it to support his weight when the whole jagged thing suddenly crumbled and came crashing down, and him with it. Note that Martin doesn't use the term anything like its common (if esoteric) English definition. I don't have my OED2 here in NYC, and can't look it up further. I think he possibly just fucked up "pinnacle"?
executive summary: way too long. you can skip bran and miss nothing at all. still don't understand the hype around these books AT ALL.(less)
better than the first book, but man, I am at the point of audibly whimpering whenever a new chapter starts with the word BRAN. don't care done care co...morebetter than the first book, but man, I am at the point of audibly whimpering whenever a new chapter starts with the word BRAN. don't care done care could not care less seriously Hodor are we really doing this hate hate hate.
first off, how do you write 800 pages and not teach me a single new word you didn't make up? passable, but (much like the show) i don't understand wha...morefirst off, how do you write 800 pages and not teach me a single new word you didn't make up? passable, but (much like the show) i don't understand what the big deal is. it's better than john grisham, but it's not as good as tom clancy, and probably not as good as j.k. rowling. the five-volume massmarket paperback set (ordered from amazon mainly so i could get free shipping on a 4-pack of 3M Command™ Large Picture-Hanging Strips) threatens to collapse under the burden of its own gravity. bran is a terrible, terrible character. we need chapters from all the lannisters. sansa is a parody of a terrible character. dramatis personæ, Bantam Books, are typically printed in the front, not renamed "appendices" and stuck in the back sans reference.
having seen the show, i'm sure not looking forward to a bunch of brianne garbage in these next four volumes. honestly i'm just not looking forward to several thousand more pages of this, at all. also, i feel like a douchebag reading it in public, especially when people are like "bro i loved those" and i'm like i'm not one of you ahughgugh. fantasy has got to be the worst genre ever, right up there with anne geddes table books.
unfortunately, these things seem certain to show up in bar trivia for the next few years, and i'm thus obligated to read them. when you play the game of bar trivia, you either win, or you die.(less)
this was like NPR in printed form, and felt intended to be read in that medium. the potato chapter was great, the marijuana chapter irritating, the tu...morethis was like NPR in printed form, and felt intended to be read in that medium. the potato chapter was great, the marijuana chapter irritating, the tulip chapter needlessly verbose (but full of some of the book's best trivia), the apple chapter...quixotic. it's all grotesquely bucolic, and the lack of any synthesis at the end left me underwhelmed. short, and by all means worth reading if it's all you have available.(less)
wow. definitely Lewis's best book since Moneyball or Liar's Poker, though I'm waiting to talk to some high-frequency trading friends before i make fin...morewow. definitely Lewis's best book since Moneyball or Liar's Poker, though I'm waiting to talk to some high-frequency trading friends before i make final judgments. definitely a hell of a book to read here in Lower Manhattan, in the shadow of Wall Street, before going in for an interview at Goldman Sachs. lots of great quotes and superb little vignettes and character studies (the hallmark of Michael Lewis reporting). quite a bit seemed to have been recycled from his pieces for Vanity Fair over the past few years, though (the chapter about Sergey Aleyniko definitely lifted some material directly from VF).
fwiw, a friend of mine at Virtu Financial (who admits being heavily biased, as Virtu is one of the firms called out as exploitative) says that "Lewis's ignorance of how the markets really work made [the friend] sick to his stomach," and couldn't finish the book. so, take things with a grain of salt for now. from my own standpoint, some of Lewis's technological comments seemed ludicrous (passwords in one's bash history? what?). nonetheless, fascinating.
update so i talked to some coworkers who were at Two Sigma (another HFT firm), and they had some pretty good counterarguments, mainly that spreads have been tightened almost to zero, and that many techniques are simply the logical conclusion of natural trading, and have simply made intractable bad practice. both concluded, however, with the statement that "the street is a horrible place, and they are all sharks."
really enjoyable for its details regarding the development of loop quantum gravity; not so good regarding the scientific details. kind of a pop scienc...morereally enjoyable for its details regarding the development of loop quantum gravity; not so good regarding the scientific details. kind of a pop science companion to Schild's Ladder.(less)
the best popular rendition of string theory and supersymmetry i've read (leagues better than kaku's hyperspace) etc, though most definitely pop scienc...morethe best popular rendition of string theory and supersymmetry i've read (leagues better than kaku's hyperspace) etc, though most definitely pop science. probably best to read this along with some anti-string material, e.g. smolin.(less)
Kind of a letdown compared to the first two books of the trilogy, especially since anyone who's read Churchill's six-volume history of WWII has read a...moreKind of a letdown compared to the first two books of the trilogy, especially since anyone who's read Churchill's six-volume history of WWII has read a great deal of what's available here.(less)
i've bought this guy's beautiful poster twice (http://periodictable.com/Posters/Post...); you can see it in my atlanta condo's technical bay (http://n...morei've bought this guy's beautiful poster twice (http://periodictable.com/Posters/Post...); you can see it in my atlanta condo's technical bay (http://nick-black.com/dankwiki/index....). so, when i saw this sitting around at google, i picked it up and read it through. the pictures and printing are stunning, and it's one of the most perfect coffee tables i've ever seen. i deduct two stars, however, due to wasting a quarter of every recto page on highly repetitive graphics, redundant in and of themselves (if you're going to do a pigeonhole representation of electron positions, you don't also need do a pictorial s-d-p-f representation, which latter isn't even meaningful in the first place, argh). i like the spectral display for each element, but including actual wavelengths along with color would have been nice. common compounds of each element could have occupied some of this space much more effectively. there's a very heavy emphasis on metallurgy and mechanical engineering in the way-too-short writeups. most elements' nomenclature is explained, but not all. if you wanted to know that carbon* derives its named from latin carbo (coal), you'll have to look elsewhere.
i was really surprised that certain basic weirdnesses of the Table (increases of atomic number corresponding to decreases in mass, the science behind state transitions, which are the least/most for any number of properties, etc.).
the bibliography is unspeakably wretched, and no citations are supplied. you're buying this for the pictures, plain and simple.
it turns out the author works at wolfram research, take that for whatever it's worth, if anything (if the words A New Kind of Science mean nothing to you, just ignore this).
overall, a beautiful book with much less impressive text, though i dig enjoy his constant vituperation regarding incandescent light bulbs.
* note that he does bother to explain that, e.g., europium is named after europe, which i'd rather hope one could figure out, or is in any case less than a question of "carbon" which i suppose one could think meant "good car" or something. either way i don't think anyone so stupid is reading about europium.(less)
i'm gonna give george saunders two more chances, and that's it. yeah, we get it. you don't like commercaials. none of us do. stop being a pretentious...morei'm gonna give george saunders two more chances, and that's it. yeah, we get it. you don't like commercaials. none of us do. stop being a pretentious douchebag, dude; you teach at syracuse. last time i checked, GT beat you 56-0 in 2013 ACC football, and we barely know the english alphabet. NYPL checkout.(less)