Though it took me a while to adjust to the language of young Jack's perspective, I found it fascinating — and true? At least it feels true that a fiveThough it took me a while to adjust to the language of young Jack's perspective, I found it fascinating — and true? At least it feels true that a five-year-old would be comforted by routine, that they'd have a nervous tic, that they'd be constantly confused by their literal interpretation of idioms, and that they'd cross-reference everything you say against everything else you've ever said. It seems right a child like Jack would listen to every word — even the words you're sure they're not listening to — and hold onto them and chew on them and regurgitate them when and how you least expect it. With some lapses, I think Donoghue did a great job of capturing what it might be like inside that head, filling in the vast gaps of thought between the sentences children actually say. I enjoyed being there.
There are also parts of this book that I reacted to quite viscerally; my stomach sank and my heart raced and couldn't stop reading. That's rare for me, and it was a treat.
That said, Jack is really the bread and butter (and butter knife and plate) of this book; the plot and all the other characters, such as they are, exist mainly to give him stuff to react to. There's nothing wrong with that, but it makes this book into a particular sort of thought exercise, and not anything greater.
If I'm nitpicking and high-horsing, there are also a few bits about how babies are born that reflect popular but incorrect assumptions. As a mother, I would have expected Donoghue to know better.
Oh well. What I think she gets right, more importantly, is that children thrive on love, and as long as they are loved, even the worst of worlds can be the one that feels like home....more
Vonnegut is one of those authors I should have been reading all my life because he captures so plainly, honestly, and beautifully both the hope and ho Vonnegut is one of those authors I should have been reading all my life because he captures so plainly, honestly, and beautifully both the hope and hopelessness of humankind.
I've wanted to read Cat's Cradle ever since I read Slaughterhouse-Five. The focus here is much more on science and religion than on war, but both books (and maybe all of Vonnegut's books?) are about human folly. And though it's clear that Vonnegut wishes the folly weren't so, it's not an exhausting slog of condemnation. Instead, it's like Vonnegut is God himself looking down on the world he created and the tiny humans within it, and he cannot help but love them. Even while he watches them destroy themselves and each other and everything else, and even while he cries and rages about it, he cannot help but be also amused and delighted by their ingenuity and their misguided passion.
That's Vonnegut, I think.
As for Cat's Cradle in particular, it's no spoiler that it talks at length about Bokononism, a religion practiced by many of the characters. My favorite part of the religion and perhaps the novel is the Bokononist terminology, which is used to refer to a variety of concepts that have no name in English. There's evidence that the language you speak can frame the way you understand the world, and with these new words I already find myself viewing the world differently. Just yesterday I found myself talking about somebody being a member of my karass, and I can't count the times in my life I would have whispered busy, busy, busy if only I'd known to explain things that way....more
Rails debuted ten years ago, and its promise of productivity was staggering: build a blog in 15 minutes! Of course, real work is messier than that, buRails debuted ten years ago, and its promise of productivity was staggering: build a blog in 15 minutes! Of course, real work is messier than that, but that's the magic of screencasts and tutorials: everything is rehearsed and distilled for maximum pizazz. You skip over all the dead ends and googling, and you're left with a series of clean steps to layer on complexity, and in the end you have a delicious code cake.
This is more of a bran-muffin book.
The example that carries through most of the chapters is a task list, which is such a simple application of CRUD that it's a sample app trope. In other words, it's not that interesting, and I can already see the interesting parts implemented elsewhere. In [a somewhat unfair] comparison, the Rails book walks you through building an entire online e-commerce website.
Part of the appeal of Flight is supposed to be that you can compose fairly complex applications from more primitive general-purpose components. You start with components that have a clear set of responsibilities and inputs/outputs, which makes them easy to test and easy to maintain; by using many of these components on a single page, you end up with a whole that is more than the sum of its parts.
I had hoped that this book would lead me through several components like these, and then illustrate how to combine them. The Flight website does just that: its example is a webmail app! But no such luck. Late in this book, there's reference to such an example; the author explains how you might componentize TweetDeck, and why a flat structure is better than a nested structure. But the chapter is just a few pages and totally glosses over how the components would actually be linked.
There are a few other really promising or helpful spots in the book; the chapter on testing, for example, is full of useful code. Except, most of it is evidently now available as part of the jasmine-flight project, so it's kind of moot to have it in print. And I was excited to read the chapter on performance... until I found out that it's only three pages, and it doesn't address one of my team's biggest concerns (about how to share templates between the client and the server).
As others have mentioned, the code is also full of errors. I didn't mind those so much, since I could spot them, and I wasn't trying to run the code. But it's still a knock against this book.
To be fair, I know a lot more about Flight now. This is still a good introduction to the philosophy. But I still have so many questions about how it would work in a real app — questions I had hoped that people with intimate ties to the creation and early applications of Flight would have been able to answer....more