TODO review sketch: +++ If you have time to read only one book to understand what computer science is about, read Matti Tedre's The Science of ComputinTODO review sketch: +++ If you have time to read only one book to understand what computer science is about, read Matti Tedre's The Science of Computing. I've been learning about and working in this field for over 25 years, and still learned much from this book. Loved it. i I took nearly 400 notes and made nearly 700 highlights. This is the most I've done in any book, regardless of its length. This matches the approach taken by the author: read everything, report on everything, let the reader do the filtering. Works for me. +++ One very important observation: that the debate about the science in computer science seems petty, when compared with the changes brought by computing (and computational methods) to other sciences and the impact this had on the society. +++/-- An amazing wealth of references, all analyzed. The format of the digital book makes it extremely difficult to follow the analysis, because it is placed at the end, and navigation in the Kindle reader is very poor. The author should consider using footnotes, to give the reader a fighting chance. +++ Understand key concepts in computer science, starting with computer science (and the family of related theory, practice, and science fields, such as information technology and systems, scientific computing, e-Science, computing science, etc.) ++ Very good analysis of important terminology in computing, including the notion of "experiment" as used across computing and other sciences. +++/-- Focus on important and field-shaping debates: about the nature of computing as a discipline, about the role of mathematics in computer science, about the roles of theory and practice in computing, about the theoretical/engineering/scientific traditions in computing (but where is the design tradition, as exemplified by Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. and his work on IBM/360?), about the need to try in practice and test, about the methodology to study and evolve computer science, etc. But the selection of topics comes with drawbacks: where are the debates about ethics? + Identifying and explaining the role of well-crafted, powerful rhetoric in shaping computing. Foremost example: the often vitriolic attacks of the academia-centered community working on strong formal verification on anything they saw as "mere engineering" (e.g., software engineering) has led to two decades of witch-hunting on the corridors of many universities, and the development and prominence of technical universities. Who knew Dijkstra was so scary?! Who knew Hoare was so wrong in understanding the difference between computing as abstraction and computing as physical, interactive process? Who knew so many computer scientists have tried to compare their work with the Greeks' on axiomatic geometry, Netwon's on the laws of motion, and Leibniz's on calculus? +++ Identifying and explaining why computer science is value-laden, as opposed to the value-free (pure) mathematics, and why it matters. +++ Understand the history of the core elements of computer science. The waves of intellectual pursuit, from the early onset of making things work (1940s), to separating from mathematics (1950s), to making a discipline out of practice (1950s), to defining a curriculum (stabilized around the 1960s, albeit, with expansions since), to the emergence of many domains beyond numerical computation through expansion toward many (all?) scientific disciplines and domains of application (1970s), to the "software crisis" and the clash between the advocates of the strong formal verification and practice (from the emergence of "software engineering" in 1968, and until the 1980s and their refutation of the claims of strong formal verification), to the move for "experimental computer science" (emerging in 1980s, 1990s methodological wars, and re-emerging of the idea in the 2000s with large-scale computing), to the emergence of computing in all scientific and technical domains in "the age of simulation" (2000s), to the legitimacy gained by the (previously seen as practical) software engineering and information systems in all curricula (2000s and 2010s). ++ Some nice observations: Vannevar Bush, of the As We May Think, Science: The Endless Frontier, and other influential policy-documents renown, almost caused the rejection of the ENIAC proposal for funding, because he thought the use of electronics would be inefficient; 60 years later, turns out we are still using electronics. Let's say John von Neumann did not give credit initially, and never worked again with the engineers of the first stored-program computer, Eckert and Mauchly. Turing's ideas seem to have had little impact on the development of the first computers. Grace Hopper developed the first automatic compiler, but performance reasons delayed the adoption of this technology; this retained the jobs of many coders, which at the time were primarily women. Wirth's "Law": the computer you want will always cost $5,000; it still does work. Etc. +++/- An excellent analysis of the evolution of computer science/computing curricula by ACM. Would have been interesting to see an analysis of the joint ACM/IEEE curriculum (finalized in 2013 for Computer Science). +++ Understand the main figures of the computer science debates and evolution, from the unsuspecting Jacquard and Pascal, to the combative Dijkstra and Hoare, to the philosophical Simon and Valiant. - Does not cover the new age: the Internet, the WWW, grid and cloud computing, peer-to-peer and edge-centric computing, etc. This is somewhat ok: a book has to stop somewhere, and the author mentions the first two items in the list. Implicitly, the book does not cover any computing idea after 2014, when it was first published. --- Does not cover design in a modern sense, or even much at all. - Some typos: "body [of] knowledge" (Location: 63,790); "similar[ly]," (Location: 96,557). ...more
Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is a tell-all (read: gossip-based) story of the first nine months of Donald John Trump, (uMichael Wolff's Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is a tell-all (read: gossip-based) story of the first nine months of Donald John Trump, (unfortunately, as the book reveals) the 45th President of the United States. Overall, I found this book informative about POTUS45's organization, seemingly well researched and chronologically accurate, but also lacking major new elements about this history, and heavy on the uncited or even paraphrased source.
Main positives: 1. The author has an alibi for text inaccuracy. This book starts with a clever disclaimer, in which the author effectively claims, in my view credibly, that there is no ground truth against which his account can be fully checked:
Many of the accounts of what has happened in the Trump White House are in conflict with one another; many, in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue. Those conflicts, and that looseness with the truth, if not with reality itself, are an elemental thread of the book. -- Wolff, Michael. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House (p. xii). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.
2. This book is a historical record. The book collects the personal characterization of many key figures in the POTUS45 election and administration, descriptions of the organization, identification and chronological explanation of main events, and several other journalistic elements that form the core of a good history of the period under scrutiny. More importantly, the historical record is aligned in many key points with the narratives presented by the New York Times / the Washington Post / the Guardian / Politico / BBC. All the main portrayals, scandals, and key moments have been identified in these newspapers. (This is also a negative, see following.)
I particularly enjoyed the anecdote about POTUS45 instructing his staff to plan events that look like work, when in fact much time would be devoted to playing golf. For more, check trumpgolfcount.com; as Old Bill would write, methinks there is much reason in his sayings.
3. This book speculates credibly on the balance of power between the main forces in the White House. (view spoiler)[ - There is POTUS45, who cannot be controlled but can be influenced. - There are then three axes of power, who constantly fight each other, identified by the author as: the extreme right-wing group, led by Bannon, who is responsible for big nationalistic actions such as coining MAGA, withdrawal from the Climate Accord in Paris, etc.; the elitist nouveau riche group, led by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Kushner/Trump (Jarvanka, coins Bannon); and the moderate Republican group, led temporarily by the civilian wing represented by Reince Priebus (former chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), 2011--2017), and later by the army wing represented by John F. Kelly (former general and commander of U.S. Southern Command, 2012--2016). There are satellites of each group, and each group is trying to increase head-count and influence. - There are career government officials, essentially lifetime bureaucrats, of which many have been installed by Obama and thus are suspected by the POTUS45 administration of sabotage. - There are numerous shady characters, linked with POTUS45's, and his family's, and his direct hires', business ties. These lead to the Middle East, to Russia, to various shady practices and markets, and possibly laundered money. (hide spoiler)]
4. This book presents credible speculation into the issues and dysfunctions of the POTUS45 administration. It builds a credible case for eliminating POTUS45 through either impeachment or through U.S. Constitution's Amendment 25 on Presidential Disability and Succession. (view spoiler)[ - First and foremost, there is the dysfunction introduced by POTUS45, who is presented as unable to lead in numerous occasions:
Everyone, in his or her own way, struggled to express the baldly obvious fact that the president did not know enough, did not know what he didn’t know, did not particularly care, and, to boot, was confident if not serene in his unquestioned certitudes. -- Wolff, Michael. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House (p. 304). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition. - POTUS45 is presented repeatedly as having the mental state of a child, and in general to have serious mental dysfunctions, which gives argument for applying U.S. Constitution's Amendment 25 on Presidential Disability and Succession. - POTUS45 introduces another kind of dysfunction: his tendency to repeat whatever he receives last, and to speak outside agreement with his team, means that the most recent presence can influence POTUS45's statements or even his policy. This leads to various plays to be in his near vicinity, and competition for his child-like attention. - Mutual distrust or even conflict appears between many, and is explicitly listed for: Bannon vs. Priebus (early on), Bannon and Priebus (allied against a common enemy) vs. Jarvanka, Bannon vs. Jarvanka (later), John F. Kelly vs. Jarvanka (immediately) and Jared (later), Gary Cohn vs. Jared (when Cohn is trying to leave the White House for a cushy Fed chairmanship), Gary Cohn vs. POTUS45 (same), POTUS45 vs. Kelly (when the Pres. realizes Kelly requires discipline or will quit), etc. etc. etc. - Everybody with direct contact to POTUS45 and decision power lies. Bannon, Jarvanka, etc. - Everybody's calling each other names, with insulting nicknames, such as "idiot"/"moron"/"dumb"/"dope"/... (Trump, by various), "the geniuses" and "Jarvanka" (Jared and Ivanka, called by Bannon), "the butler" (Jared, called by Corey Lewandowski), "insubordinate" (Jared, by John Kelly), "Uday and Qusay, after the sons of Saddam Hussein" (Don Jr. and Eric, behind their backs), "the mooch" (Scaramucci, by everybody), "complete idiot, dumber than dumb" (Gary Cohn, by POTUS45), "ambitious as Lucifer" (US Ambassador to the UN Haley, by 'senior staffer'). Etc. etc. etc. (hide spoiler)]
5. There is some new material, possibly based on speculation, in particular about the hot topic of the day: the official investigation into the alleged collusion between the future-POTUS45's organization and Russia, aiming to install POTUS45 in office. My two favorites: the author claims that POTUS45 himself led the redaction of the statement made by Don Jr., that the famous meeting with the Russians in Trump Tower included only discussion about child adoptions (this seems to amount to conspiracy to obstruct justice), and the author claims that Bannon stated that POTUS45 asked everyone in the senior staff to join the meeting with the Russians in Trump Tower (this seems to amount to conspiracy to collude, and thus treason, but it's hearsay).
1. The author has an alibi for inaccuracy... but is he himself credible? Due to the extensive sourcing based on un-attributed, or attributed but unverified, information (so, gossip), much of the credibility of the material depends on the credibility of the author. So let's get this out of the way. The author is an award-winning journalist [1,2], and controversial collector of news based on gossip for USA Today and the Hollywood Reporter in the US, and GQ Magazine in the UK . He also wrote several books , among which a biography of Rupert Murdoch, The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch, that seems to be a nice read, but devoid of real novelty or depth, and at times casual with fact (read: plain false). Not the best, but also not discredited.
2. This book is a historical record... but much of its material is already known or speculated upon. The book itself is summarized well [5-7], but speculation about the mental fitness of POTUS45 has been introduced in the House in Jun 2017 , we know much more about the Russian collusion , we understand POTUS45 needs white noise instead of news to obscure his misdealings with policy and leadership, etc. etc. etc.
3. This book speculates credibly on the balance of power between the main forces in the White House, but... the family of POTUS45 gets is the target of most of the aggression and ridicule. Of the main camps, John Kelly is left standing, Priebus escapes mostly unscathed (albeit without a role in the administration), and Bannon is in the end presented riding a high horse. Priebus has since disappeared, and Bannon is currently losing his main sponsors . Time will tell.
4. This book presents credible speculation into the issues and dysfunctions of the POTUS45 administration, but ... the dirt seems insufficient to add to IMPEACH45.
5. There is some new material, possibly based on speculation, in particular about the hot topic of the day, but ... there is nothing about the Russian back-channel (through Russian Ambasador Kislyak directly, or through Kushner's private communication channel with the same Ambassador, or through Manafort, etc.), and there is no significant and new evidence from possibly the best-placed reporter to collect such fact or even gossip. Again, insufficient to add to IMPEACH45.