Extremely dense, and sometimes an arduous -- but alternatingly hilarious, profound and emotional -- read. Was all the effort worth it? As a member of Extremely dense, and sometimes an arduous -- but alternatingly hilarious, profound and emotional -- read. Was all the effort worth it? As a member of the post-modern generation, I feel this is an important book. Personally, this book was definitely worth the effort....more
I have a new-found fascination for history and I believe that in the present ideological fight between the left and the right, a lack of historical anI have a new-found fascination for history and I believe that in the present ideological fight between the left and the right, a lack of historical and political awareness can leave you defenseless. In that vein, I picked a book Philippa Gregory's Tudor series without having heard of her before and without knowing that it's a part of a larger series. The Queen's Fool is still a standalone novel, set in 16th century England where the Protestant and the Catholic faiths wrest for the English throne. Caught in this vicious game of thrones and faith is Hannah Verde, a bookseller's daughter, and a hidden Jew. In an era where heretics, Jews included, were burned alive, Hannah has to tread carefully. That she has occasional paranormal visions of the future complicates things further.
The history itself is fascinating. Queen Mary and Princess Elizabeth led remarkable lives, and when you add people like Robert Dudley and the mathematician John Dere to the mix, we have a potent set-up. Philippa Gregory's fiction is dull though. Many of Hannah's decisions do not make sense. Why does he love Robert Dudley, and why does she love Daniel when she does? Even baffling is how the other characters react to Hannah's inexplicable actions. She is faithful and treasonous, and people keep trusting her. The ease with which this outsider moves with the high courts is not convincing. And finally, why is so much emphasis laid on how good people look? Be it Princess Elizabeth, Lord Dudley or Hannah itself -- this fascination with physical appearance may have been the norm of a past era (and the present one too), but it is mildly annoying to see the constant praise for good looks.
The writing serves the purpose of taking us to 16th century England. This was a good enough read for someone like me who did not know anything about this particular period. It was also enlightening for me to read about the ideological war between Protestants and Catholics. However, if you are looking for pure entertainment, you may be better served with actual historical works....more
"Need you now" is my first James Grippando novel, and it's a mixed bag. Involving financial crimes, secretive Swiss banks, mafia, secret agents and ot"Need you now" is my first James Grippando novel, and it's a mixed bag. Involving financial crimes, secretive Swiss banks, mafia, secret agents and other motley devices, Grippando entertains at times. The protagonists are not the usual, and their unreliability adds to the mystery. Personally, the accurate depiction of New York is an added perk. However, I felt some of the plot points were amateurish and long winded. Strange, mysterious characters make threats that they don't carry out, and the plot ambles along. The description of encryption codes is laughable. The actions of many characters do not seem to have logical motivations. On the other hand, many other actions seem realistic, and there is an emotional core to the protagonist that kept me invested. I will come back to another Grippando when I need a light book....more
This is an admirable effort. The book attempts to trace the history of probability theory, and then highlight the limitations of using probability theThis is an admirable effort. The book attempts to trace the history of probability theory, and then highlight the limitations of using probability theory in modern day scientific research. TO do this, it starts by describing how the initial thinkers envisioned probability theory, and how in the quest to make it more useful, we might have lost some necessary ambiguity. "Willful Ignorance" is an oxymoronic title as the author shows us that statistics is essentially ignoring ambiguities, and we do this already, albeit unconsciously. Willful Ignorance is something that the author wants us to do. Ignore, but know the impact of this ignorance. My Professor, who is an expert in History of probability (his work is referred to a few times in this book), feels this book oversimplifies certain things. For example, recent research has shown that the importance of Pascal-Fermat correspondence has been overstated. But the author is looking for good stories to highlight his points. For instance, I asked my Professor on the Tarantino-esque episode with Blaise Pascal where he apparently turned to religion because of a near-death accident. My Professor thinks Pascal had enough incentive to turn to religion without as dramatic an episode. Despite these possible inaccuracies, the author makes some great points. I was surprised to see some mild and respectful rebukes to Kahneman and Tversky's works. I hoped to see more discussions about Machine Learning. Nevertheless, this is an educative book and shows us that we can increase our understanding if our quest to gain knowledge included a curiosity for context too....more