This is a very well researched and interesting book! I thought I was going to have trouble keeping up with all the Norwegian names, and...well, I did,This is a very well researched and interesting book! I thought I was going to have trouble keeping up with all the Norwegian names, and...well, I did, but it was still a very enjoyable read.
It also got me to thinking about how tough it must have been to be an undercover agent after the Nazis took Norway. They knew they were on the side of right, but they also knew they could be captured, tortured, and killed, and they were also putting their families and friends at risk. (the Nazis would retaliate if they found saboteurs) They also knew that they were probably going to kill civilians who had done nothing wrong but were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yet it was still the justified thing to do, as Hitler getting the atomic bomb would have been catastrophic.
Anyway, for some reason it made it hit home about how they really had to be strong and brave to do the right thing and not collaborate with the occupying Nazis.
(I am desperately hoping this does not have any lessons for the coming years...)...more
All in all, it was pretty good. There were parts of it that felt a bit fan-fictiony to me, and I feel like the author of t(really more like 3.5 stars)
All in all, it was pretty good. There were parts of it that felt a bit fan-fictiony to me, and I feel like the author of the play (who was not JK Rowling, I guess she wrote the story it was based on?) didn't quite nail the characters. But maybe that's because it's set 19 years in the future and I'm being too harsh.
Also, it has this line of dialog which made me laugh out loud
Your solidarity is admirable, but it doesn't make your negligence negligible
Which, two things: - No one talks like this. Not even witches and wizards from England. - "negligence negligible" - seriously? Google results for this phrase only turn up dictionaries and this play.
It's 300 pages but it's literally the script to a play so it's a fast read. Also, I kind of want to see how they stage this thing - there are lots of descriptions of people doing magic, and how would that work?!...more
Probably because I was tired all the time, but it took me a while to get into this book. I ended up liking it decently enough, but it confirmed my theProbably because I was tired all the time, but it took me a while to get into this book. I ended up liking it decently enough, but it confirmed my theory that I'm really just not that into fantasy books......more
This is my favorite kind of scifi - what if the world was like it is now except for one big difference? In The Last Policeman series, the big differenThis is my favorite kind of scifi - what if the world was like it is now except for one big difference? In The Last Policeman series, the big difference is that an asteroid is coming to destroy all human life on Earth, and everyone knows exactly when it's going to hit.
The books are pretty interesting mysteries, but what I really enjoyed was the look at society breaking down and how different kinds of people reacted to knowing about the asteroid....more
The book was decent, although I found it to be a bit repetitive. The message is that sleep is important, and it makes you more effective in basicallyThe book was decent, although I found it to be a bit repetitive. The message is that sleep is important, and it makes you more effective in basically whatever you're doing. (there are some interesting studies done on athletes showing that consistently getting a good night's sleep can have massive effects on performance!) There are also some good tips on how to get better sleep. (avoid blue light before bed, etc.)
Maybe not the best book to read right before we have a kid, though... :-)...more
Fascinating look at six areas of innovation (glass, cold, sound, clean, time, light) and how unexpected interactions lead to advances. For example: thFascinating look at six areas of innovation (glass, cold, sound, clean, time, light) and how unexpected interactions lead to advances. For example: the sacking of Constantinople led a community of glassmakers to leave and settle in Venice. The fact that making glass requires high temperature furnaces that would not infrequently burn down neighborhoods led the government to "exile" them on a nearby island, which then became a hotbed of innovation. The Gutenberg printing press led many people to realize that they were farsighted, which popularized spectacles. That technology later led to the development of microscopes and telescopes. And so on and so on.
The book manages to be both entertaining and thought-provoking about the public shaming of people that seems to be en vogue these days. He talks aboutThe book manages to be both entertaining and thought-provoking about the public shaming of people that seems to be en vogue these days. He talks about Jonah Lehrer, Justine Sacco, the whole "Donglegate" business, Mike Daisey, and a bunch more.
Highly recommended if you're interested in this sort of thing! TL;DR - maybe don't jump on the bandwagon when someone's being crucified online....more
Decent, but more of a textbook than I was hoping for. The most interesting part was the first section where it talked about a lot of examples of obfusDecent, but more of a textbook than I was hoping for. The most interesting part was the first section where it talked about a lot of examples of obfuscation. TrackMeNot is a Firefox/Chrome extension that does random search queries in the background....more
This was a pretty interesting book! I didn't realize that New York City had a huge fire problem in the 70's, and at first the book provided a lot of bThis was a pretty interesting book! I didn't realize that New York City had a huge fire problem in the 70's, and at first the book provided a lot of background about the mayor, the fire chief, etc. to the point where it got to be a bit much. But then the author did a great job of laying out how the problem started and got worse through a series of bad decisions. The main theme is that it was mostly the fault of a technocratic City Hall, for example: - Robert Moses (the city planner) had a lot of power to impose a top-down vision for what the city should be like, and used it to destroy a bunch of housing and industrial buildings to build highways, parks, and office towers. This included "slum clearance" which people thought would get rid of the slums, but instead just made the lower-income people move elsewhere in the city, including the South Bronx. The deindustrialization caused even more poverty. - This caused more fires as a result of crowded living conditions, etc. John O'Hagan (the fire chief) was a technocratic type (as was the mayor) and hired the RAND Corporation to try to make the fire department more efficient. - RAND did a study about which firehouses were busiest, but they didn't gather very much data, and what they did gather was not very reliable because firemen didn't care about them and would often make up their response times, etc. Then the way RAND analyzed the data was laughably simplistic - they concluded that adding two firehouses in the same district was causing more false alarms and therefore was a waste of resources. But all they measured was the number of runs a firehouse went on, which includes false alarms - but false alarms are very quick to deal with, since the fire engine would just drive by, see no smoke, and return back to the firehouse. If you look at the fires that they actually had to fight, the second firehouse made a noticeable difference. - There's also some evidence that the O'Hagan didn't care about what he called "ghetto fires" and was more concerned/interested in high-rise fires. To be fair, he literally wrote the book on new techniques for fighting them that are still being used today. So when the models came back saying to close firehouses in poorer neighborhoods he didn't push back. - New York City was on the verge of going bankrupt in the 70's, which led to more cuts from the fire department. - The author also points out that while Tammany Hall was certainly corrupt, they were corrupt in the "you have to keep constituents happy by giving them jobs, but take some off the top for yourself" way, which while not optimal at least meant they were responsive to the citizens. There were literally riots in the streets because of the fires/poor conditions, but the mayor was convinced he was doing the right thing and stayed the course.
This is a great book! It's short and (mostly) to the point. The author looks at the parable of the Prodigal Son. While the younger brother is wrong foThis is a great book! It's short and (mostly) to the point. The author looks at the parable of the Prodigal Son. While the younger brother is wrong for turning his back on his family, the elder brother is just as wrong for failing to welcome the younger son back into the family upon his return.
Dr. Keller points out that in modern times, most people focus on the younger brother because it's easier to understand why what he did was wrong. But he points out that there many churches that are filled with "elder brothers" in that they are looking to judge other people for what they've done. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you obey God, therefore you deserve salvation, and other people don't deserve it as much. But the truth is that Christianity says that we are all saved through grace - and if we weren't, no one could "deserve" it on their own! This way of thinking is particularly dangerous because the more good you do, the more you fall into this prideful trap.
Anyway, I'd highly recommend it if you're at all interested in Christianity....more
This is about what it's like for a 50-year old former writer for Newsweek to join a tech startup. Dan Lyons wrote the Fake Steve Jobs blog, among otheThis is about what it's like for a 50-year old former writer for Newsweek to join a tech startup. Dan Lyons wrote the Fake Steve Jobs blog, among other things, and he writes a pretty entertaining book.
The main thesis is something like "this company/industry is craaaaazy". While I mostly agree, there were a few times where I thought he was in the wrong: - He mocks the relentlessly positive emails (mocking is fine, but actually sending them seems a bit much) - He can't understand why his boss wants him to set up a calendar invite to go out to lunch. As someone who works at a place with shared calendars, the reason is so no one else schedules a lunch meeting at that time! - He talks a few times about what grizzled journalists would do if they were forced to do a stupid activity like a personality test - mock the whole exercise and everyone involved, and make some very NSFW suggestions. Regardless of the merits of the activity, that wouldn't fly at any modern workplace, I think? - He's amazed that people come to work on Halloween dressed up in costumes. I've only worked at two places, but people did this at both of them, so I'm not sure what his deal is?
But for the most part, HubSpot sounds like a pretty crazy place to work, and not in a good way. At one point he gets an idea approved by the CEO, but the people who are supposed to work on it don't want to, so...nothing happens. Also there is pretty blatant ageism but sadly that doesn't surprise me based on what I've read :-/
Anyway, it's a good read, and while I admit I see a few echoes of some of the things he complains about at my company, it makes me glad I work at a sane place! ...more