Thursday, October 28, 2010

Just Listen, by Mark Goulston

I really enjoyed this book and expect that I will read it again several times.   Dr Goulston is a psychiatrist who specializes in consulting on how to interact more successfully with others in the workforce. 

(Note:  he does tend a bit toward self promotion, but it isn't all that annoying in the big scheme of things.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Velocity, by Alan Jacobson

It turns out that occasionally Amazon will post a new novel on their Kindle store's "limited time offer" promotional section for free.   Which is how I ended up reading this book.

So that was the good news:  only pixels were sacrificed on this novel.    The bad news:  yuck.

Clearly this was written for (whatever few) readers of the series, because it jumped in assuming I had a clue of what was going on with FBI profiler Karen Vail (the main character and individual least suited to be in law enforcement by quality of character, anger management, or insight).

Oh, one more good news item:  it may have been a poorly written and not very interesting book, but it was fast reading for a brief flight.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sabbath Queen, by Shlomi Harif

You'll want to look for this short story on Amazon in the coming weeks.   I was fortunate to get a PDF of it directly from the author.   Not usually a short story fan, I sat on it for a while.  But when I finally got around to reading it, I couldn't put it down.   Captivating, interesting, just fantastic.   I'd mentioned previously that Harif is a author worth watching, and this short story absolutely proves the point.

Worth Dying For, by Lee Child

I found this to be one of the best of the "Jack Reacher" novels in the series.   My flight flew by while I was reading.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lucene in Action, by Michael McCandless, et al

This is a terrific guide book to the Lucene open source high-performance search engine.    One of the things I like most about it is how pragmatic it is:   for example, want to know how to write custom collectors -- and why?  There's an excellent explanation and helpful example code.

My only dissatisfaction is that I lack the spare time to play more with Lucene and try out some queries on my own.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Workbench Design Book, by Christopher Schwarz

In this follow up to his "Workbenches" book, Mr Schwarz explains how his real-life use of different workbenches led to tuning up his thinking; he also added some plans. 

As usual from Mr Schwarz, the value of his instructions varies hugely:  sometimes his words are completely cryptic, sometimes clear as could be for any beginner. 

But overall this was a fun book to read, and will guide my thinking about that new workbench I've been wanting to build for some time now...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Through the Language Glass, by Guy Deutscher

The sub-title is, "Why the world looks different in other languages."   In it, Mr Deutscher discusses linguistics in the context of cultures.

By page 77 it occurred to me that my prior decisions to not study linguistics were well founded.  By page 146 I became convinced that most introductory linguistic texts are rampant with pseudo-science, again confirming the good decision to have avoided the topic this long. 

By the end, page 232, I knew that I deserved a stiff drink but that a coffee might be preferable given how sleepy I was.   And I wasn't looking forward to either the epilogue or the appendix.

Earth, A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race, by Jon Stewart

The running joke of this book is that it is written for aliens to read after the demise of humanity.   It started out strong, with some great lines.  Like this one in the section on natural disasters:
"A number of Earth's natural processes had the unfortunate side effect of destroying everything we'd ever worked for.  Events like those listed here not only decimated us; they also deeply tested our faith in God (more on Him later).  We optimistically chose to see these disasters not as signs that God didn't love us, but that He loved us so much, He would unexpectedly smite us with His mighty wrath for our own good."
I also enjoyed the section on evolution; here's the introduction:
"The manner by which life originated and developed on Earth was a matter of some debate for us.  Scientists believed it required a long, slow process of natural genetic change called evolution.  As evidence, they pointed to every bit of relevant data ever gathered.  Many others rejected the notion that man descended from monkeys as distasteful, believing instead that life -- and the cosmos itself -- was created by one or more gods.  As evidence, they pointed to themselves believing it.  You will probably end up just teaching the controversy."
 Unfortunately, as the book continued, the jokes got tired and juvenile, and the book got boring.   Worth reading the first 30 to 50 pages, but that's about it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What We Believe, by Blair Adams

This brief book -- perhaps better described as a long pamphlet -- explains the background of the beliefs of the Heritage Ministries Christian congregation.   These folks live a largely agrarian community existence, but don't isolate themselves from technology (they embrace the web, and cell phones).

As for the book:  a bit long winded on the genealogy of socio-political conditions in Scotland and Ireland.   And it didn't tell me how this group made it from a small church on the lower east side of New York City to 500+ acres in Elm Mott Texas.   But then again, it didn't advertise itself as a history of the group.

You can download this (and some other books by the Heritage Ministries folks) from their web site

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Rebel Without a Crew, by Robert Rodriguez

This is a fascinating fast paced diary about the making of El Mariachi, the small film that propelled Mr Rodriguez's career as a film maker.   (His films include Grindhouse, Machete, From Dusk to Dawn.)

I have particular interest in film making; I like sitting on the other side of the deal, watching the final version.  And I never bother with the "director's commentary" on DVDs.    Yet I was completely engrossed in this book.