Archive for the ‘reading’ Category

Walk Two Moons

14 May, 2017

finished up the family book club book, Sharon Creech’s “Walk Two Moons”

I had to pause reading it, because I didn’t feel like crying at a restaurant, just saying.

There was a sentence that I liked, I shared with MrG and he liked it too: “We walked through the tiny living room into the miniature kitchen and upstairs into my father’s pint-sized bedroom and on into my pocket-sized bedroom and into the wee bathroom.”

A good book.

Weapons of Math Destruction

28 March, 2017

Weapons of Math Destruction: How big data increases inequality and threatens democracy

by Cathy O’Neil, Ph.D   (in math)

Good book, cheesy title.


One of the things I like to remind people, professional sports uses data to make choices in hiring. And they fail often. They have data on how fast, how far, how strong, we have video of the players performing the very job that we want them to do. And still, we get Darko getting picked above Wade or Bosh. We get  Richard Sherman being picked in the fifth round, Tom Brady getting picked in the sixth round.  O’Neil doesn’t mention this, but does talk about how companies will use proxy data to make predictions, such as “Do you have good credit?” for employee applications, or “Are you a good student?” for insurance rates.

She talks about feedback loops, such as sending more cops to “high crime areas”, where, they find more criminal activity, and thus need to send more cops. And often the crimes are minor, such as public drunkenness, or jaywalking. She asks, what if we had a “zero-tolerance strategy in finance. They would arrest people for even the slightest infraction, whether it was chiseling investors on 401ks, providing misleading guidance, or committing petty frauds. Perhaps SWAT teams would descend on Greenwich, Connecticut. They would go undercover in the taverns around Chicago’s Mercantile Exchange.”  (I recently heard, “in poor neighborhoods kids are getting arrested for marijuana and underage drinking, things that happen every Friday night in a frat.”)

I learned of the “Flutie effect”. Exciting football game, Flutie makes a great pass to win, more attention to the school, more applicants, leads to lower acceptance rate, which leads to more prestige, which raises ratings of the school as “better”.


The Death Defying Pepper Roux

17 March, 2017

Well, that was a comedic yarn. Geraldine McCaughrean’s The Death Defying Pepper Roux.


The One and Only Ivan

11 March, 2017

When I was a child in South Tacoma, we would sometimes go to the B&I. I saw Ivan. He didn’t seem happy in a small grey cage.

Just finished reading Katherine Applegate’s The One & Only Ivan to the childrens. It was a pleasure to read, well written, time well spent with my childrens. And, even though a “kid’s” book, dealt with weighty themes like cages, freedom, family, death, fear, animal cruelty, economic stress…and if you were paying attention hints of divorce, poverty, alcoholism too.

I recommend reading it.


6 March, 2017

just finished Malka Older’s Infomocracy

I might have enjoyed it more before the recent election.



Antarctica: A Very Short Introduction

18 February, 2017

pretty good…or should I say standard for the high quality I’ve come to expect from the Very Short Introduction series.

I was hoping a bit more for the biology of Antarctica, but was educated about the geo-politics. It is kinda amazing the world is taking the “lets all just get along, and not trash this place” attitude. Kinda. Sorta.

The Star of Kazan

15 February, 2017

Finished Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson. A fairy tale set in early 20th Century Vienna.

There was a section, where Annika cooks the Christmas carp…and I want to eat it. Great descriptions of cooking.

Also, a good description of music in a scene.


Bog Child – Siobhan Dowd

6 February, 2017

Just finished Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd.

Good story, I enjoyed it. I recommend.


(For realism: there was a scene, where academics started loudly arguing amongst themselves, that I have actually witnessed in real life.)


childrens reading

24 January, 2017

I’m working my way through reading Katherine Applegate’s “The One and Only Ivan” in the evenings with the childrens. (I gotta say, this book is heavy,… topics touched on: animal rights, divorce, alcohol, death, suffering.)

MrG is reading, and really enjoying (yay!!), “Kid Owner” by Tim Green.

MsS is reading Chris Colfer’s “The Land of Stories”.

Me & MrC are reading “13 Skyscrapers that every kid must know.”

Chains – Laurie Halse Anderson

11 January, 2017

I enjoyed reading Laurie Halse Anderson’s Chains.

Story, what was it like for a young female slave in 1776 New York City?

I believe Anderson put a lot of work into the history. Each chapter starts with a historical primary source quote. Some of the major events of the story actually happened, but most of the characters were made up. I liked how characters spoke, style and vocabulary: “confuddle…brainpan…et…wot” are examples.

“The war seemed fought with as much paper as bullets, what with the letters and the passes and permissions piled on the table, orders received and recorded, recordings of conferences noted down.”

Often, one thinks of the American Revolution in terms of battles, or fine speeches and documents by Founding Fathers. But this story reminded me, war is terrible for most people that just want to be left alone. It seemed strange that British citizens were being tried for treason to America, because some of their neighbors had voted for independence / war with Britain.

“How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?” – Samuel Johnson.

History is complicated, amirite?