Archive for the ‘books’ Category
I started begging my mother for piano lessons from a very young age, had my mother been a Tiger Mother I would have been a child prodigy. I’d seen Amy Chua in an interview program and had wanted to read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother as an instruction manual to raise my child as a music virtuoso. And although the book is not a step-by-step guide to becoming a Tiger Mother I am glad I read it.
The book is an autobiographical view of the way Amy Chua raised her daughters Sophia and Louisa (Lulu) to become straight A students, and focusses mainly on her teaching her children to play the musical instruments of her choice. In the end it devolves into a war of attrition between Amy and Lulu, resulting in a revelation for the Tiger Mother.
Like Anthony Horowitz I’ve always liked Sherlock Holmes, perhaps it is because my mother joked that I was related to the sleuth. Or because I visited 221B Baker Street as a child. In any case I am much enamored with the genius of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and as have been disappointed with many other tributes to the creator. And I was shocked whet James Randi revealed in his book that Doyle was a firm believer in the fairies of Cottingley Glen.
The House of Silk is an enthralling book, filled with the subterfuge which can be expected from a Holmes tale. It combines two overlapping stories and can be placed in the middle of the canonical Holmes series. It touches on subjects which, although they would not be out of place in Victorian Britain, might not be expected in a Holmes story. Standing on its own the novel is good, and seems well researched. As an amateur nitpicker I would have loved to find a inconsistency or glaring error, and didn’t.
It certainly can be called a good Holmes novel.
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Recently I got into a discussion about astrology and was told that it was obvious that I’d never had a good astrological reading. I have difficulty dealing with people who choose to believe in pseudoscience, and have much in common with James Randi in this respect. Where he and I diverge is in our treatment of these fanatics, I tend to avoid them like the plague. The same holds for the people who suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia, the belief in the power of Friday the thirteenth.
Isaac Asimov writes in his introduction to the book that “[u]nder these circumstances, what crime is greater than that of deliberately misteaching the public about science, of deliberately misleading them, of defrauding them, of feeding and stimulating their ignorance?” Randi goes on to savagely ravage all the purveyors of trickery explaining that he seeks “to prove that ‘psychics’ use trickery by duplicating their wonders by trickery.” I believe that the main issue with this book is not that it is not written with the mainstream in mind, it is that the main stream media is more interested in spouting ridicules fiction and trickery rather than the truth, and the public eats it up. This is probably why politicians do so well.
I’m sure you had a nice day. And if you didn’t read Flim-Flam!
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Empire: What Ruling the World Did to the British was the first ebook that I read in its entirety using Cool Reader. I really liked the reader, some of the default tap zone actions were less intuitive than I liked they were very simple to configure.
Cool Reader screenshot
I found Jeremy Paxman an entertaining author, who had apparently researched the book very well. Getting a relatively unbiased view of the impact that the establishment of a British Empire had on the world, which at its hight consisted of 25% of the world’s – I assume – land mass, was extremely informative. Naturally there seems to be some cultural bias, and whether this can be attributed to the author or the lack of source material for the subjugated. After all history is written by the victors. As a nitpicker I could easily criticize certain semantic errors, such as referring to the Union Flag as the Union Jack – the former being the national flag and the later being a naval ensign.
An interesting read.
Image source: Amazon
I happened upon Last Chance to See online, and being a big fan of Douglas Adams’ previous works I thought I would quite like to read it. There is also a BBC radio program for which this book is an accompaniment and a follow up by Stephen Fry – also aptly named Last Chance to See, which I will now need to seek out.
Adams and Mark Carwardine go off on an adventure to visit some of the most endangered species of animals, some which are well known – the White Rhinoceros – and others which I had not heard of – the Kakapo – or had not know that they where on the verge of extinction – the Yangtze river dolphin. They discover that there are species of plants and animals that their numbers can be counted on one hand.
They look like humans, they move like humans, they hold things in their fingers like humans, the expressions which play across their faces and in their intensely human-looking eyes are expressions that we instinctively feel we recognise as human expressions. We look them in the face and we think, “We know what they’re like,” but we don’t. Or rather, we actually block off any possible glimmering of understanding of what they may be like by making easy and tempting assumptions.
A humorous book, from a great author, discussing the plight of many animals and their struggle to exist with their human overlords.
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I needed a way to be able to shamelessly plug the posts I recently bundled into the booklet “Write Something” again.In a similar way to the last time I did it in Proof of Concept: Google Docs Mail Merge Form
As I explained before I have set up a system to automatically mail somebody when the enter their address in the form, my issue was that I wanted to add a unique blogpost which they would only be able to get by signing up. Naturally I wanted to style it in the same way the posts are styled in this blog. Again I turned to the documentation, specifically the Class MailApp which I was using to send the mail. Using this documentation I had a starting point. I wanted three changes to the current script:
- keep the plain text
- add HTML message
- add inline images
My daughter’s Godmother is studying to be an MD, and has started her internship. Starting her internship coincided with her birthday, which meant that many of the presents she received were related to medicine. One of the gifts, which she gracefully allowed me to borrow before she read it was How Doctors Think, by Jerome Groopman, MD.
Groopman’s book covers one subject which I love: heuristics and bias. Heuristics are the stuff the practice of medicine is made of, which makes it a little strange that this isn’t always taught. The influence of the intuitive, fast, effortless System 1 thinking versus the slower, conscious, System 2 thinking is reasonably well known. System 1 allows us to unconsciously come to conclusions based on the information at hand, as Groopman says: “When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.” The practice of medicine is such that most of the diseases encountered fit into a nice pattern, however it is also a burden which make cognitive bias possible. When a doctor sees nine patients who are suffering from flue symptoms, System 1 will quickly come to the conclusion that the diagnoses of the tenth patient with these symptoms is also flue, and will even ignore facts to the contrary. Read the rest of this entry »
I needed a way to be able to shamelessly plug the posts I recently bundled into the booklet “Write Something“. I want to build a list, and offering something which adds value for the subscriber is a good way to do this. There is a host of good material which you can use to help, so I won’t elaborate on that in this post.
I have a hosted WordPress.com blog, which means that I can’t run a local script to collect the mail addresses and mail them, so I turned to Google Docs’ Form functionality for the entry form, naturally I give them the option to download the booklet there, and I wanted to send the subscriber a message to thank them. In the Google tutorial: Simple Mail Merge they explain how to do a mail merge using the Script Editor. I wanted to go a little further and have it send a mail with thank you note and a link to each subscriber as soon as they filled in the form.
I was advised to read Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why by a social media guru who practically abandoned his – albeit limited to the Netherlands – stardom to pursue a position in a turning round a company who’s why was determined by governmental decree, and as such was fuzzy for customers and company. And I came to it with many preconceptions of cones and funnels, expecting it to be a Gladwellian book with limited practical application beyond creating awareness – which in some circles is already a Herculean task.
Sinek started by blowing my Anglo-American expectations out of the water by posing a question on the first page of the book. It acts as the first warning in the book to not take things at face value – the What and How – and go straight for the jugular: Inspiring with Why you are doing what you are doing. The nature of the thought is that our experience of the world is created “from the inside-out”, understanding that the Golden Circle has Why at the centre and the How and What are just the physical manifestations of Why we do things.
As examples he uses Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, the Wright brothers and a host of others for whom we already know What they did and shows us How they did it by being inspired with a reason – their Why. The stories he tells and the way he tells them influenced me and my story, and my answer to Why.
What’s you Why?
- Effortless Evolution – Jamie Smart
Image source: Amazon