Recent books — Sabrina, Bad Blood, The Soul of America

  • Sabrina by Nick Drnaso. Graphic novel, odd little story which wanders around and doesn’t really go anywhere.  Reviews were excellent but I found it dull.
  • Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. The Theranos story.  Wow. Unalloyed ambition, the worst of Silicon Valley.  Holmes and Balwani are clearly bad actors but their investors and legal partners get off too easily — they created and fed the monster.
  • The Soul of America by Jon Meacham.  Division and bigotry has been part of America forever, every generation has struggled with it.  The best of our Presidents have been unifiers and have worked to bring us together — and the country has survived the divisive demagogues, but it will take engagement and action on all our parts.  Excellent perspective.

We need more CSNY “Ohio”

CSNY’s “Ohio” (Wikipedia, Youtube ) hits me hard every time I hear it.  I still see the bodies on the news, the classmates in anguish. “How many more” resonates through my head.

CSNY pushed that record out in 3 weeks.  They were at the top of their careers, already had an album for sale, but they didn’t play it safe, they made an emotional statement that resonates to this day.   I was quite young, but this event hit me hard and contributed to my suspicion of authority and power.

We have terrible issues in society today.  Gun violence and school shootings affecting many more people.  Inhumane treatment of desperate people at our borders.  None of the artists of today want my opinion — but too often I see artists talking at rallies and events, but it is their art that is impactful and emotional, and they could be more effective in reaching us if they spoke through their art.

One artist that is doing it today is Donald Glover — if you haven’t seen Childish Gambino – This Is America (Official Video), you should.  It is hard to watch.  I am sure there are others.

Recent Books — Ninefox Gambit, Have You Tried Working, The Darkening Age

  • Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee.  This settled down into basic space opera but some fun language and ideas about an era in which we have dramatically more control over the physical world.
  • Have You Tried Working? By Anthony Gardner.  Ugh.  Poorly written, and then his flippancy about CTE turned me completely off.  Can’t figure out why I bought this.
  • The Darkening Age by Catherine Nixey.  This won’t be popular with some people, a look into how the intolerant early Christian Church destroyed the arts, literature, and science of Western world and contributed to the dark ages.

Recent Books — Six Wakes, Wrong Stars, Scarlet Sky, Wolves of Winter

  • Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty.  Awesome tale of 6 travelers on a space ship, trying to figure out who among them is trying to kill all of them.  Agatha Christie in space!
  • The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt.  Space opera — pirates, aliens, wormholes, etc.  Fun but not that memorable.
  • Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan.  World War II escapades of a young Italian spy. Based on a true story, very engaging.
  • The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson.  Post-apocalyptic tale of survivors in the Yukon.  Ok but pretty well-trod ground.

Recent Books — Semiosis, No One Is Coming to Save Us, Originals, Kamau Bell, Bellassai, Nanoscale Communications

  • Semiosis by Sue Burke.  Very good first contact tale, the things we meet might be very very different than us.
  • No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts.  Another independent bookstore pick up, waaaay outside my comfort zone, and I just couldn’t get thru it.  
  • Originals by Adam Grant.  I expected to hate this as I tend not to enjoy pop business books, or books that justify people being jerks.  But it was better than that.  Useful tools for encouraging creativity in yourself and your teams.
  • The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell by W. Kamau Bell. Interesting story of a developing comic and his experiences with racism. I need to watch his show on CNN.
  • Everything is Awful by Matt Bellassai.  Another book by a comic, and this one is thin gruel after reading Bell above.  Couldn’t finish, seemed so lightweight.
  • Nanoscale Communication Networks by Stephen F. Bush.  From 2010, so in this field this is like a billion years old,  but still interesting.  Transport mechanisms, delay characteristics, accuracy are so different at the nanoscale.

Recent Books — Ungentlemanly Warfare, AJ Fikry, March, Amatka

  • Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare by Giles Milton. Deep dive into the British efforts to combat the Nazis with sabotage, resistance, even terrorism. Well done.
  • The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. I picked this up at random on Independent Bookstore Day at Elliott Bay Bookstore.  Fantastic hopeful book about loss and love.  Great characters.  Very glad I took the chance — what I really like about independent bookstores is their “staff picks” area.
  • March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell.  Great graphic novel about the life of John Lewis.
  • Amatka by Karen Tidbeck.  Another Independent Bookstore Day purchase.  A town whose very existence is defined and controlled by language, and what happens as some of the residents start to rebel against control and language.  A little trippy but I enjoy tales like these.

Congrats to Docusign and my friend JonRo

A great launch yesterday — Docusign IPO.

Congrats to everyone there.  And a big congrats and thanks to JonRo who unflaggingly championed and supported the company through every zig and zag.  He taught me such valuable investment lessons about persistence and about survival — he stuck with Docusign (and other investments) through every dip, through every tough spot, as they went in and out of fashion, and it all ultimately paid off for Docusign and Ignition investors.  Thanks Jon.

Recent Books — The Dry, Easternization, Comey

  • The Dry by Jane Harper. A breathless page turner according to the reviews — i did consume in about 2 days. Very solid tale set in rural Australia — murder, money, long-hidden secrets.
  • Easternization by Gideon Rachman.  A good summary of the rise of China and the impact on US domestic and foreign policy.  There is no getting around the fact that China’s economy and hence soft power and military power is going to surpass that of the US, it is simple numbers.  And much about that is OK, China becoming richer is no real threat to us and no real threat to world peace.  That said, there might be some issues that the US differs from China on, and if the US wants a strategy to counter China, we need to focus on multilateral partnerships in Asia and/or Europe and/or the Americas.  We are doing a poor job at that.
  • A Higher Loyalty by James Comey.  Some of you may have heard of this book.  Comey seems very principled.  He doesn’t like Trump and writes a compelling indictment.  I believe he fails tho to really understand his missteps around the election.  Every decision he made was a principled local optimum but globally was an asymmetric skew.  And he doesn’t go to the meta level and discuss how the FBI should behave in the future.  We can take it as a given that both major candidates in the future will have various accusations made against them, and the FBI should probably simply announce that they are investigating both candidates and be transparent about the nature of the charges against them.

Recent Book — The Death and Life of the Great Lakes

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan.  Continuing on my theme of books about bodies of water — this was much more compelling than the Gulf book.  Partly because of my familiarity with the Great Lakes, partly because there was a very strong story in this book that was new to me.  I knew about the pollution issues in the Great Lakes before the EPA, but I never new the story of invasive species and the battles that have been happening.  Very interesting.

Recent Books — The Gulf, Concurrency in Go

  • The Gulf by Jack E. Davis.  A history of the development of the Gulf of Mexico over the last 300 years sounds like it could be dull, but it is actually pretty interesting, though there is a ton of detail in here.  Enjoying it — if I ever planned to the move to the Gulf Coast, this would be essential.
  • Concurrency in Go by Katherine Cox-Buday.  Ok this is the far more essential book to read about Go, the intro to Go book I previously read should have had all this material.  This is the interesting stuff.

Recent Books — Scoreboard Baby, Red Rising, Need to Know, The Humans, Broken River, Go

  • Scoreboard, Baby by Ken Armstrong & Nick Perry. The inside story on the UW football team in the early 2000s, pretty shocking and awful.  I am sure this level of corruption has happened at other programs too.
  • Red Rising by Pierce Brown.  Start of a series set in the far future of our solar system. All the near habitable planets and moons are terraformed, a rigid authoritarian society is in place, and an uprising starts at the lowest levels of Martian society.  Fun.
  • Need To Know by Karen Cleveland.  A LOT of fun.  A CIA analyst discovers her husband might be a Russian mole, and things get complicated as she tries to protect her life while more and more of the onion gets peeled away.
  • The Humans by Matt Haig.  A scientist makes a mathematical breakthrough which will transform our society, triggering the arrival of aliens who decide that humans aren’t ready for this knowledge.
  • Broken River by J. Robert Lennon.  Crimes and misdeeds swirl around a house in upstate New York.  Eventually pretty much everyone is threatened with death or is dead.  Fun!
  • Introducing Go by Caleb Doxsey.  Very short intro to golang.  A bit thin.

Saddened and angered, and need to do more

I am so saddened and angered about the Parkland shooting. I work with a colleague who lost his child. I have been useless in the last week processing this.

I’ve sat by year after year as these shootings have happened and done nothing. I need to do my part, I need to speak up, I need to take whatever action I can.

I will demand to my representatives that we try to address these shootings. And I am open to trials on many fronts. Reasonable restrictions on assault rifles, let’s try it. More mental health support, let’s try it. Hardening schools, let’s try it. I have my own beliefs about which of these will be most effective (restrictions on assault rifles), but I support any steps that address the shootings, and preferably a basket of steps. Let’s try them all, measure how they do, and try again. The exact steps are not important — it is the repeated trying that matters.

I will demand to my local and state representatives that we try things locally. Don’t try to “boil the ocean” at the Federal level. Start at the state and local level. That is how the country made progress on LGBT rights.

I will support candidates who refuse to take gun lobby money. I want candidates who work on behalf of citizens, not the gun lobby.

We each need to decide how we are going to react to these shootings. I will speak my feelings, and I will demand that we try policies to address the problem, and that we repeatedly try.

Recent Books — Louise Penny, Chickenshit Club, Black Bolt

  • Still Life by Louise Penny.  Great start to this series, homicide in the Quebec countryside.  I feel like I have read another in this series but can find no evidence of it.
  • Glass Houses by Louise Penny.  And the latest in her series, also excellent.
  • The Chickenshit Club by Jesse Eisinger.  The premise is good and there is some interesting detail in here, but the book loses its way in the detail.   I expected to be angry about corporate crime and lack of consequences after reading this book, but I just felt kind of tired.
  • Black Bolt by Saladin Ahmed.  I dip into graphic novels every once in a while to see what is up.  This one got great reviews.  It was just ok for me, a little difficult to relate to the characters or situation.

Recent books — All Systems Red, Seven Little Lessons, Sea of Rust, Dark Matter, Behold The Dreamers

  • All Systems Red by Martha Wells. A fun romp with cyborgs, planetary exploration, betrayal, friendship. Short and sweet. Apparently a longer novel form coming out this year.
  • Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli. Super quick walk thru the major issues in physics today, well written and crisp.
  • Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill.  Humans are extinct, robots rule the world, and they are just as petty, noble, nasty, friendly, loving, and vicious as humans ever were.
  • Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.  Fun multiverse adventure, exploring the role of the observer in controlling the multiverse.  Seems like the author is working hard to get this to film, would be fun.
  • Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue.  Immigrants trying to find their way in America during the 2008 financial crisis.  The good, bad, and ugly of being an immigrant in America, and a story of success and failure and resignation and acceptance.

 

Recent Books — We Have No Idea, The Grid, Exit West, Adam and Eve

  • We Have No Idea by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson. A walk through the big unanswered questions about our universe. The sophomoric humor is very tiresome, I enjoyed some of the information, but can’t recommend.
  • The Grid by Gretchen Bakke. This book has had a lot of buzz, but it is very tiresome.  Some interesting observations but wrapped up in wooden repetitive prose.  The language and story aren’t good enough to make this book widely popular, and the data is too thin for a really technical book.  I resorted to just reading the topic sentences of paragraphs and trying to make do with that.
  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.  Nice tale of immigration, especially pertinent today. Our birthplace is a matter of sheer chance, it does not define us.
  • The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve by Stephen Greenblatt.  A dive into the Adam and Eve story, and how its relevance and meaning have changed over the past several thousand years.  Very helpful context, it would be interesting to read the origin myths of other major religions and a theological discussion of them.

This holiday’s board game winners — Mansions of Madness, King of Tokyo

Mansions of Madness was surprisingly fun.  We had low expectations, it just didn’t look like our kind of game.  Cooperative sounded too nice. But the pace is good, the iPad app really helped run the game, and once we realized that going “insane” in the game opened up play quite a bit, we had a lot of fun.  Definitely recommended.  Not a short game tho.

King of Tokyo — super fast to play, easy gameplay, and the game can shift dramatically in seconds.  Also recommended, and you can fly through a game.

A disappointment was One Night Werewolf.  Maybe we needed more eggnog.  With 5 people, it seemed like the outcomes were obvious.  Maybe we were doing it wrong.

Trying out a game camera, didn’t realize how varied this segment was

We don’t hunt but we like to observe the critters around us.  Trying out the Bushnell Aggressor — no idea if it is the best, but got decent reviews, and we wanted the cellular capability.

Bushnell offers its own portal at wirelesstrophycam.com and also includes a trial offer for Deerlab which seems to have a bunch more features.  The device also comes with a 30 day wireless trial plan and notifies via text or email of new captures, and apparently you can extend the data plan without a contract which is nice..  It can be configured to capture video or pictures as desired.  It uses an impressive 12 AA batteries but apparently can also be hooked up to a solar panel.

The first critter it spotted is not surprising or particularly alarming!  I will deploy it in a location more likely to see deer, otter, mink, etc in the future.

Recent Books — Best Practices, Lodato, Intelligent Systems, Jane, Not A Sound, Seventh Function of Language, Dead Woman Walking, How Not To Be Wrong, Strangers in Their Own Land, Viking Economics

  • The Journal of Best Practices by David Finch.  Engaging tale of a man who set out methodically to improve his relationships.  Good counsel for all of us.
  • Edgar & Lucy by Victor Lodato.  Intriguing and I seemed to enjoy, but somehow just never finished.  I am not sure why.  I guess I am not really in a fantasy mood.
  • Intelligent Systems for Engineers and Scientists by Adrian Hopgood.  Kind of dated at this point.
  • Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore.  Good reviews but ugh, choppy and poorly developed.
  • Not A Sound by Heather Gudenkauf.  Solid thriller — a deaf woman stumbles into a mystery, and increasingly learns that those closest to her may be involved.
  • The Seventh Function of Language by Laurent Binet.  Great book, man did this make me feel uneducated — the art, literature, and culture references flew by me, but well written.
  • Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton.  Nice thriller set in Scottish border lands with some excellent twists.
  • How Not To Be Wrong by Jordan Ellenberg.  Great discussion of practical math and statistics and how they impact our everyday life.  Really good.
  • Strangers In Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild.  Another “how does the conservative right think” book.  Useful to try to build empathy.  Let’s hope that the conservative right are reading the equivalent books.
  • Viking Economics by George Lakey.  A bit gushing, but still a solid read about Nordic economies and values, and what we can learn from them.  A core point that resonated with me — the Nordic countries have embraced “investing in our people” as a core principle, and a lot of policy decisions stem from that.  This does not seem like a bad idea.