Hairy Harmony. Another solid entrant into this series, this time featuring the one natural child of the unifying parents of all five brothers this series revolves around. As with every other entrant here, if you don’t mind minor (and sometimes not quite so minor) spoilers about previous books, this one is perfectly fine as an entry point into the series. Solid MM romance with a rather shocking ending given how this series has been built to this point, and as with every other book in this series introduces the next brother and features him fairly prominently. (Including a rather interesting revelation about that particular brother’s mysterious past.) Very much recommended.
You’ve Heard Of The Imitation Game. Meet The Ultimatum Game. McCarthy-Jones does a phenomenal job in this text of analyzing what exactly spite – which he defines as a behavior that harms both oneself and the other – is, why it is seemingly necessary for human advancement, how it seems to have come to be, and even some of the biological bases of the behavior. In the process, he gives some startling and many times counter-intuitive insights on how exactly spite manifests, often using a tool developed in the 1970s called The Ultimatum Game as the basis of the science. Both a fascinating and disturbing book, this could potentially provide saavy operators yet more ways to control the masses in ways that most wouldn’t even realize they are being controlled – and yet by exposing these methods to the masses in question, gives us ever more effective tools to question the propaganda we are so incessantly bombarded with through so many modern communication channels. Very much recommended.
Poetic Narrative More Memoir Than Hard Science. This is a memoir of a man who was afraid of the sea as a small child and who had one chance encounter that turned his life around… and inspired his life long study of the sea. This book really is as much about the author’s own experiences and thoughts as it is the actual scientific facts he states throughout, which is seen perhaps most glaringly in the extremely short bibliography (at least on this advance copy I read). But truly poetic and beautiful regardless, one is almost inspired to pursue a career (or perhaps second career) in something that gets one out in, on, or under the water just from the sheer awe Francois shows here. All of this noted, I do have a bit of a bone to pick with the actual title: “eloquence” is “a discourse marked by force and persuasiveness”, according to Webster. And while I found quite a bit of beauty, wonder, and awe within this narrative, I found little truly forceful or persuasive. Francois doesn’t seem to be making any major point or trying to persuade anyone to any particular position other than the sheer wonder of all that exists under the seas. Truly an excellent work, even with the quibble over a part of the title. Very much recommended.
Gender Swapped Universal Soldier Meets Deeper Unique Lore. This book *very* much has a Universal Soldier feel through much of it – which isn’t a bad thing at all for this particular reader, since I *loved* that movie for *years*. And yet, these sections can still feel so… “well trod”… just because it *has* been done so often before. Even the gender swapping has been done to a slightly lesser extent.
But then the book connects to a much deeper lore, to a world that it seems that the author has been developing across at least a few books – and a quick perusal of Amazon confirms this suspicion. So even while setting up a seemingly routine-ish (with a few nice wrinkles) Book 1 of a new action series, the book does well to advertise the author’s prior works and encourage an exploration of those tales as well. Great marketing strategy, and a solid storytelling technique.
Overall the tale is interesting and the ending truly does leave the reader wanting more… this reader in particular simply hopes that it does more to stand out in future endeavors. Very much recommended.
Astounding History Of An Oft-Forgotten Era. One point Swift makes in this text is clear even in my own experience – *even as someone who has been to the NASA Cape Canaveral Visitor Center many times*: The era of Apollo after 11 and in particular after 13 is often forgotten in the zeitgeist. People talk about Armstrong and Aldrin all the time. People even talk about Lovell and Mattingly in Apollo 13 a fair amount (helped somewhat by the excellent and mostly realistic Tom Hanks movie and the fact that to this day, NASA sells quite a bit of “Failure Is Not An Option” merchandise).
But after that particular era is when the “real” lunar science began. And for that, NASA needed another tool that got a fair amount of (slightly inaccurate) press back in the day, but whose story has never been quite so thoroughly documented as this particular effort by Swift. That tool was the lunar rover, aka the “moon buggy”, and here Swift does an extremely thorough job of documenting the first inklings of an idea that it may be possible through the early history of American rocketry (while not hiding one iota from its roots in Nazi experimentation) through the conceptualization and manufacturing of the actual rover and even into its impacts on modern rover design, such as the newest Mars rover, Perseverance.
The book does get in the weeds a bit with the technical designs and what exactly went into each, along with the various conceptual and manufacturing challenges of each. Similar to how Tom Clancy was also known to get so in the weeds about certain particulars from time to time, so Swift is in good company there.
But ultimately, this is an extremely well researched and documented book that does a simply amazing job of really putting you right there as all of these events unfold, all the way to feeling the very dirt and grit the final men to walk on the moon experienced when they had certain cosmetic failures on the buggy… millions of miles away from being able to really do anything about it. Truly an excellent work that anyone remotely interested in humanity’s efforts to reach outside of our own atmosphere should read. Very much recommended.
This week we’re looking at a book all about the history and development of an issue that was at the forefront of our minds one year ago during the Great Toilet Paper Outage of 2020. This week we’re looking at Pipe Dreams by Chelsea Wald.
Thought Provoking and Informative. I consider myself a well read guy, a guy that has thought through a lot of problems and who generally knows a lot about a lot. Admittedly, I did *not* know much about toilets and related plumbing, though I had read bits and pieces in other books. (Such as a more in-depth look at John Snow and his work during the 19th century London cholera outbreak in Dierdre Mask’s The Address Book.) But I had never read up on the general history of toilets – apparently because there are scant details about historical toileting beyond the last couple of hundred years or so – much less the bleeding edge issues and technologies of this field. And that is exactly what Wald provides here, a look at everything from the history to almost to-the-day bleeding edge issues, including the Great Toilet Paper Outage of 2020 during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. Very well written and mostly reasonably documented (about 15% or so is bibliography), this truly is a fascinating read. Very much recommended.
When The Storms Of Life Slam Into You. This is a book that can be a bit oppressive at times in just how *heavy* it is. Our main character has suffered a lot of loss that she’s never fully recovered from – some more recent than others – and now she has to confront it all. And yet, it is because of such heavy tragedy that the book is able to explore all that it does and indeed show just the level of hope and forgiveness it does. By the end, the reader is left feeling much lighter and more hopeful for the future, and yet also somber in the face of all that has been lost and yet also all that has been found. If you’re looking for a lighter, quirkier book ala Nolfi’s earlier Sweet Lakes trilogy… this isn’t that. But if you’ve been through some White Hurricanes yourself, or maybe are currently in the middle of one, and just need some level of hope to cling to… this is the kind of book you’ll want to read. And let’s face it – we’ve *all* been through a White Hurricane, are in one, or are about to be in one. (And often all three at once.) For those times and any other, this book is very much recommended.
Remarkable Look at Remarkable Organ. In this text, a German heart surgeon looks to both the physical heart in your chest and the various idioms and metaphysical thoughts on the heart and attempts to arrive at some “holistic” understanding that somehow marries the two. In this, it is as much personal exploration and journey as it is science book, though to be clear there is in fact quite a bit of documented science here – the bibliography is roughly 31% of the book, which is a bit higher than the norm in this reader’s experience, and generally indicative of a particularly well documented effort. This reader has read much of the brain and neurology, but this is the first book specifically on the heart that he has considered, and it really was quite stunning. As to some of the more fantastical claims, among them that the heart has its own independently firing neurons and thus could be said to have some form of thought or cognition independently of the brain, and indeed that the human consciousness isn’t just a product of the brain, but of the whole body… again, look to the sources in the bibliography – though note that in many, if not all, of these passages the author is clear that science as it currently stands at minimum doesn’t fully understand these mechanisms at this time. Ultimately a truly thought provoking book, and very much recommended.
Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics. On the one hand, if this text is true, the words often attributed to Mark Twain have likely never been more true. If this text is true, you can effectively toss out any and all probaballistic claims you’ve ever heard. Which means virtually everything about any social science (psychology, sociology, etc). The vast bulk of climate science. Indeed, most anything that cannot be repeatedly accurately measured in verifiable ways is pretty much *gone*. On the other, the claims herein could be seen as constituting yet another battle in yet another Ivory Tower world with little real-world implications at all. Indeed, one section in particular – where the author imagines a super computer trained in the ways of the opposing camp and an unknowing statistics student – could be argued as being little more than a straight up straw man attack. And it is these very points – regarding the possibility of this being little more than an Ivory Tower battle and the seeming straw man – that form part of the reasoning for the star deduction. The other two points are these: 1) Lack of bibliography. As the text repeatedly and painfully makes the point of astounding claims requiring astounding proof, the fact that this bibliography is only about 10% of this (advance reader copy, so potentially fixable before publication) copy is quite remarkable. Particularly when considering that other science books this reader has read within the last few weeks have made far less astounding claims and yet had much lengthier bibliographies. 2) There isn’t a way around this one: This is one *dense* book. I fully cop to not being able to follow *all* of the math, but the explanations seem reasonable themselves. This is simply an extremely dense book that someone that hasn’t had at least Statistics 1 in college likely won’t be able to follow at all, even as it not only proposes new systems of statistics but also follows the historical development of statistics and statistical thinking. And it is based, largely, on a paper that came out roughly when this reader was indeed *in* said Statistics 1 class in college – 2003. As to the actual mathematical arguments presented here and their validity, this reader will simply note that he has but a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science – and thus at least *some* knowledge of the field, but isn’t anywhere near being able to confirm or refute someone possessing a PhD in some Statistics-adjacent field. But as someone who reads many books across many genres and disciplines, the overall points made in this one… well, go back to the beginning of the review. If true, they are indeed earth quaking if not shattering. But one could easily see them to just as likely be just another academic war. In the end, this is a book that is indeed recommended, though one may wish to assess their own mathematical and statistical knowledge before attempting to read this polemic.
BFP! Curtis Hamsworth! Fans of creature movies (you know, the ones with only a survivor or two – if any – after the creature(s) rampage) and/ or Jurassic Park are going to love this particular book. Set within Woods’ ever-expanding Maddock universe, you don’t have to have any prior experience with that world to have one hell of an awesome time with this romp through the rainforests of northern Australia. Part Jurassic Park, part creature feature ala Deep Blue Sea or Anaconda, and filled with enough adventure and even laughs to bring down a … well, a Big Fucking Predator, this is simply a fun diversion from the “real” world that will leave you breathless… and wanting more. Indeed, the only quibble I have with this thing is the not-very-veiled shots at Sea World – and yet even then, the point *is* (eventually) made of just how much money comes to conservation efforts because of Sea World and similar parks. (Which is my ultimate real world point about such parks.) Beyond that particular sporadic commentary though, truly an amazing ride that will have you forgetting the “real” world for a few hours. And really, isn’t that all any of us can ask for these days? 🙂 Very much recommended.