Astrology == Mathematics. For Sufficiently Large Values Of 2 While Imagining Spherical Cows. Thompson does a truly excellent job here of showing how and where mathematical models of real-world systems can be useful, and where they can lead us astray – perhaps a bit *too* good, as at times she has to jump through a few mental hoops to excuse the inadequacies of preferred models such as those related to climate change and the spread of COVID. On climate models in particular, she actually raises one of the several points Steven Koonin did in 2021’s Unsettled – namely, just how wide each cell of the model is by necessity and how much variation there is within these cells in reality yet models must – again by necessity – use simply an average value throughout the cell. But she discusses a wide variety of models in addition to climate, and again, she truly does an excellent job of showing their benefits and how they can harm us. One star is lost due to the extremely short “future reading” section in place of a more standard bibliography (20% or so is fairly standard in similar nonfiction titles). The other star is lost because this book does have a robust discussion of the numerous COVID models and *I DO NOT WANT TO READ ABOUT COVID*. I am waging a one-man war on any book that references this for any reason at all, and the single star deduction is truly the only tool I have in that war. Still, again, this book really is quite good – as a narrative alone, indeed better than the three star ranking would seem to indicate. Very much recommended.
This review of Escape From Model Land by Erica Thompson was originally written on July 15, 2022.
Read The DTE (Dead Tree Edition). This was an interesting one, in more ways than one. I had seen it on NetGalley and forgot to request it there… and then the publisher out of the blue sends me the paperback (DTE) version thinking I might like it. And y’all, the book itself really is excellent. More detailed in the childhood/ teen years than the more adult period, which is perhaps more understandable as someone trying to maintain *some* sense of privacy over newer relationships.
But this book is also very disturbed. The is one truly dysfunctional family whose particular dysfunctions actually led to quite a few rare experiences that combine to make a truly unique life. For example, Diamond and her family were at the 15th Maccabiah Games in 1997 when the bridge collapsed – the very bridge her brother Frank was supposed to be marching across. But the reasons they were there, and the events in later years… they’re so sensational the reader almost can’t accept them as nonfiction!
And then there is the reason you need to read the DTE. If you look at the DTE side-on, you will notice that the front third (ish) of the pages are pure white while the back two thirds (ish) of the pages are more of a cream color. I noticed this about halfway into the book, and when I went back to look… yep. The colors change exactly at the point of a particularly devastating event – and any description would be a spoiler, so I’m only noting the overall position. This is just one of those minor print details that actually makes a *genuine* case to read the DTE over my (far preferred) eReader edition, as on the eReader edition this detail couldn’t happen. 🙂
Overall an interesting and compelling story, if truly disturbed. Very much recommended.
This review of Nowhere Girl by Cheryl Diamond was originally written on June 27, 2021.