Recent (and not so recent) Reading list.

August 2009

Contents

Current Deque
List of Recent Books (reverse chronological)
Random Map of Articles
Stack of Potential Readings

Current Deque

Nathan Hodge and Sharon Weinberger
A Nuclear Family Vacation: Travels in the World of Atomic Weaponry,
Boomsbury, 2008

Every family faces the question of where to vacation this year. Hodge and Weinberger, both being journalists, combined business with travels, and visited nuclear weapon sites across the US, and around the world. A surprising number of these sites, especially in the US, are open for tourism. Others took more work, and required a journalist pass. Not sure I could convince the family to give up Disney world for Los Alamos.

Henry Petroski
Success Through Failure: The Paradox of Design,
Princeton University Press, 2008

A collection of essays on design and failure. I picked this up for the first chapter about presentation technology from magic lanterns, through slide projectors, overhead projectors and finally to Powerpoint and LCD projectors.

Donald E. Knuth,
Selected Papers on Computer Languages,
CSLI, 2003

This an edited collection of DEK's articles about computer languages. It is part of the CSLI series collecting the work of Donald Knuth. Like the previous volumes this collection is a diverse selection around a cental theme. Knuth is a true polymath in the world of computer science, and his interests over the course of his career have been wide-ranging. I recommend this volume if only for the article on early computer languages, which covers the incunabula of notational systems.

Ian Feming,
Dr. No,
Bantam, 1971

Recovering from nearly dying at the hands of Rosa Klebb at the end of "From Russia with Love" (in the movies Bond ends up with the Woman, in the books he ends up in the Hospital) M sends him on a light mission to recuperate in Jamaica. That recuperation is interrupted by minions of Doctor Julius No, who is ostensibly running a guano export business on Crab Key island, but is in fact on the run from SMERSH.

Dorithy Sayers,
The Nine Tailors,
Harcourt, 1962

Lord Peter Wimsey is briefly stranded in the village of Fenchurch St. Paul on New Year's Eve. This gives him the opportunity to fill in for a nine-hour peal of overnight bells. This eventually leads him to solving a 20-year mystery of missing jewels. Lots of information about bells, their history and manufacture, inscriptions, and so on.

Yoko Hasegawa,
Elementary Japanese, Volume 1,
Tuttle Publishing, 2005

First volume of a two-semester text book. Each lesson starts with a dialog, introduces grammar and Kanji, and concludes with exercises. The book uses kana and Kanji throughout. The first use includes Romaji, but this is dropped as the lessons continue. A good book for individual study.

Wayne P. Lammers,
Japanese the Manga Way: An illustrated guide to grammar & Structure,
Stone Bridge Press, Berkeley, CA, 2005

A Japanese text book which draws examples from manga. Also, a good introduction to vernacular manga. Well written exercises introduce written Japanese sentence structure, and grammar. The book was inspired by Mangajin magazine, which published Japanese lessons during the 1990s.

Recent (and not so recent) Books.

David Haidu,
The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America,
Picador, 2009

This is a history of comic books in America. It is particularly a history of the public hysteria over comic books that started almost as soon as daily strips first appeared in newspapers, but gathered strength after World War II. It's an amazing story of the publishers, artists, writers, politicians, church leaders and scientists. Comics were blamed for juvenal delinquency, corrupting morals, encouraging a slothful and disrespectful attitude towards authority, and other societal ills. Today we don't hear much about comic books, and instead video games, TV reality shows, etc. take the brunt of blame. Before worrying about any of these more modern influences, perhaps a good history lesson is in order.

Ian Fleming,
Casino Royale,
Charter/Berkley, 1987

The first James Bond novel. James is sent to Royale, France in an attempt to bankrupt Le Chiffe, the treasurer of a Russian-backed trade union. Le Chiffe embezzled money from the soviets, and is in Royale in a desperate attempt to win back the difference. Fleming's strength as a writer is his descriptions of psychological tension. The novels climatic baccarat game is a case in point. It consists of a few rounds of cards, with the stakes doubling each play. While this took only a few pages of the book, it was by far the best passage. The rest was build up, preparation, a description of the rules of baccarat (in guise of explaining the game to Vesper Lynd). I was surprised that this took place only half-way through the book. The 2006 film is a close adaptation of the book.

Robert W. Price,
The Paperback Apocalypse: How the Christian Church Was Left Behind,
Prometheus Books, 2007

There is a thriving market in books about the Christian apocalypse, and the end times. Robert Price examines those books, their assumptions and history, and critiques them from social and biblical viewpoints. Most people would assume that the Bible, particularly the Book of Revelation, outline an end of the world scenario, and that popular books on the apocalypse recapitulate that outline. According to Price, they would be wrong. The Christian apocalypse is an extra-biblical story whose followers seek biblical justification. The evidence, however, is thin to nonexistent. Most passages are take out of historical context, and pressed into duty in an effort to maintain a inerrant view of the bible consistent with a particular Christian tradition. In the process the any literal or historical reading of the Bible is abandoned.

Ian Fleming,
The Man with the Golden Gun,
New American Library, 1966

After loosing his memory and going missing at the end of "You Only Live Twice," James Bond shows up in London on a mission to kill M. Alas, he was not himself and after treatment for his amnesia and some de-programming M gives Bond an assignment to redeem himself---kill Francisco Scaramanga. About the only relation to the movie is the name "Francisco Scaramanga." The action takes place on Jamaica, where Scaramanga is investing his considerable profits as an assassin with American mobsters, and Eastern-European concerns in a resort. Bond gains Scaramanga's trust, and with the help of Felix Leiter puts an end to the man with the golden gun. An enjoyable book, and Flemings final Bond novel.

Ian Fleming,
You Only Live Twice,
New American Library, 1964

James Bond travels to Japan on a diplomatic mission and find himself in a life and death struggle with Ernst Blofeld. This is the penultimate Ian Fleming Bond novel, and takes place after "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." In the beginning Bond is depressed after the death of Tracy at Blofeld's hands, is on the verge of losing his job. M sends him on the mission to restore his confidence, not realizing the danger he faced. There are some striking similarities to the movie, and some considerable differences. My favorite passage is the high-stakes, no-holds-barred, winner take all, round of roshambo between Tenaka-san and Bondo-san.

Edward R. Tufte,
The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within, Second Edition,
Graphics Press, 2006

If you want to start a heated office discussion I can think of no better way than to bring up the subject of Tufte and Powerpoint. My recommendation is to read his essay, absorb the message, and think of how your own presentations compare. Tufte's argument is that Powerpoint encourages a style of presentation that is linear, hierarchical, and consists of sentence fragments. He compares the information density in Powerpoint slides (selected from books about Powerpoint, and other sources) to other material people are commonly exposed to, and finds Powerpoint lacking. True, a skilled user can prepare a good presentations in Powerpoint. Tufte argues Powerpoint at best does not help, and arguably hinders most users.

William Poundstone,
Carl Sagan: A Life in the Cosmos,
Holt, 200

A good biography of a fascinating scientist. Like most people I learned about Carl Sagan by watching Cosmos. But, I was surprised at the depth and breadth of is science work. All through his adult life, while writing popular books about science, and working on Cosmos, Sagan maintained an active active research program in planetary science at Cornell. He was also an extraordinary teacher, as I've written elsewhere.

Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi,
The Two-Income Trap,
Basic Books, 2004

This is a very interesting book. The premise is that the working and middle classes have been in a competition to provide a good school, and safe neighborhood to their children. As such, they have bid up the cost of homes in good school districts. This required that both parents work in order to meet their structural budget. The result, is that more families face bankruptcy if income is disrupted. If one spouse is sick, or looses a job, the family can no longer afford the pay the mortgage. A one-income family has a spare earner, who can seek work under similar circumstances. Elizabeth Warren has studied bankruptcy in the US, and I've seen her talk. This book is a good introduction to some of her findings. She provides evidence debunking some of the more common myths of financial trouble.

Dan Farmer and Wietse Venema
Forensic Discovery,
Addison-Wesley, 2005.

By the authors of the Coroner's Toolkit and SATAN, a book on analyzing computers that have been broken into, finding and preserving evidence of how and when the computer was compromised. What is interesting is how their conception of analysis differs from the conventional wisdom. Computers leave digital prints all over the place, and a lot can be inferred from observing how and when data is altered. Gaps in data can tell you nearly as much as actual logs. (For example, a large gap in process ids in a log file tells you a lot of processes were run.)

Anil Hemajani,
Agile Development with Spring, Hibernate and Eclipse,
Sams Developer's Library, 2006.

Also Ant, JUnit and other modern Java development tools. This book is about development methodology. The focus is on using Agile methods, supported by modern development tools.

John Kenneth Galbraith,
The Affluent Society, 4th edition,
Houghton Mifflin, 1984.

This is Galbraiths best known work. His premiss is that as a society's affluence increases, there is a tendency for affluent people to shift their priorities. The poor, or non-affluent, loose political power (to go along with their lesser economic power), and the more affluent find ways to justify this relative loss. As time goes on, there is an inevitable widening of the gap between the rich and poor, as the wealthy opt-out of society, preferring to purchase private benefits (schools, gated communities, pension plans) rather than contribute to the public sector. This of course further widens the gap, as the society experience by each class grows further apart.

This edition was written as the Reagan Revolution was just starting. Of that, he observed in the introduction that `the poor are said to not work hard because they make too much, and the rich are said not to work hard because they make too little.' It is difficult while reading to ignore the intervening 25 years of perspective history has provided. It is also difficult in light of recent events to not draw comparisons with the so called guilded age.

Roberto Lerusalimschy
Programming in Lua, Second Edition,
Lua.org, 2006.

Lua is a so-called glue language. Like Tcl before it, Lua is designed to run as in interpreter, or linked with another program. In the later category is LuaTeX, which provides access to TeX primitives via Lua, and IMAPfilter which uses a Lua command language to access IMAP. Lua is a functional programming language with a simple data structure (tables) and co-routines.

Barbara Oakley
Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend,
Prometheus Books, 2008.

This book is about psychopaths, borderline personality disorder and Machiavellians. And, as the title suggests, the effects of genes and brain damage are explored as the causes of these disorders. There is ample evidence of an organic cause for many personality disorders, and Oakley is suitably cautious about the nature of the data in this emerging field of study. There is a detailed discussion early in the book about heritability and twin studies, but I would have placed a greater emphasis on the sensitivity of measured heritability to environment, as well as the confounding of pre-birth environment with genotype. In addition, some of Oakley's references are from personal communication or secondary sources, as expected in a popular science book. Finally, any attempt to clinically diagnose a person who is not present is fraught with even more difficulties than a ``simple'' clinical diagnosis.

With those cautions in place, this is a fascinating book, well worth reading. There are people whose emotional responses, through some combination of genetics and environment, are outside the norm. These traits may well be adaptive in many environments, such as the tribes humans evolved in. Some cultures, however may be rewarding certain personality traits to the point of putting well adapted sociopaths in change. I'm thinking not only of war-prone areas such as Afghanistan, but also our modern ``greed is good'' business climate. I am always suspicious of the ``bad people do bad things'' view of history. But, bad times may promote sociopaths to positions of power, and there seems to be no shortage of willing followers. Oakley's book brings together the research into this dark side of human relations.

Charles Kindleberger and Robert Alber,
Manias, Panics and Crashes: A History of Financial Crisis, 5th edition,
Wiley, 2005

A classic study of the panics and crashes. This edition adds material by the second author about the panics of the 1990s. No doubt there will be a 6th edition to cover the panics since then. And, there have been an amazing number of panics throughout history. More than an enumeration of market panics, this book attempts to explain why they occur. Alas, this organization leads to repetition. Still, each chapter contained still more gems of market mania, the creation of wealth out of thin paper, and the inevitable crashes, which keeps the reader reading.

Paul DuBois,
MySQL, Fouth Edition,
Addision-Wesley, 2009.

The definitive MySQL book. It should be at 1197 pages. Covers just about everything one will need to know about MySQL the database engine. What more could I say?

Benoit Mandelbrot and Richard Hudson,
The (Mis)behavior of Markets: A Fractal View of Financial Turbulence,
Basic Books, 2006

The premise of this book is that markets are fractal, not normally distrubuted. Mandelbrot and Hudson take the reader through a history of market analysis and models, showing the limits of each model. In the end, a case is made that fractal market models generate the best models, and that the standard assumptions of financial analysis (normal distribution of commodity prices) is flawed, and likely to lead one to mistaken conclusions. Price swings are too large for the distribution to be Gaussian curve to---the tails are too heavy. But, in addition to that there is long-term memory to prices, not captured in scale-free models. Footnotes provide some equations and technical discussion.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb,
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbably,
Random House, 2007.

Quite in interesting book about asymmetric events in markets, and life. One bad trade can wipe out decades worth of gains in the market (as we've seen recently). Often the risk is not even know ahead of time (such as the casino whose employee was not filing IRS forms for large winnings). Worse than the unknown risk, however, is believing you have control of risk, or know how to measure it. The tools used by banks and investment firms are based on unrealistic assumptions of how markets work. Well worth reading.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb,
Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in the Markets and Life,
Texere, 2001.

To me, this is the better of Taleb's books. It is shorter, the topics are better scoped, and he deals more with fundamental misunderstandings of randomness, and probability.

Richard Ferri,
All About Index Funds,
McGraw-Hill, 2nd ed., 2006

A good introduction to index funds. What index funds are, how they are indexed, who markets them, how to manage a portfolio of index funds, and so on. A good complement to The Boglehead's Guild to Investing. Perhaps better as a first foray into index funds.

Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson,
Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts,
Mariner Books, 2008

Why do people dodge responsibility, and not own up when things go wrong? A good introduction to cognitive dissonance, and how people justify mistakes and avoid taking responsibility in business and life.

John Kenneth Galbraith,
The Great Crash of 1929,
Houghton Mifflin, 1961.

This is Galbraith's history of the market crash of 1929. An early book of his, The Affluent Society was put on hold while he wrote this book. This is a simple history, with analysis left for later chapters. As I was reading this, more revelations about CDSs and CDOs were coming to light. Recent economic events are different from 1929, but they are also similar. The schemes were different, but they had the same gain---leveraging money for high interest gains. Leveraging, alas excellerates earnings on the way up and losses on the way down.

Carl Sagan,
The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God,
Penguin, 2007.

Carl Sagan's Gilford Lecture, named in honor of the first Gilford Lecture by William James. This work is more philosophical that Sagan's others, in that he is trying to convey a secular sense of the meaning of existence. In reading this, I realize we lost a great thinker and educator.

Why Aren't They Here?: The Question of Life on Other Worlds
Surendra Verma,
Totem Books, 2008

A light trek though the Fermi Paradox. Enjoyable, easy to read and funny in places. The approach taken is different from other FP books, in that it's coverage of origins of life theories, and the history of other-worlds thought, and a history of humanities attempts to send messages. If you are not familiar with the Fermi Paradox, this is a good introductory book. Although, it's focus is wider than just the paradox, making more of a SETI+FP+Origin's book.

Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer
Lynne Cox,
Harvest Books, 2005

Wow, talk about swimming. Lynne Cox has swam farther in colder water than likely any person. An incredible story of athletic endurance. I first read about her Antartic swim in the New Yorker, and it was one of the best articles of endurance every read.

Kim Stanley Robinson
Forty Signs of Rain, Fifty Degrees Below, Sixty Days and Counting,
Spectra, 2005, 2007, 2008.

An excellent hard scifi story about global warming. Based in Washington (mostly) and San Diego it follows the story of NSF scientists and congressional staffers trying to do something to handle a climate gone wild. Lots of large scale engineering (in the background), while focusing on the stories of the people involved. Also, for good measure, we have espionage, throwing elections with touch-screen voting machines, and a surprise senatorial presidential candidate.

Thomas Ligotti
The Shadow at the Bottom of the World,
Cold Spring Press, P.O. Box 284 Cold Spring Harbor, New York, NY 11724, 2005

A collection of short stories; some in the vein of H.P. Lovecraft. The stories often have a detached quality, almost like reading Borges.

Taylor Larimore, Mel Lindauer and Michael LeBoeuf,
The Boglehead's Guild to Investing,
Wiley, 2006.

An introductory guide to personal finance some of the founders of the boglehead forum on Morningstar. A good book, focussing on Index investing (of course), but also covering bonds, insurance, wealth management, etc.

John C. Bogle,
The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns,
Wiley, 2005.

A short, sweet, guide to indexed funds and investing by the founder of Vanguard. Covers Modern Porfolio Theory, and gives great examples of why index funds make sense.

Lee Goldberg,
Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii,
Signet, 2006.

Ok, to enjoy this book you will have to be Monk fan. And, to really enjoy it you should be a Monk fan vacationing on Kauai'i. If that describes you, read the book. It's funny, it takes place on an Island paradise, you'll recognize the setting, and you'll laugh at Monk's reaction to Hawaiian culture. Like most Monk stories, the mystery is easy to figure out, but we don't watch for the mystery, we watch for Monk.

Michael Shermer,
The Mind of the Market: Compassionate Apes, Competitive Humans and Other Tales from Evolutionary Economics,
Times Books, 2007

I have mixed feelings about this book. Parts of it were facinating, and parts wondered off track. For example, there are large sections about competetive cycling. Intersting stuff (especially if you ever competetively cycled), but not Evolutionary Economics. In an interview on Skepticality Shermer admitted that much of Evolutionary Economics and Evolutionary Psychology is speculation, not well supported by the data (that was the gist, not an exact quote). The book, however, is well footnoted, and does make an enjoyable read.

David F. Swensen,
Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment,
Free Press, 2005

The mutual fund industry is doing a poor job for Americas' investors. With more employers moving from defined benefit to defined contribution programs the burden, and risk, of investment now rests with more and more workers. This book is a systematic critique of the mutual fund industry, and a guild to building and managing a diversified portfolio. The information in the book is invaluable, and I recommend anybody responsible for maintaining their own retirement investments, or anybody invested or thinking of investing in mutual funds, read this book. Unfortunately the author's prose is heavy handed and awkward in places. This is unfortunate, but should not stop you from reading the book.

Gary Hirshberg,
Stirring it Up: How to make Money and Save the World,
Hyperion, 2008.

The CE-Yo of Stonyfield Farm (my favorite yogurt) on how business can make a profit in an environmentally sustainable way.

Peer Heinlein and Peer Hartleben
The Book of IMAP: Building a Mail Server with Courier and Cyrus,
No Starch Press, 2008

Finally, another book on IMAP. Discusses protocol, load levels, clustering, etc. Good coverage of both Courier and Cyrus, but, alas, not Dovecot.

Keith Devlin and Gary Lorden
The Numbers Behind Numb3rs: Solving Crime with Mathematics,
Penguin, 2007.

Like man fans of Numb3rs, I've often wondered if the math discussed in the show has, or could be, used to solve crime as shown. This book answers that question by discussing the real math behind many of the episodes. While the writers do take poetic license, in many cases episodes track real-life cases. The biggest license, of course, is the time frame and breadth and depth of Charley Eppes abilities. No single Mathematician can know that much, and even if he or she did, it often tales months to collect and transform data for a mathematical or computer model. In some cases, the models took years to develop, and require months of training to apply successfully. The chapters often veer from Numb3rs, using the show to start a chapter on number counting, or Bayesian inference. Concludes with an episode guide to the first 3 seasons.

John Fox
An R and S-Plus Companion to Applied Regression,
Sage Publications, London, 2002.

Keeping in Sage Publications tradition of hands-on teaching, this is a guide to, as it says, regression analysis using R, with some S-Plus material added. Good example data sets from the CAR library.

Alan Weisman
The World Without Us,
Thomas Dunne Books, 2007

This is a fascinating book. What would happen if humans disappeared? How long will our structures last? Some of them, it turns out, would not last long at all. Once the power stops the pumps keeping water out of the New York subway system stop. Soon the streets will be rivers. Written as a ecological thought experiment, this book illustrates our integral role in maintaining the world around us.

Joscelyn Godwin
Arktos: The Polar Myth in Science, Symbolism, and Nazi Survival,
Adventures Unlimited Press, 1996

If Standish is sometimes informal, Godwin is often too formal. But, this is also a fun book. Dealing only briefly with hallow earth theories, this is a book about Polar myths.

David Standish
Hollow Earth: The Long and Curious History of Imagining Strange Lands, Fantastical Creatures, Advanced Civilizations, and Marvelous Machines Below the Earth's Surface,
Da Capo Press, 2006

A fun book, covering the history of hollow earth theories starting with Edmund Halley, through Poe, Verne, Burroughs, Symmes, and many more. The author is sometimes too informal in his presentation, and there are a few non-hollow earth digressions (which are nonetheless interesting). Very well illustrated.

Graig A. Schiller and Jim Binkley with Gadi Evron, Carsten Willems, Tony Bradley, David Harley, and Michael Cross
Botnets: The Killer Web App,
Syngress, 2007

Botnets launch denial of service attacks, distribute spam, and steal personal information (including contacts lists, so they can be spammed). As the ironic title says, they are the killer web application of the early 21st century. This book goes through a short history of botnets, and explains the actions of the more popular bots.

Gavan Daws
Shoal of Time: A history of the Hawaiian Islands,
University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, HI, 1968.

A history of Hawai'i from the time of Cook's first landing until Statehood.

Glenn Kardy and Chihiro Hattori,
Kana de Manga,
Japanime, Saitama, Japan 2004

An introduction to Hiragana and Kantakana using Manga. Each spread is a different kana, in alphabetical order. An example word, and a picture. This is the first book in a series that continues with the four volume Kanji de Manga.

Hiroki Endo,
Eden: It's An Endless World!, volumes 1--8++,
Dark Horse Mango, Milwaukie, 2005--2007

A virus attacks which attacks callogen, slowley freezing its victims in a shell composed of their own bodies, ravages the human population. The survivors build a new society, split into the waring fractions. Eden is part cyberpunk, part appocolyptic novel and, part action comic.

Jonathan Borwein and David Bailey,
Mathematics by Experimentation: Plausible Reasoning in the 21st Century,
A.K. Peters, Natick, MA, 2004.

A textbook in experimental mathematics. That is, mathematical discovery supported by running computer experiments. Running experiments is not new in mathematics. Gauss said that he spends most of his time studying examples. The computer allows more examples to be studied faster, leading to more conjectures and, on occasion, formal proofs. This is the first part of a two-part series.

Hiroyuki Lizuka and Amu Sumoto, Shoko Akira, Yuu Watase and Mayu Shinjo, English translation and adaptation by Mai Ihara,
Shojo Beat's Manga Artist Acadamy: Manga tips from manga experts,
Viz Media, San Francisco, 2003

``Making Comics'' for the Shojo beat croud. Ok, this is one for reading with Gwyn. Still, a nice collection of articles on how to draw Manga, from the very practical skills of preparing a work space, and tips on inking, to the more general character and story-telling tips which are central to Scott McCloud's book.

Terrance Parr,
The Definitive ANTLR Reference: Building Domain-Specific Languages,
Pragmatic Bookshelf, 2007.

ANTLR (ANother Tool for Language Recognition) builds recognizers for LL(*) languages. The recognizers are recursive-decent parsers with unlimited lookahead, rule ordering, and semantic tags. More than just a reference for ANTLR, this is a decent book on building recognizers.

Terry Pratchett,
Only You Can Save Mankind,
HarperTrophy, 2006.

First of the Johnny Maxwell trilogy. Johnny finds himself providing safe passage to the survivors of a video space game, much to the chagrin of the other players. This book was originally written in the early 90's (GWI is in the background). So, the video game is a little dated. (E.g., the general plot is not farfetched in a MMORPG.) But, the jokes hold up, and most jokes for 8-12 year olds do. (And, there are a few thrown in for the parents.)

Scott McCloud,
Making Comics: Storytelling secrets of comics, manga and graphic novels,
Harper, New York 2006.

A comic introduction to writing comics. Scott McCloud writes and illustrates a marvelous textbook on telling stories with pictures. This is the book for all who harbor a fantasy of quitting our day jobs, and become a graphic novelists. But, it is also a fantastic guide to developing stories, and telling those stories using pictures. This is a task increasingly common in a world of scientific visualization and overhead LCD projectors. Knowing how to tell a story with pictures is a skill with applications beyond early retirement dreams.

Robert A. Heinlein,
Job: A Comedy of Justice,
Del Rey, 1985

A modern day Job is put to the test, but the test is rigged. One of R.A.H.'s later narratives, follows our protagonist as he adapts to a world, literally, shifting beneath his charcoal toasted feet, only to take a sharp left when looked like he might win. One of my favorite Heinlein novels from the 80's.

Trenton Lee Stewart,
The Mysterious Benedict Society,
Little Brown, New York, 2007.

Somebody is sending thought control messages through the television, and The children of the Mysterious Benedict Society must find out who. Reminds me of The Wizard of Oz for play on words, and The Phantom Tolebooth for its use of logical paradox. Gwyn and I enjoyed this one, especially the end (where we learn about Constance).

David Kalat,
J-Horror: The definitive guide to The Ring, The Grudge and beyond,
Vertical, New York, 2007

J-Horror is defined as more of an art movement than an film genre. Inspired by the works of novelists Koji Suzuki, directors Kurosowa, Nakata and Shimizu and manga artist Junji Ito J-Horror uses mood, setting and character to induce horror in the audience. The Ring and its many sequels and remakes in English and Korean initiated and define this movement. I nearly passed over this book, since random readings seemed disconnected. But, as a narrative it is, so far, a fascinating book. The author starts with the days of horror-hosts (my own was Dr. Shock,Joseph Zawislak---with Bubbles from channel 48, Philadelphia), and draws a parallel with J-Horror. But, while the movies show by Dr. Shock with written for a family audience, J-Horror is scary! I too saw America version of The Ring in a theater, and remember the audience reaction. And, so began the odyssey of scarry ghost stories that make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

Carl Zimmer,
Parasite Rex: Inside the bizarre world of nature's most dangerous creatures,
The Free Press, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2003

Wow, what a great topic for a book! Parasites, long relegated to the (stagnant :-) backwaters of medical and biological research, are evolutions most adaptive and adapted creatures. Changing shape across generations, moving from species to species, eluding their hosts' immune systems; parasites are creatures worthy science fiction. Carl Zimmer takes us inside the world of parasites, the scientists to study them, and the doctors who treat their victims. A great book for fans of the Alien movies. Also a great book for those interested in computer security---more than a few parallels can be drawn between the evolution and spread of parasites, and the spread of computer malware.

Clifford Pickover,
The Mathematics of Oz: Mental Gymnastics from beyond the edge,
Cambridge University Press, New York, 2002

One-hundred and eight puzzles ranging in difficulty from easy to no known solution. Clifford Pickover writes wonderful puzzle and algorithm books that take forever to read. One of his books can occupy a mortal for most of his or her lifetime. It's difficult to just read a Pickover book---I have to keep stopping and trying the puzzles, or writing a program. When does he find time to write? Gwyn and I are both enjoying this one.

Marco Dorigo and Thomas Stützle
Ant Colony Optimization,
The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2004

Ant Colony Optimization is about algorithms that are inspired by the behavior of ant colonies when foraging for food. Ants use Stigmergy---communication by modifying the environment in the form of pheromones----to find the optimal path from colony to food. The pheromones provide a shared memory for the ants. ACO (Ant Colony Optimization) is non-deterministic methods of solving optimization problems, such as TSP and Knapsack, that simulate pheromone via probabilistic choice of paths visited by other simulated ants. The book covers the background of ACO algorithms, introduces the Meta-ACO heuristic, compares it to other meta-heuristics, and applies ACO and variants to numerous optimization problems. Some formal proofs of convergence for a subset of ACO algorithms is presented.

Stephen Webb,
If The Universe is Teeming With Aliens.... Where is Everybody? Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox And the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life,
Copernicus Books, Springer-Verlag, New York, 2002.

Enrico Fermi once asked, ``Where is everybody?'' and hence the middle-title of this book. After a brief history of Fermi and the background to his question, Webb discusses 49 proposed solutions. In solution 50, he presents his own view by way of a clever of a Sieve of Fermi. Just as the Sieve of Eratosthenes quickly eliminates non-prime numbers, the Sieve of Fermi quickly eliminates candidate planets from the list of possible sources of communicating intelligent life. A book of this nature is going to contain some repetition, but Webb holds this to a minimum by referencing other proposed solutions.

One negative comment: This book contains the most confusing, and awkward notes and reference system have ever seen. The notes are in the second to last chapter, listed with a tiny note number, and a large page number. As note and page numbers are both monotonic, this has the tendency of drawing the reader's eyes to the wrong note. Within each note, references are given only by monotonic reference number. The references themselves are in the last chapter. This leads to gens such as: ``[29 Pg 24] See [22].'' Since the references are listed in the order they are mentioned, it is difficult to look up a specific reference by author---assuming you take the time to flip back and forth between three sections of the book to discover the author's name.

That said, don't let the diatribe stop you from reading the book; delving deep into the thought experiment that is the Fermi Paradox. Besides, how could I not recommend a book whose conclusions mirror my own.

Tim Harford,
The Undercover Economist: Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, the Poor Are Poor---and Why You can Never Buy a Decent Used Car!,
Oxford University Press, New York, 2005.

A popular economics book, well written and entertaining, with many discussions of coffee and beer, traffic, used cars and health care (not unrelated topics) You may never view shopping in quite the same way.

Anthony Everett,
Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor,
Random House, New York, 206.

A through biography of Augustus, and a history of Rome as it transitioned from a republic, the the empire.

Brian D. Ripley
S Programming,
Springer, New York, 2000

A concise guide to S3.

Brian D. Ripley
The new S Language: A Programming Environment for Data Analysis and Graphics,
Wadsworth & Brooks/Cole, Pacific Grove, CA, 1988

Decent introduction to S, the statistical language. Early chapters go over S's data structions, and data transformations. later chapters introduce graphics.

Jonathan A. Zdziarski
Ending Spam: Bayesian Content Filtering and The Art of Statistical Language Classification,
No Starch Press, San Francisco, 2005.

A detailed guide to Bayesian filters and blocking spam. Early chapters go through the history of spam blocking, and outline the logic for an adaptive filter based on the characteristics spam and non-spam messages---Bayesian filters. Later chapters go into detail of how Bayesian filters work, and how to write an efficient Bayesian filter program. Even if this were not the only book about Bayesian filters, it would still be the best. If your job involves blocking spam (as my job does), you must read this book.

Rasmus Lerdorf and Kevin Tatroe, with Bob Kaehms and Ric McGredy,
Programming PHP,
O'Reilly, Cambridge, 2002.

PHP was designed to enhance home pages, and is not one of the more popular dynamic web content development languages. PHP mixes PHP code with HTML code to create content. The language is integrated with the web server, typically Apache. A good introduction to PHP 4 language basics, functions, and libraries.

Robert Arp, ed.,
South Park and Philosophy: You Know, I Learned Something Today,
Blackwell Publishing, Malden, MA 2007.

I am not generally a fan of the ``<X> of <Y>'' genre of books. But, this one grabbed my attention with chapter titles such as: ``Cartmanland and the Problem of Evil,'' and ``Oh My God! They Killed Kenny...Again: Kenny and Existentialism.'' This collection of articles were written as a philosophy reader. The major themes are Utilitarianism and Libertarianism, with a bit of Epistemology. I would take a course that assigns philosophy readers by Blackwell Publishing.

Jamie Russell,
Book of the Dead: The Complete History of Zombie Cinema,
Fab Press, Surrey, England UK, 2005.

A informative and fun book about Zombie Movies going back the the 1920's and 1930's, when interest in Haiti was growing during the U.S. occupation of Hispaniola. Illustrated, and annotated with an extensive filmography. Added several dozen titles to my Netflix list.

Paul Gravett,
Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics,
Lawence King Publishin/HarperCollins, New York, 2004.

A history of manga emphasizing the wide-ranging variety of styles used by manga artists over the decades.

Timothy R. Lehmann,
Manga: Masters of the Art,
Collins Design, HarperCollins, New York, 2005.

Interviews and art samples form selected manga artists.

Cathy & Arnie Fenner, eds.,
Icon: A Retrospective by Grand Master of Fantastic Art Frank Frazetta,
Underwood Books, Nevada City, CA, 2003.

Franzetta is perhaps the most influencial artist in science fiction and fanasy. In an age when cover art was often flat, and derivative his work stood out, and was instantly recognized. He also changed the rules under which fantasy artists worked. This is a retrospecive of his work, which extended to comic books and movie art, and was not confined to fantasy.

Jared Diamond,
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,
Viking, New York, 2005.

Jared Diamond,
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies,
W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1997.

John Keegan,
History of Warfare,
Vintage, 1993.

Koji Susuki,
Spiral,
Vertical, San Francisco, 2005.

While Ring was a horror novel flirting with science fiction, Spiral is nearly all science fiction. Starting a few months after Ring, Spiral starts with the autopsy of Ryuji, which reveals a encrypted message from the corpse. Who sent the message and how? As the answer unfolds we learn how the Ring virus has adapted, and survives.

Brian Lumley,
Beneath the Moors: And darker places,
Tor, New York, 2002.

A collection of short stories and a short novel, Beneath the Moors, most taking place in the Cuthulu mythos of H.P. Lovecraft. Creepy, entertaining, and true to the genre.

Hiromu Arakawa,
Fullmetal Alchemist, volumes 1--14++,
Viz Media, San Francisco, 2005--2007.

Gwyn and I were big fans of the anime. The Manga and anime follow nearly the same story line for the first eight volumes, then Arakawa takes the story in a very different, and promising, direction. I'm not sure about the alchemists from Chin---is she trying to write a different story. But, I do like the connection between the homunculi and Holenheim of Light.

Keiko Takemiya,
To Terra, vol 1.,
Vertical, New York, 1977/2007

A space opera in which a future mankind controls the violent impulse by raising children in foster homes on an alien world. Only the elite, who pass strict psychological tests are allowed to live on earth. People are constantly screened for any evidence of psychic powers, which are ruthlessly stamped out. A group of Mus (Mutants), rejected and hunted by human society, are trying to reach earth. The entire theme screams 1970s, with remnants of THX 1138 and Logan's Run. Still, the story is nostalgic, in a ``futures past'' way.

Peter Carey,
Wrong About Japan,
Vintage Books, New York, 2004.

Author Peter Carey takes his son Charley to Japan. The only stipulation, is that they see the real Japan---Manga, Anime, electronics. Told as a narrative of their travels, much of the book has a down-beat, and you expect Charley to be disappointed in the trip. But, the ending leaves you with a smile.

Jon Bentley.
Writing Efficient Programs, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1982.

Bentley is the author of Programming Pearls and More Programming Pearls, both of which contain many articles discussing the aesthetic of programming. This is a textbook for improving the efficiency of existing programs. Efficiency is defined as the level below algorithms, but above assembly code. The goal is to reduce the constants in an selected algorithm's implementation. Many of the ideas are also presented in the Pearls books, and I recommend them for a broader treatment of programming efficiency at all levels. This books strength is its more narrow focus, and systematic treatment of profiling, and incremental improvements to a program's speed.

Jared Hodges and Lindsay Cibos,
Digital Manga Workshop: An Artist's Guide to Creating Manga Illustrations On Your Computer,
Harper Design, HarperCollins, New York, 2005.

An artist guide to working in digital media. While Manga is the source of examples, the book is useful to any aspiring digital artist.

Jeremy Sutton,
Painter IX Creativity: Digital Artist's Handbook,
Focal Press, Elsevier, Oxford UK, 2005.

A guide to using Corel Painter IX. The basics of Painter are covered, along with examples on customizing your layout. Most of the examples modify photos to create artistic effects.

Steven Skiena,
Programming Challenges,
Springer-Verlag, New York, 2003.

A collection of programming challenges to train computer olympiad.

Richard Dawkins,
The God Delusion,
Houghton Mifflin, Boston, MA, 2006.

Richard Dawkins is one of today's most outspoken atheists. I would compare him to Robert Ingersoll, or H.L Menkin from early in the 20th century. Certainly, there have been precious few outspoken, popular defenders of non-belief since the days of the free thought movement. Yes, there have been outspoken proponents of non-belief. "Popular" is the key term. Sagan was "popular" and spoke passionately for rationality. But, that is different from speaking out specifically in favor of, to defend and to promote non-belief. Given that polls show as much as 20% of Americans are non-believers, this is not a fringe element of our society. But, it is one that is marginalized in today's political and cultural climate.

Dawkins is the atheists bulldog. He is forceful, direct, cogent and polite. This last adjective might come as a surprise to Dawkins critics. But, compared to Ingersoll and Menkin---and other critics of belief from the early 20th Century, Dawkins is Judith Martin.

The thesis of this book is that religious belief, indeed any belief taken of faith in the absence of evidence, is harmful, and a danger to our society and its future. This is perhaps not new, but Dawkins goes further by claiming that moderate religions are as harmful as fundamentalism in that the moderate religions provide a haven for more radical religions. If one allows that there is an all-powerful God, if you admit to a belief in the supernatural, then you provide the foundation upon which more radical beliefs are built.

This is not doubt Dawkins most controversial position in that he is intentionally alienating those who would help promote rationalism and science in a religious world. In the interest of full discloser, agree with these critics. But, I also agree with Dawkins. And, I realize that is a contradiction. In other words, Dawkins has got me thinking, and I'm not yet finished.

My own criticism, and it is not original, is that Dawkins addresses religion, and only briefly touches upon the problem of non-religious -isms. He does talk about the survival value of religious beliefs, and offers the theory that such beliefs are a side-effect of otherwise adaptive traits. For example, a innate tendency to believe what your parents tell you prior to the age of, say, ten has survival value. ``Don't eat that plant.'' ``Why?'' ``Because I told you not to!'' If you have mobile children, you know that ``believe it because I told you so'' keeps kids out of a lot of danger. But, this tendency, and others, can influence behaviors in ways that are non-religious---at least not in ways immediately recognized as religions. In that regard, I think Peter Drucker came closer to the mark in The End of Economic Man when he warned of following the ``fascist impulse''---a side effect of, perhaps, other traits with survival value to small tribes. But, which represent a real danger to larger societies.

Still, this is one of Dawkins' finest books and well worth reading, and thinking about.

Sam Harris,
End of Faith:Religion, Terror, And the Future of Reason,
W.W Norton & Company, New Yortk, 2004.

Mike Mason,
Pragmatic Version Control: Using Subversion, 2nd Edition, The Pragmatic Starter Kit---Volume 1,
The Pragmatic Bookshelf, Raleigh, North Carolina, 2006.

Introduction to Subversion (SVN), and how it differers from CVS, and RCS (on which CVS is built). For those who do not know, SVN keeps file versions on an SVN server, where they can be read by anybody with access. Those copies can then be merged back with the main repository, or start a new branch. SVN works on collections of related files. If a new copy is made, it is merged with local changes. Only committed changes (those sent from client back to server) are available for others to copy. It takes some getting used to if you've been in the RCS/CVS model as long as I have. But, it makes sense and introduces true client independence into the work flow.

Michael Isikoff and David Corn,
Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal and the Selling of the Iraq War,
Three Rivers Press, 2007.

Peter L. Bergen,
Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden,
Free Press/Touchstone, 2002.

Mitchell Zuckoff,
Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend,
Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2006.

Greg Palast,
Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans---Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild,
Dutton, 2006.

Greg Palast,
The Best Money Democracy Can Buy,
Penguin, New York, 2002.

Rumiko Takahashi,
Ranma 1/2, volumes 1--9,
Viz Media, San Francisco, 2003.

This series is a lot of fun. Unique martial art styles, comic love triangles, dynamic illustration. And, more ways to get wet then I would have thought possible. In fact, if this manga is to be believed, getting splashed with cold water is a near daily event in Tokyo. I stopped at volume nine, but the series continues into the 30s. Someday I'll read more.

Rumiko Takahashi,
Inu Yasha,
Viz Media, San Francisco, 2003.

Takahashi-san's other long-running manga series. Love triangles, daemons, swords and sorcery. Truly wonderful action illustrations.

Hideyuki Kurata and Shutaro Yamada,
R.O.D: Read Or Die, volumes 1--4,
Viz Media, San Francisco, 2000/2006.

A very cool premise for a super-hero manga. Papermaster Yomiko Readman works for the British Library recovering rare books. Her power? The ability to manipulate paper turing it into weapons, shields and tools. Good book for a bookworm.

Hideyuki Kurata and Ran Ayanaga,
R.O.D.: Read Or Dream, volumes 1--4,
Viz Media, San Francisco, 2002/2006--2007.

Three paper masters: Michelle, Maggie and Anita must save the world. Each has unique paper-powers. Anita, the youngest, doesn't like books.

Naoki Urasawa,
Monster, vols 1--3,
Viz Signature, San Francisco, 1995/2006.

A film nuar manga pitting Dr. Kenzu Tenma against the monster he created. The wrong man, Dr. Tenma is on the run, trying to capture the only person who could prove he is innocent.

Monkey Punch,
Lupin III, vol 1.,
Tokyo Pop, Los Angeles, CA 1989/2002.

Familiar characters (to fans of the anime) in unfamiliar settings. Still, entertaining stories of the master thief. Fujiko, Goyman, and Jigan are there, but have not yet joined forces with Lupin.

Takao Saito,
Golgo 13,
Viz Signature, San Francisco, CA 2000/2006.

Stories of Super spy Golgo 13. Built around conteporary events, such as an Iraqi super-gun.

Jon Ronson,
The Men Who Stare at Goats,
Simon & Schuster, New York, 2004.

From the cover: ``This story is about what happened when a small group of men---highly placed within the United States Military, the Government, and the Intelligence services---began believing in very strang things.'' Began? Written as a personal narative of exploring these highly placed individuals, this is indeed a book of the bizarre.

Kazuo Umezu,
The Drifting Classroom, volumes 1 and 2,
Viz Media, San Francisco, 1974/2006

When a schoolhouse is transported in time (and space) the children must survive. The adults do not help much, leaving Sho and his classmates to fend for themselves. Generally, I am a big fan of that class of fiction which puts ordinary people into extraordinary situations. Alas, I don't find the reactions to be within the norms for human behavior. Maybe later volumes reveal some unknown motivator or influence.

Mark Twain,
Mark Twain in Hawaii: Roughing It In The Sandwich Islands, Hawaii in the 1860's,
Mutual Publishing, Ltd., Honolulu, Hawai'i, 1990.

A collection of Samuel Clemens' dispatches from The Sandwich Islands (now know as Hawai'i) during his 1866 visit. These stories were put together for Roughing It from his twenty-five articles for the Sacramento Union.

Neil Gaiman,
American Gods,
Harpertorch/HarperCollins, 2001

When immigrants came to this country they brought their gods. But, America also made it's own gods to progress, wealth and fame. Shadow is a man manipulated and directed by the gods. A great American road story. (BTW, Neil Gaiman looks a lot like Eric Truebenback.)

Neil Gaiman,
Smoke and Mirrors: Short fiction and illusions,
Avon/HarperCollins, New York 1998.

A collection of short stories ranging from semi-autobiographical remembrances to a modern prose version of Beowulf, set in California.

Julian Bubinstein,
Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A true story of bank heists, ice hockey, Transylvanian pelt smuggling, moonlighting detectives, and broken hearts,
Little Brown and Company, New York, 2004.

In the years after the collapse of communism in Cental Europe, the police was not prepared for investigating a rising wave of crime, and the people were not very trusting of their police. In the wake, Hungarian Attila Ambrus began a string of bank, postal office and travel agent robberies. Attila was smart, charismatic and resourceful. He planned his heists carefully, staking out the location, keeping a notebook of banks maximally distant from police stations. In the end, he spent or gave all his money away. A engrossing tale of a modern Robin Hood.

Koji Suzuki,
Ring,
Vertical, San Francisco, 2003

The novel that became the movie that begat the ``Wet Dead Girls'' genre of horror movies. An engrossing read that is closer to the story as told by Ringu, but navigates the mixed horror and science fiction (for about 3/4 of the novel) themes of the American remake. A none definitive end screams sequel, and I am fortunate enough to not have to wait long.

John Allen Paulos,
A Mathematician Plays the Stock Market,
Basic Books, NY, 2003

An analysis of the economics, sociology and psychology of the stock market of the Internet boom days. Paulos brings his usual clarity and analysis to everyday encounters with logic and mathematics. In this case, the encounters between himself, and a falling stock market. This personal experience must have made the analysis that much more difficult, and this reader got the feeling at least a part of the book's motivation was therapy. Regardless, you come away with an understanding of how to invest a little math for a big return in understanding.

Elaine Showalter
Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Media,
Columbia University Press, 1997

Using modern media stories as her source, Showalter reveals the connections between modern hysterias and historical precedences. No doubt some potential readers will take exception with her examples (just read the Amazon reviews). Regardless, mass media are the new story tellers and the stories we tell, and listen to, reveal much about our fears and concerns. No doubt if she wrote a second edition, SARS and Bird Flu would deserve their own chapter. Not because emerging viruses are not real, but because of the way we choose to tell their story.

Lawrence Lessig,
Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace,
Basic Books, New York, 1999.

Code defined the internet. It is open and free, or closed and billed by the bit depending on the code we right. There is nothing natural about either state. That is the argument that Lessig preciently made nearly a decade ago---long before RIAA lawsuits and Yahoo.ca.

Henry S. Warren, Jr.,
Hacker's Delight,
Addison-Wesley, New York, 2003.

Every bit-twiddling trick you could ever want to know.

Mark Jason Dominus,
Higher Order Perl: Transforming Programs with Programs,
Morgan Kaufmann, 2005.

Writing functional programs in Perl----a topic long left fallow by Perl authors. As a fan of functional programming---which makes program composition as easy as program decomposition---I was confronted with a series of ``ah ha'' experiences as Dominus deftly constructed powerful, and short, code segments. (I am also amazed at how efficiently Perl executes many of these programs.) Best programming book I have read in years.

Bruce W. Perry
AJAX Hacks: Tips {\&} Tools for Creating Responsive Web Sites,
O'Reilly, 2006

A series of task-driven chapters using asychronus JavaScript and XML. A good book for understanding the technology behind AJAX libraries.

Hew Strachan,
The First World War,
Penguin, New York, 2003.

Written to accompany a BBC production on the First World War, this is a well organized single-volume history of that conflict. The challenge in covering such a large event, with many over-lapping threads is to provide connecting context, without repeating oneself. Strachan does a remarkable job. While the largest portion of the book covers the front in Europe, chapters are also naval conflict, global conflict in Africa, Asia and the middle east. And, the the economic effects of the blockade of Germany, and Germany's attempt to impose a similar blockade by U-Boat warfare.

Robert H. Heinlein,
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress,
Berkley, 1965, 1983.

Heinlein's finest science fiction novel, in my humble opinion.

David Deutsch,
The Fabric of Reality,
Penguin Books, New York, 1997.

A remarkably intersting book. I have never read or heards such a gogent explaination of the multi-worlds interpretation, or the logic of it's appeal. Likewise for the longer version of Deutch's expostion of physically realizable systems versus abstract Turing Machines. I read this on the way the train from Taipei to Tainan, and had difficulty putting it down.

Jack Koziol, et.al.,
The Shellcoder's Handbook: Discovering and Exploiting Security Holes,
Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2004.

An excellent resource explaining stack and heap overflows, fault injection, vulnerability tracing, and so on. And, how they are exploited by "Shellcode." Some assembly required.

Randi Rost
OpenGL Shading Language,
Addison-Wesley, 2004.

The OpenGL Shader language extensions.

Eric Schlosser,
Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market,
Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 2003.

Eric Schlosser,
Fast Food Nation,
Penguin Books Ltd, 2002.

Steven D. Dubner and Stephen J. Levitt,
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything,
William Morrow, 2006.

Dianne Mullet and Kevin Mullet,
Managing IMAP,
O'Reilly, Cambridge, MA, 2000.

Covers early, and now old, versions of UW IMAP and Cyrus IMAP from both the client and server perspective. Dated now, as Dovcot and Courier IMAP, or IIS/Exchange's IMAP are not even mentioned. ACAP and IMSP get their own sections, even though use of these remote configuration protocols is has declined to a few installed bases. Still, my copy does have a few dog-eared pages. Worth grabbing if a remaindered copy if you maintain UW or Cyrus installation. A updated book dedicated to Cyrus would be nice.

Barry Glassner,
Culure of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things,
Basic Books, New York, 2006.

Terry Pratchett.
Soul Music,
HarperTourch, New York, 1995.

Death's Granddaughter becames a rock (the kind you throw) band groupy. The ``drummer' is a troll, and he carries a big back of rocks to set the beat. Alas, Death does not speak in small caps in this edition.

Graig Walls and Ryan Breidenbach
Spring in Action,
Manning, 2005.

Spring is a POJO, AOP, IOC, J2EE framework offered as an alternative to EJB for simple programs. Once you get past the alphabet soup (and the authors do good job at getting you past it), Spring is revealed as a very clever way to organize programs so that objects are light-weight and loosely coupled (inter-dependencies are kept low) allowing development and testing to proceed. Many of the ideas embodied in Spring can be applied to any software development. IOC (Inversion of Control), for example, at it simplest is having member objects register themselves with the calling object. This is a nice trick that reduced dependencies, and makes modular development and testing easier. Spring further helps by providing an XML format to define the final coupling between objects. Nice! There are many ways to do Aspect Oriented Programming. Spring uses reflection, configured by way of an XML file. This is a good way to accomplish AOP without modifying the base language. I prefer AspectJ's approach, which extends Java with AOP constructs. But, for development in standard Java, Spring's AOP module is simple to use and configure.

Philip Pullman
The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass,
Lauren-Leaf Books, Boxed edition, 2003.

The "His Dark Materials" trilogy continues many themes Pullman introduced in "Clockwork": Personal responsibility, the distinction between desire and effort, the connection between actions and consequences. This story takes place in an alternate world where the reformation has been delayed, and religious studies is a ``science'' at Oxford.

George C. Smith
The Virus Creation Labs: A Journey Into The Underground,
American Eagle Publications, Inc., 1994.

A history of the early days of computer viruses, focusing on the exchange of ideas, people, and code between virus writers and the anti-virus program writers. Much of what is written about computer viruses is hype. This book was written in the days before wide-spread worms (and viruses that propagate themselves with a little assist), and so is in that sense dated. But, much of what Smith writes about remains true. Commercial anti-virus companies continue to inflate virus counts when marketing products, and anti-virus reviews still lack scientific rigor. A personalized account, and so one that must be read in context.

Masamune Shirow.
Ghost in the Shell,
Ghost in the Shell 2: Man-Machine Interface,
Dark Horse, 2004

The manga that inspired the movie. Much of the first movie is taken from the stories in the first book, and parts of the second movie were clearly inspired by the first book. The second book takes off in an entirely different direction and has no relation to the second movie. Both are good, but I much enjoyed the original Ghosts approach, where the cyberspace elements were background.

For those unfamiliar, the world of Ghost in the Shell is one where so much of a person has been replaced by machine (including brain augmentation), that all that remains of the humans is their ghost. In watching the movie I gave this notion of the authors a dualistic interpretation. But, in the manga Shirow gives this a Shinto interpretation, and allows that everything may have a ``Ghost,'' including machines. This possibility is addressed in the amime series Stand Alone Complex, and in the first book.

Regardless, the books and movies can be enjoyed with a purely materialistic interpretation, since ghosts are not something seen, or shown, but are instead a part of the way humans understand their humanity in a world where they are part, or even mostly machine. If you are a fan of Stanislaw Lem, or Philip K. Dick, you will likely enjoy Ghost in the Shell as well.

Jorge Luis Borges.
Collected Fictions,
Viking, 1998, Translated and edited by Andrew Hurley.

New translations of Borges' six books of fiction. Hurley's footnotes help identify historical and cultural elements not immediately known to most Anglophones.

Paul Roberts
The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World,
Haughton Mifflin, 2004.

Will oil production peak in 2010 or 2025? Can drilling in ANWR save us from high gasoline prices? How far are we from a hydrogen fuel-cell economy (and were will we get the hydrogen)? This is a fascinating book about the oil economy, oil politics, and oil's future as a primary energy source.

Peter Szor
The Art of Computer Virus Research and Defense,
Addison-Wesley, 2005.

In depth explanation of viruses, how they work, how to recognize and understand them with the goal of defending computers. If you just run desktop virus scanners, then this book may satisfy your curiosity about what viruses are (but so will a number of much shorter articles). But, if you are in the business of blocking viruses via email, file-sharing, network monitoring, etc. this is an invaluable reference for understanding and staying ahead of viruses.

The focus of this book, however, is on desktop viruses. This puts an emphasis on virus repair, which is indeed a difficult and demanding task. It also emphasizes specific virus detection, rather than rejection based on the code ``looking funny.'' The task of gateway scanning is different. There the task is to reject suspicious files, even if it means a higher false-alarm rate than would be acceptable on the desktop. (Desktop users would disable anti-virus if there were too many false alarms. They would also disable anti-virus if it could not fix files, preferring damaged data to no data at all.) There is a chapter on network monitoring and on worm blocking, and much about heuristic detection. But, they seemed lacking compared to the great detail about memory and file scanning. Perhaps a separate book focused on the gateway is in order. Notably absent is any mention of ClamAV, which we find does an exceptional job on the gateway when compared with commercial anti-virus solutions.

David Cay Johnston
Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich---and Cheat Everybody Else,
Portfolio Trade, 2003.

The title says it all. What the title doesn't say is how much evidence, by so many sources---conservative and liberal, demonstrates that over the last three decades the tax burden has shifted away from the rich, and increasingly onto the middle class and the poor. And, how inflation-adjusted pre-tax earnings have been flat for 90% of American households, while the top 10-percent have have seen pre-tax income grow (with most of that growth realized by the top 1-percent). A book as engrossing as anything written by Dan Brown.

John Mosier
The Myth of the Great War: A New Military History of World War I,
Perennial, 2002.

Mosier's thesis is that Great Britain and France were hiding how badly the first world war was going for them. At each turn, Germany was winning battles using superior tactics and technology. The tide of war was turned only with the arrival of General Pershing and the American Expeditionary Force. The problem with the thesis is that, in the end, Germany lost---superior tactics notwithstanding. While rightfully pointing out the inaccuracies of French and British propaganda, Mosier accepts equally questionable German propaganda. Yes, Germany did make use of new tactics, and weaponry. Yes, French and British generals were slow to adapt. This is not a new insight, and Mosier tends to over-state his case. A good narrative, but read critically.

Luce Boulnois
Silk Road: Monks, Warriors & Merchants on the Silk Road,
Odyssey Publications, 2004.

An excellent book about the history of the Silk Road from pre-Roman times to the present. Making use of Chinese, Persian, Indian and Arabic sources, and well as Greek, Byzantine and more familiar wester writers such as Marco Polo. Wonderful photographs of the modern silk road. Translated by Helen Lovedey with an additional chapter on traveling the modern-day silk road edited by Angela Sheng.

Matthias Kalle Dalheimer
Programming with Qt, Second Edition.
O'Reilly, 2002.

This is an excellent reference and tutorial for programming in Qt. Dalheimer starts with a tutorial developing a drawing program. Qt's framework is slowly introduced, and well explained. After the tutorial come several chapters filling in Qt's extensive set of widgets.

OpenGL Architecture Review Board: Mason Woo, Jackie Neider, Tom Davis & David Shreiner
OpenGL Programming Guide, Third Edition.
Addison-Wesley, 1999.

Subtitled ``The Official Guide to Learning OpenGL, Version 1.2.'' This is a well written introduction to OpenGL, GLU with appendices on window system bindings (GLX, AGL, WGL) and Glut.

John Hammond.
The Complete Short Stories of H.G. Wells,
Orion Books, Ltd., London, U.K., 1998.

A collection of all known short stories by H.G. Wells. The earlier of these stories pre-date Well's serialized novels, and display a very ``Victorian'' attitude. Most are scientific romances, but there are a few mysteries and stories in which science plays a minor role. Later stories, however, reveal the humanistic optimism by which Wells is best remembered (compare the original and revised In the Country of the Blind).

James A. Whittaker & Herbert H. Thompson.
How to Break Software Security,
Addison-Wesley, 2003

Written for testers, this book is a guide to uncovering security problems in software. The value to programmers is in understanding what one looks for when testing for security: missing or inaccessible files, files meant only to be read by machine, weakly hidden configuration options, and so on. This book is about to find errors, not how to exploit them, or even how to avoid putting them in your own code. As such, the topics are only lightly covered. A good review is in Appendix B, a reprint Whittaker's ``Software's Invisible User,'' (IEEE Software, vol. 18, No. 3, pp 84--88, 2001).

Bruce Schneier.
Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World,
Copernicus Books, 2003.

How to think about security in totality, so that good decisions can be made about how secure we are, how secure we need to be, and whether or not the security measures we accept are working. The country is spending 10's of billions of dollars on homeland security. Are we getting our money's worth? Are we getting fair value for the tradeoffs we are asked to make between security, privacy, convenience and lifestyle?

Terry Pratchett.
Carpe Jugulum,
Corgi, 1999.

In an effort at forward thinking Verence, King of Lancre, sends invitations far and wide for his newborn daughter's naming ceremony. Alas, this included a family of forward thinking vampires. Quite a few goth jokes, and Granny Weatherwax. Pratchett's 23rd Diskworld novel.

Terry Pratchett.
The Truth,
HarperTorch, 2001.

A team of dwarves plan to turn lead into gold by opening a printing press (in direct competition with the engravers guild). A chance meeting with William de Worde, author of a newsletter for a few select clients, results in Ankh-Morpork's first newspaper "The Ankh-Morpork Times". Soon, the engravers guild starts a competing paper, "The Inquirer," whose stories are far more interesting. One of the best Disk-World novels to date.

Steven Levy.
Crypto: How the Code Revels Beat the Government Saving Privacy in the Digital Age,
Diane Publishing Company, 2001.

A history of the crypto wars. Good for it's coverage of the debate over public use of strong cryptography from both sides of the fence, although from the title Levy is clearly on the pro-crypto side. Given the history that has unfolded since the book was written, and given that the most common forms of electronic communication are still not encrypted, one has to ask who really won the, so called, crypto-wars?

S.T. Joshi & Peter Cannon,
More Annotated H.P. Lovecraft,
Dell, 1999.

``Herbert West, Reanimator,'' ``The Shunned House,'' and ``The Thing on the Doorstep,'' among others. ``Herbert West, Reanimator'' is quite a bit different from the Steward Gordon movie, but you can see the source of many of the movies elements. Along with ``The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft'' this is a great way to re-read some classic horror.

Tom Standage,
The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-Line Pioneers,
Walker and Company, New York, 1998.

Long before the internet was the telegraph. And, with the invention and spread of telegraphy came predictions of world peace, diminishing goverments, and on-wire dating. An engrosing read, focussing on the history of telegraphy, without drawing too many parallels.

Jessica Litman
Digital Copyright,
Prometheus Books, 2001.

The sub-title of this book is: ``Protecting intellectual property on the Internet, The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Copyright lobbyists conquer the Internet, Pay per view...pay per listen...pay per use, The war against Napster, What the major players stand to gain, What the public stands to lose.'' And, that about covers it. Litman's general thesis is that to the average person copyright law makes no sense, and that it was not meant to make sense. Rather, copyright law is an agreement between various parties who have a stake, often accidental or historical, in copyright. The public has generally been left out of this process. Litman proposes (with no illusions that such a change is possible) that a right to make copies be replaced with a right to commercial exploitation. This is in line with how most people who are not copyright lawyers think of copyright. In addition, the public would have a right to read, listen, view in exchange for the grant of a copyright. In the digital age an creators right to attribution and the integrity of the original work would also be required. A worthwhile read for those interested in digital copyright (and, if you are reading this chances are you are concerned with digital copyright).

Carol H. Rounds and Erika Sólyom.
Colloquial Hungarian: The Complete Course for Beginners,
Routledge, London and New York, 2002.

Carol Rounds is the author of an excellent Hungarian grammar book for Anglophones. This book is an introduction to Hungarian, based on graduated dialogs. The grammar and usage are introduced as dialog progresses. I like that many usages are introduced in context, allowing grammar to be seen, and practiced before formal rules are introduced. This is the best intro book I have found so far.

Paul J. Nahin
Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics and Science Fiction,
Springer/AIP, 1998.

Exploring time travel from the first account in English fiction (1733) to the physical theories of Kip Thorne (who wrote the preface) and others. Eleven technical notes chapters, glossary and bibliography. A lot of interesting material, but could have used better organization, since much information is repeated throughout. The author argues strongly for a self-consistency principle, allowing affecting the past, but not changing the past.

Sue Spielman.
The Struts Framework: Practical Guide for Programmers,
Morgan Kaufmann, 2002.

A short (150 pages) introduction by example to Struts. The book reviews MVC, then guides the reader through building an on-line CD database. Well written, and to the point. A good way to get a basic grasp of how struts and Tomcat work.

Robert D. Kaplan
Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History,
Vintage, 1994

A travel log through the Balkans (Croatian, Bosnia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece---where Kaplan lived for 7 years) just after the fall of communism. Kaplan explores the roots of late 20th century conflict in the conflicts of the late 19th, and the first and second Balkan wars of the early 20th centuries. As Ottoman rule wained in the 19th century, nationalism rose in eastern Europe with results still felt at the end of the 20th century when newly independent or newly free nations staked competing territorial claims based on kingdoms that have not existed for 500 years.

Robert Harris
Enigma,
Random House, 1997.

Ijtupsjdbm gjdujpo bcpvu Cmfudimfz Qbsl boe uif csfbljoh pg uif Fojhnb dpef. Vomjlf uif npwjf, uif cppl epft tujdl xjui ijtupsjdbm gbdut wjt-b-wjt uif qsjodjqmft xip csplf Fojhnb. Ju bmtp efbmt xjui uif qpmjujdt pg Cmfudimfz, boe V.T. H.C. sfmbujpot evsjoh uif xbs. Bmm jo bmm bo fokpzbcmf sfbe gps uiptf xjui bo joufsftufe jo XXJJ dbsuphsbqiz, boe b hppe sfbe fwfo jg zpv bsf opu tp qsfejtqptfe.

Nick Montfort
Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction,
MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2003

A book about interactive fiction as literature. The early chapters defining IF were slow and repetitive, but otherwise an enjoyable read that brought back lots of memories.

Linda Fairstein
The Bone Vault,
Pocket Star, 2003.

A body is found in a sarcophagus. That would not be unusual, if the body did not belong to one of the curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A murder mystery, written by a NYC prosecutor. Quit good, except for the interlude on Martha's Vinyard. Alas, Fairstain's audience is clearly the gender of female persuasion (if you don't believe me, read the Martha's Vinyard chapters).

Joel Achenbach
Catured by Aliens: The Search for Life and Truth in a Very Large Universe,
Simon & Schuster, 1999.

The culture of aliens from SETI and NASA to UFOs and alien abductions. Achenbach, a reporter for the Washington Post, covers a wide range of material, from the scientific to pseudo-science, and much in-between. Through it all Carl Sagan is his guide. Much of the material comes from conference attendance, and interviews, as well as NASA archives, and Sagan's files. The book is roughly divided into three parts. The first covers NASA, SETI and the scientific question of alien life. The second deals largely with UFOs, and alien abductions. The last part is largely about more ``meta-''physical approaches, such as Gotts' law (assume we are typical people living in typical times, rather than unusual people living in extra-ordinary times). The Fermi paradox (raised in the first part), is dealt with in more detail here.

The last few chapters could have used some tighter organization. I have the feeling Achenbach didn't know how to end the book, or didn't want it to come to an end. I know how he felt. But, that is a minor complaint, in the end he finished with what in my opinion is Carl Sagan's most eloquent commentary on our Pale Blue Dot of a planet. A fitting finish to such a wide-ranging book, and a great tribute to the influence of Sagan on the alien life question.

Terry Pratchett.
Interesting Times,
HarperTorch, 1998.

Ricewind is sent as an emmisary to the Agatean Empire on the Counterweight Continent. Alas, the bureaucratic warlords are engaged in a growing civil dispute as the aging empirer lies on his death bed. Coincidentally Cowen the Barbarian is planning an invasion, with the aid of an Agatean accountant.

Terry Pratchett.
The Last Continent,
HarperTorch, 2000.

Sent from wok to a dessert on the Last (and incomplete) continent Ricewind must put up with a host of difficulties (and yellow ale) while trying to find a way home.

Simon Singh
The Code Book: The Evolution of Secrecy from Mary Queen of Scots to Quantum Cryptography,
Doubleday, New York, 1999.

A spotlight history of cryptography covering the cyphers used by Mary Queen of Scots and the Babington Plot; The Beale Papers; The Enigma; The deciphering of Minoan Linear-B; RSA, and public key cryptography; and, the future of quantum cryptography. Singh has an extraordinary ability to explain technical topics, and so this book contains some wonderful chapters on codes, and how to break them.

Ross Anderson.
Security Engineering: A guide to building dependable distributed systems,
Wiley, New York, 2001.

Possibly the best computer security book written. A fascinating, insightful and broad-ranging review of secure systems, and how they work, and how they fail. Well written, well documented and difficult to put down. The sub-title unfortunately makes this sound like a cook-book for security. It is not. Instead, the book is a background that seeps into the reader. The best made security plans of mice and homo-sapien can go awry, usually for reasons that have nothing to do with encryption, or access control, or tamper resistant hardware. Most reviews of this book have been positive, and for good reason. If you work with computers, or other security systems, read it!

Keith Bradsher.
High and Mighty: SUVs---The World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way,
PublicAffairs/Perseus Books, New York, 2002.

Every safety concern you might have about SUVs; Every cynical thought you entertained about the marketing of SUVs; Every dark suspicion about the people who buy SUVs, was not concerned, cynical or dark enough. SUVs generate more smog, are unstable, they block the view of smaller vehicles, take more room on the roadway, their braking system is no more (and in most cases less) effective than the breaking systems on cars (four wheel drive does not help in stopping), they are difficult to maneuver safely, are more dangerous to their occupants than mid or full sized cars, and they are especially dangerous to the occupants of other vehicles. They are also immensely popular among a segment of drivers, and extremely profitable to auto manufactures. This book is a eye-opener written by somebody who clearly loves cars and the auto industry. But, he is no fan of SUVs, preferring mini-vans, which have nearly as much room and are much safer. I'm not a fan of auto-culture in general, and would like to see mass-transit given a fair chance on a level playing field. So, don't take my word for it, read this book and make up your own mind. And above all, think like a mammal!

Robert Spence.
Information Visualization,
Pearson Education, ACM Press, 2000.

An overview of the field of information visualization, as distinct from scientific visualization. The former deals more with numbers that do not have any one-to-one correspondence to a graphical representation. For example, public-transportation usage statistics, associations among people, real-estate purchase decisions, and so on. Spence organizes the chapters by major visualization methods and packages, with reference to primary sources. Interaction and data-exploration are emphasized as key features of visualization tools, as opposed to traditional data analysis techniques.

S.T. Joshi.
The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft,
Dell, 1997.

Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, including: ``The Rats in the Walls,'' ``The Colour Out of Space,'' and a restored version of ``At The Mountains of Madness.'' Includes and introduction on Lovecraft, and an afterward of Lovecraft's letters explaining his views on horror literature. A worthwhile addition to the shelves of any Lovecraft fan.

Laurie Garrett.
Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health,
Hyperion, New York, 2000.

Like The Coming Plague, this is a thick, heavily footnoted tomb. And, like her earlier works, it is a scary book documenting as it does the effects of two decades of dismantling the public health sector in America, and around the world.

Korry Douglas & Susan Douglas.
PostgreSQL,
SAMS, 2003

A clearly writen, well organized, and informative guide to the PostgreSQL database. Covers installation, administration, queries, and the many PostgreSQL APIs. Four stars.

Bruce Chatwin.
In Patagonia,
Penguin Classics, 1977, 2003.

Chatwin's account of his travels through Patagonia is a compelling read. Pantagonia is the vast cold desert in southern South America, the ``end of the world,'' in the very litteral sense of being the farthest place humans traveled, and settled before the discovery of Antartica. Chatwin takes us to see the people and places that make Pantagonia, interweaving historical tales of revolution and outlaws (including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid).

Ted Husted, Cedric Dumoulin, George Franciscus & David Winterfeldt.
Struts in Action: Building web applications with the Leading Java framework
Manning, 2003.

Struts is a MVC (Model, View Controler) framework for Java Server Pages. Written by the developers of Struts, this is a well written, hands-on guide to Struts.

Dan Brown.
Angels & Demons,
Simon & Schuster, 2000.

The Illuminati emerge from hiding to destroy Vatican City, and a Physicist and English professor are all that can stop them. Somewhat stilted at the beginning, and does require some suspension of disbelief, but rapid paced and full of historical and contemporary lore. Hard to put down, lots of nice twists and turns, the best Dan Brown book to date.

Dan Brown.
The Da Vinci Code,
Doubleday, 2003.

A murder in the Louvre untangles a secret society, and a conspiracy to destroy the true Grail. Typical for Dan Brown, the book starts with a murder, includes many codes and historical elements, and is difficult to put down. I enjoyed Angles & Demons more, but both books are good.

Dan Brown.
Digital Fortress,
Griffin Trade, 2000.

Murder, codes and history: All good, and all part of Dan Browns repertoire. But, in this case he could have used a once over by a programmer. The basic story holds together, and the most glaring technical issues are well resolved---if you suspend a little disbelief. But, there are some places where simple mistakes in terminology get in the way (bits for bytes). The story however, is fast paced, and Dan Brown knows how to keep you reading.

Bernard Werber
Emprie of the Ants,
Bantam Books, Translated by Margaret Rocques, 1996.

A fantastic book written, mostly, from the point of view of the ants and the people who study them. A bit fantastic in places, but not where one would expect. E.g., the world of the people is harder to accept than that of the ants.

Terry Pratchett.
Reaper Man,
Corgi Books, London, 1992.

Death takes a holiday (forced leave, actually) while the fates back their own candidate for the job. Yet Another Discworld Novel.

Linda Dégh,
Hungarian Folktales: The Art of Szuzsanna Palkó,
University Press of Mississippi, Jackson, MS, 1995.

Translation of oral folktales told by Szuzsanna Palk in the 1950s. Introductions put the stories in the context of European folktales.

Gretel Ehrlich.
This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland,
Pantheon Books, New York, 2001.

Greenland is a place of cold and dark winters and sun lit summers. It is an unforgiving place, where people have nonetheless learned how to live. The author moved to Greenland to live "above the tree line" by moving north. The stories tell the history and life of Greenland and its inhabitants, both new and old. Most interesting where the chapters on Rasmussen's Greenlandic and Polar expeditions, and the hunting trips Gretel accompanied by dog sled. A fascinating book about an ``ice age'' culture, and how it has survived to the 21st century.

Géza Balázs,
The Story of Hungarian: A Guide to the Language,
Corvina Books, Ltd., Budapest, Hungary, 1997, 2000.

A history of the Hungarian language, filled with fascinating facts, statistics, stories, and so on. Hungarian once had a passive tense (perhaps under the influence of Indo-European Languages), which disappeared at the beginning of the 20th Century. Remnants of this remains in the so called `-ik' verbs. Hungarian palindromes, loan words, place names, incunabula, ....

Lawwrence Lessig,
Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace,
Basic Books, New York, 1999.

Lessig's central thesis is that cyberspace is the way it is, not because of some essential nature of cyberspace, but because it was coded that way. And, it can be (and because of the needs of commerce will likely be) coded other ways. This will have a vast influence over the future of the Internet, how it is used, and how it can be used.

Stanislaw Lem,
The Cyberiad,
Harcourt, New York, 1985. Translated from the Polish by Michael Kandel.

The best of Lem (in my humble opinion). A collection of fables about the constructor robots Trurl and Klaupacius. Must be read by any Lem fan. Should be read by any fan of science fiction, and robots.

Katalin Boros.
Beginner's Hungarian: Revised Edition,
Hippocrene Books, New York, 2001.

Beginner's Hungarian in 10 lessons. Each lesson starts with a dialog in Hungarian, followed by the English translation and new vocabular terms. Next comes a grammar lessons, and exercises. A comprehensive vocabulary (indexed to lessons) and exercise solutions are included in the final chapters. Introductory material on Hungary and Hugarians completes the book. This is better used as a graded reader than an introductory book. Unless the reader is very good with languages, the material will be too difficult to absorb. The book also tries to be too much in a short 168 pages. Instead of the introductory chapters, I would rather see more dialogs and grammar. But, as a graded reader for somebody already familiar (but not conversant in) Hungarian, this is a good book. Watch out for typos, especially in accented words.

Zsuzsa Pontifix.
Hungarian: A Complete Course for Beginners,
Teach Yourself Books, Lincolnwood Illinois, 1993.

Book plus two tape cassettes of exercises and pronunciation drills. Emphasis on dialog and conversation, and includes some background information on Hungary and Hungarian customs. The book introduces new terms in dialog, encouraging the reader to infer their meaning. Later vocabulary lists provide sufficient meaning for exercises.

Carol Rounds.
Hungarian: An Essential Grammar,
Routledge, New York, 2001.

This grammar book was written by a native speaker of English, and so I find it to be extremely helpful. There are many places where the Hungarian case system (which by any measure is extensive) does not map well to English prepositions. Rounds explains the mapping in detail, with many examples. My one complaint is she starts many chapters with the exceptions, which can be confusion. There are also some obvious errors that proof reading should have caught (if I can find them, they are obvious). Still, if you speak English and are learning Hungarian get a copy of this book!

Pavel A. Pevzner.
Computational Molecular Biology: An Algorithmic Approach,
MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2000.

DNA databases, string matching and protean folding. This volume has attracted many good reviews for it's approach of blending biology and computer science, while slighting neither.

John Lukacs,
Budapest 1900: A Historical Portrait of a City & Its Culture,
Grove Press, 841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003, 1988.

A history of Budapest, its people and the spirit of the times.

Terry Pratchett.
The Color of Magic, HarperCollins, New York, 1983.
The Light Fantastic, HarperCollins, New York, 1986.

The first two Diskworld novels. Ricewind (a failed magician who still manages to make a living) finds himself tour guide to a visitor from the ``counterweight'' continent, and his luggage. Many details of the operation of Diskworld, and a new preface from the author explaining how he came to the idea of Diskworld (it was just lying around unused).

Zbigniew Michalewicz and David B. Fogel.
How to Solve It: Modern Heuristics,
Springer-Verlag, New York, 2000.

Named in homage to George Polya's How to solve it, Modern Heuristics is about the process of solving complex problems. There is an emphasis on logic and numerical problems, and most chapters deal with evolutionary algorithms. Between each main chapter is a problem solving chapter which introduces a new principle with a puzzle (and, the puzzles are great!). Most real-world problems are messy, and the process of modeling involves abstractions and compromises. This process is emphasized throughout the book.

Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza,
Genes, Peoples, and Languages,
North Point Press, New York, 2000.

This is a fascinating collection of essays about where people came from, how they have moved about and populated the world, and how culture and languages have spread since Paleolithic times. Using mtDNA, blood groups and linguistics relations between modern populations are illustrated, and expanded upon. Cavalli-Sforza promotes a multidisciplinary approach to complex historical and archaeological problems. We cannot replicate historical events, nor can we run controlled human migration experiments. But, we can ask the same question using different independent data sets, each serving as a replication. So, when folklore, physical anthropology, linguistics, mtDNA and DNA all support the same theory, our confidence in the theory justifiably grows.

Terry Pratchett.
Small Gods, HarperPrism, 1992.

A Disk World Novel. Gods need to be worshiped and people need to worship gods, so the two form a mutually beneficial relationship. But, what happens when people stop worshiping gods, or get the worshiping all wrong. Well, in Disk World the gods get weaker, and smaller, and loose their powers. Such is the fate of the Small Gods.

Michel Goossens, Frank Middelbach and Alexander Samarin.
The LaTeX Companion, Addison-Wesley, New York, 1994.

Michel Goossens and Sebastian Rahtz and Frank Mittelbach.
The LaTeX Graphics Companion, Addison-Wesley, 1999.

Michel Goossens and Sebastian Rahtz.
The LaTeX Web Companion, Addison-Wesley, 1999.

A trio of indispensable guides to LaTeX, the LaTeX base macros and LaTeX packages.

James C. Chatters.
Ancient Encounters: Kennewick Man and the First Americans,
Simon & Schuster, New York, 2001.

Chatters is the forensic anthropologist first asked to look at the 9,500 year old paleo-American skeleton known as Kennewick man. The first half of the book narrates the events surrounding the discovery of Kennewick man, and the ensuing NAGPRA battle over what should be done with the bones. At press time, the legal battles where not settled. The second half of the book discusses what little is known from the few early paleo-American fossils that have been found, and what they tell us about human migration into North and South America. This is an area ripe with debate and controversy. Chatters supports the Pacific Coast migration followed by Beringia land migration theory over the so called ``Clovis First'' theory, but he is fair in discussing the strengths and weakness of each. Written in the first person, this is an easy to read and enlightening book. But, it could have used one more copy-editing pass.

Paul Krugman.
The Accidental Theorist: And Other Dispatches From The Dismal Science,
W.W. Norton {\&} Company, New York, 1998.

Collection of short articles (many originally written for Salon) about economics applied to everyday life, the news, politics etc. Krugman is very good at explaining economic concepts with clear and memorable examples (models) which illustrate the principle. Sure to illuminate, delight and raise the hackles of most readers. I especially liked the parable of the baby sitting circle.

Paul Hudak.
The Haskell School of Expression: Learning Functional Programming Through Multimedia,
Cambridge University Press, New York, 2000.

An introduction to functional programming using Haskell. The chapters alternate between teaching functional programming, and applying functional programming to graphics, music and multimedia programming. Examples are in HUGS, using the SOE graphics library. This book is most valuable for the many examples of monads and higher-order types.

Patricia S. Warrick.
The Cybernetic Imagination in Science Fiction,
MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1980.

History of Robots and Artificial Intelligence in Science Fiction, with comprehensive bibliography. Warrick categorizes robotic science fiction into what she calls: incidental, closed-system and open-system stories. In incidental stories the robot is incidental to the story itself. These tend to be short stories. The bulk of the thesis deals with the closed- versus open-system stories. Closed-system stories tend to be dystopian. Humans become enslaved to robots through one means or another (typically conquest or passivity). Open-system stories are more typified by Asimov or Lem. Robots are a part of an expanding universe of exploration and possibilities. The latter stores tend to include space-flight as the source of new discoveries.

René Grousset.
The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia,
Rutgers University Press, 1989.

Translation and reprint with corrections of a classic work on Steppe Nomads, and their role in shaping western and eastern civilization. The authors main thesis is that geography shaped the herder lifestyle and combat skills, and made encounters---even violent encounters---with agricultural societies inevitable. The steppe nomads, by definition, rode horses. This was essential for their economic base---raising sheep and goat for wool and food. Likewise, this lifestyle required skill with mounted bow and arrow. Unfortunately the climate of the steppe is such that there are dry years, and during dry years tribes will migrate seeking new grass lands. This inevitably led to conflicts with civilizations on the edge of the steppe. The history of Europe, China and Anatolia for 2 millenia is one of conflict between the steppe nomad and agricultural civilization. This cycle was only broken with the invention of firearms, which gave the agricultural civilizations a decisive advantage.

Elizabeth Weyland Barber.
The Mummies of Ürümchi,
W.W. Norton, New York, 1999

3000 year old mummies with Caucasian features were found in the Tamin Basin, along the silk road. Who were they? What language did the speak? And where did they come from? The author's specialty is ancient cloth weaves, but her story brings in data from other specialties including linquistics, climatology and pharmacology. Quite a good book. Fast reading, filled with interesting archaeology spanning Eurasia.

Amitai Etzioni.
The Limits of Privacy,
Basic Books, New York, 1999

This book specifically addresses the role and impact of technology and public information laws on the privacy of those affected. Etzioni argues that privacy is being privileged over public safety and the common good, and that a better balance is needed. The exception is medical records, which Etzioni argues need more protection. However, Etzioni parts company with most individualists in positing that private corporations engaged in sanctioned violations of privacy are a greater threat than the government.

The final chapter discusses the history of privacy from a legal perspective, and attempts to construct a communitarian definition of privacy. Privacy advocates conflate freedom from scrutiny with freedom of autonomy. They also conflate private acts with acts are, by law, required to be private. Etzioni proposes instead a Fourth Amendment-based conception of privacy which is focused on areas in which we are free from scrutiny, unless evidence of unlawful behavior is presented to the public sphere. Additional rights may be needed to specifically address issues of autonomy, but Etzioni there argues that greater public scrutiny can go a long way towards avoiding government oversight, and hence may, ironically, enhance privacy.

On the whole, an interesting book and an important contribution to the dialogue on privacy. I tend to agree with Etzioni about the value of public scrutiny in protecting privacy (an argument also made by David Brin in The Transparent Society). Likewise, I find it ironic that the worse violators of privacy are generally given free reign under vaguely defined and unrealistic conceptions of individual choice (as though we have a choice to not sign a medical concent form granting any and all parties with a claim full access to all medical records). But, I am not convinced that a strong enough case for less privacy has been made in each chapter.

Norman Davies.
The Isles: A History,
Oxford University Press, 1999.

At 1200 pages this is a weighty tomb covering the history of the islands variously called (often incorrectly) ``England,'' ``Great Britain,'' ``The United Kingdom,'' and most recently ``The United Kingdom of Britain and Northern Ireland.'' Davies takes the unconventional approach that far from being isolated, the history of the Isles is a part of the history of Europe. Many maps, notes, illustrations, genealogy charts, musical selections, and so on.

Bob Zmuda and Matthew Hanson.
Andy Kaufman Revealed: Best Friend Tells All,
Little Brown, 1999.

Basis of the movie Man On The Moon. Not really a biography as a ``my life with Andy Kaufman'' book. Regardless, a very funny book which diverges from the movie in some interesting ways.

Bill Zehme.
Lost in the Funhouse: The Life and Mind of Andy Kaufman
Delacorte Press, 1999.

This is a biography in the traditional sense, spending more time on Andy Kaufman's childhood and formative years as a child entertainer and young commedian than Andy Kaufman Revealed

Per Schelde.
Androids, Humanoids, and Other Science Fiction Monsters: Science and Soul in Science Fiction Films,
New York University Press, New York, 1993.

Science fiction films interpreted as modern re-tellings of folklore and myths. The focus is on films, and the messages they are conveying. Per notes that science fiction literature is often quite different. He also knows that the ``science'' in science fiction films is often no more than hand-waving to make a plot point. Instead of nit-picking the films, however, Per attempts to extract from them the common themes and meanings. In this he is largely successful. The over-riding topics is humans versus machines, and the message (in the films) that science is devaluing human life. In films dealing with robots, Love is usually portrayed as that which makes us humans. A theme that is more common than I would have expected, and is central to the recent movie AI.

James Tiptree, Jr.
The Starry Rift,
Orb, Tom Doherty Associates, Inc, New York, 1986/1994.

A collection of four short stories tied by a common theme. The Rift is a region of sparse star formation at the edge of the federation. The stories read like earlier Tiptree, lacking the emotional impact and technical precision of some of her later stories.

Benson Saler, Charles A. Ziegler and Charles B. Moore.
UFO Crash at Roswell: The Genesis of a Modern Myth,
Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., 1997.

Collection of essays examining the Roswell incident as an example of a modern myth. The first two essays track the Roswell myth through several generations of alterations and expansion, and compare Roswell to other myths. The essay by Charles Moore recounts project Mogal and documents the case that the debris found by Brazil was NYU Balloon #4. The final essays deal with Roswell as a element of religious belief. Benson Saler argues that Roswell is not itself a religious event, but it does serve to support the beliefs of UFO cults.

Willaim Lanouette with Béla Szilard.
Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard the Man Behind The Bomb
Macmillan, New Yort, 1992.

A biography of Leo Szilard, who held the patent on chain reactions, built the first reactor with Enrico Fermi, wrote the letter Einstein sent to President Roosevelt urging the United States to begin Atomic Bomb research, and helped found the Federation of American Scientists and the Bulletin of the Atomic Sciences. The title refers to Szilard's tendency to work behind the scenes, influencing people and decision precesses, but not receiving due credit for his contributions. (An exception is Richard Rhodes' The Making of the Atomic Bomb.) This biography is a major step towards correcting this historical oversight.

Nancy Walsh.
Learning Perl/Tk,
O'Reilly, Sebastopol, CA, 1999.

Programming in Perl/Tk. Covers Geometry managers, and the widget libraries. Includes an extended reference and an appendix on operating system differences.

Srivam Srinivasan.
Advanced Perl Programming,
O'Reilly, Sebastopol, CA, 1997.

Objects, ties, sockets, and an extended Perl/Tk example. Most of the information (other than Perl/Tk) is covered in the Camel book, but it is helpful to have an extended explanation and more examples.

David J. Hufford.
The Terror that Comes in the Night: An Experience-Centered Study of Supernatural Assault Traditions,
University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, PA, 1982.

The classic reference for folk traditions surrounding waking dreams and sleep paralysis. About one in twenty people have experienced a waking dream at some time in their life. The experience is usually described as a heavy weight sitting on ones chest, or difficulty breathing. This is often accompanied by dreams or the feeling of a presence. This has given rise to a collection of folk traditions explaining what these ``night mares'' or ``hags'' are, how they are caused, and what to do about them. Hufford's study concentrates on the traditions found in New Foundland.

Eric A. Davidson.
You Can't Eat GNP: Economics as if Ecology Mattered,
Perseus, Cambridge MA, 2000.

Monograph about economic and ecological theory, where and why they conflict and what to do about it. Davidson's thesis is that economic growth depends on natural resources which are provided ``for free'' at the base of the economic chain. When fundamental resources are gone, economies collapse. He starts out by critiquing neoclassical economic theory, then proceeds to outline various ecological economic alternatives. Davidson disavows Ludditism, and believes that technology is not only essential for economic growth and improved standards of living, but also to solve many current ecological problems. Where he disagrees with neoclassical economics is in its tendency to dismiss externalities, rather than understand, measure and incorporate them into economic models. He is also critical of our tendency to heavily discount the future value of resources, and concentrate on short-term gains.

Anthony J.G. Hey (ed.).
Feynman and Computation: Exploring the Limits of Computers,
Perseus Books, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1999.

A collection of reprints and original articles by colleagues and participants in Feynman's lectures on computation. The overriding theme is that computation requires a physical manifestation, and that manifestation consumes energy, and takes space. The articles themselves cover quantum computing, cellular automata and their use as a model of physics, and making things small.

James Tiptree, Jr.
Meet Me At Infinity: The Uncollected Tiptree Fiction and Nonfiction,
Tom Doherty Associates, New York, 2000.

A collection of Alice Sheldon's fictional and non-fiction work not previously published in a collection. Or, in some cases, not previously published. Most of the fiction is not what we might expect from Tiptree: it is rough, sometimes cliche, but still it contains a spark of her genius. The exception is her next-to-last novella The Color of Neanderthal Eyes, which due to it's length had been left out of earlier collections. The non-fiction consist of articles she had written over the years, some letters and a few unpublished manuscripts, as well as interviews.

Richard Teleky.
Hungarian Rhapsodies: Essays on Ethnicity, Identity, and Culture,
University of Washington Press, 1997.

A third generation Hungarian-American learns to speak Hungarian late in life, while searching for his ancestors. Sound familiar? A collection of essays ranging from learning a new language, seeking the past and images of Hungarians in North American society. Not so much, as the author puts it, about seeking roots, is it is about understanding rootlessness. Teleky manages to steer a clear path between the twin perils of chauvinism and sentimentality. Extensive bibliography of works in English and Hungarian.

Peter F. Sugar, Péter Hanák and Tibor Frank (editors).
A History of Hungary,
Indiana University Press, Paperback reprint edition, 1994.

Multi-author history of Hungary and the people of the central Danube plain. Meant to be used as both a text book and a book for the general reader. Early chapters deal with the neolithic occupants of the central European plains and Roman attempts to settle the lower Danube valley. The Onogar first appear in the 7th century, migrating from Khazar, and crossing the Carpathians in 896 C.E. These chapters go fast and are a little confusing. Later chapters cover in detail Hungary's modernization attempts and integration with western European culture, the rise of the Kingdom of Hungary, the Ottoman wars, and the duel crown of the Austo-Hungarian Empire.

This paperback reprint includes a postscript on events following the collapse of communism in eastern Europe, which the editors admit was already falling out of date by the time the book was going to press.

Christopher Buckley.
Little Green Men,
HarperPerennial, New York, 1999.

Sunday morning political talk show host Banion is abducted by aliens. This sets him on a quest to find out what the government knows. Many political and UFOlogical personages make pseudonymous appearances.

Stephen Sisa.
The Spirit of Hungary: A Panorama of Hungarian History and Culture
Vista Books, Morristown, New Jersey, 3rd edition, year = 1995.

While less academic than Sugar, et.al, this is an genuinely entertaining book packed cover to cover with information about Hungary, Hungarians, Hungarian literature, science, politics, history, legend and lore. The chapters are short, the sections nearly independent, the writing clear and personal. The author's goal was to capture the ``spirit'' of Hungary and the Magyar. As such, it contains much that while historically debatable, is a part of the culture of the Magyar---the Hungarian equivalent of America's stories about the ``Wild West.'' On the one hand, this makes for some gripping, even passionate, reading. On the other hand, a more careful historical analysis would not necessarily have distract from the book's primary goal. Sisa's prose at times boarders on the jingoistic, especially when discussing relations between the Magyar, Slavs, Rumanians and Czeck and especially the Habsburg empire. To a 3rd generation American whose ancestors came from nearly all parts of the old Kingdom of Hungary, Sisa's attitude towards the non-Magyar seems to range from patrimony to incomprehensible. I also wish he were more clear about the line between speculation and well established historical knowledge. It is possible to tell the legend of the wild west, while sticking to the facts as we understand them, and even acknowledging the opposing view from time to time.

Richard Russo.
Strait Man
Vintage Books, NY, 1997.

The chairman of the English department in an Pennsylvanian college has a particularly bad weekend. Hilarious, especially if your spouse is a professor.

Michael Crichton.
Timeline,
Ballantine, 2000.

Crichton's latest (at least as of this writing), deals with historians sent back to battle in the Hundred Years War. Premise is good, but falls short of its promise as several interesting lines of inquiry are left unexplored. Typical for Crichton, the action pits scientists against a corporation when a series of unforseen accidents and human error leave the scientists only their wits as they overcome obstacles in the middle ages. The action is fast-paced, but almost comic in execution. I did enjoy the technical details and the reference to the Green Knight.

Lewis Carroll.
The Annotated Alice,
Penquin, 1970.

Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Saw There annotated by Martin Gardner.

Lewis Carroll.
The Hunting of the Snark,
Penguin, 1974

A mytho-poetic tail of bakers and bankers hunting the elusive snark. Annotated by Martin Gardner.

Miklós Törkenczy.
Hungarian Verbs & Essentials of Grammar: A Practical Guide to the Mastery of Hungarian,
Passport Books, NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group, 1997.

A concise guide to, as it says, Hungarian verbs and grammar. Good for technical details, verb forms, vocabulary lists. Not very good for conversational Hungarian. The book does not deal with pragmatics (what is appropriate for a situation), but is more detailed than Pontifix, and, despite the sparse index, makes a better reference.

Jeffrey Gantz (ed.).
The Mabinogion,
Penguin, 625 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022, 1975/1981.

Tales of quests, heroism and daring-do from Wales. Arthur first appears here, in an un-Normanized form.

Procopius.
The Secret History,
Penquin, 1966, Translated from the Greek by G.A. Williamson.

Procopius wrote a seven volume history of the Emperor Justinian I and his general Belisarius. After its completion he wrote an eighth volume appending and completing the record at several places. Because this volume was highly critical of Justinian, the Empress Theodora, Belisarius and his wife Antonia, it was never published in Procopius' lifetime. This volume is interesting for its description of the intrigue and character of the rulers of the latter Roman empire, but it also makes continued reference to events in the previous volumes and has a decidedly negative tone. In context, this was to counter the praises of the first seven volumes. However, those volumes are not now in print.

John R. Levine.
Linkers & Loaders,
Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, San Francisco, CA, 1999.

One of the few (the only) book-length treatments of linkers and loaders. This book is written for programmers, language and OS designers. DOS COM, EXE, DLL, Unix ELF formats are covered, as well as more advanced Java and C++ linker features. Later chapters discuss advanced link features such as garbage collection, and lazy linking, but in less detail.

Wendy Kaminer.
Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials: The Rise of Irrationalism and Perils of Piety,
Pantheon Books, Random House, Inc., New York, 1999.

More about Piety and the influences of the religious right and left in politics, this book tackles it's topic with Kaminer's usual clarity, insight, precision, and jurisprudence. I find her combination of respect for divergent opinion, while opposing the imposition of that opinion on public discourse and law, to be in accord with my own views. Early chapters deal with the growing reluctance of the media to criticize religion, and with the steady campaign among the religious to take on the mantle of victim-hood. As Kaminer points out, the pundits of the early 20th century would never be able to publish their unedited opinions about religion today. And, far from being a victim, religion in late 20th century America commands a privileged position, immune to most criticism and enjoying wide spread public and political support, and steadily increasing political influence.

Jannic Durand.
Byzantine Art
Terrail, Paris, Translated from the French by Murray Wyllie, 1999.

A history of Byzantine art, heavily Illustrated with 90 color plates.

John Updike.
Roger's Version,
Fawcett, New York, 1986.

Cogno-intellectual middle class academics engaged in adultery, all wrapped in a science fiction novel against a background of mid-1980's economics and politics. Or, is it the other way around? The title page credits a couple dozen popular science authors---most of whom I've read, and enjoyed---and the opening dialog is a lay-explanation of the strong anthropic principle as a proof of god. Later, we find a complete description of Newton's method, a tutorial on raster graphics, and lessons in 3rd century heretics and 19th century poets. First Updike I've read since The Witches of Eastwick, and maybe it's just the cogno-intellectual in me, but I'm finding it very enjoyable.

Romilly Jenkins.
Byzantium: The Imperial Centuries, A.D. 610-1071,
Random House, New York, 1967.

A history of the middle empire, after Justinian I's empire collapsed, to the rise of Basil II on to the defeat at Mazinkirk and the loss of Eastern Anatolia. Jenkins covers Iconoclasm in more detail than Norwich beginning with Leo III's background in the border states. Jenkins also references more Arabic sources than Norwich or Runciman, which is necessary for understanding the sequence of some events, such as Leo III's rise to power, and the formative events leading to iconoclasm.

Andrew W. Appel.
Modern Compiler Implementation in ML,
Cambridge University Press, 1998.

ML is one of the cleanest, easiest to learn and consistent programming languages I've every used. The function constructor along with typed and anonymous variables, and curried functions gives it a macro feel, while being strongly typed and function based. On the downside, the type inference system imposes a heavy memory/time overhead to compilation and encourages a bottom-up style of programming (although the latter is easy to overcome with dummy functions). The functional paradigm strikes me as more natural for many problems than OO, although the two techniques are not mutually exclusive (witness, Dylan or CAML).

This book is an enlarged edition of Appel's ``tiger'' compiler book. Part I covers the design of a tiger-compiler in ML. Sparse use of ML's non functional components (references) are made use of in the lexer, parser and symbol table. Part II covers more advanced concepts, and is largely independent of Part I. Advanced topics include garbage collection, static-single assignment form, functional languages, object oriented languages, data-flow analysis and the memory hierarchy. The chapters are well integrated. Throughout the book, Appel's background in functional programming shows, and is fundamental to integrating the various advanced topics.

Halil Inalcik.
The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age, 1300-1600,
Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973. Translated by Norman Itzkowitz and Colin Imber.

History of the state and economic organization of the Ottoman Empire, starting with it's rapid rise to power in the 14th and 15th century, until it's decline beginning in the 16th century. Inalcik attributes the rise in the Baltic's to the Byzantine Empire's switch from a strong imperium to a feudal society after the disaster of the fourth crusade. Feudalism exacted higher taxes providing desperately needed funds, but undermined Byzantine central authority and removed a source of soldiers for the army. The Ottoman's adopted a strategy of small land holdings with little or no income taxes. This, combined with their early tolerance for Orthodoxy, made them an attractive alternative to both Western Europe and the old Byzantine empire---which was pushing for religious union with Rome.

Ironically, Inalcik attributes much of the Ottoman's later decline to the same forces. In return for service soldiers were granted land. Meanwhile, imports of silver were devaluting the currency. This reduced the Empire's tax revenue and central authority, and undermined the source of recruits for their Army. Inalcik takes a very "eastern" view, compared to the sources on Byzantium. For example, he attributes Merhâd II's passivism towards the west as an expediency necessary to consolidate his control of Anatolia, and not, as Runciman does, to a desire to retire to a life of religious contemplation. This latter interpretation likely comes from Phrantzes, a Byzantine observer, since Emperors often retired to monasteries (by choice or otherwise).

Steven Runciman.
The Fall of Constantinople, 1453,
Cambridge University Press, 1965

A more detailed historical account than Nowich of the events leading up to the siege of 1453, the siege itself, and the aftermath. Runciman is an historian, and this work includes analysis of the decline of Byzantium, the rise of the Ottoman Turks, and cultural and political climate of Europe and the East. It is also a highly readable and gripping account of a pivotal historical year. It is clear from Runciman that Byzantium was coming to an end. All of the ``if only'' and ``maybe'' 's would not have prevented the inevitable. It was impoverished, underpopulated and lacked sufficient economic base since the sacking of the fourth crusade in 1204. However, Byzantium was undergoing an intellectual renaissance which had a profound impact on Europe as scholars left the crumbling empire for posts in Italy, and the West.

The siege occupies the central portion of the book, and goes into the strategy and counter strategy. It was clear that the city's inhabitants did not just sit still while guns pounded the walls, and even in the days before the final assault victory was not assured. There were many strategic maneuvers and minor victories on both sides, but in the end the city lacked the population and resources necessary to defend it's 14 miles of walls. Runciman also discusses the details of the Genoese colony of Pera, across the Golden Horn. It's reason for taking a semi-neutral position, and the role it played in conveying resources and even volunteers for the wall.

The final chapters deal with immediate aftermath of the conquest, Memhet's efforts at building a truly cosmopolitan city, the fate of Constantine XI's relatives, and conquest of the remaining Roman colonies in Greece. Two Appendices discuss the available historical sources, and the likely legal disposition of the un-sacked Christian churches in the city. Interestingly, many quarters of Byzantium quickly surrendered to Mehmet soon after the walls were breached. This was, apparently, taken as a voluntary submission and those quarters, and their churches, were spared. Runciman argues that this was accepted by Mehmet since it fit in with his plans to rebuild Byzantium, now Istanbul, as his capital and sit as the new emperor.

John Julius Norwich.
A Short History of Byzantium,
Vintage Books, 1998.

A whirlwind tour of the 1123 years of the Byzantium Empire, this is a condensed version of the author's three part series. At just over 400 pages of text, the history has, of necessity, to be brief. Despite this limitation (or perhaps because of it) the story is gripping, and difficult to put down. Founded by the Emperor Constantine the great when he moved the center of the Roman empire to Byzantium, renamed Constantinople, on 11 May 330 A.D., the Byzantium Empire is the longest-lived Christian Empire by far, and a political influence well into the middle ages (and long after the western half of Rome collapsed).

On the down side, this is more accurately a history of the Byzantine Emperors (and Empresses), than of Byzantium itself. There is little about the people, lifestyle, and customs of Byzantium. Economics are hardly mentioned. Technology, science, philosophy are barely discussed---even though these played a large role in Byzantium's survival and eventual collapse. Religious custom is only discussed in the context of the split with Rome, and even then the details of the disagreement are usually left out. For example, Iconoclasm is treated as a series of events, with little discussion of the theological and political motivations. Yet, this is one of the single most significant social movements within Byzantium. (Then again, a book could be written just about Iconoclasm.) In the end, the book leaves me wanting more.

Maps, family trees, lists of Emperors, Popes and Sultans (but, surprisingly, not Patriarchs) help in keeping track of the wide ranging (in time and space) scope of the narrative. Two thumbs up, but expect to be left wanting more.

Cynthia A. Freeland.
The Naked and the Undead: Evil and the Appeal of Horror,
Westview Press, 5500 Central Avenue, Boulder CO 80301-2877, 2000.

Main thesis is that horror movies are attractive because of they are one of the few genres to portray evil, and to advance questions about the nature of evil. Freeland critiques from a cognitivist framework, which argues that the audience response, analysis and participation is important in understanding a movies meaning. Good reviews of a selection of horror movies, emphasizing how the sub-genre's have changed over time. Frankenstein, Dracula, and bug movies are reviewed in depth, along with more recent horrors such as The Shining and Helraiser.

Simson Garfinkel.
Database Nation: The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century
O'Reilly, Cambridge, 2000.

A review of the various threats to privacy brought on by the information age. Simpson reviews the history of privacy in the latter half of the 20th Century, starting with the U.S. Governments failed attempt to build a nationwide database in the 1960s, and the privacy laws that resulted from the attempt. Unfortunately, as Simson documents, privacy rights fell out of favor in Washington and became mostly the Provence of the free market. Unusual for a book written by a member of the ITelligencia, Simson argues that privacy can only be protected by combination of regulation, consumer concern, and enforcement.

Dorothy E. Denning.
Information Warfare and Security,
Addison-Wesley, Reading Massachusetts, 1999.

A broad survey of threats and counter-threats in information systems warfare including: viruses and worms, signal intelligence, cryptography, authentication, information theft, and propaganda. Denning's purpose is to provide a common background for understanding threats to computers, and other information systems (media, communications, etc.). The book is used, and was developed in conjunction with a Greorgetown University survey course on information warfare.

Terry Pratchett.
Equal Rites, Penguin Books, 1987.

A Discworld novel, Granny Weatherwax helps Eke become a ``wizard,'' even though women are not supposed to be wizards. An earlier Discworld novel, which describes the disk and how it operates in more detail than Feet of Clay. There is also much less assumed knowledge required of the reader. (With FoC, I had the feeling I was supposed to already know these people.) Lots of headology, a good read.

Howard E. McCurdy.
Space and the American Imagination,
Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., 1997.

Before something can be done, we must first be able to imagine it being done. Before the United States could send people to the moon, the public and politicians must be able to believe it could be done, and believe that it must be done. In Space and the American Imagination, Howard McCurdy shows how belief in a human destiny in space was conceived and promoted by science fiction writers, and later space enthusiasts often drawing analogy with the settling of the American frontier. This is a history, but a history of the culture of space exploration, and how it was promoted to the public, and how public (and political) expectations were made to exceed reality.

In the early days of a new technology, before any experience upon which to draw, there are no constraints on speculation--anything is possible. So it was with space exploration. Space would re-ignite the frontier spirit, provide a wealth of consumer goods, provide essential technology for progress, and lead to the colonization of the solar system, and eventually interstellar space. The reality of human space flight has not (so far) reached these expectations. Quite the contrary, public support for space exploration has wained as NASA could no longer provide a steady stream of new triumphs to satisfy the public's growing expectations. (A cycle McCurdy attributes to feature driven consumer culture.) In addition, the early exclusion of women and minorities from participation in this great adventure lead to a gender and race gap for support of space spending that persists to this day.

It is said that sacred cows make the best burgers. Space and the American Imagination slays some of the most sacred, and I found myself saying ``yes, but if we spent more money,'' or ``that's because project X was cancelled,'' or,.... The point is, if we failed it is because reality overtook imagination, even making the imagination obsolete before it became reality. We don't have a permanently manned space station slowly rotating above us, because nobody could think of any compelling reason to build one other than to go into space. Even NASA's early designs separated humans from the actual space-laboratory because humans disrupted the environment needed for micro-gravity research. We might not have the space science envisioned in the 1950's and 60's, but we do have a thriving aerospace and technology industry, just not the one envisioned by early space boosters.

Raphael A. Finkel.
Advanced Programming Language Design,
Addison-Wesley, New York, 1996.

Written for a first year graduate course bridging a programming language survey course and the formal study of languages. Over 70 different programming languages are mentioned in examples, with ML, C, C++ and Prolog getting extended coverage. Early chapters cover programming language basics, chapter 10 covers denotational semantics.

Umberto Eco.
The Island of the Day Before

Roberto is shipwrecked on a deserted ship, exploring the rooms while reminiscing about the 30 years war. Until he finds he has company in the form of a Jesuit priest who is trying to discover the secret of longitude. An excellent series of dialogs ensue as Eco mixes modern science with pre-modern lore. The underlying theme, as with all of Eco's novels, is the mixing of rational thought and empiricism, and the conflict of science and faith.

Lord Dunsany.
The King of Elfland's Daughter,
Dell Rey, 1924, reprinted 1999.

Human meets Elf, Human falls in love with Elf, Elf and Human get married, Elf misses home and returns to immortal bliss, Human goes on quest to find Elf. You've read it before, but not likely from as literate and original a source. Long out of print, Dunsany was the inspiration for most who would follow including Tolkien and his many imitators. The King of Elfland's Daughter is slow moving and distant compared to modern fantasy. Elfland is removed and dreamlike and written in the third person of a story long retold around the hearth. It is refreshing to read a fantasy story that takes itself seriously, and which doesn't try to use science to ``explain'' the land beyond the fields we know. The result is more believable than what tends to be published today.

Cathal Tohill and Pete Tombs.
Immortal Tales: European Sex and Horror Movies 1956--1984
St. Martin's Griffin, New York, 1994.

A history of European horror cinema, illustrated with movie stills and posters. The chapters are divided by director, and linked into the history of European post-war morality and censorship. A very good collection, entertaining and informative, I find two drawbacks. First, Dario Argento is not covered. Second, it adds to my already long list of horror films I will probably never get to see and would not have time to watch anyway.

Michael Crichton.
Sphere, Ballantine, New York, 1987.

First contact story, set in the present, using time travel to extend technology a bit. As typical with Crichton, characters are based on real-life scientists (sometimes transparently so), and the background details cover much real science and technology, and, in this case, including social psychology and group dynamics. This one seems to have more expository passages than some of his other works.

Elaine Pagels.
The Origin of Satan,
Vintage, New York, 1995.

A more accurate title might be ``Early Christian Concepts of Satan.'' This book consists of six journal articles updated for a book aimed at the general reader. It is a history of the concept of satan in first and second century Christianity, and how satan came to be identified with the various perceived enemies of Christianity---first the Jews, then pagans and finally heretics. Very interesting contrasts between the writings of early Christians (the synoptic gospels, Justin Martyr, Origen, Turtulian) and the society in which they were written.

Richard Crandall and Marvin Levich
A Network Orange: Logic and Responsibility in the Computer Age,
Springer/Copernicus, 1998.

Six essays, three from a philosophical perspective, and three from a technological perspective, on the growth of computers and networking, and what this means for people and society.

Thomas Harris.
Red Dragon, Doubleday, New York, 1990.

Written before Silence of the Lambs, this is the story that introduced Hannibal Lector. The movie version is very close to the book, except the book provides more background. A good book, difficult to put down. Harris writes an absorbing and at times deeply disturbing story about tracking a serial killer without engaging in shock. The few details provided are in passing, which allows the story to build. Chris Eliot has a brief rôll in the movie version.

Robert Kuttner.
Everything for Sale: The Virtues and Limits of Markets,
Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1997.

An argument in support of mixed capitalism: the mixture of markets, regulation, intervention and social support that have built the modern American economy. Kuttner first discusses the strengths of market economies, how they work, where they work and what they do best. He then discusses several cases where markets have failed: labor markets, airline deregulation and health care, noting where extra-market social values (such as universal access) cause purely market systems to fail. The goal is a better realization of the difference between theory and practice.

Bob Glickstein.
Writing GNU Emacs Extensions, O'Reilly & Associates, 1997.

Whirlwind tour of elisp and how to write extensions. The elisp reference manual is indispensable, but this book helps tie it all together.

Stanislaw Lem.
The Star Diaries
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1985.

The voyages of Ijon Tichy, astronaut, diplomat, researcher and explorer. This is the first work of Tichology published in English. It includes the 7th, 8th, 11th--14th, 20th-23rd, 25th, and 28th voyages of Ijon Tichy (but not the apocryphal 29th voyage). It has been over a decade since I first read this book, and I had forgotten how much fun it is. A philosophically satisfying collection of stories. The 22nd voyage, chronologically the last of the collection to be written, describes Duism, a religion devoid of all dogma---the logical end of an attempt to proactively predict the effects of technology on established creed. If ever there were a reason for learning Polish, it would be to read this book in its original.

Michael Godwin.
Cyber Rights: Defending Free Speech in the Digital Age,
Times Books, 1998.

Michael Godwin is the Electronic Frontier Foundation's legal counsel, and a long-time advocate of freedom of speech on electronic forums. His arguments based on existing case law, and a belief in free speech as a necessity to building open communities. In the early chapters his approach is that of a lawyer, arguing how existing statute and case law apply, or should be applied, to Digital forums; How the Internet, and associated BBS's and networks, are similar to, but different from ``traditional'' presses such as newspapers and broadcast mediums. Later chapters are a personal account of the Rimm study, and the CDA. Written in a personal style, this is a good book for those new to the Internet, or for those who have been there for awhile, but would like a personal history of some of the more important challenges to first ammendment rights in electronic communications.

Steve Levy.
Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer That Changed Everything
Viking, 1994.

A history and pre-history of the Macintosh. Well written, face paced, and capturing the excitement of the moment. Unlike shorter histories of the computer that changed everything, Levy writes about the long history of ideas that preceeded the Mac, and the work Apple engineers did in making the ideas both affordable and marketable.

Whitfield Diffie and Susan Landau.
Privacy On The Line: The Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption,
MIT Press, 1998.

An examination of the national security, law enforcement, commercial and civil liberties of encryption. Covers the history of cryptology and signal intelligence, law enforcement and privacy laws. Extensively footnoted with bibliography. Some of the footnotes seemed out of place (that is, they should have been in referenced in another chapter of the book), and there were many typos. A good editing should have cleared these problems. But, they are minor distractions in what is an excellent history and reference.

John McCarthy.
Defending AI Research: A Collection of Essays and Reviews,
CSLI Publications, 1996.

A collection of book reviews and associated essays critiquing various AI detractors. Reviews include The Emperor's New Mind, and Shadows of the Mind both by Roger Penrose, and Weinberg's Computing Power and Human Reason, as well as Dryfus's What Computers [still can't] do. The book could have used a good editor to check bibliography references, and to provide citation for original publication and books being reviewed.

David Brin.
The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?,
Addison-Wesley,1998.

Reciprocal Transparency, a modest proposal for handing privacy in the information age. Brin's argument is that the technology is coming, and that the rich or the powerful will have access to it. His concern is that we maintain an open (even more open) society by putting the technology in everybody's hands (especially the citizenry), and turning the spotlight of criticism on the rich and powerful.

This is a worthy contrarian viewpoint, and one that in my opinion should be carefully considered. We do have a open society, and the trend is for more openness and accountability. I also share his concerns that a weak government could be subverted, and that corporate power represents a serious future threat. But, this is an uneven work that needs to back up it's claims with more data. Some of the key points are repeated in multiple chapters, and others are deferred until later---although I'm not sure we got to them all.

In short, read the book---there are many kernels of wisdom, many thoughts to ponder, many ideas to reflect upon. You will be well rewarded for the effort. But, be prepared to do more research if you want a deeper understanding of this complex topic---advice David Brin offers numerous times.

John Horton Conway and Richard K. Guy.
The Book of Numbers,
Copernicus/Springer-Verlag, NY, 1996.

Number theory, number history and number lore. A thick and intertwined encyclopedia of numbers by two mathematicians. It would be easy to spend a year on this book, trying each example, working out the principles. The number types are explained from geometric, algebraic, graphical, series, and other angles, with later chapters revealing connections with earlier chapters in surprising ways. Written for the mathematics puzzle enthusiast, or other number lover.

Peter Nicholls.
Science Fiction At Large,
Harper & Row, New York 1976.

Collection of articles/presentations from a conference on science fiction as literature. Contributors include Ursula K. LeGuin, John Brunner, Thomas Disch, and Philip K. Dick. Dick's entry is fascinating and strange. It was written soon after is (hypothesized) stroke, and built upon his science fiction ideas.

Chris Okasaki.
Purely Functional Data Structures,
Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Fundamental data structures, and data structure design techniques for lazy, and eager functional programming languages. Examples in Standard ML with a Haskell source appendix. Emphasis on understanding replication and permanent data structures.

John Grisham.
The Firm, Dell, 1991.

My first John Grisham Novel, a Christmas present from my sister who is a big fan of his. Fast pace keeps the story of the youngest intern at a rich and secretive law firm moving. The very premise has a creepy feel to it, and keeps one guessing about what is really going on.

Richard Fletcher.
The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity,
Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1997.

A history of the conversion of Western Europe to Christianity, from the earliest days of Christian communities in the Roman empire. Detailed, emphasizing the connections upon connections between the clergy and aristocracy, and the motive for aristocratic support for the new religion. Monastic life played a large role in establishing a basis of Christianity in rural communities, especially in Ireland and England. Non-Roman Catholic conversions are only discussed where they interact with Western Europe, such as in the Balkans.

Gwyn Jones.
A History of the Vikings, 2nd ed., Oxford University Press, 1984.

A History of the Viking age, with an emphasis on the pre-viking age events that gave rise to the better known age of exploration.

Robert E. Bartholomew and George S. Howard.
UFOs & Alien Contact: Two Centuries of Mystery,
Prometheus Books, Amherst, NY, 1998.

A history of alien contact claims starting with the great airship sightings of 1896-97. Part I reviews the literature on eyewitness testimony, and particularly Musafer Sherif's work on group dynamics and the autokinetic effect. This is followed by chapter after chapter of sightings airships, balloons, airplanes and V-rockets. These sightings included claims of messages dropped from airships, and contact with the crew members (usually the lone inventor). Part II is about alien abductions and contact claims. Two appendix provide a summary of and bibliography of alien contact cases.

Julian L. Simon.
Population Matters: People, Resources, Environment & Imigration
Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, NJ, 1996.

A collection of writings with commentary and postscripts. I started reading this after I was accused of misunderstanding Simon and being a no-nothing in economic affairs, a doomsayer, and so on. After reading Simon's own collection, as opposed to interviews and TV appearances, or magazine articles---where he might be edited, or speak hastily, or be directed towards saying outrageous things---I can only say that I was going light on Simon. He really did say those things, and really does seem to lack comprehension of biology, physics, and so on. He also does, several times, admit he is ignoring data, or dismissing findings because they do not directly impinge on people's purchasing power.

He also, as Garret Harding points out, speaks in the passive; saying things like ``the air got cleaner,'' instead of ``due to pressure from the public, in response to the projections of doomsayers, the air was cleaned up.'' Finally, Julian Simon does appeal to those with a vested interest in the status quo, or a desire to sweep problems under the rug. Is this Simon's fault? I think at least some of the blame can lay in his style or rhetoric. But, if you want a survey of Simon (and if you are concerned about the environment and population you must at least be familiar with Simon), this is a good, recent collection, in which the author had plenty of space in which to correct or modify his views. And if you are challenged to ``show me where he said that,'' chances are you will find it here.

Michael Crichton.
Eaters of the Dead: The manuscript if Ibn Fadlan, relating his experiences with the Northmen in A.D. 922,
Ballantine Books, New York, 1976.

Early Crichton novella, written as a the travel log of a 10th century Arab; including translation and compilation notes. The story is a retelling of Beowulf as a portrayal of an historic event as witnessed by Ibn Fadlan. The first three chapters, of how Ibn came into contact with the Norse, is is based on a tenth-century Arabic manuscript.

The title refers to monster that attack under the cover of mist, and which consume the Norse dead---taking away parts of the slain. According to a Postscript, Crichton wrote Eaters... on a dare. As with most Crichton, the real and invented are mixed together. However, in this story, Chichton confesses to getting confused about the dividing line between fiction and reality, and once spent hours in the library attempting to look up one of his own fictitious references! Eaters of the Dead is to be the basis of Crichton's lasted movie The Thirteenth Warrior.

Scott Meyers.
Effective C++, Second Edition: 50 Specific Ways to Improve Your Programs and Designs Addison-Wesley, Reading Massachusetts, 1998.

For the programmer who knows C++, but wants to know it better. Advice on which C++ constructs to use when, well written based on lots and lots of advice gleamed from comp.lang.c++ and other sources. Cross referenced, sprinkled with humor and many good examples.

Gregory J. Chaitin.
The Unknowable IBM Research Division, 1998.

A ``prequel'' to The Limits of Mathematics; introduces metamathematical concepts from Cantor, Hilbert, Gödel, Turing and the author's Algorithmic Information Theory. Available online in HTML, PostScript and PDF. Written in a very strait-forward manner, Chaitin's goal with the Unknowable is to describe the simple ideas at the core of undecidability. He does an admirable job.

Alan Schwartz and Simson Garfinkel,
Stopping Spam, O'Reilly & Associates, Inc., 1998.

Spam is starting to consume a good portion of my workday, because even if we shutdown relaying at RPI (which we did), there are many more machines on campus that are not so configured, and are not under our (CIS/SSS's) control. Lately, about once a week, one of them gets used for SPAM. Good book in explaining the problems, providing some solutions, and discussing the motivations of spammers. Good advice for the user, with a chapter directed to system administrators. Many URLs for further information.

Ken Arnold and James Gosling.
The Java Programming Language, Second Edition, Addison-Wesley, Reading Massachusetts, 1998.

Updated for Java 1.1[.4], tutorial and programming guide. Introduction to language, with programming advice and a guide to the libraries.

John C. Burnham.
How Superstition Won and Science Lost: Popularizing Science and Health in the United States,
Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ, 1987.

Using three case histories; public health, psychology and natural science Burnham argues that popularizers of science abandoned their original goal of presenting a world view in opposition to superstition instead leaving it to lay popularizers to report isolated scientific findings with the result that superstition continued to flourish in the scientific age....

Seriously, very interesting book; especially for its history of 19th century medical popularization efforts (water cures, healthy living lists, etc.). But, the author needs to use fewer subordinate clauses, more commas, or shorter sentences. I had to re-read many sentences to get a correct parse, and even then, much information was deferred with forward references; making it difficult to keep an active stack of ongoing threads.

Simson Garfinkel and Gene Spafford,
Practical Unix & Internet Security, 2nd Edition, O'Reilly & Associates, Inc., 1996.

Second edition, expanded to include more on Internet Security. Good review of basics, with an emphasis on what the sys-admin could, in practice, do to improve security.

Henry H. Bauer.
Scientific Literacy and the Myth of the Scientific Method,
University of Illinois Press, Urbana, IL, 1994.

A short, readable volume about the problems with scientific literacy surveys (sometimes a well informed answer is ``wrong,'' or a good understanding of science applied to the test would lower the final score), and the general myths of science prevalent in society, and among scientists. Bauer uses the puzzle and filter models to discuss out science works, and how it comes to a consensus. He also contrasts science with pseudoscience (about which he has written two books), noting that the latter is issolated from the feedback of the scientific community.

Terry Pratchett.
Feet of Clay, Harperprism, NY 1996.

Medieval detectives (including an alchemist dwarf named Cheery Littlebottom) follow a rouge Golem in Discworld. First Pratchett book I've read---very funny. If I had know we could sell transcripts of D&D sessions, I would have recorded the sessions. Alas, this later Discworld novel assumed too much familiarity with the characters and operation of Discworld. So, while I enjoyed it immensely, I would suggest starting with one or three of the earlier novels (that's what I'm doing).

Bjarne Stroustrup,
The Design and Evolution of C++, Addison-Wesley, 1994.

A technical and historical examination of how C++ came to be, and how the C heritage and early design decisions affected the final language. Quite an interesting book, especially if you have ever grumbled under your breath about some C++ feature. It is surprising how many of C++'s rough edges were a result of maintaining compatability with C's shortcomings (e.g., it's name lookup rules and ``int by default'' rules, stand out as particularly troublesome).

Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan,
Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors: A Search for Who We Are, Ballantine, NY, 1992.

A history of the human species, and how that history led to what we are, and influenced our current conflicts. The introduction says that this is the first volume, in what was to be a multi-volume work.

Larry McCaffeyy, editor.
Storming the Reality Studio: A Casebook of Cyberpunk and Postmodern Science Fiction, Duke University Press, 1991.

Collection of fiction and essays about postmodern science fiction, and especially Cyberpunk.

Italio Calvino.
The Nonexistant Knight and The Cloven Viscount, Harcourt Brace & Company, New York, 1962.

Two novelas by Calvino. In ``The Nonexistant Knight'' an empty suit of armor inhabited by Agilulf Emo Bertrandin of the Guildivern and of the Others of Corbentraz ans Sura, Knight of Selimpia Citeriore and Fez, challenges Chivalry. In ``The Cloven Viscount'' Viscount Maderna Terralba is split in two by a canon ball. The evil half returns home, joined later by the good half where they both fall in love with the same woman.

Thomas M. Disch.
The Dreams our Stuff is Made of: How Science Fiction Conquered the World, The Free Press, New York, 1998.

History of scifi, and how it has affected popular culture. Focusses more on the non-scifi culture than James, and is more critical of scifi's role in promoting psuedo-science and outdated social, economic and political theories.

Karen A. Schriver.
Dynamics in Document Design: Creating Text for Readers, John Wiley & Sons, 1997.

Review of the traditional and emerging field of document design with an emphasis understanding what the reader sees. The goal is to help designers make documents easier to understand, and to avoid making them difficult to understand. Early chapters deal with the history of the field of document design, and the social and technological forces that lead to its creation. Later chapters deal with how readers comprehend text. Comprehensive, readable with an interesting design.

Jan Gullberg.
Mathematics: From the Birth of Numbers, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1997.

A history of mathematics. Not mathematicians, mathematics. Early chapters are on the etymology of counting systems, including systems of enumeration in about 20 or 30 languages (Icelandic, Irish, Old English, Old Norse,....) There is quite variety in counting systems. The most unusual was Welsh, which is vigesimal (20 based). Thirty is literally ``second half times twenty'' where 1/2 is the first half, 1 1/2 is the second half, 2 1/2 is the third half, etc.

Later chapters include number theory, logic, topology, calculus, and differential equations. An excellent overview of many fields of mathematics, and a good starting point for exploring more.

Marge Piercy
Woman on the Edge of Time, Fawcett Crest, 1983, c. 1976.

Connie, a former mental patient, tries to stop a pimp from beating her niece; an act which results in her being re-institutionalized (nobody would believe her side of the story). While hospitalized (actually, starting a month before) she has visions of a stranger, which she is sure a hallucinations. They are not, the stranger is from the future. A radically different future in which technology has built a better world, by removing all differences between the sexes.

Inspired by Shulamith Firestone's The Dialectic of Sex, Woman on the Edge of Time is a book which asks us to think about what we really mean by ``equality.'' Connie has difficulty accepting the ``Utopia'' shown her, because it is so different from her own culture, and because she views her role as a woman as being diminished by the extreme equality.

Susan Strasser,
Satisfaction Guaranteed: The Making of the American Mass Market, Pantheon Books, New York, 1989.

History of the transformations that made the modern consumer culture.

Karel Capek,
Apocryphal Tales, Catbird Press, 1997, Translated by Norma Comrada.

New translation of Capek short stories published as a collection after his death, along with previously untranslated tales. Most deal with historical or mythological events interpreted in the absurdities of the 20th century. For example, senators judging the fate of Prometheus; they all thought him guilty, but for different reasons: threatening cultural tradition, blaspheme, introducing a dangerous product without adequate warning.

Jorge Luis Borges.
Ficciones, Grove Press, New York, 1962, copyright 1956 by Emecé.

Fissions, short sharp stories that explore a particular point or view. Very good, very well written. The Library of Babel is well known, as is The Babylonian Lottery. Both are about the nature of order within randomness. Others include ``Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius'' about books that don't exist about places that don't exist, and their unusual languages and philosophies. Lem is often compared to Borges, and for good reasons. Many of Lem's ideas in fiction are foreshadowed by Borges.

Michael Crichton.
Jurassic Park, Ballantine, 1990; The Lost World, Ballentine, 1995.

Several people have told me I should read this book, so after watching the movie again, I started reading. Excellent story, lots of good science (more then in most self-described science fiction books), very well put together with good characters and story line. Ian Malcolm and chaos theory are much better in the book, and better tied to the story. As is the connection between Malcolm, Grant and InGen.

The Lost World starts out with Ian speaking to The Sante Fe Institute. Cool! How could I have put of reading this for so long. It looks like artificial life and current debates about the methods of evolution will play a large role in this book. One small nit to pick. At the end of Jurassic Park a character important to The Lost World was dead (I don't want to give away who). Now, I can see why Crichton wanted to revive this character, but he was clearly dead, and there was discussion of being in Costa Rica for weeks with no indication he was really just nearly dead. Ok, he justifies this by saying ``some reports even said he was dead,'' but that wasn't the way the story read.

Simon Singh.
Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem,
Walker and Company, New York, 1997, Forward by John Lynch.

Good history of Fermat's last theorem, (xn + yn = zn, n > 2 has no whole number solutions) and Andrew Weil's proof. I was hoping for more math, but was able to get a sense of how elliptic curves, Fermat's last theorem and modular forms are connected, and what Weil's proof entailed. Still, I would like to see an attempt at explaining more of the math to amateurs.

Shulamith Firestone.
The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution, Morrow, 1970.

The year is 1970, the second feminist revolution has just started, and, like the first, it is split into various accomodationist factions. Firestone believes none of these factions is revolutionary enough. She starts with the premise that Marx and Engels didn't go far enough, that the basis of inequality is sex, not class. Since sex differences are themselves grounded in biology, the only way to build a true socialist Utopia is to apply technology to eliminating all differences between the sexes. No, this is not science fiction. Shulamith Firestone was very serious, but her book (especially the last chapter) was the inspiration for a few science fiction stories including Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time. The book is well written, however, and with a little suspension of disbelief, and some allotment for when it was written, it does read like speculative fiction. If the book did not exist, Stanislaw Lem would have reviewed it.

Christopher P. Toumey
Conjuring Science: Scientific Symbols and Cultural Meanings in American Life, Rutgers University Press, 1996.

How scientific symbols have entered and are used in American culture. For example, actors playing doctors giving medical advice, or cartoons picturing a test-tube with a mini-mushroom cloud. Tourmey notes that there is a gap between the American public's respect for science and its symbols, and their understanding of science's methods of reasoning, or values of the culture of science. This has not always been the case, and Conjuring Science is about the historical roots of the gap, and how this ``paradox of respect without comprehension'' enables the symbols of science to be appropriated for other political or social uses.

James Tiptree, Jr.
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, Arkam, 1990.

Introduction by John Clute, Illustrated by Andrew Smith. James Tiptree, Jr. is the pseudonym of Alice Sheldon. This is a excellent collection of Alice Sheldon's work as both James Tiptree, Jr. and Raccoona Sheldon from the 1970s. Includes ``Huston, Huston, Do you Read?,'' ``The Screwfly Solution,'' ``With Delicate Mad Hands,'' and ``The Girl Who Was Plugged In.'' Clute claims that most of Tiptree's works deal on some level with death, but most are really more about biological destiny, and particularly the conflict between biology and society, than death per-se. Nature says multiply, use, consume, grow, and in the end that means death if nature is allowed its course without consideration of the consequences. But even that death, and the change it allows, is part of the uber-plan which is nature. It is the interaction between life and death which is Tiptree's main theme; one spelled out in the penultimate story ``She Waits For All Men Born.''

Edward James.
Science Fiction in the 20th Century, Oxford University Press, 1994.

History of science fiction ideas, how they have entered western society over the course of the 20th century, and how those ideas have in turn fed science fiction. The book is particularly interesting for its chapters on fandom, and the love/hate relationship science fiction has with fringe science and the paranormal.

Stanislaw Lem.
Microworlds, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986.

Critiques of science fiction including "Science Fiction: A Hopeless Case---with Exceptions, and "Unitas Oppositorum: The Prose of Jorge Luis Borges." I read this collection circa 1986/87, and started re-reading it for the Borges article. However, I had forgotten much of what Lem had to say, and was not familiar with many of the authors he discusses during my first reading. Lem's view is that Science fiction is a hack field, part of the lower literature along with westerns and romances. It is a view not popular among science fiction authors and readers, but one with which I tend to agree. Science fiction is a literature with much potential brought down by low expectations. Lem attributes this to a lack of critical judgment, which in high literature preserves the good and allows it to rise above other works.

Donald E. Knuth.
The Stanford GraphBase: A Platform For Combinatorial Computing, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 1994.

Collection of datasets, programs for generating graphs from the data sets and algorithms for exploring properties of the graphs. These CWeb (a literate programming processor for C) programs are part of the preparations for volume 4 of The Art of Computer Programming.

Martha Baer.
(As Francesca), Broadway Books, Bantam Dell Doubleday Publishing Group, 1997.

Corporate climber leads double life. You've read it before, this book is distinguished in that the avatar is an online life, and the book was originally serialized on Live Wire. Otherwise, a so-so mystery. I knew who Inez was, and kept wondering how Elaine could miss the obvious.

Bernie Devlin, Stephen E. Fienberg, Daniel P. Resnick and Kathyin Roeder, eds.
Intelligence, Genes, and Success: Scientists Respond to The Bell Curve., Springer, 1997.

A collection of articles critically discussing the claims of IQ, heritability social policy and race raised in Herrnstein and Murray's The Bell Curve. The articles focus on the data and assumptions underlying The Bell Curve, noting the book is not self-contained as Herrnstein and Murray claim. Early chapters trace the social and historical trends that converged to produce The Bell Curve. Later chapters review the models behind ``heritable'' traits and current data on intelligence and IQ.

Donald E. Knuth.
The METAFONT Book, Addison-Wesley, 1986.

This is my third reading of The METAFONT Book. This time it's to learn more about the construction of macros, as part of the MetaChem project.

James W. Loewen.
Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, Touchstone, 1995.

A critique of how high school history textbooks make heros and villains out of historical figures, embellish stories, and leave out embarrassing or controversial information. The result is boring tripe which fails to engage the student, and leaves them with an incomplete or even false sense of American history. Presented as a series of chapters about important historical events. Difficult to put down.

I might have seen Loewen give a talk at Penn State circa 1982. Early portions of the book sounded familiar, and the chart-plus-exercise in chapter 12 were identical to what I saw in this earlier talk. If so, this must have been about the time he was first starting his review of how history is taught.

Peter Gloor.
Elements of Hypermedia Design: Techniques for Navigating & Visualization in Cyberspace, Berkhauser, 1996.

An introduction and overview of hypermedia tools and principles. Reads like an extended thesis in places. Early chapters cover information retrieval (lightly, with references) and the web. Later chapters cover tools for document development.

Garrett Hardin.
Living Within Limits: Ecology, Economics, and Population Taboos, Oxford University Press, 1993.

Deals with the social and political side of population problems, especially how prevailing view of unlimited growth has caused discussions of population to be taboo. Garrett is concerned with how we frame our debates, and especially how that framing has limited debate. Chapter 2 provides an economic and social critiqe of claims that expansion into space will solve our population problem. (Cohen dismissed such claims numerically in a short footnote.)

Patrick Henry Winston and Sundar Narasimhan.
On To Java, Addison-Wesley, 1986.

Step-by-step guide to Java and Applets. The pace is very slow, but that makes for quick (if sometimes aggravating) reading. The book deals with a central project, a movie rating system, which serves as the growing example. Lots of typos and printing errors (it looks like the font cache was munged once, since `C', `H', `z' and some other lettes are missing in many of the examples). If you already know C++, you may want a Java book targeted to that audience, or read Arnold and Gosling. I found myself guessing several chapters ahead.

Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan.
Slanted Truths: Essays on Gaia, Symbiosis, and Evolution, Copernicus/Springer-Verlag, New York, 1997.

Collection of articles by Lynn Margulis and/or Dorion Sagan. The overarching theme is the interactions of small systems in building large systems. The articles stress the evolution of complex life by symbiotic joining of simpler life, the rôle of cooperating systems in evolution, and the large-scale interactions of the biosphere known as Gaia.

In the introduction, Margulis and Sagan stress the rôle of science in answering larger questions such as the nature of life and humananities part in it, and are critical of science for its occasional failures to see the large picture, or for allowing ``religious-like'' sentiments to create bad science. Margulis seems particularly concerned about an overemphasis on competition in evolution, without looking at the advantages of cooperation (as in symbiosis).

John Varley.
Titan, Berkey, 1979.

The Ringmaster encounters a large alien ship in orbit around Saturn. While investigating it is attacked, and the crew find themselves inside the ship and strangely altered by their passage. The Captain, Cirroco Jones, is determined to climb Gaea and find out what happened.

This is the first book in a the trilogy that continues with Wizard (1981) Demon (1984). I like John Varley from his short stories (esp., Press Enter_) and his novel Steel Beach. Titan moves fast, and an interesting attempt at fantasy explained by science, but it lacks the same sense of the absurd that made Steel Beach so much fun to read.

John Betancourt (ed.).
Best of Weird Tales, Barnes & Noble Books, New York, 1995.

Collection of stories from the fourth incarnation of Weird Tales.

Edward Tenner,
Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences, Knopf, 1996.

An interesting book about the way that feedback and other difficult to predict reactions to technology often undo some of the technological gain, or introduce new problems. The book avoids Luddism, while discussing how our efforts to improve life by eliminating the acute and sudden changes have made the chronic and subtle more noticeable. Includes a couple pages about typesetting and TeX.

Vernor Vinge.
Across Realtime, Baen, 1991.

Contains The Peace War (1984), The Ungoverned (1985), and Marooned in Realtime (1986)". The Peace War describes a post-Luddite society in which various bits of technology (especially large power sources, transportation and biotechnology) have been ``outlawed'' by the Peace Authority. The Peace Authority formed out of Lawrence Livermore labs and used secret technology to destroy most sovereign governments and put an end to war. The total world population was soon drastically reduced by biological warfare started either by the Peace Authority, or the last vestiges of those sovereign governments.

The Peace War follows the exploits of ``tinkers'' who live in Northern California as they plot to overthrow the Peace Authority. This is a prequel to the story's which follow. The Ungoverned is a short story of war between emerging factions (the Tinkers and the New Mexicans) post Peace War. Marooned in Realtime is the best of the three, and the story most frequently recommended. It deals with the remnants of humanity, traveling into the future after an event (referred to as ``the singularity'') wiped out most of our species. The singularity was the result of rapidly expanding technology, and especially the results of technology driven by intelligent machines.

Carl Sagan,
Billions & Billions: Thoughts on life and death at the brink of the millenium, Random House, 1997.

Collection of essays by Carl Sagan and Ann Dryan. Some are from Parade and other publications, and a few were written in the year before Carl Sagan's death. The first section deals with large numbers, the second (entitled ``What are Conservatives Conserving'') deals with the environment, and how difficult it is to make decisions whose outcome is many decades off. The third section deals with science and society, and includes an essay ``In the Valley of the Shadow'' about Carl Sagan's thoughts on death.

Stanley B. Lippman,
C++ Primer, second ed., Addison-Wesley, 1991.

A decent primer on Cfront 3.0, each section is covered with minimal repetition. Exceptions and iostream are reviewed in appendices.

Sheila Williams, (ed.)
Hugo and Nebula Award Winners from Asimov's Science Fiction, Wings Books, 40 Engelhard Avenue, Avenel, NJ 07001, 1995.

An excellent collection of short stories from Asimov's. Some of my favorites Fire Watch, by Connie Willis (one of the few science fiction authors to understand humor), Hardfought, by Greg Bear (I really should read more by him), Speach Sounds, by Octavia Butler, Press Enter_, by John Varley (an inconsistent writer, but when he's good he's very good), Rachel In Love, by Pat Murphy (excellent!), Why I Left Harry's All-Night Hambergers, by Lawrence Watt-Evans (lots of fun, and another author who understands humor), Ripples in the Dirac Sea, by Geoffrey Landis (it is very hard to write an original time travel story), Bears Discover Fire, by Terry Bisson, and Beggars in Spain (I had difficulty sleeping after reading this one) by Nancy Kress.

Dr. Dean Falk.
Braindance, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1992.
Dr. Falk is ISUNY's December

speaker. Braindance is about the evolution of the human brain from its ape origins 5 million years ago, up to the presence. It is a synthesis of the physical, social and psychological evidence concentrating particularly on the discoveries of the last 2 decades. Falk is the originator of the ``radiator'' theory of hominid brain evolution, which suggests that the larger brain at first served a cooling function for the grassland hominid. There is much to learn about ourselves by studying our ape cousins and ancestors, but most authors go off on frequently wild, usually unfounded and sometimes misogynistic speculations when following that path. Falk stays with the data and offers interpretations that are fascinating while avoiding sensationalism. Many a evolutionary psychologist could benefit from reading this book.

Raymond Smullyan.
The Lady or the Tiger: And Other Logic Puzzles, Random House, Inc., New York, 1982.

Logic puzzles including more advantures of Inspector Craig in Transylvania, and in the asylum of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether, and various number machines that demonstrate the theorems of Godel, Tarski, Kleene, Post, Church and Turing. This is the first of a trilogy of logic puzzles books that continues with Forever Undecided: A puzzle guide to Gödel, which further explores the theorems of Gödel and company, and Satan, Cantor and Infinity: And Other Mind Boggling Puzzles.

Donald E. Knuth.
Selected Papers on Computer Science, Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Collection of papers by Donald Knuth written for non-computer scientists. Topics include the nature of computer science, algorithms, history of computer science and algorithms. Knuth as always is clear and informative in his writing. Even the 1976 Scientific American article on searching computer memory contained some surprises (and included more math than you are likely to see in Scientific American today).

Dennis Shasha and Cathy Lazere.
Out Of Their Minds: The Lives and Discoveries of 15 Great Computer Scientists, Copernicus/Springer-Verlag, New York, 1995.

Biographies of Knuth, Lamport, McCarthy, Bacus and others. The authors attempt to combine biographical and technical information, and do a reasonable job. The computer scientists own words are used when possible, but I get the impression the remaining essay is written around what the interviewee happened to say. The result often seems incomplete, compared to say Albers and Alexanderson's Mathematical People.

Suzy Mckee Charnas,
Walk to the End of the World, and Motherlines, The Women's Press, 34 Great Sutton Street, London EC1V 0DX, 1974, 1978. The Furies, Tor, 1994.

Disturbing, yet gripping dystopian future in which men and women have split into separate societies. In Walk, we meet Alldera, a ``fem'' in a patocracy who is sent on a mission to find the rumored ``free fems''. In Motherlines Alldera meets the Riding Women, and discovers the ``free fems'' are real, but they are victims of their previous slavery. Slowly, following Alldera's example, they learn from the riding women what they could not learn from each other---that freedom is a state of mind as much as circumstance. The detail of the nomadic Riding Women lives is one of this books strengths. Throughout, Alldera discovers that all societies have a darker side in which necessity or circumstances overrules the highest hopes and ideals.

In The Furies Alldera leads the free fems back to the Holdfast. During the intermediate years the Holdfast collapsed politically and most of its inhabitants died. The resulting culture is a mix of the old and new, with fems still subject to male rule, but with the old sexual taboos breaking down. Against the mounted, armed and vengeful free fems, however, the inhabitants of the holdfast are no match. The men are quickly enslaved in conditions worse than the fems themselves suffered. A fourth book is in the works.

Tepper, Sheri.
Gibbon's Decline and Fall.

The first book I've read by Sheri Tepper. Near and just after the millennium the US is being covertly taken over by a religious conservative society. Meanwhile, an epidemic of libido-loss is spreading, while elsewhere people seem to be going a little nuts. All of these events are connected, and associated with seven women who have been friends since college, and particularly with one of their members who disappeared. Well written, some gripping sections and interesting interactions of characters. I did have trouble identifying with the 6 women, but the story line was strong and held my interest. To respond to one critic, I think Tepper understands Catholicism pretty well.

Green, Jen and Lefanu, Sarah, eds.
Dispatches from the frontiers of the female mind: an anthology of original stories, Women's Press, London, 1985.

An anthology composed of many writers mentioned in Feminism and Science Fiction (see below). "The Cliche's From Outer Space," by Joanna Russ is particularly good, as is Gwynith Jones and Zoe Fairburns contribution. Some of the stories, for me, lack setting and character recognition, but that is to be expected. On the whole a good collection by infrequently anthologized writers. N.B., the publisher, a sign of the ghetto within a ghetto.

James Gunn.
Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction, A&W Visual Library, 1975.

A history of written science fiction from Verne and Well, until the early 1970s. Well illustrated, and well written. Covers major authors and magazines, as well as the fan presses.

Marc Reisner.
Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Penguin Books, 1987.

How the southwest got its water. This book is the basis for the first three parts of the PBS documentary Cadillac Dessert, one of the most fascinating documentaries I've ever seen. Talk about modernism! The book covers many more projects in much greater detail than the documentary, including several chapters on the Central Valley (California) Project, and the Teleco Dam.

Ward, Peter Douglas.
The End of Evolution: On Mass Extinction and the Preservation of Biodiversity, Bantam Books, New York, 1994.

Ward outlines the history of three great periods of mass extinction on earth. The end of the Paleozoic 245 million years ago, the end of the Mesozoic 65 million years ago, and most recently, the end of the Cenozoic which Ward argues started 2 million years ago with the onset of ice ages and is being accelerated by human activity, especially habitat destruction.

Connie Barlow.
From Gaia to Selfish Genes, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1992.

A collection of articles on biological science written by James Lovelock, Lynn Margulis, Julian Huxley, Author Koestler, Richard Dawkins, Douglas Hofstadter, Robert Axelrod, Leslie Orgel, and others. Very good.

Thinking about the Gaia hypothesis, that life systems self-regulate, it occurs to me that another way of looking at this is that life systems must self-regulate, otherwise life would end. There are so many natural disasters that may befall life that if the biosphere didn't maintain some ballance via feedback it would soon end.

Cohen, Joel E.
How many people can the earth support?, W.W. Norton, New York, 1995.

A detailed review of population, population growth and population myths. What factors affect population growth, and just how big can the population get? The first section I read was an appendix on past attempts to estimate maximum population.

So how many people can the earth support? That depends on what you value: environment, quality of life, sustainability, sheer numbers of people? The projected numbers will vary. Do you mean a world that consumes like the United States, and produces like Chad? Or one that consumes like China and produces like Switzerland? We could be a lot smarter about how we're living.

Ehrlich, Paul R. and Ehrlich, Anne H.
Betrayal of Science and Reason, Island Press, Washington, D.C., 1996.

Paul and Anne Ehrlich take aim at the ``brownlash,'' a collection of industry and industry supported writers who are downplaying, or even denying environmental problems at the expense of good science. The book does an excellent job debunking some of the anti-environmental bunk that have been circulating lately.

I was impressed by the cogency of their arguments, their sympathy for those affected by environmental regulation, and the number of brownlash arguments I had heard (and even repeated to what is now my embarrassment). Creepiest single statistic in the book: 40% of the carbon atoms in our bodies came out of an oil well. (It has been pointed out that these are dinosaur atoms which originally came from the cores of exploded stars, but that doesn't help the feeling.)

Yoke, Carl B. and Hassler, Donald M., eds.
Death and the serpent: immortality in science fiction and fantasy, Greenwood Press, Westport Conn., 1985.

Collection of articles about images of death and immortality in science fiction. Included articles about the works of Tolkien, Herbert, Tiptree, Eddison, and Heinlein. Interest and quality very.

Carol Tavris.
Anger: The misunderstood emotion, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1982.

Exposes myths of Anger such as `you should keep it in' or `you should let it out' or `repressing it causes ulcers.'' Lots of demonstrations of how the expression of anger is regulated by culture, and is not just a physiological/genetic response.

James Tiptree, Jr.
Crown of Stars.

Collection of Alice Sheldon's later short stories. Tiptree writes in the direct informal style of Heinlein, but has a decidedly different political view. These stories are almost uniformly dark, the one exception being a (largely inferior) 1970's story which somehow slipped into the collection.

James Tiptree, Jr.
Houston, Houston, Do You Read?, Tor, NY, 1976.

An earlier Tiptree story from just before (or around the time) of her ``out-ing.'' This one involves three astronauts returning to an earth populated only by women who reproduce via cloning. If your first though is ``Oh, yeah, and what did these women want?'' you've reacted pretty much as the astronauts did. Their reality was somewhat different. I don't want to give away the ending, but read this story.

Londa L. Schiebinger.
The Mind has No Sex: Women in the Origins of Modern Science, Harvard University Press, 1989.

History of the formation of the modern academy and how women came to be excluded from the practice of Science. At one time science was the pastime of the wealthy and women were included in this practice. Social clubs, meeting in parlors, would discuss the latest findings. It was only after science emerged as an academic profession that women were excluded from it's practice. The title is a quote by Francois Poullain de la Barre, 1673, L'esprit n'a point de sexe.

Langley, Simon, et.al.
Scientific Discovery: Computational explorations of the creative process, MIT Press, 1987.

Review of Bacon and other models of scientific discovery. First chapters contain a good review of the logic of falsification and scientific induction.

Lefanu, Sarah.
In The Chinks of the World Machine: Feminism and Science Fiction, Indiana University Press, 1989.

After reading "The Screwfly Solution" by ``Raccoona Sheldon'' in The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories I was looking for more books and information about James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon's better known pseudonym). This book had a whole chapter on her, and much more. I added a lot of authors to my reading list including Suzy McKee Charnas, Gwynith Jones and Joanna Russ. Unfortunately, as John Clute points out in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, ``Feminist Science Fiction'' is a ghetto within a ghetto and, hence, hard to find.

Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.
Roadside Picnic, Pocket Books, NY, Translation copyright 1977.

Simply one of the best short stories (actually, about 100 pages) about first contact ever written. Alien's stop on the earth, setup camp, scare a lot of people, and leave without even saying `hello.'' We are left to study what is left behind as woodland creatures would study the remains of a roadside picnic.

William Gibson.
Virtual Light, Bantam, New York, 1993.

First in Gibson's latest series, set in Southern and Northern California about 50 years hence. Entertaining, well written, and with more closure than any of the Neuromancer series (read, the ending was great). As always, Gibson's vision of the future is frightening in how familiar it is, and in how likely it seems.

Dick, Steven.
The Biological Universe: The Twentieth-Century Extraterrestrial Life Debate and the Limits of Science, Cambridge University Press, 1996.

This was a fun book. It is a review of our believes, social and scientific, about intelligent life in the universe. The book covers the history of early speculations about the nature of the universe (without stars and solar systems, there's little reason to ask the question) searches for life on Mars and Venus, searches for extra-solar planets, radio searches (including Marconi and Tesla's early efforts), extraterrestrials in fiction, a brief history of the UFO myth, and speculations about the societal impact of discovering extraterrestrial life.

Scott Adams.
The Dilbert Principle.

Excellent, humorous, just the right amount of cynicism with some actual practical (and sensible) suggestions on how to improve the work force. The Dilbert Principle is: ``Everybody is an idiot at some time in their life.''

Kathe Koja.
Skin, Dell, New York, 1993.

I like Kathe Koja's short stories, but she has trouble keeping my interest over the length of a novel. I've read Skin and The Cipher. Both started out with interesting premises and characters, and both just drug on-and-on until I just wanted the book to be over with. I really can't remember how either ended.

Peter Huston.
Scams from the great beyond: How to Make Easy Money Off of ESP, Astrology, UFOs, Crop Circles, Cattle Mutilations, Alien Abductions, Atlantis, Channeling, and Other New Age Nonsense, Paladin Press, 1995.

Peter is a friend and member of ISUNY. This is his first book about skepticism and its a lot of fun.

Carl Sagan.
The Demon-Haunted World: Science As A Candle In The Dark, Random House, New York, 1995.

Carl Sagan's first book to deal exclusively with pseudoscience and the paranormal. An excellent read, and as always Sagan brings his own personal and sympathetic light to the topic.

Gregory Benford.
In The Ocean of Night,
Across The Sea of Suns.

First two books in the galactic center series, which involves human kinds battle with a machine intelligence. These first two books involve first contact and first exploration. Other books in the series (and on the reading list) are: Great Sky River, Tides of Light, Furious Gulf, and Sailing Bright Eternity.

Jeff Gelb and Lonn Friend (eds.).
Hot Blood: Tales of Erotic Horror (1989), Hotter Blood: More Tales of Erotic Horror (1991), Hottest Blood: The Original Erotic Horror Anthology (1993). Pocket Books.

And, there are at least two or three others continuing the series.... The first was pretty good, so I picked up volume II and III during a sale. The quality of stories in the latter volumes varies. Some are are very good, but others are rehashings of old plots. Most seemed to be variants of `geek uses gnarly powers to victimize somebody.' (There were a few nice twists on this theme, but I just got tired of them.) Not surprisingly, the better stories tended to be by the better known authors.

Gurari, Eitan.
Writing with TeX, and TeX and LaTeX: Drawing and Literate Programming, McGraw-Hill, 1994.

The first is a reference manual for TeX, and the latter is a users guide to DraTeX and ProTeX. I reviewed these for TUGBoat.

Richard Rhodes.
Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1995.

History of the Atomic and Hydrogen bomb projects in the U.S. and Soviet Union. A followup to his previous book The Making of the Atomic Bomb, but written after Soviet archives were declassified. Both books are excellent histories of the science, people and politics that created the atomic age. Four stars.

Robyn M. Dawes.
House of Cards: Psychology and Psychotherapy Built on Myth, Free Press, New York, 1994.

Critical analysis of the practice of psychotherapy calling into question its claims to expertise in courtroom testimony, predicting criminal behavior, and offering curative powers beyond those available by lay therapists. Dawes suggests that formal techniques, which can at least be demonstrated to work, be used in place of the informal psychological profiles and projective tests typically employed by psychologists and psychotherapists, and that trained lay-therapists be allowed to treat people when studies show they are as effective as those advanced degrees.

Stuart A. Kirk.
The Selling of DSM: The Rhetoric of Science in Psychiatry, A. de Gruyter, New York, 1992.

Critical review of the history of the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostics and Statistics Manual and how it came to be the de facto standard for mental health diagnosis.

Michael J. Mahoney.
The Scientist as Subject: The Psychological Imperative, Ballinger, Cambridge, MA, 1976.

Collection of research on scientists, their research methods and abilities and biases. Includes review of studies of theoretical bias in pear review, and the effects that has on reviewer performance and recommendations.

Laurie Garrett.
The Coming Plague: Newly emerging diseases in a world out of balance, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994.

Review of Ebola, Lasa fever, Rift valley fever, AIDS and other newly emerging diseases and our attempts to control them. Well written and hard to put down. The AIDS chapters were particularly good at organizing the complex history of one of the most studied diseases of all time.

Stanislaw Lem.
His Master's Voice, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984. English translation copyright 1983 by Stanislaw Lem. Translated by Michael Kandel.

Told as the memoirs of Professor Peter E. Hogarth, ``His Master's Voice'' is a Los Alamos-like project to decipher an extraterrestrial transmission. The transmission, however, is much more then a simple message and may have directed the evolution of life itself.

Murray Leinster.
The Forgotten Planet, Carroll {\&} Graf Publishing, Inc, 260 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10001, 1990, Copyright 1954.

I was disappointed by this book. The third person account of survival on a strange, hostile planet of giant insects was boring, mostly because I could not identify with the characters. The premise was that the humans who crashed landed here had ``degenerated'' into grunting, uncivilized and cowardly victims of the elements until one person stood out from the pack, and fought back. Fine, but I couldn't suspend disbelief far enough (and I can suspend disbelief pretty far), and the real problem stemmed from those unrecognizable and wooden characters.

John Brosnam.
Have Demon, Will Travel, Legend/Random House, UK, 1993.

The back cover said ``funnier than Tom Holt.'' It wasn't.

Tom Holt
Who's Afraid of Beowulf, Expecting Someone Taller, Grailblazers, and Here Comes the Sun.

The first two were great, the last to Ok. Tom Holt writes about a modern world inhabited by old gods, daemons and ghosts. BTW, my Canadian release copy of Grailblazers lists the copyright holder as ``Kim Holt.'' Is Tom Holt a pseudonym?

Michael W. Friedlander.
At the Fringes of Science, Westview Press, Boulder, CO, 1995.

Friedlander is a physicist at Washington University St. Louis, and teaches a corse on fringe science. This book discusses the differences between science and pseudo-science via the examples cold fusion, polywater homeopathy, Lysenko and Creation Science. Different from other skeptic books in the topic it covers, many of which were for a brief time part of mainstream science, but which were soon discredited and relegated to the fringe.

Willis, Connie.
Impossible Things, Bantam, 1994.

Collection of short stories. Connie Willis is one of the best humorist writing in science fiction. Her stories often read like screwball comedies.

Poppy Z. Brite.
Wormwood, Bantam, 1994.

Collection of short horror stories. Pretty good, and some are excellent. I ended up buying her vampire books Drawing Blood and Lost Souls.

David J. Hess
Science in the New Age: The Paranormal, Its Defenders and Debunkers, and American Culture, The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison WN, 1993.

Skepticism as a culture. I thought this was interesting reading, like watching yourself through the looking glass. Not all skeptics would agree. Some thought Hess was defending paranormalist and attacking skepticism. He does no such thing. In his book the truth of the claims isn't as important as what skeptics, paranormalist and new agers believe about themselves and each other. That is the topic of the study. There was a review in Skeptic magazine, which is reprinted in The Why-Files. A less generous review appeared in Skeptical Inqurier. David Hess is a professor at RPI, and has spoken to ISUNY on two separate occasions---once about this book, and another time about spirit mediums in Brazil.

G. Pascal Zachary (if I recall correctly).
Showstopper: The breakneck race to develop NT and the next generation of computing

How David Cutler came to Microsoft and what he did there. Very good read, hard to put down.

Robert X Cringely
Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition, and Still Can't Get a Date.

The rise of silicon valley and the personal computer market. Good read, lots of stories and commentary. Also the basis for Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires in Silicon Valley on PBS.

Lauden, Larry.
Science and relativism : some key controversies in the philosophy of science, University of Chicago Press, 1990.

Dialog between four philosophers of science about the scientific method, and the nature of knowledge. Lauden presents a fair assessment of the cognitive relativist school and their claim that objective scientific knowledge is not attainable. ``Relativist are perfectionist in an imperfect world.''

Dennett, Daniel C.
Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the meanings of life, Simon & Schuster, 1995.

Very good review of Darwinian thinking and how it applies to speciation, and the origin of Mind. If you're ever accused of being a reductionist response with a ``thank you'' and read this book.

BTW, in this book Dennett spends some time criticizing Steven Gould for not being sufficiently Darwinian. I think that Dennett mis-reads Gould on contingency, but likewise I think Gould mis-reads Dennett on reductionism.

Penrose, Roger.
Shadows of the Mind: A search for the missing science of consciousness, Oxford University Press, 1994.

Penrose falls short of proving his thesis that mind must have some quantum, non-computational component. But, he presents the arguments better then most other books, and better than in his previous book, The Emperor's New Mind. TENM was an excellent source of information about Turing machines, general relativity and quantum mechanics---most of which seemed irrelevant to the books central thesis, and all of which appeared in a haphazard manner that left me wondering just where well established physics left off and new theoretical territory was being explored.

In Shadows Penrose is more organized and systematic. He responds to his critics, and, ironically, in the process agrees with them. While knocking off one point after another about what his theory is not (randomness, chaos, massive parallelism, formalism vs. simulation, etc), Penrose leaves himself with an unknown and unproven non-computational physical action that, he asserts, must be a fundamental component of consciousness.

On the plus side, Penrose is right in that many critics missed his central premise regarding non-computability. (Although, it would be easy to miss it in the wide-ranging Emperor's New Mind.) On the negative side, Penrose falls short of demonstrating any necessary connection between quantum states and consciousness, and the very existence of the non-computable physical function remains unresolved. At a recent colloquium at RPI, Penrose proposed an experiment that would test his quantum theories. However, it was still not obvious that success would influence theories of consciousness one way or the other.

Tom Shippey.
The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories, Oxford University Press, 1992.

I bought this remaindered at Border's bookstore. It's a good collection of 20th century science fiction stories, and led to my looking up the works on several authors including `James Tiptree, Jr.'

H. Bruce Franklin
Robert A. Heinlein: America as Science Fiction,1980

This was not as bad as I had feared after reading the summary on the Heinlein page. Franklin is writing from a left of center perspective, but he does include background on Heinlein's childhood and the ``Marxist Drivel'' is kept to a minimum. Warning: My capacity for overlooking drivel in search of an occasional pearl is greater then most; your milage may vary.

Reginald Bretnor.
Science Fiction: Today and Tomorrow, Penquin, 1974.

Found this for a quarter at the Guilderland Public Library. The essays about the early days of science fiction are very good.

De Camp, L. Sprague.
Rivers of Time, Baen, 1993.

I like the Reginald Rivers stories, and here they all are in one place! Highly recommended. The best `time travel to the age of dinosaurs' stories ever written.

Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger.
Lost Moon: The perilous voyage of Apollo 13, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994.

The book the movie Apollo 13 was based on. The movie was great drama and, with the exception of noise in a vacuum, probably the best space special effects ever filmed. But, the book is better, and it gives you an idea of how much of the interpersonal drama was invented by Hollywood.

Kip S. Thorne.
Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's outrageous legacy, W.W. Norton & Company, 1994.

Thoroughly enjoyable and informative book about the origins of special and general relativity, and the theoretical and observational evidence for black holes.

Paul R. Gross and Norman Levitt.
Higher Superstition: The academic left and its quarrels with science,
John Hopkins University Press, 1994.

I read five reviews of this book before finishing it, and I kept wondering ``did they all read the same book?'' Higher Superstition is a critique of post-modern-deconstructionist as applied to science (instead of art). Their use of the term ``academic left'' is unfortunate as evidenced by the many pages dedicated to explaining what the term really means, as opposed to what the reader really thinks it means.

I have mixed opinion about this book. On the one hand criticizing articles such as: ``Gender Encoding in Fluid Mechanics---Masculine Channels and Feminine Flows'' (Hayles, N. Katherine, Differences---A journal of feminist cultural studies 4, no. 2, 1992) is like shooting fish in a barrel. At least it should be, but apparently some people take that sort of thing seriously. On the other hand, the authors engage in many of the same practices they decry, and then some. Further, the good is lumped with the worst and it is all called the same. I was particularly disappointed by Gross and Levitt's chapters on environmentalism (where they dismiss many concerns and quote Dixie Lee Ray as an authority) and biological studies of sex differences (which are well critiqued elsewhere, and which critiques Gross and Levitt seem unaware of or dismiss out-of-hand).

Christina Hoff Sommers.
Who Stole Feminism? How woman have betrayed women,
Simon & Schuster, New York, 1994.

Another disapointing book. On the one hand, Sommers does a good job critiquing some questionable studies. On the other, she tends to go beyond the critiques to make somewhat broad claims about feminism, education and the academic left (although she, thankfully, doesn't call it that). It all gets to be a bit much when she describes the NAS as besieged and resource poor academics put upon by the politically correct. (Sommers also uncritically repeats horror stories of political correctness on US campuses, often without checking sources.) Yes, public education is in a sorry state and it is sad that many high school boys are lost to sports and gangs. It's also sad that many high school girls leave science and math for less hostile subjects. In both cases it is worth knowing why and what effect this is having. Sommers is hardly the first to raise these issues.

On the gripping hand, I've read reviews of this book that were from another planet. Some bubbled with uncritical praise, while others condemned Sommers for saying things she didn't. Could these reviews, perhaps, reflect the political opinions of the authors more than the actual contents of the book. Anyway, I would recommend Gross & Levitt over Sommers, but read it with a careful eye for their style of argument.

Carole Vance.
Pleasure and Danger. c. 1984.

A compilation of essays on art and pornography and feminism. A variety of viewpoints are presented.

Nadine Strossen.
Defending Pornography, 1995.

The head of the NY UCLA takes on the topic of pornography. Good review of the laws, and how the laws tend to be enforced.

Carol Tavris.
The Missmeasure of Women, Simon & Shuster, New York, 1992.

Entertaining and informative book about gender studies and various claims that ``women be different from men.'' Well, they are different, not better, not worse, and not even as different as we might presume as Tavris shows.

Anne Fausto-Sterling.
Myths of Gender: Biological Theories about Women and Men, Basic Books, 1985.

Excellent critique of scientific studies purporting to show that women and men are intellectually or emotionally different. Gross and Levitt were, in my opinion, unfair in their characterization of Fausto-Sterling, and the section on biological differences is about the worst in Higher Superstition. Fausto-Sterling is forthright about her own biases, is clear about data, critiques, and opinions, and reserves most of her political commentary for the introduction and the last chapter. She suggests other researchers be clear and up-front about their biases.

Wendy Kaminer.
A Fearful Feedom, 1990.

A history of feminism and gender from a legal point of view. Kaminer argues for strick legal equality, but points out that equality in the law does not always translate as equality in the workplace or in society.

Wendy Kaminer.
It's all the Rage, 1996.

A history of the death penalty and violent crime in our society. Kaminer interviews the victims and those charged with enforcing our laws and punishments. Difficult to put down.

Katie Roiphe.
The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism on Campus, 1993.

An interesting book by an observer participant in the 1990's campus postmodern movements. ``Beware the Jabberwock, my son.''

Philip J. Klass.
UFOs: The public deceived, Prometheus Books, 1983.
UFO Abductions: A dangerous game, Prometheus Books, 1989.

Robert Sheaffer.
The UFO Verdict: Examining the evidence, Prometheus Books, 1986.

Curtis Peebles.
Watch the Skies! A chronicle of the flying saucer myth, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994.

I was doing a lot reading at one time about UFO's. This is largely due to the 1st Symposium on Anomalous Phenomena., and my involvement with ISUNY. These are the best of the lot, but the truth is there's only so much time you can dedicate to a worthless topic before the novelty wears off.

Random Map of Articles (old, incomplete and rarely updated section).

Mary Anne Weaver.
Blowback, The Atlantic Monthly, May, 1996.

``The CIA poured billions into a jihad against Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, creating a militant Islamist Abraham Lincoln Brigade believed to have been involved in bombings from Islamabad to New York. Is Bosnia next?'' A (pre-)history of Osama bin Laden.

Robert D. Kaplan.
The Lawless Frontier, The Atlantic Monthly, September, 2000.

Life on the boarder of Pakistan and Afghanistan including some history of the Talaban and bin Laden.

The Taliban embody a lethal combination: a primitive tribal creed, a fierce religious ideology, and the sheer incompetence, naiveté, and cruelty that are begot by isolation from the outside world and growing up amid war without parents. They are also an example of globalization, influenced by imported pan-Islamic ideologies and supported economically by both Osama bin Laden's worldwide terrorist network (for whom they provide a base) and a multibillion-dollar smuggling industry in which ships and trucks bring consumer goods from the wealthy Arabian Gulf emirate of Dubai (less a state than the world's largest shopping mall) through Iran and Afghanistan and on to Quetta and Karachi.

Robert D. Kaplan.
The Atlantic Monthly, February, 1994.

``How scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and disease are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet.'' A prescient article about opposing forces of tribalism and globalism, and the future of warfare.

Tim Sheard.
Using MetaML: A Staged Programming Language.

Defines MetaML, and Meta Programming. MetaML extends ML with three operators: code of n (<n>) which prevents expansion, ~ which expands inside of <>, and run which executes code. This alone presents an interesting synthesis of ML and Scheme-like languages, but Sheard goes on to define a Meta-Programming paradigm in which MetaML is used to define a program generator. (Meta-Programming strikes me as design patterns done right---the pattern definition generates the correct, type-safe, program.) Additional extensions and functional elements such as higher-order types, and monads are discussed. An example of a compiler for an imperative language is worked out in detail. One limitation of MetaML is the type-system, which can type some non-runnable programs. Sheard likens this to taking the head of an empty list---a run time error.

Philip Wadler.
Monads for Functional Programming,
In Advanced Functional Programming, Tutorial text of the First international spring school on advanced functional programming techniques, Johan Jeuring and Erik Meijer, (eds.), Springer 1995.

A programmer perspective of monads, how they are defined and what problem they solve. Examples include raising an exception, printing a trace and changing state. Extended examples include arrays and a recursive decent parser.

Jeroen Fokker.
Functional Parsers,
In Advanced Functional Programming, Tutorial text of the First international spring school on advanced functional programming techniques, Johan Jeuring and Erik Meijer, (eds.), Springer 1995, 1-23.

A tutorial on defining combinators and functions for parsing expressions. First a set of simple utility functions are defined. These are rewritten into functions that return parsers, which are eventually used to build a function which reads a BNF definition of a grammar, and returns a parser for that grammar.

Martin Erwig.
Inductive Graphs and Functional Graph Algorithms, Journal of Functional Programming, 2001, to appear

This is one of those ``ah ha!'' articles. Erwig defines purely functional graph algorithms based on inductive graphs. Previous graph algorithms in functional languages relied on non-functional constructs such as arrays. By first defining graph constructors, Erwig defines functional graph algorithms in Haskell. This makes them more suitable for teaching algorithms, and allows for proofs of correctness. Examples are given for depth-first search, breath-first search, shortest path, minimal spanning trees and Maximum independent node sets.

Philip Wadler.
Why no one uses functional languages,
ACM SIGPLAN Notices, 33(6), August 1998, 23--27.

A review of the practical obstacles to widespread adaptation of functional programming languages. Reasons include library and inter-operability, lack of killer applications, lack of management support and popularity and a perceived emphasis on functional programming as a research paradigm.

Paul Hudak
Conception, Evolution, and Application of Functional Programming Languages,
Computing Surveys, 21(3), 359--411, September, 1989.

An historical and technological review of functional programming languages, beginning with the Lambda Calculus and ending with Haskel. The article is divided into four sections: Evolution of Functional Languages, Distinguishing Features of Modern Functional Languages, Advanced Features and Active Research Areas, and Dispelling Myths about Functional Programming. In all, a thorough and accessible review with extensive references. Hudak avoids most overlap when discussing distinguishing features and history, but that does mean the sections are not self contained. The focus is on functional programming from a programmer's view. Discussion of implementation is limited to how closures are typically handled.

Friedrich Steimann.
Abstract Class Hierarchies, Factories, and Stable Designs,
Communications of the ACM, 43(4), 109--111, April, 2000.

Object hierarchies can be taxonomic or polymorphic. This leads to the question, is a square a special rectangle, or a rectangle a generalized square? Steimann suggests that both are part of another class, and are themselves leaf nodes. He argues that object hierarchies should only be instantiated on the leaf nodes, and that "factory" functions should generate the correct version based on input parameters. This simplifies object maintenance, since adding a new leaf does not require the hierarchy be redesigned. Factories are functions which return objects and most often found in Patterns. Changing an object's properties might require changing it's type, but this is job of the functions called ``operators,'' and is a well understood by programmers. Conceptually, this article gave words to some of my own object design methods. That is, avoid instantiating internal nodes since small changes then propagate throughout the hierarchy, and write (virtual) methods that return the abstract object. Multimethods would help this approach, especially when instantiating multiple factories.

Bing Swen (Sun Bin).
Object-Oriented Programming with Induction,
ACM SIGPLAN Notices, 35(2), 61--67, February, 2000.

Induction is the reverse of inheritance. It abstracts common elements from a set of specialized exemplars. Bing Swen reviews induction models, then proposes extensions to C++'s inheritance mechanisms to allow defining new classes, from existing classes, by abstracting their commonalities. This is would have the advantage of requiring no redesign of the object hierarchy (and so would not require source, or even viewing the internal design of objects).

Paul Frenger.
The Ultimate RISC: A Zero-Instruction Computer,
ACM SIGPLAN Notices, 35(2), 17--23, February, 2000.

Frenger outlines the properties to expect from a zero-instruction computer, then notes that we already build them in the form of analog boards, neuro-networks and, of course, meatware. This is actually the Forth column, but Forth is only mentioned in passing as the control language for some neuro-network boards. I checked if this was the April issue, about three paragraphs into the article.

Bill Joy
Why the future doesn't need us,
Wired, April, 2000.

Dismissed as a Luddite by some, this is a carefully crafted and thought out plea for scientists and technologist to take care and responsibility for their discoveries. Bill Joy suggests that in the 21st Century we will be faced with technologies that may, potentially, lead to our extinction. What is new with robots, genetic engineering and nanotechnology are: their potential for self-replication; that they might compete with us, or with the natural world, for resources; and that they are largely knowledge with little infrastructure. This last means they will be difficult to regulate--once the djin is out of the bottle, we won't be able to put it back.

Throughout there is a plea for simple common sense---complex systems are difficult to control, our track record with simpler technologies is not without blemish, and extinction is forever. Where he gets controversial is in his suggestion that some knowledge is not worth pursuing. Even there, he treads lightly and builds his case. But, are there other ways of achieving the same goals? Can we continue to advance our knowledge, our standards of living and quality of life, which do not exclusively depend on science even though science plays a large role--one of Bill Joy's main points, although one apparently lost on many critics. And, can we do this without putting a moratorium on basic research? Read the article before making up your mind.

Finally, Bill Joy anticipates his critics by noting up front that knowledge of a problem is not a solution to the problem. Simply because volumes have been written about technology and ethics, it does not follow that we, as a society, have absorbed those volumes, or even adopted an ethical stance. Bill Joy's article started with an outline of how he was motivated to confront a difficult problem, and he ends by challenging us to similarly confront it, and not dismiss it, or hide our fear in simplistic rationalizations.

David Deutsch.
"Quantum theory, the Church-Turing principle and the universal quantum computer,"
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, pp. 97--117, 1985.

Underlying the Church-Turing hypothesis is ``an implicit physical assertion.'' This is one of the first (the first?) article on quantum complexity theory, demonstrating that a QTM can in principle out-perform a TM by taking advantage of quantum superposition to achieve massive non-determinism. (QTM's, however, still could not compute a non-recursive function.) The paper goes further, however, in discussing the relationship between physical systems, simulations, Turing machines, and realizable computing devices.

André Berthiaume.
Quantum Computation.

Review of theoretical results in quantum computation starting with the calculation of probability amplitudes and basis vectors, through Deutsch and Shor's quantum algorithms and ending with some of the practical difficulties of building a physical quantum computer.

Simon Thompson.
Higher-order + Polymorphic = Reusable.

Shows examples of higher-order functions and polymorphism (generics) to build iterators for functional data structures. Trees are treated as lists and lists as trees through an abstract iterator interface which defines empty, cons and fold. The work is based on the idea of iterators in the C++ template library, and Musser and Stepanov, 1994.

John Hughes.
Why Functional Programming Matters, Computer Journal, 32(2), 1989; In D. Turner (ed.), Research Topics in Functional Programming, Addison-Wesley, 1990; Originally circulated as ``The Chalmer's memo,'' 1984.

As software becomes more complex it is necessary to divide large projects (and small) into modules. But, our ability to divide a program is limited by our ability to glue the components together. Hughes argues that the real strength of functional programming is its ability to glue components together using higher order functions and lazy evaluation. He gives examples from numerical programming and alpha-beta pruning, concentrating on abstracting the solution structure and the application of helper functions. Lazy-evaluation is shown to help problem abstraction through the use of potentially infinite lists.

Andrew W. Appel.
A Critique of Standard ML, CS-TR-364-92, Princeton University, 1992; Journal of Functional Programming,3(4) 391-430, 1993.

A critique of ML from the point of view of a user and an implementer. Starts with a description of ML's good properties, which tend to be general. Ends with some technical criticism and suggested modifications to the standard. This was pre-SML'97, and some of the critiques and suggestions have made it into the standard in some form or another. The article strikes a nice balance between language theory, language use and compiler design.

Robin Milner.
How ML Evolved, 1982.

The context which gave rise to the design of ML. Milner, Richard Weyrauch and Malcolm Newey were interested in a Meta-Language to express to assist in machine proofs by expressing sub-goals as function composition. This led to static binding, strict type checking and parametric polymorphism. Milner suggests it could hardly be otherwise. The article ends with some open problems: The need for state (assignment) to avoid tree walking; the restrained escape mechanism which is not textually determined; ML does not use Horn clauses which would make typing difficult with user-defined (HOPE and CLEAN are mentioned); ML uses call by value (the implications and alternatives were not considered).

Much of what Milner says regarding composition, polymorphism and types (and state) would apply to any interactive language, regardless of its original purpose. Note: I downloaded my copy from the Web, but have misplaced the URL and original publication information.

Marcus J. Ranum.
Selling Security: Fear Leads To ... the Dark Side,
;login, November, 1999.

CEO of Network Flight Recorder, Inc. argues that hype and fear are not the way to sell security, and that there is a conflict of interest when a company that sell security advertises a security flaw in competing systems, or markets a solution to the flaw.

  • If you see a press release about a security problem, it's hype.
  • If the announcement/product/exploit makes things worse for people, it's part of the problem and therefore hype. If it makes things better, then it's good.

Finally, don't spend your time finding exploits when you can spend it fixing problems and making life easier.

Paul Hudak, John Peterson and Joseph H. Fasel.
A Gentle Introduction to Haskell: Version 1.4,
Yale Haskell Project, 1997.

Haskell is a fully typed lazy functional programming language with an extensive (and extendible) syntax, redursive data types and infinite lists. This tutorial is an introduction to the programming concepts behind Haskell. The authors introduce lexical elements (somewhat more complex in Haskell than in other languages) as they are needed, and cross-reference the Haskell Report for details.

Available in html and Postscript, a Preliminary draft of a Haskell'98 version is in progress.

Daniel E. Geer.
Driving the Future, ;login, May, 1998.

Security is about managing risk, and not about managing trust. That is Geer's central message in this article about where he sees the computer security and cryptography industry heading. His argument is based on the need of the financial and business sectors for online transactions, that is a ``nonrepudiable communication between two parties who can verify time-, value-, and content-integrity of the communication.'' The key question a customer needs to answer is, what is my risk? What can I loose. This is necessary to get insurance. The financial industries are used to managing risk---it is what they do. If you cannot tell them what the risk is, they cannot help you---at least not at a cost you can afford.

Harvey Cox.
The Market as God, Atlantic Monthly, March 1999.

A theologian, Cox compares the market to dieties. As a allegory, it reads well. The market is all-knowing and all powerful (in a ``process theology'' sort of way).

Nick Christenson and Dan Farmer.
From the Trenches: One ISP's Response to the Problem of Spam,
;login, April 1998.

Earthlink Network administrators discuss spam, and why it is so difficult to stop at a large ISP. Approaches at Earthlink include changes to sendmail and inn configuration, user contracts and policies and possible legal action. Well written, detailed and practical article.

Toby Lester.
What is the Koran, Atlantic Monthly, January 1999.

A look at the historical Koran and the controversy surrounding academic studies and historic tradition (links to several sites critical of western Koran scholarship). Much of the article focuses on the 1972 finding of non-canonical Koran passages during renovation of the Great Mosque of Sana'a, in Yemen.

Roger Shattuck.
When Evil is ``Cool,'' Atlantic Monthly, January, 1999.

Changing views of evil in literature. Shattuck argues that we often equate evil with a kind of greatness, and warns us to guard against that. Interesting contrast of views, but I'm not sure how it would hold up against non-literary data.

Stephen Gilmore.
Programming in Standard ML '97: A Tutorial Introduction,
Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science, The University of Edinburgh, September 1997, Revised July 1998.

Tutorial introduction to functional programming concepts using Standard ML '97. Written for those who understand functional programming and are learning ML. The tutorial is available online at Harlequin. The author maintains a page of supplemental information and ML/Functional programming links.

Ian Joyner,
C++? A Critique of C++ and Programming and Language Trends of the 1990s, 3rd edition, 1996.

Near (short) book length critique of C++ with respect to Object Oriented programming principles. Avoids C/C++ bashing and horror stories and instead concentrates on programming language principles including type systems, OO-programming concents and functions performed by compilers. Comparison is made between C++ and Java, Eiffel, Beta and some other languages. Worth reading by anybody planning to use C++ (or any other language) or writing their own language. Reference is made to the literature, including Stroustrump's Design and Evolution of C++.

Stack of Potential Readings

Colin Ware.
Information Visualization: Perception for Design, 2nd ed.,
Morgan Kaufmann, 2004

The art and science of perception applied to presenting graphical information. An excellent text book.

Jef Raskin.
The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems
Addison-Wesley, 2000.

``The creator of the Macintosh goes beyond today's graphic user interfaces to show how the Web, computers, and information appliances can be made easier to learn and use.''

Mervyn Peake.
The Gormenghast Novels
Overlook Press, Lewis Hollow Road, Woodstock, New York, 1968/1995.

Titus Groan, Gormenghast, and Titus Alone, along with literary commentary and an incomplete fourth novel.

Underwood Dudley.
Mathematical Cranks, 1992, and
Numerology: Or, What Pythagoras Wrought, 1997.. Mathematical Association of America, Washington, D.C.

A collection of stories about circle square-ers, and angle trisectors. Both books typeset by Integre Technical Publishing.

Thomas K. Landauer.
The Trouble with Computers: Usefulness, Usability, and Productivity, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1995.

My Landauer number is 2 (if you count conference proceedings).

Rolf Herken (ed.).
The Universal Turing Machine: A Half-Century Survey, 2nd ed., Springer-Verlag, New York, 1995.

Collection of essays on computability, TMs, and computing. Includes Penrose's early essays on computability and thought.

Gegory J. Chaitin.
The Limits of Mathematics: A Course on Information Theory and the Limits of Formal Reasoning,
Springer-Verlag, 1998.

Combining computational theory with mathematics to ask what we can and cannot formally know. The third version of an continually developed course on computation by Chaitin. Includes LISP and Mathematica code. (At one time, Chaitin's course was online with a LISP interpreter written in Java.)

Steven S. Skiena.
The Algorithm Design Manual,
Springer-Verlag/Telos, New York, 1998.

Based on a course taught by the author over the Internet. Concentrates on useful algorithms, with examples or ``war stories.'' Audio of the 30 hour lecture is on the accompanying CD, along with an HTML version of the book, related software and source code, and links to open-source libraries.

Richard Jones and Rafael Lins.
Garbage Collection: Algorithms for Automatic Dynamic Memory Management,
John Wiley & Sons Ltd., Baffins Lane, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 1UD, England, 1996.

Java has revived interest in Garbage collectors. My interest is in GC for interpreted languages, such as PhoeniX.

Dan Gusfield.
Algorithms on Strings, Trees, and Sequences: Computational Science and Computational Biology,
Cambridge University Press, New York, 1997.

A more thorough treatment of sting, tree and pattern matching algorithms than found in a more general book. The emphasis is on computation and algorithms, with many examples taken from computational biology (such as partial matches on DNA sequences). The glossary contains a good definition of ``You're not expected to understand this.''

Steven S. Muchnick.
Advanced Compiler Design Implementation,
Morgan Kaufmann Publisher, San Francisco, 1997.

Compiler design for modern risk architectures. Example compilers include AIX's Xlc.

Niklaus Wirth and Jürg Gutknect.
Project Oberon: The Design of an Operating System and Compiler,
Addison-Wesley/ACM Press, New York, 1992

Project Oberon is an the name of an operating system and programming language designed from the ground-up for workstations. Oberon was named after the Uranian moon, in honor or the precision with which the Voyager space craft which was then making its flyby.

Dick Grune and Ceriel Jacobs.
Parsing Techniques: A Practical Guide,
Ellis Horwod Limited, 1990, Dick Grune and Ceriel Jacobs, 1995, Minor corrections, September 1997, 1998.

A guide to parsing and parsing techniques, going into more detail than typical in a compiler, computational theory or linguistics course. This book is currently out of print, so the authors have made it available online.

Mike Sofka