JD Vance: Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy cover

Hillbilly Elegy is a memoir about someone growing up in an Appalachian town.  It is well written, touching, and will probably teach you something, especially if you don't grow up in Appalachia.

Careers with Code

Careers with Code is a publication aiming to get more high school students interested in computer science by showing them some of the cool things you can do with a career in CS.  They interviewed me for an article on computer science and social change.  If you want to see it, you can check it out on their website or download a copy of the PDF.

Buying Glasses Online

Glasses are a racket.  Luxottica owns a lot of the market and does anticompetitive things (CBS, Snopes).  Most glasses seem to be priced with the assumption that people have vision insurance, so prices are artificially inflated like a fashion accessory rather than being tread more or less like the commodity that they should be.

Transforming Tech Skills into a Social Good Career

Udacity mentioned Code the Change on their career blog.  An exceprt:

Does this sound like you?

Many students are turned off of computer science because they think that it means working on excessively technical problems, and they can’t see the social impact of their work. Often, they don’t know who could use their help.

Leo Frankowski: The Cross-Time Engineer

The Cross Time Engineer cover

In middle school, I was on an airplane back home from somewhere (probably visiting relatives in Colorado or Pennsylvania).  I finished my book on the first flight and didn't have anything else to read, so the person sitting next to me on the plane gave me a book he had finished to read.  That book was The Radiant Warrior, the third book in the Conrad Stargard series by Leo Frankowski.


Before seeing Deadpool, I thought it was just a regular superhero movie.  I have nothing against those movies, and I often enjoy them, but even when they're well done, they don't really stand out.  Yes, the Avengers had good action and good jokes, and I'm glad I saw the movies, but it's not a favorite or anything.  Action movies typically aren't designed to make you think, and they often don't have that interesting of an artistic style (with notable exceptions like Kill Bill).

What is Life? by Erwin Schrödinger

The What Is Life cover

Schrodinger (the one with the cat) wrote a popular science book in 1944 about the building blocks of life.  The book was very interesting from a historical perspective.

Coding for Public Service

CodeHS helps high school students learn to code by working with schools and providing high quality instructional materials and tutors.  They are collecting a bunch of stories about people coding for their jobs, "Coding in the Wild," with the goal of getting students interested in programming.  Here's what I wrote for them.


Pierce Brown: Red Rising

The Red Rising cover

Red Rising is a trilogy about a slave uprising on Mars.  In the book, humanity colonized the solar system, but when doing so, they genetically engineered different people into different "colors," with golds at the top of the hierarchy and reds at the bottom.  I didn't like the start of the first book, but once I got into it, the trilogy was good.

Before I talk about what I liked, some things I didn't like:

The Three-Body Problem: Cixin Liu

The Three-Body Problem cover

The Three-Body Problem is a scientifically plausible book about human contact with aliens. It was a very good read.

The book is split between Maoist and modern China. It has some interesting historical vignettes about the cultural revolution, though if you're already familiar with the history, you probably won't learn much since the book doesn't go very deep.


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