Kurt Vonnegut - God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

Vonnegut claims that "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" is a novel about people whose leading character is money. The protagonist, Eliot Rosewater, has inherited millions of dollars (earned from robber baron ancestors) in a charitable foundation used as a tax shelter. He, however, uses it as an actual charitable foundation. His father thinks he's crazy for giving away money; a lawyer and a cousin want to prove he's crazy to get his money; his wife doesn't think he's crazy, but can't stand it in any case.

Shards of Honor - Lois McMaster Bujold

Shards of Honor cover (wikimedia)

"Shards of Honor" is interesting, but rough.

The book is about Commander Cordelia Naismith in a time of war in a galaxy far, far away.  It's science fiction, but the plot doesn't center around technology at all -- it would be a relatively minor rewrite to make it happen in a world more like our own.  The focus is on emotion and politics.

Why Public Service Needs Engineers and Scientists

One of my friends, Ernestine Fu, wrote a piece on engineering and public service, and I was featured.  You can see it below.


"Why would an engineer write a book on public service?" This was the one question I was asked most frequently when I started to write Civic Work, Civic Lessons. My answer? Engineers are problem solvers. We should be thinking about how we can change the world.

Glowing Rabbits!

How to Think Like a Computer Scientist

Peter Norvig noticed that a lot of books purported to teach someone how to program in hours or days.  He responded with a post titled "Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years."  Since Norvig's logic has me at half a programmer, I'll refrain from telling you how a computer scientist thinks and instead give you some challenges to try out over the next decade.


Image of Anodyne from http://static.giantbomb.com/uploads/original/16/165601/2427776-anodyne.png

I tried out the game Anodyne recently.  In the brief bit that I played, its Gamespot review seemed to be on point.  It is similar to the old 2D Zelda games.  However, it doesn't have a clear narrative.  Instead, it has an ambiance-dominated story about a kid who uses gaming as a coping mechanism ("anodyne" is a pain killer).  

David Foster Wallace - This is Water

From http://www.adweek.com/files/imagecache/node-blog/blogs/this_is_water_the_glossary.jpg

"This is Water" is a 2005 commencement speech by David Foster Wallace (video, transcript).  Wallace's argument is that a liberal arts education is valuable because it teaches you how to think, which helps you notice your default state of being so that you can act with understanding of it rather than acting like a fish who doesn't know what water is (thus, "this is water").  It was an interesting discussion, but I think that it ultimately misses the point.

Cory Doctorow - Little Brother

Little Brother's cover from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/82/Little_Brother.jpg

Suppose you have a generation of kids who don't know much about civil liberties or programming, and you want them to be excited about security technology, journalism, and the American constitution.  Take a 17 year old hacker for a protagonist, pit him against an overbearing Department of Homeland Security, talk about the history of San Francisco and some social movements, throw in a little romance, and you get "Little Brother."

Dust - An Elysian Tail

A Dust logo from http://operationrainfall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Dust-An-Elysian-Tail.jpg

"Dust: An Elysian Tail" (yes, I spelled "Tail" correctly, and no I still don't know why) is a fun, quick, and pretty action RPG.  

The protagonist is Dust, a hero with amnesia who must save the world from an evil army.  So, the plot is nothing new.  And while some games, like Bastion, have such a strong auditory and graphical narrative that greatness wolud shine through even with an unoriginal plot (not that Bastion is unoriginal), the narrative in "Dust" seems a bit hokey.

Mistborn: Alloy of Law - Brandon Sanderson

The Alloy of Law cover.

'"Alloy of Law" follows up about 300 years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy.  I enjoyed it overall.  It's a much quicker read than the previous Mistborn books, it's less philosophical, and it's more focused.  

It still has interesting tidbits, though.  One exchange discusses trust:


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