Blog posts tagged "books"

Book Mooch

August 7th, 2006

Ah yeah! Haven’t played with it in depth yet, but this is the service I’ve wanted forever (and Carl and I seriously sat down and threatened to build).

From Joi Ito

It reminds me a bit of BookCrossing, but the approach is different. BookMooch is more systematic. On BookMooch, you register your books and others search for books. You use points to get books that you earn by listing books. Unlike many other used book services, they don’t get involved in the shipping and payment. It’s rather peer-to-peer.

Which is all I know so far, but I’m so diving into this tonight. From the creator of Magnatune. (I wonder if they’ve already got selective importing from the various book listing services

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Remnants of Old Projects, and Misplaced Ambitions

June 4th, 2006

Spent today at my folks house in Santa Cruz tackling the “junk room” (which used to be known as Kellan’s bedroom), and digging through, among other things, the various boxes I’ve shipped home, and abandoned over the years.

Anyway found a box of castoff programming books, free to good homes.

Drop me a line, or leave a comment if you’re interested.

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Burst and Bull: A Conspiracy of Letters

January 31st, 2006

I have a confession to make, it’s a bit out of fashion, but I adore epistolary novels. Especially ones with unreliable principles. Having been on something of a tear plowing through 4 (unspeakable) paperbacks in 3 days, I finally smacked up against Burst and Bull’s Freedom and Necessity, which has slowed me down considerably.

Published in 1997, I’m not sure how I’ve missed it to date. Finally Burst turns his considerable talent for sly mimicry to a worthy task (I’m not a fan of Dumas, sue me), and Bull’s wonderful characters escape the rather dead end genre of musicians and fairies (ditto de Lint).

Some folks might be turned off by the extensive expositions of Kant and Hegel (with a name like “Freedom and Necessity” Hegel not to mention Engels are something of a given), but “Sophie’s World” this is not, I promise there is nearly no educational value in the philosophical ponderings, just beautiful words, and plot twists.

Spice with subtle anachronisms (ala Stephenson), Chartist heroes, and one of the most interesting, fertile settings (19th century Europe), and for some odd tastes, you’ve got a winner. Will remind many folks of JSAMN (F&N was published 7 years earlier, and is about 60% the length, and 10% the hype), I’d rather suggest Hobsbawn’s work on long century as a companion piece.

I’m about half way done (when the urge to write about a book generally strikes me), and so could be let down horribly by the ending, but I doubt it.

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Publish Grimwood Already

January 26th, 2006

What is wrong with the US book publishers, and why hasn’t someone brought out Stamping Butterflies, or 9tail Fox in the US? Grimwood is writing the best, most interesting science fiction around, bar none, and you can’t get him in this country. Bah. (I hit the bottom of my reading pile several days ago and starting to get twitchy)

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Lucene in Action (and Ferret)

January 23rd, 2006

I’ll admit I’m a freak, but I find a well written programming book as gripping as a well written novel, and have been known to sit down and read them cover to cover. (PofEAA was a page turner!) I’m about a third of the way through Lucene in Action, and it’s excellent: easy to read, compelling examples, deep insight, generally good stuff. A good tech book leaves your mind percolating with the all cool new things you can do with your new knowledge, and LiA is that kind of book.

I’m reading it in the contexts of Ferret and while there are some minor API differences (no Hits class in Ferret but it adds an Index::Index convenience class), for the most part the knowledge is directly applicable.

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Monster at Our Door, Disasters Sown in Their Footsteps

November 22nd, 2005

I’m currently reading Mike Davis’ “The Monster At Our Door: Global Threat of Avian Flu”, and finding it very interesting.

In particular I’ve been unexpectedly struck by how much like raving, leftist loonies dedicated moderates sound when they start writing comprehensively about current events. First Jared Diamond with Collapse, and now Mike Davis. (also, unfortunately, I think this book will firmly cement Davis, one of my favorite authors, into the “Prophet of Doom” ghetto)

Turns out that the key factors pushing the evolution and possible pandemic rise of an avain flu super killer (best case says 50 million dead, worst case as many as 1 in 6) are crony capitalism, and big multi-nationals (global agribusiness). Meanwhile preparedness has been dramatically damaged by the incompetence, and duplicity of the current administration, its phony war on terror, its headline grabbing disaster, the Dept. of Homeland Security, and its deeply incestuous relationship with “Big Pharma”. (in fairness, it was also damaged by the previous administration, and the previous one, clearly traceable, like many modern ills, to the days of the Great Gipper)

I haven’t decided if its alarming or comforting to find our old friends, these familiar horsemen of modern apocalypse lurking behind yet another potential global disaster.

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Religion as Memetic Innovation

November 9th, 2005

I picked up No god but God from the library, on the basis of Rafe’s recommendation. I’ve barely started it, but I find Aslan’s approach of flowing between “religious history” and “factual history” fascinating and enlightening. Rather the trying to find the Truth(tm) of Islamic history, he skillfully cuts between the various truths, both presenting “the Revelation” in matter of fact terms, while pages later cutting away to an analysis of the topos and tropes of messianic childhood myths. (but watch that you don’t forget this tension, as we’ve been trained to reject pluralist narratives, which can be confusing when reading an ahistorical history)

Like I said, I’ve barely begun, but I found a fascinating snippet of insight on page 13 talking about the techno-rhetorical (my word) innovations in monotheism.

More then a thousand years before Christ, Zarathustra preached the existence of a heaven and a hell, the idea of a bodily resurrection, the promise of a universal savor who would one day be miraculously born to a young maiden …. a non-proselytizing and notoriously difficult religion to convert to — considering its rigid hierarchical social structure

So Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all represent successive waves of innovation to produce a more viral ideology that could better leverage network effects. It’s an idea that has fascinated me since an off hand comment in a college history class that monotheisms were better able to displace traditional pagan cultures because monotheists were able to bring their God with them rather then being tied to a series of local, non-portable phenomena.

Perhaps it points to my spiritual bankruptcy, but I’d buy a Clayton Christensen style analysis of major religions in a heart beat.

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On Book Listing Services

November 6th, 2005

For years I’ve wanted a decent website where I can manage my relationship with books. (not especially complicated, but voluminous)

For a while there was largely nothing, then there was Allconsuming which was wonderful, but slowly died, and went dark before being re-incarnated in the mold of a 43x tool. And I have this memory of there being a nifty little $14/mo tool, back in the days when I didn’t pay for websites, but I wasn’t able to find it.

Last Fall, I started sketching down notes towards building my own, and in the intervening year its become an interestingly crowded space. (who knew so many other people felt the pull) Even in the 6 weeks since I first started jotting down sites for this blog post, the space has evolved with LibraryThing coming out solidly on top as the most active: most actively developed, most actively used, and most actively engaged developer.

That said, in a cursory search (mostly of my links) I turned up 5 other very similar services

Also the Bookshelf example app from 24L, and the intersting related services What Should I Read Next?, and Library Elf

None of them are quite there yet, and I want more, more, more!

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