- The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War is a fascinating biography of the Dulles brothers, and how the world changed through their lives and actions. One ran the State department, the other the CIA.
- Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil is an interesting overview of problems with machine learning and the ways in which it is often mis-applied. Sometimes verges towards the polemical, and readers with a statistical bent may want more. Still, interesting and worth your time.
- Angel: How to Invest In Technology Startups is a bit of a breathless business book, but is an excellent overview of how to be a helpful angel investor.
- The Great Bridge and Engineers of Dreams. I make no secret of my admiration for Petroski, and this history of the great bridge builders and the men and woman who built them is excellent. However, I think McCullough’s The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge does a better job of deeply illustrating Emily Warren Roebling’s place in the history of that bridge.
- Driverless is a highly readable introduction to how driverless cars are coming to function. It also made a strong case that the right bar we should set and expect for driverless cars is not perfection, but killing and injuring fewer people than are killed by drunk, distracted, or otherwise non-competent drivers.
- Postmodern Wine Making is a memoir, a history and a bit of a manifesto about Clark Smith’s time as a winemaker and what he’s learned.
- Void Star, Zachary Mason. The best William Gibson novel in a while. The one with 51 reviews has 3.9 stars, while the one with 26 only gets 3.7. Other than their Amazon ratings, I am unsure of the difference. Ms. O’Neil would be appalled, or perhaps amused.
What have you read lately that’s worthwhile?
- A remote Hawaiian island, East Island, was destroyed by Hurricane Walaka. East Island was 11 acres. It was also a key refuge for turtles and seals. Read more in The Guardian.
- Maersk has sent a ship, the Venta Maersk, through the Northern Passage. The journey and its significance were outlined by the Washington Post, with predictions of 23 days (versus 34 to sail via Suez). In reality, it took 37 days, according to the press release, “without incident.” The idea that there’s a sailable Northern Passage is astounding, even if a first sailing took longer than expected.
There’s an interesting article in the CBC, where journalists took a set of flights, swabbed surfaces, and worked with a microbiologist to culture their samples.
What they found will shock you!
Well, airplanes are filthy. Not really shocking. What was surprising to me was that the dirtiest of the surfaces they tested was the headrest. (They did not test the armrests.) Also, the seat pocket is a nice incubator and rarely cleaned. Not all that surprising, but I hadn’t considered it.