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« February, 2018 »
Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks

I’m not quite Jennings-level fascinated with maps and geography stuff, but I enjoyed his level of passion for them and the humorous way he talked about it. I found myself nodding along when he talked about the Confluence Project, the highest points in all the states, or took us behind the scenes at the Geography Bee. Super fun for anyone who has read an atlas for fun.

Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech

SO MUCH NODDING. Sara has taken a topic that is near and dear to my heart and turned it into a well-researched explanation of why diversity matters, how algos are sexist and why anyone should care about any of this. She’s funny, personable and each chapter is a well crafted precis on a single topic looking closer at things like “the pipeline” or how an artificial intelligence could possibly be sexist. So good.

Portrait of a Spy

One of the more tradecraft-y books in this series. Allon has to get an heiress whose father he assassinated in front of her to become a partner in his plan to dismantle a terrorist organization. Some of it takes place in Dubai, which held my interest. Otherwise it was a good late night book but not super memorable.

The Road Taken: The History and Future of America’s Infrastructure

It’s a little tough to read anything that has bad news in it since in These Weird Times I sort of can’t handle bad news. That said I enjoy the way Petroski can be sort of straightforward about talking about things like the US’s crumbling infrastructure (roads and bridges mainly) and have some ideas of what we can do about it. I learned a lot of good road and highway history and trivia from this book which is a little more readable than some of his straight engineering titles.

The Book of Five Rings

I think I was looking for something a little more metaphorical but this book which outlines the principles of being a good swordfighter--written by Musashi in the 1650s--has a lot of good stuff to know in addition to, you know, learning to kill people with your sword. It’s also a lovely book and this re-issuing of it by Shambhala with translator notes by Wilson is an all-around interesting experience which is not just about learning swordfighting but also about learning how to take a scroll from the 1650s and turn it into a book in the 21st century.

The Rembrandt Affair

Motoring through these. I liked this book which was a little more art-y and a little less torture-y and talked a bit about what happened to the possessions of the Jews after the Holocaust