Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

The man most identified with the cyberpunk genre of literature is never boring.

Pattern Recognition is a novel by science fiction writer William Gibson published in 2003. Set in August and September 2002, the story follows Cayce Pollard, a 32-year-old marketing consultant who has a psychological sensitivity to corporate symbols. The action takes place in London, Tokyo, and Moscow as Cayce judges the effectiveness of a proposed corporate symbol and is hired to seek the creators of film clips anonymously posted to the internet. …

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Amazon – Pattern Recognition

It’s quite good.

My only caveat in recommending Gibson is to suggest you read his books soon after publication.

He’s keen to reveal cutting trends in technology in his stories. This book highlighted Netscape and Hotmail.

hmmm

bad book – Wonder Boys

I read and enjoyed The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. It won the the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001.

So … expected to enjoy another of his books, Wonder Boys (1995).

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The writing is skillful, of course. The plot original. The characters quirky.

But ultimately I could not finish the book It had nothing to teach me. I hate books about disfunctional losers and their stupid lives.

Yeesh.

I never saw the film version (2000) starring Michael Douglas. But some say, despite being a box office dog, that it was better than the book.

Terrorist – John Updike

John Updike was one of our greatest living authors. He died in January.

Updike chose to write an important book on an important subject.

The central character is age-18, the son of an Egyptian exchange student who married a working-class Irish-American girl. The young man agrees to become a suicide bomber for Allah. He will blow up the Lincoln Tunnel under the Hudson River in New York.

Of course the novel is skillful. Insightful.

I learned more about Islam from this short novel than from anything else I’ve ever read.

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Amazon

I’d read other Updike books and expected not to enjoy this one.

Like most Updike novels, most other literature, this book is depressing. With a very negative world view.

American culture in the eyes of a devout Muslim is disgusting. (The terrorist has some very good arguments.)

The ending surprised me. It was not what I expected.

That surprise redeemed the book for me. Somewhat.

I still don’t recommend you read Terrorist, unless you want to better understand what might motivate an intelligent, thoughtful fellow human being … to want to kill you.

idea – a Wiki novel

Has this been done?

Has an author posted a novel online. Then encouraged readers to “improve” it as they do a Wikipedia article?

It would be a HIT online.

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Related – Wikipedia kills Encarta — and Microsoft pronounces it dead

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It could not compete against an open source, free competitor.

Microsoft initiated Encarta by purchasing non-exclusive rights to the Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia, incorporating it into its first edition in 1993. …

In the late 1990s, Microsoft bought Collier’s Encyclopedia and New Merit Scholar’s Encyclopedia from Macmillan and incorporated them into Encarta. Thus the current Microsoft Encarta can be considered the successor of the Funk and Wagnalls, Collier, and New Merit Scholar encyclopedias. None of these formerly successful encyclopedias remained in print for long after being merged into Encarta. …

Wikipedia – Encarta

new Robert Sawyer book – Wake

My brother feels his friend Robert J. Sawyer could win another Nebula or Hugo for his latest release, the first in a three part series: Wake, Watch, Wonder.

The WWW trilogy.

This book is accessible even to young readers. The main character is age-15.

But the issues addressed are fascinating: the infrastructure of the World Wide Web, part of the web becoming aware, primates gaining intelligence. Pandemic out of China as well as the battle between bloggers in China and their repressive government.

When I read a book and find myself saying, “Why didn’t I think of this?”, I know it’s a brilliant plot.

Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math—and blind. Still, she can surf the net with the best of them, following its complex paths clearly in her mind. But Caitlin’s brain long ago co-opted her primary visual cortex to help her navigate online. So when she receives an implant to restore her sight, instead of seeing reality, the landscape of the World Wide Web explodes into her consciousness, spreading out all around her in a riot of colors and shapes. While exploring this amazing realm, she discovers something—some other—lurking in the background. And it’s getting more and more intelligent with each passing day…

Amazon – Wake

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Sawyer takes up where Michael Crichton, who died in 2008, left off. Making the cutting edge issues of real science interesting to the general public.

The main difference is that while Crichton’s books always end in catastrophe, Sawyer’s look at both the positive and negative side of new technologies.

This one is highly recommended. As are all of Sawyer’s books.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

My favourite Nutrition author — Michael Pollan — has a book I can recommend.

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Amazon – In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

… Pollan proposes a new (and very old) answer to the question of what we should eat that comes down to seven simple but liberating words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. By urging us to once again eat food, he challenges the prevailing nutrient-by-nutrient approach — what he calls nutritionism — and proposes an alternative way of eating that is informed by the traditions and ecology of real, well-grown, unprocessed food. Our personal health, he argues, cannot be divorced from the health of the food chains of which we are part.

In Defense of Food shows us how, despite the daunting dietary landscape Americans confront in the modern supermarket, we can escape the Western diet and, by doing so, most of the chronic diseases that diet causes. We can relearn which foods are healthy, develop simple ways to moderate our appetites, and return eating to its proper context — out of the car and back to the table. Michael Pollan’s bracing and eloquent manifesto shows us how we can start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives, enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy, and bring pleasure back to eating.

Pollan’s last book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, launched a national conversation about the American way of eating; now In Defense of Food shows us how to change it, one meal at a time. …

michaelpollan.com

via my Gymnastics blog

Moon and Lonely Planet – best guidebooks

On a recent trip Gadling blogger Brenda Yun and friends compared the 4 main travel guidebooks to Cuba:

Lonely Planet Cuba by Brendan Sainsbury
Moon Handbook Cuba by Christopher P. Baker

Frommer’s Guide to Cuba by Susan Boobbyer
The Rough Guide to Cuba by Matthew Norman & Fiona McAuslan

Frommer’s and Rough Guide were worst, as usual.

Moon and LP best. As usual.

9788408069218LP reinvented the travel guidebook genre. Others were forced to copy them. Or lose market share.

Here’s the most common criticism of Lonely Planet. It’s too popular.

Conclusion

Based on Christopher P. Baker’s wealth of experience in Cuba, Moon is a sure thing. Sainsbury’s Lonely Planet Cuba is also a rich and trusty companion. …

I think it’s worth mentioning that too many people carry the Lonely Planet guidebook around — not just in Cuba but around the world. In Cuba, it’s the only one I saw in at least five different languages (the content is the same). While useful, Lonely Planet is suffering from a unfortunate hipster effect: the same restaurants, hotels, and sights are becoming overrun by “budget backpackers,” and travelers are relying too heavily on LP-specific travel tips and suggestions. …

Travel guidebooks: Choosing the one that’s just right

Get the basics from Lonely Planet. Look for alternative ideas in Moon.