Una serie de acotaciones al margen a medida que voy leyendo algunos libros... A series of annotations whilst reading interesting books... A collection of notes on books about science, SciFi, history, others topics... Una colección de notas sobre libros de ciencia, ciencia-ficción, historia, otros...

29 January 2017

Reading Challenge 2016

After migrating all my book stats to Goodreads, back again!

I joined the Goodreads reading challenge of 2016!

Here is the full list (disclaimer: if you click through and buy it at Amazon.com you will contribute to my account there, Thanks in Advance!):

  • The Enterprise Cloud: Best Practices for Transforming Legacy IT
  • Breaking the Spell
  • 37 Things One Architect Knows About IT Transformation
  • Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft
  • Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience
  • How to Make a Zombie: The Real Life (and Death) Science of Reanimation and Mind Control
  • Getting Started with AWS
  • To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918
  • The Crusades: The War for the Holy Land
  • Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar
  • Evolutionary Writings: Including the Autobiographies
  • Believing Bullshit: How Not to Get Sucked into an Intellectual Black Hole
  • The 7 Rules of Sales Engineering: 7 Rules every Sales Engineer should know.
  • The Martian
  • Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
  • Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World
  • ¿Cómo, esto también es matemática?
  • The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
  • Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

Let’s go for a quick summary

And it will take more than a year to write a full review of them

A comprehensive review of cloud technologies. With good advice based on experience you walk through all the different type of cloud technology and the challenges as CIO to deploy or implement them.

A second look at this fantastic book by Dennet. Exploring how to engage in a respectful and rational dialog with believers. Topics to address: is religion part of the domain of science? meaning can it be studied as a natural phenomenon? What would imply? Is it worth it? What could be the implications of not doing it? Are any other ideas that can be as toxic like religion? Interesting enough Dennet says that he is not writing any more on the debate if god exists or not. He does not see the return on doing that. And also it is a close topic: it does not exist (period), and the issues of proving and burden is on the religious people. But most people he talked about has the opinion that proving if god exist or not is missing the point. And he explore the idea of religion, the belief on belief from that angle.

Once a while you read a book for your professional career, doesn’t it? Here is one I strongly recommend if you are an IT consultant, leaning towards more to technical details rather than the functional side. It will help both domains however. Gregor Hohpe has undeniable experience implementing different projects, and he is a trailblazer of course. And he rants  & rave about it: he hates all the buzzwords (like being a trailblazer) and he prefers a down to earth approach to doing IT. It is a very personal book, and one that if you have hold the title of IT Architect or similar (solution architect, solution engineer, etc) the book will trigger a lot of deja vu. Also it will be an inspiring source for your next assignment. And if you have been looking at changing jobs, maybe it will help you to try once more…

Hard science fiction of the good one, with topics updated. A series of short stories inspired by latest developments in science. Exploring again were science can lead us. An anthology based/inspired on research done at the Microsoft Lab. You can see which are the topics that picked up the interest of the writers: quantum computing, AI, neural networks... Interesting enough nano technology was not there.

Overwhelmed by news articles on the brain and main? (“Your Brain’s Capacity Is 10 Times Greater Than Anyone Realized”, Finding Genetic Links To Happiness And Depression”, Facebook's Effect On How The Brain Manages Relationships”, Why People Shut Down When Their Political Beliefs Are Challenged”, How to Become a Superager’”, etc, etc). Then this book is a good antidote to read carefully about brain and mind in the news. And be aware of the increasingly growing number of oil snake sellers using whatever they can jump into to lure you into buying the latest therapy, pill, app or exercise to increase your brain powers….

Another on the history of neuroscience. Full of fun and gory anecdotes it will teach you something on how science is done, and think about what really makes us humans…

If you want to start figuring out what services you may use, this is a handy reference to read and have.

War books have a one side view mostly. If you are occidental there is a bias on who were the good and the bad guys during those times. And also you think that everybody agreed on going to war and defend freedom and liberty. During the UK of WWI not all were in favor of it. This book tells a particular and individual story of some of the main characters that were against the war and why. For some a very narrow slice and also tendentious view, yet a good point on the useless of any war and the lack of empathy on the ones who decide to go to war and who run the wars… 

Thomas Asbridge clearly added to my list of historians to read, when you are not a scholar. This book is a masterpiece on telling the origin of the crusades, the characters, looking at all sides, and helping to make sense of that important and particular point in history. At the end you realized how overload is the term this is a crusade…” or this is going to be a crusade…”, …make our own crusade…”

Populism, melodrama, representation, play with the masses and the different powers. A masterpiece to understand the transformation of a republic into an empire. Sometimes shockingly similar to today politician tactics. Also a reminder of how virtues and morals change with times, but something is always present: virtues only can come from the past! A typical argument for the ones maintaining status quo to held power.

A curated and selected parts of Darwin’s writings. From his voyage to the scholar papers, a good cut on Darwin’s minds. I will not start here in your path to learn Evolution, but for sure I’ll have the book in the to read list.

A very precise manual on the techniques used to obscure meaning. What is it an intellectual black hole? Which are the usual techniques to lure you into one? One by one Stephen Law dissects each tool of the snake oil sales people of emotions and woo: priests, gurus and all of the same sort. With clear definitions and examples the author explains what you have to look around and listen when the alarms sound off: you are approaching an intellectual black hole. From religion to homeopathy , and from new age to ideologies, Stephen Law is very careful in position that the main problem is about the methods: that should put you in alert. He keeps the door open that however improbable, yes, last night you saw an alien, but most likely it was an illusion and because it is so unlike that we have been visited by aliens, better you have good arguments and proof. But if you use the techniques explained here: well my friend , your position does not hold. Period. Pilling up anecdotes , going nuclear, moving goal posts, see it fits, brainwashing, all in detail. Your survival guide in the fight for reasonable ideas: to carry out there in the jungle of religions, gurus, new age woo, post modernism relativism and all the others you will come along.

For your professional career, if you are a pre sales in IT, or have to sell your project to someone else. It gets the basics that in the rush of your daily job you tend to forget. For consultants starting their career a good summary of what are the main important points in technical sales. For experience consultants a book to review and tell yourself: I'm skipping this, need to go back to the core. Last piece of advice: overconfidence is your worst enemy.

Funny science fiction. It will not be a classic. The movie follows it closely easily. Your adolescents kids will love it, but make sure you read it during summer vacation before lending it to them.

Another for your professional career? No, not really. It is clearly pseudo management science, or pseudo self-help book. There is clearly one message: do not procrastinate, and just do know what you can do tomorrow. Read this instead: Why Procrastinators Procrastinate

Excellent account of atheism thinking from the classic and pre classic times. You think it twice and it makes a lot of sense: the Greeks who by sheer power of mental analysis came with the idea of atoms, naturalistic philosophy, of course arrived to the obvious conclusion, and were atheists. The end of the book, at the end of Roman imperial times (west Empire) just lines up with the end of the classic times, the end of the Empire and plus thousand years until the enlightment brought back the atheist ideas back in the western world. The books deserves a continuation: how the ideas kept under during medieval and theocratic times and how they appeared again in the 1600's. And what about the rest of the world? Similar ideas?

In the series of Paenza on Mathematics. A great list of books to re train yourself, find the ludic aspect of math, and find good examples to play with your kids.

Pinker takes great care and excellent writing to pass a clear message: today the world is much better than in any other previous point of humankind’s history”. To go for it, I strongly recommend to take the statistically approach and think in populations, and not to concentrate on individual stories. Pinker convinced me, I agree with him, but his message can have strong emotions in you. The message of the book is not naive: the WWI and WWII are the worst calamities in history and Pinker is clear: a misstep and WWWIII can wipe us”, but we have to admit that the Enlightenment has been a strong intelectual, scientific and philosophical influence in crafting entities, agencies and policies to make the different people live together in a better place. Yet, nothing is safe.

Great book: a real adventure! The writing is super good: cinematic and old style. Amazing story. At the turn of every page you ask yourself: no way these people were able to do it! However they did it. How the crew of the Endurance was able to survive alone and rescue themselves is just a thrilling story. Shackleton spirit and skills as a captain in that particular situation, un-matched. Luckily this story not used by the self-help troupe or management pseudo gurus:  clearly a difficult one to pass including to make a movie. This is why it is more interesting to read this account. Normal people enduring difficult times.

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