Back in December, I took an overnight trip to Sacramento. Sacramento has .

Report: Factfulness

It's a book by the GapMinder folks reminding us that India, China, world-health do-gooders and other folks have changed human society plenty in past few decades. On the one hand, this is happy "news"— things are improving. On the other hand, plenty of influential decision-makers have out-of-date worldviews and do some bone-headed things. But mostly it's a hopeful book. Though 's still in the news, it turns out that a long-durat...

If anyone asks why I'm busy, I'm just gonna go take all my 💰 out of the bank and hide it under my mattress after seeing an ATM frozen on this screen.

Report: Alternate Routes

What if the myth of Dædalus, the Minotaur, and the Labyrinth was real and furthermore explained Los Angeles' tornadoes? This is a by Tim Powers, who specializes in novels of the form "What if we explained this weird event in history by conjecturing magical forces that behave in this precise manner, and then extrapolate the real story behind the rest of the secret histor…

Report: Hunger Makes me a Modern Girl

It's a memoir by one of the members of the group Sleater-Kinney. I hazily remembered that she'd had a well-written web site back in the day, read this, and was not disappointed. E.g., she writes of being ill "I felt like a walking infection, zombified and pestiferous." On the one hand, it's too bad that she felt so bad back in the day. On the other hand, silver lining, she got to use the word "pestiferou…

Report: We'll Show the World

A surprisingly-relevant book about World Expo '88. Why should I, a San Franciscan, care about an event 30 years ago in Brisbane, ? I just wanted to read a book by the author behind the excellent Burgerforce comics, and if that book happened to be about some exposition in Brisbane then so be it. But this book nevertheless resonated:

Back then, that part of Australia was run by a bumbling, blatantly-corrupt bozo named Joh…

The new hotness in election integrity is Risk-Limiting Audits. So far I've misunderstood the "Risk-Limiting" phrase; but I just now figured it out. What I knew about RLAs from reading popular-science-ish articles:

They catch election fraud by checking some ballots

Figuring out how many ballots to check involves statistics, so don't worry about it.

Then I read that an election in Orange County (pop: 3 million) tried a RLA and thus checked a few dozen ballo…

This crossword puzzle auto-fill program coincidentally got ¾ of the way to a mini-theme by randomly picking phrases out of a hat…

Report: PuzzleCraft (Humble Bundle Edition)

This new edition of the book has additional types. The first edition did a great job covering "the usual suspects". This edition's newly-mentioned types are less mainstream; maybe that less-mainstream-ness correlates with, uhm, not-so-simple-to-adapt-ness? I'm nevertheless glad to have the additions. I hope to get the new edition on paper at some point, since flipping through a .pdf on a tablet is awkward.

Rest in peace, Ricky Jay

He wasn't just a magician and magic-historian. He was also a skilled technical writer: he wrote a book that taught a bunch of kids stuff. Specifically, in the 1990s, a bunch of nerds over at Geoworks learned how to throw playing cards from my hard-found copy of Ricky Jay's book Cards as Weapons.

I already wrote a book report blog post about Cards as Weapons. …That book report skirted the truth, though. It says…

report: Form of a Question

It's an autobiographical graphic novel structured around the author's run on Jeopardy!. In the world of , there are clear answers, but not so much in the real world. I'm guessing not so many folks want to read a Jeopardy! comic, but in some Bayesian probability sense, it's worth mentioning on this here blog because there's probably a few folks who are totally the target audience reading… Anyhow, it was fun.

I volunteered as a poll worker in the recent ; you can read my notes about it. Spoilers: I got a lapel pin, much snazzier than a mere "I Voted!" sticker; a bird flew into our polling place but didn't attempt to vote (whew, we don't really have a process for that).

Report: Troublemakers

It's a swath of Silicon Valley history in the 70s and thenabouts; short biographies. I didn't learn much about the organizations I'd already read about; but I was surprised at some stories I'd overlooked (Genentech, ROLM, ASK…) It was interesting reading about the Genentech founders figuring out that insulin would be a good thing to manufacture because of the huge market as California was voting on whether to regulate dialysis pricing.

If you're in the USA remember to vote Tuesday (if you haven't already).

If you're near and you like and scholarship, you might want to know Shotgun Players is putting on the "Arcadia" soon. It's a Tom Stoppard play with math and literature and landscape design.

If you live near SF and are interested in election machines and/or election security, you might want to visit the SF Poll Worker Practice Lab on Nov 4 where you can set up, tear down, and operate election equipment. In theory, this is so that poll workers can practice before election day… but when I visited today, nobody checked to see if I was actually a poll worker or just a curious passer-by.

Open Nov 4, 10am-4pm. It took me about an hour to try th…

Someone left offerings to Hippocrates today, including flowers, a gavel, a slice of pizza, and water. I didn't think leaving offerings to Hippocrates was a thing(?). But apparently it is today at UCSF Parnassus campus.

Report: We, the Navigators

It's a book about navigation techniques of Pacific Islanders. I'd thought this was a lost art, only written about recently, carefully-hidden mysteries of guild-like navigator clans. But this book is from 1972 and points out its sources from various reports dating back to Captain Cook, so not all of these techniques were that secret. Just kinda secret… and how many researchers would travel all the way out to the Gilbert Isl…

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Report: Broad Band

It's a book of capsule biographies of women who programmed internet stuff (or maybe some other stuff) and/or created some early internet content. Thanks to this book, I know I want to read a not-so-short biography of Grace Hopper, whose capsule biography was maybe not as boring as I expected. (I knew her computer-y contributions were important—compilers! the real bug! But I didn't realize there might be a story behin…

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