Monday, December 30, 2013

Reading log, 2013

Here it is, the year's not-much-anticipated reading log. Of note, I finished Will Durant's 4th volume of his Story of Civilization series. I began that book before I began dating Laura. Yay, done.

Another note: a full-time job is an obstacle for reading. I finished fifteen books Jan–Apr, coinciding with unemployment, and managed a meager seven books in the remaining eight months, coinciding with employment. Yay, money.

Lastly, an unsubstantiated opinion: It's too bad George Orwell has captured the modern imagination because Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon is a much better book at showing what went wrong with the 20th century Communist Revolution.

  • John Masefield
    The Box of Delights (1935)

  • Walter Tevis
    The Man Who Fell to Earth (1963)

  • Neil Gaiman
    Anansi Boys (2005)

  • George Orwell
    Animal Farm (1945)

  • Arthur Koestler
    Darkness at Noon (1940)

  • Kurt Vonnegut
    Mother Night (1961)

  • Ray Bradbury
    Dandelion Wine (1957)

  • Richard Feynman
    Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher (1994)

  • Will Durant
    The Age of Faith: A History of Medieval Civilization—Christian, Islamic, and Judaic—from Constantine to Dante: A.D. 325-1300 (1950)

  • Joe Hill
    Horns (2010)

  • Isaac Asimov
    Foundation (1951)

  • Isaac Asimov
    Foundation and Empire (1952)

  • Isaac Asimov
    Second Foundation (1953)

  • Lewis Thomas
    The Lives of a Cell (1974)

  • Isaac Asimov
    Foundation's Edge (1981)

  • Isaac Asimov
    Foundation and Earth (1986)

  • Dan Brown
    Inferno (2013)

  • David Mitchell
    Cloud Atlas (2004)

  • Bjarne Stroustrup
    The Design and Evolution of C++ (1994)

  • R. M. Sainsbury
    Paradoxes (2009)

  • Isaac Asimov
    Asimov's Guide to the Bible (vol. 1 1967, vol. 2 1969)

  • Ken Follet
    Pillars of the Earth (1989)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Riddle #7

It's time to rock out another riddle!

Today's riddle has seven letters. The clue is: Software coding session?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Note: Today's riddle is co-authored with Laura. That means Laura is ineligible for guessing and therefore the rest of you three people need to pick up the slack!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Seasons cycling

In Phoenix, every season has its pros and cons for bike-commuting. Spring days are long and mild, but they’re also windy and full of pollen. A summer mid-afternoon ride home may test one’s mettle, but choosing gear is simple: no extra clothes, no bike lights, just lots of water. Autumn is like a windless and pollen-less spring, but both the season and its afternoons end too soon. And winter can be finger-numbing cold—as it was earlier this week—but it makes me appreciate summer.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Unsubstantiated political opinions

My would-be votes concerning a few ideas for constitutional amendments mentioned in this article in the latest New Yorker:


Term limits on members of Congress


Limit federal spending and taxes


Allow three-fifths of the states to overrule any federal legislation


Repeal the 17th Amendment


Half the Justices on the Supreme Court be selected by the current method of Presidential appointment and the other half by a vote of the fifty state governors


Allow Congress, by a two-thirds vote of both houses, to override Supreme Court decisions


Eliminate federal income tax


Prohibit the imposition of unfunded mandates on the states


Allow half of the states, provided they represent half of the national population, to rescind any federal law.


Freedom of speech and press includes any contribution to political campaigns or to candidates for public office


Right to education


Repeal the 2nd Amendment


Allow legislators to regulate campaign contributions and expenditures

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Grammar: “Internet” vs “internet”

What’s the difference between “Internet” with an uppercase “I” and “internet” with a lowercase “i”? Are you using the two words correctly?

The proper noun “Internet” refers to the massive, global network of computer networks that most of us use every day and that includes such things as Google and your cell phone network. Whereas, the common noun “internet” refers to any network of networks generally—an “internetwork” to be exact. An internetwork exists anytime you take two or more networks and connect them so that machines on one network can communicate with machines on other networks. If that internet happens to be the global internet we all use and love, then it’s the Internet.

So, as a general rule, you should say “Internet,” not “internet,” because more likely than not you’re referring to the global internetwork we all share. Other internets are the stuff of researchers and hobbyists.

Now you know.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Excerpts from the Munchkin rulesheet

  • “Everyone starts as a Level 1 human with no class.”

  • “Decide who goes first by rolling the dice and arguing about the results and the meaning of this sentence and whether the fact that a word seems to be missing any effect.”

  • “This rulesheet gives the general rules. Cards may add special rules, so in most cases when the rulesheet disagrees with a card, follow the card. However, ignore any card effect that might seem to contradict one of the rules listed below unless the card specifically says it supersedes that rule!”

  • “When you kill a monster, you must wait a reasonable time, defined as 2.6 seconds, for anyone else to speak up. After that, you have really killed the monster, and you really get the level(s) and treasure, though they can still whine and argue.”

  • “There will be times when it will help you to play a Curse or Monster on yourself, or to ‘help’ another player in a way that costs him treasure. This is very munchkinly. Do it.”

  • “If drawn face-down or acquired some other way, Curse cards may be played on any player at any time. ANY time, do you hear me? Reducing someone’s abilities just as he thinks he has killed a monster is a lot of fun.”