Sunday, June 28, 2020

2020 Reading Part I

I was a little disappointed in Tiempos Recios (translated Tough Times). It felt disjointed as well as a rehash of Mario Vargas Llosa's novel La Fiesta del Chivo. Tiempos Recios is MVL's critique of the U.S. involvement in Guatemalan politics in the 1950s and 1960. That critique did come out somewhat muddled. The suffering and the chaos in Guatemala did not shine through very well. MVL chose to focus the narrative on two characters, Johnny Abbes Garcia, the Dominican assassin, and Marta Borrero Parra, the lover of dictator Carlos Castillo Armas. Although these two are key to a major event in Guatemala, Johnny and Marta do not seem to have much to do with the story of Guatemala as a country or with the effects of the U.S.' intervention on behalf of the United Fruit Company during this period.

Friday, January 3, 2020

2019 Reading Part II


Reading Virgil's The Aeneid as a follow-on to The Odyssey and as a prequel to my trip to Rome, I was fascinated by the differences between the Greek and Roman epic poems. Virgil tells the myth-narrative of the founding of Rome and its empire. The hero, Aeneas, defeated at Troy, leads the remaining Trojans on adventures throughout the Mediterranean to fulfill his god-given destiny to found Rome in Italy. Along the way he scorns beautiful Dido, visits his father in the underworld, and unleashes carnage in Italy. While this version has a decent introductory essay I highly recommend pairing your reading of this Western Civilization classic with the podcast Literature and History's four episodes on The Aeneid and BBC's In Our Time discussion

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

2019 Reading Part I

I have no idea how, but despite welcoming our fourth child in February I managed to read voluminously this semi-annual period, almost 4,000 pages. I wasn't coding or taking any classes, but that is still probably twice what I normally read. The selection of books was all over the map. I only grouped them together after the fact. Some were for professional development, some for personal interest on the topic, and others because they were considered "Great". Of the "Great" books some truly deserve that epithet but others not at all.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Information Arbiters (Pools v. Streams)

Why I Still Receive Email Newsletters:
The greatest blessing of the internet carries with it a subtle curse. The explosion of rich and interesting information created a major problem for those who want to understand what's going on in the world but are not in front of their computers all day digesting the steady information stream. On the one hand we have access to all kinds of data and analysis from the most diverse sources but on the other hand, the cost of filtering it is extremely high. This isn't even a comment on "fake news". It's just a note about the difficulty of finding items that are useful or particularly good.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

2018 Reading Part II

Two of these books will give you a hint as to why my overall reading volume fell off these six months. Returning to programming and learning coding became my passion project from August through the rest of the year. I purposely chose not to invest time in learning computer science while I was in Afghanistan. Surviving, you know, seemed like it required a greater degree of daily investment than normal life. Anyways, I also spent a good portion of this summer studying for the GRE (again!) before turning to Codecademy to learn Python 3 through their Computer Science Pro and Data Science Pro courses. Satisfied that I've learned enough to be dangerous I'm now engaged in Andrew Ng's Neural Networks and Deep Learning MOOC to get a better sense of the mystery around Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. However, I was able to enjoy more Knausgaard and Vargas Llosa as well as tackle Tyler Cowan's magnum opus.