Category Archives: Other

Deo from Burundi and Forensic Geology (cheap books)

In Strength in What Remains, Tracy Kidder gives us the story of one man’s inspiring American journey and of the ordinary people who helped him, providing brilliant testament to the power of second chances. Deo arrives in the United States from Burundi in search of a new life. Having survived a civil war and genocide, he lands at JFK airport with two hundred dollars, no English, and no contacts. He ekes out a precarious existence delivering groceries, living in Central Park, and learning English by reading dictionaries in bookstores. Then Deo begins to meet the strangers who will change his life, pointing him eventually in the direction of Columbia University, medical school, and a life devoted to healing. Kidder breaks new ground in telling this unforgettable story as he travels with Deo back over a turbulent life and shows us what it means to be fully human.

I’ve not read this but obviously I have to: The Forensic Geology Series by Toni Dwiggins.

Forensic geologists Cassie Oldfield and Walter Shaws plunge into the dark history of the California gold country, into the dark past of two brothers, into a poisonous feud that threatens lives and the land.

Death Valley earns its name when a terrorist threatens to unleash lethal radioactive toxins. The only ones who can find and stop him are the forensic geologists, and they are up against more than pure human malice. The unstable atom–in the hands of an unstable man–is governed by Murphy’s Law. Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.

The volcano beneath the geologists’ home town is seething, and the mayor is found murdered with a note saying NO WAY OUT. The fate of the town now rests in the hands of an emergency planner with his own twisted agenda. As the volcano moves toward red alert, the geologists race to prevent ‘no way out’ from becoming a prophecy.

Three cheap books readers of my blog might want to grab

A Mind For Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra) by Barbara Oakley “… offers the tools you need to get a better grasp of that intimidating material. Engineering professor Barbara Oakley knows firsthand how it feels to struggle with math. She flunked her way through high school math and science courses, before enlisting in the army immediately after graduation. When she saw how her lack of mathematical and technical savvy severely limited her options—both to rise in the military and to explore other careers—she returned to school with a newfound determination to re-tool her brain to master the very subjects that had given her so much trouble throughout her entire life.”

1968: The Year That Rocked the World by “Salt” author Mark Kurlansky is about 1968. Say no more.

You may have heard of 2010 (Space Odyssey) by Arthur Clarke. Get it now for Kindle for three bucks. I know, I know, it is already 2017 and we accidentially went into the past instead of into the future. Just pretend it is 3010 (Space Odyssey).

Books of interest currently cheap; fermenting, writing, history, atheism

These are all $1.99 in Kindle form, presumably for a limited time only, so act now!

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century is a book by Stephen Pinker in which he explains to everyone else why they are such bad writers.

Why is so much writing so bad, and how can we make it better? Is the English language being corrupted by texting and social media? Do the kids today even care about good writing—and why should we care? From the author of The Better Angels of Our Nature and the forthcoming Enlightenment Now

In this entertaining and eminently practical book, the cognitive scientist, dictionary consultant, and New York Times–bestselling author Steven Pinker rethinks the usage guide for the twenty-first century. Using examples of great and gruesome modern prose while avoiding the scolding tone and Spartan tastes of the classic manuals, he shows how the art of writing can be a form of pleasurable mastery and a fascinating intellectual topic in its own right. The Sense of Style is for writers of all kinds, and for readers who are interested in letters and literature and are curious about the ways in which the sciences of mind can illuminate how language works at its best.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods (Idiot’s Guides) by Wardeh Harmon is science applied to making stuff you can eat.

Continue reading Books of interest currently cheap; fermenting, writing, history, atheism

Science books On Sale

I remember reading Living Fossil: The Story of the Coelacanth by Thomson when it first came out. There actually were not a lot of science for the masses books back then, or should I say, the rate of production was low compared to recent decades. It is an interesting story.

In the winter of 1938, a fishing boat by chance dragged from the Indian Ocean a fish thought extinct for 70 million years. It was a coelacanth, which thrived concurrently with dinosaurs and pterodactyls—an animal of major importance to those who study the history of vertebrate life.

Living Fossil describes the life and habitat of the coelacanth and what scientists have learned about it during fifty years of research. It is an exciting and very human story, filled with ambitious and brilliant people, that reveals much about the practice of modern science.

Some day over a beer I can tell you my coelocanth-Stephen Jay Gould story. Good beer story, not a good writing story.

Anyway, at that link, the book is $1.99 in Kindle format.

Not strictly science but skepticism, so I thought it might be of interest, is Talking to the Dead: Kate and Maggie Fox and the Rise of Spiritualism by Barbara Weisberg.

A fascinating story of spirits and conjurors, skeptics and converts in the second half of nineteenth century America viewed through the lives of Kate and Maggie Fox, the sisters whose purported communication with the dead gave rise to the Spiritualism movement – and whose recanting forty years later is still shrouded in mystery.

In March of 1848, Kate and Maggie Fox – sisters aged 11 and 14 – anxiously reported to a neighbor that they had been hearing strange, unidentified sounds in their house. From a sequence of knocks and rattles translated by the young girls as a “voice from beyond,” the Modern Spiritualism movement was born.

Talking to the Dead follows the fascinating story of the two girls who were catapulted into an odd limelight after communicating with spirits that March night. Within a few years, tens of thousands of Americans were flocking to seances. An international movement followed. Yet thirty years after those first knocks, the sisters shocked the country by denying they had ever contacted spirits. Shortly after, the sisters once again changed their story and reaffirmed their belief in the spirit world. Weisberg traces not only the lives of the Fox sisters and their family (including their mysterious Svengali–like sister Leah) but also the social, religious, economic and political climates that provided the breeding ground for the movement. While this is a thorough, compelling overview of a potent time in US history, it is also an incredible ghost story.

An entertaining read – a story of spirits and conjurors, skeptics and converts – Talking to the Dead is full of emotion and surprise. Yet it will also provoke questions that were being asked in the 19th century, and are still being asked today – how do we know what we know, and how secure are we in our knowledge?

I’m not sure if this is a good find or not, but have a look. You will be out $1.99 for the Kindle version.

The Theory of Relativity: and Other Essays

On Kindle for $1.99

The Theory of Relativity: and Other Essays is a collection of seven key essays by Einstein about his work. It is available at this reduced price for a time, but I’m not sure how long. Of course, whether it is a long time or a short time is relative.

Here’s a fun thing to do wit this collection. Take a paragraph or two and post it as a Facebook post, as though you said it, and wait a few hours. Then, after all the amateur theoreticians explain how wrong you are, edit the post to make it clear that it is a quote from Einstein, from a particular source. Bwahahaha.