Tag Archives: Book

Trump Isn’t the American Reality

Lately — since, oh, sometime in early November 2016 — I’ve been reading history, especially US history and especially centered on national history and presidents. Why? Because Donald Trump is not the American reality. Other things are the American Reality. They are not all good things, some are bad, but many are good. And with Trump, it is all bad, very very bad. Reading about Lincoln, Grant, JFK, Roosevelt, Johnson, and all those other famous white guys at this moment in time is one of several ways of coping with the hopefully temporary end of American civilization. This is only one thing I’m doing to cope, but it is one of the things.

Meanwhile, Chris Matthews has been doing something similar but different. Instead of reading about famous executive-level Americans who were good, he wrote a book about one. Last night, on the Rachel Maddow show, Matthews literally said that he wrote this book because “Trump isn’t the American reality.”

And so we have, coming out just now, “Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit” by Chris Matthews.

I vaguely remember the assassination of JFK. And I remember the assassination of MLK. But Bobby was my Senator, and he was part of the political community in which I grew up. When he was killed, my father, who had been watching the TF, following the primaries, came and dragged me out of bed so I could watch that part of history. It was an event that helped determine who I am today. It was an event that helped me to become of the the millions of Americans who ultimately will not put up with Donald Trump, and who will spend the rest of our days fighting Republicans because of what they have done to this country.

I have not read the book, but I’m going to. Here is the blurb:

A revealing new portrait of Robert F. Kennedy that gets closer to the man than any book before, by bestselling author Chris Matthews, an esteemed Kennedy expert and anchor of MSNBC’s Hardball.

With his bestselling biography Jack Kennedy, Chris Matthews shared a new look of one of America’s most beloved Presidents and the patriotic spirit that defined him. Now, with Bobby Kennedy, Matthews returns with a gripping, in-depth, behind-the-scenes portrait of one of the great figures of the American twentieth century.

Overlooked by his father, and overshadowed by his war-hero brother, Bobby Kennedy was the perpetual underdog. When he had the chance to become a naval officer like Jack, Bobby turned it down, choosing instead to join the Navy as a common sailor. It was a life changing experience that led him to connect with voters from all walks of life: young or old, black or white, rich or poor. They were the people who turned out for him in his 1968 campaign. RFK would prove himself to be the rarest of politicians—both a pragmatist who knew how to get the job done and an unwavering idealist who could inspire millions.

Drawing on extensive research and interviews, Matthews pulls back the curtain on the public and private worlds of Robert Francis Kennedy. He shines a light on all the important moments of his life, from his early years and his start in politics to his crucial role as attorney general in his brother’s administration and his tragic run for president. This definitive book brings Bobby Kennedy to life like never before and is destined to become a political classic.

The Animal Connection

You know of Pat Shipman at the very least because of her recent and, dare I say, highly controversial and excellent book The Invaders: How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction. If you’ve not read it, do so. But, in the mean time, another book she wrote in the same area, The Animal Connection: A New Perspective on What Makes Us Human, is now available on Kindle for two bucks.

Why do humans all over the world take in and nurture other animals? This behavior might seem maladaptive—after all, every mouthful given to another species is one that you cannot eat—but in this heartening new study, acclaimed anthropologist Pat Shipman reveals that our propensity to domesticate and care for other animals is in fact among our species’ greatest strengths. For the last 2.6 million years, Shipman explains, humans who coexisted with animals enjoyed definite adaptive and cultural advantages. To illustrate this point, Shipman gives us a tour of the milestones in human civilization-from agriculture to art and even language—and describes how we reached each stage through our unique relationship with other animals. The Animal Connection reaffirms our love of animals as something both innate and distinctly human, revealing that the process of domestication not only changed animals but had a resounding impact on us as well.

E.O. Wilson’s Anthill

Anthill: A Novel

Winner of the 2010 Heartland Prize, Anthill follows the thrilling adventures of a modern-day Huck Finn, enthralled with the “strange, beautiful, and elegant” world of his native Nokobee County. But as developers begin to threaten the endangered marshlands around which he lives, the book’s hero decides to take decisive action. Edward O. Wilson—the world’s greatest living biologist—elegantly balances glimpses of science with the gripping saga of a boy determined to save the world from its most savage ecological predator: man himself.

I bring this up now because the Kindle version is, at the moment, two bucks! A tiny price to pay for a big novel about tiny ants.

Ubuntu and Linux Books

Ubuntu is a form of Linux. Most references on Linux will be applicable to Ubuntu, but each distribution of Linus has its own features, so if you are going to use a specific operating system (Ubuntu vs. Fedora, for example) you will be happier with a book about that distribution.

This is a selection of what I regard as the best books for the purpose, but if you are reading this post in late 2017 or later, and you click through to a particular book, do look around for more recent editions. Also, check out the book reviews on my other blog, which will include all sorts of science books, some politics, and a good number of computer related books.

For books on programming (in various languages, for kids and adults) check out this post.

Linux: General books

Two years old but still good:

How Linux Works: What Every Superuser Should Know

Unlike some operating systems, Linux doesn’t try to hide the important bits from you—it gives you full control of your computer. But to truly master Linux, you need to understand its internals, like how the system boots, how networking works, and what the kernel actually does.

In this completely revised second edition of the perennial best seller How Linux Works, author Brian Ward makes the concepts behind Linux internals accessible to anyone curious about the inner workings of the operating system. Inside, you’ll find the kind of knowledge that normally comes from years of experience doing things the hard way. You’ll learn:

  • How Linux boots, from boot loaders to init implementations (systemd, Upstart, and System V)
  • How the kernel manages devices, device drivers, and processes
  • How networking, interfaces, firewalls, and servers work
  • How development tools work and relate to shared libraries
  • How to write effective shell scripts
  • You’ll also explore the kernel and examine key system tasks inside user space, including system calls, input and output, and filesystems. With its combination of background, theory, real-world examples, and patient explanations, How Linux Works will teach you what you need to know to solve pesky problems and take control of your operating system.

    Yes, this is good: Linux For Dummies, 9th Edition

    Eight previous top-selling editions of Linux For Dummies can’t be wrong. If you’ve been wanting to migrate to Linux, this book is the best way to get there. Written in easy-to-follow, everyday terms, Linux For Dummies 9th Edition gets you started by concentrating on two distributions of Linux that beginners love: the Ubuntu LiveCD distribution and the gOS Linux distribution, which comes pre-installed on Everex computers. The book also covers the full Fedora distribution.

    Ubuntu Linux

    Ubuntu Unleashed 2017 Edition (Includes Content Update Program): Covering 16.10, 17.04, 17.10 (12th Edition)

    … unique and advanced information for everyone who wants to make the most of the Ubuntu Linux operating system. This new edition has been thoroughly updated by a long-time Ubuntu community leader to reflect the exciting new Ubuntu 16.04 LTS release with forthcoming online updates for 16.10, 17.04, and 17.10 when they are released.

    Former Ubuntu Forum administrator Matthew Helmke covers all you need to know about Ubuntu 16.04 installation, configuration, productivity, multimedia, development, system administration, server operations, networking, virtualization, security, DevOps, and more—including intermediate-to-advanced techniques you won’t find in any other book.

    Helmke presents up-to-the-minute introductions to Ubuntu’s key productivity and Web development tools, programming languages, hardware support, and more. You’ll find new or improved coverage of navigation via Unity Dash, wireless networking, VPNs, software repositories, new NoSQL database options, virtualization and cloud services, new programming languages and development tools, monitoring, troubleshooting, and more.

    Other Linux Distributions

    Not at all current, but of historical interest and probably available used: The Debian System: Concepts and Techniques and A Practical Guide to Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (7th Edition).


    Using the Linux Command Line and bash shell

    The Linux Command Line: A Complete Introduction

    You’ve experienced the shiny, point-and-click surface of your Linux computer—now dive below and explore its depths with the power of the command line. The Linux Command Line takes you from your very first terminal keystrokes to writing full programs in Bash, the most popular Linux shell. Along the way you’ll learn the timeless skills handed down by generations of gray-bearded, mouse-shunning gurus: file navigation, environment configuration, command chaining, pattern matching with regular expressions, and more. In addition to that practical knowledge, author William Shotts reveals the philosophy behind these tools and the rich heritage that your desktop Linux machine has inherited from Unix supercomputers of yore. As you make your way through the book’s short, easily-digestible chapters, you’ll learn how to: Create and delete files, directories, and symlinks Administer your system, including networking, package installation, and process management Use standard input and output, redirection, and pipelines Edit files with Vi, the world’s most popular text editor Write shell scripts to automate common or boring tasks Slice and dice text files with cut, paste, grep, patch, and sed Once you overcome your initial “shell shock,” you’ll find that the command line is a natural and expressive way to communicate with your computer. Just don’t be surprised if your mouse starts to gather dust.

    Linux Pocket Guide: Essential Commands

    If you use Linux in your day-to-day work, this popular pocket guide is the perfect on-the-job reference. The third edition features new commands for processing image files and audio files, running and killing programs, reading and modifying the system clipboard, and manipulating PDF files, as well as other commands requested by readers. You’ll also find powerful command-line idioms you might not be familiar with, such as process substitution and piping into bash.

    Linux Pocket Guide provides an organized learning path to help you gain mastery of the most useful and important commands. Whether you’re a novice who needs to get up to speed on Linux or an experienced user who wants a concise and functional reference, this guide provides quick answers.

    Wicked Cool Shell Scripts: 101 Scripts for Linux, OS X, and UNIX Systems

    Shell scripts are an efficient way to interact with your machine and manage your files and system operations. With just a few lines of code, your computer will do exactly what you want it to do. But you can also use shell scripts for many other essential (and not-so-essential) tasks.

    This second edition of Wicked Cool Shell Scripts offers a collection of useful, customizable, and fun shell scripts for solving common problems and personalizing your computing environment. Each chapter contains ready-to-use scripts and explanations of how they work, why you’d want to use them, and suggestions for changing and expanding them. You’ll find a mix of classic favorites, like a disk backup utility that keeps your files safe when your system crashes, a password manager, a weather tracker, and several games, as well as 23 brand-new scripts…

    Tiny Lego Wonders: Art you can make and break

    I remember watching, decades ago, a short film with Picasso. There was a glass wall that you could not see, and Picasso was standing behind it, dressed like a French Artist and holding painting equipment. He then proceeded to draw lines on the glass. Each line had a particular orientation and shape. He put just a couple of lines on the glass, and in so doing, created a great work of art. If I recall correctly, he made a few of them. Years later, visiting Picasso’s home in Paris, I saw a bicycle handlebar thad had been broken and welded roughly back together again. Two pieces of metal, each with a particular size and shape, made into a great work of art.

    Just a few pieces make three different cars, with a fair amount of detail.
    Just a few pieces make three different cars, with a fair amount of detail.

    Anybody can do that, right? Draw a couple of lines and call it art? Stick a couple of pieces of metal together and call it art? Or like those modern artists, spill some paint on the floor, frame it, and call it art?

    Well, yes. You can call it art. But it won’t be art. It will be drek.

    Track not included in design.  A minimal brick interurban commuter system.
    Track not included in design. A minimal brick interurban commuter system.

    And, sadly, that is also what happens when the average person takes four or five pieces of LEGO and sticks them together. You get drek. Nothing. Nada.

    But, if you are an artist, you may have a sense of form, color, shape, etc. and when you stick a few pieces of LEGO together, you might get a form that is arguably artistic. Many artists are quite capable of working in a media unfamiliar, in this case LEGO bricks, to produce something, maybe something quite nice. Try it. If you know any artists, give them a handful of LEGO bricks and see what they can do.

    Instructions are as detailed as needed to get the job done, as per usual.
    Instructions are as detailed as needed to get the job done, as per usual.

    And, it turns out there is a subset of artists who are experts on LEGO — this is their medium — and who can take a handful of LEGO bricks and put them together, and get …. Tiny LEGO Wonders: Build 40 Surprisingly Realistic Mini-Models!.

    Tiny LEGO Wonders: Build 40 Surprisingly Realistic Mini-Models! demonstrates 40 different minature models.

    TinyLEGOWonders_coverThere are cars, planes, ships, trains, etc. There is a Space Shuttle, and France’s TGV train. There is even a cement mixer.

    The models and designs are very generalizable, so if you have a reasonable collection of LEGO bricks, you can use that collection and this book to construct quite a few miniature models of your own, even if you don’t have the exact pieces.

    The author is Mattia Zamboni, who has written other books on LEGO, and has been a “LEGO Ambassador” since 2015. His day job is to build robots at the University of Applied Science and Arts of Souther Switzerland.

    Here is the table of contents of this fine book:

    Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 12.58.01 PM

    Picasso:

    The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Driving Us Crazy!

    The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy, by climate scientist Michael Mann and cartoonist Tom Toles is now available for pre-order. I’ve not gotten my review copy of it yet, but it looks fantastic.

    From the publisher:

    The award winning climate scientist Michael E. Mann and the Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Tom Toles have fought at the frontlines of climate denialism for most of their careers. They have witnessed the manipulation of the media by business and political interests and the unconscionable play to partisanship on issues that affect the well-being of millions. The lessons they have learned have been invaluable, inspiring this brilliant, colorful escape hatch from the madhouse of the climate wars.

    Through satire, “The Madhouse Effect” portrays the intellectual pretzels into which denialists must twist logic to explain away the clear evidence that man-made activity has changed our climate. Toles’s cartoons collapse counter-scientific strategies into their biased components, helping readers see how to best strike at these fallacies. Mann’s expert skills at science communication aim to restore sanity to a debate that continues to rage against widely acknowledged scientific consensus. The synergy of these two commonsense crusaders enlivens the gloom and doom of so many climate-themed books–and may even convert a few of the faithful to the right side of science.