📖 Read pages 16-55 of A Mind at Play by Jimmy Soni & Rob Goodman

📖 Read pages 16-55 of A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age by Jimmy Soni & Rob Goodman

Knowing that I’ve read a lot about Shannon and even Vannevar Bush over the years, I’m pleasantly surprised to read some interesting tidbits about them that I’ve not previously come across.  I was a bit worried that this text wouldn’t provide me with much or anything new on the subjects at hand.

I’m really appreciating some of the prose and writing structure, particularly given that it’s a collaborative work between two authors. At times there are some really nonstandard sentence structures, but they’re wonderful in their rule breaking.

They’re doing an excellent job so far of explaining the more difficult pieces of science relating to information theory. In fact, some of the intro was as good as I think I’ve ever seen simple explanations of what is going on within the topic. I’m also pleased that they’ve made some interesting forays into topics like eugenics and the background role it played in the story for Shannon.

They had a chance to do a broader view of the history of computing, but opted against it, or at least must have made a conscious choice to leave out Babbage/Lovelace within the greater pantheon. I can see narratively why they may have done this knowing what is to come later in the text, but a few sentences as a nod would have been welcome.

The book does, however, get on my nerves with one of my personal pet peeves in popular science and biographical works like this: while there are reasonable notes at the end, absolutely no proper footnotes appear at the bottoms of pages or even indicators within the text other than pieces of text with quotation marks. I’m glad the notes even exist in the back, but it just drives me crazy that publishers blatantly hide them this way. The text could at least have had markers indicating where to find the notes. What are we? Animals?

Nota bene: I’m currently reading an advanced reader copy of this; the book won’t be out until mid-July 2017.

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📗 Started reading A Mind at Play by Jimmy Soni & Rob Goodman

📖 Read pages i-16 of A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age by Jimmy Soni & Rob Goodman

A great little introduction and start to what portends to be the science biography of the year. The book opens up with a story I’d heard Sol Golomb tell several times. It was actually a bittersweet memory as the last time I heard a recounting, it appeared on the occasion of Shannon’s 100th Birthday celebration in the New Yorker:

In 1985, at the International Symposium in Brighton, England, the Shannon Award went to the University of Southern California’s Solomon Golomb. As the story goes, Golomb began his lecture by recounting a terrifying nightmare from the night before: he’d dreamed that he was about deliver his presentation, and who should turn up in the front row but Claude Shannon. And then, there before Golomb in the flesh, and in the front row, was Shannon. His reappearance (including a bit of juggling at the banquet) was the talk of the symposium, but he never attended again.

I had emailed Sol about the story, and became concerned when I didn’t hear back. I discovered shortly after that he had passed away the following day.

nota bene: I’m currently reading an advanced reader copy of this; the book won’t be out until mid-July 2017.

Syndicated copies to:

After 20+ years with Sprint (or their predecessors), I’ve made the switch to Verizon this afternoon. Here’s hoping that I don’t have the same issues with knucklehead customer service to get simple things taken care of. I really wish any of the 3 people I spoke with would have gotten the simple request I was trying to make in 10 minutes (each).

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📕 Read pages 138-162 of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

📕 Read pages 138-162 of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (finished)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Mike is sent by television.

I was a bit disappointed by the title of the final chapter which gives things away paragraphs earlier than it should have. It makes the build up to the big reveal a bit less than lackluster.

The 70’s version of the film has a stronger finish than the novel by showing Charlie’s nobility. In particular it was even better given the overall morals put forth by the book.

I find myself thinking about how solidly this book still stands today. I suspect that a slightly more modern retelling would replace gum chewing with the moral ills of using social media.

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📖 Read pages 116-138 of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

📖 Read pages 116-138 of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

One has to love Veruca in the nut room. This is one of the substantive changes from the movie which opted for a similar narrative, but apparently gooses were easier to film than squirrels.

I think I preferred the squirrels and the way this plays out in the novel. In particular, the fact that the parents get thrown down the trash chute as well (and the reason why) are fantastic!

What a great morality play.