Acquired Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It by Mike Monteiro (Mule Books)

The world is working exactly as designed. The combustion engine which is destroying our planet’s atmosphere and rapidly making it inhospitable is working exactly as we designed it. Guns, which lead to so much death, work exactly as they’re designed to work. And every time we “improve” their design, they get better at killing. Facebook’s privacy settings, which have outed gay teens to their conservative parents, are working exactly as designed. Their “real names” initiative, which makes it easier for stalkers to re-find their victims, is working exactly as designed. Twitter’s toxicity and lack of civil discourse is working exactly as it’s designed to work.The world is working exactly as designed. And it’s not working very well. Which means we need to do a better job of designing it. Design is a craft with an amazing amount of power. The power to choose. The power to influence. As designers, we need to see ourselves as gatekeepers of what we are bringing into the world, and what we choose not to bring into the world. Design is a craft with responsibility. The responsibility to help create a better world for all. Design is also a craft with a lot of blood on its hands. Every cigarette ad is on us. Every gun is on us. Every ballot that a voter cannot understand is on us. Every time social network’s interface allows a stalker to find their victim, that’s on us. The monsters we unleash into the world will carry your name. This book will make you see that design is a political act. What we choose to design is a political act. Who we choose to work for is a political act. Who we choose to work with is a political act. And, most importantly, the people we’ve excluded from these decisions is the biggest (and stupidest) political act we’ve made as a society.If you’re a designer, this book might make you angry. It should make you angry. But it will also give you the tools you need to make better decisions. You will learn how to evaluate the potential benefits and harm of what you’re working on. You’ll learn how to present your concerns. You’ll learn the importance of building and working with diverse teams who can approach problems from multiple points-of-view. You’ll learn how to make a case using data and good storytelling. You’ll learn to say NO in a way that’ll make people listen. But mostly, this book will fill you with the confidence to do the job the way you always wanted to be able to do it. This book will help you understand your responsibilities.

book cover of Ruined by Design featuring the title and a red and black image of a mushroom cloud from a nuclear bomb

Has anyone read Mike Monteiro’s new book “Ruined by Design”? Sounds very IndieWeb in flavor… (or at least anti-silo/anti-corporate)

I just noticed he’s touring with his book and will be in my backyard later this month: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mike-monteiro-lets-destroy-silicon-valley-tickets-60958127400

I love the line for it: “This isn’t a talk, this is a union meeting.”

Got a .azw version of the book for my Kindle.

Acquired Apostle: Travels Among the Tombs of the Twelve by Tom Bissell

Acquired Apostle: Travels Among the Tombs of the Twelve by Tom Bissell (Faber & Faber (2016))
The story of Twelve Apostles is the story of early Christianity: its competing versions of Jesus’s ministry, its countless schisms, and its ultimate evolution from an obscure Jewish sect to the global faith we know today in all its forms and permutations. In his quest to understand the underpinnings of the world’s largest religion, Tom Bissell embarks on a years-long pilgrimage to the apostles’ supposed tombs, traveling from Jerusalem and Rome to Turkey, Greece, Spain, France, India, and Kyrgyzstan. Along the way, Bissell uncovers the mysterious and often paradoxical lives of these twelve men and how their identities have taken shape over the course of two millennia. Written with empathy and a rare acumen—and often extremely funny—Apostle is an intellectual, spiritual, and personal adventure fit for believers, scholars, and wanderers alike.

Purchased at UCLA Store for $6.99+tax

Acquired The Witches, Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff

Acquired The Witches, Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff (Little, Brown and Company)

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Cleopatra, the national bestseller, unpacks the mystery of the Salem Witch Trials.

It began in 1692, over an exceptionally raw Massachusetts winter, when a minister's daughter began to scream and convulse. It ended less than a year later, but not before 19 men and women had been hanged and an elderly man crushed to death. 

The panic spread quickly, involving the most educated men and prominent politicians in the colony. Neighbors accused neighbors, parents and children each other. Aside from suffrage, the Salem Witch Trials represent the only moment when women played the central role in American history. In curious ways, the trials would shape the future republic.

As psychologically thrilling as it is historically seminal, THE WITCHES is Stacy Schiff's account of this fantastical story-the first great American mystery unveiled fully for the first time by one of our most acclaimed historians.

Purchased at UCLA Store for $8.99+tax

Acquired The Emergence of Biological Organization by Henry Quastler

Acquired The Emergence of Biological Organization by Henry Quastler (Yale Univ Press; First Edition edition (1964))

In 1964 Quastler's book The Emergence of Biological Organization was published posthumously. In 2002, Harold J. Morowitz described it as a "remarkably prescient book" which is "surprisingly contemporary in outlook". In it Quastler pioneers a theory of emergence, developing model of "a series of emergences from probionts to prokaryotes".

The work is based on lectures given by Quastler during the spring term of 1963, when he was Visiting Professor of Theoretical Biology at Yale University. In these lectures Quastler argued that the formation of single-stranded polynucleotides was well within the limits of probability of what could have occurred during the pre-biologic period of the Earth. However, he noted that polymerization of a single-stranded polymer from mononucleotides is slow, and its hydrolysis is fast; therefore in a closed system consisting only of mononucleotides and their single-stranded polymers, only a small fraction of the available molecules will be polymerized. However, a single-stranded polymer may form a double-stranded one by complementary polymerization, using a single-stranded polynucleotide as a template. Such a process is relatively fast and the resulting double-stranded polynucleotide is much more stable than the single single-stranded one since each monomer is bound not only along the sugar phosphate backbone, but also through inter-strand bonding between the bases.

The capability for self-replication, a fundamental feature of life, emerged when double-stranded polynucleotides disassociated into single-stranded ones and each of these served as a template for synthesis of a complementary strand, producing two double-stranded copies. Such a system is mutable since random changes of individual bases may occur and be propagated. Individual replicators with different nucleotide sequences may also compete with each other for nucleotide precursors. Mutations that influence the folding state of polynucleotides may affect the ratio of association of strands to dissociation and thus the ability to replicate. The folding state would also affect the stability of the molecule. These ideas were then developed to speculate on the emergence of genetic information, protein synthesis and other general features of life.

Lily E. Kay says that Quastler's works "are an illuminating example of a well reasoned epistemic quest and a curious disciplinary failure". Quastler's aspiration to create an information based biology was innovative, but his work was "plagued by problems: outdated data, unwarranted assumptions, some dubious numerology, and, most importantly, an inability to generate an experimental agenda." However Quastler's "discursive framework" survived.

Forty-five years after Quastler's 1964 proposal, Lincoln and Joyce described a cross-catalytic system that involves two RNA enzymes (ribosymes) that catalyze each other's synthesis from a total of four component substrates. This synthesis occurred in the absence of protein and could provide the basis for an artificial genetic system.

The Emergence of Biological Organization

There was a single used copy in the UK for $12.49 and all the rest are $149.00+ so I snapped it up. Should be an interesting read in and of itself, but I suspect it’s got an interesting niche of the history of science covered with respect to bit history, complexity, and biological organization.

Should arrive some time between March 13 – March 25.

Acquired The Demon in the Machine: How Hidden Webs of Information Are Finally Solving the Mystery of Life by Paul Davies

Acquired The Demon in the Machine: How Hidden Webs of Information Are Finally Solving the Mystery of Life by Paul DaviesPaul Davies (Allen Lane)

How does life create order from chaos? And just what is life, anyway? Leading physicist Paul Davies argues that to find the answers, we must first answer a deeper question: 'What is information?' To understand the origins and nature of life, Davies proposes a radical vision of biology which sees the underpinnings of life as similar to circuits and electronics, arguing that life as we know it should really be considered a phenomenon of information storage. In an extraordinary deep dive into the real mechanics of what we take for granted, Davies reveals how biological processes, from photosynthesis to birds' navigation abilities, rely on quantum mechanics, and explores whether quantum physics could prove to be the secret key of all life on Earth. Lively and accessible, Demons in the Machine boils down intricate interdisciplinary developments to take readers on an eye-opening journey towards the ultimate goal of science: unifying all theories of the living and the non-living, so that humanity can at last understand its place in the universe.

book cover The Demon in the Machine

Ordered from Amazon on February 4th and had it shipped from the UK because I wasn’t sure when the book was going to finally be released in the US.

Acquired 2 packages of Brodart Advantage I Book Jacket Cover Sheets

Acquired Brodart Advantage I Book Jacket Cover Sheets (Brodart)

Adjustable polypropylene book jacket coversAdjustable polypropylene covers are acid-free and available in prepackaged sheets (24' x 12", non-reflective, qty 25)

  • Polypropylene is a flexible, quiet material that will stretch but not tear
  • Recommended for non-circulating or personal collections
  • Available in two film clarities:
    • Non-Reflective – Covers have a matte finish to hide imperfections, flaws, and fingerprints; covers also reduce glare
    • Clear – Covers are crystal clear and have a glossy finish to show off new book graphics
  • Acid-free polypropylene; will not yellow or crack with age
  • Not recommended for use in book drops
  • 2.5-mil sheets

Acquired Category Theory for the Sciences by David I. Spivak

Acquired Category Theory for the Sciences by David I. Spivak (The MIT Press, 1st Edition)

An introduction to category theory as a rigorous, flexible, and coherent modeling language that can be used across the sciences.

Category theory was invented in the 1940s to unify and synthesize different areas in mathematics, and it has proven remarkably successful in enabling powerful communication between disparate fields and subfields within mathematics. This book shows that category theory can be useful outside of mathematics as a rigorous, flexible, and coherent modeling language throughout the sciences. Information is inherently dynamic; the same ideas can be organized and reorganized in countless ways, and the ability to translate between such organizational structures is becoming increasingly important in the sciences. Category theory offers a unifying framework for information modeling that can facilitate the translation of knowledge between disciplines.

Written in an engaging and straightforward style, and assuming little background in mathematics, the book is rigorous but accessible to non-mathematicians. Using databases as an entry to category theory, it begins with sets and functions, then introduces the reader to notions that are fundamental in mathematics: monoids, groups, orders, and graphs―categories in disguise. After explaining the “big three” concepts of category theory―categories, functors, and natural transformations―the book covers other topics, including limits, colimits, functor categories, sheaves, monads, and operads. The book explains category theory by examples and exercises rather than focusing on theorems and proofs. It includes more than 300 exercises, with solutions.

Category Theory for the Sciences is intended to create a bridge between the vast array of mathematical concepts used by mathematicians and the models and frameworks of such scientific disciplines as computation, neuroscience, and physics.

Category Theory for the Sciences

Ordered a copy from Amazon

Acquired Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You

Acquired Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jonny Sun (Random House)

Before he inspired the world with Hamilton and was catapulted to international fame, Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspiring his Twitter followers with words of encouragement at the beginning and end of each day. He wrote these original sayings, aphorisms, and poetry for himself as much as for others. But as Miranda’s audience grew, these messages took on a life on their own. Now Miranda has gathered the best of his daily greetings into a beautiful collection illustrated by acclaimed artist (and fellow Twitter favorite) Jonny Sun. Full of comfort and motivation, Gmorning, Gnight! is a touchstone for anyone who needs a quick lift.

Gmorning, Gnight!

Received as a Christmas gift

Acquired In the Footsteps of King David: Revelations from an Ancient Biblical City by Yosef Garfinkel, Saar Ganor, Michael G. Hasel

Acquired In the Footsteps of King David: Revelations from an Ancient Biblical City by Yosef Garfinkel, Saar Ganor, Michael G. Hasel (Thames & Hudson; 1 edition)

The remarkable excavation of a previously unidentified city in Israel from the time of King David, shedding new light on the link between the bible and history

King David is a pivotal figure in the Bible, which tells his life story in detail and gives stirring accounts of his deeds, including the slaying of the Philistine giant Goliath and the founding of his capital in Jerusalem. But no certain archaeological finds from the period of his reign or of the kingdom he ruled over have ever been uncovered―until now.

In this groundbreaking account, the excavators of Khirbet Qeiyafa in the Valley of Elah, where the Bible says David fought Goliath, reveal how seven years of exhaustive investigation have uncovered a city dating to the time of David― the late eleventh and early tenth century BCE―surrounded by massive fortifications with impressive gates and a clear urban plan, as well as an abundance of finds that tell us much about the inhabitants. Discussing the link between the Bible, archaeology, and history In the Footsteps of King David explains the significance of these discoveries and how they shed new light on David’s kingdom. The topic is at the center of a controversy that has raged for decades, but these findings successfully challenge scholars disputing the historicity of the Bible and the chronology of the events recounted in it.

90+ illustrations

Purchased for $26.79 at Distant Land’s 30% discount/going out of business sale.

Acquired Cutting board (Oneida)
16 in L x 9-1/2 in W, 1/2 in thick, Red, polypropylene(52072)
Manufactured in Canada

I’ve got three other cutting boards like this. They’re a nice size, sturdy, and have some nice slip resistance. Who couldn’t resist another for $5.99?

Also picked up some wrapping paper for the upcoming Christmas holiday.

Acquired Abstract and Concrete Categories: The Joy of Cats by Jirí Adámek, Horst Herrlich, George E. Strecker

Acquired Abstract and Concrete Categories: The Joy of Cats by Jirí Adámek, Horst Herrlich, George E. Strecker (Dover Publications)

This up-to-date introductory treatment employs the language of category theory to explore the theory of structures. Its unique approach stresses concrete categories, and each categorical notion features several examples that clearly illustrate specific and general cases.

A systematic view of factorization structures, this volume contains seven chapters. The first five focus on basic theory, and the final two explore more recent research results in the realm of concrete categories, cartesian closed categories, and quasitopoi. Suitable for advanced undergraduate and graduate students, it requires an elementary knowledge of set theory and can be used as a reference as well as a text. Updated by the authors in 2004, it offers a unifying perspective on earlier work and summarizes recent developments.

Book cover of Abstract and Concrete Categories: The Joy of Cats

Purchased for use in Mike Miller’s upcoming class on Category Theory at UCLA beginning in January 2019.

Acquired Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest by Zeynep Tufekci

Acquired Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest by Zeynep TufekciZeynep Tufekci (goodreads.com)

A firsthand account and incisive analysis of modern protest, revealing internet-fueled social movements’ greatest strengths and frequent challenges

Book cover of Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest

To understand a thwarted Turkish coup, an anti–Wall Street encampment, and a packed Tahrir Square, we must first comprehend the power and the weaknesses of using new technologies to mobilize large numbers of people. An incisive observer, writer, and participant in today’s social movements, Zeynep Tufekci explains in this accessible and compelling book the nuanced trajectories of modern protests—how they form, how they operate differently from past protests, and why they have difficulty persisting in their long-term quests for change.

Tufekci speaks from direct experience, combining on-the-ground interviews with insightful analysis. She describes how the internet helped the Zapatista uprisings in Mexico, the necessity of remote Twitter users to organize medical supplies during Arab Spring, the refusal to use bullhorns in the Occupy Movement that started in New York, and the empowering effect of tear gas in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. These details from life inside social movements complete a moving investigation of authority, technology, and culture—and offer essential insights into the future of governance.

Inspired to purchase via Bryan Alexander‘s book club.