Books Read

Feb. 21st, 2019 06:59 pm
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30. The Frequency of Aliens, Gene Doucette.   Sequel to #29, would not make a lick of sense read out of order. OK. Might read a third, but probably wouldn't displace anything I meant to read first.

Books Read

Feb. 19th, 2019 08:20 am
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28. Masques, Patricia Briggs -- her first novel, slightly revised. A secondary world fantasy with medieval technology and a city of mercenaries and an evil sorceror-king who is going to take over the world; against him, basically two shape shifters who fall in love, slowly. Not bad, not great. Has sequels which I will probably get around to reading.

29. The Spaceship Next Door, Gene Doucette -- Three years ago an alien spaceship landed in a small town in Massachusetts. Nobody came out, and nobody touched it. Now, finally, something is happening -- and a slightly precocious 16 year old has to save the world. Rather funny in places, horrifying in others, good style. The first chapter was kind of a slog.

Books Read

Feb. 12th, 2019 05:45 am
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27.  ATLAS,  Isaac Hooke.  A book which utterly fails the Bechdel Test, because there are only two speaking females, and only one of them counts as a character -- and she remains a blank slate until the epilogue, in which she becomes much more interesting than the unthinking lunk whose career we have been following. Most of the middle of the book is concerned with military torture-training.

Books Read

Feb. 10th, 2019 11:57 am
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25. Kingdom of Needle and Bone -- Mira Grant.   Standalone horror-SF. Several twists; each gets worse.

26. Sweep of the Blade -- Ilona Andrews.   Generally positive romance-military-SF. Book 3.5 or so in an ongoing series where werewolves are aliens, vampires are aliens, monsters are aliens... Earth is special because there are a dozen wormhole-things available here, instead of one or two, so all the aliens agreed to keep it neutral and not tell the humans anything. Unclear whether magic is magic or sufficiently advanced technology, because there's a lot of technology.

Books Read

Feb. 9th, 2019 08:00 am
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24. The Killer Collective - Barry Eisler.   In which he takes all his previous viewpoint antiheroes and introduces them to each other so that they can work for great justice. I am now surprised that nobody has made a movie from his books yet -- they all take the form of obsessively choreographed fight scenes interspersed with clue gathering and occasional romantic entanglement.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
The strong version of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis goes like this: humans think in words, therefore the words that you think in constrain your thoughts. If you don't have a word for a concept, you can't think about that concept. If you learn new words, you gain the ability to think about that concept.

It's not clear that humans must think in words.

And it is definitely the case that humans can come up with new words by themselves, and then teach them to others. Words don't spring from the void. (Although that's how Genesis says the world was created.)

But people really like the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis because it takes a universal experience -- learning new words, a thing that happens to every single one of us -- and extends it into magic: if only you knew the right language, you could think thoughts that you can't think now, and maybe some of those thought-words can do things that you can't do yet. Some people clearly have verbal skills that allow them to influence other people to do their bidding -- is that because they know the right words? Maybe the whole universe can be coerced if you only knew how to speak to it properly.

Books Read

Feb. 6th, 2019 06:15 pm
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20  Queen of the Damned
21  The Morning Star -- both by Debra Dunbar.  Wraps up a ten book series about a chaotic-evil demons and lawful-evil angels, some of both of which figure out consequentialist ethics. Sort of.

22 In Darkness Forged -- Nathan Lowell. Book n of an ongoing series about the life of a merchant space sailor. Early books are remarkably relaxing as they focus on daily life and minor interpersonal conflicts that are rarely solved with violence. Later books are relaxing in the way of old friends coming by to tell you about what they did.

and that frees me up for what will be

23 -title not yet finalized, book not yet finished, author not revealed at this time

which I am reading in order to give helpful criticism.


Books Read

Feb. 1st, 2019 01:47 pm
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16 Imp Forsaken
17 Angel of Chaos
18 Kingdom of Lies
19 Exodus

-- all by Debra Dunbar. Two more to go, then the series ends and I switch to something else.

Continues to be fun snarky first person, but it's been a while since she's been evil so much as uncaring of consequences.

The theology involved is confusing; consistent, but I don't think it's been explained. Possibly it grew organically.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)

cabbage, shredded.
onion, shredded or diced small
egg, whisked
salt, shaken
black pepper, ground

To make two nice latkes, suitable for one person:

Add a nice layer of vegetable oil to a frying pan, and preheat it on medium for a bit.

In a bowl, use a fork to mix 1/2 cup of shredded cabbage, a little shredded onion, one egg, and some salt and pepper.

Drop into the frying pan as two pancakes. Smoosh them with a spatula. Wait three minutes or a little more, then flip them and cook for another three minutes.

Excellent with scrambled eggs for breakfast.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
Dishwashers: there's a lot of complication around a motor that pumps water.

Dishwashers have an inflow port (to which you screw a brass 90-degree nozzle, then screw the water hose to the nozzle); an exhaust port (uses a hose clamp that needs good strong pliers to hold open) and a power connection (7th grade shop lamp wiring techniques).

It looks like nearly all the sound level is controlled by the over-the-top sound insulation and the front kick-panel insulation. Get those wrong and it will be much louder. Getting it right is aided by slapping a piece of packing tape on each side to join the back insulation to the side insulation.

Check the length of the legs before you put it in. If they are too long, it won't go in properly. If it goes almost all the way in but then jams, check the smoothness of the top insulation first (a spatula can help) and then reduce the length of the front legs.

Know which circuit breaker you're turning off way before you actually do it.

Books Read

Jan. 24th, 2019 07:05 am
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13. Satan's Sword

14. Elven Blood

15. Devil's Paw -- all by Debra Dunbar.

Sam the demon continues to get into trouble. Power is acquired in book 2 and found to be more trouble than it's worth in three and four. Storytelling improves from 'competent' to 'good', and the quality of editing has improved noticeably. I hate it when a hoard of demons attacks instead of just sitting there looking shiny.

Books Read

Jan. 20th, 2019 05:13 pm
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11. Deep Silence, Jonathan Maberry.  The tenth Joe Ledger novel, in which Cthulhu's army of reptoid-piloted UFOs is awakened by a neo-Soviet conspiracy to awaken volcanoes. Makes many references to the previous novels. First-person narrator has many serious issues.

12. A Demon Bound, Debra Dunbar.  Lawful evil angels versus chaotic neutral demons in rural Maryland-Pennsylvania. Better than that sounds. Snarky first-person narrator.

Books Read

Jan. 18th, 2019 05:45 am
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10. The River Twice, Brenda Clough

It's a time travel story; it's part one of a trilogy and ends like there's no doubt that the author intends to write the other two parts. Every visit to the past changes the future in some way, but the changes can be so subtle that nobody notices. It's both intriguing and frustrating. Seeing Back To The Future does not grant Genre-Savvy, which makes me wonder at the degree of cleverness in an otherwise clever viewpoint character.

Books Read

Jan. 15th, 2019 07:53 am
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9. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, F. C. Yee.  Sun Wukong attends a Bay-Area high school in order to gain the trust of Genie Lo, a Perfectly Normal sophomore. Of course, she is not. Wacky hijinks and demon-fighting ensue. Fun.

Books Read

Jan. 13th, 2019 10:59 am
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6 Paradise, Craig Alanson
7 Black Ops, same
8 Zero Hour, same

Books three through five of an apparently no-master-plot series of milSF in which the narrator is saved by ingenious plans that nobody else is able to think of, including the alien super-AI nicknamed Skippy.

There are series where one feels sure that the author has A Plan: Charlie Stross's Laundry, Jim Butcher's Dresden, Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos. This is not one of them. The writing is not sufficiently good to maintain my interest; the characters are not exactly flat but don't have much depth; the plots are a stream of incidents. I'm done.

Books Read

Jan. 6th, 2019 07:58 am
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
4. Columbus Day,  Craig Alanson
5. Spec Ops, same.

Books one and two of what looks like a five volume series of milSF space opera that enjoys setting up scenarios and then subverting them. In book one, the Earth is attacked by aliens, and then worse aliens liberate the Earth. Our first-person narrator is blessed by good luck and eventually saves the Earth, but has to leave for galactic exploration in book two in order to fuflill a solemn promise. Fun.

Books Read

Jan. 4th, 2019 10:09 am
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
3. T. Kingfisher, Swordheart. Same universe as the Clocktaur War books. More great dialogue, but also another romance subplot where communication is smooth for everything except saying "hey, I really like-like you, do you like-like me?" until late in the book.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
Let's try keeping a list of all the books I read this year, plus some minor commentary.

1. T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon): The Clockwork Boys
2.  ...and I'm in the middle of her The Wonder Engine

D&Dish fantasy world but with great characters and dialogue. Book 1 is getting the party together, defining their mission (help end the war by locating the source of the mechanical soldier-things and stopping them) and adventures on the way to the primary target. Book 2 appears to be the main mission. Book 3 is acquired and will likely be my next read.
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Travelers clearly concludes at the end of Season Three, with a fair ending for a time-travel, multiple-branching timelines show.

It calls back to the first few episodes while incorporating the themes that have run all the way through; characters display love, affection, bravery, and regret.

dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
From 2012.

All right, this is perfect. I swear it is true, too. Just happened.

The last two bedtime stories were _A New Hope_ and _The Empire Strikes Back_. Frankly, whoever did these novelizations was a hack who wasn't bothering to check for continuity. We pointed out flaws all through the storyline and ended up with a running joke about how Leia welded a valve shut on the Falcon. You had to be there, I guess. Anyway, I decided that we ought to read something good in the way of an antidote.

The new bedtime story is _The Princess Bride_. We're reading the Good Parts Version, as Goldman redacted it from Morgenstern, but there's still an awful lot in there. The first chapter basically ends with Buttercup finding out that Westley has been killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts.

As I finish up with "I must never love again. And she didn't." Pause. "End of chapter. Time for sleep." E pipes up immediately and says "I don't like this book. We shouldn't read it. I want a different book."

"Okay," sez me, "What part of it didn't you like?"

"The part where Westley dies! I don't like that!"

"Ah. Let me tell you a little secret... it will turn out, later in the book, that Westley is not really dead."

"What? But the Dread Pirate Roberts kills everyone! It said so!"

"I assure you you will find out about that too. All shall be revealed. Now, does that mean we can continue in this book?"

"Yeah. Read more now, please."
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