Charlie Harvey

August 2014 Reading

  • The Rhesus Chart, by Charles Stross

    Cover of The rhesus chart

    I am an huge Charles Stross fan. So when I saw the latest installment of the Laundry series in Blackwells, I had to pick it up. The story's hero is an applied computational demonologist in the bureaucratic "laundry", a division of the secret service dedicated to fighting beings from other universes. In this installment he has to contend with some bankers who have turned into vampires after fiddling round with the wrong algorithim. Stross manages to combine geeky in-jokes, Lovecraftian horror and commentary on the nature of the civil service in a gloriously entertaining thriller comedy.

    2014-08-25 by Charlie Harvey
  • The Code Book, by Simon Singh

    Cover of The code book

    There were 2 reasons for me to pick up The Code Book. It was in Oxfam and hence fairly cheap, and I was taking the Stanford Crypto Class on Coursera, so I thought it would help motivaate me to stay the course. Singh’s history of crypto is both entertaining and accessible. It doesn’t have the technical depth of Schneier’s Applied Cryptography (which I admit I have never made it all the way through) but it makes up for that by telling the stories of cryptographers and cryptanalysts throughout history. Good stuff.

    2014-08-21 by Charlie Harvey
  • Animals and Sociology by Kay Peggs

    Cover of Animals and Sociology

    I was intrigued by this book when I picked it up at Blackwells for 50p. It was rather more academic than I enjoy reading, mostly made up of quotes from other authors and tended to survey the territory rather than present an arguent. Which meant I struggled. But it was a salient reminder of the links between the ways animals and the people in society are exploited and oppressed.

    2014-08-19 by Charlie Harvey
  • Why everyone (else) is a hypocrite, by Robert Kurzban

    Cover of Why everyone (else) is a hypocrite

    I felt that Kurzban had a solid idea for a book here; he akes the case that our minds work in a modular fashion, that these "modules" drive our behaviour and that they can and do drive us to behave in contradictory ways (eating cake and dieting). Which is reasonably OK. I got annoyed more than once by his habit of extrapolating from a metaphor to make hs case. Perhaps unfairly given that this is popular science. I also felt that Kurzban implied a misleading view of evolution by saying that evolution had "designed" our minds (or modules within them) for particular purposes.

    2014-08-19 by Charlie Harvey


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