What I’m reading: Striking Poses and Master’s Guide to Wedding Photography

I’ve just read two outstanding photography books. I’ve been going through the entire photography section at the library (and neighboring libraries) and looking through the sections in virtually every bookstore in my path, and I’ve only bought a very few books–just the ones that I think I’ll want to refer back to. Both of these have jumped to the top of my list. Striking Poses: Creating a Visual Dialogue is a book of environmental portraits shot all over the world, with each one accompanied by a short conversation with Max Fallon, the photographer. His focus on people and relationships as[…]

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What I’m reading: The Tao of Physics

I’m almost not sure where to begin in recommending this book. It’s an exploration of the parallels between modern physics and eastern mysticism, as it says in the tagline. This book feels so familiar to me–I wonder if I read it when I was much younger and couldn’t understand it, which is just the kind of thing that my brothers and I used to do, so it’s entirely possible. It’s a best seller from the 70s and has since been translated into 23 languages. A great modern physics primer wound together with an overview of Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Zen, and[…]

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What I’m reading

…or at least, two of the books I’m reading: James Gleick wrote Chaos, which I loved, and the subtitle here (“The Acceleration of Almost Everything”) has been taunting me for …some…time. Ha. Anyway, when he got around to talking about car phones, I thought, huh? And realized that it’s copyright 1999, which is surprisingly outdated in this context. Which kind of brought the point home. Anyway, recommended, especially if you realize that everything here is increasing exponentially. Apparently this is the gold standard for lighting textbooks and I think I understand why, although of course I have no frame of[…]

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I’ve just taken my geekiness to a new level

…by getting the joke in this xkcd comic: http://xkcd.com/599/. Thank you, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers! Currently in my reading rotation–it’s the bigraphy of Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdös. He was an author of about a bazillion papers and proofs and was known for a few things in particular: 1, being a great collaborator, 2, the elegance of his thinking, and 3, his itinerant lifestyle–he traveled all the time and would often show up on the doorsteps of fellow mathematicians with the pronouncement, “My brain is open.” He’d stay long enough to work on a problem together and then move[…]

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Doubt

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I’m reading some short works of Richard Feynman. This is the conclusion of his talk entitled “What Is and What Should Be the Role of Scientific Culture in Modern Society” which was given to an audience of scientists in 1964. What then is the meaning of the whole world? We do not know what the meaning of existence is. We say, as the result of studying all of the views that we have had before, we find that we do not know the meaning of existence; but in saying that we do[…]

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What I’m reading now

I enjoy reading more than one book at a time, especially when they’re sort of at odds but possibly complementary. Following a lovely afternoon at the library on Saturday, I’m reading The 37 Practices of Bodhisattvas, with commentary by Geshe Sonam Rinchen, and Richard Feynman’s The Pleasure of Finding Things Out. The 37 Practices of Bodhisattvas explores the teachings of Gyelsay Togmay Sangpo, a 14th-century Tibetan Buddhist monk. Bodhisattvas, in Buddhism, are people who have attained enlightenment but postpone nirvana to help others attain enlightenment as well. Richard Feynman was a physicist, writer, and professor, sometimes called the “Great Explainer”[…]

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What I’m reading: The Silent War

The Silent War: The Cold War Battle Beneath the Sea, by John Craven, deserves a place on the shelf right next to Blind Man’s Bluff. That is, if you can put it down. John Craven, who pioneered the use of Bayesian Search Theory to find lost objects at sea, recounts some of his adventures as an integral civilian working with the Navy throughout the Cold War. This is science in action; it’s critical thinking under life-and-death circumstances; AND, it’s SUBMARINES.

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What I’ve just read: The Predictors

The Predictors: How a Band of Maverick Physicists Used Chaos Theory to Trade Their Way to a Fortune on Wall Street, by Thomas Bass, managed to combine my excitement about two recent books I’ve read, Chaos and The Black Swan. Two things: One, I was really glad to realize that several of the predictive models I built for a recent analytics client followed some of the same methods of looking for patterns and of building models that would evolve automatically over time. Two, how can I invest with these guys? Because this is my style.

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What I’m reading: Uncommon Genius

Uncommon Genius: How Great Ideas are Born by Denise Shekerjian: I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s a study of creativity based on interviews with 40 MacArthur Fellows. If you’re not familiar with the MacArthur Foundation’s Fellowship program, here’s what Wikipedia has to say about how it works: The MacArthur Fellows Program or MacArthur Fellowship (nicknamed the Genius Award) is an award given by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation each year to typically 20 to 40 United States citizens or residents, of any age and working in any field, who “show exceptional merit and promise for continued[…]

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What I’m reading: The Black Swan

In addition to a steady diet of fashion magazines, I’m reading a lot of math stuff. (Obviously.) This book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, is sort of a cross between math, probability, philosophy, biology, and history. The thing that’s getting me about this is the description of two different types of systems: one where things cluster in the middle, and one where they cluster at the outer edges (the author refers to them as “Mediocristan” and “Extremistan”). The second reminds me of the Lorenz attractor–a system where values cluster around two values[…]

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