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A few weeks ago I received, via the LibraryThing Early Review program, a review copy of the English translation of the book Dare... to Try Bisexuality. Here is my review:

I was hoping for better and more. This book is, at best, a silly piece of popcorn. At worst, it tries to glamorize the worst stereotypes of bisexual people and the practice of bisexuality: that it is all about having multiway causal swinger orgies, that bisexuals will hit on anyone (even you!) they find attractive, and the only reason why someone isn't having bisexual sex is because they just haven't tried it yet.

For people who already understand their own bisexuality, or the bisexuality of someone close to them, this book is at best eye rollingly silly. For people who are curious, want to learn, or are struggling to understand their own bisexuality or the bisexuality of someone close to them, this book is dangerously wrong and misleading.
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The fine folks at O'Reilly sent me reviewer copy of two books on Erlang

I am currently in the process of learning Erlang for a personal project. These books both measures up to the high expectations I have come to expect from Pragmatic Programmers Publishing and from O'Reilly Books.

Erlang is a difficult language to "sell", and is a challenge to learn.

Both books assume you have decently good programming skills, and don't need your hand held too much about the idea of programming, and instead show you how Erlang is different, it's unique and interesting features, and some of "how to think in Erlang".

Both are very good books for learning the language, and gaining basic skill in using it.

Both of the cover pretty much the same territory, in pretty much the same order. You only really would need one of them, but they are both equally good, so I can't recommend one over the other. Either get both, or pick one at random.

I wish there was more on "how to think in Erlang", especially since most programmer's intuitions about multiprocessing and concurrency, born of battle scars with multithreaded programming in C/C++, will be wrong.
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I'm probably insane.

Writing MySQL Plugins
by Mark Atwood, et al

I predict a number of co-authors.
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I got a pleasant surprise in the mail today: a tightly wrapped package stamped "MEDIA MAIL", containing a copy of Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science. [livejournal.com profile] gipsieee had lent me her copy. I read it all in one sitting.

I especially liked the chapter "Nine Thousand Surgeons", where he captured the feeling of attending Clinical Congress of Surgeons annual convention and trade show. His description of the joy of getting to play with beyond the state of the art machines, his reverence at discovering an antiquarian bookseller of the field, his giddy amazement at live demonstrations the shockingly rapid advances in the state of the art (in this case, growing synthetic livers), and most especially the close and warm camaraderie of people from all over the country who were perfect strangers who had everything important in common, the love of their craft, made it sound like the best parts of the best cons. (Especially when he compared it to the simultaneous in the same city convention of PR professionals, which was almost completely the opposite.)

It's an excellent book and it gives a great insight into a world that is very important but mysteriously distant.

I recommend it.
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I filed away the books of mine that I brought back from my parents house. One of them was the "Billy and the Boingers Bootleg". While flipping thru it, I came across the short storyline where Binkey's closet of anxieties served up himself from twenty years in the future.

Interestingly, the present right now is "twenty years in the future" from the publication of that book, and is now an "alternative past". Unless I've missed the newspaper articles where President Springsteen fired all the striking workers at the Federal Self-Tying Shoelace Plant...
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I finally read my copy of The Speed of Dark, which has been sitting on my shelf for 16 months. [livejournal.com profile] gipsieee read this copy a few weeks ago, and it affected her deeply. It affected me deeply as well, but I cannot presently articulate just how or why.

But as for me, I would not have taken the treatment.

(The book is now part of the house's bookcrossing library.)
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I just got done reading Rainbows End.

I think I'm going to buy a voting-only membership to WorldCon, just so's I can vote for it for the Hugos.

It's Vinge as he always was, only more so, more refined, and better.

The SF was crystal hard.

The characterizations and voices were perfect.

He reprises some of his familiar tropes, but does them very extremely well. His grasp of villany is utterly realistic, and even more subtle. (Great Villains are always Heros in their own mind, regretfully Doing What Must Be Done, with the Best of Intentions.)

Again, his protagonists are not Great Heros, but just ordinary flawed people, all trying in their own sphere to do what is right (for them), who are just sometimes lucky (and sometimes not).

The world does not start out a utopia, nor does it end as so. Saving The World for Freedom does not immediately make every thing All Right, and might not ever do.

And then I could go on and on and on about the wonderfully reflexive injokes and references, opportunities that are served up in multitudes by virtue of being a SF novel set in a world were there are novels, novelists, and where nearly everyone realizes they are living in a SFnal world, and have to and get to live with it. (And if Pratchet does write The Firey Crow in the early `teens, it will be wonderfully appropriate...)

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I finally got around to reading David Gerrold's The Man Who Folded Himself yesterday. I had bought my copy at NorWesCon `03, at the author's dealer table.

I had heard in the past about it being "shocking" and "perverse". Well, I had read gooyer sex scenes in Mormon historical romances (the author uses some well-written literary equivalents to "discretion cutaways"), and after exposure to the anthologies by folks like Phil Foglio, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Nancy Friday, and Celcia Tan, the concept of the self-polyamory of the protaganist seems tame and almost oh-so-cute.

Still, it was well written, and worth reading.

I'm going to give it away as a BookCrossing item. Who wants it?
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I'm starting my listen to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In re my previous observation about the lack of brains of the people in the story, here is my next observation.

If it's CRITICALLY important that someone do something, and it's something they would rather not do (stay with their unsufferable uncle and aunt, ferex), EXPLAIN WHY.

Mindless obedience is idiocy. Expecting mindless obedience is moronic. Demanding mindless obedience ought to get one thrown into a fire.
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I've listening my way thru Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, chapter 22 The Unexpected Task and chapter 23 Yule Ball. The agony of watching a pair of ignernt 14yo boys navigate the minefield of the battle of the sexes is... interesting.

I begin to wonder if there is anyone in the books possessed of a complete set of brains. Maybe Dumbledor, but his approach is annoyingly oblique.

At least it's not as bad as the Wheel of Time series got, where if any two main characters would have ever actually sat down together and had an honest conversation, the entire annoying artiface of tension would have come crashing down.
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I almost finished HP3: Prisoner of Azkaban last night, and then finished it on the commute to work this morning. Now I'm starting on HP4: Goblet of Fire.

I just passed the section where it is explained that Mrs. Weasley is pissed that the twins don't want to get government bureaucrat jobs and instead want to (shudder) start a business, with the complaints that not wanting a government salary is "no ambition" "dont know where we went wrong", while Percy talks about gov't enforcing international standards for cauldron thickness out of fear that "the market will be flooded with cheap cauldrons".

Which is a damn stupid point-of-view to take, given how much his family has to scrimp and save to do things like buy school cauldrons for their kids.

No wonder the Weasleys are poor, if that's how they see how the world should be.


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Mark Atwood

September 2017

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