Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesday Books

Nate Silver...making statistics sexy since 2008.

"Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise is The Soul of a New Machine for the 21st century." —Rachel Maddow, author of Drift

Nate Silver built an innovative system for predicting baseball performance, predicted the 2008 election within a hair’s breadth, and became a national sensation as a blogger—all by the time he was thirty. The New York Times now publishes FiveThirtyEight.com, where Silver is one of the nation’s most influential political forecasters.

Drawing on his own groundbreaking work, Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data. Most predictions fail, often at great cost to society, because most of us have a poor understanding of probability and uncertainty. Both experts and laypeople mistake more confident predictions for more accurate ones. But overconfidence is often the reason for failure. If our appreciation of uncertainty improves, our predictions can get better too. This is the “prediction paradox”: The more humility we have about our ability to make predictions, the more successful we can be in planning for the future.

In keeping with his own aim to seek truth from data, Silver visits the most successful forecasters in a range of areas, from hurricanes to baseball, from the poker table to the stock market, from Capitol Hill to the NBA. He explains and evaluates how these forecasters think and what bonds they share. What lies behind their success? Are they good—or just lucky? What patterns have they unraveled? And are their forecasts really right? He explores unanticipated commonalities and exposes unexpected juxtapositions. And sometimes, it is not so much how good a prediction is in an absolute sense that matters but how good it is relative to the competition. In other cases, prediction is still a very rudimentary — and dangerous — science.

Silver observes that the most accurate forecasters tend to have a superior command of probability, and they tend to be both humble and hardworking. They distinguish the predictable from the unpredictable, and they notice a thousand little details that lead them closer to the truth. Because of their appreciation of probability, they can distinguish the signal from the noise.

With everything from the health of the global economy to our ability to fight terrorism dependent on the quality of our predictions, Nate Silver’s insights are an essential read.

NPR gives it a good review.

My Husband and My Wives: A Gay’s Man’s Odyssey is the memoir of a man looking back over eight tumultuous decades at the complications of discovering at puberty that he is attracted to other men. The ordeal of remaining true to what his libido tells him is right, in the midst of a disapproving and sometimes hostile society, is one side of his story. Another is the impulsive decision he made as a young adult to marry a woman who fascinated him. This led him into entirely unanticipated territory. He found himself suddenly a husband, a widower, a groom for a second time, and, finally, the father of four children and grandfather of six, though throughout it all, he never abandoned his erotic involvement with men. Perhaps most extraordinary is the story’s happy conclusion: Charles Rowan Beye’s wedding four years ago to the man who has been his companion for the last twenty years. The remarkable journey from pariah to patriarch is told with an eloquence, an honesty, and a sense of humor that are uniquely Beye’s own. A personal history that is also a history of evolving social mores, this wonderfully original, challenging, life- and love-affirming account could only have been written by the unconventional man who lived through it all.

I got to play with my sister's Barbies as a kid, and I'm mostly ok.

From the selection of toys, clothes, and activities to styles of play and emotional expression, the family is ground zero for where children learn about gender. Despite recent awareness that girls are not too fragile to play sports and that boys can benefit from learning to cook, we still find ourselves surrounded by limited gender expectations and persistent gender inequalities. Through the lively and engaging stories of parents from a wide range of backgrounds, The Gender Trap provides a detailed account of how today’s parents understand, enforce, and resist the gendering of their children. Emily Kane shows how most parents make efforts to loosen gendered constraints for their children, while also engaging in a variety of behaviors that reproduce traditionally gendered childhoods, ultimately arguing that conventional gender expectations are deeply entrenched and that there is great tension in attempting to undo them while letting 'boys be boys' and 'girls be girls.'

Damn! He was pretty!

The first major biography of the iconic actor Henry Fonda, a story of stardom, manhood, and the American character

Henry Fonda's performances — in The Grapes of Wrath, Young Mr. Lincoln, The Lady Eve, 12 Angry Men, On Golden Pond — helped define "American" in the twentieth century. He worked with movie masters from Ford and Sturges to Hitchcock and Leone. He was a Broadway legend. He fought in World War II and was loved the world over.

Yet much of his life was rage and struggle. Why did Fonda marry five times — tempestuously to actress Margaret Sullavan, tragically to heiress Frances Brokaw, mother of Jane and Peter? Was he a man of integrity, worthy of the heroes he played, or the harsh father his children describe, the iceman who went onstage hours after his wife killed herself? Why did suicide shadow his life and art? What memories troubled him so?

McKinney’s Fonda is dark, complex, fascinating, and a product of glamour and acclaim, early losses and Midwestern demons — a man haunted by what he'd seen, and by who he was.

DIY, bitches!

Wired magazine editor and bestselling author Chris Anderson takes you to the front lines of a new industrial revolution as today’s entrepreneurs, using open source design and 3-D printing, bring manufacturing to the desktop. In an age of custom-fabricated, do-it-yourself product design and creation, the collective potential of a million garage tinkerers and enthusiasts is about to be unleashed, driving a resurgence of American manufacturing. A generation of “Makers” using the Web’s innovation model will help drive the next big wave in the global economy, as the new technologies of digital design and rapid prototyping gives everyone the power to invent — creating “the long tail of things”.

Oh, Stephen Colbert, you ponce...how I love thee!

Book store nation, in the history of mankind there has never been a greater country than America. You could say we're the #1 nation at being the best at greatness.

But as perfect as America is in every single way, America is broken! And we can't exchange it because we're 236 years past the 30-day return window. Look around--we don't make anything anymore, we've mortgaged our future to China, and the Apologist-in-Chief goes on world tours just to bow before foreign leaders. Worse, the L.A. Four Seasons Hotel doesn't even have a dedicated phone button for the Spa. You have to dial an extension! Where did we lose our way?!

It's high time we restored America to the greatness it never lost!

Luckily, AMERICA AGAIN will singlebookedly pull this country back from the brink. It features everything from chapters, to page numbers, to fonts. Covering subject's ranging from healthcare ("I shudder to think where we'd be without the wide variety of prescription drugs to treat our maladies, such as think-shuddering") to the economy ("Life is giving us lemons, and we're shipping them to the Chinese to make our lemon-flavored leadonade") to food ("Feel free to deep fry this book-it's a rich source of fiber"), Stephen gives America the dose of truth it needs to get back on track.

YES! I know. I'm the only person who visits this blog who would probably ever pick this book up. And, by the way, I already have.

The first Poor Law was enacted in 1601, and this system of social security, which was supposed to ensure that those who could not work had food, drink, and a roof over their heads, but which is inextricably linked in the public imagination with the cruelty of the workhouse, was not finally abolished until the creation of the NHS in 1948. Being part of the government bureaucracy, detailed records were kept of everything: rate-payers, collectors of rates, workhouse overseers and staff, and the inmates of workhouses, as well poor people who were helped to move to the North of England to work in industry, those given assisted passage to Australia, and children sent to Canada. David T. Hawkings, one of Britain's leading genealogists, explains here for the first time how to use these records to trace your family history, providing an important, must-have resource for genealogists and family historians who want to make use of this comprehensive repository of information.

I'm giving this book the benefit of a doubt...given that there's a blurb on the back by rightwing loon John Stossel and Kid Rock calls it "Awesomeness."

A wryly comic, first-person debut novel offering a withering view of life on Wall Street from the perspective of an unhappy insider who is too hooked on the money to find a way out, even as his career is ruining his marriage and corroding his soul.

It’s 2005. Nick Farmer is a thirty-five-year-old bond trader with Bear Stearns clearing seven figures a year. The novelty of a work-related nightlife centering on liquor, hookers, and cocaine has long since worn thin, though Nick remains keenly addicted to his annual bonus. But the lifestyle is taking a toll on his marriage and on him.

When a nerdy analyst approaches him with apocalyptic prognostications of where Bear’s high-flying mortgage-backed securities trading may lead, Nick is presented with the kind of ethical dilemma he’s spent a lifetime avoiding. Throw in a hot financial journalist who seems to be more interested in him than in the percolating financial armageddon and the prospect that his own wife may have found a new romantic interest of her own, and you have the recipe for Nick’s personal and professional implosion.

By turns hilarious and harrowing, Ghosts of Manhattan follows a winning but flawed character as he struggles to find the right path in a complicated urban heart of darkness.

A new book by the woman who introduced me to putting cayenne pepper in my hot chocolate. Though I do find a bit annoying that the book's title has been dumbed down for Americans.

The bestselling author of Chocolat and The Girl with No Shadow returns to Lansquenet in this enchanting new novel, Peaches for Father Francis (in the UK called Peaches for Monsieur le Curé)

When Vianne Rocher receives a letter from beyond the grave, she has no choice but to follow the wind that blows her back to Lansquenet, the beautiful French village in which eight years ago she opened a chocolate shop and first learned the meaning of home.

But returning to one’s past can be a dangerous pursuit. Vianne, with her daughters, Anouk and Rosette, finds Lansquenet changed in unexpected ways: women veiled in black, the scent of spices and peppermint tea—and there, on the bank of the river Tannes, facing the church, a minaret. Most surprising of all, her old nemesis, Father Francis Reynaud, desperately needs her help.

Can Vianne work her magic once again?

4 comments:

Tamayn Irraniah said...

Wow, so who is Rosette's father? I may need to read these books now. That's five more books on the pile. Seriously man, you're killing me!

Writer said...

Tamayn, sadly, I probably will add them to my list but never actually touch them again. :)

Mitchell is Moving said...

Wow! You did a lot of work here... And I've got a lot of catching up to do. Thanks!

Writer said...

Mitchell, don't let the post fool ya. It's mostly a lot of copying and pasting. :)