Yet Another Hotlist? Aaaaahhhh!!!! But as you may already
know, links are a quick way to give something back to spiders stepping
through your page. Until I actually have some more stuff worth reading,
enjoy. There aren't many commonly-known sites here; if you want something
like that, go to Yahoo and surf from
Books come first. Why don't more people put recently-read books on their
hotlists? Or you can hop to the Magazines,
or Links sections.
Most of this has not been updated since 1995. It's a long time
since 1995! But I have just made some changes recently (May 20th
Here are some of the best books I've read recently. If you enjoyed any
of these as well, let me know
if you have any other suggestions. Good books are hard to find, and hard
books are good to find. I say a lot about some of them.
Periodically, good books provide insight.
As of mid-1999 I've just read:
Books I plan to read soon (as of mid-1999):
Robert Jay Kaplan, The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology
of Genocide. Very thought-provoking, insightful, and disturbing,
particularly in his discussion of how a genocidal culture in many ways
becomes, inevitably, a suicidal culture.
Philip K. Dick, Martian Time-Slip and The Three Stigmata of Palmer
Eldritch. Dick captures schizophrenia in words like no other
author I've ever read. Very chilling and compelling.
Nicholson Baker, The Fermata. It took me a long time to get
around to this book and then I burned through it in no time, as it seemed
(to me) to be a pretty light read. Rather odd how the main character
was so out of touch with his own alienation. I was glad the book
ended as it did, for reasons I can't discuss without giving it away :-)
Julian Barnes, A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters.
Very engaging read, quite wide-ranging and rich without being overbearing.
I like fabulism when it's done with skill.
Howard Cruse, Stuck Rubber Baby. People who don't read any
comics at all really miss out on some things. This book is one of
them. I've seldom been so emotionally touched by any work, comic
novel or otherwise. Gayness, civil rights, and coming of age... extremely
Simon Winchester, The Professor and the Madman. I don't know
why I felt just slightly disappointed by this book; I guess I was expecting
it to be a bit less conventional somehow. Still it did a nice job
of juxtaposing two odd characters in an unusual story. I had a neighbor
who suffered from clinical paranoia, and the madman's symptoms rang chillingly
As of 1995:
Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon. Snow Crash made me
into a lifetime fan.
Ray Kurzweil, The Age of Spiritual Machines. I do think there
is a major spiritual and existential crisis looming in the next century
as computers start surpassing their previous conceptual role in human life.
I have huge arguments about this all the time with my sister... looking
forward to seeing if Kurzweil does the topic justice.
Patrick Suskind, Perfume. Looks like a rather offbeat and
disturbingly sensual book.
Failure to Connect.
The Light inside the Dark.
American Nature Writing 1998.
Etc., etc., etc. Ah, reading is so key!
Sacks' books always give me new insights into how we humans live, and about
the complex realities underlying aspects of our lives we take for granted.
This book exploded many of my preconceptions about deafness. Sacks lucidly
describes the true nature of sign language, making it clear how it is a
fundamentally different kind of langauge, potentially more expressive than
oral (aural) languages. Two amazing anecdotes: he tells of a hearing woman
who learned Sign while a very young girl, and who now in old age is fluent
in both; her daughter has even seen her hands moving in sleep,
in Sign language. Another example: It is seldom possible for adults
to learn fluent Sign; some subtle aspects of the complex, visual motions
of Sign are not learnable. But if parents who hear have a deaf child, and
learn Sign (albeit imperfectly) to teach their child, the child will
learn fluent, perfectly grammatical Sign from them. It appears that
the brain understands Sign implicitly, on a very deep level. Many more
insights are here present on the role language plays in making us human.
Oliver Sacks, Seeing Voices, University
of California Press, 1989.
Weinberg is one of the most lucid writers I've found on the process and
perils of software development. If you are a programmer, or a manager of
programmers, it'd behoove you to read this book. End the tyranny of crunch
The scientists strike back! Some of the most compelling ideas about life
in this universe are emerging from the scientific community as it publishes
its discoveries in lay terms. The world's intellectual landscape is already
feeling the reverberations, and this book is a call to arms. Check out
Brockman's website or this Wired
Gerald Weinberg, Quality Software Management, vols. 1-3, Dorset
See my bit about flow.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.
I lent all my copies away so I don't know the publisher.
Maguire has been in the trenches. You will likely wince at all the times
you've committed the sins Maguire unerringly identifies. Quality software
is a challenge; know the tools that can help you meet it.
Steve Maguire, Writing Solid Code and Debugging the Development
Process, Microsoft Press.
A really great series of case studies, of Klan gatherings, white supremacist
leaders, and typical followers. This book makes it clear that racists are
real people, that they are much more complex than the stereotypes we have
of them, and that the movement has deep and fundamental roots in American
society. By turns chilling and illuminating.
Raphael S. Ezekiel, The Racist Mind, Viking
A really good source for a non-American take on world affairs. Economically
stuffy and conservative, but quite socially liberal and clueful. Excellent
writing; some turns of phrase stay with you.
(1999) Sadly, I'm not even keeping up with the Economist anymore.
The Web is taking care of my day-to-day news jones and I am finding myself
focusing more on actual books than on the relatively ephemeral Economist
stories. Still sooner or later the worm will turn and I will find
myself digging through the fifteen or so stacked up back issues....
What have I been listening to lately? Oh, hmmm....
As of 1999:
As of 1995:
The latest Underworld album.
The new Coldcut.
A local ambient band named Perfume Tree.
Counting the days until the next Orb album comes out.
Yes, I admit it, I like the Chemical Brothers.
Basically any funky electronica I can get my hands on.
The Orb, mainly Live '93. Very fine space thought music.
Morphine, Yes. These guys put out a serious groove, smoky and sensuous.
I dig it in a big way.
Nine Inch Nails. Trent Reznor, god of angst and power chords.
King Crimson, Thrax. OK, so I lay on my back with friends in high
school, spaced out and listening to King Crimson. OK, so I still like their
stuff. It's OK, OK?
Broun Fellinis. I heard these guys play locally about two and a half years
ago, became an instant fan, and am somewhat disappointed with this album.
I think they have more zap playing live.
Alphabet Soup, Layin' Low in the Cut. Some pretty swingin' jazz
with powerful hip-hop above, and again, they're even better live.
Nirvana Unplugged. Yes, I waited until he was dead to realize Nirvana was
actually a good band. Bleh!
I got rid of my old links because, y'know, they were mostly either broken
or a few years out of date. Sad but true.
What am I linking to and reading up on these days? (mid 1999)
Pretty boring, eh? But I find myself doing a lot more reading off
the web than on the web these days, which is good, I think.
Various gaming sites. (I don't play all that many computer games,
but I like keeping up with the happenings.)
The major news sites.
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to Unreal Enterprises. Created 8 May 1995, last updated 16 July
1996, and copyright
by Rob Jellinghaus.