Friday, January 01, 2021

The 2020 Book List

The 2020 Book List

Well, that's a crazy year in the record books ... and, speaking of books, here's the list of books I read this year. Ironically, everyone being locked at home meant that generally I did less reading than normal. Fewer audiobooks because there was no commuting, for example, but also even just in terms of having free time to read, I found I had less, because so many activities were cancelled, there was a lot more family together time and less time where I had blocks to just sit down and read without someone else coming along to interrupt.
  1. Exhalation by Ted Chiang
  2. God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World -- and Why Their Differences Matter by Stephen Prothero
  3. For the Killing of Kings by Howard Andrew Jones
  4. Upon the Flight of the Queen by Howard Andrew Jones
  5. Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
  6. Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne
  7. An Economic History of the World since 1400 by Donald J. Harreld (Great Courses)
  8. The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revoluion by Francis Fukuyama
  9. Law School for Everyone by Molly Bishop Shadel (Great Courses)
  10. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... and Others Don't by Jim Collins
  11. Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi
  12. A Game of Birds and Wolves: The Ingenious Young Women Whose Secret Board Game Helped Win World War II by Simon Parkin
  13. The New Testament by Bart Ehrman (Great Courses)
  14. Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
  15. The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli
  16. Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova
  17. Making Sense: Conversations on Consciousness, Morality, and the Future of Humanity by Sam Harris & others
  18. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
  19. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
  20. The ABCs of Educational Testing: Demystifying the Tools That Shape Our Schools by W. James Popham
  21. Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
  22. Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim
  23. Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
  24. A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  25. The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman
  26. The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths by Mariana Mazzucato
  27. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson (unfinished)
  28. No Country for Old Gnomes by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne (unfinished)
Breakdown

Format:
  • Audiobooks: 13
  • Electronic: 3
    • Kindle: 3
  • Dead tree books: 12
Subjects:
  • Total Fiction: 13
    • Science Fiction: 3
    • Fantasy: 10
    • Non-Fiction: 15
      • Science: 2
        • Physics: 2
        • Psychology: 2
        • Technology: 1
      • Religion: 2
      • History: 5
      • Politics/Law: 4
      • Business/Economics: 4
      • Education: 1
      • Philosophy: 1
    These numbers don't quite match up, because some books cover multiple areas, and so I've included them in all relevant categories. So, for example, a book on free will would fall in both Psychology and Philosophy (and possibly even Religion) categories. And a book on Politics might drift enough into the realm of Philosophy (or vice versa) that I count them as both, or both might explore enough historical groundwork that I feel the need to include it as a History book.

    I've also included The Great Courses audios that I listen to through Audible.com. Though not actually books, I figure that a 10+ hour course on a subject contains about the same informational content, if not presented structurally in quite the same way as it would take in a written book.

    Podcasts

    In addition to listening to audiobooks, my intake of thinking consists enough of podcasts that it seems worth including them as a category. Here are the podcasts that I have listened to in 2018 on a fairly regular basis:
    • You Are Not So Smart
    • Making Sense with Sam Harris
    • The Glenn Show
    • Talk Nerdy with Cara Santa Maria
    • Very Bad Wizards
    • What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law
    • The Lawfare Podcast
    • Rational Security
    • The Remnant with Jonah Goldberg
    • Advisory Opinions
    • Left, Right, and Center
    • All the President's Lawyers
    • Today, Explained
    • The Weeds
    • Stuff to Blow Your Mind
    The History

    And for anyone who is interested in looking into the past to see some of my previous book lists...
    Prior to 2008, I didn't keep a precise running record of the books that I read.

    Tuesday, December 31, 2019

    2019 Book List

    The 2019 Book List

    In 2018, I initiated a plan to not read any of my "default" authors (white heterosexual males, which were by far the bulk of my reading library). I called this "Don't read white (males) after Labor Day." So up through Labor Day this year, I was specifically focusing on reading minority or female authors. During that period, I'm listing what I can tell of the identity of the author. (If you're paying attention, then you'll be able to tell this means that once I hit Labor Day in 2019, I only got through 4 books for the remainder of the year. It was a busy fall!)
    1. Becoming by Michelle Obama (African-American female)
    2. Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (African-American male)
    3. Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (African-American male)
    4. Children of Bone and Blood by Tomi Adeyemi (Nigerian female)
    5. The Soul of Yellow Folks by Wesley Yang (Korean-American male)
    6. Infidel: My Life by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Somali-born Dutch-American female)
    7. Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Somali-born Dutch-American female)
    8. Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Somali-born Dutch-American female)
    9. Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World by Michele Gelfand (female)
    10. Radical: My Journey Out of Islamist Extremism by Maajid Nawaz (British Muslim)
    11. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
    12. Report On the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election (Vol I & II) by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III
    13. Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi (female)
    14. Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt (female)
    15. A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, Book 1) by V.E. Schwab (female)
    16. A Gathering of Shadows(Shades of Magic, Book 2) by V.E. Schwab (female)
    17. Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi (female)
    18. The Oppenheimer Alternative by Robert J. Sawyer
    19. A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, Book 3) by V.E. Schwab
    20. Call Me God: The Untold Story of the DC Sniper Investigation by Jim Clemente, Tim Clemente, and Peter McDonnell 
    21. This Is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar 

    Breakdown

    Format:
    • Audiobooks: 15
    • Electronic: 1
      • Kindle: 1
    • Dead tree books: 5
    Subjects:
    • Total Fiction: 9
      • Science Fiction: 2
      • Fantasy: 7
      • Non-Fiction: 12
        • Science: 2
          • Psychology: 1
          • Technology: 1
        • Religion: 3
        • History: 11
        • Politics: 10
        • Business/Economics: 2
        • Philosophy: 3
      These numbers don't quite match up, because some books cover multiple areas, and so I've included them in all relevant categories. So, for example, a book on free will would fall in both Psychology and Philosophy (and possibly even Religion) categories. And a book on Politics might drift enough into the realm of Philosophy (or vice versa) that I count them as both, or both might explore enough historical groundwork that I feel the need to include it as a History book.

      Similarly, some books I read using Whispersynch-for-Voice to jump between the Amazon Kindle and Audible audiobook versions of the books, so they got double-counted in the format section if I read them in both formats. I've also included The Great Courses audios that I listen to through Audible.com. Though not actually books, I figure that a 10+ hour course on a subject contains about the same informational content, if not presented structurally in quite the same way as it would take in a written book.

      Podcasts

      In addition to listening to audiobooks, my intake of thinking consists enough of podcasts that it seems worth including them as a category. Here are the podcasts that I have listened to in 2018 on a fairly regular basis:
      • Writing Excuses
      • You Are Not So Smart
      • Waking Up Podcast with Sam Harris
      • History of Philosophy
      • History of Africana Philosophy
      • The Glenn Show
      • Talk Nerdy with Cara Santa Maria
      • Very Bad Wizards
      • What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law
      • The Lawfare Podcast
      • The Cyberlaw Podcast
      • Rational Security
      • The Remnant with Jonah Goldberg
      • Today, Explained
      • The Weeds
      • The Phil Ferguson Show
      • Hidden Brain
      • Stuff to Blow Your Mind
      The History

      And for anyone who is interested in looking into the past to see some of my previous book lists...
      Prior to 2008, I didn't keep a precise running record of the books that I read.

      Tuesday, January 01, 2019

      2018 Book List

      The 2018 Book List
      1. Ones and Zeroes by Dan Wells
      2. Children of the Divide by Patrick S. Tomlinson
      3. The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday
      4. The Higgs Boson and Beyond by Sean Carroll (The Great Courses)
      5. The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World by Bart Ehrman
      6. Republic, Lost: Version 2.0 by Lawrence Lessig
      7. The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook by Niall Ferguson
      8. A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey
      9. The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant
      10. Why Honor Matters by Tamler Sommers
      11. Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy by Jonah Goldberg
      12. NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman
      13. The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe
      14. Burn Me Deadly by Alex Bledsoe
      15. Dark Jenny by Alex Bledsoe
      16. Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility by James. P. Carse
      17. The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord (black Barbadian woman)
      18. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (African-American woman)
      19. I Should Have Honor: A Memoir of Hope and Pride in Pakistan by Khalida Brohi (Pakistani Muslim woman)
      20. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (caucasian transgender woman)
      21. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (caucasian lesbian woman)
      22. A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers (caucasian lesbian woman)
      23. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (caucasian woman)
      24. Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray (caucasian woman)
      25. A Million Worlds with You by Claudia Gray (caucasian woman)

      Breakdown

      Format:
      • Audiobooks: 16
        • Audio courses: 1
      • Kindle: 5
      • Dead tree books: 7
      Subjects:
      • Total Fiction: 13
        • Science Fiction: 8
        • Fantasy: 5
        • Non-Fiction: 12
          • Science: 3
            • Physics: 1
            • Psychology: 2
          • Religion: 2
          • History: 5
          • Politics: 7
          • Business/Economics: 1
          • Philosophy: 5
        These numbers don't quite match up, because some books cover multiple areas, and so I've included them in all relevant categories. So, for example, a book on free will would fall in both Psychology and Philosophy (and possibly even Religion) categories. And a book on Politics might drift enough into the realm of Philsophy (or vice versa) that I count them as both, or both might explore enough historical groundwork that I feel the need to include it as a History book.

        Similarly, some books I read using Whispersynch-for-Voice to jump between the Amazon Kindle and Audible audiobook versions of the books, so they got double-counted in the format section if I read them in both formats. I've also included The Great Courses audios that I listen to through Audible.com. Though not actually books, I figure that a 10+ hour course on a subject contains about the same informational content, if not presented structurally in quite the same way as it would take in a written book.

        Podcasts

        In addition to listening to audiobooks, my intake of thinking consists enough of podcasts that it seems worth including them as a category. Here are the podcasts that I have listened to in 2018 on a fairly regular basis:

        • Writing Excuses
        • You Are Not So Smart
        • Waking Up Podcast with Sam Harris
        • History of Philosophy
        • History of Africana Philosophy
        • Talk Nerdy with Cara Santa Maria
        • Very Bad Wizards
        • What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law
        • The Lawfare Podcast
        • The Cyberlaw Podcast
        • Rational Security
        • The Phil Ferguson Show
        • Hidden Brain
        • Stuff You Should Know
        • Stuff to Blow Your Mind
        The History

        And for anyone who is interested in looking into the past to see some of my previous book lists...
        Prior to 2008, I didn't keep a precise running record of the books that I read.

        Monday, September 03, 2018

        Initial Thoughts and Reflections: Suicide of the West by Jonah Goldberg

        Regardless of political affiliation or inclination, I sincerely wish that we could have a national book club where everyone was encouraged to read Jonah Goldberg's Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy.

        It took me the better part of the summer to get through it. This is not because of any flaw in the book, nor is it difficult to get through on any level. It's actively engaging and entertaining, in fact, despite the serious subject matter. No, the delay is entirely on me. First, I am busy. Second, and probably more importantly, the book was one that I definitely wanted to deeply engage with. Therefore, rather than getting the book on Audible and listening to it, I actually wanted to read the book, with a notebook near me for writing down quotes or thoughts and observations as I went.

        Aside: This is definitely not a slam on audiobooks. I dearly love the format, and find it a great way to engage with a lot of my information intake these days ... but since I specifically listen to audiobooks when doing other things, it does not facilitate careful notetaking and reflection on the subject matter in the way that reading can. Reflection while reading is automatic, because you must consciously proceed to follow the author's flow of words, and the internal voice takes precedent. Reflection while listening, on the other hand, requires the active step of pausing the flow of the author's words (or ignoring their continued flow, at least) in order to reflect on your reaction to them. For comparison, while I very interested to read James Comey's Higher Loyalty, I felt no need to take careful notes on it, so an audiobook was a perfectly appropriate format ... and I finished it in a couple of days of listening, as I drove around town, did laundry, etc. Nor, for that matter, did I find 
        I imagine that there is a world in which I would have read Suicide of the West and been very convinced that the biases and assumptions with which President Hillary Clinton is running America are probably dangerous and troubling. I dearly wish that we lived in such a world.

        Goldberg's central thesis is focused on portraying admiration for something he refers to as "the Miracle" - which is, generally speaking, the Enlightenment and the subsequent growth of plurality, secular society, democracy, and capitalism - and expressing the concern that the tribalism, populism, nationalism, and identity politics of the title put those features of our society at risk.

        Goldberg began work on the book prior to the 2016 election, so the transformation in his understanding of the thesis as he watched his own conservative party get taken over by a form of rampant nationalist populism is intriguing to witness. The book is a coherent, well-edited whole, so you don't see the gradual transformation take place as you move from page 1 to the final page, while Goldberg realizes that his own house is far from in order. No, instead, the tone throughout consistently recognizes that everyone is subject to these foibles of human nature.

        Despite the fact that I no doubt am much more willing to give the state a free hand in trying to help people out than Goldberg is inclined to, I found very little in his criticism of this approach - or, indeed, in most of the arguments in his book - to take issue with. For the issues he brings up, if our concerns were placed a scale of 1 to 10, I'd imagine that in general we'd be off by a point or two here or there.

        Intriguingly, one of the claims that he makes that I most took issue with was the following quote:
        Indeed, as much as I hold Trump in contempt, I am still compelled to admit that, if my vote would have decided the election, I probably would have voted for him.
        I am certainly not disagreeing that this is how Goldberg would have felt compelled, but given his own arguments, I am definitely disagreeing that this is how he should have felt compelled.  Even given all of his concerns about the statism and over-reliance on regulation embodied by the Obama administration, which would certainly have continued under a Clinton administration, by his own metrics there should not have been no contest that Clinton was the better choice.

        There are a ton of arguments that I could make why Clinton wasn't as big a danger to America's values and "the Miracle" as Trump is, but let's focus on Goldberg's own points here.

        At one point, he quotes some of Clinton's comments, such saying that Islam has "nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism," pointing out that she "painted with a broad brush in a single color and so did Trump." But there are two differences here, and both are ones that Goldberg is trying to highlight and then ignoring in the case of Clinton.

        First is the nature of the "broad brush in a single color" being used. Clinton's comment is made in an attempt to demonstrate respect to good Muslim people, and to re-affirm (if incorrectly) that American society has a place for them and that Americans would to well to welcome and embrace them as a whole. This is 100% in accord with the arguments that Goldberg himself makes throughout the book.

        Trump's comments about Mexico sending us their rapists and banning all Muslims, on the other hand, paints "with a broad brush in a single color" that is specifically at odds with the very American values that Goldberg is admirably defending.

        Second is what this rhetoric covers up. Here, admittedly, Goldberg may well disagree with me, but I see absolutely no reason to believe that Clinton doesn't know that she was painting with a broad brush in a single color. Yes, she was making a rhetorically excessive statement in support of a higher principle (inclusiveness for peaceful Muslims), but in practice is there any reason to believe that this would inhibit her ability to implement security procedures when acting as President of the United States? Is Goldberg suggesting that she does not actually understand that there is a connection between Islam and terrorism that has to be considered by the intelligence and security communities?

        Trump, on the other hand, seems to believe his rhetorical excesses about Muslims to quite a significant degree ... both in the moment he's making them, and when called out on them. There's nothing in his subsequent comments to really make it clear that he understands the differences between Islam and terrorism, or between dangerous and peaceful illegal immigrants for that matter.

        Toward the end of the book Goldberg identifies the key elements of conservatism as twofold: Ideas matter and character matters. As flawed as Hillary's ideas and character may have been, on both of these accounts that Goldberg clearly values, she has to be held up as superior to Trump. Indeed, of the two candidates, by this metric (and many others) she was actually more fundamentally conservative than Trump actually was (or is).

        All of this, of course, is to parse hairs over inconsequential differences. Goldberg's book, even when I disagreed with it, forced me to be far more critical of my assumptions and how different rhetoric that sounds good resonates through our society. Hell, he even convinced me that if I were to watch one of my favorite movies as a teenager, Dead Poet's Society, I would probably find that it is no longer appealing to my adult sensibilities.

        And being forced to confront the flaws of one's own assumptions is, I think, the best that one can ever expect to get from a book.

        Monday, January 01, 2018

        2017 Book List

        End of the year, so time for my annual accounting of books consumed for 2017!

        The 2017 Book List
        1. The Speech by Bernie Sanders
        2. Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal
        3. Over Your Dead Body by Dan Wells
        4. The Dictator's Handbook by Alastair Smith & Bruce Bueno de Mesquita
        5. Witch: A Tale of Terror by Charles McKay (read by Sam Harris)
        6. Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
        7. Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty
        8. The Daily Show: An Oral History (the Audiobook) by Chris Smith
        9. On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt
        10. Hamilton: The Revolution by Jeremy McCarter
        11. On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder
        12. Pathfinder Tales: Gears of Faith by Gabrielle Harbowy
        13. Convictions: How I Learned What Mattered Most by Marcus Borg
        14. The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein
        15. Keynes/Hayek by Nicholas Wapshott
        16. Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them by Joshua Greene
        17. The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance by Ben Sas
        18. Rise of the Dungeon Master: Gary Gygax and the Creation of D&D by David Kushner and Koren Shadmi (graphic novel)
        19. Nothing Left to Lose by Dan Wells
        20. Writing the Other: A Practical Approach by Nisi Shawl & Cynthia Ward
        21. Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an: Islam and the Founders by Denise A. Spellberg
        22. The Atheist Muslim by Ali A. Rizvi
        23. The Social Conquest of Earth by E.O. Wilson
        24. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
        25. Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek by Manu Saadia
        26. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
        27. Verbal Judo, Updated Edition by Pam Thompson
        28. Bluescreen by Dan Wells
        29. This Fight is Our Fight by Elizabeth Warren
        30. Extreme Makeover: Apocalypse Edition by Dan Wells
        31. Speak Easy by Catherynne M. Valente
        Breakdown

        Format:
        • Audiobooks: 14
          • Audio courses: 
        • Kindle: 8
        • Dead tree books: 9
        Subjects:
        • Total Fiction: 8
          • Classics: 1 
          • Science Fiction: 2
            • Young Adult: 1
          • Fantasy: 5
        • Non-Fiction: 20
          • Science: 3
            • Physics: 
            • Psychology: 3
            • Biology: 1
            • Technology: 
            • Math/Statistics: 
          • Religion: 7
          • History: 12
          • Politics: 9
          • Education: 3
          • Business/Economics: 7
          • Philosophy: 5
          • Humor: 2
          • Writing/Creativity: 3
        These numbers don't quite match up, because some books cover multiple areas, and so I've included them in all relevant categories. So, for example, a book on free will would fall in both Psychology and Philosophy (and possibly even Religion) categories.

        Similarly, some books I read using Whispersynch-for-Voice to jump between the Amazon Kindle and Audible audiobook versions of the books, so they got double-counted in the format section if I read them in both formats. I've also included The Great Courses audios that I listen to through Audible.com. Though not actually books, I figure that a 10+ hour course on a subject contains about the same informational content, if not presented structurally in quite the same way as it would take in a written book.

        The History

        And for anyone who is interested in looking into the past to see some of my previous book lists...
        Prior to 2008, I didn't keep a precise running record of the books that I read.

        Tuesday, January 17, 2017

        Open Letter on Secretary DeVos' Nomination

        This morning I called Indiana Senator Todd Young. I was kicked to voicemail, presumably with the staff overburdened with calls related to things that came up over the weekend. Young is on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions, so I wanted to speak with him regarding the confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. Not able to get through, I left a quick message expressing that I'd like to be contacted to give my concerns.

        Since I wasn't able to speak with anyone, I jotted down my thoughts here:

        Today President-elect Trump's Secretary of Education pick, Betsy DeVos, is having a confirmation hearing. I have worked in the educational field for nearly twenty years, first in Detroit with a non-profit math enrichment program and then in the educational publishing industry, working with the testing company CTB for a decade. I have an undergraduate degree in physics and a Master's in Mathematics Education, and I have worked with more than a half-dozen states on developing, designing, and writing their mathematics assessments, including two national assessments: the TASC high school equivalency test and the Smarter Balanced Coalition test. For the last two years, I have been working self-employed as a freelancer in educational publishing, with the majority of work that supports me and my family being with testing companies and textbook companies. 
        I have two concerns regarding Mrs. DeVos as a potential Secretary of Education.  
        First, she seems to be singularly unqualified. She has made statements that make it clear she does not understand educational policy, specifically the Common Core. And when I say she "does not understand," I don't mean that I disagree with her stance on the issue or her conclusion ... I mean that her rhetoric has made it clear that she is fundamentally confused about some of the basic facts related to the defining educational policy of the last 6 years. She appears to think that "local control" means "eliminating the Common Core," but any state that is utilizing the Common Core is doing so because it has chosen to. An educational policy of "eliminating the Common Core" means coming in and imposing federal educational restrictions on the states. It is not clear that she understands this crucial distinction. I would hope that questioning during the confirmation hearing can help clarify her thinking on whether her objective is "returning local control" or "eliminating the Common Core," because you can't do both.  
        Nor, for that matter, is it necessarily good policy to do so. Indiana, for example, voted to get rid of the Common Core for partisan political reasons, and had to go through the expense of developing a new set of state standards ... which, not surprisingly, are really just superficial cosmetic changes to the Common Core. The vast majority of the Common Core was retained in the new Indiana standards. I don't complain about this too much, as part of my work over the last year has been working on a math textbook that is designed for the Indiana standards, but as a citizen and taxpayer in Indiana I wish they had just stuck with the Common Core. 
        My second concern is that Mrs. DeVos was the head of the All Children Matter PAC, as I understand it. That being the case, I feel that anyone in the committee, or in the Senate, who has received money from that PAC (or from DeVos personally) should recuse themselves from voting on this nomination. Or, at the very least, she should be asked about which Senators she has given money to in the past. 
        I'll admit, I have not been particularly political in the past, prior to seeing what happened in this election. Maybe it is normal in Washington for active lobbyists to be appointed to Cabinet-level positions, but mixed with her bizarre lack of educational qualifications and my extensive experience in the field, I find this really a problematic nomination. 
        I am not opposed to school choice. I've taught in charter schools in Detroit. I have sent my son to both private and charter schools in the Anderson area, though ultimately we found that the public schools have been a much better fit. I do not oppose school choice, but anyone who is going to support school choice in the role of Secretary of Education has to be committed, first and foremost, to maintaining a quality educational standard in our public education system. Mrs. DeVos does not appear to have demonstrated that commitment.

        NOTE: Due to morning brain, I accidentally called Mrs. DeVos "Senator DeVos" in the original title. I've fixed the title, but it's obviously still incorrect in the link. And, of course, since she isn't yet confirmed, calling her even "Secretary DeVos" is a bit premature, but seemed appropriate anyway. So I know all of that ... the e-mails can stop now.

        Saturday, December 31, 2016

        2016 Books Read

        End of the year, so time for my annual accounting of books consumed for 2016!

        The 2016 Book List
        1. Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe by Lisa Randall
        2. This Will Make You Smarter by John Brockman
        3. The Koran
        4. A Night of Blacker Darkness by Dan Wells
        5. Sworn in Steel by Douglas Hulick
        6. Procrastinate on Purpose by Rory Vaden
        7. Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills (The Great Courses) by Professor Stephen Novella
        8. Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
        9. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
        10. The Higgs Boson and Beyond (The Great Courses) by Sean Carroll
        11. Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology by Kentaro Toyama
        12. Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford
        13. The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross
        14. Common Sense by Thomas Paine
        15. The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World (The Great Courses) by Prof. Robert Garland
        16. Revisionary by Jim C. Hines
        17. Chupacabra's Song by Jim C. Hines
        18. Quantum Night by Robert J. Sawyer
        19. Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft
        20. The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome by Susan Wise Bauer
        21. You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day
        22. Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord
        23. There Was No Jesus, There Is No God by Raphael Lataster
        24. The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems ... And Create More by Luke Dormehl
        25. Jesus Did Not Exist: A Debate Among Atheists by Raphael Lataster w/ Richard Carrier
        26. Did Jesus Exist: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth by Bart Ehrman
        27. Answers to Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to a More Meaningful Life by Massimo Pigliucci
        28. The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself by Sean Carroll
        29. The Ark: Children of the Dead Earth (Book One) by Patrick S. Tomlinson
        30. Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo by Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence
        31. Trident's Forge: Children of the Dead (Book Two) by Patrick S. Tomlinson
        32. Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior by Bart Ehrman
        33. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
        34. The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
        35. The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
        36. Extraordinary Zoology: Tales from the Monsternomicon, vol. 1 by Howard Tayler
        37. Mr. Monster by Dan Wells
        38. I Don't Want to Kill You by Dan Wells
        39. Partials by Dan Wells
        40. The Devil's Only Friend by Dan Wells
        41. Necessity by Jo Walton
        42. Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Help Others, Do Work That Matters, and Make Smart Choices About Giving Back by William MacAskill
        43. The Lady Astronaut Club by Mary Robinette Kowal (beta reader of draft edition)
        44. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (with commentary by Steven Barnes) (re-read)
        45. How Great Science Fiction Works (The Great Courses) by Prof. Gary K. Wolfe
        46. Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi
        Breakdown

        Format:
        • Audiobooks: 26
          • Audio courses: 4
        • Kindle: 13
          • Kindle shorts: 1
        • Google Docs: 1
        • Dead tree books: 6
        Subjects:
        • Total Fiction: 22
          • Classics: 2
          • Science Fiction: 8
            • Young Adult: 2
          • Fantasy: 13
            • Horror: 3
        • Non-Fiction: 25
          • Science: 9
            • Physics: 3
            • Psychology: 1
            • Biology: 3
            • Technology: 4
            • Math/Statistics: 1
          • Religion: 8
          • History: 8
          • Politics: 5
          • Education: 1
          • Economics: 5
          • Business: 6
          • Philosophy: 7
          • Humor: 2
          • Writing/Creativity: 2
        These numbers don't quite match up, because some books cover multiple areas, and so I've included them in all relevant categories. So, for example, a book on free will would fall in both Psychology and Philosophy (and possibly even Religion) categories.

        Similarly, some books I read using Whispersynch-for-Voice to jump between the Amazon Kindle and Audible audiobook versions of the books, so they got double-counted in the format section. I've also included The Great Courses audios that I listen to through Audible.com. Though not actually books, I figure that a 10+ hour course on a subject contains about the same informational content, if not presented structurally in quite the same way as it would take in a written book.

        The History

        And for anyone who is interested in looking into the past to see some of my previous book lists...
        Prior to 2008, I didn't keep a precise running record of the books that I read.