Friday, August 29, 2014

Mahon, Basil. The Man Who Changed Everything. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, 2003. ISBN 978-0-470-86171-4. In the 19th century, science in general and physics in particular grew up, assuming their modern form which is still recognisable today. At the start of the century, the word “scientist” was not yet in use, and the natural philosophers of the time were often amateurs. University research in the sciences, particularly in Britain, was rare. Those working in the sciences were often occupied by cataloguing natural phenomena, and apart from Newton's monumental achievements, few people focussed on discovering mathematical laws to explain the...

Read more...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Lowe, Keith. Savage Continent. New York: Picador, [2012] 2013. ISBN 978-1-250-03356-7. On May 8th, 1945, World War II in Europe formally ended when the Allies accepted the unconditional surrender of Germany. In popular myth, especially among those too young to have lived through the war and its aftermath, the defeat of Italy and Germany ushered in, at least in Western Europe not occupied by Soviet troops, a period of rebuilding and rapid economic growth, spurred by the Marshall Plan. The French refer to the three decades from 1945 to 1975 as Les Trente Glorieuses. But that isn't what actually happened,...

Read more...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Thor, Brad. Black List. New York: Pocket Books, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4391-9302-0. This is the twelfth in the author's Scot Harvath series, which began with The Lions of Lucerne (October 2010). Brad Thor has remarked in interviews that he strives to write thrillers which anticipate headlines which will break after their publication, and with this novel he hits a grand slam. Scot Harvath is ambushed in Paris by professional killers who murder a member of his team. After narrowly escaping, he goes to ground and covertly travels to a remote region in Basque country where he has trusted friends. He is then...

Read more...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Long, Rob. Conversations with My Agent (and Set Up, Joke, Set Up, Joke). London: Bloomsbury Publishing, [1996, 2005] 2014. ISBN 978-1-4088-5583-6. Hollywood is a strange place, where the normal rules of business, economics, and personal and professional relationships seem to have been suspended. When he arrived in Hollywood in 1930, P. G. Wodehouse found the customs and antics of its denizens so bizarre that he parodied them in a series of hilarious stories. After a year in Hollywood, he'd had enough and never returned. When Rob Long arrived in Hollywood to attend UCLA film school, the television industry was on...

Read more...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Patterson, William H., Jr. Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century. Vol. 1 New York: Tor Books, 2010. ISBN 978-0-765-31960-9. Robert Heinlein came from a family who had been present in America before there were the United States, and whose members had served in all of the wars of the Republic. Despite being thin, frail, and with dodgy eyesight, he managed to be appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy where, despite demerits for being a hellion, he graduated and was commissioned as a naval officer. He was on the track to a naval career when felled by tuberculosis (which...

Read more...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tuchman, Barbara W. The Guns of August. New York: Presidio Press, [1962, 1988, 1994] 2004. ISBN 978-0-345-47609-8. One hundred years ago the world was on the brink of a cataclysmic confrontation which would cause casualties numbered in the tens of millions, destroy the pre-existing international order, depose royalty and dissolve empires, and plant the seeds for tyrannical regimes and future conflicts with an even more horrific toll in human suffering. It is not exaggeration to speak of World War I as the pivotal event of the 20th century, since so much that followed can be viewed as sequelæ which can...

Read more...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I have posted an update to my trigonometry-intense floating point benchmark which adds Lua to the list of languages in which the benchmark is implemented. A new release of the benchmark collection including Lua is now available for downloading. Lua was developed with the intention of being a small-footprint scripting language which could be easily embedded in applications. Despite this design goal, which it has achieved superbly, being widely adopted as the means of extensibility for numerous games and applications, it is a remarkably sophisticated language, with support for floating point, complex data structures, object oriented programming, and functional programming....

Read more...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I have just posted the first update to Atlast since 2007. Atlast is a FORTH-like language toolkit intended to make it easy to open the internal facilities of applications to users, especially on embedded platforms with limited computing and memory resources. Like FORTH, Atlast provides low-level access to the memory architecture of the machine on which it runs, and is sensitive to the length of data objects. The 1.x releases of Atlast assume integers and pointers are 32 bit quantities and floating point numbers are 64 bit, occupying two stack items. This assumption is no longer the case when building...

Read more...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Mankins, John C. The Case for Space Solar Power. Houston: Virginia Edition, 2014. ISBN 978-0-9913370-0-2. As world population continues to grow and people in the developing world improve their standard of living toward the level of residents of industrialised nations, demand for energy will increase enormously. Even taking into account anticipated progress in energy conservation and forecasts that world population will reach a mid-century peak and then stabilise, the demand for electricity alone is forecasted to quadruple in the century from 2000 to 2100. If electric vehicles shift a substantial part of the energy consumed for transportation from hydrocarbon fuels...

Read more...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rickards, James. The Death of Money. New York: Portfolio / Penguin, 2014. ISBN 978-1-591-84670-3. In his 2011 book Currency Wars (November 2011), the author discusses what he sees as an inevitable conflict among fiat currencies for dominance in international trade as the dollar, debased as a result of profligate spending and assumption of debt by the government that issues it, is displaced as the world's preeminent trading and reserve currency. With all currencies backed by nothing more than promises made by those who issue them, the stage is set for a race to the bottom: one government weakens its currency to obtain short-term...

Read more...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

All 25 of the public domain Tom Swift novels have been posted in the Tom Swift and His Pocket Library collection. I am now returning to the earlier novels, upgrading them to use the more modern typography of those I've done in the last few years. The third novel in the series, Tom Swift and His Airship, has now been updated. Several typographical errors in the original edition have been corrected, and Unicode text entities are used for special characters such as single and double quotes and dashes. An EPUB edition of this novel is now available which may be...

Read more...

Monday, June 16, 2014

I have posted an update to my trigonometry-intense floating point benchmark which adds Erlang to the list of languages in which the benchmark is implemented. A new release of the benchmark collection including Erlang is now available for downloading. The Erlang programming language was originally developed by the Swedish telecommunication equipment manufacturer Ericsson. Its name is simultaneously a reference to the unit of circuit load used in circuit-switched communication systems, the Danish engineer after whom the unit is named, and an abbreviation for “Ericsson Language”. While originally a proprietary Ericsson product for in-house use, in 1998 the language and software...

Read more...

Friday, June 13, 2014

I have posted an update to my trigonometry-intense floating point benchmark which adds Simula to the list of languages in which the benchmark is implemented. A new release of the benchmark collection including Simula is now available for downloading. Simula may be the most significant computer language of which you've never heard. In the 1960s, it introduced almost all of the essential concepts of object oriented programming: classes, inheritance, virtual procedures, and included facilities for discrete event simulation. Memory management includes dynamic storage allocation and garbage collection. When programming in Simula, one has the sense of using a computer language...

Read more...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Geraghty, Jim. The Weed Agency. New York: Crown Forum, 2014. ISBN 978-0-7704-3652-0. During the Carter administration, the peanut farmer become president, a man very well acquainted with weeds, created the Agency of Invasive Species (AIS) within the Department of Agriculture to cope with the menace. Well, not really—the agency which occupies centre stage in this farce is fictional but, as the author notes in the preface, the Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds, the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, the Federal Interagency Committee on Invasive Terrestrial Animals and Pathogens, and the National Invasive Species Council...

Read more...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Coppley, Jackson. Tales From Our Near Future. Seattle: CreateSpace, 2014. ISBN 978-1-4961-2851-5. I am increasingly convinced that the 2020s will be a very interesting decade. As computing power continues its inexorable exponential growth (and there is no reason to believe this growth will abate, except in the aftermath of economic and/or societal collapse), more and more things which seemed absurd just a few years before will become commonplace—consider self-driving cars. This slim book (142 pages in the print edition) collects three unrelated stories set in this era. In each, the author envisions a “soft take-off” scenario rather than the sudden...

Read more...


Powered by MovableType 4.23-en