May 1, 2011
I’m heading off to Mexico in less than 12 hours for a week during which I hope to disconnect : no email, web, or phone. I guess I’ll miss the majority of the post-Bin Laden news cycle. In the meantime, here are some more links because I am too lazy to post content.
Speaking of 9/11, this is simply terrible.
An interview with George Saunders, one of my favorite authors.
Blackwell’s proof of Wald’s Identity, as told by Max.
Long pepper looks fascinating and tasty!
Can Voter ID Laws Be Administered in a Race-Neutral Manner? The short answer is no. The longer answer is a 30 page paper.
Frank has blogger about our trip last weekend to The 2nd 8th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational. My arteries may never be the same again.
There are no more typewriter factories. This makes me especially sad, as I have a 1914 Underwood No. 5 that I love (and lug).
February 22, 2011
So one of the stories that circulated during the EVT/WOTE workshop last summer revolved around a presentation given by Ron Rivest at a special workshop on Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) in which he compared online voting to drunk driving. Today I saw that he has in fact posted the slides. Why the fuss? Apparently the default solution was to conduct voting for military personnel posted in say, Afghanistan, via the internet. There are a raft of security issues with this, as outlined in the slides. They are pretty amusing, except when you realize that they will probably do the voting over the internet thing anyway.
February 13, 2011
The Solitudes (John Crowley) – The first book in the Aegypt Cycle, as recommended by Max. This book really blew my mind. I don’t really see it as “fantasy” but an expansive meditation on memory and history. It’s the first book in a 4-part series, and I’m looking forward to finishing the rest of the cycle.
Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Mae M. Ngai) – a fascinating scholarly history of the idea of the “illegal immigrant” that provides a much needed context for our contemporary debate on the subject. Ngai shows how recent our notions of citizenship and immigration are vie the history of the debates and revisions of statues from the 19th and 20th centuries. Highly recommended.
The Toughest Indian in the World (Sherman Alexie) – a collection of short stories by one of the most famous contemporary Indian novelists. It surprised me and shocked me at times, but some of the stories and images really stuck with me. I haven’t read Alexie’s other collections so I don’t know how it compares.
The Human Use of Human Beings (Norbert Wiener) – Wiener’s general-audience book on cybernetics has lots of gems that I’ve been blogging here and there. I found it interesting because at the time his ideas were somewhat new, and now they either seem antiquated or have been absorbed into out “default” view of things.
Absurdistan (Gary Shteyngart) – A madcap farce involving a massively overweight and fabulously wealthy Russian Jew trying to muddle his way through a massively dysfunctional Central Asian nation. It’s over the top and some readers may not enjoy the narrator’s neuroses, but it was pretty funny, if raw.
Numbers Rule (George Szpiro) – This is another book on the history of voting and electoral apportioning schemes. Szpiro takes us chapter-by-chapter through famous figures in the history of voting — from Ramon Llull through the Marquis de Condorcet and Charles Dodgson to Kenneth Arrow. A very entertaining read, if less of a page-turner than Poundstone’s book. The sections on choosing the number of representatives for each state in the House is pretty fascinating.