Tag Archives: books


“Parasite Rex”

Parasite Rex (LOC, Amazon) by Carl Zimmer was a great read. I never really got a good introduction to parasites in my previous studies in biology, so I was greatly enlightened about their vast diversity and importance to life on earth. I was particularly struck by the new view of evolution that one gets when considering the intertwined life-cycles of parasites and their hosts.

Not surprisingly, it’s full of descriptions of processes that’ll make the worms under your skin crawl, so don’t bother if you’re squeamish about that. I have to admit that I (not very squeamish) felt a bit itchy when reading it, at times… All in good fun, though.

Here’s a parasite story on Zimmer’s blog that gives you a taste of some of the stories in the book.


Flow and Refactoring

Those being the names of two books I’m reading now. I like it when two things I’m reading, from different fields and for different purposes, turn out to have a nice connection.

It sorta struck me when Fowler mentioned “not once did I have to open the debugger, so the process actually flowed quite quickly”, that, yeah, there does seem to be a connection between flow and refactoring in a general sense.

With any complex project, there are multiple competing concerns. For example, in writing software, I want the functionality, but I also want a clean architecture, good performance, multi-platform capability, etc. With a document, I want clarity, completeness, cleverness, alliteration, etc. But due to limitations of brain-context-capacity, varying interest levels, and compounded complexity, it’s rarely possible to keep all these concerns going simultaneously. And swapping between them all the time can wreaks havoc with the potential for flow.

Given that, one can look at refactoring as a way to profitably resequence work. If I can’t fulfill all the concerns at the same time, I’ll just focus on slapping down something that works, forgetting for the moment all the other stuff. Then, one by one or two by two, I can go back and refactor in the other concerns, as time and interests permit. Beyond simply enabling me to get past the block of “I can’t do it all, so I shouldn’t start at all”, I can also match my work to my capacity and have some chance of getting a flow state going.


“Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia”

Speaking of books I’ve been reading: in tandem with “The Google Story”, I’ve been taking random dips into Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia. It’s a lot of fun and is giving me all sorts of new clues as to how to be a better me. Mixing the reading of the two books was a good thing, too.

I won’t bother ‘reviewing’ it for you. Take a look at Rob Brezsny’s site for excerpts from and more info on the book, and a bunch of other stuff. If what you see doesn’t register as “crazy” or “terrifying” to you, then proceed to the book.


“The Google Story”

Just read The Google Story. If you’re fascinated by Google from a technological, financial, or entrepreneurial perspective, it’s worth a read.

It’s clear that the authors really like Google, Larry and Sergey, so if you want ‘balance’, look elsewhere as well (clues for further research are provided).

To me, it’s a pretty inspiring yet somewhat sobering look at the process of taking a big idea and realizing it in a big way. I see lots of little lessons about things to try and not try, and ways to get away with pissing off the established order via execution of compelling ideas.


Economic readin’

I’ve been reading an economic anthology, “The Economic Nature of the Firm” that’s far more interesting than I first guessed it would be. Economics is another case of how school can ruin someone’s appreciation of a subject; I never thought, from my Econ courses, that economics was actually interesting, ya know?

This book is giving me more to like about the study of economics, and is giving me insights into what firms are, why they exist, why they maybe shouldn’t exist, how I can fit in as an individual entrepreneur, etc. Fun.