Saturday, December 9, 2017

What are you reading: December 9, 2017

Here is what I am reading now.  Share what you are reading in comments.

That's what I'm reading.  What are you reading?

Book review: Black Flagged Alpha by Steven Konkoly

Black Flagged Alpha by Stephen Konkily is the first in the "Black Flag" series about a group of super-secret rogue agents of a subgroup of the CIA. It's a good example of the sub-genre of agents, spies, violence and conspiracies.

The protagonist, Daniel Petrovich, had retired. Black Flag Alpha starts when he is recalled to duty in order to kill someone. From there, the action never stops and there are twists and more twists that will keep you turning the pages.

One thing I found annoying is the careless use of language.  It's not so much that the book isn't grammatical, it mostly is fine on that score. But it could have used some more editing.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Book review: A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett

A Hat Full of Sky is the second book in the Tiffany Aching series that begins with The Wee Free Men. Tiffany is now 11 years old and has become a sort of apprentice witch to Miss Level. Miss Level is very interesting, mostly because she has two bodies. She encounters a lot of other witches from the sublime to the ridiculous (Granny Weatherwax to Annagramma) and has to fight the Hiver, an insidious beast that infects people's brains and amplifies all their worst impulses.

I didn't like this one quite as much as the Wee Free Men; the hiver was not as satisfying an enemy as the Queen. But it's still very good, both wise and funny. You should definitely read the Tiffany Aching series in order.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Some new words: The under words

There are some words we need but don't have.  One set of these are the opposite of words starting in over-.  Some of these do exist.  The opposite of overestimate is underestimate, just as an example.

But what about:

  • Underslept - which is the opposite of overslept.  As in "I'm sorry I'm so tired but I underslept last night". 
  • Undereat - "How did you lose weight?" "I underate."
  • Underanalyze - "Why didn't you understand what I meant instead of just what I said?"  "I guess I underanalyzed it, sorry.
  • "Overcapable" means too capable.  But, right now, a lot of people think we have a president who is undercapable.
  •  "How do you always have so much free time?"  "I undercommit myself".
What other under words do we need?

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Interesting words: Bibulous

Bibulous is an adjective that, according to Merriam Webster, means:

1 : highly absorbent
2 a : fond of alcoholic beverages
b : of, relating to, or marked by the consumption of alcoholic beverages

I admit to never having seen the first usage, it seems to mainly be used in medical literature.

It's been used in English for quite a while; according to the Online Etymology Dictionary it was first used in the 1670s and comes from Latin bibulous meaning "drinking readily". It's a pretty rare word, occurring just 1 in about 24,000,000 words per Ngram viewer (for instance, "drunk" occurs once in every 90,000 words) but I think it's highly useful.

(image from By Achim Raschka (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Book review: Escape Clause by John Sandford

Escape Clause is the latest in the Virgil Flowers series and readers of that series will like this book.  However, you don't need to have read the series to enjoy this one.

In Escape Clause, Flowers, a police officer in Minnesota, is dealing with two problems: First, someone has stolen two rare tigers from the zoo. Second, his girlfriend's sister is investigating the abuse of undocumented workers and is getting harassed.  Flowers deals with both issues, but not without a bunch of violence and plot twists.

I still prefer the Lucas Davenport series by the same author, but this series is very enjoyable.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

What are you reading? 12/2/17

Here is what I am reading now.  Share what you are reading in comments.

  • A New History of Western Philosophy by Anthony Kenny. This is a very good history of the subject, well written and clear.  Kenny follows an unusual strategy in that he takes two approaches: He first covers each era in a more-or-less chronological order, then he looks at the big topics of that era in a systematic way.  I am on p. 187.
  • The Great Formal Machinery Works: Theories of Deduction and Computation at the Origins of the Digital Age by Jan van Plato.  An examination of formal logic and computation.  I am on p. 69.
  • High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery that Challenges Everything you Know About Drugs and Society by Carl Hart. Why everything you know (or thought you knew) about illicit drugs is wrong. I am on p. 119. 
  • Breaking Point by Jefferson Bass, which is part of a series of crime novels about  the Body Farm in Tennessee. I finished it and reviewed it.
  • I started and finished The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett, which introduces one of my favorite characters: Tiffany Aching.  My review
  • I started the next book in the Tiffany Aching series: A Hat Full of Sky I am on p. 119.
  • A Column of Fire by Ken Follett, which is a novel set in Elizabethan times. I am on p. 138 but I will probably stop, I am not enjoying it so much.
  • I finished Out of the Shadow of a Giant: Hooke, Halley and the Birth of Science by John and Mary Gribbin.  My review.
  • I started The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley. An old fashioned detective yarn.  I am on p. 52.
  • I started Lenin by Viktor Sebestyen.  So far, it's very good. I am on p. 133. 
  • I started Escape Clause by John Sandford.  The latest in the Virgil Flowers series.  Good stuff. I am on p. 145.

That's what I'm reading.  What are you reading?