May 8th, 2007

books

Book dump: April 2007

These are the books I read in April. A slow month! I did re-read some Robert Crais novels though, so it's not like I wasn't reading at all.

Drama! The Four Dorothys by Paul Ruditis
This is not a good book, which is a shame, because it was a pretty good idea for a book. The biggest problem is that it's framed as a mystery, but it's an utterly ineffective one, because the characters spend the entire book talking about how the most obvious suspect was probably responsible for the mysterious goings-on, only to have the most obvious subject revealed as the guilty party. That's not the most effective way to write a mystery. I also want to point out that the cover is a fairly transparent attempt to capitalize on the popularity of High School Musical. That's just an observation, not a criticism, but I will say that the movie was more entertaining than this book, which should tell you something.
 
Vinnie's Head by Marc Lecard
A comic caper in the tradition of Donald E. Westlake or Carl Hiaasen. Certain twists are not hard to predict, but Lecard does manage a few surprises along the way, so all in all it balances out.
 
Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software by Scott Rosenberg
I'm not a programmer, but I worked closely with programmers for a couple of years when I was a network engineer for GE in the late 90s, so Rosenberg's study of how and why large-scale software development projects aft gang agley was of particular interest to me. I still vividly remember the disaster that was the East of Chicago Pizza project... Anyway, if you're a programmer or work around them, you'll probably enjoy this book. And don't worry, it's not an overly technical book; you don't need to know anything about programming to understand or enjoy it.
 
Acceptance by Susan Coll
I tend to like academic satires, so naturally I was interested in reading this one. (That it was written by an author whose previous two books I had enjoyed helped.) This one is about the college application process, and it's quite funny.
 
Altruistic Armadillos, Zenlike Zebras: A Menagerie of 100 Favorite Animals by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
A disappointment. I read this expecting to learn lots of interesting facts about different animals, but the author is pretty infiffereuent to facts, preferring instead to focus on relentless attempts to ascribe human emotions to various animals and weird fantasies about friendly eels and praying mantises. His approach to scientific rigor is probably best illustrated by chapter 99, which is about the yeti. On the other hand, I did learn that koalas are prone to contracting chlamydia, so it wasn't a complete waste.
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10-K, 10-B

Ten random things: May 8

Ten beverages manufactured and distributed by the Coca-Cola Company that are unavailable in the United States:

  1. Love Body - Red oolong tea drink available in Japan
  2. Cheers - Fruit-flavoured soft drink available in Philippines
  3. Shizen Plus - Green tea blend available in Thailand
  4. Beat - Citrus-flavored carbonated soft drink available in Mexico
  5. Nalu - Mango-flavored sparkling soft drink available in Belgium, Luxembourg and Netherlands
  6. Valser - Flavored and unflavored bottled water available in Germany, Russia and Switzerland
  7. Frisco - Fruit-flavored carbonated soft drink available in Finland and Lithuania.
  8. Samurai - Fruit-flavored energy drink available in Vietnam.
  9. Hit - Flavoured carbonated soft drink available in Venezuela.
  10. Limca - Lemon-lime-flavored soft drink available in India, Nepal, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Zambia

On this date in 1886, Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton created in a brass kettle in his back yard a tonic intended to stop headaches and calm nervousness. When mixed with ice water and served chilled, it was good, but he soon found it was even better when made with carbonated water, so he started selling it as a fountain drink called Coca-Cola. From such humble beginnings are huge multi-national corporations formed.

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