[ Content | Sidebar ]

Archives for Books

update on working part time

I’ve been working part time (three days a week) for most of a year, so I figure that it’s about time for an update. My top-level take: definitely the right choice. I’m glad I’m not working full time (whether at my current employer or a different employer); but also I’m glad that I’m working a […]

physical experiences of meditation

I’ve been meditating increasingly regularly over the last year or so; first doing standing meditation, but more recently doing seated meditation as well. And, of course, being the person I am, I’ve been reading books about meditation; there were some good book recommendations at the end of this Ezra Klein podcast with Richie Davidson, in […]

not so deliberate practice

I’ve read a couple of books on deliberate practice over the years; I was more or less convinced that there’s something important there, but I also have misgivings about it. So it was interesting to read Range, to get a different take. Range acknowledges that deliberate practice does work, but it works best in certain […]

childhood consciousness

I read Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind a week and a half ago; it’s about psychedelics, and the benefits that apparently come from taking them. And one thing that comes up in that book is the “Default Mode Network”, a pattern of brain activity that Pollan says is correlated with the ego, and […]

code animism

I’ve been infatuated with The Nature of Order and KonMari for a while, in part for the same reason: their emphasis on direct perception. I spend a lot of time in my head, which leads to over-theorizing and over-analyzing; a question like “does this feel more alive?” or “does this bring me joy?” can cut […]

parable of the talents

I’m in the middle of an Octavia Butler reread, and I recently reached the Parable books. Parable of the Sower was, of course, very good: a prompt to think about what it might look like for things to really fall apart, and a book that made me much more uncomfortable this time than it did […]

move your dna

Move Your DNA is the latest book I’ve read in order to try to understand how to move / position my body in a healthy manner, and it’s quite interesting in a way that, I think relates to Kegan’s stages of understanding. Because the main point of the book are that your body, even when […]

attention, joy, connection, and life

I reread The Nature of Order this summer and fall, and I’ve already talked about how the second volume, The Process of Creating Life, has a lot to teach me about to teach me about writing software. The final volume, The Luminous Ground, is more fundamental, more basic, in a mystical way. It’s explicit about […]

how to develop software

All quotes are from The Process of Creating Life, by Christopher Alexander. Emphasis and ellipses as in the original.   The further I went to understand the actual process which had been used to make the tile, the more I realized that it was this process, more than anything, which governs the beauty of the […]

morality play

Single-player narrative games frequently put you on the side of somebody actively fighting for justice: I’m in the middle of Dragon Age: Inquisition right now, for example, and that game has the all-too-familiar RPG plot of a chosen one saving the world. This means means that, of Jane Jacobs’ two moral syndromes from Systems of […]

systems of survival

I’d been feeling insufficiently empathetic recently, like there are a lot of people out there whose belief systems are alien to me; so I decided that it was time to reread Jane Jacobs’s Systems of Survival. It’s an interesting book: its thesis is that, while there are certain concepts that show up more or less […]

glamourist histories

I’ve been going through back issues of Asimov’s on my train ride, and a story by Mary Robinette Kowal caught my eye (Kiss Me Twice (PDF), I suspect?), so I figured I’d give her novels a try. So I started with Shades of Milk and Honey; I’m not familiar enough with relevant genres to be […]

social norms and market norms at work

Reading Predictably Irrational got me thinking again about workplace organization: in particular, the extent to which companies try to set up the employer/employee relationship as a primarily social relationship instead of as a primarily market-driven relationship. And, of course, it’s both: work involves people interacting together over a long period of time, but work also […]

the moirin trilogy

The last time I read Kushiel’s Legacy, only the first two trilogies had been published. Since then, there’s been a third trilogy, and I wasn’t optimistic about it: I’ve read way too many fantasy or SF series that go off the rails as they get extended, so it’s time for that series to lose its […]

rereading the kushiel trilogy

Liesl and I are in the middle of a reread of the Kushiel series, and the original trilogy continues to be, in its own way, great. I thought I’d written more about it here, but it turns out that I’ve only barely touched on the series. So I think it’s time to touch on it […]

object thinking

One of the books I read over vacation was Object Thinking, by David West. I should probably reread it, I certainly don’t claim to understand it well yet or know to what extent I trust the ideas therein, but it’s the sort of melange that appeals to me. The book doesn’t shy away from grand […]

player of games

Player of Games has always been my favorite Iain Banks novel, but I’ve never been sure how much of that is because it’s good and how much of that is because it presses my buttons. I like the Culture quite a bit as a universe, and I’m also pretty obsessed with games, so it’s only […]


Mushishi struck me right off the bat as an unusual manga series from a formal point of view; looking back, though, I’m not sure why I got that feeling quite as strongly as I did. Comparing it to the rest of my bookshelf, it is the case that most of the manga that I read […]

first, break all the rules speaks truth

When I became a manager at Sun, they sent me to new manager training; they asked us to read a book called First, Break All the Rules which seemed to do a pretty good job of presenting a research-based approach towards management. One of the findings that the book presents is that, if you want […]

plus ca change

From Thomas Cleary’s introduction to his translation of Zen Lessons: In contrast to the relatively plain and straightforward Zen literature of the Tang dynasty, Song dynasty Zen literature is convoluted and artful. This is not regarded, in Zen terms, as a development in Zen, but as a response to a more complex and pressured society […]