Reviews by Iridos

Jill the Reckless

by Pelham Grenville Wodehouse

Quite amusing book.

Still trying to get used to peopled "ejaculating" sentences..

There had to be quite some hard work be done to keep the book humorous on this theme - and sometimes it is a bit too much...
If someone told you, he lost all your money - your fortune to be precise - would your first action be to comfort him?
Would you leave your relatives and head into New York with twenty dollars as your sole possession and no place to stay? Maybe you would - and you would end up in a lot of trouble doing so.

In the end, the story revolves around the same find-your-true-love theme as (an)other Wodehouse book(s).


I.

Reviewed on 2008.09.20

Eastern Standard Tribe

by C. Doctorow

The book is well-written, but I found it a bit hard to read - the pseudo-internet talk didn't help and I figured rather late, that the EST/GMT "organizations" or tribes related to the timezones, so some more abbreviations that didn't make sense.

In that regard it isn't helpful that the book starts with the end - the 'hero' is standing on the roof of a mental hospital, reflecting his fate while the story unrolls - of course, we don't know this at the time, it's just the guy standing somewhat unrelated on a roof.

The concept of "tribes" and loyalties according to timezones seems a bit ridiculous to me, as well as that great business idea that the main character develops, that just wouldn't work out (well, if it did, the author wouldn't have written this book but would enjoy the millions he made with it).

Hmmm - "one-way osmotic materials" would be a perpetuum mobile, I'd think - amazing how you can get the science wrong with so few words - and that in a book that contains so little science...

Well worth the time reading and one of the few "modern" free eBooks and as that one of the higher quality ones, but not one of the best books on a more genera scheme.

I.

Reviewed on 2008.09.20

Brain Twister

by Gordon Randall Garrett

The same book also appeared under the title "That Sweet Little Old Lady" and is also available here - pick one, don't bother with the other.
In the same series, "The Impossibles" (also under the name "Out Like a Light") and "Supermind" (also under the name "Occasion for Disaster") appeared.

The book is about the FBI finding out that one important space-motor project is spied on by a telepath. The discover this with the help of a machine developed by them (this part is actually pretty fishy, as it contains some very unlikely things the author thinks he needs for the narrative, covered by some pseudo-scientific babble).

"Set out a thief to find a thief", they decide and try to find other telepaths to find the spy. Being telepathic seems to turn people mad (and the only telepath they ever knew off, now dead was an imbecile), so the search begins in mental hospitals all over the US. The search is successful - what a pity that inhabitants of mental hospitals often have their own idea of reality - and now the FBI has to go along with it to humor them.

The book is quite amusing and well-written. If you like detective stories, you can guess along for the identity of the spy, and you get a fairish chance of solving the problem before it is revealed.

Except for the telepathy-detecting machine (and telepathy itself), there are no weird or extremely unlikely twists to the story, but there are some good laughs along the way.

I.

Reviewed on 2008.09.18

The Brain, A Decoded Enigma

by Dorin T. Moisa

Summary: don't bother reading, this is not a free scientific textbook, but something someone wrote/made up in his spare time and couldn't publish anywhere else.

This is a non-scientific book which pretends to be scientific. One indication of this is the total lack of citations. The author reasons in the book that it describes a fundamental model and hence does not need citations. This might be correct if he would just develop the model. Yet, perhaps 80% of the book are examples that try to apply the model (in a quite repetitive way) to "reality" - or what the author thinks is reality.

All these examples use "data" out of thin air. For some of them one could say that the data is self-evident (as we all own a brain and can check on ourselves), on others it is not. This is, e.g., the case for all comparisons to animal brains. Just to name one: the model is applied to an elephant which has a big brain, but (apparently) isn't very intelligent and has an 'elephant-memory'.

Do elephants really have a good memory? Folklore says so - but folklore is often wrong. This is where a citation would be needed. (Actually, from memory, it is also not the mass or size of a brain that make up complexity/intelligence, but the amount of neurons - and would you bet an elephant has more neurons? All this the author would have found out had he bothered to check the literature)

The reasoning that this book would be the first to define clear terms and hence is incompatible with previous publications is just a lame excuse - many interesting and intelligent experiments were done whose results can/should, no MUST be cited - instead of the popular method of "making things up". And such experiments/observations are clearly independent of the terminology used.

The book goes on and comes to some trivial as well as some abstruse conclusions from applying the model to the random made-up data.

Sentences like "Let's summarize the European spirit." give you a hint at the type of unjustified generalizations you have to suffer on reading (I wouldn't be too sure that there is a definite general "European spirit" that could be spoken of in any scientific way)

Quote from the Gutenberg project pages:
"In fact, Project Gutenberg approves about 99% of all [...]eBooks [...]"

The book was obviously "published with Gutenberg", because publishing it in this form in any peer-reviewed way would only yield the answer "unsuitable for publishing"

The model itself might be interesting - although there is never a rationale given, why a new layer, e.g. a ZM models had to be introduced (and why is the simplest "image" model an M-model?! why not an I-model? - The naming is also done without rationale or reason), but the way it is applied to rather random made-up claims is certainly not suitable.


I.

Reviewed on 2008.09.17

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