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The Eudaemonic Pie
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Top Customer Reviews
Bass has done a great job of telling the story of how a couple of physics postgraduate students and their friends develop tiny computers controlled by toe switches enable them to achieve an edge over the casino at roulette.
This was particularly poignant for me, because I independently developed similar wheel-clocking methods and verified a 26% advantage over the house on a rented casino quality roulette wheel in 1976. The 'device law', which Nevada passed in the early 80's in response to people attempting to use technology to sack their coffers, largely put an end to concealed computers in casinos. Those to whom a felony rap is no deterrent are presumably still at it, using extremely advanced and difficult-to-detect hardware.
Bass' story is a fascinating read and highly reccommended.
Unfortunately, the author's style is often ham-handed, leaving the reader with the unsettling feeling that the story should have been told differently. For one thing, the plot follows the project's timeline with mind-numbing accuracy. It's okay for journalism, but it leaves many of the juiciest details buried amongst mundane activities. In addition, the pacing does not change, giving the book a feel of bloodless efficiency rather than real passion or excitement.
A few years ago I read Paul Hoffman's "The Man Who Loved Only Numbers," the excellent biography of mathemetician Paul Erdos. The whole way through "Eudamonic Pie" I found myself wishing that Thomas Bass had emulated Hoffman's engaging intertwining of Erdos' life, the history of math and the obscure culture and argot of top mathemeticians. Instead, I found this book to be an interesting plot bogged down by a flat and lifeless style.
Sort of like Leonard Nimoy singing "Proud Mary."
- The story is ultimately not about the goal, not about winning or losing or beating the house. Its really about the journeying. A unique shared human experience of some ordinary yet extraordinary people in ordinary yet extraordinary times. The ordinary draws the reader in with a continual reminder that it's a true story, magnifying the extraordinary nature of events. Somehow I found it intensely compelling to follow the characters and realize that in the same month I was, say, starting a newspaper route or trying to make the varsity soccer team, these offbeat-yet-practical, idealistic-yet-enterprising, brilliant-yet-sidetracked, anachronistic hippie-tinged grad students were mathematically modeling a roulette table in their central california bungalow or troubleshooting a shock-giving computer taped to their body in a casino bathroom hoping security won't find them out. Its a human story because its about about creativity, determination, curiosity, fear, motivation, joy, friendship and pain. Its a techno-geek-as-hero story as they blaze trails at the forefront of computer technology before you could even think about buying a TRS-80, much less a Commodore 64.Read more ›
It was with this backdrop of living in Hotel RLM and experiencing a renewed kinship with the Beatles lyric "Oh, that magic feeling, nowhere to go, nowhere to go," that I checked the book out of the university library and spent the next few gorgeous November afternoons lost in its pages on the South Mall, with a view of the Texas State Capitol building a mile to the south. Aged 32, I had still never been to a casino in my life (on a solo cross-country motorcycle trip six years earlier I'd stopped for gas, and gas only, on my way through Las Vegas).
This 1991 read still ranks among my most enjoyable of all time. I disagree with the author-ragging that's gone on in many of the comments here. Bass clearly put a lot of care and effort into the presentation. Upon reread, I still find it to be an inspired work of art and very well-written book.
The only minor thing I've noticed (in the paperback version, anyway) to really complain about are a few typos here and there that jump right out (e.g., "perennnially"). It seems a bit ironic given the subject material, that digital spell checkers evidently weren't used to copyedit the author's work.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the best cyber stories ever. It reads with the gravity of good fiction, but is al the more satisfying for being true.Published 2 months ago by Thomas White-Hassler
A group of smart people live a commune-like existence in a house where they use a chore wheel to get things done. They have concluded that money is the key to freedom. Read morePublished 12 months ago by ellison
There are some good stories, but no schematic for the machine or code for the software. Don't trust the guys selling roulette computers on the internet, would you sell it for $500... Read morePublished on October 21, 2013 by B. Boal
I read this book before I went to college, and was suitably inspired. It read as a sort of breathless epic tale of high intellectual adventure, pitting a gang of brilliant and... Read morePublished on September 14, 2009 by Scott C. Locklin
Others have reviewed the book stylistically and have outlined the plot; I have little to add, except a brief postscript:
The book ends with a major disappointment: The... Read more
A group of students and researcher types are hanging out together and generally having a good time. They come up with a project, trying to beat casinos at roulette. Read morePublished on September 2, 2007 by average
hey if you want to read a well written book look somewhere else. I managed to finish this book because I kept in near my bed and it got me to sleep faster. Read morePublished on August 25, 2005 by J