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M. Hyman "Artist at large" RSS Feed (Seattle, WA USA)
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War of the Whales: A True Story
War of the Whales: A True Story
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $12.74

5.0 out of 5 stars Environmental must read, personal and fascinating, September 14, 2014
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This is a fantastic, moving story about the battle between scientists and environmentalists and the US Navy, over the user of sonar that kills whales. In an effort to detect enemy submarines, the Navy invents a very intense sonar system. Its great at detecting enemy subs, but it also kills whales, leading to mysterious mass strandings. This book traces the history of the weapons systems as well s the marine biologists studying whales, the tragic killings associated with use of the sonar, and the law cases that try to reduce the impact. It is a fascinating and deeply personal story, and well worth reading as we grapple with our increasing destruction of the world around us. A must for any environmentally oriented person.


Shadows in the Vineyard: The True Story of the Plot to Poison the World's Greatest Wine
Shadows in the Vineyard: The True Story of the Plot to Poison the World's Greatest Wine
Offered by Hachette Book Group
Price: $12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A murdered vine whodunnit, September 14, 2014
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This is an interesting book that takes a look at a famous vineyard in France. The owner is being blackmailed by a mysterious person who threatens to destroy one of the worlds most important vineyard if he is not paid a minor fortune. The book weaves back and forth among the history of the family and their many generations of vintners, the history of the region and in particular the politics of pre-revolutionary France,the wine itself, and the criminal act and detective work to apprehend the criminal.

It's an interesting story, but at times the various backstory feel a tad forced, as if there to give the story a bit more mass. The historical aspects were interesting, but I would have preferred that they were tied more or extended more into the present.

All in all, an interesting read.


The Forever War
The Forever War
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, September 14, 2014
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This review is from: The Forever War (Kindle Edition)
This is a fascinating book, in many senses a set of vignettes, as the author covers Americans at war in the Middle East. The book is told first hand, as the author scrambles under gun fire in a street in Iraq, deals with the death of soldiers around him, watches executions in Afghanistan, and deals with the chaos and horror of the situation in the Middle East. The book doesn't focus on history or take sides, as much as it tells stories, from the perspectives of many different sides. It is fast paced, gripping, and quite fascinating, and I'd highly recommend it.


Basic Gambling Mathematics: The Numbers Behind The Neon
Basic Gambling Mathematics: The Numbers Behind The Neon
by Mark Bollman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $47.66
25 used & new from $47.66

3.0 out of 5 stars Good if it is what you are looking for..., September 13, 2014
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This book takes a look at the mathematics of gambling. Each chapters starts with some basic math around statistics. If you haven't ever studied statistics or basics of algebra, you might find this daunting. If you have and have just forgotten such things, then it is a reasonably fast and understandable refresher into sets, series, combinations, permutations, standard deviations and so forth. After a brief section on math, the book looks at various games of chance: blackjack, craps, roulette, poker, pai gow and many others... and explains the math behind them. For example, what games in a casino have the best odds for the player? what strategies should you play against a poker machine? it all boils down to a simple law the author shares -- if you can understand the game easily, the odds are not in your favor. It's an interesting exploration of how to analyze how often you are likely to use with the various casino games and why the casinos set the rules the way they do. You may find it more valuable to skim through the details of each analysis to focus on the end results, or you might want to read through to see how you can derive house odds and hand probabilities yourself.

If you are looking for a guide on how to play blackjack or poker, this isn't for you. It will cover the basics and show you how to think about such things, but you really will want to look for a different book.

Sometimes I found the book went into far more variations than was interesting to me. I wasn't approaching it looking for a math class, so as such, seeing the math for a dozen variations of roulette didn't add anything for me.

Still, an interesting way to get grounded in statistics with some practical problems, and a good way to see why gambling is so good for casinos.

I also like that it points out many of the common fallacies you will see in casinos, such as "its been red five times in a row, i better put money on black".


The Square: Savoury
The Square: Savoury
by Philip Howard
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $42.65
34 used & new from $35.87

5.0 out of 5 stars Great cookbook; great restaurant, September 5, 2014
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This review is from: The Square: Savoury (Hardcover)
This is a beautiful cookbook from an absolutely fantastic restaurant. Every thing served in the restaurant is immaculate, with amazing tastes, textures, colors and presentation, and the book does a great job of explaining how. The book begins with a brief story about the chef, and, as with other books by top chefs, this gives a lovely sense of his personality and philosophy.

The recipes are not for the faint hearted. These are serious recipes that are not trivial or fast to cook. But, unlike many cookbooks, the author does a great job explaining what you have to worry about -- what the timing is like, what ingredients are most important, exactly how you have to chill something from the cooking, how to tell if it is over or undercooked, how things are going to change during the process. And each comes with a lovely photograph showing what it is supposed to be like.

It really is fantastic food and a very fun, informative cookbook. Of course, I'm not sure that I will venture to source some of these things because the recipes are elaborate, but everything is inspiring.


Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner
Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $10.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and unexpected book, August 23, 2014
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Prior to reading this book, I must confess that I never understood or even thought about what goes on in a morgue and how autopsies are used for investigations. This book is a fascinating glimpse into that world, told my a medical pathologist. We learn how she entered the field, and first hand examine a variety of cases she worked on, from the tragedy of the World Trade Center crashes to suicide and murder investigations. The book reads like a set of vignettes, albeit ones derived from wielding of a scalpel. Utterly fascinating if you have an interest in science, but certainly not for the squeamish. Very fun. I devoured it during one flight.


Jerusalem: The Biography
Jerusalem: The Biography
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $12.79

4.0 out of 5 stars Broad, deep and quite interesting, August 23, 2014
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This is a very interesting, in depth, book about the history of Jerusalem, and really the region as a whole. Starting several thousand years ago and continuing to the present, it documents the endless conflicts and politics that have shaped and shaken the region. While at times bewildering due to the seemingly endless volume of battles and rulers involved in the area, it does an excellent job in portraying the depth and history. It provided a very good historical backdrop for my most recent trip to Israel, and I highly recommend it as reading for any travelers to the region.


Nature's Nether Regions: What the Sex Lives of Bugs, Birds, and Beasts Tell Us AboutEvolution, Biodiversity, and Ourselves
Nature's Nether Regions: What the Sex Lives of Bugs, Birds, and Beasts Tell Us AboutEvolution, Biodiversity, and Ourselves
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, August 17, 2014
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This is an utterly fantastic book, covering the science of insect genitalia. Not only is the book fascinating, but it will give you cocktail party stories forever... The book discusses a broad range of reproductive strategies taken by different animals, talking about the physiology, the evolution, and potentially the reasons behind the various adaptions. In case you think most animals reproduce in a fashion similar to humans, well, there is a lot more to learn about the birds and the bees than you can possibly image.

This book is a fast read.. you really won't want to put it down. Fascinating, grabbing, fun and scientific, it really is a great book.


Proof: The Science of Booze
Proof: The Science of Booze
Price: $9.10

5.0 out of 5 stars Quite fun, August 17, 2014
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This is a very interesting exploration of the history of alcohol, covering the early discovery of fermentation, the science behind it -- from different types of yeasts for beer to how distillation works -- and the various ways in which different type of distillation works. Altogether it was a very interesting book, mixing in science, history and human interest stories. How does alcohol impact the brain? Why are stills made from copper? How are different beers made? How long have people been making different types of alcohol? All of these questions and more are covered in the book. I learned a ton about alcohol science, history and production, and walked away very much wanting to learn how to make the stuff. Well done and quite fun.


Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War
by Karen Abbott
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.70
41 used & new from $14.21

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable history book, August 9, 2014
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This is my favorite type of history book -- one that goes deep into a subject but carries along the emotional intensity and feelings of the time, as seen through the eyes of the subjects. In this case, the book looks at four women who were involved as spies -- and in one case as a soldier disguised as a man -- in the Civil War. Two worked for the Union and two for the Confederacy. The book traces their lives, what led to their decisions, and what they did in the war, with some remarkable tales of bravery and deception. The author did remarkable research to pull together all of the information needed to make the characters come alive.

This is a very enjoyable book that sheds a different perspective on the Civil War, and is one of many great Civil War books that have come out in the last several years. You'll want to have some general understanding of the war before reading it of course, but assuming you have that knowledge, it is a great read.


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