Archive for: December, 2015

Music Monday: Year's Best Jazz Album Lists!

Dec 22 2015 Published by under music, music mondays

(OK, Music Monday one day late...)

Science books are an abiding, long term passion, one which has been reflected here on the blog by my compulsive listing of the Best Science Books of the year, 2015 included. This year I'm expanding the obsessive listing franchise to include another abiding passion, jazz music.

But I won't be listing individual jazz albums, just other people's year end lists. As for my own year-end list of best jazz album, I'm afraid I don't really buy enough new ones every year to make a list practical.

Here goes. These lists are as at mid-day December 22, 2015. I'm mostly only mentioning lists that are jazz-focused rather than general lists that might include a jazz album or two. I may update the list after the new year. As well, if I've missed any or if you want to contribute jazz album suggestions of your own, please feel free in the comments. In particular, if anyone out there knows of lists from non-English or -French jazz cultures, I would really love to see those. As you can see, I added a couple of pre-end-of-year lists from France to give a bit more of an international flavour.

 

Oh, what the heck.

Here are five jazz albums I really enjoyed this year, in no particular order.

  • For One to Love by Cecile McLorin Salvant

  • Break Stuff by The Vijay Iyer Trio

  • Wild Man Dance by Charles Lloyd

  • Made in Chicago by Jack Dejohnette

  • Dans la foret de ma mémoire by Orchestre national de jazz de Montreal, featuring Marianne Trudel (composer), Christine Jensen (director), Ingrid Jensen (guest soloist), Anne Schaefer (vocals)

Album of the Year aggregates a lot of lists & rankings though not that much jazz or blues.

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Best Science Books 2015: Goodreads Choice Awards: Best Science and Technology

Dec 21 2015 Published by under best science books 2015, science books

As you all have no doubt noticed over the years, I love highlighting the best science books every year via the various end of year lists that newspapers, web sites, etc. publish. I've done it so far in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

And here we are in 2015!

As in previous years, my definition of "science books" is pretty inclusive, including books on technology, engineering, nature, the environment, science policy, history & philosophy of science, geek culture and whatever else seems to be relevant in my opinion.

Today's list is Goodreads Choice Awards: Best Science and Technology.

  • Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish by John Hargrove, Howard Chua-Eoan
  • Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World by Rachel Swaby
  • Voices in the Ocean: A Journey into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins by Susan Casey
  • Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime by Val McDermid
  • Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski
  • Elon Musk: Inventing the Future by Ashlee Vance
  • What Stands in a Storm: Three Days in the Worst Superstorm to Hit the South's Tornado Alley by Kim Cross
  • On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks
  • Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain–for Life by David Perlmutter
  • How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy by Stephen Witt
  • Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel by Carl Safina
  • Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender
  • The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery
  • The Brain's Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity by Norman Doidge
  • Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World by Peter H. Diamandis
  • Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable, and What We Can Do About It by Marc Goodman
  • Spare Parts: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream by Joshua Davis
  • NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and The Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman
  • Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett

And check out my previous 2015 lists here!

Many of the lists I use are sourced via the Largehearted Boy master list.

(Astute readers will notice that I kind of petered out on this project a couple of years ago and never got around to the end of year summary since then. Before loosing steam, I ended up featuring dozens and dozens of lists, virtually every list I could find that had science books on it. While it was kind of cool to be so comprehensive, not to mention that it gave the summary posts a certain statistical weight, it was also way more work than I had really envisioned way back in 2008 or so when I started doing this. As a result, I'm only going to highlight particularly large or noteworthy lists this year and forgo any kind of end of year summary. Basically, all the fun but not so much of the drudgery.)

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Reading Diary: How Machines Work: Zoo Break! by David Macaulay

Dec 20 2015 Published by under book review, science books, Uncategorized

This is the first popup book I've ever reviewed and I certainly hope it won't be the last.

David Macaulay's How Machines Work: Zoo Break! is a wonderful, whimsical, delightful and beautiful book that will charm and fascinate anyone who picks it up.

Aimed at younger children and told through the eyes of two zoo animals named Sloth and Sengi, it takes a pretty solid engineering approach to the world. It focuses on the core principles of how machines work and cleverly uses a popup devices on many pages to illustrate and even demonstrate those principles. Leverage and levers, wheels and pulleys, screws and gears, drilling down and putting all the pieces together to make a machine. One of the popup pages even lets you build a little lever and fulcrum and launch Sloth over the fence.

Clear and concise, fun to read and play with, this is a great book that I would recommend as a gift for anyone with a child in their lives. It's pretty enough and clever enough that many adults would appreciate it as well as an objet d'art. As for libraries, it might be a bit fragile for some environments, but it would make a great acquisition for story time. As well, it would be a great addition to collections for libraries at education schools.

Macaulay, David. How Machines Work: Zoo Break!. London: Dorling Kindersley, 2015. 32pp. ISBN-13: 978-1465440129

http://www.dk.com/us/9781465440129-how-machines-work-zoo-break/

(Review copy provided by publisher.)

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Other science graphic novels and illustrated books I have reviewed:

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Best Science Books 2015: Science Friday

Dec 18 2015 Published by under best science books 2015, science books

As you all have no doubt noticed over the years, I love highlighting the best science books every year via the various end of year lists that newspapers, web sites, etc. publish. I've done it so far in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

And here we are in 2015!

As in previous years, my definition of "science books" is pretty inclusive, including books on technology, engineering, nature, the environment, science policy, history & philosophy of science, geek culture and whatever else seems to be relevant in my opinion.

Today's list is Science Friday: The Best Science Books of 2015.

Their were two guests on the books of the year episode of Science Friday, Deborah Blum and Maria Popova. Popova's picks were already featured in the Brain Pickings post, so the items below are from Deborah Blum only.

  • H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
  • The Hunt for Vulcan…And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe by Thomas Levenson
  • The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery
  • Plucked: A History of Hair Removal by Rebecca Herzig
  • Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science—and the World by Rachel Swaby
  • The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients’ Lives by Theresa Brown, RN
  • Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe
  • Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett

And check out my previous 2015 lists here!

Many of the lists I use are sourced via the Largehearted Boy master list.

(Astute readers will notice that I kind of petered out on this project a couple of years ago and never got around to the end of year summary since then. Before loosing steam, I ended up featuring dozens and dozens of lists, virtually every list I could find that had science books on it. While it was kind of cool to be so comprehensive, not to mention that it gave the summary posts a certain statistical weight, it was also way more work than I had really envisioned way back in 2008 or so when I started doing this. As a result, I'm only going to highlight particularly large or noteworthy lists this year and forgo any kind of end of year summary. Basically, all the fun but not so much of the drudgery.)

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Best Science Books 2015: Brain Pickings Best Science Books of 2015

Dec 15 2015 Published by under best science books 2015, science books

As you all have no doubt noticed over the years, I love highlighting the best science books every year via the various end of year lists that newspapers, web sites, etc. publish. I've done it so far in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

And here we are in 2015!

As in previous years, my definition of "science books" is pretty inclusive, including books on technology, engineering, nature, the environment, science policy, history & philosophy of science, geek culture and whatever else seems to be relevant in my opinion.

Today's list is Brain Pickings Best Science Books of 2015.

  • On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks
  • The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World by Andrea Wulf
  • Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe by Lisa Randall
  • The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua
  • The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond
  • The Physicist and the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson, and the Debate That Changed Our Understanding of Time by Jimena Canales
    <li>What to Think About Machines That Think: Today's Leading Thinkers on the Age of Machine Intelligence edited by John Brockman

  • Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future by Lauren Redniss

And check out my previous 2015 lists here!

Many of the lists I use are sourced via the Largehearted Boy master list.

(Astute readers will notice that I kind of petered out on this project a couple of years ago and never got around to the end of year summary since then. Before loosing steam, I ended up featuring dozens and dozens of lists, virtually every list I could find that had science books on it. While it was kind of cool to be so comprehensive, not to mention that it gave the summary posts a certain statistical weight, it was also way more work than I had really envisioned way back in 2008 or so when I started doing this. As a result, I'm only going to highlight particularly large or noteworthy lists this year and forgo any kind of end of year summary. Basically, all the fun but not so much of the drudgery.)

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Best Science Books 2015: The Guardian Best Books

Dec 14 2015 Published by under best science books 2015, science books

As you all have no doubt noticed over the years, I love highlighting the best science books every year via the various end of year lists that newspapers, web sites, etc. publish. I've done it so far in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

And here we are in 2015!

As in previous years, my definition of "science books" is pretty inclusive, including books on technology, engineering, nature, the environment, science policy, history & philosophy of science, geek culture and whatever else seems to be relevant in my opinion.

Today's list is The Guardian Best Science Books, Photography, Nature (selected).

  • Adventures in Human Being by Gavin Francis
  • Life's Greatest Secret: The Race to Crack the Genetic Code by Matthew Cobb
  • On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks
  • Atmosphere of Hope: Solutions to the Climate Crisis by Tim Flannery
  • The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World by Oliver Morton
  • Coastlines: The Story of Our Shore by Patrick Barkham
  • Find A Fallen Star : Regine Petersen by Natasha Christia, Regine Petersen
  • Undiscovered Owls: A Sound Approach Guide by Robb Magnus
  • Inglorious: Conflict in the Uplands by Mark Avery
  • What Nature Does For Britain by Tony Juniper
  • The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy by Michael McCarthy
  • H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

And check out my previous 2015 lists here!

Many of the lists I use are sourced via the Largehearted Boy master list.

(Astute readers will notice that I kind of petered out on this project a couple of years ago and never got around to the end of year summary since then. Before loosing steam, I ended up featuring dozens and dozens of lists, virtually every list I could find that had science books on it. While it was kind of cool to be so comprehensive, not to mention that it gave the summary posts a certain statistical weight, it was also way more work than I had really envisioned way back in 2008 or so when I started doing this. As a result, I'm only going to highlight particularly large or noteworthy lists this year and forgo any kind of end of year summary. Basically, all the fun but not so much of the drudgery.)

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Reading Diary: Big Science: Ernest Lawrence and the Invention that Launched the Military-Industrial Complex by Michael Hiltzik

This latest book in my reviewing adventures continues the recentish trend of books concerned with science during World War II. Michael Hiltzik's Big Science: Ernest Lawrence and the Invention that Launched the Military-Industrial Complex follows books such as Serving the Reich: The Struggle for the Soul of Physics under Hitler, Planck: Driven by Vision, Broken by War and Les Rêveurs lunaires: Quatre génies qui ont changé l’Histoire. A little further back, there's Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers Who Turned The Tide in the Second World War and Hitler’s Scientists: Science, War, and the Devil’s Pact, which I read and enjoyed but never got around to reviewing. And graphic novel-wise, there's Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb and even Feynman and Suspended In Language: Niels Bohr's Life, Discoveries, And The Century He Shaped about Neils Bohr (another I read and enjoyed but haven't reviewed).

Which adds up to quite the little obsession, when you think about it. Which is fine, of course, we're all allowed our obsessions. And FSM knows, the history of the atomic bomb in particular and World War II in general are endlessly fascinating.

Which brings us to Big Science.

Which is a scientific and technological biography of Ernest Lawrence as well the story of the birth of Big Science as a research and funding methodology. And to throw in some spice, we also see how Lawrence and Big Science collide (heh) during the late 1930s through the epochal year of 1945 to help bring us the atomic age.

With all this thrown in, what could possibly go wrong? And Hiltzik delivers and excellent and detailed history of all those intersections which, which it might drag at some moments, has a hugely interesting story to tell, one that I really didn't know a lot about and one that probably needs to be better understood in the modern world.

Especially the whole Big Science thing. Yeah, especially that.

Big science is a term used by scientists and historians of science to describe a series of changes in science which occurred in industrial nations during and after World War II, as scientific progress increasingly came to rely on large-scale projects usually funded by national governments or groups of governments.

Because it was Ernest Lawrence and his drive to build bigger and better cyclotrons and colliders at University of California Berkeley that drove the creation and development of Big Science. It was Lawrence who also pushed the nascent idea of Big Science towards it's logical conclusion during World War II, using his ideas of big labs funded by big government with big staffs to found the Oak Ridge National Lab as well as the Livermore National Lab, which later was renamed Lawrence Livermore.

Hiltzik does a great job of outlining Lawrence's progress, painting him as a kind of relentless technocrat, imbued with the endless optimism of science and discovery, willing to do almost anything to get where he needed to get. But not as a villain of the piece, blindly pushing for an ever-more militaristic scientific establishment -- the Military Industrial Complex. Though that's what Lawrence (and the rest of us) seem to have ended up with, Lawrence the bureaucrat and manager comes off as more naive and overly optimistic than scheming or grasping. As David Lilienthal described him, one of the "scientists in grey flannel suits." (411)

The last section of the book puts it in context. While the paradigm has lead to amazing things -- like what the Large Hadron Collider has given us in theoretical physics or the Human Genome Project in biology -- there's also been a cost. When science costs an awful lot of money, what happens is that the paymasters get to start calling the shots. In government and academia, that's increasingly the case, as science gets more corporatised. The Manhattan Project was kind of the great honeymoon for Big Science, but seventy years its has become far too ingrained for any talk of divorce.

Michael Hiltzik's Big Science: Ernest Lawrence and the Invention that Launched the Military-Industrial Complex is a very good book and a wonderful addition to some less-well-known periods of science -- the eras just before and just after World War II. It was certainly an area where my knowledge was lacking. As well, during the section on World War II, the focus on the Oak Ridge, TN lab where the uranium was enriched rather than Los Alamos which usually gets all the attention, was quite welcome. I recommend this book without reservation for any academic collection that collects in the history of science or WWII.

Hiltzik, Michael. Big Science: Ernest Lawrence and the Invention that Launched the Military-Industrial Complex. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015. 528pp. ISBN-13: 978-1451675757

(Review copy provided by the publisher.)

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Best Science Books 2015: The Globe and Mail 100

Dec 06 2015 Published by under best science books 2015, science books

As you all have no doubt noticed over the years, I love highlighting the best science books every year via the various end of year lists that newspapers, web sites, etc. publish. I've done it so far in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

And here we are in 2015!

As in previous years, my definition of "science books" is pretty inclusive, including books on technology, engineering, nature, the environment, science policy, history & philosophy of science, geek culture and whatever else seems to be relevant in my opinion.

Today's list is The Globe and Mail 100.

  • Losing the Signal: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of BlackBerry by Jacquie McNish, Sean Silcoff
  • Trees on Mars: Our Obsession with the Future by Hal Niedzviecki
  • The Right to Be Cold: One Woman's Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet by Sheila Watt-cloutier
  • On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks
  • H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
  • So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

And check out my previous 2015 lists here!

Many of the lists I use are sourced via the Largehearted Boy master list.

(Astute readers will notice that I kind of petered out on this project a couple of years ago and never got around to the end of year summary since then. Before loosing steam, I ended up featuring dozens and dozens of lists, virtually every list I could find that had science books on it. While it was kind of cool to be so comprehensive, not to mention that it gave the summary posts a certain statistical weight, it was also way more work than I had really envisioned way back in 2008 or so when I started doing this. As a result, I'm only going to highlight particularly large or noteworthy lists this year and forgo any kind of end of year summary. Basically, all the fun but not so much of the drudgery.)

One response so far

Best Science Books 2015: The Washington Post Notable Nonfiction of 2015

Dec 02 2015 Published by under best science books 2015, science books

As you all have no doubt noticed over the years, I love highlighting the best science books every year via the various end of year lists that newspapers, web sites, etc. publish. I've done it so far in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

And here we are in 2015!

As in previous years, my definition of "science books" is pretty inclusive, including books on technology, engineering, nature, the environment, science policy, history & philosophy of science, geek culture and whatever else seems to be relevant in my opinion.

Today's list is The Washington Post Notable Nonfiction of 2015.

  • The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld by Jamie Bartlett
  • Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh
  • The Only Woman in the Room: Why Science Is Still a Boys’ Club by Eileen Pollack
  • The Pentagon's Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America’s Top-Secret Military Research Agency by Annie Jacobsen
  • Stoned: A Doctor’s Case for Medical Marijuana by David Casarett
  • The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

And check out my previous 2015 lists here!

Many of the lists I use are sourced via the Largehearted Boy master list.

(Astute readers will notice that I kind of petered out on this project a couple of years ago and never got around to the end of year summary since then. Before loosing steam, I ended up featuring dozens and dozens of lists, virtually every list I could find that had science books on it. While it was kind of cool to be so comprehensive, not to mention that it gave the summary posts a certain statistical weight, it was also way more work than I had really envisioned way back in 2008 or so when I started doing this. As a result, I'm only going to highlight particularly large or noteworthy lists this year and forgo any kind of end of year summary. Basically, all the fun but not so much of the drudgery.)

One response so far

Best Science Books 2015: The Telegraph Best Science Books 2015

Dec 01 2015 Published by under best science books 2015, science books

As you all have no doubt noticed over the years, I love highlighting the best science books every year via the various end of year lists that newspapers, web sites, etc. publish. I've done it so far in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

And here we are in 2015!

As in previous years, my definition of "science books" is pretty inclusive, including books on technology, engineering, nature, the environment, science policy, history & philosophy of science, geek culture and whatever else seems to be relevant in my opinion.

Today's list is The Telegraph Best Science Books 2015.

  • NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman
  • Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli
  • Brief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science by Richard Dawkins
  • The Vital Question: Why is life the way it is? by Nick Lane
  • Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology by Johnjoe McFadden, Jim Al-Khalili
  • 13.8: The Quest to Find the True Age of the Universe and the Theory of Everything by John Gribbin
  • A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature's Deep Design by Frank Wilczek
  • Cosmosapiens: Human Evolution from the Origin of the Universe by John Hands
  • The Cabaret of Plants: Botany and the Imagination by Richard Mabey
  • The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science by Andrea Wulf

And check out my previous 2015 lists here!

Many of the lists I use are sourced via the Largehearted Boy master list.

(Astute readers will notice that I kind of petered out on this project a couple of years ago and never got around to the end of year summary since then. Before loosing steam, I ended up featuring dozens and dozens of lists, virtually every list I could find that had science books on it. While it was kind of cool to be so comprehensive, not to mention that it gave the summary posts a certain statistical weight, it was also way more work than I had really envisioned way back in 2008 or so when I started doing this. As a result, I'm only going to highlight particularly large or noteworthy lists this year and forgo any kind of end of year summary. Basically, all the fun but not so much of the drudgery.)

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