‘Spotting Mega Historical Shifts’

Score: 4/5

Hmm. Lots to think about in this book.

It was written over two decades ago, trying to forecast where things would be or at least the direction in which they were heading. It got some things wrong but it got lots right too. The talk of cryptographic payments and identities seems quite prophetic.

We have seen a weakening of the nation state, but I felt it was in more danger in the late 90s when this book was written than now. Although some individual states do seem in decline, others seem to be rising to prominence to take their place. Maybe devolution, federalism and subsidiarity will take over but the last couple of years has seen centralisation come to the fore again. But history doesn’t move in a straight line.

There’s plenty to disagree with too. Not just the things it missed or the things it got wrong, some of the attitude seems to miss the mark too, particularly when it comes to morality. But maybe that’s just me.

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‘More Unlikely Infantry Action’

Score: 4/5

Another cheap book. More poor copy editing, small margins, and - surprisingly - a table of contents that just lists ‘Chapter One... Chapter Two... Chapter Three...’ and so on, with no page numbers. It’s just as well there are no page numbers in the table of contents because none of the pages have page numbers either.

I still don’t think space battles will have infantry. I still think the premise of these books is silly. I still enjoyed it.

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‘Really Just Didn’t Care’

Score: 2/5

Another Laundry Files book. The author again shifted perspective/voice for this book, going to a different character. I didn’t like this character in previous books, I didn’t like her in this book. I don’t think we’re supposed to like her.

Going through a whole book of this was quite a chore. The sections that weren’t from the perspective of the main character were often voiced by another dislikable character.

Mostly, while I wanted the good guys to win I pretty much didn’t care if all the characters in this book died horribly.

I think I’ll be more careful in deciding whether to read future Laundry novels.

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‘Alien Battles Are Infantry-less’

Score: 4/5

Battles between aliens will not be infantry battles.

They just won’t. Except in this book.

It’s amazing the contortions the author has to go through to give infantry battles any credibility in this book. ‘Rules’ from ancient civilisations preventing use of certain technologies in wars - ‘certain technologies’ being just about anything that isn’t effectively infantry battles and World War 2 naval combat between spaceships.

But if you can put that aside, it’s a nice, silly, readable sci-fi romp.

The actual quality of the book isn’t that great though. The cover is flimsy, the layout is bade, the text is printed too close to both margins, and the text could do with another editing pass.

That aside, the book is cheaper than average so maybe this cost-cutting took a couple of quid off the price? ‘Never mind the quality, feel the width’...

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‘What’s Real? What’s Not?’

Score: 5/5

This is a fascinating book about the nature of reality. The main thesis is: what we experience of reality isn’t reality itself but an interpretation of reality that we have learned (through evolution) that will best guide us in the right direction.

When we taste an apple, it tastes sweet. ‘Sweet’ doesn’t really have an objective reality, it’s just a signal from a fitness function in our tastebuds that - in general - sweet things are better for humanity in a resource-scarce environment so eating an apple is a Good Thing.

That’s sensible enough.

The twist this book brings is: it’s not just the sweetness of the apple that is a fitness function interpretation, but the smell of the apple, the feel of the apple, the visibility of the apple... Everything we experience about the apple, as interpreted via our senses, is guided by evolution-driven fitness functions. In short: the apple doesn’t exist - something exists, but it’s not really an apple.

And not just apples. Spoons, trains, everything we experience. We don’t experience reality. We don’t see a ‘train’ as such, but evolution has taught us that when we experience seeing a train we’d better get out of its way.

The theoretical underpinnings of this theory are interesting, and I’m interested to see what comes from it in the future.

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‘Manual For Alt Seazon’

Score: 4/5

With altcoins taking off last month and heading steeply down this month, this book shows how one man handled the ups and downs of altcoin trading in previous years.

It’s not just a book of experiences - the author also provides some guides and advice on trades, setups and money management.

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‘History, Stories, Not Examples’

Score: 3/5

If you want a book about the history and uses of Bayes’ Theorem, then this is for you. There’s less about the Theorem itself than I’d expected - for some reason I thought the book would open with an introduction to the Theorem, descriptions of the variables in the formulae, and some simple examples showing it working in practice.

The Theorem is described, sortof, the variables are described too, but none of that is really a focus. The focus is really on the history of the Theorem through the years, why folks didn’t use it, why folks used it but didn’t talk about it, and finally why folks are using it.

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‘Cork Based Noir Thriller’

Score: 4/5

All Noelie wants to do is find out who stole is record collection back in the 80’s...

OK, it’s a bit more complicated than that, and it swiftly becomes more complicated still. But it’s an interesting noir, all set with Cork as the interesting backdrop. Enjoyable.

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‘More Moscow Watch Antics’

Score: 4/5

More japes with the Russian Watch. It’s another enjoyable romp, so if you liked the previous ones you’ll probably like this one too.

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‘Interesting, Easy To Read’

Score: 4/5

I suppose I should have expected a book about UFO culture to come across as ‘UFO authors I have spoken to’. I guess everyone in UFO culture has a book to sell.

I think I’d hoped for something as bizarre as ‘American Cosmic’ - I still don’t know what to make of that book.

But it’s not. This is just a regular book about UFO culture, people in the UFO community, and some firsthand experiences of UFO places (although no actual firsthand ‘UFO experiences’). Interesting, and easy to read.

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