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Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon
reviews

Review: Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon

★★★☆☆

An eye-opening look at the vulnerabilities inherent in a connected world, this book tells the story of the first large scale cyberweapon (that we know of) through the eyes of those that discovered it. It's a sober reminder for those of us who write software for a living that what we create can also be co-opted for destructive purposes. It's also a call to contemplate the implications of our software-controlled economy and how it is changing the landscape of warfare.

Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon
reviews

Review: Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man's First Journey to the Moon

★★★★★

A wonderfully grounded story about space travel, this book frames the first manned trip to the moon perfectly within its historical context — the tumult of 1968 and the breakneck pace of the Space Race within the broader Cold War. Kurson weaves a thrilling storyline in and out of enough backstory to make the reader emotionally invested in the astronauts, their NASA ground crew, and their families.

It's a story of hope and awe in the midst of social turmoil not unlike our present times.

William Tecumseh Sherman: In the Service of My Country: A Life
reviews

Review: William Tecumseh Sherman: In the Service of My Country: A Life

★★★★★

To Southerners like me, Sherman has long been a byword for the excesses and brutality of war. Chernow's Grant did much to dispel that image of the celebrated general, but this book presents a much more complete picture of the man who would march the Army of the Tennessee from Chattanooga to the sea and on to Virginia via the Carolinas.

The period of Sherman's antebellum life from West Point to California was almost as interesting as from Shiloh to Durham. I wish there had been more post-War content. The period of his friend's scandal-ridden presidency was barely mentioned. His time presiding over the Army during the country's post-war westward expansion and its conflicts with the Plains Indians also received scant treatment.

Even so, it's a well-written, well-researched and entertaining read.

The Taking of K-129: How the CIA Used Howard Hughes to Steal a Russian Sub in the Most Daring Covert Operation in History
reviews

Review: The Taking of K-129: How the CIA Used Howard Hughes to Steal a Russian Sub in the Most Daring Covert Operation in History

★★★★★

I thoroughly enjoyed the thread Dean weaves through the rise of the CIA, its big personalities, high tech, and tradecraft.

As the nation realized its decade-long dream of reaching the moon, the CIA undertook another near-impossible goal of recovering a Soviet nuclear sub three miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, all under the cover of a fake Howard Hughes-backed undersea mining operation.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
reviews

Review: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

★★★★★

Nonfiction storytelling at its best. Grann draws on extensive research to tell a gripping account of the Osage Indian murders. In 1920s Oklahoma, the frontier was closed, but the Indian killing continued as corrupt men sought to separate the Osage from their newfound oil wealth. During a four-year reign of terror mostly forgotten to history, scores (or by some accounts, hundreds) of Osage died under mysterious and often violent circumstances. The investigation of these deaths built momentum for the organization that became the modern FBI.

journal

Hello InVision

The response to my previous post was amazing. Within a week, I had met with people from a half dozen companies trying to find the best fit. By the end of the next week, I had a great offer in hand with a company where I felt I could make a real impact.

Then I met Nick one Wednesday for lunch. Over tacos, we reflected on how the development landscape had changed in the twenty years since we'd started, especially on the frontend. Though still rapidly evolving, the rise of design systems and component frameworks makes it feel like we're closing in on the reality of a shared process between designers and developers. Nick works at InVision, a company who has been enabling designers and developers to collaborate better for years.

Nick asked if I'd be interested in exploring a role there. I told him that I definitely would, but I already had an offer in hand, and I didn't want to string that company along indefinitely. I was hoping to give them an answer by the end of the week. He said he understood and would talk to his boss and see what they could do.

The next 48 hours were a blur. Thursday, I met with Kirby, Nick's manager, and we had an engaging conversation about the product, the tech stack, and scaling engineering teams. That evening I got a call from Clay, an InVision recruiter, asking my availability for interviews the next day. I cleared my calendar, and he scheduled five back-to-back interviews via video calls on Friday. I've run the interview gauntlet many times, but never have I had a series of effortless conversations as these.

By 3pm that day, I had received an offer to join InVision as a Principal Engineer working on Studio. I was thrilled to accept.

I'm so happy to be working on such a cool app for a great team at an incredible company.

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
reviews

Review: Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

★★★☆☆

I picked up this book because I wanted to understand better the rise of the world's richest man and his legacy — a business legacy that lives on in corporate logos we see every day and a family legacy that extended all the way to the Lieutenant Governor's office of my home state of Arkansas.

Taking nothing away from Chernow's meticulous research and understated storytelling, the actual life of John D. Rockefeller seems rather dull. There was the ongoing tension between his Northern Baptist faith and his desire to accumulate and steward wealth, but the far more entertaining portions of the book follow Rockefeller's unresolved tension with his bigamist father and conflicts with Ida Tarbell and Teddy Roosevelt.

Perhaps the book's greatest value is its telling of, primarily through the life of one man, the transformation of American culture and mainline Protestantism. From Moody and Fosdick to Jung, Rockefeller, his family, or his surrogates were riding the same streams of the oncoming wave of Progressivism at the turn of the last century.

Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics Is Destroying American Democracy
reviews

Review: Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics Is Destroying American Democracy

★★★★★

Building on his previous work in Liberal Fascism, Goldberg makes the case that tribalism, populism, nationalism, and identity politics aren't new phenomena but merely evidence of civilization returning to its natural state, like an overgrown garden. Following the thread of Lockean and Rousseauian thought, he argues that modern populism is really the same Romantic reaction to the Enlightenment that never really faded, now dressed up as reality TV.

Well-researched (the appendix is nearly a fifth of the book's bulk) and well-written with Goldberg's usual wit and sarcasm, it's an entertaining read.

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