Category Archives: Books

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup is the fascinating , and infuriating, story of Theranos, a Silicon Valley startup that promised a host of common blood tests performed from a single drop of finger-pricked blood on a machine that you could have in your home. It is exactly the kind of pie-in-the sky idea that gets a startup funded with piles and piles of money, and Theranos definitely got piles of money. John Carreyrou is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and his work covering this company led to the discovery of massive fraud and general bad practices that eventually led to the dissolution of Theranos, altogether.

Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and CEO, is obvs. a bad person lacking any kind of moral compass. An impossibly self-obsessed, and weirdly Steve Jobs-obsessed, monster who cast aside the concepts of patient safety and fiduciary honesty to pump up the profile and funding of her company. I’m not spoiling anything when I tell you not to worry, she gets her just desserts in the end.

The story is very well-told and Carreyrou keeps up the journalistic tone even when he becomes a part of the story, as Theranos starts suing him for his reporting. Startup culture seems miserable. The fake-it-til-you-make-it mindset that was foundational to so many successful companies just doesn’t work when you’re trying to “disrupt healthcare”. “Fudging some numbers” when people’s lives are potentially at stake is fucking monstrous, no matter your valuation.

It is important to remember that there are lots of stories where the Bad Guys lose. This is one of them. It’s an an idea that could use more play nowadays, IMO.

“Music From Big Pink” is 50 years old.

It’s crazy to me that this record is 50 years old. I never listened to it until after I read the 33 1/3 novella “Music From Big Pink”, which is a fictionalized story of the recording of the album.

It’s one of those albums that gets the major hype treatment from the baby boomers but, IMO, it lives up to it.

“Um, is it sea-cock?”

Been reading through old issues of Marvel Team-Up. The 70’s were a strange time.

The Incredibles | A Little Golden Book

Oh wow. Design shop Invisible Creature was commissioned to make this Little Golden Book for The Incredibles.

I half-wish my kids were still young enough to be into this.

Back Alley Bookends

via Spoon and Tamago, these appeal to my appreciation of the miniaturized mundane.

via twitter user @monde

The clever idea is the brainchild of a Japanese designer who goes by the name monde. Based in Tokyo, monde creates objects inspired by the city but also animals and insects. The back alley bookends come in a pair and can be used together to replicate a small back alley, or they can be used individually, exposing the intricate stepping stones, A/C units, piping, plants and other details that have been carefully recreated by hand.

Comics via Kindle

I took advantage of an Amazon sale of $1 Marvel collections to check out reading comics on the kindle. It’s been a really great experience.

The video above is from The Vision:The Complete Series and is an example of how the kindle app slides around a full- or splash-page layout. The way the app slides from frame-to-frame is slick, too.

You can pry my LCS from my cold, dead hands but comics on the kindle is an easy way to catch up on things I wouldn’t otherwise read.

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know podcast with Jeff Smith

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know is a podcast presented by BoingBoing: “it’s an interview podcast featuring artists, writers, filmmakers, and other creative people discussing their work, ideas, and the reality/business side of how they do what they do”.

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I really enjoyed this interview with Jeff Smith, best know around my house as the creator of Bone. I don’t know if you listen to podcasts but this one was good. He has cool stories to tell about self-publishing and comics back before the internet.

A couple Patrick Rothfuss videos

Despite being an early and eager adopter of his Kingkiller Chronicles I haven’t followed him much otherwise. Here are a couple of recent videos I watched featuring Pat Rothfuss.

This first one is a roundtable discussion about storytelling in video games with Colin McComb (Torment), Jerry Holkins (From Penny Arcade), and Veronica Belmont (From Sword and Laser). It raised some interesting questions about storytelling but I don’t have the video game knowledge to get a lot of where they go. To me, Rothfuss came across as a whiny old baby crying because “they just don’t make them like they used to”. I hear this a lot when talking about modern music. That argument is bullshit. There is always good creative work happening but sometimes it takes more work to find it than you’re willing to put out. Holkins rightly calls him on it and Rothfuss gets it. It’s a good listen.

This Triangulation interview has a genuinely poor Skype connection but I liked Rothfuss a lot more after watching it. His process is something I’m definitely interested in. (That’s just a link to the page. I couldn’t get the embed link to work, likely an id10t error.) Here’s a tasty screenshot:


Links to both are via Patrick Rothfuss’ blog.

“Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1-5)” by Hugh Howey


Last year, Ronan asked me if I’d read Wool and I’d never heard of it. At $6 from Amazon it was easy enough to take a chance on.

The omnibus is a series of stories set in a common environment. Howey wrote the first one and the response from readers was so strong that he wrote more in the same world. It’s a smartly-built environment but is not so impossible or unbelievable that you can’t understand the motivations in play. There is a pervasive tension that builds throughout the series but Howey makes plenty of room for some surprisingly sad and tender moments, too.

I liked it a lot. The first is free (for kindle) and if you like it you should definitely keep going. There are cool ideas in there. The stories get longer as you go with the first around 60 pages and the 5th over 250.