Question of the Day

What are your favorite reads of the year so far?

I’ve talked about how I love using Goodreads plenty of times. As book tracking software it does the job but where it really shines is being able to see what friends are reading. I’ve found so many good recommendations that way. Here are some of the books I’ve read this year that have been fantastic.


I’m currently reading The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. which is Neal Stephenson’s latest tome. I can’t fully recommend it yet since I’m only a third of a way through and sometimes his novels have a way of unraveling but I’m loving it so far.


The Stranger in the Woods. Totally engrossing story about a guy who walks off into the woods one day and lives there for a few decades. He isn’t exactly a sympathetic character considering that he manages to live in the woods by burglarizing the neighborhood community but the story is still compelling.


American Kingpin. About the founder of The Silk Road aka Amazon.com for drugs. I had heard of The Silk Road a few years ago but couldn’t understand why anybody would actually get illegal substances through the mail. That’s about as much thought I had put into it which probably helped when reading this book since I had no idea how it ended. Probably the 2nd best book I have read this year. I should probably mention my favorite.


My Favorite Thing is Monsters. Holy crap. I’m not a huge fan of graphic novels, or comics, or whatever you choose to call them. I heard about this from an NPR story and the library happened to have it in. The story of how the author wrote it is a story in itself, and this is her debut graphic novel. A girl transfixed by monster movies, who sees herself as a monster detective trying to unravel a murder of a survivor of the holocaust in 1960s Chicago. There’s a lot going on in that book and the graphics are breathtaking.

Wait, What?

From CNN:

MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski claim President Trump and his White House used the possibility of a hit piece in the National Enquirer to threaten them.

But President Trump has a very different account of what happened. “FAKE NEWS,” he tweeted during “Morning Joe” Friday morning.

The editor in charge of the Enquirer, Dylan Howard, said “we have no knowledge of any discussions between the White House and Joe and Mika about our story, and absolutely no involvement in those discussions.”

Meanwhile, Scarborough says he has proof of the White House threats — “I have texts from your top aides and phone records.”

Scarborough and Brzezinski are essentially alleging a form of blackmail.

The accusation came during a wider discussion about the president’s offensive tweets targeting the co-hosts. It piqued the attention of journalists because it implies that the president is using a friendly media outlet to punish his opponents.

New TSA Policy May Lead to Increased Scrutiny of Reading Material

Because keeping track of your shoes, wallet, cellphone, belt, jacket, laptop, carry-on bag, identification, and a plastic bag of your liquids (no more than 1 oz each or whatever it is now) while being irradiated and groped by TSA wasn’t enough of a hassle:

The TSA is testing new requirements that passengers remove books and other paper goods from their carry-on baggage when going through airline security. Given the sensitivity of our reading choices, this raises privacy concerns.

Tests of the policy are underway in some small airports around the country, and DHS Secretary John Kelly recently said that “we might, and likely will” apply the policy nationwide. “What we’re doing now is working out the tactics, techniques, and procedures, if you will, in a few airports, to find out exactly how to do that with the least amount of inconvenience to the traveler,” he told Fox News. The policy may also apply to food items.

The rationale for the policy change given by Kelly and the TSA is that the imposition of growing fees for checked baggage by the airlines has prompted passengers to more densely pack their carry-ons, and that this has made it harder for screeners to identify particular items amid the jumble of images appearing on their screens. Laptops must already be pulled out separately because they are regarded as a heightened threat and can be better examined if they are not scanned in a bag with many other objects. It is not clear to me whether books are also regarded as a special threat or whether they are hard for the TSA to distinguish from explosives. I do know from a tour I was given of the TSA’s testing facility a few years ago that the scanners highlight items that are especially dense, and items that are organic (since explosives are made of organic, i.e. carbon-based, matter). That’s probably why the agency thinks it would speed things along to pull out food and books.