Stuff I’m reading, part 142857

I’m really enjoying reading quite an unusual book right now: Maynard & Jennica, written by Rudolph Delson. I’d never heard of the book or the author before; I’d stumbled across it while looking for Mark Andrejevic’s iSpy while shopping at the MIT Coop bookstore earlier this week. And the reason why I went looking for iSpy? I’d seen a recommendation by Daniel Solove somewhere or the other, while researching him as part of re-reading The Digital Person. I’d strongly recommend all three books, actually.

Why do I like Maynard and Jennica so much? I guess I’m a sucker for well-written monologue and dialogue, particularly where there’s a fresh voice. Delson manages much more than that, there are so many narrators, each with a rich and distinct voice, you lose count after a while. Every voice stands out. Delightful. Thank you Rudolph Delson.

What else am I reading?

Queenpin by Megan Abbott : Never heard of her before, picked up while meandering around a bookstore in Coronado Island. Picked up as a result of reading cover reviews by Ken Bruen and Allan Guthrie, two authors I like. Unstarted.

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami: Heard about the film, haven’t watched it though. Wanted to read the book, took time for me to find a decent English translation. Started, unusual, a bit stilted so far.

The Creation by E.O. Wilson: Been reading Wilson ever since he got into Consilience. Read this before, gently re-reading it.

The Design of Future Things by Donald A Norman. Read the predecessor Everyday many times, didn’t know he’d brought a sequel out, looking forward to reading it properly on the plane to Denver en route Defrag. Skimmed once.

The Crime Writer by Gregg Hurwitz. Again a “directed” pick at the Coronado Island bookstore. Picked based on reading cover reviews by Robert Crais and Dennis Lehane. Unstarted.

Code Version 2.0 by Larry Lessig. Read the original, not had time to read the updated edition, now reading it.

[An aside. Why part 142857? Well, 0.142857 (recurring) is the decimal representation of 1/7; I should really have a dot over the one and the seven in the decimal part, but I can’t find a way of doing it. It’s what is called a “circulating decimal”, as opposed to a “terminating” decimal or a “recurring” decimal; so, for example, 2/7 is 0.285714, 3/7 is 0.428571, and so on. The same six digits, gently moving around. Circulating.

Circulating decimals are strange beasts. If you take the string 142857 for example, you get some very unusual behaviours. 14 plus 28 plus 57 equals 99. 142 plus 857 equals 999. 1 plus 4 plus 2 etc etc equals 9. You get my drift.

The length of the circulating string of numbers, as in 0.142857, is called its period; so 1/7 is a circulating decimal with a period of 6.  There are many circulating decimals. For example, 1/97 is a circulating decimal, with a period of 96.

A nested aside: You may enjoy proving to yourself that you cannot have a circulating decimal with a period equal to or greater than the denominator of the fractional representation.]

6 thoughts on “Stuff I’m reading, part 142857”

  1. Jon, I haven’t had the chance to pick up your book from Jennifer, but thanks anyway, I really appreciate it. And I must admit I’ve left four colour puzzles alone for some time now, along with dogs and sheep and boats and bridges…. but I will read what you posted and let you know what I think.

    Nigel, I bought the book at Bay Books Coronado last Tuesday, their web site is as follows:

    http://www.baybookscoronado.com/aboutus.htm

    Happy to lend you my copy….while I am a collector I am the type whose books actually look read, if you get what I mean. Just let me know how to get the book to you, my e-mail is [email protected]

  2. Nigel, I assumed you aren’t normally at BTC. If that’s where you work, then just ping me when you are around. I tend to come in around 645 am, some investment banking habits are hard to break….

  3. I found you via technorati — I’ve gotten rather obsessed by Maynard and Jennica. I think it’s a fantastic book. There’s a great review in today’s New York Times Book Review as well.

    I love dark humor mixed with romance. It’s a difficult thing to pull off — a combination of cynical and sappy.

  4. JP,

    Hope you are well. I know this is probably quite low brow given the other stuff you are reading, but I just read the new Ben Elton- Blind Faith, which is a great post apocolyptic view on the logical extrapolation of the world of face book to the premise that privacy becomes a crime. It is quite derivative of 1984 yet….

Let me know what you think

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