Skip to main content


Considering retiring this blog

I'm seriously considering retiring this blog. When I started it in 2008, it was a place for me to share thoughts and links on a variety of topics. For at least the last year, however, it's just been a place where I re-post book reviews from Goodreads.

You can see all my book reviews on my Goodreads profile, and subscribe to my Goodreads RSS feed to be notified of new reviews. I also intend to keep blogging about WordPress, web design, and web-related topics on my OptimWise blog, which also has an RSS feed.

Would you miss this blog if I discontinued it? Please leave a comment.

Review: The Only Guide To Winning Investment Strategy You'll Ever Need by Larry E. Swedroe

The Only Guide To Winning Investment Strategy You'll Ever Need: Index Funds and Beyond--The Way Smart Money Creates Wealth Today by Larry E. Swedroe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Swedroe makes a compelling case for using diversified, global, passive asset class investing, based on Modern Portfolio Theory. He explains to the average investor how markets work, why they work that way, and how to make them work for you. He shows how to construct a portfolio based on academic theory and statistical evidence compiled from many studies covering several decades. I don’t agree that this is the only investment guide you’ll ever need, but it’s a good part of your knowledgebase. You should also read some of the investing books on my Finance shelf on Goodreads.

Swedroe says that the question of market efficiency is irrelevant. The real question is: can active management overcome its expenses and add value over passive investing? The evidence says no. Neither fundamental nor technical analysis has pr…

Review: Spider-Man: The Ultimate Guide by Tom DeFalco

Spider-Man: The Ultimate Guide by Tom DeFalco
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This compendium includes heroes, villains, and civilians from the Spider-Man comics. It covers Spidey’s comics from 1963 (his first appearance) to 2000, and features many illustrations and panels from the comics. The text details the bios and origins of the characters, as well as memorable events in the web-slinger’s history.

The book isn’t well-organized; it’s not always clear what order it follows. The pages aren’t laid out well either; there are blocks of text and captions scattered all over, and it’s difficult to tell in which order you’re supposed to read them.

One thing that I knew about Marvel comics, which this book reinforced, is that no story is final; everything’s open to revision. Characters turn out to be other than they claim, people “die” and return to life; and shocking events are later revealed to be illusions or hoaxes. It’s clear from this book that the writers of Spider-Man created increasingly o…

Review: Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading Ender's Game (my review), I had to find out what happened in Ender's future. At first I was disappointed to find out that so much time had passed between Ender's Game and this book; at the end of Ender's Game, he was 9 years old, but in Speaker, he starts in his 20s. However, I found that this allowed Ender to face more complex issues than he had as a boy. Religion especially is featured much more prominently in Speaker and the other 2 books of Ender's Saga than in Ender's Game.

Still, I didn't like this book as much as Ender's Game. One of the major reasons I liked Ender’s Game is because I enjoyed seeing Ender’s thought process; watching him think his way out of problematic situations. There’s not as much of that in Speaker because he's more in control than he was in Ender's Game. Also, I didn't care about most of the characters; not Novinha, her family, or the …

Review: What to Eat by Marion Nestle

What to Eat by Marion Nestle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nestle explains not only the nutritional science behind making healthy food choices, but also explores the economic, political, and environmental considerations. I was looking for nutritional advice, so I skimmed many pages that dealt with the other issues. However, I did find the information on food marketing interesting. Nestle summarizes the scientific research, presents several options, then makes recommendations. There are a few special topics at the end, including baby food, which I haven’t seen in the other nutrition books I’ve read.

Nestle’s nutritional guidelines are simple: select unprocessed or minimally processed foods; eat vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains. Meat isn’t necessary, but you can eat lean meats, poultry, fish, and eggs in moderation. Dairy isn’t necessary, low-fat dairy can fit into a healthy diet.

I had heard this book referenced in several other nutrition books and articles, and it…

Review: Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This thoroughly researched biography takes a close look at Benjamin Franklin’s life, particularly exploring his personality and beliefs. It starts with his English ancestors, follows his parents’ emigration to America, then chronicles his life until his death. I enjoyed reading the stories behind his many maxims. The book provides insight into colonial life before, during, and after the American Revolution. It highlights Franklin’s achievements and lasting influence on America.

I had considered myself a Franklin fan, and I learned more that I like about him, but I also unexpectedly learned even more that soured my view of him. I admire his work ethic, frugality, innovation, self-improvement, entrepreneurship, business sense, negotiating abilities, and rational decision-making. However, although he was personable and a great networker, his relationships were generally shallow, and he was a distant and genera…

Review: Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a very useful and detailed guide to negotiating for mutual gain. It’s a mix of theory, application, and examples. The advice is realistic; it says to be optimistic but aware of your limits. As a freelance web designer (OptimWise), I negotiate in sales and client relations. I’ve seen this book mentioned in magazines like Inc. and Entrepreneur, and a few business and sales books. I finally decided to read it when it was recommended on This Week in Web Design.
Main ideas Understand empathetically their point of view. Explain your interests and reasoning before presenting your proposal. Otherwise, they may not listen to your reasoning. Never yield to pressure; only to principle. Expand the pie, don’t simply divide it. Aim for mutual gain. Negotiate to strengthen the relationship, not strain it. Separate the People from the Problem Don’t blame. Involve them in the decision-…