Book Review: The Explosive Child

This was one of the first books I’ve read that so specifically addressed the unique difficulties we’ve been encountering with one of our kids, and the insight it provided was eye-opening and validating.

Dr. Greene’s descriptions of some scenarios people encounter at home were strikingly accurate. It kind of shook me up with how absolutely on the mark some of these descriptions and scenarios were. For me, the scenarios depicted weren’t just abstract concepts but felt like real-life situations that played out in our home.

It had some interesting ideas and strategies for navigating situations that might cause these explosions that I can’t wait to try. Namely, a concept called “collaborative problem solving”, which involves validating your child’s feelings and concerns and then working with them to come up with a solution.

The book is refreshingly honest about the complexity of these challenges, acknowledging that there’s no magic solution or quick fix. Even though there is no silver bullet, it definitely gives me hope that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an oncoming train.

In summary, I believe “The Explosive Child” to be a profoundly insightful and valuable resource for parents grappling with similar challenges.

Book Review: The Last Island by Adam Goodheart

A few days ago, I stumbled upon a Reddit post about someone taking a photo as they flew over North Sentinel Island. I can’t recall hearing about this particular island at all, so I popped into the comments to see what the big deal was.

As it turns out, this island has one of the last remaining un-contacted tribes on Earth. Oh! Now this is interesting. It’s especially relevant, because a recently released book dives into the history of this island.

The Last Island, by Adam Goodheart, documents the author’s journey to the Andaman Islands in the late 90’s and his attempt to see the island with his own eyes.

It’s a very quick read (272 pages) and I went through it in about 2 days. After the author sharing his initial experience with visiting the Andamans, he explores the history of British colonization of the archipelago, the attempts to convert (“save”) local tribespeople, and some of the exploitation and abuse that happened as well.

More recently, attempts to interact with native tribespeople in other parts of the Andaman Islands has given insight into various issues the tribes face as they integrate with modern society. Disease is obviously the biggest, but alcoholism plays a part as well:

They live now in a restricted tribal reserve at the southern end of the island; these onetime hunter-gatherers now depend largely on food supplied by the Indian authorities. Malnutrition rates, alcoholism, and infant mortality are reportedly high. In 2008, at least eight Onge men and boys⁠—almost a tenth of the tribe’s remaining population⁠—died after drinking the contents of a bottle that they had found on the beach, which they believed to be an alcoholic beverage; it was actually a toxic chemical solvent.

Through it all, a tiny little island located 20 miles off the coast seemed to defy these attempts. It’s partly due to the treacherous reefs around the island, and partly due to the fact that British colonizers saw nothing of value on the tiny island.

Calling the Sentinelese an “un-contacted” tribe is a bit of a misnomer, since there were various expeditions throughout the last 100 years or so that involved kidnapping (!), dropping off various gifts (coconuts, pots and pans), a shipwreck in 1981 (check it out on Google Maps!), and the misguided attempts of an American evangelical who illegally landed on the island in 2018 and was quickly killed by the inhabitants.

In 1956, the Indian government passed a law that prohibited visitors from coming in contact with the island (though as seen above, this has not been strictly enforced). In more recent times, the Sentinelese have taken a more protective approach (rightly so, considering recent history).

Via Wikipedia:

The Sentinelese have repeatedly attacked approaching vessels, whether the boats were intentionally visiting the island or simply ran aground on the surrounding coral reef. The islanders have been observed shooting arrows at boats, as well as at low-flying helicopters. Such attacks have resulted in injury and death. In 2006, islanders killed two fishermen whose boat had drifted ashore, and in 2018 an American Christian missionary, 26-year-old John Chau, was killed after he attempted to make contact with the islanders three separate times and paid local fishermen to transport him to the island.

Overall, I thought the book was an interesting look at the history of this area, and an exploration into our fascination with un-contacted tribes that still exist in the modern world and the way in which we tend to idealize them (and treat them in a similar way to the animals we see at the zoo or on a safari).

3/5 stars

DALL-E 3: Adding text to your text-to-prompt images

I recently got access to DALL-E 3 through OpenAI’s ChatGPT+ interface. One of the key features and improvements in their image model is the ability to generate coherent text within the image.

Let’s give it a try, based on one of the most popular StackOverflow questions: How do I exit Vim?

Using the following prompt: Oil painting of a hacker furiously typing commands into an old computer and muttering to himself, “how does one exit vim?”

That… is pretty good!

Book Review: Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

I recently finished Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. I’ve long been intrigued by Leonardo and his seemingly limitless curiosity. I think I decided to finally pick up this book due to the release of another Isaacson biography that I don’t really have a desire to read — Elon Musk (cue booing sounds).

While I appreciated learning about Leonardo’s various endeavors and various aspects of his personal life, I found myself distracted by Isaacson’s narrative style. Maybe I’ve read too many of his books as of late (Benjamin Franklin, Einstein, Steve Jobs, Innovators, and Code Breaker), but I’ve found that his method of telling a biography has become somewhat repetitive.

That said, the book isn’t without its merits. The accounts of Leonardo’s projects, especially insights into various works such as his anatomical studies, the Last Supper and the Mona Lisa held my attention. These serve as reminders of da Vinci’s unique contributions to both art and science.

For those unfamiliar with Isaacson’s previous works, this biography might come off as more enlightening. But as someone who’s journeyed through his other books, there was a sense of “been there, read that.”

Overall, “Leonardo da Vinci” earns a 3 out of 5 from me. Informative, but perhaps not the standout biography of Leonardo I was hoping for.

Book Review: The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes

The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes captured my attention from start to finish. Going into it, I was fascinated by the idea of understanding the convergence of minds that led to the creation of one of history’s most powerful and controversial weapons. And of course, the recent buzz about the Oppenheimer movie contributed to this interest as well.

Rhodes doesn’t just delve into the technicalities of the bomb’s construction, which, on its own, would have been captivating. He masterfully presents the lives, backgrounds, and motivations of the characters involved.

A large part of the first third or so of the book digs into nuclear chemistry and the intense research going on to figure out these chain reactions. It was just absolutely fascinating.

What I found particularly interesting were the insights into the parallel efforts in Japan and Germany. It provided a unique view of the global race that was underway, further elevating the stakes and suspense of the story.

Throughout the book, there was this compelling juxtaposition: the brilliance of the minds at work against the backdrop of the impending devastation their creation would bring. It’s a testament to Rhodes’s storytelling that he managed to weave these narratives seamlessly.

“The Making of the Atomic Bomb” was a stellar read, and it easily gets a 5 out of 5 from me. For anyone curious about the people and the drama behind the science, this is a must-read.

Mr. RossBot is back!

Alrighty, I updated the logic this weekend and have Mr. RossBot operating on the hairy elephant website (Mastodon). (It’s also posting on Threads, if you’re into that sort of thing.)

I also updated the image model to use’s swanky new SDXL model. I’m pretty impressed with the results.