Sunday, September 14, 2014


I decided to try another nature submission app other than Calflora. The one that seemed the next logical choice was iNaturalist. Today I submitted identifications of about a dozen insects living in my backyard

For plants in California it is inferior to Calflora as a submission tool. The lists Calflora develops make it really easy to quickly input every plant you know on a site. However once you submit, the iNaturalist app has a much better system for people to check your identifications. For example when I misidentified an ant, someone came back to me within minutes pointing out my error.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Book ratings

I decided that it is time to update my book list. I have stuck with a hard criteria of keeping old ratings the same and only adding new books. In a few cases I am sure I would have moved things around, this is particularly true with some which I rated highly nearly a decade ago. However I maintained that whichever my first review stands since I am likely to forget good things about a book I read so long ago.

No books got a 1 or 2 stars. This bugged me for a while but it makes sense because most of the books were non-fiction on subjects I am interested in. It is much less hit and miss than when reading fiction. Science fiction and fantasy are full of series which start off well, then have a horrible book meaning it is much more likely I will give them a 1 or 2 stars.

Only one new book got 5 stars, The Last Rhino. I suspect that is a problem of higher standards. Several of the books which were rated 4 stars were better than The World is Flat or Stumbling on Happiness. None was as good as Surly you're Joking Mr Feynman! Guns Germs and Steel,  Green Metropolis, Outliers, in Defense of Food or the Black Swan though.

5 Stars
The Last Rhino
Green Metropolis 
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
For the Love of Physics
Triumph of the City
Hyperion (4 book series)
Song of Ice and Fire series books 1, 2, and 3
Energy for Future Presidents
The Black Swan
Made to Stick: Why some Ideas Survive, and Others Die
In Defense of Food
Kabloona: Among the Inuit
Guns Germs and Steel
The Solar Fraud
A Case for Nuclear Generated Electricity
The World is Flat
Surely you're Joking, Mr Feynman!
The Omnivore's Dilemma
The Tipping Point
Ender's Game
Speaker for the Dead(book 2 Ender's Game)
Predictably Irrational
Stumbling on Happiness
Beyond Oil
Atlas Shrugged
The Time Traveler's Wife
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
For Whom the Bell Tolls
The Glass Castle

4 Stars:  
Wizard - the Life and Times of Nikola Tesla
The Sixth Extinction
Capital in the Twenty-First Century
AC DC the Savage Tale of the First Standards War
The Mushroom Hunters
Mission to Mars
The Hunger Games Series
The Better Angels of Our Nature
Galactic North
Death by Black Hole
The End of the Suburbs
The Double Helix
Falling Upward
Einstein His Life and Universe
Benjamin Franklin
Galactic North
Four Fish
Agent to the Stars
Powering the Future
House of Suns
Lions of Kandahar
The Invisible Gorilla
Dark Elf (3 book series)
Gang Leader for a Day
Quantum - Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality
Rama (4 book series)
At Home
Song of Ice and Fire Books 4 and 5
Stranger in a Strange Land
Ender's Shadow
Sword of Truth Series Books 1 and 2
Earth Abides
The Alchemist
Disc World (40 book series, I have got through perhaps 30 of them) 
The Invisible Man
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Eragon (4 book series)
Relationship Cure
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Animal Farm
American Soldier: Audiobiography of General Tommy Franks
The Republic
American Gods
Darwin's Radio
The Father of Spin(biography of Edward Bernays)
Sleeping with the Devil
The End of Oil
The Art of the Long View
The Wheel of time(11 book series)
Harry Potter(7 book series)
Team of Rivals
A Scanner Darkly
The life of Pi
The Kite Runner
I am America(and so can you)
Don't Lets go to the Dogs Tonight
A decade of Curious People, and Dangerous Ideas
Confessions of an Economic Hitman
The Know it All
Our Inner Ape
His Dark Materials (3 book series)
The Origin of Species
Starship Troopers
Sway: the irresistible pull of Irrational Behavior
Altered Carbon
Anansi Boys
Snow Crash

3 Stars  
Wicked Plants
This Immortal
When Oil Peaked
Napoleon's Buttons
The Disappearing Spoon
The Most Powerful Idea in the World
The Education of Henry Adams
Wicked Plants
Packing for Mars
The Left Hand of Darkness
The World Until Yesterday
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
History of Western Philosophy
Call of the Wild
Shannara (long series I got three or four books in then stopped)
The Dark Tower(7 book series)
Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army
The Bear and the Dragon
The Soul of Battle
Slaughterhouse five
A Man in Full
Fast Food Nation
The Case for Democracy
The Bottomless Well
Microtrends: The small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes
What Happened

2 Stars
The Sound and the Fury
Sword of Truth Series Books 3 through 12
The hero with a Thousand Faces
Fahrenheit 451
Death of a Salesman
Revolutionary Wealth
The World of the Ancient Maya
The Warning
The Ancestor's Tale
On Bullshit
Status Anxiety
Alexander the Great and His Time

1 Star
Tomorrow's Energy
Are Men Necessary?
Xenocide(book 3 Ender's Game)

Over 1500

Calflora has stopped telling me how many entries I have made. I can only see the most recent 1500 submissions.

I didn't realize how unusual this was until I looked at how many plants other people were submitting on their observation hotline. My submissions look to be something like 20% of the total number for the last few months. There are a surprising number of plants where I am the only one who has submitted an observation with a picture. For example: Sphaeralcea ambigua, Cylindropuntia ganderi, Agave deserti, Funastrum cynanchoides, Larrea tridentata.

I also brought the California Native Plant subreddit from about 30 subscribers up to over 150.