Book review: “This Is How You Lose The Time War”, by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

This Is How You Lose The Time War

This is the story of two agents fighting in a war, but not any war, a Time War between two factions, delivering taunts to each other in strange and hidden ways. I liked the sophisticated language related to the complexity of the War: strand, threads, braids, to travel “up thread” and “down thread”; because of course changing the past and the future, makes things messy. I liked that this is a time travel story where everyone didn’t turned to be the same person just in different time lines.

When you’re used to hyperspace recharging stations, to sunlight and cosmic rays, when most of the beauty you’ve know liens in a great machine’s heart, its hard to see the appeal of using bones that poke from spit-coated gums to mash things that grew in dirt into a paste that will fit down the wet tube connecting your mouth to the sack of acid under your heart. Takes the new recruits a long time to get used to, once they’re decanted

Its not rare for time travel stories quickly turn very confusing and entangled; this one is straightforward, yet I have to say this is the most original time travel story I have read to date, no wonder it won the Best Novella 2020 Nebula Award. Definitely worth checking out.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): will we get through?

This week died the first person in Guatemala due to Coronavirus (covid-19). At least the initial measures the country has taken were good, to mention a few:

  • Banning foreigners, from countries with severe infections, to enter the country.
  • Sports and entertainment events are cancelled.
  • Schools are suspended.
  • Holy Week events are also suspended, also religious congregations (in person) aren’t allowed.
  • Public transportation was suspended in the whole country.
  • Most of the government activities are suspended. Private sector also should suspend activities, unless its food or cleaning related.
  • Other business could continue if they comply with the new health code related to this pandemic and they provide transportation aid to their employees.
  • In social media people are also urging others to stay at home, do remote working, and avoid contact whenever possible.
  • Also should be noted that the government has been doing a great job transmitting the measures taken. Not everything have been received well, but this is way better than the previous president. Its even calling out people to not fall for disinformation via social media.

But would that be enough? Will the people stay home or avoid contact as much as possible?

  • Guatemala is a poor country, most of the labor force doesn’t have any savings, so they are forced to “live by the day”, that’s it to earn nay money to buy food for the same day. Its unrealistic that these people will stay at home.
  • In the country, business owners are know to not comply with many of the labor laws; as the government is very slow with the labor inspections. So asking their employees to come to work (or be fired if they don’t) in the middle of pandemic crisis and while the public transportation is suspended, is not even surprising:
  • Those of us who can stay at home, we’re very privileged. The rest of the labor force will continue to risk being exposed to the virus, as long as there is not a clear ban to non-essential activities.
  • Whats worried some is that after 48 hours without new cases, the government is starting to downplay the severity of this disease. I believe we are way early to say such things.

We can only hope that it gets contained somehow, and for the world powers to develop cheap treatments or vaccines.

No doubt this is going to be a hard year, very likely the recession is upon us. This pandemic will be remembered by many.

To watch:

Vox published a few videos that are very informative about the COVID-19 disease:


Saga, the comic everyone should read*

I’m not really a Comic Book Guy, but still I had heard a lot about Saga, the epic space opera comic that feels like putting “Romeo & Juliet” inside of Star Wars type of universe, and them make them try to raise a family. And each one is from a different species, which were told they couldn’t reproduce between them, but they actually can. At times, it could feel like reading something from Game of Thrones.

Saga does a wonderful job portraying the struggles of raising a family in the middle of a interplanetary war-zone, and the universe gets pretty complex very soon. I would recommend Saga to any one who would like to get into comics.

* But be warned: Saga is very, very explicit and touches a lot of controversial topics. The sexual content is very graphic and explicit. Whatever you could imagine you will find, its gonna be past that. If you are open-minded enough, this comic is for you.

Comic: Saga - Compendium One
Saga – Compendium One.

The copy I got its the “Compendium One“, a huge 1300-page book collecting the 54 issues published so far. This is the first book I read in 2020, and I’m so glad I got a copy of all the material, I just couldn’t put it down.

One thing I liked is the use of Esperanto, even if broken, for the Blue language.

Saga – Blue language, which is actually Esperanto

Saga its easily a 5 of 5, won a Hugo for best graphic story and its been nominated multiple times again. The only bad thing is that the creators are in hiatus at the moment, the wait is going to be long…

Read more:

Ugh, Google is buying Fitbit

My first bit device, back in 2011

Pretty sure you already had heard the news of Google buying Fitbit for about 2 billion dollars, and I, as a customer, don’t like it.

Since the very first devices, I had liked Fitbit’s discreteness. Surely their devices weren’t oriented for professionals, like Garmin’s, but small enough to carry them on daily basis, the battery last about three weeks, and they sync whenever you are close to a PC (or your phone). I’m not a sporty nor outdoor type of people, so Fitbit is a great for tracking my overall walking activity without having to carry my phone all the time.

Some people are worried about their data, to which Fitbit responded:

The company never sells personal information, and Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads.

Of course, you don’t need to sell the data, or use it for ads, to profit from it: “IBM didn’t inform people when it used their Flickr photos for facial recognition training“. But fine, I feel my data on Fitbit’s servers is that important.

My gripe about Google buying Fitbit, is that the later would become a worse service. You see, Google is pretty inconsistent with their product strategies, for a corporation of their size that has been unable to sort out their messaging apps for so long, the future doesn’t look good for Fitbit. And Google’s customer support is terrible bad:

The lesson I learned a long time ago is Google products are great until you need to contact someone. I’m sure a few people have some ability to directly contact a real person at the company, but 99% of us are stuck with their product support forums that OP linked to, which frankly are terrible and rarely solve any real problems

ddtaylor comment on Hacker News: G Suite Horror Story

What I can see happening is:

  • Google will shove WearOS into new Fitbit-based hardware offerings.
  • All current Fitbit accounts will be migrated to Google’s, which would lead to existing features stop working and having to deal with “legacy accounts“.
  • Rebrand it a couple times, because why not.
  • If Google can’t make a significant bent on Apple’s wearables market share, they might decide to focus on something else, making Fitbit join the “Killed by Google” club.

Man, I’m sad about this. Just a few weeks ago, I was telling a few coworkers how nice Fitbit works. So much for trying to stir away from some of Google’s mess.

Why Are Poor Countries Poor?

This short video by John Green perfectly explains why for a banana republic is very difficult to stop being “poor”. In Guatemala you will see the same: The capital has somewhat good infrastructure and luxuries (for a third world country, that’s it), while rural areas are nowhere near; child malnutrition, unemployment, crime, bad or even no infrastructure are very common out side of Guatemala City.

Must Watch: Chernobyl

Chernobyl - HBO mini serie

I can’t recommend enough to watch “Chernobyl”, a HBO mini serie/fiction-documentary of 5 episodes, which deals with the worse nuclear disaster ever occurred so far.

The production has been great reflecting how the soviet government wasn’t fully aware of the disaster and wanted to cover it up to keep up the proud soviet face. I had read a lot of the disaster and watched a few documentaries (360p days in Youtuve), and I’m still enjoying this show.

A year of reading books

Back in December 2017, I wanted to read a lot more books. I’m not a person that starts a new year making a list of goals, but this was the first time I’ve being serious about achieving something through the year.

My goal was to read more than 25 books, maybe even reach the 50 books in year; I tried hard a few months, but I end up at 32 books. It feels great, I got to read a lot of stories and really good books.

  • Reading this many books, made me feel like the year lasted longer. As if I had experienced in person all those stories, and visited the places told in the books.
  • Going through 25 books in a year feels doable as long as you stay focused on the goal (around 2 weeks to read a book). Achieving 50 or more books, that’s going to be hard if you have a busy life (work and other hobbies are going to interfere), or stick to picking light books (cheating 😉 )
  • I don’t really mind reading on printed books or ebooks. Some have good edition, others don’t. Each one has its pros and cons, I just wanted to consume the story.
  • One thing about reading printed books, is that the covers are attractive, so people might ask you about your read (more if they see you reading periodically at the same place). With tablets or ebook readers, people might think you are just checking Social Media.
  • It really helped me carrying a book everywhere, even to a bar. Reading while commuting a third world country is fine, while pulling a ebook reader could be dangerous.
  • Its funny because the more I read, the more books get into my wish list. I got a lot of follow ups from Scientific books. Still feels good to tackle a bound of entries from my list.

You can checkout the books I had have read at LibraryThing.

I’m going to keep with this goal through 2019, maybe should I call it an habit by now 🙂 Feels good to be able to read books, I should try to read even more.

Gyo – A horror manga

Gyo – a horror manga by Junji Ito

How can a manga be so awesome and disgusting at the same time? That’s Junji Ito’s work. Gyo really impressed me with its drawings of horrible mech-zombie bodies expelling gases, thanks to a germ developed by the Japanese army. I can’t recommend it enough, although the story is a bit short.

Continue reading “Gyo – A horror manga”