Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Factor Man: A Novel by Matt Ginsberg

Factor Man: A Novel. Matt Ginsberg. Zowie Press. Copyright March 2018. pb. 292 pp.; ISBN 978099957116. 

Factor Man is a computer genius who has calculated the solution to innumerable mathematical problems with one system, the one that is called “God’s Algorithm,” the one that makes problems like artificial intelligence child’s play.  It’s a simple plot, really, but one that keeps the readers flipping the pages because it’s so engaging.  In the beginning, there’s a great deal of explanation in computer and mathematical jargon that might be disconcerting to some but it soon becomes as clear as possible and the reader is hooked!

First, Factor Man invites various blog watchers to submit a number to which he offers a mathematical solution.  That is all very amusing until the hunt begins.  William Burkett, a journalist, sees the possibilities of a potential Pulitzer Prize if he can figure out who Factor Man is and whether he’s for real or a “crackpot.”
Then we have two opposing sides vying to discover Factor Man’s real identity with the hope of controlling or stopping him.  One is the FBI and the other is a Chinese special agent named Janet Liu.  The system Factor Man has devised is one that could solve the problems of hacking into business and governmental programs, solving scientific problems such as which proteins and chemical compounds could cure cancer, and on and on.  As the complexity of possibilities increases, the search for Factor Man becomes more frustrating and tense.  Factor Man is a cool customer who plans carefully but at the same time acknowledges he’s no genius with “spy” behavior.  Meanwhile, he is making a fortune and decides to share his information with those he thinks deserve to treat it with socially conscious programs.  It’s nice to read about such altruistic motives, even though it’s in fiction.

Factor Man is an unusual work of science fiction or computer fiction that is quite different from what’s on the current best seller and even unknown market.  There’s a hint of reality that someday this might just be the future of computers, finance and government.  Nicely done, Matt Ginsberg.

Monday, March 19, 2018

I've Been Thinking: Reflections, Prayers and Meditations for a Meaningful Life by Maria Shriver

I’ve Been Thinking: Reflections, Prayers and Meditations for a Meaningful Life. Maria Shriver. Penguin Publishing Group. February 2018. Hb. 240 pp. ISBN #: 9780525522607.

Maria Shriver is totally correct in saying we are now living in times where more is needed.  Men, women and children across this nation and world are tired of the prevailing negativity, yearning for that which makes life “good.”  No, this is not a self-help book for Pollyanna-type persons but one in which one finds inner peace, purpose, love, and even joy.

Before each meditation in this book are quotations from notable people, those who’ve made a difference in the world but not been satisfied by external accolades.  Instead they’re centered on the inner world that fuels their thoughts, words and deeds.  For example, “Who you become as a person is up to you – up to your imagination, your will, your determination, your choices…” or “What you think you become” shared by the Buddha.  Then there are sections that we have heard before like pieces on love, honesty, forgiveness, and so on.  But what about the power within each of us for “empathy,” “losing faith,” “not caring too much for what others think,” living in a “complaint-free zone” periodically, “a culture of care,” “the process of discernment,” “grieving,” and so many more topics will catch your attention and invite you to ponder each one.

One is to consider meditating on it with prayer or just letting it be in one’s consciousness until one is ready to move on to the next one.  This is not a book to be read cover to cover quickly; it’s full of wisdom and points of view that are right at different moments in life. It has thoughts and advice that one will want to repeat reading and contemplating as well as passages that will provoke and inspire at different times.  There’s no one result or goal.  The process is to just “be” with each section or passage.

Maria Shriver comes from a family of doers but this is a book about the fire and fuel behind the doing and being!  Highly recommended, inspirational nonfiction. It could just be the best book you read right now!