Robert Schaefer

Robert Schaefer graduated with a BS in Electrical and Computing Engineering in 1980 from Clarkson College, now Clarkson University, where he was proud to be the editor of the college humor magazine, The Knight. Many others were not so much impressed. He completed his MS in Computer Science from Boston University in 2002, which took seven painful years of night classes.

At the tender age of 50 in 2009, Mr. Schaefer was laid off from his day job writing software for the Military Industrial Complex where his work life paralleled Wally’s way more than it did Dilbert’s.

Now he joyfully works at MIT Haystack Observatory helping move data from point A near the instruments, to point B closer to the scientists, providing some processing along the way.

He reflects on his previous job in the M.I.C. as that of the frog unaware in the kettle and slowly being boiled.

Since 1995 he has worked nights as an adjunct at Daniel Webster College teaching computer science where he tells students engineering war stories, of a time when ones and zeros were carved with hammers and chisels, and finds great satisfaction that no matter what he says, his students have to listen to him.

Book Reviews by Robert Schaefer

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“The Vaccine Race shines a light over the transitional period of vaccine research.”

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“We are living in the Golden Age for Surveillance.”
—Jennifer Stisa Granick

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"A Book of American Martyrs is tragic, wicked, sly, hopeful, and truly and insanely great."

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Author Melvin Goodman spent 42 years in government, including a 25-year stint in the CIA.

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Reckoning with Matter focuses on two inventors Blaise Pascal and Charles Babbage, and their efforts in the invention and construction of mechanical calculators.

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“Is there any question more fascinating than whether or not we are alone in the universe?” asks author Ben Miller in The Aliens Are Coming!.

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“Love the music, love the man, read the book.  “

 

“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” —Attributed to many

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Slipping is a collection of Lauren Beukes’ previously published shorter works that shows off her skill across a range of genres.

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When George Mallory was asked why he climbed Mount Everest he said, “Because it was there.” A similar kind of question was asked of Peter Diamandis, founder of the XPRIZE.

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Brooke Harrington peels back the layers of high net-worth Individuals and wealth managers to expose economic inequality—politely.

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Code Warriors is an informative, well balanced, and eye-opening history of the NSA.”

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Author Adam Segal dives into the political and technical details of nation-state cyber hacking addressing complex issues in great detail with numerous references; however detail does not lead to an

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Though author James Salter died in 2015, a few months before he died he was the writer in residence at the University of Virginia and wrote and gave three lectures.

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In Our Own Image will make accessible to readers many of the complex issues behind artificial intelligence (AI).

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“DeLillo’s genius, brilliance, and madness is nothing short of amazing . . .”

Zero K is one of those books you finish, pause, and think, “Wow!”

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The Most Wanted Man in China is Fang Lizhi’s memoir, written in 1989 but not published until now, four years after his death.

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“What is missing from Doublespeak, what would have made it worthwhile today, would be a reworking to compare doublespeak . . . from the 1980s to today.”

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“Pitici’s editorship has yielded an issue that is the most cohesive and impressive to date.”

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The Age of Catastrophe is a thousand-plus page history of Western Europe set between World War One and World War Two.

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The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA initially designated ARPA, was created by Congress in 1958.

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On Inequality is neither informative nor entertaining.”

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“If you are unfamiliar with the increasing impact of solar energy in America, Harness the Sun should quickly bring you up to speed.”

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This book is disappointing.

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In the preface of The Proof and the Pudding, author Jim Henle informs the reader, “[t]he goal of the book is to explore the two and to reveal their essential similarity.

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Author of Single Digits Marc Chamberland provides his take on the significance of the single digits excluding zero (zero’s significance is so great it can fill a book all by itself).

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Lethality without accountability.

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“Stephen Tomecek and Fred Harper together succeed in making Earth science fun.”

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Editor Mercia Pitici’s intent is clear; “I want accessible but nontrivial content that presents for mathematicians and for the general public a wide assortment of informed and insightful perspectiv

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“There has been some controversy over the publication of Building the H Bomb and with the threat of censorship over national security concerns.”

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Suffice to say National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Who is amply illustrated.

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“sharp and in perfect pitch. Overall, Oates exhibits extremely fine authorial control, showing her puppet-master’s strings only when she wants.”

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The preface of Mathematics Without Apologies is certain to discourage readers that are expecting a “popular” mathematics text from reading further.

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“the most fun-filled math puzzle book this reviewer has ever reviewed—a mathematical puzzle book that is sure to hold a puzzle enthusiast‘s attention for hours.”

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The Fascinating World of Graph Theory is readable and “student-friendly”—more so than the typical math textbook . . .”

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“For some, it’s the journey and not the destination.”

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“[C]yber secrets are hard to keep and easy to exploit, to the effect that “today’s secret NSA programs are tomorrow’s PhD dissertations and the next day’s hacker tools.”

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“A reader who is a fan of mathematics (and of this series) may want to take two passes through The Best Writing on Mathematics 2013, the first for wonder and delight, the second sl

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“David Reimer succeeds in keeping the mathematics in Count Like an Egyptian clever and light, raising this book into a rare category: a coffee table book that is serious and

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Sex, Love and DNA is a wonderful introduction to genetics.

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Whether you agree or disagree with the idea of mixing zombies with calculus, Adams is a craftsman of the first order.

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“Though the tone of Will You Be Alive 10 Years from Now is lighthearted and many of its puzzles and problems relevant, this book should be labeled: ‘For Experts Only.’”

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“As a meandering collection of facts, stories, curiosities, and oddities in mathematics, The Grapes of Math is as entertaining as it is enlightening.”

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“In the past, mass violation of privacy was technically difficult but now is easy. . . .

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“What makes this book unique is the authors are chemists and provide experiments based on alchemy for readers to try.

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“Professor Fernandez is a delightfully quirky writer and his book Everyday Calculus is lighthearted and compelling, connecting mathematics to daily life.”

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The Physics of War is uneven in covering physics and war, conflates physics with technology, and conflates war with history. . .

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“This reviewer is simply a fool for math puzzles (though some readers might stop at simply a fool). Math Bytes scratches that itch quite nicely.”

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Wizards, Aliens, and Starships is a great book by itself or as a starting point for exploring the physics of space exploration as well as the classics in science fiction.”

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The Accidental Universe offers to the reader the wanderings of a curious and intelligent mind . . .”

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“. . . a fun and interesting introduction to cosmology and multiverse theory.”

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“. . . an excellent reference, though it . . . offers no tutorial for beginners.”

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“As an introduction to GPS, its history, uses, issues and concerns GPS Declassified can’t be beat.”

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Jorge Luis Borges is considered the patron saint of computer programmers for his mastership of infinity and self-reflection, and Borges at 80 is a reprint of the same title published by th

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“If you are interested in the latest in philosophical thinking (informed by science and religion) on nature versus nurture, and if you are a patient reader, you can’t go too far wrong with

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Though in the introduction the authors tell the reader, “[t]he main goal of this book . . .

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“. . . a perfect gift for the budding zoologist in your family.”

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“. . . thorough, detailed, and fascinating.”

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“A Delicate Truth is in truth a morality play.”

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“. . . high praise.”

The title The Golden Ticket is taken from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

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“Wide ranging and entertaining . . . thoughtful . . . chatty . . . we learn that things are not always what they seem.”

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“Ian Stewart belongs to a very small, very exclusive club of popular science and mathematics writers who are worth reading today.”

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“The King of Infinite Space is for anyone who cares about Euclid, geometry, the philosophy of mathematics and, most especially, for those who appreciate fine writing.”

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“Melvin A. Goodman is a damn fine author, and National Insecurity is a damning assessment of U.S. defense spending and covert operations.”

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“Preventing anonymity prevents protections anonymity provides. . . . starts out well but could and should have been a much better book.”

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“. . . the writing is so beautiful, personal, and alive, so in the moment . . .”

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“. . . one wonders why there are no similarly informative, unbiased books about drugs in the U.S.”

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“Surprise! The Irrationals is a true mathematician’s and historian’s delight, not just another pretty book.”

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“. . . a sociologist-historian’s view . . . entertaining yet maddening . . .”

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“Perhaps the only problem with writing a textbook on design is that there is such a wealth of material that no one textbook could hope to cover it all.”

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“The ideas are subtle, possibly significant, and slightly unsettling. What more could a reader wish for?”

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“. . . an entertaining and informative popular science study . . .”

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“. . . a very handsome book . . . will sit with quiet elegance on your coffee table for guests to peruse if ever the conversation should lag.”

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“In Pursuit of the Unknown is a really fun read. . . . Ian Stewart is a genius . . .”

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“The tale of Mr g is about the creation (and the end) of the universe.

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“In Pursuit of the Traveling Salesman describes the problem of creating the most efficient solution to computing the shortest travel route—visiting each city on a list and returnin

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“According to the author the purpose of Sharp’s Dictionary of Power and Struggle is to ‘bring some degree of clarity to academic and public discussion of nonviolent action.’”

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“Those wild and crazy mathematicians! . . . The Best Writing on Mathematics 2011 is so valuable that this reviewer plans to read it twice again. . . .

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“Reinventing Discovery is a survey, an analysis, a how-to, and a harbinger of greater things to come.

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“This is an incredibly well written history of several contributors to economic theory and a perfect follow-up to A Beautiful Mind. . . .

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“Each author has in common a sense of wonder and amazement. All articles are short, 5 to 20 pages, and each is a potato chip, you can’t read just one.”

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“The premise and prediction of Innovation and Nanotechnology is that in the utopian future nanotechnology will end intellectual property law by making physical objects just like di

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“. . . well-written, fast paced, and difficult to put down. . . . The Ghost in the Wires, an amazing and engaging book, is destined to be a bestseller.”

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“A combination spy-bureaucrat, Glenn L. Carle tells the story of his responsibility for interrogating a high value detainee, an agent of al-Qa’ida.

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“The sun has a heartbeat . . . is in fact a third generation star, . . . [and] The fate of our sun at the very end will not be a supernova, but . . .

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Proteins are essential to life. The interior of a cell is made up of thousands of different proteins, carrying out most of the work of a cell.

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The possibility of the existence of multiple universes is a hot topic among cosmologists, and John D.

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In Marcus Wohlsen’s excellent first book, biopunks are biological hackers or tinkerers hoping to do the same thing that large biotech firms do, only do it more openly and less expensively.

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The Hippocratic oath, “I will enter only for the good of my patients”, challenges doctors to resist market pressures and social expectations.

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The Corruption Conundrum is not for those with advanced scientific interests but presents “a kaleidoscopic view of how paradoxes and dilemmas touch our lives from time to time.”

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Everything Is Obvious is sectioned into two parts, the first, Common Sense, deals with the recognition that commonsense is anything but, and explores various types of errors in commonsense

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Len Fisher is an author of popular science, and his How to Dunk a Doughnut was named Best Popular Science Book of the Year by the American Institute of Physics.

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Jim al-Khalili holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the University of Surrey and is the chair of the Public Engagement in Science at the University of Surrey.

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James Gleick, James McPhee, Tracy Kidder, and Henry Petroski belong to the Pantheon of Great American Writers, the subbranch dedicated to Science, Engineering, and Invention.

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Fate, Time, and Language is a collection of monographs whose subject is a study of the validity of fatalism from the perspective of the use of logic practiced by philosophers.

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A physicist who writes a popularization of science takes different kinds of risks than the popular science writer.

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One of the ongoing mysteries of physics is why stuff weighs what it does.

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Bill Bryson provides the introduction to this wonderful book written for the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society, founded in 1660 in London.

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Science depends on the ability of experiments and observations made out in the world to be repeatable by other observers.

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Niccolò Capponi is a historian and direct descendent of Machiavelli.

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Not every programmer may be a scientific programmer, but all programmers will at some point have to deal with correctness, efficiency, and requirements changes, and some may have to deal with float

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This will be an instant classic. If you are a designer you should beg, borrow, buy or steal this book (as a reviewer, I got it for free).

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Jaron Lanier, an early developer of Virtual Reality, presents his manifesto, his state-of-the-union address of the cultural impact of the Internet and the Web. He has been prescient in the past.

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Don’t be fooled by this breezy and entertaining book; there are valuable lessons to be learned here.

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Raphaël Kies is a researcher in political science at the University of Luxembourg; co-founder of the E-democracy center, Switzerland; and a member of Réseau de Démocratie Électronique, France.

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"As difficult as our choices are today, they will be more difficult tomorrow."

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A new manager assigned to a project is told by his predecessor that three envelopes have been placed in his top desk drawer and labeled One, Two, and Three.

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What makes the information in Design, Measurement and Management of Large-Scale IP Networks unique is that it is based on actual measurements collected from the Sprint IP backbone.

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Richard Clarke served in the White House for four presidents and was appointed National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counterterrorism under Bill Clinton, and the first S