This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.




July 2018
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Curmudgeon’s Corner: Tic for Tac

On this week’s Curmudgeon’s Corner, Sam and Ivan start out talking about getting vaccinations for travel, and how the crazy news of the last two years has resulted in Sam reading fewer books, and what he will do about it. But quickly enough, the conversation gravitates where it almost always does these days. Trump! First they try to stay focused very specifically on policy issues. Trump on Syria. Trump on tariffs. Trump on Mexico. Things like that. But for the last segment, they do once again concentrate on Trump’s various scandals. The Mueller investigation. Stormy and McDougal. Pruitt. Sorry, it just can’t be avoided!

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Show Details:

Recorded 2018-04-06
Length this week – 1:43:54

  • (0:01:00-0:19:41) Travel Vaccinations / Not Enough Books
  • (0:21:23-1:05:50) Stupid Trump Policy Stuff
  • (1:06:29-1:43:34) Stupid Trump Scandal Stuff


The Curmudgeon’s Corner theme music is generously provided by Ray Lynch.

Our intro is “The Oh of Pleasure” (Amazon MP3 link)

Our outro is “Celestial Soda Pop” (Amazon MP3 link)

Both are from the album “Deep Breakfast” (iTunes link)

Please buy his music and support his GoFundMe.

I’m not reading enough. I blame Trump. And Twitter.

I’ve been thinking lately about how I have not been reading nearly enough books lately. This is a problem.

I’ve been tracking the books I read since 2006. The graph above quantifies it. Although I was bad in 2007-2009 too, I’d been keeping up a decent pace of reading from 2010-2015.

A decent pace for me anyway. My average in those years was 13.5 books per year. I know a lot of people read much more than that… and I even read more than that myself when I was much younger… but I think I’m OK with anything above 12 per year at the moment. One per month.

In 2016 I fell off a cliff though. I only finished FIVE books. In 2017 it was even worse. Only THREE.

I semi-joke that I blame Trump and Twitter, but there actually is quite a bit of truth to it. Starting with the 2016 election year, and going forward into the Trump administration, it has felt like if you turned away for even a few moments, you would miss something important happening. So all those spare moments that I previously might have spent reading a book (or even listening to an audio book), instead were spent on Twitter, listening to live news, listening to news related podcasts, or whatever.

The key being it had to be real time or near real time. Reading tweets from a few minutes ago? Of course! Reading an article that was written earlier today? OK, fine. Reading an article that was written yesterday…  MAYBE, if it was a really important one, but you’re stretching it. That is way too far out of date! A magazine article from a week ago? Don’t make me laugh! A book written years ago? Doing that felt like every moment spent on that was a moment I was disengaged and out of the stream of what was happening. What did I miss in the time it took to read that chapter? That was just painful.

All of that is of course silly. Nothing bad will happen if I disengage with the news for a few minutes to read a book. Frankly, if anything really big happens, I’ll get an alert anyway. But even if I didn’t, it isn’t like I have to DO anything with that news in real time. I’m not going to be the one making big decisions in reaction to that news. I’ll talk about it on my podcast maybe, but that is a weekly thing. Maybe I’ll want to tweet, or even though I haven’t done it much in recent years, write a blog post. But all that can wait. And is frankly optional anyway.

I can take 20 minutes (or more!) at the end of the day before bed or pull up my Kindle app sometimes on my phone instead of Tweetbot when I have spare moments here or there. I can listen to an audio book on my commute home instead of a news related podcast or live news channel stream! I can! I really can!

So a few days ago I made a resolution. Lets call it an April Fool’s resolution even though it wasn’t quite on April 1st. I decided that for 2018 I’ll make a conscious effort to do a bit more book reading than I have in the last two years. Maybe I won’t exceed the 17 books finished that I hit in 2011 and 2014, but maybe I can at least beat my average over the last decade of 9.9 books per year by finishing at least 10. Maybe I can even manage a one book per month average!

I’ve finished only 1 so far this year, so I’ve got to get to it. In the last week I’ve probably already read more and listened to more audio book content than I had in the previous three months, so I guess I’m off to a decent start…

I’m way down on watching TV shows and movies too, but dealing with that can wait for another day, or maybe that is just fine…

The last “book” post I did was the list of all the books I finished in 2011. To catch up, here is a list of all the books I finished from 2012 to 2017. I used to do little mini-reviews of each book as I went along, but no time for that, so just a list… I’ll report back on 2018 once it is over to see how I did.

2012 (3 Physical, 8 Kindle, 0 Audible = 11 total)

  1. 2012-02-10, Fiction, Kindle, We the Living by Rand
  2. 2012-03-16, Non-Fiction, Physical, Beautiful Evidence by Tufte
  3. 2012-03-18, Fiction, Kindle, 2nd Chance by Patterson
  4. 2012-05-09, Non-Fiction, Physical, Alex and Me by Pepperberg
  5. 2012-05-28, Fiction, Kindle, Heavy Planet by Clement
  6. 2012-06-10, Non-Fiction, Kindle, Lies and Outliers by Schneier
  7. 2012-06-22, Fiction, Kindle, Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Weis and Hickman
  8. 2012-07-14, Non-Fiction, Kindle, The President’s Club by Gibbs and Duffy
  9. 2012-09-02, Fiction, Kindle, Roots by Haley
  10. 2012-10-01, Non-Fiction, Physical, The 4-Dimensional Manager by Straw
  11. 2012-10-07, Fiction, Kindle, Containment by Cantrell

2013 (1 Physical, 8 Kindle, 0 Audible = 9 total)

  1. 2013-01-13, Non-Fiction, Kindle, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Morris
  2. 2013-01-16, Fiction, Kindle, The Wandering Falcon by Ahmad
  3. 2013-02-06, Non-Fiction, Kindle, Kanban by Anderson
  4. 2013-03-02, Fiction, Kindle, A Time to Kill by Grisham
  5. 2013-05-20, Non-Fiction, Physical, Steve Jobs by Isaacson
  6. 2013-05-27, Fiction, Kindle, A Drink Before the War by Lehane
  7. 2013-10-04, Non-Fiction, Kindle, Bayesian Data Analysis by Gelman, Carlin, Stern, and Rubin
  8. 2013-10-19, Fiction, Kindle, Things Fall Apart by Achebe
  9. 2013-11-24, Non-Fiction, Kindle, You Are Not So Smart by McRaney

2014 (2 Physical, 7 Kindle, 8 Audible = 17 total)

  1. 2014-01-28, Fiction, Physical, The Last Town on Earth by Mullen
  2. 2014-05-21, Non-Fiction, Audible, Fear Itself by Katznelson
  3. 2014-06-20, Non-Fiction, Kindle, Making Things Happen by Berkun
  4. 2014-07-05, Fiction, Kindle, A Spark of Death by Pajer
  5. 2014-07-09, Non-Fiction, Physical, Change the Way You See Everything by Cramer and Wasiak
  6. 2014-07-16, Fiction, Audible, 11/22/63 by King
  7. 2014-08-04, Non-Fiction, Audible, Hidden America by Laskas
  8. 2014-08-18, Fiction, Audible, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Sloan
  9. 2014-09-02, Fiction, Kindle, The People of the Ruins by Shanks
  10. 2014-10-01, Non-Fiction, Audible, The Fabric of the Cosmos by Greene
  11. 2014-11-11, Fiction, Audible, The Many-Colored Land by May
  12. 2014-11-26, Non-Fiction, Kindle, Head First Java by Sierra and Bates
  13. 2014-11-26, Non-Fiction, Audible, My Beloved World by Sotomayor
  14. 2014-11-27, Fiction, Audible, Ajax Penumbra 1969 by Sloan
  15. 2014-11-29, Fiction, Kindle, Shadows in Flight by Card
  16. 2014-12-15, Non-Fiction, Kindle, The Final Days by Woodward and Bernstein
  17. 2014-12-18, Fiction, Kindle, The Ice Dragon by Martin

2015 (1 Physical, 1 Kindle, 13 Audible = 15 total)

  1. 2015-01-09, Non-Fiction, Audible, Reckless Engagement by Morgenson and Rosner
  2. 2015-01-20, Fiction, Audible, No Longer at Ease by Achebe
  3. 2015-02-12, Non-Fiction, Audible, American Emperor by Stewart
  4. 2015-03-02, Fiction, Audible, Darkness Take My Hand by Lehane
  5. 2015-03-27, Non-Fiction, Audible, Writing on the Wall by Standage
  6. 2015-04-09, Non-Fiction, Physical, The Online Advertising Playbook by Plummer, Rappaport, Hall, and Barocci
  7. 2015-04-17, Fiction, Audible, Earth Unaware by Card and Johnston
  8. 2015-05-15, Non-Fiction, Audible, The Selfish Gene by Dawkins
  9. 2015-05-18, Fiction, Kindle, Storm Front by Butcher
  10. 2015-05-22, Fiction, Audible, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Adams
  11. 2015-07-31, Non-Fiction, Audible, Autobiography of Mark Twain Volume 1 by Twain
  12. 2015-09-01, Fiction, Audible, The Scarlatti Inheritance by Ludlum
  13. 2015-10-05, Non-Fiction, Audible, The Son Also Rises by Clark
  14. 2015-10-13, Fiction, Audible, The Scarlet Plague by London
  15. 2015-12-23, Non-Fiction, Audible, Conversations with Myself by Mandela

2016 (0 Physical, 2 Kindle, 3 Audible = 5 total)

  1. 2016-01-20, Fiction, Audible, Prince Caspian by Lewis
  2. 2016-05-28, Non-Fiction, Kindle, Dutch by Morris
  3. 2016-07-02, Fiction, Kindle, Earth Afire by Card and Johnson
  4. 2016-11-15, Non-Fiction, Audible, Autobiography of Mark Twain Volume 2 by Twain
  5. 2016-11-29, Fiction, Audible, 2001 by Clarke

2017 (0 Physical, 1 Kindle, 2 Audible = 3 total)

  1. 2017-03-08, Non-Fiction, Audible, Stiff by Roach
  2. 2017-04-08, Fiction, Audible, With the Night Mail by Kipling
  3. 2017-05-30, Non-Fiction, Kindle, Spam by Brunton

Curmudgeon’s Corner: Sitting on my Porch

This week on Curmudgeon’s Corner Sam and Ivan’s main topics are the debate on Donald Trump’s “legitimacy”, the fun of the final week of the transition, and the Chelsea Manning commutation. In addition though, they discuss reviving old computers, the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, Joe Biden, an odd Presidential succession edge case, and more!

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Show Details:

Recorded 2017-01-19
Length this week – 1:57:57

  • (0:00:10-0:20:34) But First
    • 2017
    • Agenda
    • Reviving old computers
  • (0:21:13-0:45:08) Legitimacy
    • Trump “legitimate”?
    • Comey, Dirty Tricks, Fairness
    • Voters made their choice
    • Unfollowing Trump?
    • Skipping the Inauguration?
    • Anti-Trump Protests
  • (0:45:56-1:04:56) Transition
    • Cabinet not talking to Trump
    • Cabinet incompetence
    • Cabinet Hodgepodge
    • Unstaffed positions
    • Normal policy disputes vs Crazy/Unqualified
  • (1:05:41-1:25:11) Manning
    • Why this release date?
    • Manning vs Snowden
    • Consistency on leaks?
  • (1:25:50-1:56:37) Lightning Round
    • Wet Foot Dry Foot
    • Book: 2001 (1968)
    • Old Postcard from Sam
    • Movie: Rogue One (2016)
    • Biden for President
    • Succession Edge Cases


The Curmudgeon’s Corner theme music is generously provided by Ray Lynch.

Our intro is “The Oh of Pleasure” (Amazon MP3 link)

Our outro is “Celestial Soda Pop” (Amazon MP3 link)

Both are from the album “Deep Breakfast” (iTunes link)

Please buy his music and support his GoFundMe.

Curmudgeon’s Corner: Closing Every Door

This week on the Curmudgeon’s Corner podcast Sam and Ivan start out trying to talk about things other than Trump. Thanksgiving, Puerto Rico, Apple, some books and movies… and that is well and good. But of course then they do talk about the latest week full of Trump developments as the transition continues. Then they wrap up with Jill Stein’s recount campaign, the electoral college, and other ways of messing with election results that either won’t happen or won’t change anything.

Click below to listen or subscribe… then let us know your own thoughts!



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Show Details:

Recorded 2016-11-25
Length this week – 2:15:49

  • (0:00:41-0:43:47) Not Trump
    • Duck
    • Sam’s Thanksgiving
    • Ivan’s Thanksgiving
    • Puerto Rico
    • Apple Stuff
    • Book: Autobiography of Mark Twain Volume 2
    • Book: The Hobbit
    • Movie: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • (0:45:47-1:31:23) Trump!
    • Water Bottle
    • Policy reversals
    • Staffing picks
    • Conflicts of Interest
    • 25th amendment
    • Maintaining outrage
    • neo-Nazis
    • Trump as Berlusconi
    • Deals and getting things done
    • Trump and SCOTUS
    • Delegation
  • (1:31:52-2:15:35) Recounts and other craziness
    • New York Magazine Article
    • Jill Stein!
    • Why recount won’t change anything
    • Why are people donating?
    • Clinton’s position
    • Luke’s GoFundMe
    • Working the Electoral College again?
    • Congress rejecting electors
    • Get rid of electoral college?
    • Voting your own interests?


The Curmudgeon’s Corner theme music is generously provided by Ray Lynch.

Our intro is “The Oh of Pleasure” (Amazon MP3 link)

Our outro is “Celestial Soda Pop” (Amazon MP3 link)

Both are from the album “Deep Breakfast” (iTunes link)

Please buy his music and support his GoFundMe.

Curmudgeon’s Corner: At Least You Have Internet in Texas

In the latest Curmudgeon’s Corner Sam and Iván talk about:
* Sam’s Books / Economy / Bitcoin
* Charlie Hebdo Followup / Media Attention
* Lone or Small Group Terrorism / Violence Trends / Obama Unleashed
* Romney 2016 / Election 2016

Recorded 2015-01-15

Length this week – 1:13:43

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Curmudgeon’s Corner: Too Many Books

In the latest Curmudgeon’s Corner Sam talks about:
* Book and Movie Reviews
* Orion / TNR / Eric Garner / Protests / GettingRacistsFired

Recorded 2014-12-05

Length this week – 48:29

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A Short History of Top Books

On March 10th, I announced a new thing I was doing, the “Top Read and Tweeted Kindle Books” list.  Well, I set it up using Twitter’s RSS feeds as the source, and they turned those off earlier this week.  I think I could probably redo it using Twitter’s API (which is probably how it should have been done in the first place, but I was more familiar with the other way), but realistically, that would take me time that would be better used for other things, especially since I haven’t gotten any comments on this thing since I launched it, and I was probably the only one looking at it.  So, goodbye Top Book thing.  It was fun while it lasted!

It was actually interesting to watch over the past three months though.

Here is a chart of the performance of every book that made the Top 5 at any time during the run of my list.  (The lines are extended to show 7 days before and 7 days after the days each book was actually in the Top 5.)

Screen Shot 2013-06-13 at 19.26.48

Click to embiggen if you want.

During the 95 days I have been running this analysis, there have been four books in the #1 slot:

Gone Girl and Gatsby swapped a bit before Gatsby took the clear lead.

Inferno is obviously crushing everybody at the moment.  Almost 2% of everybody tweeting they finished a Kindle book recently were tweeting about finishing Inferno.

As of 2013-06-11 21:36:35 UTC when the last tweet was processed by my system, this was the Top 20:

Rank Tweets Book
1 325 Inferno by Dan Brown
2 127 The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
3 101 Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
4 68 Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris
5 40 Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
6 39 Entwined with You by Sylvia Day
7 37 The Magpies by Mark Edwards
8 36 Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
9 35 World War Z by Max Brooks
10 (tie) 29 The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
12 (tie) 28 The Hit by David Baldacci
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
14 27 The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
15 25 The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
16 (tie) 24 The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman
18 23 Life Of Pi by Yann Martel
19 (tie) 22 The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

If anybody else out there would miss this though, let me know of course. :-)Anyway.  Fun stuff.  I would have had fun continuing to track this for awhile.  But as I mentioned, probably not worth fixing.

Curmudgeon’s Corner: Romney/Ryan Robotic Thing?

In the latest Curmudgeon’s Corner Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Debate Watching / Poll Update
  • Veep Debate
  • Smartphones and Tablets
  • Boxes / Books / Random Spot

Recorded on 14 Oct 2012

Length this week – 56:18

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Book Frequency

So, speaking of reading, just a quick graph.  This represents the frequency at which I finish books.  I used to keep track of pages per day, but now that a bunch of my reading is Kindle based, which has locations instead of pages, that really isn’t a measure I can use any more.  So instead I look at the pace I am maintaining in terms of how quickly I am getting through books.  Each day, I look at the fraction of a book I have completed, which is then converted into the overall book frequency.

As you can see, for most of the year the rate was very low…  as I was going through a couple of dry boring and very long non-fiction books.  But then, those books were out of the way, plus I moved to reading some (not all) of my books on Kindle.  Importantly, this doesn’t just mean the Kindle device itself, but also other devices.  So yes, I’ll use the Kindle device when I am going to be sitting down and reading for a little bit, when that is my prime activity.  But if I’ve got even a minute or two while I’m waiting in line for a coffee or whatnot, I’ll pull out the Kindle app on my iPhone and start reading.  Those are cases where I never would have been reading a book before.

Anyway, at this moment, I am trending somewhere near 1.35 μHz for my book frequency.  Inverting that we get about one book every 741 ks. That could otherwise be expressed as one book every 8.57 days or 3.55 books per month.  Now, some of you may read a lot more than that, which is of course great.  But for me, given everything else occupying my time, this is a pretty good clip.  I don’t think I’ve read at this pace in many many years…

Of course, as soon as one of those really long, dry, boring books ends up coming up in my book selection process then I may once again have one of those times where finishing a single book ends up taking many many months.  I’m sure it will happen eventually.  But for now, I’m enjoying reading a bit more than that.