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August 31, 2007

Two Thumbs Up!

Book-Of-The-Year Nominee

A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates by the RAND Corporation, December, 2002, 600 pp. paperback.

With reader reviews like the following from amazon.com, what else can I add?

"Here we find the best that Mr. Corporation can offer -- enigmatic prose, rich style, emotional resonance, complex development, social commentary and perhaps even haunting tragedy. The book reads like a journey through the human soul with no signposts along the way. To stay on the path requires firm reason, so we think, but when the signs fall down, only faith guides the reader's way. Corporation well understood the limitations of reason as an infallible guide in maintaining our faith in humanity. Each random number represents a distinct character type, with each type hiding a series of conflicting and mutually exclusive traits. From the first few pages, we can see that this book would qualify as clear solipsism, an extreme form of philosophical idealism. . . . 'A Million Random Digits...'leads to a skeptical attitude toward external reality and an emphasis on individual consciousness and innate ideas. This contrasts with the empiricist view, more common among scientists and some philosophers, that says that ideas come from the external world and that it exists independently of our perception of it. Although individual consciousness has great importance, these random numbers reflect more or less accurately the external world and ideas that arise from a mind working with those data. . . . Clearly Corporation's best effort. I look forward to its sequel."

"This one has a very unpredictable plot, sublime character development in a style that stubbornly defies any sort of development in its rare and iconoclastic brilliance. . . . Take, for example, this passage on page 202, '98783 24838 39793 80954'. I'm speechless."

"Such a terrific reference work! But with so many terrific random digits, it's a shame they didn't sort them, to make it easier to find the one you're looking for."

"While the printed version is good, I would have expected the publisher to have an audiobook version as well. A perfect companion for one's Ipod."

"Shouldn't this book be on the list of things banned for export from the US? We can't have our random digits, and especially our treasured 100,000 normal deviates, being used by countries unfriendly to the US! By the way, I wonder if these normal deviates have all registered with their local or state law enforcement agencies? I guess that Rand doesn't care about really twisted deviates, just the normal ones."

"For a supposedly serious reference work the omission of an index is a major impediment. I hope this will be corrected in the next edition."

"A great read. Captivating. I couldn't put it down. I would have given it five stars, but sadly there were too many distracting typos. For example: 46453 13987. Hopefully they will correct them in the next edition."

"This book does not even come close to delivering on its promise of one million random digits. My expectations were high after reading the first sentence, which contained ten unique digits. However, the author seems to have exhasted his creativity in this initial burst, because the other 99.999% of the book is filler in which those same ten digits are shamelessly reused!"

"Wow! The 1,000,000 random digits produced by the Rand Corporation are some of the best random digits out there! I was amazed at some of their selections. For example: would YOU have conceived of the sequence 35462? Or 239877687468? Or 776834689765872643756324876 (one of my personal favorites). This is fine, fine work. Kudos to the folks at Rand on this most fascinating tract that truly keeps one on the edge of his seat. "

Click the link above to see all 81 amazon reviews. I'm impatiently awaiting the movie adaptation.

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