George V. Reilly

My Recent Reading

The ac­com­pa­ny­ing photo shows most of the books that I’ve read between late September 2015 and January 2nd:

Review: The Red Road

Title: The Red Road
Author: Denise Mina
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 320
Keywords: police procedural, tartan noir
Reading period: 31 December, 2015–2 January, 2016

Glasgow DI Alex Morrow is trying to put a dangerous criminal back in prison, but she can’t explain how his prints were found at the scene of a recent murder when he was already in custody. Fifteen years ago, when Rose Wilson was a sexually abused 14 year old, she was re­spon­si­ble for two deaths in one night, but only did time for one culpable homicide. Now the lawyer who saved her is dead and coverups are unraveling.

In other hands, this tale continue.

Thanks for Making a Mess

Emma and I have a bargain. If one of us cooks a nice dinner, the other cleans up. While I can and do cook, Emma does most of the cooking. Therefore, I do most of the cleaning.

I always thank Emma during dinner for the meal, and Emma invariably thanks me for cleaning when I’m washing pots and pans. I—a lifelong smar­tass—usu­al­ly respond, "Thank you for making a mess."

So far, she’s taken this with good grace—prob­a­bly better than I deserve. In truth, the cleanup is usually far quicker than the cooking.

Review: The Magician's Land

Title: The Magician’s Land
Author: Lev Grossman
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Plume
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 416
Keywords: adult fantasy
Reading period: 26–29 December, 2015

[Sequel to The Magician King]

At the beginning of The Magician’s Land, Quentin Coldwater is in exile from Fillory. After a brief sojourn of teaching at Brakebills, where he researches an enormously complex spell he found in the Nei­ther­lands, he is fired and Plum, a student, is expelled. A mysterious summons draws them into a magical heist, which goes awry. Meanwhile, Fillory is dying and Eliot, Janet, Josh, and Poppy are trying to save it.

Quentin has matured over the trilogy, emo­tion­al­ly and as a magician, rising to the daunting challenges "He was continue.

Python: a use for nested list comprehensions

I wanted to turn a list like ['*.zip', '*.pyc', '*.log'] into ['--exclude', '*.zip', '--exclude', '*.pyc', '--exclude', '*.log'].

A simple list com­pre­hen­sion doesn’t work as desired:

In [1]: excludes = ['*.zip', '*.pyc', '*.log']

In [2]: [('--exclude', e) for e in excludes]
Out[2]: [('--exclude', '*.zip'), ('--exclude', '*.pyc'), ('--exclude', '*.log')]

The trick is to use a nested com­pre­hen­sion:

In [5]: [arg for pattern in excludes
             for arg in ['--exclude', pattern]]
Out[5]: ['--exclude', '*.zip', '--exclude', '*.pyc', '--exclude', '*.log']

Free ebooks from Springer

Via Hacker News, "All Springer Textbooks More Than 10 Years Old Available for Free Legal Download".

This includes books from Apress as well as a ton of those im­pen­e­tra­ble gray-and-red Lecture Notes in Computer Science books.

Update 2015-12-30: No longer available. Springer aren’t commenting. Presumably a mistake.

Review: Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens


Young orphaned scavenger living on a desert planet finds droid with a message, then hooks up with two rogues in a beat-up ship. Young hero starts developing a talent for the Force. Dark-side dork with daddy issues slays daddy in death star duel. Ace X-wing pilot flies down trench and kills death star.

Where have I seen this movie before?

Episode VII is a distinct im­prove­ment over the last set of Star Wars films, the Anakin prequels. We care more about Rey and Finn than we ever did about Anakin and Padme. George Lucas’s characters were wooden and un­con­vinc­ing; Lawrence Kasdan (who wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi), J.J. Abrams, continue.

Review: The Magician King

Title: The Magician King
Author: Lev Grossman
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Plume
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 400
Keywords: adult fantasy
Reading period: 26–27 December, 2015

[Sequel to The Magicians.]

There are two storylines in The Magician King, the backstory of Julia’s training as a hedgewitch and Quentin’s quest for the seven golden keys.

Quentin, along with his high school crush, Julia, and his fellow Brakebills’ alumni, Eliot and Janet, have ruled Fillory for a few years. Bored with being King, he sets off on a quest, taking Julia with him. Un­ex­pect­ed­ly thrust back to Earth, they des­per­ate­ly strive to return to Fillory, eventually succeeding. Magic is leaching out of the universe as the old gods awaken, and continue.

Review: The Magicians

Title: The Magicians
Author: Lev Grossman
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Plume
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 402
Keywords: adult fantasy
Reading period: 20–26 December, 2015

Take a heavy dose of Narnia, add a hefty dollop of Harry Potter, stir in some Bret Easton Ellis and a dash of The Catcher in the Rye, then cook for adults. That glib de­scrip­tion short­changes The Magicians, even though Fillory clearly owes a major debt to Narnia and the preppy Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy somewhat resembles Hogwarts.

Quentin Coldwater is an over­achiev­ing, solitary math nerd from Brooklyn, who thinks he’s attending an entrance interview for Princeton but instead gains admittance to Brakebills. Magic turns out to be real, but difficult, requiring continue.


We had a quiet Christmas day. We’re hosting two couch­surf­ing young women from Kazakhstan. They and Raven and Iain were our dinner guests. We roasted a leg of lamb and an assortment of root vegetables. For dessert, we had one of my Christmas Puddings.

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