Stitch 'n Bitch Nation font>
by Debbie Stoller
(Workman: New York) $13.95/paperback.
Knitters unite! Debbie Stoller, editor and co-founder of the fabulous BUST magazine, has spawned something great: a book of knitting patterns that appeals to younger knitters, tossing the fuddy-duddy out the proverbial window in favor of funky fresh style. Stoller expounds about the joys of starting your knitting group, and lo, Stitch 'n Bitch-esque clubs are springing up all over the country.
Stitch 'n Bitch Nation is written in an easygoing conversational manner, providing knitting tips, sneaky cheats and easy-to-follow instructions. Other knitting books are hard to decipher unless you have a fair amount of prior knitting experience. Stoller, bless her heart, explains things so well that my friend Beth was able to teach herself to knit -- just from the copy of Stoller's first book, Stitch 'n Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook that I gave her.
Patterns include everything from easy-as-pie scarves to rock 'n' roll sweaters, pillows and fuzzy monster slippers. There's even a pattern for a Joey Ramone doll! Baby patterns are here as well, including my favorite "Baby's First Tattoo" sweater, with your choice of wee skulls and crossbones or nautical stars for the sleeves.
-- Kara Luger
On Intelligence: How A New Understanding Of The Brain Will Lead To The Creation Of Truly Intelligent Machines
by Jeff Hawkins and Sandra Blakeslee
(Henry Holt: New York) $25/hardcover
The inventor of the PalmPilot, Jeff Hawkins, has written the brain book he always wanted to read: On Intelligence. With Sandra Blakeslee, a science/medicine writer for the New York Times i>, Hawkins has created a meaty mental meal for readers. Tough but toothsome, the book succeeds in its main purpose: proposing a comprehensive theory of how our minds work.
On Intelligence explains the inherent failures of AI, or artificial intelligence. It ambitiously incorporates brief histories of computers, psychology and neurology in an eight-section repackaging of ideas that includes Crick's Astonishing Hypothesis, which proposes that the mind is only a creation of the cells of our brains. "Packaging and interpretation can make a world of difference, the difference between a mass of details and a satisfying theory," writes Hawkins. That statement covers both the commercial appeal of the book and sums up his whole Theory of Memory-Prediction Framework, which postulates that intelligence is all association -- sequences of sequences in retrievable, interconnected patterns, consistently using feedback to make parallel predictions about what happens next.
The complexity of the book's ideas is balanced by its conversationality. "The most powerful things are simple," say Hawkins and Blakeslee, and On Intelligence is both. This book is a rare choice, as informative as it is thought provoking.
-- J.N. Nail