[conspire] A few random remarks

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Mon Oct 16 17:07:54 PDT 2006

In yesterday's October issue of Bruce Schneier's Crypto-Gram:

  The Rand Corporation published A Million Random Digits with 100,000
  Normal Deviates back in 1955, when generating random numbers was hard.
  I have a copy of the original book; it's one of my library's prize
  possessions. I had no idea that the book was reprinted in 2002; it's
  available on Amazon. But even if you don't buy it, go to the Amazon page
  and read the user reviews. They're hysterical.

My pick of the Amazon reviewers' remarks:

The most amazing book I have ever come across, January 16, 2005
Reviewer: Jamie R. Wilson (Knoxville, TN USA)

A truly amazing genre-breaking work of art unlike any that has ever been
or ever will. I was captivated from the moment I opened the cover until
the extremely suspenseful moment I turned the last page. With that said,
I was a little disappointed that 71602 was knocked off by 92937 just as
the plot was unfolding, but the arrival of 96240 really got my blood
pumping and I just couldn't put the book down from that moment on.

I am so glad that Amazon.com is offering the "Search Inside This Book"
option for this book so that it can be enjoyed by countless other avid
readers who otherwise may not have come across it. I wait, impatiently,
for the audio CD version of this fine book.

Sloppy., July 27, 2005
Reviewer: B. MCGROARTY (United States) 

The book is a promising reference concept, but the execution is somewhat
sloppy. Whatever algorithm they used was not fully tested. The bulk of
each page seems random enough. However at the lower left and lower right
of alternate pages, the number is found to increment directly.

Won't someone think of the children?, October 16, 2006
Reviewer: M. Fischer (Fort Collins, CO USA) 

I cannot believe that a good company like Amazon would promote such an
item! This is going to end up on Bill O'Reilly one day. Seriously,
promoting "Deviants" as "normal" just encourages our children to rebel
against the authority of their parents and that of our lord and savior.
Deviants are abnormal, and we should send all 100,000 of the deviants to
church camp and get their souls clean.

I'm ashamed to be an American today.

A serious reference work?, October 16, 2006
Reviewer: BJ (Watford, England)

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.

Not Metric, October 15, 2006
Reviewer: Ewen Wallace "CAD Bloke" (Sydney, Australia)

This is an old version - no good for metric countries. I'd have to go
through each number and subtract 32, multiply by 5 then divide by 9.
Does anyone have a macro for this?

once bitten twice shy, October 14, 2006
Reviewer: urgen "urgency is addicting"

Hasn't anyone else noticed that 10097 is ALWAYS the first number in the
tabl e on the first page? You call that random? Now that the identities
of these numbers has been published they can no longer be called random
at all. 

A great read, October 14, 2006
Reviewer: Fuat C. Baran "The Biblioholic" (New York, NY USA) 

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

What is the square root of John Galt?, October 13, 2006
Reviewer: Matthew B. Tepper (Los Angeles, CA USA) 

I'm sorry to be one of the constant readers disappointed with the
volume. Unfortunately, it is rather like a rehash of Atlas Shrugged or
The Fountainhead, only slightly less tiresome and preachy. For ardent
RANDists only.

Not Nearly A Million, September 3, 2006
Reviewer: Liron (San Jose, CA United States)

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!

If you are looking for a larger offering of numerals in various bases, I
highly recommend "Peter Rabbit's ABC and 123".

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