maxjmartin.com

Snow crash

Book notes for "Snow crash" by Neal Stephenson

Quick Review:

I loved the world building, and many of the characters. The story reminds me of Unsong for obvious reasons (a good thing). Not a book that I couldn't put down, but definitely a worthwhile read.

Great things:
  • The Burbclaves
  • The Raft, brilliant setting
  • The street, a realistic virtual world you can sort of imagine existing
  • Mr Lee's Greater Hong Kong and the other sovereign corporations
  • Fed-land, wonderfully bleak

Highlights:

loc: 199
Now a Burbclave, that’s the place to live. A city-state with its own constitution, a border, laws, cops, everything.
loc: 619
The world is full of power and energy and a person can go far by just skimming off a tiny bit of it.
loc: 2,170
These days, most states are franchulates or Burbclaves, much too small to have anything like a jail, or even a judicial system. So when someone does something bad, they try to find quick and dirty punishments, like flogging, confiscation of property, public humiliation, or, in the case of people who have a high potential of going on to hurt others, a warning tattoo on a prominent body part. POOR IMPULSE CONTROL.
loc: 3,219
The people of America, who live in the world’s most surprising and terrible country, take comfort in that motto. Follow the loglo outward, to where the growth is enfolded into the valleys and the canyons, and you find the land of the refugees. They have fled from the true America, the America of atomic bombs, scalpings, hip-hop, chaos theory, cement overshoes, snake handlers, spree killers, space walks, buffalo jumps, drive-bys, cruise missiles, Sherman’s March, gridlock, motorcycle gangs, and bungee jumping. They have parallel-parked their bimbo boxes in identical computer-designed Burbclave street patterns and secreted themselves in symmetrical sheetrock shitholes with vinyl floors and ill-fitting woodwork and no sidewalks, vast house farms out in the loglo wilderness, a culture medium for a medium culture.
loc: 4,558
Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad.
loc: 4,675
When you program in machine language, you are controlling the computer at its brainstem, the root of its existence. It’s the tongue of Eden. But it’s very difficult to work in machine language because you go crazy after a while, working at such a minute level. So a whole Babel of computer languages has been created for programmers: FORTRAN, BASIC, COBOL, LISP, Pascal, C, PROLOG, FORTH. You talk to the computer in one of these languages, and a piece of software called a compiler converts it into machine language. But you never can tell exactly what the compiler is doing. It doesn’t always come out the way you want. Like a dusty pane or warped mirror. A really advanced hacker comes to understand the true inner workings of the machine—he sees through the language he’s working in and glimpses the secret functioning of the binary code—becomes a Ba’al Shem of sorts.”
loc: 7,421
As part of Mr. Lee’s good neighbor policy, all Rat Things are programmed never to break the sound barrier in a populated area. But Fido’s in too much of a hurry to worry about the good neighbor policy. Jack the sound barrier. Bring the noise.