Grandma Waterhouse

I loved this portion on 641 where Randy is describing his grandmother, Mary Smith, wife of Lawrence Waterhouse. "the world of physical objects seemed to have been made solely for the purpose of giving the men around Grandma something to do with their hands; and not, mind you, for any practical reason, but purely so that Grandma could twiddle those men's emotional knobs by reacting to how well or poorly do it." I thought this was hilarious, but it also reminded me of the discussions we've been having about gender. She has the last word here and it seems like she has the power, but it seems like this paragraph is talking about insignificant stuff.

Santa Monica

One of my favorite parts of this book so far is the chapter entitled "Santa Monica" starting on 442. Waterhouse's description of Santa Monica pier, and especially the plants and design of the area is hysterical and quite true. "The are too geometric and perfect. They are schematic diagrams for plants sketched out by some impossibly modern designer with a strong eye for geometry but who has never been out in a woods and seen a real plant. They don't even grow out of any recognizable organic matrix, they are embedded in sterile ochre dust that passes for soili n this part of the country."
All the beach towns in Southern California have this feel- beautiful but somehow not real. Santa Monica to Venice Beach to Laguna- they're perfect for those TV dramas. Of course, there is the litter and the screaming kids and the too-many-seagulls, but the landscaping is very much other-worldly.

Randy and Lawrence Waterhouse

I think that Stephenson does a really good job of connecting the personalities of Randy and Lawrence. The first thing I noticed was that they are both described as having trouble remembering names. I recently noticed a paragraph on page 488 about Lawrence, that reminded me of Randy's idea of License-Plate-making. "The rest might seem like glorious conquest to people like the General, but to Turing, and now to Waterhouse, it just looks like tedious mopping-up. It is exciting to discover electrons and figure out the equations that govern their movement; it is boring to use those principles to design electric can openers.

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