author: Novella Carpenter
average rating: 4.00
book published: 2009
read at: 2014/03/22
date added: 2014/03/26
shelves: after-the-fall, food, fun, homesteading, own-it
Yet another case of a journalist not really able to make the jump to quality long-form writing. This book is interesting content, but it just never really clicked. The author tried to go for the deep personal angle, but never really arrived at a tone that made me give much of a damn about her or her neighbors or friends.
This guy made an IOS app that keeps you apprised of all (well, really just some) of the horrible shit the U.S. is doing abroad. Pretty great. Brings up some deeper thoughts - what if you really could every moment know everything bad being done to people? Like the enlightened bohdisatvas that can sense people suffering on the other side of the world when a tsunami happens. except you're not enlightened if it's just your phone telling you. you're just overwhelmed. would you just go completely insane? when and how would you start going something to stop some of it? or would you just work on shutting off the stream of data?
author: Vernor Vinge
average rating: 3.72
book published: 2006
read at: 2014/02/01
date added: 2014/02/01
shelves: own-it, fun, novels
Vinge is always one of the best writers at realistically depicting what the near future will really look like, at least in terms of information technology. This book posits a 2025 that seems pretty plausible to me. Given that Google Glass will be rolling out now, in 2014, and will probably get super popular pretty promptly, I don't think it's too outlandish to predict that we'll have information displays built into contact lenses in another 10 years, plus wearable computers controlled by minute gestures. Add to that extrapolations of the trends in entertainment, social networking, surveillance and nationalistic security apparati, and you get a future that Vinge paints as the world a famous poet finds himself in after he comes back from Alzheimer's, cured but not quite, by medical breakthroughs. As usual, this isn't great literature, but the writing isn't as bad as most science fiction, and there's some interesting and touching character development that makes it a bit more than a futurist manifesto.
In the new year I'm going to finally start blogging about my daughter, who is now 8 months old. I will call her S here when a name is necessary.
Anyway, here's something that is interesting and disturbing (to me, at least): I've spent most of my adult life focused on making things that people use/consume via screens (websites, films, videos), but now I'm trying with all my might to not expose my infant to screens.
Screen time is known to be terrible for young kids and is linked to attention-deficit disorders. Screens of all kinds, be they movie screens, TVs, computers, phones or tablets. It's been found, according to some studies, that even time spent in the same room where someone else is using a screen turned away from the child is harmful.
I suppose this is just one of many things we as adults do that we're not proud of that we suddenly have to either fix or hide from our kids - whether it's "bad words," or perhaps ways that we treat our partners that are less than ideal. We all, or most of us, do "bad" things we don't get around to working on improving, for years, until our hand is forced by having a little, new, perfect being around that we don't want to pass on that stuff to. They're info-sponges, and mirrors, and we don't want to see our shadows soaked up and reflected by them.
Ultimately most things can't be hidden forever. They must either be fixed, removed, or passed on in a more sane, balanced, moderated way. The latter is the eventual strategy with screen-time, because obviously we can't, and don't wish to, keep S from all screens forever, in this modern world of digital tools and toys. But we can try to bequeath to her an ethic of moderation and limits where she can benefit from the positive effects but hopefully avoid the most negative ones. And while most of the web sites I've built in my career will be long gone by the time she is old enough to navigate a web browser, perhaps some day we'll let her see some of my scary documentaries or wacky video art - with some explanations and helpful context, to be sure.
Looks like my blog is broken as far as Goodreads book reviews are concerned. the text of my reviews aren't showing up, as you can see for the last few entries. Probably Goodreads changed something about their RSS feed. I don't really know when I'll have time to fix it. Bleh.
The entropy of the universe extends into the digital world. Things constantly falling apart and needing repair. Sigh.
Krakauer is always a good muckraker. In this slim volume he turns his skills to bear on someone who he once trusted, Greg Mortenson, whose charity organization Krakauer had donated lots of money too, only to start doubting Mortenson's work and honesty. My cynical, pessimist side wishes there were a book like this for every feel-good heartwarming pop-memoir of miraculous altruism and supposed world-changing vision, because I'm sure way more of this goes on all the time than we ever see or suspect. This book just methodically rips to shreds all the smoke and mirrors that Mortenson employed over years of pretending to do good. It's pretty satisfying, though saddening too.