Friday, August 30, 2019

Game of Thrones

by George R. R. Martin

I confess. I am one of the few who have not seen "the acclaimed HBO® series". But all the hype and scuttlebutt about the acclaimed HBO® series did lead me to pick up and read this book, the first installment in an ongoing series. The series is set in the land of Westeros, which is divided into a number of kingdoms, ruled by a high king. It's a world where seasons can last for years, and autumn is waning. A threat is developing in the wild lands to the north, and political intrigues are afoot in the civilized lands of the south. Which will result in more bloodshed remains to be seen. The intertwining stories are interesting and the characters are compelling--even the vile ones. This book did not make me want to see the acclaimed HBO® series, but it did make me want to check out the next volume of the saga.

LibraryThing link

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Living with a Wild God

by Barbara Ehrenreich

Why did I get this book? I forget. One of the blogs I follow recommended it. It said something like "an atheist has a religious encounter". I recognized the author, Barbara Ehrenreich, as the author of Nickeled and Dimed--a book I liked--so I put it on my to read list. Months later, I happened to pick up the book at a library sale.

Since I forget the details of the blog post, I started the book in confusion. What was this book about again? Ms. Ehrenreich started telling about her childhood, being raised as an atheist in a somewhat dysfunctional family. She goes into her teen years, when she was deeply into philosophy, wrestling with the questions of existence. (Of course, I, at that age, preferred to focus my energies on viewing all the episodes of Star Trek.) Near the end of high school she has the supernatural encounter. The climax of the book, right? No, life goes on. She goes to college, the same philosophical atheist with a dysfunctional family. What was the point of this book again? There does come a personal turning point and philosophical wrestlings give way to activism. But this is a reaction to the Vietnam War, not her mystical encounter. Activism occupied her thoughts for a while, but eventually, she came back around to wrestle with her mystical encounter. What was it and how does it fit in with her rationalist world view?

Living with a Wild God was an interesting, if somewhat sad, read. A story that was definitely from a different world (-view) than my own, and one that has me wondering how I might end up dealing with an encounter with someone from that world.

Check it out.
LibraryThing link

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

by C. S. Lewis

This may be the book I've reread the most in the last 20 years. (Excluding the Bible, that is.)
First read in the Summer of 2002.
Then read in June of 2007.
Last read in August of 2011.

Still on my shelf.  
LibraryThing link

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Monday, August 12, 2019

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

by Shoshana Zuboff

If this were April 1st, I think I'd type "TLDR" and leave it there for the day.

But it's not, so I won't. This book is long, I must admit. And dense. With big helpings of economics and philosophy. It was a bit foolish to borrow this from the library in the middle of a busy summer. But so it goes. I did read it, however. So should you.

In this book, Dr. Zuboff writes about a concept she calls surveillance capitalism, a practice that "...unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioral data." In other words, they're watching you and profiting from it. Companies are gathering all sorts of data from your online interactions--data you intentionally post online as well as data culled from your apps and devices. They can then crunch the info to not only throw ads back at you but also to try and influence and manipulate people. ... Okay, that's basically advertising, but some of the idealists out there aren't just looking for the bucks. They'd like to reform society, make it more predictable and controllable.

Like I said, the book is dense. But even though Dr. Zuboff is way smarter and erudite than I am, she did manage to use examples and metaphors to help me slog through the big words and concepts. She paints an overwhelming picture, but also points back to past times when society was similarly confronted with new paradigms. Check it out.

LibraryThing link


Wednesday, August 07, 2019

All Quiet on the Western Front

by Erich Maria Remarque

First read in February of 2009.

on my shelf  
LibraryThing link


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