Posts

Owning Mistakes

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Estimated Reading Time: 11 minutes

I am unlikely going to get it right (even in this post).  I'll come close at times but this kind of work must come with a recognition that if I'm open-minded and reflective, coupled with being decisive and willing to try to use my privilege daily to advocate, promote, and protect marginalized voices, I will hopefully do less harm than good.  I think that's a realistic goal and one that I'm ok with--even though I would like it to be more than that.  

This acceptance is about recognizing that we work within systems of oppression that privilege certain people over others and individually, none of our individual work is likely to restructure the system.  As someone who is a benefactor of this oppression with various markings of privilege (white, male, middle class, perceived as heterosexual, able-bodied, neurotypical, cisgender, etc), it can be a challenge to do right by folks who have been historically and currently marginalized. I've …

Review: Druid's Sword

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Druid's Sword by Sara Douglass
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So on the one hand, this book drew me in hard. So hard. Having read nearly all of Sara Douglass's other work, this was the last series-related book of hers that I would ever get to read, I approached this book with trepidation. I had read the first in this quadrology (Hades' Daughter) back when it came out in the early 2000s and never came back to the series. I decided to re-read that book and follow on with each of the books in this series about a year ago. I wasn't that impressed with the first but as Douglass usually does, she continues to develop her characters in some ways, while keeping their essence in others, and by this book, I was itching to see how it would end. Kudos for her for sucking me in again. Around the one-third mark, I knew that I would be pacing to finish this and even down to the last few pages, I wasn't entirely sure how it was going to be wrapped up.

In essence, several characters who are…

What Are The Rules For Your Book Collection?

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Estimated Reading Time: 9 minutes

Back sometime in 2018, I wrote about how I find the books that I read and what my selection process is like.  I meant to follow it up shortly with another post about how I choose which books to add to my collection because as much as I try not to be materialistic, books are definitely my kryptonite.  Obviously, as a nerd, books hold a special place and I waiver in my belief that it's somehow different from holding dear to shoes, clothes, cooking devices, sports memorabilia, etc.  But I wanted to do more than just that, but explain how I conceive of, organize, and interact with my bookshelves.

While a part of me would love to have a library of every book I've ever read (Goodreads says that would be in the vicinity of 4,250+ books, but I know that list is missing at least 100-200), I also live in a finite space and with a partner who would prefer not to trade in furniture for bookshelves.  A few years ago, I worked to find an acceptable limit that…

Review: I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations

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I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations by Sarah Stewart Holland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In general, this is a heart-warming book by two people trying to do their best to bridge the divides that are so prevalent within our culture, particularly along political lines. It's refreshing and appreciated in that regard and it comes clearly from a place of wanting to recognize the dignity and humanity (or "grace" as they say) of each human. In that regard, wanting to recognize our respective humanity and a willingness to try to understand, I am trying to do so with these authors as well. Because I do appreciate their efforts and their desire, I think they do fall short in some profound ways. Their goals to bridge the divide with at least listening and a recognition of the nuance that permeates nearly all issues we encounter is certainly important. They provide numerous examples of this that help to highlight how we are all…

The PhD Chronicles: The Year That Wasn't

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Estimated Reading Time: 4.5 minutes

So it's been well over a year since I wrote my last blog post regarding my PhD program.  However, if you've been reading it along, you'll notice that the PhD Chronicles last entry is dated to about seven months ago.  For those not in the know or not paying much attention (I don't blame you there), the entries for the chronicles were posted one year after I actually wrote them.  This gave me some distance and opportunity to revisit and revise in case I misrepresented something or someone. 

But these posts moving forward are in the now (or as Spaceballs says "now now").  So what has been going on with my doctoral work in the year and a half since I posted that last post.  I would love to report back now and regal you with adventures about how I have made huge strides and succeeded in defending my dissertation proposal and am now working solely on my dissertation.

But that is not the case.  This time away from Friday classes has …

Review: Police State: How America's Cops Get Away With Murder

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Police State: How America's Cops Get Away With Murder by Gerry Spence
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As a trial defense lawyer with decades of experience and involvement in a good deal of high-profile cases over those years, Spence has a keen eye and mind for discussing how the structure of law and power can work to systematically disenfranchise most citizens. That is the major theme throughout the book that no matter the case, the government power is exponentially greater than any human that it puts in its crosshairs. Over a discussion of a handful of his most poignant cases, Spence illustrates the ways in which government in forms of the attorneys, judges, attorney generals, and police agents at all levels of government can abuse their power on people without the means to fight back (save for, of course, Spence and his self-reported amazing lawyerly skills). At that level, the book has a very solid foot to stand on and can present extremely important arguments about the evaporation of (o…

Exploring #Cancelling & #CancelCulture

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Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

A good friend whom I trade insightful YouTube channels and videos with texted me, "Natalie's new video was so good, I became a patron."  That's an impressive endorsement.  So, as soon as I had some opportunity for screentime, I held back my desire to continue watching the latest season of The Magicians (Harry Potter for adults...sorta) on Netflix and fought my urge to watch the new season on Amazon of The Expanse (but seriously, you should all check out that show), to watch this 100-minute extravaganza.

If you haven't encountered Contrapoints yet, you definitely need to go over to YouTube and watch some videos.  Contrapoints is a YouTube Channel run by Natalie Wynn that focuses on breaking down complex elements of our culture into digestible, entertaining, and intriguing pieces. She does this often through character dialogue (herself dressed up as different people of different viewpoints, debating one another).  She layers these vi…

Review: Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

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Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Range is one of those books that speak to me as someone who has often had trouble delving so deep into something enough to be called a specialist. The crux of his argument is that while the goal to get kids (and adults) on the right track in life, we have overwhelming moved into the realm of trying to raise specialists and not generalists. The result is that we miss out on a lot since inspiration and breakthroughs often arise through seeing across different domains of knowledge and making connections, often by way of analogy. Thus, the book is peppered with examples time and again of historical and contemporary people who have done this in fields from astrophysics to biology to professional sports to artistic creation and musical talents. Epstein's work reminds me very much of the adage that when all you have is a hammer, every solution begins to look like a nail. In that regard,I thnk h…

New Year--Still Here

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So 2020 will mark the 10th year of blogging.  This here is the 1679th post, which means I averaged about 167 posts a year since starting this blog in March 2010 (originally named "The Hitchhiking Adjunct").  Some posts were obviously more substantial than others.  And a good portion of them were reprinting what I had written elsewhere.  Of course, there were the ones that were part of a year-long series such as when I did the 365 Short Stories and 365 Photos projects.  

This past year, the posts have been a bit less than usual, to say the least.  I've published about 60 or so posts, most of which have largely consistent of reprints, reviews (which I first posted to GoodReads), and pieces that I had written previously (e.g. the PhD Chronicles were written in 2018 and the Mudty Relations essay series was mostly written in 2018).  There's been a variety of reasons for this including it being busier with different projects and work (make ever slow progress on the disserta…

Review: Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think

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Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Factfulness is a book that reminds me in many ways of the works of Daniel Pink, Steven Pinker, Steven Johnson and Matt Ridley. Like those authors and some of their more popular works, at the core of Rosling's (or the Roslings') message is a focus undermining the simplicity that we humans often seek to instill intentionally or unintentionally as a result of our thinking and the ways we connect facts. Rosling's particular approach is to get people to slow down with the facts that they receive and spend some time poking around at them using a set of questions and reminders that he provides through the book. Part of what I enjoyed about this book is Rosling's dive into specific examples and instances where he, an expert, failed in thinking clearly through his problems and other instances where non-experts were able to stop and make him t…