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Review: The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward

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The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward by Daniel H. Pink My rating: 4 of 5 stars We live in a culture that tells us we should have "no regrets"; we should be forward-looking, forget the past, and charge into the future, never pause to linger on mistakes we've made, opportunities we've missed, or considering how our life might have been different.  We'd be silly to be George Bailey of It's A Wonderful Life (of course, then, we'd also be dead and not able to regret or learn from our regrets).  That's the picture that Pink paints in his opening chapters as a means of justifying his book to explore regret.  How truly the average person ignores engaging in regret seems to still be up for question but Pink might frame it as a "no regret" epidemic.  If that opening sounds overly critical of the book, it probably is but that's because largely what Pink is offering is not the power of

Review: Arriving Today: From Factory to Front Door-Why Everything Has Changed About How and What We Buy

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Arriving Today: From Factory to Front Door-Why Everything Has Changed About How and What We Buy by Christopher Mims My rating: 4 of 5 stars What does it take for something to show up on our door when we order it online?  Mims uses this premise as his starting point to dive into the deep and complex infrastructure creation, transportation, and delivery that fuels modern consumer capitalism.  It's a challenging picture to consider because on the one hand, it is filled with massive feats of humankind in terms of how we are able to make things, move things, and consume things (then create waste-removal systems that are equally complex) and yet, at every point in this process, sits (or stands or moves) a precarious class of workers who are often exploited in numerous ways and are often forgoing their health for often unliveable wages in order to deliver goods at an unnecessary speed (e.g. 1-2 day delivery).  Mims balances this picture for the m

Review: Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally

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Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally by Emily Ladau My rating: 4 of 5 stars Ladau proves an accessible and helpful guide on understanding the complexities of disability in modern society.  Her approach is a not a definitive guide but an introduction to the expansive and complex with an invitation to go further but by starting with this book, the reader is off to a good start.  She doesn't claim perfect knowledge or understanding of all the complexities of disability and comes to it from her own intersectional experience and her own research on the topic.  The book has a little bit of everything to offer if you are new to the topic from a brief history to explaining the different categories of disability, to examining language and appropriate ways to interact with people with disabilities.  On that last point, it boils down to treating people with disabilities as the humans they are, asking and not assum

Review: A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door: The Dismantling of Public Education and the Future of School

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A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door: The Dismantling of Public Education and the Future of School by Jack Schneider My rating: 4 of 5 stars Schneider and Berkshire's critique of charter schools and the privatization of public education is a sharp and insightful analysis that helps unpack the complex forces at play in actively trying to dismantle public education. They demonstrate that the current push toward charter schools is part of an ongoing effort by right-wing conservatives that has moved from peripheral to center over the past 80 years.  Initially arising as a means to work around equally funding schools for Black children or allowing for integration, charter school's historical legacy and contemporary means of being able to do a great deal of harm to students and teachers without any public accountability raise a range of questions about who is benefitting (i.e. profiting) from these structures.  Schneider and Berkshire help to answ

Review: Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home

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Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home by Charlie Warzel My rating: 4 of 5 stars Do you work to live or live to work? Do you have some other way of concieving your relationship to work in a society that centers work as a central identity? Warzel and Peterson delve into work culture, its history, the assumptions of the present paradigm, and the possibilities that await us in the post-pandemic world. They posit that after pandemic, we have what feels like a once in a lifetime (or century even) opportunity to thoughtfully and intentional reconsider what work can and will be and that individuals and companies should seize this moment to shift to a more sustainable means of employing people if they actually care about their staff, care about a more productive company, and worry about losing to competition. On that final point, it's unclear if their book is likely going to change or influence businesses and their decisio

Letter to the Editor - Inside Higher Edu

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Estimated Reading Time: minutes  It happened again. Someone wrote something and I had some thoughts that I decided to respond with; we know the deal!  In this case, it happened at Inside Higher Ed, a news site that focuses on higher education.    " In a recent blog post,  Matt Reed raises concerns about gas prices and their impact on the majority of students on physical campuses (that is, commuter students).  This is a real concern and one that I was thinking about back in the early part of the 2010s when I first started developing and teaching hybrid flexible courses. Before the pandemic made it obvious to all, my concerns focused on the fact that there are real barriers to getting to campus that will continue to multiply. Students who have been marginalized will also feel the effects the most.  Gas prices, natural and unnatural disasters, and pandemics are some of the ways that disruption will continue to occur." Read the rest here . This was one of those posts that just s

Review: The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

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The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk My rating: 4 of 5 stars It's cliche to say everyone should read "this" book. I know--and yet, I can't help think that van der Kolk's work needs to be in front of all of us.  So maybe not this book, but the TED Talk of this book or something.  His work is both a partial history of his work as a psychiatrist over the last 50 years exploring and extending our understanding of what trauma is, how it manifests in people and the current scientific understanding of the different ways to treat trauma.  On all of these levels, van der Kolk's writing is informative, accessible, and insightful for readers. He provides a range of examples from the culture's more traditional examples of trauma to lesser-known and understood forms. His most powerful contribution is embedded in the title--how the body keeps score of trauma.  That is,

Review: Speaking of Race: Why We Need to Talk About Race-and How to Do It Effectively

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Speaking of Race: Why We Need to Talk About Race-and How to Do It Effectively by Celeste Headlee My rating: 5 of 5 stars A great deal of people know that racism--individual, cultural, and structural--exist in numerous ways within the United States and have known this for a long while. But having effective conversations about racism to build understanding, empathy, and even action, rarely occur. There are many reasons for this from current politics and political discourse, to mediums of communication, to conceptions about how the world works and history.  But a big inhibitor to genuine conversations and possible change resides in how we have those conversations and Headlee lays down the different elements that we need if we plan to have conversations about racism rather than talk about racism.  Throughout her book, she points to research-based approaches that enhance the ability for people to engage in complex conversations around controversial

Review: How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism

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How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism. by Cory Doctorow My rating: 4 of 5 stars Doctorow delivers another great exploration and distillation of the challenges, problems, and issues that are embedded in technological and economic systems in our world today. In particular, he looks at the complexities and misunderstandings about how surveillance capitalism thrives in the 21st century but not as a new threat but as an extension of corporate attempts at monopolies that have long been a threat to democracy and any meaningful and reasonable forms of capitalism.  Doctorow's at his best when breaking down these relationships and offering an insightful critique of those who think surveillance capitalism is acceptable or inevitable. It's clear he's drawing on both his own experience, as an author who has made a living writing and not being as restrictive about intellectual property as many of the software companies are (and the problems wit

Review: Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code

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Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code by Ruha Benjamin My rating: 5 of 5 stars At the center of Benjamin's book is a very simple premise: technology is not neutral and when we pretend otherwise, it will amplify the biases and inequities of the society that produces the technology. Benjamin then shows through a variety of spaces and contexts how this proves to be true time and again.  In particular, she examines how racism creeps into technological structures both as a result of unquestioned bias in creators and programmers (e.g. the fair of facial recognition to recognize darker-skinned faces) but also as a direct result of historical racism that becomes culturally encoded in the physical world and unquestioningly transformed in the digital world (the overabundance of using facial-recognition programs on brown and black faces). A particular approach she uses regularly throughout the book is to show readers how the