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Showing posts from July, 2020

Review: Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

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Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Pérez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Criado-Pérez delves into the data or rather, often, absence of data or data disaggregated by gender in order to show to the readers how that creates problematic and sexist experiences for women throughout the world from the (literal) playground to the urban setting to refugee encampments to the corporate office to even democratic countries. Like color-blindness, Criado-Pérez shows that when we approach our world--a world that historically privileged men and men's preferences--with gender-blindness, we often default to what we consider is the norm; always forgetting that the norm does preference males throughout our society. This is less about the pay-gap and more about the structural features that make the modern world harder for women because men are the default. A primary example she draws out early on about this is the mere idea of prioritizing snow removal. Typically, snow-rem…

Review: Reading the Silver Screen: A Film Lover's Guide to Decoding the Art Form That Moves

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Reading the Silver Screen: A Film Lover's Guide to Decoding the Art Form That Moves by Thomas C. Foster
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Foster delivers another lively and engaging book on making sense out of storytelling. The focus of this book is on analyzing movies and much like his previous books (How to Read Literature Like a Professor and How to Read Novels Like a Professor: A Jaunty Exploration of the World's Favorite Literary Form), Foster wants readers (and listeners) to realize that analysis is not that hard to do and often is rewarding by enhancing one's experience. In that way, his tone, easy-going manner, and willingness to take on popular texts makes his book valuable for anyone wanting to teach or learn about these subjects. Even if you've read previous books of his, this one still has some gems and will likely build upon those previous books than just repeat them. What I particularly like about this book is that it forgoes the traditional "let's start wit…

Review: Beyond Charlottesville: Taking a Stand Against White Nationalism: Taking a Stand Against White Nationalism

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Beyond Charlottesville: Taking a Stand Against White Nationalism: Taking a Stand Against White Nationalism by Terry McAuliffe
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As a book recounting the events of Charlottesville in 2017 from the hindsight vantage point of Terry McAuliffe, the governor at the time, the book was interesting. As a book representing a "Taking a Stand Against White Nationalism" and moving "Beyond Charlottesville", it felt disingenuous and disappointing. And while I get that authors don't always get to choose the names for their book, this title promised much and delivered little. McAuliffe is useful in providing context for how he navigates the complex issues rising up to and the aftermath, spending ample time reaffirming that Virginia is (supposedly) no place for white supremacy and that the President of the United States failed at his job to call out white supremacy in a clear, unequivocal manner. So, at the end of the day, McAuliffe does the bare minimum of w…

Review: The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to the Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific

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The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to the Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific by David Bianculli
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a pretty comprehensive look at 20th-century television and some of the best and seminal moments of TV history. Bianculli has been writing about television since 1975 and his knowledge and love of the form is quite evident in how he traces the lineage of different shows, writers, actors, directors, etc. He knows his stuff and he's clearly excited to be sharing his life's work with readers. His work moves through each genre, first by defining it and articulating the ground-breakers through the years from inception to (2016) present and then by providing a narrative that strings these together, making sure to highlight particular shows, episodes, controversial (or funny) anecdotes, and other interesting elements. He usually follows these with spotlights of particular key figures in this genre where delves deeper into their career and l…

Review: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power

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The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First off, I'm aware of the irony in writing and posting this review online through an Amazon product (GoodReads) and a Google product (Blogger) and how in doing so, I am further contributing to the exact problem and concern that Zuboff is offering. But that doesn't matter cause if you are on such a platform, you really need to read this powerful (though massive) book. The central argument is that the move into the digital realm created an opportunity for companies to capture what she refers to as "behavioral surplus." This surplus comes in the forms of being able to completely track all behaviors of people when they move into the online world (through clicks, time on sites, scrolling, etc) and being able to use such surplus as means of testing and manipulating users down certain pathways; often unknowingly and often for the purpose o…