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Showing posts from September, 2020

Review: Martians, Go Home

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Martians, Go Home by Fredric Brown My rating: 3 of 5 stars This is definitely not a great book in general nor one of Brown's better books (not sure I know what his better books are, I've mostly read his short stories). It's light fare with a goofy premise that at least sounded interesting enough to buy it at a used bookstore and spend some time with. The story's premise is that out of nowhere, Martians arrive on Earth in full force and out of nowhere. Three things become quickly apparent: they're green, they're small, and they're annoying as hell. They're also intangible which means they can be seen and heard but can't really be touched or interacted with. Of course, alien encounter/invasion novels are always about cultural clashes so the idea that a novel from 1955 had a focus on invading loud-talking but untouchable creatures was fascinating to consider (and also think about in today's context). But interesting premise thoug

Review: The Aisles Have Eyes: How Retailers Track Your Shopping, Strip Your Privacy, and Define Your Power

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The Aisles Have Eyes: How Retailers Track Your Shopping, Strip Your Privacy, and Define Your Power by Joseph Turow My rating: 4 of 5 stars The fact is that we're all involved the seeking information but some have much more power over information than others. Turow shows us the ways in which asymmetrical balances of information increasingly leave the average human much more vulnerable and controllable by large corporations that wheel and deal in data. Turow explores how companies increasingly have used digital technology to create a variety of methods to track, predict, and ultimately influence and control our lives and that while we don't necessarily see the impact of this--that is exactly the point. As companies increasingly follow us and compile direct and indirect data about us, our family, our friends, it makes it increasingly easy for them to make things look normal or manufacture choices feel like authentic choices. The result is that companies can lever

Review: Films from the Future: The Technology and Morality of Sci-Fi Movies

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Films from the Future: The Technology and Morality of Sci-Fi Movies by Andrew Maynard My rating: 4 of 5 stars Any science-fiction film worth its genre label is going to offer up a good depiction of the tension between humanity and technology. A tension that is mindful enough of the present time in which the film is produced that years later, it can still be meaningfully discussed in its historical context. Even if this tension is a bit of a straw-person, it's something all science-fiction storytelling tends to hinge upon. Therefore, Maynard's exploration of twelve sci-fi films that run from the established ("Jurassic Park") to the mostly unknown (The Man In The White Suit) captures and draws out so much of that tension in long-winding essays that consider the film, the film's historical context, and how the technologies and concepts at the center of the film are still being grappled with today. After an introduction where he lays both the concep

This Is 41

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Estimated Reading Time: 9.5 minutes So it's that time again.  Everyone on my birthday, I take a moment to reflect about what has happend and look forward to see what may be next.  You can check out the last few years: 38 39 40 As usual, I start of these sessions with some basics about where I am today. Home :  Arlington, Massachusetts Relationship status :  Married (6+ years) Cats Owned :  2 (Bear and Pumpkin) Other Pets :  1 mud turtle (MJ) Degrees earned : 5 (3 masters, 1 bachelor, 1 associate) Degree working on :  PhD in Higher Education Credits Completed Toward Dissertation : 72 out of 72. Reading since Sept 2019 :   books, graphic novels, and audiobooks Work : (1) Educational Programs Manager at the Berkman Klein Center of Internet and Society at Harvard University (full time).  (2) Freelance reviewing audiobooks for Audiofile Magazine.  Teaching courses at  (3) North Shore Community College and (4) Southern New Hampshire University. Short Stories Written :  1 Social Media Con

Review: Literary Wonderlands: A Journey Through the Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created

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Literary Wonderlands: A Journey Through the Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created by Laura Miller My rating: 4 of 5 stars Miller's book is what has become increasingly one of my favorite and most frustrating types of books: a book about other books. In this book, Miller and a host of fantastic contributors share (very) short essays on the power of worlds that are crafted fro imagination in fiction.  Starting as far back as the Epic of Gilgamesh and traveling up through the 2000s, they identify some of the richest worlds every created with an eye towards fictional worlds that have been influential, culturally rich (with mostly a Western fixture), and popular across media.  Most of their historical choices seem to have withstood the test of time but of course, the ones of the last thirty years seem a little more challenging with it being unclear just what their standard for "greatest fictional worlds" means.  They include some evident ones (Game of Thr

Review: Come and Take It: The Gun Printer's Guide to Thinking Free

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Come and Take It: The Gun Printer's Guide to Thinking Free by Cody Wilson My rating: 1 of 5 stars Wilson gained fame and notoriety as one of the earliest, if not the first person to design and use a 3D printed gun. This book tells his account of how it went from idea to manifestation along with the challenges he ran into, the support (financial, intellectual, technical), and the ideologies that fueled his thinking as he moves through the process. On its face-value, the book has something to offer many folks about understanding both the legal issues and concerns around 3D printing of guns as well as 1st and 2nd Amendment rights. Even learning about how and why the 3D gun was created could be quite valuable but Wilson's prose are too often pseudo-literary flourishes attempting to show how brilliant and above the rest of humanity he is--of course, this comes to clash with his self-described crypto-anarchism (nothing says anarchist like publishing with a major p