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text 2017-11-17 17:50
It's the Weekend!
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers - Mary Roach
The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles) - Mary E. Pearson
The Mummy Case - Elizabeth Peters

Hopefully I'll have at least a little time to read this weekend.

 

I'd like to finish The Mummy Case, which I haven't had enough time to enjoy.

 

Next books due at the library:  Stiff and The Kiss of Deception.  Both have holds and can't be renewed, which makes them priority.  I always enjoy Mary Roach's writing, so I know Stiff will be fun, but I've forgotten all about The Kiss of Deception, so I'll go into it blind and see how things go.

 

In other news, I've got company coming for dinner on Saturday night, so I must do a mountain of laundry, clean the bathroom, and scrub or vacuum all the floors on Saturday morning.

 

Sunday will be a cooking and reading day, with any luck.

 

Enjoy your weekend, folks!

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review 2017-11-06 17:46
Dragonfly Song - Wendy Orr

This was kind of a hard book to review, mostly because it almost falls between genres. It's classed as an upper Middle-Grade historical fantasy, which, that's not wrong . . .

 

I felt like it had more of a classic children's fiction feel to it. It's coming-of-age, and also a sort of epic hero's journey, straddling children's lit and YA in a way that's often done more by adult literary works. It touches on many 'big ideas': deformity, religion/society, acceptance, adoption, trauma, bullying, disability, purpose/identity, fate . . . The format is creative and unique. The story arc stretches from the MC's birth to age 14 and is told in omniscient third person varying with passages in verse.

 

I'm not sure if there was a meaning to the alternating styles; at some points, I thought the dreamlike verse passages were meant to show the MC's perspective in a closer, almost experiential or sensory format as an infant, a toddler, a mute child . . . but then that didn't necessarily carry through, so perhaps it was more to craft an atmosphere for the story.

 

The setting is the ancient Mediterranean, and the story picks up on legends of bull dancing. The world feels distinct, grounded and natural, without heavy-handed world-building. It's a world of gods and priestesses, sacrifice and death and surrender. Humans seem very small within it, and as a children's book, it's challenging rather than comforting. There's death and violence and loss, handled in a very matter-of-fact manner, so I'd recommend it for maybe ages 10+, depending on the child. It's not gratuitously violent or graphic, but it's a raw-edged ancient world where killing a deformed child, having pets eaten by wild animals, beating slaves - including children - and sacrificing people as well as animals to the gods is just part of life. 

 

I was very kindly sent a hardcover edition via the Goodreads Giveaways program, and the book production is lovely. It has a bold, graphic cover with some nice foil accents, a printed board cover (which I prefer for kids books due to the durability), fully illustrated internal section pages, and pleasant, spacious typesetting.

 

Confident, mature young readers will find this an engaging, challenging and meaningful read with an inspiring story arc and some lovely writing. Hesitant readers and very young readers will probably find it a struggle. I'd give it 5/5 as a product, 4/5 as a literary work and 3/5 as kid's entertainment.

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text 2017-11-04 16:00
Dear God, Why?!
Doctor Who: Only Human - Gareth Roberts

I got this book as part of Barnes and Noble's Free Fridays program. Usually they're misses, but sometimes you get a great book. This was not one of those times.

 

I got about 20 pages in and could not handle it. It seemed to have no plot, and the characters just fell flat. I don't understand how this book got a publishing deal, as there is no actual merit to it. It doesn't seem to have much in the way of depth, and the trope of "super skinny pretty new girl at school is special" is becoming rather trite, to be honest.

 

If any writers are reading this, please remember to give your characters more depth and to avoid trite tropes such as the above. Your readers will thank you.

 

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review 2017-11-03 16:58
Deep Learning Architectures: “Life 3.0 - Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” by Max Tegmark
Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence - Max Tegmark

“Life 3.0, which can design not only its software but also its hardware. In other words, Life 3.0 is the master of its own destiny, finally fully free from its evolutionary shackles.”

 

In “Life 3.0 - Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” by Max Tegmark

 

See how good your PC is as it ages or you want to install a better graphics card, does the driver play nice with everything? Are you competent enough to sort it out or are you the sort of person who offloads that to IT? The guys in IT are like ducks or swans, all seems serene on the surface but underneath they are paddling hard to stay afloat. They are one badly written security update away from disaster. Do they install the latest security patch or wait for others to see what happens? Also, the more complex a system becomes the more subject it is to critical failures from minor changes, the more they become like having 100 spinning plates on the go at once. If your bank's computer goes belly up just as the proceeds from your house sale are sailing through the system from one solicitor to another is there enough of a data trail to prove it existed? Do you feel lucky? In this day and age, when the state-of-affairs is like the one I’m describing above, can we still talk about AI?

 

 

 

If you're into Computer Science, read on.

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url 2017-10-31 11:19
Magic of Human Brain
Conscious Creativity: Mindfulness Meditations - Nataša Pantović Nuit

A human brain is truly extraordinary

A healthy brain has some 200 billion neurons.  Conscious mind controls our brain only 5% of the day, whereas the subconscious mind has control of our thoughts 95% of the time.  A human brain has 70,000 thoughts per day.  The brain requires up to 20% of the body's energy despite being only 2% of the human body by weight.

To read more check the article - https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/magic-human-brain-natasa-pantovic

Source: www.linkedin.com/pulse/magic-human-brain-natasa-pantovic
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