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review 2018-11-17 17:41
Flexible Belts: "Cosmos" by Carl Sagan
Cosmos - Carl Sagan

(Original Review, 1980-11-17)

A lot of talk has been going on about the flaws in Carl Sagan's COSMOS series. These flaws center on either Sagan's unusual speaking style and acting(?) abilities, or the show's contents. I certainly agree that he looks stupid when displaying the "awed" look; however, the complaints about the content of his shows are not justified. Yes, he is short on reasons and long on visual effects, and, yes, he talks as if the viewer did not know the obvious. What we are all forgetting is this: the average person doesn't know what we would consider "obvious". We should realize that Carl Sagan has his work cut out for him making science digestible for the average person.




If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2017-11-28 03:33
Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark - Carl Sagan,Ann Druyan

My dad has recommended many books over the years, but this one has to be the most timely - and it was written twenty years ago! I suppose that means reason is timeless. Carl Sagan questions why humanity is so enamored with pseudo-science and the paranormal as opposed to, you know, the truth.

Sagan's writing is warm and funny in a dry way. I liked that here is a guy who would genuinely love to accept the existence of extraterrestrial life and life after death, but needs to see the evidence. His disappointment is touching. Sagan scrutinizes ghosts, witchcraft, alien abductions, Atlantis, telepathy, and other phenomena and runs through the evidence. The evidence just isn't there. Sagan examines why people ignore the genuine discoveries of science for tabloid stories and fantastic claims with nothing backing them up. They are also more widely disseminated. Sagan was convinced that more people are aware of the theory that aliens have been "diddling" us for centuries than the mapping of the human genome. Too much credulity leaves us open to superstition, and we've all seen the results of that.

The book can be a little dry, but its refreshing reading and I would like to see an updated edition come out.

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url 2017-06-20 19:12
Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space - Carl Sagan,Ann Druyan

A short film by Erik Wernquist, narrated by Carl Sagan from his book Pale Blue Dot.

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review 2017-01-26 00:00
Carl Sagan's Hunt for Intelligent Life in the Universe (Archangel Project)
Carl Sagan's Hunt for Intelligent Life in the Universe (Archangel Project) - C. Gockel Despite the exceedingly odd title, Carl Sagan's Hunt for Intelligent Life in the Universe is a solidly enjoyable read.

It's short story spanning a string of years involving the intelligent life on an alien planet and it's reaction to humanity. One of those life forms, inhabiting a werfle, finds himself somewhat at odds with the overall view of humanity when he finds himself adopted by a human named Noa.

It's not a story with a lot of adventure or anything like that. Instead its a gentle exploration of a relationship where two completely different intelligent life forms care for each other.

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text 2016-11-22 12:00
Top Ten Tuesday: National Nightmare Edition
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
Bitch Planet Volume 1 - Kelly Sue DeConnick,Robert Wilson IV,Valentine De Landro
The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America - George Packer
Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities - Rebecca Solnit
On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe (Maryland Paperback Bookshelf) - H. L. Mencken
White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America - Nancy Isenberg
Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In - Bernie Sanders
A Social History of the Third Reich - Richard Grunberger
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark - Carl Sagan,Ann Druyan
Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History - Tananarive Due,Sofia Samatar,Ken Liu,Victor LaValle,Nnedi Okorafor,Sabrina Vourvoulias,Thoraiya Dyer,Rose Fox,Daniel José Older,Julie Dillon

I've been gone for a bit.


I’ve decided to go political right out of the gate. I suppose this is an odd note to start on as a “revival” of my blog after months away, and yet it is quite fitting given how I am feeling these days. Books are inherently political, if only because they reflect facets of our culture back to us, so it makes sense that I should find meaning in my blogging by looking in a political direction.


Typically, I would grab my Top Ten Tuesday topic from its originators, The Broke and the Bookish. Considering what is on my mind lately—non-stop—I felt instead like I would share a partial list of what I have read/intend to read as I come to grips with the election and figure out exactly how I want to tackle the aftermath. I, like many people blindsided by this travesty, have resolved to become more politically active and much more aware. This requires not just action, but knowledge and perspective, and I think that is something these books can offer in a time of need. This list could easily be hundreds of titles long but we have to start somewhere and ten is as good a number as any.


The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This will be a re-read for me and it couldn’t be more appropriate. And before you scoff about exaggeration, just remember the percentage of the evangelical vote that brought us where we are today.


Bitch Planet series by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro. Needed for much the same reason as Handmaid. Also, because it will make me righteously angry and I need that right now.


The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer. Who hurt you, America??


Hope in the Darkness by Rebecca Solnit. Just about anything by Solnit could fit here, but some readings by people I admire have pushed this one to the top of the list. We could all use a reminder that hope is hard but necessary and despair is not an option.


On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe by H.L. Mencken. While Mencken had some problematic views on women (he was writing 100 years ago), just about any of his political writings are extremely prescient. He saw this coming and we still didn’t listen.


White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg. What is it about the history of poverty and the wealth gap in the US that prompts people to vote against their own self-interest or scapegoat others? Is it just a lack of education or is it much more? And is class even the motivating factor people are claiming, or is it simply about culture? I’m hoping this book can shed some light on these questions.


Our Revolution by Bernie Sanders. I’m a Bernie Babe, can’t be helped.


A Social History of the Third Reich by Richard Grunberger. While there are any number of books on the Third Reich, I feel it is most important to begin by understanding the everyday people that contributed (purposefully or not) to its rise and normalization. And this is not just alarmism; the parallels are disturbing even from the vaguest distance.


The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan. Living in a post-truth world is going to do a number on science.


Any and every contemporary sci-fi short story collection I can get my hands on. I have

faith that these stories, told by diverse voices, will give me perspective beyond the headlines and history. In the right hands, speculative fiction gets to the heart of everything that troubles us as a people and gives us alternative visions of the future.


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