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photo 2018-05-27 18:42
Understanding Our Cosmos
Understanding Our Cosmos - Bhaktee Kale

Description: This book aims to make an earnest endeavor to reconcile the different aspects and realms of the cosmos. It is a compendium of original philosophical ideas presented in the most practical way. From comprehensively defining God - De-cluttering the disarray that surrounds it to classifying human nature , categorizing instinctual behavior of individuals and elaborating pertinent theories and proposing new ones - this book beautifully touches upon all those aspects with simplicity and clarity. The book also gives ample illustrations to make concepts clear and tangible. Focusing on Morality and virtue, it explains logically as to why that is the best choice there is for individuals - systematically proving the same. It explains righteousness in the light of several theories including the Karma theory.
It also compares and contrasts - logic, instinct and intuition and the validity of each of those under different circumstances. The author also speaks of the importance of progressive thinking and lucidly explains aspects like evolution of the soul.

To quote Socrates - " All right conduct depends on clear knowledge, that not only does the definition of a virtue aids us in acquiring that virtue, but also that the definition of the virtue is the virtue." This book is an attempt at doing just that.

Source: www.amazon.com/dp/B07CVDY388
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review 2018-03-31 17:49
The Animators, by Karla Rae Whitaker
The Animators - Kayla Rae Whitaker

The Animators struck a deep chord with me on two levels: as an artist and as best friend to a fellow artist. If you are either, you'll likely love this novel as I did.

 

Funny and engaging from the first page, The Animators starts with our narrator, Sharon, in college, where she meets the charismatic Mel Vaught. Both are aspiring animators who are into the same shit and share an aesthetic; both come from poor, rural southern U.S. backgrounds. Many of us in the arts could identify that time when we learn we're not actually outsiders, that others share our interests; college tends to be a place where we find our tribe.

 

But this is not a novel about being a college arts student. The narrative quickly brings us to a present where Sharon and Mel have made a successful indie animated feature that centers on Mel's life. They live together in New York City. Mel drinks and does a lot of drugs; she's the life of the party. Sharon...is not. She spends a lot of time and emotions angsting over her latest romantic interest, of which there are many.

 

Tension develops between the two, much of it, from Sharon's perspective, owing to Mel's lifestyle. There's a blowout, followed by a shocking, life-altering health crisis for one of them. It's a reset that leads them on a path to mining Sharon's childhood for their next project. This raises very real questions artists face about using their lives in their art in ways that may hurt loved ones. I wasn't quite satisfied by the resolution to this issue, but I appreciated its being seriously considered.

 

This book excels at depicting partnerships between women, their working lives as artists, and craft. The prose is engaging, the characters vivid, and there are some heartbreaking and harrowing moments. Even if you're not an artist or friends with one, I can't imagine Whitaker's (first!) novel not winning you over from page one.

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review 2018-02-26 21:25
The conscientious killer
Scythe - Neal Shusterman

I have to be straight up about the fact that it took me several weeks to get through this book. This is not because I didn't enjoy it because I actually did quite a bit...it's just that once I put it down I didn't feel that overwhelming urge to get back into it again. 

¯_(ツ)_/¯ 

 

Scythe by Neal Shusterman is a dystopian (or utopian depending on how you look at it) young adult novel about what would happen if technology progressed to the point where disease, poverty, and even death were overcome. What would be humanity's biggest problem? If you guessed overpopulation then you're absolutely correct. The solution to this problem was to create the Scythedom which consists of specially recruited and trained individuals who seek out and 'glean' (strike down, kill, murder) members of the community. The Scythedom is purported to be a morally sound group of people who have the capability to decide who to 'glean' for the sake of the greater good. The Thunderhead which is the name for the evolved information cloud (think Google on speed) oversees the majority of day-to-day operations with the exception of this group of people. What could go wrong? When morality and mortality are inextricably intertwined is it possible to keep your objectivity and still be a good person? Can you be a conscientious killer?  If you enjoy asking questions about ethics, justice, and what it means to be truly 'human' then this might be one that you should check out. If you're squeamish about graphic depictions of death then I don't think this is the book for you. The sequel titled Thunderhead is already out and as the title suggests the primary focus is going to be on the all-seeing eye of the world. (I had it in my possession but didn't get to it before I had to send it back out to another reader. Maybe something to look forward to later in the year?) 8/10 but I had to take a few points off because it wasn't my first choice to pick up and continue.

 

What's Up Next: My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

 

What I'm Currently Reading: From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-02-20 02:51
I like to think that I'm pretty tech-savvy but...
Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything - Kelly Weinersmith,Zach Weinersmith

I'm a naturally curious person (obvious to the longtime reader) and I really enjoy learning about the the world we inhabit. I especially enjoy discussions which forecast what our world might look like in the near to distant future. This book touched on a lot of that and much more (much of it out of my sphere of knowledge). Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything by Kelly Weinersmith (with illustrations by Zach Weiner) covers everything from space settlements (and space elevators!) to computer brain interfaces (no thank you!) with Utah Array (basically multiple neuron points). The wide variety of topics explored should appeal to a diverse audience and if that doesn't do it the illustrations scattered throughout certainly will as they further explain extremely technical subjects through a pop science lens (some quite funny while others tried just a bit too hard). I have to give them a giant HOORAY for their excellent use of references such as George Church (remember him from Woolly?) which lent a more academic feel. Besides explaining what inventions we might see in the future, Weinersmith discusses the concerns both ethical and economical which could either delay or outright stall further development. The futurists among you would do well to check this book out to get excited for the years ahead while the cynics might want to get their hands on it to strengthen their arguments. ;-) 7/10

 

And this is why I'm terrified. [Source: Penguin Books]

 

What's Up Next: Kid Authors: True Tales of Childhood from Famous Writers by David Stabler

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-10-07 18:29
Billy Budd, Bartleby, and Other Stories, by Herman Melville
Billy Budd, Bartleby, and Other Stories (Penguin Classics Edition) - Peter M. Coviello,Herman Melville

Well that took me long enough! I've been desperate to read some horror, but these Melville stories have been hit and miss, his prose sometimes impenetrable. This is my second encounter with Melville (I read Moby Dick some years ago), and it's been a while. I was prompted to pick up this collection of his shorter works by recent references to both "Bartleby" and Billy Budd.

 

I began with "Bartleby, the Scrivener," which turned out to be my favorite. Melville is an excellent comic writer, and this portrait of a law office made me laugh out loud. Yet it's also incredibly poignant. The narrator is a lawyer who hires Bartleby as a scrivener (a copier); Bartleby joins three other employees, hilariously nicknamed Turkey, Nippers, and Ginger Nut. Bartleby goes about his copying, but when the lawyer asks him to read aloud his copy to proofread, he simply says he "prefers not to." From this point he "prefers" not to do all sorts of things, including leave when his boss attempts to fire him. The lawyer is non-confrontational and fancies himself a good man to the point where he actually changes the location of his office to avoid dealing with Bartleby (who is also found to be living there) further. Yet the problem of Bartleby persists.

 

Why does Bartleby "prefer not" to comply with requests made of him? Melville does not offer a black-and-white answer. The introduction likens Bartleby to a Wall Street occupier, someone who occupies spaces of capitalism without using them for that end, but the quote I found most insightful describes Bartleby as a man of preferences rather than assumptions. How much does our daily behavior and actions depend upon assumptions? As with other Melville works, a queer reading of the text is also possible: the relationship between the lawyer and Bartleby involves exchanges and behavior not dissimilar to those made in romantic partnerships.

 

The stories I liked next best were "The Encantadas, or Enchanted Isles" and "The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids." The former is a series of sketches by a sailor who has been to the Galapagos Islands; some sketches are more engaging than others. The language in the first few is lovely as Melville describes the hostile, lonely island landscape. The latter is a pair of tales told by the same American narrator, first in London then New England--a lawyer's club and paper mill, respectively. These are apparently based on Melville's own travels. I preferred the second piece, which I read as feminist and potentially Marxist. There's some fantastic prose detailing the paper machine, the women, and their work. 

 

There are five other stories, but the last I'll mention is the novella, Billy Budd, which Melville was working on at the time of his death. It's become key evidence for those who feel Melville may have been bisexual or simply held progressive views on gender and sexuality. Billy Budd is a "Handsome Sailor" who is conscripted to serve on a British naval ship. Everyone likes him, as he's pretty and good-natured. But one (also good looking) sailor envies his beauty and goodness, and it leads to tragedy. The most interesting thing about this tale for me was the fact that this is a story often told about women, to illustrate their vanity, jealousies, and pettiness or cattiness. In this context, in a time after two serious mutinies and during hostilities between Britain and France, such personal jealousy results in catastrophe.

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