Book Recommendation

Books

img_0915Last summer, after I broke up with my phone, I proceeded to read a number of really great books about how technology, particularly social media, is affecting us humans, both on an individual level and as a culture. One of my favorites of these books is Jaron Lanier’s “Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now.”  It’s short and sweet, and packed with a ton of information. Jaron Lanier is a pioneer in the field of virtual reality and knows what he is talking about regarding this subject. I won’t break the book down for you because it’s short enough that you can read it all yourself in a day, but I would really encourage you to read it. Even if you don’t delete your accounts (which I have yet to do), you will be have a better understanding of how the big internet companies like Google and Facebook and messing with our minds and, according to Lanier, destroying our culture. Here is a link to a great talk that Lanier gave on this subject. It’s long, but totally worth watching.

Several months after reading it this is what stuck with me: We are not the customers of websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google. Advertisers are the actual customers. We are providing the content for the websites. FOR FREE.  And in the meantime we are being completely fucked with so that we will purchase things from the advertisers. This is the new advertising model. It has become totally ok for advertisers to creepily spy on us and follow us around the web so they can market their product to us. THIS PISSES ME OFF. And the shitty thing about this is that IT WORKS.

So after reading all of these books and taking the red pill I am feeling all of these feels about participating in this horror show. I feel pulled in different directions. On the one hand I care about my friends that I connect with on these platforms, but on the other hand GODDAMNIT  I don’t appreciate my brain being hacked and manipulated for profit! One of the ways that I’ve compromised is that I have deleted social media from my phone and I have pretty much broken up with Google. I refuse to use Chrome or Google search (I’m using Firefox and Duck Duck Go which are both awesome) and I’ve moved over to ProtonMail. I’ve been able to use social media through Firefox on my phone and I’m happy with the way this is working. With one exception: Instagram. I love IG more than the others but I really do not want to have it on my phone. Instead I have it on my iPad, which is a good compromise, I think.

And I’ve noticed the advertising on Instagram when I view the app on my iPad. I’ll be mindlessly scrolling through the feed, thinking everything is fine, and then BAM, I’m hit with an ad and it’s literally the perfect thing for me, whatever it is. It’s this thing that I never knew I needed. As I mentioned above, this advertising method WORKS!  But damn, it’s so sneaky and creepy and evil.

Anyway. Read the book.

Neoliberalism 

Books

35653792756_9c29cf8c23_k.jpg“I often think that Neoliberalism is what lovelessness looks like as policy. … it looks like water pipes leaking lead in Flint. It looks like foreclosed mortgages on homes that were built to collapse. … It looks like trashing the beauty of the planet as if it had no value at all. It is, much like Trump himself, greed and carelessness incarnate.”

– Naomi Klein, No Is Not Enough.

I finished reading “No Is Not Enough” by Naomi Klein. Very highly recommended. In fact, I would say it’s a must read, especially if you are bewildered by current events. She does a good job of giving historical context for our current situation and what exactly got us here. It is a major wake up call. It is not an easy read, but a necessary one.

Born to Run

Books, Music, Art, Movies

Born to Run has been recommended to me a few times in the past few months so I thought I should pick it up. I finally started listening to the audio version of the book yesterday and I could barely stop listening. It’s an excellent book! At least so far. It’s about the author, Christopher McDougall’s search for the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico. A search that began with a visit to his physical therapist when he was having foot pain from running three miles every other day. The doctor’s suggestion was to stop running. McDougall didn’t accept this as an answer. He was drawn to running; the primal aspect of it. The fact that running is what we do when we are both very afraid of something and it is what we do when we are ecstatic (look at kids running around on a playground).

I still have to read most the book but I’m really enjoying it so far. I find myself drawn to running for these exact reasons. I’ve been  runner for most of my life, sidelined by injury much of the time as well.

Reading this first chapter made me think about my own running history and what I personally like about it. What keeps me coming back.

I was introduced to running by my parents. They were both avid runners back in the seventies when running was the big thing. I saw how it made them feel and I wanted some of those good feelings myself. So I was enrolled in a rotary track club when I was in fourth grade.  I loved it. I wasn’t much into the “field” part of track and field. It was more the track that I loved. I tried various things. I started with the hurdles and liked it until I tripped on one and decided I wanted nothing more of that. So I focused on sprinting. I ended up excelling in the 100 yard and the relays. I was forced to pick a field event so I chose the long jump because it gave me another excuse to run fast.

And I was fast. I still remember the feeling I got when I was sprinting. It was amazing. It was like I entered this state where my legs would disconnect with the rest of my body and just took on a life of their own. I would let them fly. And they did. And I would win race after race after race.

It was kind of funny. Before a race would start the other girls would size each other up. I could feel them looking at me and thinking, “I’ve got nothing to worry about with this one” and I would smile to myself. Then the gun would sound and I would beat them. And they would look at me with astonishment and think “what the hell just happened?” I would would kind of wonder the same thing. I normally didn’t have much self confidence so the fact that I was actually good at this was kind of surprise.  It felt good to win.

So I was in track through elementary school and when I got to junior high the track coach stopped me and said, “you’re joining the team, right?” and I told him I would. But you know what? I didn’t. I didn’t because there was this girl who joined track who was  a bully and I felt intimidated by her so I chickened out. I’ve regretted the decision ever since. I joined track in high school my freshman and and junior years but it was never the same. I had lost that wonderful feeling I got when I would sprint and let my legs fly.

So I guess that’s why I run. It’s THAT feeling. that letting go and letting your body do what it was made to do.

The Curve of Time by M. Wylie Blanchet

Books, Music, Art, Movies

The Curve of Time by Blanchet

Enjoyment is always greatest when you have enough contrast to measure it by. – M. Wylie Blanchet (The Curve of Time)

I’ve been meaning to blog more about some of the great books I’ve read this year. Some of them are kind of obscure and I feel the need to share them.

One of those fabulous books is The Curve of Time by M. Wylie Blanchet. This was a book club selection for the Women’s book club at the library. I had never heard of it before. I’m so glad I was introduced to it. It’s a beautiful book.

It is considered a memoir but I think travelogue is a more accurate description.  It is written by M. Wylie Blanchet, whose husband died unexpectedly  leaving her with five  young children.   Not a lot of detail is given about the death of her husband. The “About the Author” section states that he was “presumed dead when he never returned from a day trip on the Caprice.” The boat was found and then became the scene for the stories in this book.

The stories take place in the 1920s an 1930s. I find that remarkable. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because she was a single mom during that time period. Maybe it’s because she wasn’t afraid to go out and have adventures on a boat with her kids. Wasn’t afraid to even get into some perilous situations. I like that she didn’t depend on the help of a man to fix the boat if it needed fixing. She was self sufficient and was able to handle the work herself. Was this rare for the 20s and 30s? I have this idea that it was. Regardless, she was a remarkable woman, even by today’s standards. I wouldn’t know the first thing about fixing a boat. And going on adventures where I could potentially be attacked by a bear? Forget about it.

As I was reading this book I searched for a map of the islands around Vancouver Island so I could see where all of the islands and inlets were that she was talking about.  I felt pulled into the stories and I found myself wanting to visit the area to see the places she writes about. But it’s not just the places that make the book so wonderful. It is the characters she meets, as well.  People and animals.

As I was reading this I couldn’t help but think of my great-grandmother, Laura Boucher. It was probably around the same time period, maybe a decade earlier that she went through something sort of similar. My great grandfather, Will Boucher moved her and their five (or six?) children up to Vancouver, B.C. so he could find work (doing what I can’t remember).  My great -grandfather died on one of those small islands up there while hunting. He was shot accidentally by his hunting partner. He was only in his thirties when he died and he left my great-grandmother with their five young children, a widowed and a  single parent.  I always imagined mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of my great-grandfather. Was it really an accident? Maybe it was a murder? But that is all speculation. The result of reading too many murder mysteries.  My great-great grandfather, Laura Boucher’s dad (Ben Boucher) went up to Vancouver to help her move back down to Couer d’Alene, Idaho, where the family was originally from. And that is where she lived until she died. She never remarried.

Anyway, back to the book. It was one of my favorites so far this year. I highly recommend it. I wish I could be a bit more descriptive but I’m afraid I would spoil the wonderful stories if I did. However, if you are in the mood for a well-written memoir from a phenomenal woman, as well as a travelogue that will allow your mind to drift away to an amazingly beautiful place,  you should get your hands on it.

Book Talk Saturday: Curse of the Bane

Books, Music, Art, Movies

Curse of the Bane (The Last Apprentice / Wardstone Chronicles, Book 2) Curse of the Bane by Joseph Delaney

Curse of the Bane is book two of the Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney. Raf downloaded the series on audiobook and really enjoyed it so I thought I would give it a try. So far I’m loving it! Really great storytelling in these books so far.

Thomas Ward is the 7th son of a 7th son and, because of this, he is offered to The Spook as an apprentice. The County spook’s job is to rid the land of evil creatures like witches, ghosts and things of that nature. The problem is that Tom befriends a witch name Alice who constantly gets him into trouble.

In this particular book the Spook and Tom go up against The Bane. The whole county is in peril because of this creature. In the end, it is up to Tom to save his master and Alice from the Bane, as he goes head to head with this creature of pure evil.

As I said, great storytelling and quite scary. This is not for the youngsters who are faint of heart. However, there are some kids out there who like getting the bejesus scared out of them (I was one of them) and they will eat this series up.