Book Notes

This book, by Anderson not Grant, was indirectly recommended in the XOXO slack, after a fellow attendee, community member, slacker posted about how his kid was setting up a large number of privacy-focused technologies in the home, and how either proud or nervous the parent should be. The consensus was proud, but, hey, was the kid inspired (terrified?) by Feed by M. T. Anderson into being more privacy conscious? Something that could inspire a kid to be more privacy focused? Yes, I will read this book.

The book follows Titus and his friends as they venture off to the moon for a weekend jaunt. Without explaining the various technologies (they just are), Titus and his friends go to a big party, where their neurological connections to the internet, their feeds, are infected. There are repercussions from the infection (gosh, five of them go a whole week without constant distractions), mostly surrounding Violet who is the awkward social outcast of the tale.

While Titus's family is rich and privileged, Violet's is not. The book does a great job contrasting the two of them while exploring privilege, the obliviousness of the privileged, the exploitation of corporations for our attention, the abuses by corporations of the data we provide, the potential disaster of media with the suppression of journalism, the dumbing down of society as a whole even as technology progresses, and the absurdity of mindless consumerism. Violet is the breath of fresh air, the voice of reason in the disaster that is this American culture (and let's be real, a completely believable prediction given the us vs them mentality and anti-science rhetoric that pervades our current culture). As a result, we know that Violet shall be the tragic character in this tale.

Oh, look, she is.

Lost In Thought

Book Notes

As a recommendation engine, the XOXO conference group slack books channel does not disappoint with this book. A lovely book about learning and reading for the sake of learning and reading, that the activities don't have to lead to increased wealth or better productivity or higher social status. One can read because she enjoys reading.

The Space Between Worlds

Book Notes

I very much enjoyed this book. It was recommended on the XOXO slack, and worth the recommendation.

The premise is that the multidimensional universe exists, which means resources on one universe instance can be harvested for the prime planet, the first planet to develop the technology to traverse between worlds. The catch in this traversing is that only one instance of a person can exist in a universe. If a traverser, a walker between universes, arrives in a universe where their counterpart is still alive, then both die. Which is to say, the most valuable traversers are those who are alive on the prime Earth, and dead in all the other universes.

The story is told from the point of view of Cara, a traverser who doesn't quite belong on the Prime.

Yes, all sorts of spoilers:

The original Cara went to the narrator Cara's world and died, because duplicates can't exist (see above). Cara, being the survivor that she is, assumed Prime Cara's identity, and travelled back to Prime. So, now we have Cara figuring out what is going one, an uncomfortable longing, a world of comparable riches, new social dynamics to learn even as the universes are quite parallel, and a confrontation to power. The ending is not the typical happy ending, but isn't isn't an unhappy ending, more of a "yeah, that's the right ending."

The book, similar to Dread Nation in its character and voice, is engrossing the whole way through. Recommended. Good science fiction and worth the read.

Because no traverser has ever made a report to enforcement or asked questions, they think they’ve pulled this elaborate ruse on lower-level employees. But really, we just don’t care. A job’s a job, and people edging out other people to make money buying and selling something invisible just sounds like rich-people problems.
Location: 152


Book Notes

Okay, when your tribe recommends a book, and an Internet Personality™ who has not failed in his book recommendations for you recommends the same book, well, you kinda have to read said recommendation. This book is that recommendation. This book is worth that recommendation.

Here's the thing, when you are the odd one out, when you are the weird one, your life is more difficult than the lives of those who fit in, who make friends easily, who aren't teased for being who they are, who don't stand out. Khazan understands, having been the weird one. She goes through how it feels to be weird, retells her journey, reviews many others' journeys with being weird, tells us there is strength in our weirdness, and lets us know it gets better. It does.

There's a cadence to this book that is welcoming, like sitting with a friend you've known for decades at a quiet cafe in a small European city and talking for hours. It's a nice feeling. During that conversation, Khazan tells us about the inverse correlations between societies' conformity and freedoms, about how different opinions lead to better decisions, about how being outside is a strength, and about how you have the choice to confirm or stay weird.

I enjoyed this book, and likely would have devoured this when I was 11 years old and crying that I just wanted to be normal, why wasn't I normal? I've found peace in my gracelessness, in my dorkitude, in my being the only girl in a group of "hey guys!" but it took a long, long time to find that peace. I would argue this book many years ago might have helped me accept myself faster. For that, I recommend this book to anyone who is even just a little bit weird. I'd tell them, "It's okay. Here, read this one, and Grit and let's talk."

How the Post Office Created America

Book Notes

So, there is talk about the Post Office going private. This is a horrible idea, put forth by Cheetoh, who has it out for Bezos and Amazon. The Post Office gives Amazon a sweet deal for delivering the last mile of many Amazon deliveries, so Cheetoh wants to privatize the Post Office to ruin this sweetheart deal. There's a hope the man could not be in power much longer (God, let that happen), but in the meantime, privatizing the United States Postal Service is a terrible idea.

But don't take my word for it. Read this book.

Recommended in the XOXOfest slack by Andy McMillian, who has read this book three times already, How the Post Office Created America is a history of the Postal Service, its origins, its stumbles, its glories, and its part in creating what America is today. We, as United States citizens, take much for granted. The post office is, alas, one very big part of what we take for granted. And this is a very very sad thing.

A large number of people who complain about big government are benefactors of said government, but don't realize or won't recognize it. Would be great if said people actually understand how functioning societies work. Alas.

This is a great history book, a small segment of the times that begat and shaped America. I feel this book would make a fantastic high school history book, take two weeks to read and discuss the book, and maybe everyone in the class would have a better connection to the roots of America.