July 19, 2011

The Quantum Thief; Hannu Rajaniemi

Highly recommended heist/detective novel dressed in post-human scifi garb. Our hero gets busted out of a dilemma prison by a warrior from the Oort cloud in order to retrieve a valuable object that a previous version of him had hidden on one of the walking cities on Mars where people use life time as currency before they are harvested by the Resurrection Men to become Quiets, human/machine hybrids that sustain the city and terraform the planet. Not for the technologically squeamish. This was a completely show-don't-tell novel that, despite the maelstrom of undefined terms, provided thrilling action next to thoughtful drama. Another great recommendation from the io9 book club. Moving on to The City and The City next.

See the Wikipedia entry for more details plus keep their articles on characters and terms used for a reference while reading.

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posted by sstrader at 12:23 AM in Current Interests , Language & Literature | permalink | comments (0)

October 8, 2010

PediaPress book for our Thailand trip

We're going to Thailand next year (got a great deal) so I put together a Wikipedia/PediaPress book for our trip:

Thailand book

Not sure how valuable my knowledge of Bangkok taken from The Windup Girl will be. Some friends took the trip a year or so ago and had a great time but warned that the heat will be far beyond what the American South has to offer. We had the option to tack on either Ankor Wat or Phuket. Beaches won out over Hindu temples.

posted by sstrader at 1:52 PM in Personal | permalink | comments (1)

October 2, 2010

Random thoughts an hour into watching the documentary The Corporation and watching it to the end

(based on notes taken during)

  • Are ads more powerful now or are children adapting better? The movie suggest the former, but the continuum of 20th century history does not.
  • David Foster Wallace (and others') expression of consumerist ennui relates to the idea that children are indoctrinated to be consumers against their natural disposition. That capitalist/consumerist impulse is detrimental to us as we grow older and manifests dissatisfaction as we wonder why we have this compulsion to purchase. I love buying books and music.
  • In the documentary, Noam Chomsky is sitting in for Theodore Adorno to prove that Adorno was correct in arguing that capitalism corrupted us via consumerism.
  • Corporate philanthropy is often/always connected to corporate tax benefits. How much more could we have done with the money if we didn't sink 90+% of the money into corporate tax write-offs?
  • I laughed at the concept of Disney-mediated neighborhoods until I considered that it's exactly what those afraid of "modern society" based on a false nostalgia would want.
  • Regarding the idea that corporations mediate all of our interactions: Facebook scares me even more.
  • In 1980, Warren Berger was the deciding vote in the judgment to allow life forms to be patented. He felt that it was not an important decision. Again, I'm reminded of The Windup Girl. The Berger decision will be the moment in time that is most remembered as when corporations were given primacy over life.
  • Canada does not allow bovine growth hormone. The film stated that it was because of traces of Prosilac in milk, but it was actually because it was detrimental to the health of the cows.
  • Bolivians fought back successfully against corporate control of the water system.
  • At many points in this documentary, individuals point out that democratic governments have no power over multi-national corporations. At the start of the Gulf oil spill, Hugo Chavez said the exact same thing. (can't find citation)
  • Many right-leaning groups long for anger at the government to get so strong that an armed, patriotic revolution happens. Other countries have had such armed revolutions directed against corporate control. World trade protesters sometimes become violent and are castigated for it. Isn't that the same?
  • It was refreshing to see dispassionate, thoughtful, and reflective comments from Chomsky, Zinn, Moore, and Klein. Michael Moore's revelation tyeing his auto-worker roots to global warming was interesting.
  • Ultimately hopeful.
  • The first industrial revolution is not working. It is flawed. It is unsustainable. - Ray Anderson
posted by sstrader at 10:01 AM in Cinema | permalink | comments (0)

August 18, 2010

News stories that echo concerns expressed in The Windup Girl

After reading The Windup Girl earlier this year, I became hyper-aware of stories related to crops and genetic engineering.

posted by sstrader at 10:10 PM in Environmentalism | permalink | comments (0)

February 15, 2010

The Windup Girl; Paolo Bacigalupi

Heard about this via the io9 book club and so purchased the hardback of it and his short story collection Pump Six. TWG has been praised by Time Magazine as one of the top ten books of fiction for 2009 and by the American Library Association as the best SciFi of 2009. Halfway into the story thus far and it feels very of-a-time with Naomi Klein's and Michael Pollan's ideas, along with (in a more minor fashion) Fukuyama's somewhat older book Our Posthuman Future.

Other links:

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posted by sstrader at 1:09 PM in Current Interests , Language & Literature | permalink | comments (0)