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2022 Books Completed, Part 4

It’s been a minute, or two, since we’ve done this. From May to August 15 titles were closed out. That’ll take this year’s total to 25. 40 finished is conceivable.

Lots to get to. Let’s get stuck in.

2022-10-04 Now with even more commentary.

May

…Empire… was an entertaining space opera / mystery. Glad I read it, but wasn’t an epiphany for me.

Let’s Talk didn’t have any one thing about giving workplace feedback that stuck out for me. If I’m ever back in an environment where there’s a more formal process, I’ll definitely use it as a resource.

June

Think Again started off annoying me with too much proof by anecdote, but eventually I came around to some of the principles of productively challenging assumptions.

Positive Intelligence took me a while to finish because I had to take breaks from the overwhelming Silicon Valley Spiritualism (TM) slathered on some useful cognitive foundations.

The highly regarded Klara and The Sun is admirably well written, exemplified by the opening paragraph, which says so much with so few words. Subtly deep on so many levels and another example of speculative fiction that isn’t fueled by extreme conflict and violence. Probably deserves a reread for full appreciation.

July

UNIX does what it says on the tin, but for us old-time UNIXers there were just lots of entertaining little nuggets on the environment within Bell Labs, sort of a nerd holy land, during the time UNIX was created.

Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia prompted me to venture out and understand what’s going in the former USSR. …Unfreedom… had been on the to-read list and delivered. Snyder’s distinction between the politics of eternity and of inevitability resonates on a number of levels.

Forgot to add a thought on The E-Myth…. Just picked it up as a deal from Amazon Kindle, hoping to learn more about why small businesses fail. Turned out to be a bit on the business fable side, while definitely sneakily sales pitch oriented towards the author’s seminars. I did find the notion to make your business franchisable useful in engaging the business from a systematic perspective instead of via an emotional attachment. Key phrase: “working on the business versus working in the business”

I love Richard K. Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs novels and was looking forward to reading the …Download Blues… graphic novel. A ho-hum result as the art wasn’t outstanding and word balloons don’t provide quite enough text to match Morgan’s prose. Someone with a really strong and distinctive visual style might be able to make something of the Kovacs ethos but they’d have go way out on a limb to get me excited.

August

Hope In The Dark, even though a bit dated, is a reminder that progressive activism can actually change the world, despite the current waves of cynicism and nihilism washing over it.

On Tyranny is a short pamphlet with discrete points on how one can live in a principled fashion with authoritarianism on the rise. Just having basic human decency is step one.

In a similar theme, Twilight of Democracy chronicles how anti-democratic politics, culture, and cognitive warfare are spreading from Central Europe throughout the rest of the world.

…Surveillance Capitalism… reads like a stapled together collection of blog posts, but has a couple of solid ideas. First, Big Tech doesn’t have any mind-control rays and their products are probably a bit overrated. Second, the notion of consumer harm in anti-trust policy has negatively tilted the corporate playing field towards monopoly across a number of markets and especially tech. Monopolies are typically not a good thing.

Team Human is Douglas Rushkoff’s examination of how global humanity might survive its current wicked problems. More technology and more capitalism probably won’t get it done.

El-Mohtar and Gladstone’s novella is interestingly constructed as a series of alternating competitive exchanges and letters between time traveling rivals. The writing is achingly beautiful in moments and I thoroughly enjoyed the story.

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