Saturday, November 26, 2016

State of the 'Blog 2016

Another year's end comes rushing toward us. My blog output continues to shrink year-over-year, and the content itself would make it appear to have turned into a book review site. The demands of work and life continue to constrict my output for several reasons. The state of the news has made it either uninteresting or depressing to try and pluck out things of interest. It's not that they aren't still there, it's just that I spend less and less active attention on it. The same is true of programming and amateur art, in spite of my best intentions. The relative ease of social media, and the corresponding lack of interoperability, absorbs many of the quick-link posts that I used to store here. Even the book reviews are more accessible over on Goodreads. And yet, I remain as unwilling to give up this spot as I am to put more work into it. And without me paying much attention I have surpassed the 1000 post mark. I do not really see things changing much next year, but you never see the big changes coming, so who knows. Safe journeys until we meet again.

Bookworming: Virtual Light

Virtual Light, William Gibson, ****
The usual caveat that Gibson is probably my favorite author applies. Virtual Light is a relatively straightforward thriller set in one of Gibson's fantastically extrapolated worlds. The highlights, as usual, are in the background details rather than the action itself. The Bridge trilogy, of which this is the first book, sits between the Sprawl and Blue Ant trilogies both in their publication dates and in tone and focus. The Sprawl is sci-fi cyberpunk, while the Blue Ant leans much less on technology and uses a more contemporary setting. The Bridge lands in between. There is still the air of supertech in the background, but the focus is much more on the ephemera of society, large and small.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Bookworming: The Island of Dr. Moreau

The Island of Dr. Moreau, H. G. Wells, ***
A hundred years before Jurassic Park's Ilsa Nublar, there was another tale set on an island that also warned of the dangers of being too confident in the use of our science to control nature. And surprisingly, the formula hasn't really evolved much (no pun intended). Readers or viewers of Michael Crichton's suspense novels and the movies derived from them will find themselves at home with the rising tension and exponential unraveling of The Island of Dr. Moreau. For those who like those sorts of novels or for those who might want to be familiar with the source from which they spawned, I can heartily recommend this little literary history lesson.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

On the 2016 Presidential Election

I've thought quite a bit about how to express my feelings regarding the election. I've thought about not expressing them too. Given the dynamics, and me being a straight, white, middle class, desk-job-holding man, both choices are liable to offend. So I'll just do what I do and make a couple of observations.

First, there is a phrase often cited in stories about hiring practices for programming jobs: "the candidate is qualified but not a cultural fit for us." It seems to me there are some interesting parallels in those examinations of the tech industry and the way the election played out.

Second, we have all endured a protracted campaign of lies, propaganda, opportunism, and heavy-handed political machinations on clear display. There are no more smoke filled back rooms, the smoke is all out in the open, and we are choking on it.

Third, the consequences of using fear and hatred as tools are both lessons from history and a common way to identify a bad guy in popular culture. But that doesn't mean they aren't tempting. And it certainly doesn't mean they aren't effective.

Finally, there have been many illusions shattered over the past couple of days, and many illusions reinforced. Trying to figure out which one is which can tell you much about yourself.

For those that read this far, thank you for your time. I wish you well in all things. I wish I had some better answers. Instead I'm going to go back to stressing about work deadlines that always seem too close, wishing I was playing games instead of adulting, and daydreaming about spaceships.