23 December 2013

10 Books That Have Stayed With Me

A low-intensity Facebook meme is going around, asking people to share ten of their favorite books.  Here's what I posted two days ago, with Amazon (mostly Kindle) links added here.

In your status line, list ten books that have stayed with you in some way. Don't take more than a few minutes and don't think too hard. They don't have to be, "right" or "great" books, just the ones that have touched you. Tag five or more friends including me, so I can see your list.

- The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence by Carl Sagan
- The Fountains of Paradise (Arthur C. Clarke Collection) by Arthur C. Clarke
- Neuromancer by William Gibson
- The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (25th Anniversary Edition) by Steven Covey
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
- Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
- The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
- Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure by Jerry Kaplan
- The Working Life: The Promise and Betrayal of Modern Work by Joanne Ciullla

16 November 2013

American Science Fiction Inflection Point: The Challenger Explosion

The Discovery Channel is heavily promoting a cable television documentary to begin airing tonight on the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster that took place January 28, 1986. The day ranks among the handful of inflection points in the American psyche, right up there with the JFK assassination and 9/11.

At the time, the prevailing American vision of the near future included the idea of its citizens enjoying the spoils of the "space age," as thematically characterized by Disneyland's Tomorrowland (before it was revamped with a Jules Verne / Buck Rogers retro-style), and to a lesser extent, Arthur C. Clarke's landmark 1969 film, "2001: A Space Odyssey," and even The Jetsons cartoon series. Promises for what life in the U.S. would be like in 21st century America was especially emboldened by the momentous Apollo lunar landings and the advanced technology of the space shuttle fleet.

That optimistic, ambitious, and seemingly inevitable vision of the future was literally and figurative shattered the day the Challenger spectacularly exploded up high in that sunny Florida sky, and on millions of televisions around the world for the remainder of that day. Our collective expectations for the future was never to recover. 

The Challenger disaster not only killed seven brave astronauts, including the first teacher to be launched towards space, and halted the aerospace industry and the planet's largest national space agency, it also brought about a decline of space-travel as the dominant theme in science fiction. Another victim was a sense of optimism in America's future in science fiction.

Precedent setting films such as Terminator 2 and The Matrix ushered in newly dominant themes of oppressive artificial intelligence, imprisoning virtual reality, ubiquitous militarization, and a crumbling, dismal dystopia. Dreams of the future began to reflect the rising enthusiasm for computer technology and the concurrent fears of society in dramatic decline.

More recent shifts in science fiction towards global epidemic terrors, environmental chaos, and zombie apocalypses, are marks of a continuing trend in America's changing fears, first sparked by the televised fiery explosion of the space shuttle Challenger nearly 28 years ago.

27 September 2013

Why We Hate The Tech Boom

Interesting article. I don't hate the boom especially since my business and career depend on it. But the sentiments described are real and out there.


21 August 2013

Vaccines fight airplane dispersed epidemics

Originally posted on Facebook in response to a KQED Forum radio topic on vaccinations with some parents opting out.

We have to consider not only the well documented science of vaccines (which show overwhelming benefit and little risk), and not only the responsibility of keeping diseases away from other children at school, but also today's ubiquitous transportation technology which enables potentially dangerous and dreadfully pain inducing viruses and bacteria to hop continents in a matter of hours before detection. Vaccines are the only balancing power we have to hold back epidemics and ultimately protect our children. Our kids are getting vaccinated on schedule.

08 February 2013

Windows is Ancient

Last night I briefly examined a heavy Dell laptop running MS Windows 7 Professional on an Intel Core i7. 

The word that comes to mind: Ancient.

Good lord, having to deal with Windows is like falling into Mister Peabody's Wayback Machine and stumbling onto a stone age tribe of Neanderthals playing with sticks and fire.

If the zombie apocalypse ever begins, just issue them all Windows PCs to slow them down into obsolescence.