Notes from the Now

Posts Tagged ‘Books’

#10Readings – Jan 10

In Books, Chicago, Education, History, literature, news on January 11, 2016 at 2:00 am

#10READINGS – JAN 1-10

Books/Graphic Novels

Salman Khan “One World Schoolhouse – Such an optimistic tome.  Many (many) questions/comments/concerns, but worth reading for the optimism and the possibilities.

Joe Kelly “I Kill Giants – In my opinion, an emotionally beautiful graphic novel.

Claudia Rankine “Citizen: An American Lyric –  Powerful.  Timely. Deserving of all the accolades and more.

Jonathan Hickman “The Nightly News –  Complex. Disturbing.  Visually stunning.

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“Junot Diaz @UChicago, Oct 2015”

In Art, Books, Events, literature, photography, University of Chicago on October 20, 2015 at 9:17 pm

via Instagram http://ift.tt/1XiWJZr

Recollections: Eleanor Roosevelt – A World Made New

In Books, History, literature on October 5, 2014 at 10:05 pm

I’m almost at the end of the “Roosevelt’s An Intimate History” on the DVR.  I can’t claim to have particularly studied the Roosevelts – beyond the landmarks of American History that they are responsible for –  so I’m not viewing this as a critic, but rather a someone who’s learning some of the text, and most of the context & subtext for the first time.

I didn’t realize that FDR’s paralytic illness began when he was at the age of 39.  I didn’t exactly realize how TR, FDR and Eleanor were all related.  I didn’t realize just how much of a liberal trailblazer Eleanor Roosevelt was, particularly on issues of civil rights.

I did however read “A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” in 2004, on a trip to New York City not long after I had decided against going to graduate school for human rights studies.  I’d like to reread the book now that I have more context on Eleanor, but even without a deep level of context it’s a book I’d recommend without fail.  It succeeded in being a story about the evolution of the document itself – with surprisingly detailed accounts of the arguments around specific sections of the text – and more predictably about the characters central to its formation.

I tend to be in the camp that believes that we need to establish broad common understandings before we can realistically attempt to enforce anything specific.    Without common first principles,  even just actions can reek of opportunism.  In the UN UDHR, we see one of the great successes at setting those first principles for the broadest range of humanity and we have to celebrate the individuals who championed it.

UN UDHR – http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

Review: The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

In Books, Technology, University of Chicago on June 8, 2014 at 9:00 am

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In April I had the opportunity to see Ben Horovitz at the University of Chicago’s Chicago innovation exchange. He was there on his book tour for the hard thing about hard things, and participated in a lively and engaging discussion with Steve Edwards. I liked the forthrightness that Horowitz had when talking about the things for which there are no instruction manual and the examples he used to explain how he was able to turn his ideas/observations in strategies or values that could be used in his companies.  He had personality, which isn’t what you usually get from authors of “business” books.

The book does a pretty good job of conveying that personality and giving some nice examples of approaches to tough situations – it’s thought-provoking and an enjoyable read.  That said, you can’t quite replicate the moxie that Horowitz has (or replicate the rules that govern the industry/environs/times that his focus is on) so it’s more inspirational than a how-to manual.

Cover Art for African Books – h/t @africasacountry

In Africa, Art, Books on May 26, 2014 at 4:00 am

One of the great twitter observations of the week came from @africasacountry (and was picked up by the Atlantic) that there seem to be a very limited palette of images/colors/designs that the publishing industry chooses to employ when dealing w/ literature from Africa.  Articles are worth reading.

 

My 2013 in Readings (1 image)

In Books, literature on December 16, 2013 at 8:13 pm

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Review: Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel

In Books, Technology on August 11, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel
Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel by Michio Kaku
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wonderful read that ties our collective imagination of what we wish was possible, to our theoretical understandings of science, to the work that is presently being done. Well-written and engaging. Doesn’t try to go back to the beginning on every topic, so you’ll probably enjoy this more if you’ve got some background to begin with.

 

Why Zeitoun? Why?

In Books on August 9, 2013 at 9:42 pm

Dave Eggers’ “Zeitoun” is one of the great pieces of literature from the past few years. It’s a shame to see how real life has gone for the main characters.

http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2013/07/zeitoun_found_not_guilty_on_bo.html

Review — inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity

In Books on January 21, 2013 at 7:00 pm

inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity
inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity by Tina Seelig
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nothing earth-shattering here for me, but I’ll say it was good to think through different aspects of space & the designs of teams from the vantage point of fostering creativity. As a manager, you want to be honest about the constraints that your teams are going to have to work within, but to do so in such a way that minimizes their limiting factors. Seelig’s book was a nice way to spur that kind of reflection.

Also, makes me want to visit the D.School at Stanford.

Review – The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t

In Books, University of Chicago on January 1, 2013 at 5:30 pm

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The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail - But Some Don't
The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t by Nate Silver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Politics are perhaps the least discussed set of examples in Silver’s “The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions fail – but some don’t ” which is wholly a paen to the art of prediction and forecasting, perhaps even a love-letter to Bayes’ Law.

Silver’s examples run the gamut from the things that he has expertise in (baseball, gambling, political polling) to those that he doesn’t (climate, weather, seismology, stock markets, chess, public health, terrorism, etcetera).

In all, Silver is able to find the crux of the central issues that challenge successful predictions and illuminate it either through his own exposition or through an interview with an expert.

Because of it’s variety, and because of the way that Silver keeps brining the readers back to the core concepts, it’s an engrossing read. What works best is the interplay between the topics that Silver has first-hand knowledge of and that those that he is approaching more abstractly, more objectively, as they interweave in a way that keeps the reader from drifting away.

Well worth-reading, but if you’re approaching this as a political junkie only, you’ll be disappointed by the limited amount of pages that politics per se gets.