Books

Book Review: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

(5/5 stars) This is an exploration of shame as a punishment, as a fundamental human impulse, as a force for good and bad. Ronson goes into a little bit of the history of how shame has been used in the past, but focuses especially on how shame functions in our internet-based society today.  To wit, he explores several contemporary case studies in shaming. This book functions in some ways as a collection of essays rather than a structured exploration of ideas. As such, there are points where he pursues aspects of shame that seem to be a digression from the core theme, for example the parts about Radical Truth and humiliation paraphilia.  Those parts don't make the book less interesting, but readers should be warned: you probably won't come away with any strong conclusions about what can be done about internet lynch mobs.  In sum, this book is funny and thought-provoking. I highly recommend it.

By Trey McIntyre, ago
Philosophy

What is Free Will?

What do people actually mean when they talk about free will or volition?  I don't have any answers to that question, but I think about it from time to time and I thought this time I would jot down some of my thoughts.

By Trey McIntyre, ago
Books

Book Review: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

(5/5 stars)  I'm not sure where I heard of Akata Witch; it was probably one of my podcasts. I was just excited to read a fantasy novel based on a magic system from a non-European mythology. I did not know it was a YA novel, though, and I was very delightfully surprised by what I found. The story structure and plot aren't exceptionally different from other stories of this sort: a young outsider learns that she has a destiny and finds camaraderie in a community of other outcasts.  But the characters are fun and interesting. The culture is lush and fascinating.  And the magic system is scary and fascinating.  Overall, I really enjoyed this book quite a lot. 

By Trey McIntyre, ago
Books

Parasite (Parasitology, #1) By Mira Grant

(2/5 stars) Strange, inconsistent characterization in the main character combined with an extremely predictable plot made this a distinctly un-entertaining read for me.  You can pretty much guess everything about this book from the summary on Amazon: A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease. We owe our good health to a humble parasite -- a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the Intestinal Bodyguard worm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system -- even secretes designer drugs. It's been successful beyond the scientists' wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them. But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives . . . and will do anything to get them. If you want a book about parasites taking people over, I would recommend The Girl with All the Gifts instead.  And in my parasite hobbyist's opinion, I think the chosen parasite in The Girl with All the Gifts makes more sense than a genetically modified tapeworm.

By Trey McIntyre, ago