Sunday, June 15, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
Why, you may ask, are you reading yet another book on the same topic? I suppose the reason is I'm trying to fully understand the problem. And honestly, I'm trying to find a flaw in these people's argument. I can't. Granted, they are making predictions and predictions can change. But the predictions seem very logical and well-researched. In fact, I've begun to look at the world through the lense of cheap oil and it's amazing how much our society depends on it. So many things are making sense to me now: our motivations in Iraq, the necessity of debt in our economy, Wal-Mart...the list goes on and on. And now I hear people complaining about the high price of gas and wondering why this is happening. The media and politicians are saying "supply can no longer meet demand," and "China is taking up supply excesses," but no one is talking point blank to the American people about what that actually means.
I'm beginning to realize what that actually means and it ain't good. And the fact that we, as Americans, are dragging our heels on renewable energy development, encouraging each other to buy, buy, buy, and sprawling our cities as quickly as possible, shows that when supply starts shrinking, so will we. I highly recommend this book and further research into this pressing problem. Good luck!
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
I can't say it enough. This one is a definite must-read for Dad. Becky, you might enjoy it (if you can make it past the squeamish stuff.) Mom, probably pass. While reading this, I was also reminded of Neil Gaiman's "Coraline" which was also impressive. I finished it last year during the blog drought. But if you enjoy this one (and I know you will), check out "Coraline." You'll be glad you did.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
I initially decided to read this biography because I wanted to know more about the American Transcendental movement. Transcendentalism is one of those broad brush terms that gets tossed around in literary circles and one that I never fully understood. As one would expect of a Pulitzer Prize winning book, Matteson has done a superb job of capturing the essence of this 19th c. movement by reflecting it through the lens of the Alcott family story. The narrative pulls you into the life and times of this unique American family and makes you feel as if you have actually known them in life. In Matteson's closing paragraph he writes: "To the extent that a written page permits knowledge of a different time and departed souls, this book has tried to reveal them." I believe he has done a masterful job.
Weisman opens this book with the following question: "Is it possible that, instead of heaving a huge biological sigh of relief, the world without us would miss us?"
I won't give away the answer, but if you like good nature writing (um, Dad), this is a wonderful book for you. Weisman chronicles what the world might look like if people were suddenly raptured away from it (gone extinct, taken by aliens, you get the picture.) At once startling and inspiring, Weisman reveals the inter-connectedness of ecosystems and explains the detrimental (or helpful) role humans play all over the world. From the plains of the Serengeti to the subways of New York City, you see the world as we know it slowly erode before your eyes. Weisman's writing is often poetic, his chapter titles for example: "Unbuilding Our Home, What Falls Apart, Wings Without Us."
I found myself overwhelmed, at times, by the idea of all humanity erased away. It's a sobering reflection. But at the same time, I was full of awe at the amazing ability of life to find a way. One chapter, about the wildlife that has returned to Chernobyl, was both heartbreaking and inspiring. Although some of our animal friends would fare worse than others (sorry, cows), still others would find new niches and possibly evolve to take advantage of new opportunities (housecats, for one.)
This book WAS "one of the grandest thought experiments of our time" as touted on the cover. Read, and enjoy.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
The book follows the experiences of Toru Okada, a (recently) former lawyer who stays at home while his magazine editor wife supports the two of them. Then his "journey" begins with a search for the family cat and this is when a whole new world of characters and experiences unfolds. As characters enter his life, they pull him into their world - literally. He finds himself within shifting interior landscapes, and through multiple eyes, and has an almost dreamlike search for identity in the midst of chaos as it is presented.
There are quite a few bizarre events that unfold that leaves you somehow accepting each new twist even though some are completely implausible. And what I think dad might find especially interesting is the way the book is able to contrast the Japanese military past with the present state of Japan. All in all, I think a line from the book sums it up the best (took me a while to find this quote, but I knew it was in there!): "There's a kind of gap between what I think is real and what's really real."
And there you go.