“Twilight of Democracy”
Here’s what’s good about Anne Applebaum’s new book: it’s anecdotal in all the right places. This is a book that attempts to explain the authoritarian turns across Europe and in the United States and Applebaum, as you’d expect from her, provides a convincing, well-reasoned and insightful explanation as to why they are happening. And since she’s a well renowned international journalist and a wife to Poland’s former minister of foreign affairs, she’s been at the center of many of the important political events of the last decades (hence the anecdotes).
“And the Weak Suffer What They Must?”
I always slightly disliked Yanis Varoufakis. Strike that, actually I always thought he’s a bit of a clown. Motorbike-riding, leather-jacket-clad, attention-seeking, populist, arrogant clown. Worst of all, he was part of that annoying movement of European politicians that rejected the narrative I believed in, namely that: One must always pay ones debts.1 EU and its institutions always know what they’re doing. Countries must be extremely careful with public spending and apply strict austerity measures when facing economic difficulties.
“Between the world and me”
Here is what I would like for you to know: In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body—it is heritage. My recent disillusioning trip notwithstanding, I am still very much in love with the US, but Ta-Nehisi Coates puts things into perspective. Much like sexism is often difficult to notice for males until a woman points it out, white people tend not to realize just how huge a problem racism in America still is.
“Hunger makes me a modern girl”
I know Carrie Brownstein through “Portlandia,” a quirky sketch show she’s been doing with Fred Armisen for the last couple of years. I’m a huge fan of how accurately “Portlandia” pokes fun at alternative-culture so commonly associated with Pacific Northwest.1 What I learned later, only after doing some research on Fred and Carrie, is that they were both well-known before the show even started. Fred, to a perhaps lesser extent, through SNL, and Carrie, probably to a much greater extent, through Sleater-Kinney.
Stephen LeDrew wrote an interesting post about the influence the so-called “New Atheism” movement had on society, pointing out some intriguing similarities between our militant atheists and, surprisingly, the far right wing conservatism. The one observation which I don’t find completely accurate, and I think it’s because I live in Europe, is that the “New Atheism” isn’t regarded highly in well-educated circles any more. I found a surprising number of people working in philosophy, logic, computer science and especially in natural sciences to still cherish Dawkins et al.
“The rise of the image, the fall of the word”
I’ve been trying to read as many books as I can these Christmas holidays since I have plenty of free time and the weather outside is particularly cold,1 so another book that I’ve read is Mitchell Stephens classic: “The rise of the image, the fall of the word.” It’s obligatory reading for anyone studying journalism and new media these days, as it tries to argue for cultural significance of television, or specifically something that Stephens calls the new video.
“Where the Conflict Really Lies”
Since it’s Christmas, I feel it’s only appropriate to share some thoughts about a book on philosophy of religion I recently read. Written by contemporary analytic philosophy’s chief theist and protestant, Alvin Plantinga, “Where the Conflict Really Lies” is a careful and systematic study of the (alleged) conflicts between science, naturalism and religion.1 As far as I am aware, this book is the only such comprehensive and earnest account of what exactly Christianity says about, e.
David Graeber’s Debt is one of the best books I have read in my life. It is a thorough historical and anthropological investigation into the nature of money and, nomen omen, debt. Across about 400 pages Graeber analyzes all aspects of these: moral, economical and philosophical. He lays out a fresh and somewhat bold view that challenges classical economic theories, namely that debt has been the true essence of human economies for at least 5000 years now, and provides lots of compelling evidence to support this claim.
I can't read fiction anymore
Every day I consume thousands of words. I read essays (like the ones published in The New Yorker magazine, The Atlantic, etc.), news (usually just Slashdot, HN and Reddit), blogs, comments, emails, tweets and status updates. Apart from that, I read scientific articles, technical books (Haskell road to maths, logic and programming, anyone?) and sometimes documentation. But I can’t read fiction anymore. When I was in high school, I used to read at least a couple of novels every month.