The overwhelming majority of my recreational reading is science fiction. I like the way it portends the future and expands my imagination of what’s possible. However, every once in a while I like to explore a title that’s outside of my comfort zone. Such was the case recently with Fat Chance by Nick Spalding.Continue reading
I enjoyed reading the devotional Jesus Calling by Sarah Young during 2019. It helped me grow stronger in my faith and relationship with Christ. I liked it so much that I wanted to continue reading a devotional during 2020, which turned out to be a good thing given all that’s happened over the past year.
I had noticed during 2019 that my mother was reading the devotional In Moments Like These by Dr. David Jeremiah. She liked it a lot. So much so, that when I told her I wanted to read another devotional in 2020, she bought me a copy. Therefore, my decision on a devotional for 2020 was an easy one.Continue reading
Looking for books to read this year? Then, do I have a list of recommendations for you. As I’ve done in prior years, this year’s list is broken down into General Recommendations, Personal Development books, Business Reads, and a collection of what I like to call Fun Reads.
Since I did a better job this year of balancing my fiction and non-fiction titles, this year’s recommendations are strong mix of recreational and serious reads. Keep in mind that my tastes lean towards technology and science fiction, so most of the books on the list are from those genres.Continue reading
I read a lot of near-term, hard science fiction. Hard doesn’t mean difficult. Hard means that it’s a realistic view of how technology could evolve in the near future, which is any time within the next 50 years.
A consistent theme in these books revolves around artificial intelligence. Specifically, it’s the threat posed by a runaway, super-intelligent AI that would threaten humanity’s existence. While the stories are fiction, the threat is real. Numerous technologists have warned about it, including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk.
Another technological threat that doesn’t get as much attention is genetic editing. The technology is more commonly referred to as CRISPR. In simple terms, CRISPR gene editing involves changing the genetic structure of a living organism, humans included. While there are numerous positive uses for genetic editing such as vaccine development, the technology can also be used for nefarious purposes.
In his book Change Agent, author Daniel Suarez explores a near-future where gene editing technologies such as CRISPR are readily available. It raises a myriad of ethical questions. Should people be able to select and determine the personalities and capabilities of their children? What happens when the genetic structure of a person is changed, especially if it happens without their permission or knowledge?Continue reading
My reading for this past year is locked in. I’m not expecting to finish any books between now and the end of the year. Therefore, I figured it was a good time to review and organize my reading list for 2021.Continue reading
Is it possible that philosophical and behavioral concepts practiced and taught over 2,000 years ago are still valid today?
Let’s consider a modern psychotherapy known as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). CBT is a treatment that modern psychologists use to help those who struggle with depression and anxiety. Using CBT, people are taught techniques and approaches to change destructive behaviors and thought patterns that trigger negative emotions.
As it turns out, many of these techniques are not new. They stem from ancient philosophical teachings, primarily those of Stoicism. In his book, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, psychotherapist and trainer Donald Robertson shows how the actions and practices of ancient Stoics, focusing primarily on Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, are fundamentally similar to the techniques taught through CBT.Continue reading
What is human consciousness? Is it an abstract concept, an ephemeral state, or a thing that can be captured and stored? If it’s a thing that can be stored, does that “thing” represent who we are? If that thing were put into another body, or a similar body, would we be the same person?
Based on my knowledge, modern science doesn’t have the answer to these questions. Fortunately, the lack of scientific evidence hasn’t stopped people from writing books about or based upon it.
A significant number of science fiction books I read treat the human mind as something that can be captured and stored. Depending on the book, that representation of the mind can live on inside a computer, or it can be placed into and/or transferred between bodies. Seeing how different authors explore the concept is an interesting thought experiment. It begs all sorts of questions such as is the stored representation really me? Will that representation realize it’s a copy? What are the ethical implications if multiple copies of me are active at the same time? It’s a long list that goes on and on.
Given that science fiction has a peculiar way of foreshadowing future technologies, it wouldn’t surprise me if some variation of these visions appear in the future, especially given the desire of those who want to live forever. My latest science fiction read to explore this concept was Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan.Continue reading
As part of my reading list for the year, I make it a point to include “classic” science fiction. I consider pretty much anything written prior to the year 2000 as classic.
One of the other elements I look for in these classic works is their ability to stand the test of time. I’ve read books from Asimov, Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, Peter Hamilton, Joe Haldeman, Orson Scott Card, and others. I find it fascinating how many things these authors foreshadowed in their novels that have come to pass or are close to happening. It’s even more amazing when you consider that some of these novels were written over 50 years ago, and some are even older!
For my latest classic science fiction read, I read Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. A good friend and former colleague suggested I read Stephenson’s works, and he strongly recommended that I start with this one.Continue reading
Next to science fiction, the short story format is one of my favorite types of fiction to read. I love how an author can capture your imagination and compress an engaging story into a compact form. I especially like how a really good short story comes to a close but leaves you with unanswered questions. It forces me to replay the story over and over in my mind and allows me to fill-in the blanks.
Amazon, my nemesis, has been doing a great job putting together short story collections. After reading their Forward collection, I recently finished reading the six short stories of their Hush Collection. Instead of reviewing each of the books individually, I’m going to focus on my favorite of the group, which was Slow Burner by Laura Lippman.
You can see my ranking of all the books in the Hush Collection here: Ranking the Amazon Hush collection of short stories
It’s amazing how fast life can change. When I think back 20 years ago, I spent time online, but not all the time. I would regularly check emails, and I might use the internet occasionally in the evening to check sport scores, read up on current events, or do some research. At most the internet was a diversion, a source of entertainment.
These days the internet is a pervasive, integral part of my life. I couldn’t do my work without it, and even when not working, I spend time online researching articles, or doing what I’m doing now – writing on my blog. Even when I’m not on my computer, I carry the internet around with me on my smartphone (currently using a Pixel 3 playing for Team Android). Not only does my phone keep me connected through voice calls and email, but I use it a lot for text messaging to keep in touch with friends and family.
For some, the connection goes even deeper. They are glued to the apps on their phone, whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok, or whatever the latest social network du jour is. It begs the question, is there a point where you can be over-connected?Continue reading