Fall 2012

Ursula Le Guin - A Wizard of Earthsea

"A Wizard of Earthsea" may come off as following the traditional archetype of a wizard coming of age in wizarding school and fighting evil, but there are quite a few things that make it unique.

For one, when Le Guin wrote the book, that wasn't an archetype. Young adult fantasy didn't really exist then.

Jim Butcher - Cold Days

In the previous 13 Dresden Files books, the events were enjoyable, but they seemed disparate. There were epic conflicts involving faeries, necromancers, vampires, werewolves, crime lords, angels, demons, gods, wizards councils, evil islands, random individuals, and Harry Dresden, but there wasn't a sense that those were all connected. There were also a couple of things that Butcher had been foreshadowing for many books. With a couple of exceptions, "Cold Days" brings it all together.

Peter V. Brett - The Desert Spear

At the end of "The Warded Man," there are two questions: "what's happening with the Krasians, the people in the southern desert?" and "how will the protagonists mobilize the world to fight demons?" "The Desert Spear" answers both of these questions.

The book starts by describing some Krasian history, shedding light on some of the characters that we learned about in the first book. Their culture is much more foreign than the other cultures we're exposed to in the books, and Brett does a decent job of showing their value system.

Awkward Ad Placements

My Emails are Famous!

A designer made a slide deck (http://www.slideshare.net/storyviz/purins-tips-on-visual-design). If you look at page 99, you'll see one of my emails. Hah!

In my defense, emailing out images and PDFs is a bad user experience for the readers (especially readers on phones or people who use screen readers). Plain text for the win!


"Skyfall" is the 23rd Bond film. Wow.

It was a little light on the gadgets -- no invisible cars or exploding pens. Then again, that was also a part of the plot.

Wreck It Ralph

"Wreck It Ralph" is about a video game villain who wants to be a hero.

I enjoyed that it had a bunch of different styles of humor. Jane Lynch has the same extreme and rambling style of humor as she does on Glee, whereas Sarah Silverman's style is more ironic and slapstick. There were also some dramatic elements. It's a little nostalgia inducing, though not as much as I expected. There was also a little attention to class issues.

Overall, fun for all ages.

A Whisper to a Roar

"A Whisper to a Roar" was inspired by one of my professors, Larry Diamond. The basic thesis of the movie was that power corrupts, so we don't need populist leaders, but rather populist political structures, to ensure that the state represents people's interests.

Bill McKibben - Doing the Math on Global Warming

Bill McKibben has been a long time global warming activist, and he's one of the founders of 350.org. He also wrote an article in the Rolling Stones about doing the math on global warming (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new...) that was more popular than an article on Beiber in the same issue of Rolling Stones. He went on tour giving talks around the country on these issues, and one of his stops was across the street from my apartment.

Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

"Of Mice and Men" features two migrant farm workers during the Great Depression in California.

The book is about dreams. George and Lennie just want a piece of land to call their own, and they believe in this dream strongly enough that other characters start to buy in too. A place for soft things; a place for independence; a place for respect; a place to live in peace. This is tied in very strongly to socioeconomic status, age, and race, and the issues that it brings up about the American dream are as relevant today as they were then.


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