Wow, Ursula K. Le Guin gave a great speech at the National Book Awards…

Here’s just an excerpt, but you should really go read the whole thing–it’s short and completely inspiring:

“I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.”

If you haven’t read any of Ursula K. Le Guin’s books, why not?

It’s election season…

I felt moved to comment on this story posted on the New York Times today: In Democratic Election Ads in South, a Focus on Racial Scars.

Here is my comment, which is a NYT Pick and one of the top recommended comments:

We have all seen ads that invoke race to get white voters out to the polls. Why is it shocking to turn it around, especially when there is no denying facts like the overwhelmingly high numbers of African Americans who are suspended from school, jailed and otherwise targeted? African Americans fought hard for the right to vote and some even gave their lives. Even half a century later, Republicans in states like mine are trying to curtail that right any way they can. African Americans need to get out to the polls and vote just to protect their basic rights. These ads aren’t hyperbole.

The defining characteristic of our era…

I recently came upon this bit of wisdom, from In the Woods by Tana French:

To my mind the defining characteristic of our era is spin, everything tailored to vanishing point by market research, brands and bands manufactured to precise specifications; we are so used to things transmuting into whatever we would like them to be that it comes as a profound outrage to encounter death, stubbornly unspinnable, only and immutably itself.

The marketing, packaging and branding of just about everything is one of the most insidious evils of modern life, I think. I get so tired of absolutely everything I encounter being something I have to purchase and consume. There seems no motivation to do anything anymore, not even make art, without coming up with a way to commodify it. We can’t even just be people anymore. Everyone has to have a personal brand these days, and a presence on Twitter to support it.

No wonder death outrages us. It’s the one thing we haven’t yet figured out how to sell.

PS If you click the link above, you can buy a copy of French’s book and send a few shekels my way. Yes, I appreciate the irony…

New book review: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Just reviewed in my virtual libraryThe Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. It’s an episodic novel spanning 60 years, a genre-bending page turner, about ordinary people whose fates are altered by a war between immortals. Too difficult to summarize–go read the review!

My 2013-2014 Project: iHRIS Implementation Toolkit

For the past 12 months I have been editing and compiling a web-based implementation toolkit as a consultant for the iHRIS project. iHRIS is free, open-source, health workforce information software developed for use in low-resource countries. The Implementation Toolkit is a guide to deploying iHRIS in a country, but also functions as a general tutorial for implementing any complex information system project. Putting this together took a lot of work compiling contributions from iHRIS implementers working in the field and the core team based in Chapel Hill, NC, and I’m proud of the results. Take a look.

Book review of Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie…

Ancillary Justice CoverI posted a book review of Ann Leckie’s award-winning science fiction novel, Ancillary Justicein my virtual library. TL;DR: I loved this unique and thought-provoking space opera.

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You have found my dusty little corner of the Web. Feel free to poke around. I mostly write about books, reading, writing, sometimes movies, sometimes other things. Who am I anyway? I frequently share on Google+ and Twitter, so follow me, if you’re there. Thanks for visiting.