What We Are Reading Today: The Discrete Charm of the Machine by Ken Steiglitz

What We Are Reading Today: The Discrete Charm of the Machine by Ken Steiglitz
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Updated 26 November 2021

What We Are Reading Today: The Discrete Charm of the Machine by Ken Steiglitz

What We Are Reading Today: The Discrete Charm of the Machine by Ken Steiglitz

A few short decades ago, we were informed by the smooth signals of analog television and radio; we communicated using our analog telephones; and we even computed with analog computers. Today our world is digital, built with zeros and ones. Why did this revolution occur? The Discrete Charm of the Machine explains, in an engaging and accessible manner, the varied physical and logical reasons behind this radical transformation.
The spark of individual genius shines through this story of innovation: The stored program of Jacquard’s loom; Charles Babbage’s logical branching; Alan Turing’s brilliant abstraction of the discrete machine; Harry Nyquist’s foundation for digital signal processing; Claude Shannon’s breakthrough insights into the meaning of information and bandwidth; and Richard Feynman’s prescient proposals for nanotechnology and quantum computing. Ken Steiglitz follows the progression of these ideas in the building of our digital world, from the internet and artificial intelligence to the edge of the unknown.


What We Are Reading Today: The Next 100 Years

What We Are Reading Today: The Next 100 Years
Updated 07 August 2022

What We Are Reading Today: The Next 100 Years

What We Are Reading Today: The Next 100 Years

Author: George Friedman

In this book, George Friedman turns his eye on the future — offering a lucid, highly readable forecast of the changes we can expect around the world during the twenty-first century.

He explains where and why future wars will erupt and how they will be fought, which nations will gain and lose economic and political power, and how new technologies and cultural trends will alter the way we live in the new century.

The Next 100 Years draws on a fascinating exploration of history and geopolitical patterns dating back hundreds of years. Friedman shows that we are now, for the first time in half a millennium, at the dawn of a new era — with changes in store, including the war against terror will conclude and will be replaced by a second full-blown cold war with Russia.

Also, China will undergo a major extended internal crisis, and Mexico will emerge as an important world power.


What We Are Reading Today: Mothercare

What We Are Reading Today: Mothercare
Updated 07 August 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Mothercare

What We Are Reading Today: Mothercare

Author: Lynne Tillman

This is a beautifully written account of taking care of one’s mother in old age and infirmity.
For readers of Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking,” and Simone de Beauvior’s “A Very Easy Death,” “Mothercare” is an honest and beautifully written account of a sudden and drastically changed relationship with one’s mother, and of the time and labor spent navigating the American healthcare system.
“Mothercare” is both a cautionary tale and sympathetic guidance for anyone who suddenly becomes a caregiver, responsible for the life of another — a parent, loved or not, or a friend.
This story may be helpful, informative, consoling, or upsetting, but it never fails to underscore how impossible it is to get the job done completely right.
Author Lynne Tillman explores her feelings about her mother’s prolonged decline and subsequent death in her 98th year alongside dispassionate descriptions of her mother’s illness and the search for appropriate treatments.
Tillman describes, without flinching, the unexpected, heartbreaking, and frustrating years of caring for a sick parent, said a review on goodreads.com

 


What We Are Reading Today: Inventor of the Future

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Updated 05 August 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Inventor of the Future

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Author: Alec Nevala-Lee

Inventor of the Future is the first authoritative biography to cover all aspects of Buckminster Fuller’s career.
Drawing on meticulous research, dozens of interviews, and thousands of unpublished documents, Alec Nevala-Lee has produced a riveting portrait that transcends the myth of Fuller as an otherworldly generalist. In an era of accelerating change, Fuller’s example remains enormously relevant, and his lessons for designers, activists, and innovators are as powerful and essential as ever.
During his lifetime, Fuller was hailed as one of the greatest geniuses of the 20th century.
The strength of this carefully researched and fair-minded biography is that the reader comes away with a greater understanding of a deeply complicated individual who overcame obstacles — many of his own making — to achieve a kind of imperfect greatness, Witold Rybczynski said in a review for The New York Times.
“In his public appearances, Fuller could come across as a selfless seer, almost a secular saint; in Nevala-Lee’s biography he is all too human,” said the review.

 


What We Are Reading Today: After the Ivory Tower Falls

What We Are Reading Today: After the Ivory Tower Falls
Updated 04 August 2022

What We Are Reading Today: After the Ivory Tower Falls

What We Are Reading Today: After the Ivory Tower Falls

Author: Will Bunch

After the Ivory Tower Falls is the history of higher education in the US and how it became a polarizing, overwhelmingly expensive facet of society. 

In After the Ivory Tower Falls, award-winning journalist Will Bunch embarks on a deeply reported journey to the heart of the American dream.

The prose is tight, direct and often bracing.

“College was once for the few, then became a good for many, and is now a source of resentment and political division. Bunch’s well-researched and well written book examines that question in depth. And discusses some possible solutions,” said a review on Goodreads.com.

“His journalistic skills serve him well in presenting what could be a rather dry recitation of facts as a fascinating story.”

Kevin Carey said in a review for The New York Times: “The final chapters bring past and present together into a single argument: That the ‘college problem’ is under-appreciated as a major driver — perhaps the major driver — of the miles-deep chasm dividing Americans by class, culture, geography and ideology.”


What We Are Reading Today: The Folds of Olympus

What We Are Reading Today: The Folds of Olympus
Updated 04 August 2022

What We Are Reading Today: The Folds of Olympus

What We Are Reading Today: The Folds of Olympus

Author: Jason Konig

The mountainous character of the Mediterranean was a crucial factor in the history of the ancient Greek and Roman world. 

The Folds of Olympus is a cultural and literary history that explores the important role mountains played in Greek and Roman religious, military, and economic life, as well as in the identity of communities over a millennium.

Aimed at readers of ancient history and literature as well as those interested in mountains and the environment, the book offers a powerful account of the landscape at the heart of much Greek and Roman culture.

Jason Konig charts the importance of mountains in religion and pilgrimage, the aesthetic vision of mountains in art and literature, the place of mountains in conquest and warfare, and representations of mountain life.

He shows how mountains were central to the way in which the inhabitants of the ancient Mediterranean understood the boundaries between the divine and the human, and the limits of human knowledge and control.

He also argues that there is more continuity than normally assumed between ancient descriptions of mountains and modern accounts of the picturesque and the sublime.

Offering a unique perspective on the history of classical culture, The Folds of Olympus is also a resoundingly original contribution to the literature on mountains.