What We Are Reading Today: The Chaos Machine

What We Are Reading Today: The Chaos Machine
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Updated 06 October 2022

What We Are Reading Today: The Chaos Machine

What We Are Reading Today: The Chaos Machine

Author: Max Fisher

Max Fisher’s “The Chaos Machine” tells the gripping and galling inside story of how Facebook, Twitter, YouTube  and other social networks, in their pursuit of unfettered profits, preyed on psychological frailties to create the algorithms that drive everyday users to extreme opinions and, increasingly, extreme actions.

As Fisher demonstrates, the companies’ founding tenets, combined with a blinkered focus on maximizing engagement, have led to a destabilized world for everyone.

The Chaos Machine is the definitive account of the meteoric rise and troubled legacy of the tech titans, as well as a rousing and hopeful call to arrest the havoc wreaked on our minds and our world before it is too late.


What We Are Reading Today: Power, Speed, and Form

What We Are Reading Today: Power, Speed, and Form
Updated 07 December 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Power, Speed, and Form

What We Are Reading Today: Power, Speed, and Form

Authors: David P. Billington and David P. Billington Jr. 

Power, Speed, and Form is the first accessible account of the engineering behind eight breakthrough innovations that transformed American life from 1876 to 1939—the telephone, electric power, oil refining, the automobile, the airplane, radio, the long-span steel bridge, and building with reinforced concrete.

Beginning with Thomas Edison’s system to generate and distribute electric power, the authors explain the Bell telephone, the oil refining processes of William Burton and Eugene Houdry, Henry Ford’s Model T car and the response by General Motors, the Wright brothers’ airplane, radio innovations from Marconi to Armstrong, Othmar Ammann’s George Washington Bridge, the reinforced concrete structures of John Eastwood and Anton Tedesko.


What We Are Reading Today: A Pocket Guide to Birds of Galapagos

What We Are Reading Today: A Pocket Guide to  Birds of Galapagos
Updated 06 December 2022

What We Are Reading Today: A Pocket Guide to Birds of Galapagos

What We Are Reading Today: A Pocket Guide to  Birds of Galapagos

Author: Tui De Roy

A lifelong resident of Galápagos, Tui De Roy has been observing, studying, and photographing the islands’ astonishing birdlife for 60 years.

In A Pocket Guide to Birds of Galápagos, she distills everything she has learned to create a one-of-a-kind field guide that every birder visiting the archipelago will want to carry with them wherever they go.

A compact yet comprehensive combination of field guide and natural history, the book features more than 600 of De Roy’s superb photographs and is packed with detailed, easy-to-access information in bullet-point format. 


Biggest Mideast bookstore in Europe to shut amid price surges

Biggest Mideast bookstore in Europe to shut amid price surges
Updated 06 December 2022

Biggest Mideast bookstore in Europe to shut amid price surges

Biggest Mideast bookstore in Europe to shut amid price surges
  • London’s Al Saqi Books closing after 44 years
  • Shop was founded by three Lebanese expatriates in 1978

LONDON: Europe’s biggest Middle Eastern bookstore is set to close after 44 years of business, The Guardian reported.

Al Saqi Books in London blamed a surge in prices of Arabic-language books as well as the economic effects of Brexit.

The bookstore, established in 1978, sells a wide range of literature covering the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Arabic-language books from all categories.

Al Saqi Books will close on Dec. 31, said director Salwa Gaspard, who opened the shop together with Andre Gaspard and Mai Ghoussoub after leaving Lebanon.

The move was a “difficult decision that had to be made because of recent economic challenges, such as the sharp increases in Arabic-language book prices,” she added.

The shop sourced most of its titles from Lebanon, but the country’s economic crisis has led to a surge in prices and difficulty importing books, Gaspard said.

She added: “Publishers have had to raise them (prices) to stay in business, as paper and shipping have effectively doubled in cost.

“Another factor is the exchange rate, which is no longer favorable to us — we used to pay in US dollars.

“Then, of course, there is the rise in the UK cost of living. The costs associated with operating the bookshop have become too high.

“We used to sell many books to the EU, which is no longer feasible because of duties and such (as a result of Brexit).

“Arabic libraries in the UK — another important part of our business — are buying far fewer books. And we have lost a large part of our customer base as Arab visitors from overseas are not visiting in the same numbers.

“There is a generational issue there, as well: Younger people do not stop by as often as their parents did.”

Despite the closure, Al Saqi Books’ small publishing wings Saqi Books and Dar Al Saqi will stay operational.

In a statement, the bookstore described itself as a “leading light not only for Middle Eastern expatriates, but for visitors from across the region keen to obtain works banned in their own countries.”


What We Are Reading Today: Parasites: The Inside Story

What We Are Reading Today: Parasites: The Inside Story
Updated 05 December 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Parasites: The Inside Story

What We Are Reading Today: Parasites: The Inside Story

Authors: Scott Lyell Gardner, Judy Diamond, and Gabor R. Racz

This book looks at the weird and wonderful world of parasites, the most abundant form of life on Earth. Parasites come in all forms and sizes and inhabit every free-living organism. Parasitism is now, and always has been, a way to survive under changing environmental conditions.

From arctic oceans to tropical forests, Scott Gardner, Judy Diamond, and Gabor Racz investigate how parasites survive and evolve, and how they influence and provide stability to ecosystems.

Taking readers to the open ranges of Mongolia, the Sandhills of north-central Nebraska, the Andes of Bolivia, and more, the authors examine the impact parasites have on humans and other animals. 

 


What We Are Reading Today: The Altruism Equation: Seven Scientists Search for the Origins of Goodness

What We Are Reading Today: The Altruism Equation:  Seven Scientists Search for the Origins of Goodness
Updated 04 December 2022

What We Are Reading Today: The Altruism Equation: Seven Scientists Search for the Origins of Goodness

What We Are Reading Today: The Altruism Equation:  Seven Scientists Search for the Origins of Goodness

Author: Lee Alan Dugatkin

In a world supposedly governed by ruthless survival of the fittest, why do we see acts of goodness in both animals and humans? This problem plagued Charles Darwin in the 1850s as he developed his theory of evolution through natural selection.

Indeed, Darwin worried that the goodness he observed in nature could be the Achilles heel of his theory.

Ever since then, scientists and other thinkers have engaged in a fierce debate about the origins of goodness that has dragged politics, philosophy, and religion into what remains a major question for evolutionary biology.