March, 2020

Could Politics Be Fairer? Two New Books Say Yes

You could fill an entire bookshelf with works about the crisis of democracy in the Trump era...

After reading The New York Times article, one book appealed to me more than the other so I added it to my wish list. Perhaps I am merely indulging my confirmation bias. Actually, it seems to me that the problems are very big and the offered solutions are very small.

“The central question of our time is what comes next,” writes Ganesh Sitaraman, a professor at Vanderbilt University Law School. Will it be reform or revolution? Will it be breakthrough or breakdown?

The Moves That Matter: A Chess Grandmaster on the Game of Life

I have now finished reading this book. Although it may not interest most ABC members, you do not need to know chess to appreciate its wisdom. However, I did play chess in my youth and I was the best at the game in high school. Now I am more interested in the game of life than the game of chess. I am pleased that the same is true for Jonathan Rowson.

As I find time, I plan to write a lengthy review of this book. It is also my intention to follow Rowson as he continues his life journey. Although largely unknown, I think he is one of the great thinkers of our time.

America Needs a Miracle By Andrew Sullivan

In his essay, Andrew Sullivan discusses two books, both which look interesting:  " books by Ezra Klein and Christopher Caldwell... Klein’s Why We’re Polarized and Caldwell’s The Age of Entitlement come from very different perspectives... Some might say that the two are among the best and the brightest of left and right, respectively...  both books agree on one central thing: Our fate was almost certainly cast as long ago as 1964 and 1965." As a liberal myself, I would probably learn the most from Caldwell's book.

As Sullivan says, "Yes, I’m hoping for a miracle. But at this point, what else have we got?"

Until the End of Time: Physicist Brian Greene on the Poetry of Existence and the Wellspring of Meaning in Our Ephemeral Lives Amid an Impartial Universe

I love the essays about books that Maria Popova writes and I share her interest in our search for meaning.
Still, unblunted by this marginal error of exclusivity is Greene’s astute insight into the elemental equivalence: we are doomed to decay, and so we cope by creating. He highlights two factors that jointly gave rise to the self-awareness seeding our terror and to our wondrous reach for transcendence: entropy and evolution. Across three hundred pages, he fans out the fabric of our present understanding, deftly untangling then interweaving the science of everything from black holes to quanta to DNA, tracing how matter made mind made imagination, probing the pull of eternity and storytelling and the sublime, and arriving at a final chapter lyrically titled “The Nobility of Being,” in which he contemplates how these processes and phenomena, described and discovered by minds honed by millennia of evolution, converge to illuminate our search for meaning...

Books by People at is another source that I look at from time to time.

The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity has now been added to my wish list.

Until the End of Time is Brian Greene's breathtaking new exploration of the cosmos and our quest to understand it. Greene takes us on a journey across time, from our most refined understanding of the universe's beginning, to the closest science can take us to the very end. He explores how life and mind emerged from the initial chaos, and how our minds, in coming to understand their own impermanence, seek in different ways to give meaning to experience: in narrative, myth, religion, creative expression, science, the quest for truth, and our longing for the eternal. Through a series of nested stories that explain distinct but interwoven layers of reality--from quantum mechanics to consciousness to black holes--Greene provides us with a clearer sense of how we came to be, a finer picture of where we are now, and a firmer understanding of where we are headed. With this grand tour of the universe, beginning to end, Brian Greene allows us all to grasp and appreciate our fleeting but utterly exquisite moment in the cosmos.

The Word from Wuhan
Many of us at our last meeting discussing China commented on the degree of corruption and censorship in China. This article informs us on how that plays out in Wuhan. Wang Xiuying is a pessimist who’s trying hard to self-quarantine.