Blog Posts by NealP

Posted by NealP on 09/18/18
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Andrew Yang is an American entrepreneur who has worked with tech startups and is a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.  His book The War on Normal People: The Truth about America’s Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income is Our Future presents a bleak economic outlook for “normal people."

Yang’s thesis is not entirely new, but it is compelling.  He focuses on six cities where he sees a high concentration of what he identifies as “highly knowledge-intensive” individuals pursuing career paths in finance, consulting, law, technology, medicine, and academia.  This, he believes, has led to increasing stratification with American society as those who qualify, leave their hometowns for college and universities, and then stay in these cities to follow careers in these sectors.

What sets Yang apart from others who have studied this stratification is his argument that elites within these fields, especially tech, are consciously working to put the rest of society out of work through automation so that they can keep up with their competition.  Yang’s evidence shows the consequences of this shift are severe.  59,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2016 surpassing car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the United States.  The suicide rate is rising, marriage rates have decreased dramatically for working-class individuals, and single parenthood rates have risen.
 
Yang notes that automation may not be a problem for just blue-collar workers.  The disappearance of local white-collar jobs to automation in fields like insurance, banking, journalism, and other sectors will further drain money from local economies.
Whether one agrees with Yang that Universal Basic Income (UBI) will be necessary moving forward, his ability to trace the effects of automation on American workers is compelling.
Non-Fiction
Posted by NealP on 03/13/18
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Nick Offerman’s Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers hilariously assesses twenty-one historical figures, and his own personal heroes, ranging from George Washington and James Madison, to Eleanor Roosevelt and Willie Nelson.  Well-researched and just plain funny, Offerman maintains that “gumption” remains a guiding force in the lives of America’s most notable achievers.
  
The title of his series of essays examines how these individuals showed “gumption” or “a willingness, even hunger, for one’s mettle to be challenged” by working hard to accomplish their goals.  Offerman’s admiration for hard work is on display throughout the book, “I am always hugely inspired (and personally relieved) to learn of the hard work that was required of any of my heroes before they could arrive at the level of mastery for which they ultimately garnered renown.”
 
Using famous, as well as more obscure historical figures, Offerman injects humor into history, which makes the book an entertaining, and educational read.  Throughout the book, Offerman portrays perseverance, discipline, curiosity, diligence, idealism, intelligence, and courage as admirable traits – traits that are good for individuals, as well as for our country.
Posted by NealP on 01/23/18
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The Grip of It, a horror novel by Chicago author Jac Jemc, is a fast-paced, unsettling story of a young couple who move into a house in a small town away from the city in which they met.  
 
The book alternates perspectives between the couple, Julie and James, as they attempt to reconnect following James’ gambling addiction and the trust issues that follow. 
 
As they settle in, the house, which has an unusual layout with secret passageways and rooms, becomes increasingly malevolent – rooms change, becoming unrecognizable, stains on the wall expand and contract.  This affects Julie and James mentally and physically, laying bare their unresolved problems.  They attempt to solve the mysteries surrounding the house involving past residents, and a strange neighbor who may or may not have lived there before.
 
Jemc’s prose is chilling, poetic, and economical.  The Grip of It is psychological horror that questions the meaning of home and its constructive and destructive effects on relationships with those we love.
 
The Grip of It will appeal to fans of horror, suspense, and relationship-based fiction.  Check out her other novels here in eBook form.
Posted by NealP on 11/02/17
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The Velvet Underground didn’t sell many records, but everyone who bought one went out and started a band...
 
Rolling Stone music critic Anthony DeCurtis’ new biography on Lou Reed is essential for fans of the iconic rocker.  Tracing his life as a troubled teenager in postwar suburbia, complete with electroshock therapy, through his years with the Velvet Underground, and later solo work, DeCurtis makes a case for Reed’s enduring influence.
 
The intensely private Reed despised rock critics, so it’s striking that he respected DeCurtis’ work enough to open up to him.  Their introduction came at an airport bar, both of their flights delayed, with Reed asking how many stars DeCurtis gave his latest album New York (he gave 4).  Reed declared it was a masterpiece, and he should have given him 5. 
 
This book will be fascinating for fans of Lou Reed, as well as, anyone interested in rock music.  Anecdotes about Andy Warhol and the factory scene, David Bowie, Nico, and others display the intersection between the art and music scenes in New York in the 1960s-70s.  DeCurtis does a nice job of providing backstories to some of Reed’s most famous songs, giving us a glimpse at his creative process.
 
Reed’s music can be challenging -- however, it is never ordinary.  If you are a fan of his or just a fan of music, this book is worth your time.  Do yourself a favor and pick up some of the excellent music he created, too.  You can find those here.
 
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6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
The Library offers various venues in which patrons can contribute content that is accessible to the public.  These include, but are not limited to, blogs, reviews, forums, and social tagging on the Library’s website and catalog.  Any instance in which a patron posts written or recorded content to any of the Library’s venues that are accessible to the public is considered “patron-generated content” and is subject to this policy.
 
By contributing patron-generated content, patrons grant the Library an irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual right and license to use, copy, modify, display, archive, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works based upon that content.
 
By submitting patron-generated content, patrons warrant they are the sole authors or that they have obtained all necessary permission associated with copyrights and trademarks to submit such content.
 
Patrons are liable for the opinions expressed and the accuracy of the information contained in the content they submit.  The Library assumes no responsibility for such content.
 
The Library reserves the right not to post submitted content or to remove patron-generated content for any reason, including but not limited to:
 
  • content that is profane, obscene, or pornographic;
 
  • content that is abusive, discriminatory or hateful on account of race, national origin, religion, age, gender, disability, or sexual orientation;
 
  • content that contains threats, personal attacks, or harassment;
 
  • content that contains solicitations or advertisements;
 
  • content that is invasive of another person’s privacy;
 
  • content that is unrelated to the discussion or venue in which it is posted;
 
  • content that is in violation of the Library’s Code of Conduct or any other Library policy