Books: The Bees

May 7, 2016

The Bees by Laline Paull was our book club selection this month. It’s not quite a page-turner, but still a very interesting story. It’s hard to categorize – which is not a bad thing for a book – but it makes it harder to describe to someone.

The protagonist in the novel is Flora 717, a member of the lowest caste in her hive. They are the sanitation workers, keeping the hive clean by removing dirt and the bodies of dead bees. The rest of them seem content with their lot, but not Flora.

Read the rest of this entry »

Books: Why Nations Fail

January 26, 2014

For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard about how poor people are in many parts of the world and how we who have so much need to help them. Yet I’ve also read how so little of the aid sent to some countries gets to the people who really need it.

I’ve read how the poverty of some countries is due to exploitation by wealthier countries, including my own. I’ve read how the traditional culture is a factor, discouraging innovation, especially it is associated with cultural values different from one’s own. I’ve read in particular how the dominant religion of a society may affect its economic progress – or lack of it.

What I hadn’t seen before I read Why Nations Fail is an analysis that shows the links between politics and economics, or that explores in detail the economic history of societies in many different times and places. When I got the book from the library I wondered whether I’d be able to finish it (462 pages) before I had to return it, but it made for surprisingly quick reading.

Read the rest of this entry »

Movie: Tron

July 4, 2011

The helpful clerk at Family Video didn’t understand why I was having trouble finding the movie Tron. After all, he had pointed right at the T section of the New Releases wall. Whereas I was looking among the nearby Family and Children sections. But when he had walked over and showed me the numerous copies of Tron: Legacy on display, I explained that we were looking for the original Tron movie.

That took him longer to find. It wasn’t under Favorites, or the regular T section (or Family or Children). He finally located it under Prequels and Sequels – where I would have guessed I’d find it myself, if they hadn’t just reorganized the entire store and moved that section from the front to the back.

Our older son had seen Tron: Legacy, and Jon wanted him to see the original. I had seen Tron a long time ago, so many long that I couldn’t remember anything about it except that a live human being ended up inside a computer game. I don’t remember what I thought about it at the time, other than it wasn’t quite what I expected (video games were supposed to be about fun, not life and death).

It’s very interesting to see the original now, in light of technological developments of the past thirty years. I read reviews that said that, when Tron was released, a lot of people knew so little about computers that many disliked it as too confusing. I certainly knew virtually nothing about computers back then, though I think by the time I saw the movie I had been a computer operator for a few years.

Read the rest of this entry »