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Posts tagged reviews

'Virtual Unreality’ by Charles Seife: review

“Virtual Unreality,” the latest book by the New York University journalism Professor Charles Seife, is certain of one thing: The Internet is filled with misinformation. It’s on rockier territory when it comes to the nature of this misinformation and the degree of the problem, much less what it all means. Early on, though, Seife comes out full of smoke: “Bad information is a disease that attacks the brain,” he warns. “It messes with your head, making you do things that you shouldn’t.”

I reviewed Charles Seife’s “Virtual Unreality” for the San Francisco Chronicle.

'Dragnet Nation' looks at the hidden systems that are always looking at you

I reviewed Julia Angwin’s book about surveillance for the LA Times.

Smarter Than You Think," the first book by technology journalist Clive Thompson, is an admiring letter to the digital tools that increasingly chronicle and guide our daily lives. Thompson, a contributor to Wired and the New York Times Magazine, has taken stock of our present moment and found that digital technologies are making us "smarter," with access to greater stores of memory, teaching tools, methods of collaboration and always-on communication. Together with our devices, we can accomplish great feats: organize protests, become chess grandmasters, learn calculus in elementary school. We can even record our entire lives, so that rather than learning how to remember, "we’ll learn how to forget.
My latest is a review of Clive Thompson’s ‘Smarter Than You Think’ in the LA Times.

I reviewed Ethan Zuckerman’s Rewire for the LA Review of Books.

For The New Republic I reviewed two novels about Internet obsession, Alina Simone’s Note to Self and Travis Nichols’ The More You Ignore Me.

For the Los Angeles Review of Books, I wrote about Amos Oz and Fania Oz-Salzberger’s Jews and Words. 

Perhaps no religion has as much existential uncertainty baked into the product as Judaism. Who, or what, is a Jew? The question remains Jewishness’s most persistent quandary. In modern times, this has not only been a theological or anthropological question but also a political and military one: leaders as diverse as Adolf Hitler and David Ben-Gurion have sought to develop criteria that may nail down Jewishness as something discrete, distinctive, and susceptible to legislation. But still some confusion persists, some hazy aura around the edges of Jewish identity, evident in the thousand and one sects and offshoots and private credos that, collectively, constitute “the Jewish people.”

The rest is here.

Also, here’s my recent ode to Jean-Ralphio.

For the Poetry Foundation, I wrote about the short life and career of poet Samuel Greenberg and the critical debate over his influence.

I also contributed to Slate’s list of the overlooked books of 2012.

Roberto Bolaño's 'Woes of the True Policeman' a sketchy work

For the LA Times, I wrote about the latest—and possibly the final—Roberto Bolaño novel. I also argued that his publishers need to offer more scholarly and critical material with these unfinished works.

For Bookforum, I reviewed David Nutt’s Drugs Without the Hot Air, a stellar primer on drugs policy and pharmacology. Nutt is a British scientist and former drugs policy advisor who was sacked for publishing an article claiming that ecstasy was safer than horseback riding, as well as for advocating for a more empirically minded drugs policy. (For example, he thought that cannabis should classified as Class C, the least restrictive category for illegal drugs, but his recommendations were disregarded.) His book can be a touch dry, but it’s rigorously empirical and without the usual hysteria or emotionalism that accompanies writing about drugs. Very much recommended.

For Capital, I talked to Ben Acker and Paul F. Tompkins about the Thrilling Adventure Hour, a stage show and podcast that’s about to make its NYC debut.

I also recently reviewed the documentary Tears of Gaza, which raises some interesting questions about foregoing context and trying to wring as much pathos as possible out of a political tragedy.