What I Liked This Week: 1/12/13

Before I get on to What I Liked This Week — a quick thank you to everyone reading. Special thanks to everyone who provided feedback and extra special thanks to those who shared links. Please add yourselves to the end of this week’s list. Because I like you. Not like that. I’m a married man! Don’t be creepy!

Nah. Be creepy. In your own head, though. We’re all creeps in there anyway, and if we did a better job of accepting that and maybe even talking about it a little, the world would have fewer problems. Ah, well. We all float on.

There’s one thing that I loved this week, which gets it’s own mini-post. Bullet list of a few other things after that.

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline. I bought this book for my gamer brother after hearing from a friend that it was a great read and a great read for people who like pop culture and video games. Since I also like both these things, even if I don’t dive into them as often as I used to or would like, I also bought a copy for myself. And I’m very glad I did. Ready Player One has been out a while and has sold a bunch of copies, but anyone who hasn’t checked it out should do so.

On the surface, the story seems like an esoteric trip for…people who like pop culture (particularly 80s pop culture!) and video games, comics, sci-fi, etc. I don’t know how many ladies and gents belonging to that category are left out there who haven’t read the book, but I’m including it here because I enjoyed it immensely and found it to be about much more than the sum of these broadest-of-its-thematic parts. I think people of lesser geekiness than I could get a lot out of it as well.

In short, in the tradition of all great sci-fi works, Ready Player One is a warning about where we might be headed as a society, what this may mean for us on an individual level, and what we may have to do on both terms to deliver us from such a frightening vision of the future. Particularly, it’s about how and why we choose to escape reality and also, sometimes, insulate ourselves from it and those around us. It’s also about the importance of questioning, challenging, and hopefully overcoming the worst and most damagingly excessive of these impulses.

Ready Player One spoke to me because I’ve done my own wrestling with escape and distractedness and loneliness, and I also think it’s a relevant entry into the thankfully growing discussion of how we might healthily coexist with our evolving technological systems.

Look out for a long post next week in which I explore my own ideas about this issue. Much of what I’ve been thinking about was shaken loose after reading Ready Player One, which, by the way, I accomplished mostly in the span of eight hours.

Reading a great book is infinitely better than suffering through insomnia.

Other things I liked this week:

  • This report, indicating that AIG, the insurance giant that the US government bailed out at the onset of the recession, in order to keep the economy from fully crashing, is considering suing the government on behalf of its shareholders, some of whom feel as if they were denied millions of dollars due to the “unfair” terms of the bailout. I don’t actually like this. I think it’s as contemptible as it is hilarious. I don’t actually think it’s hilarious. It reminds me how far away we are from regaining equality in our society — if we ever had it.
  • Jon Stewart chiming in on the inability of the GOP-led House to speedily pass adequate legislation providing aid to victims of hurricane Sandy. Which I touched upon in my post about Sandy Hook and America’s Sickness.
  • This footage of a giant squid. Because…giant fucking squid!

Have a good rest of the weekend. Don’t forget to hit me up on The Twitter (@MichaelDiBiasio).

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