Weekly reading and other media

2 minute read

Fiction

Late last fall, I started retreading the Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobb, this time in audiobook form. Starting in January, I continued with the Liveship Traders, a follow-on story in the same universe, with a shared character.

What truly strikes me ini Hobb’s writing is how evocative her worldbuilding is, particularly when the civilized southlands are contrasted to the northern barbarians of the first trilogy. The subtle social commentary regarding the role of women in society from those same books are hammered in more bluntly now. We are also shown very varying perspectives on what it means to be a Man, Woman, Dragon or Liveship trying to find out who you are, and who you are meant to be. All with very believable characters, who show credible growth across the two first books and into the third.

It’s been 15 or so years since I last read these, and they hold up remarkably well.

Nonfiction

Around January I downloaded The Sociological Imagination by C. Wright Mills onto my Kindle. I’m currently stuck at around 30 %. It’s not you, Mills, it’s me. Turns out, you cant read your Kindle if you dont bring it with you… or take it out of your bag, or bring it up to the nightstand instead of your phone.

I do like the book though. Mills is clearly an accomplished communicator, and is delightfully snarky.

That phone, however, has an RSS reader. This past week, a few articles caught my eye:

Daniel Little writes about a new perspective on how humans think: Bodily Cognition. This is a questioning of the prevailing neuroscientific model of the brain as the Grand Computer, processing inputs and doling out neural responses. Instead, it is more productive to think more holistically about inter- and intrapersonal perception. As Little says:

rather, my suggestion here is that the metaphysical questions about “constitution of cognition” and “the real nature of cognition” might be put aside and the empirical and systematic ways in which human cognitive processes are interwoven with extra-bodily artifacts and processes be investigated in detail.

My social worker heart agrees.

On Faculty Focus, Miriam Bowers-Abbott provides another nail in the coffin in which Bloom’s Taxonomy is slowly being interred. Instead, other models for course design are shown for consideration. Kagans model of understanding (comprehension), transforming (inductive/deductive logic) and generating (research skills), as well as taking inspiration from workforce training programs to induce a lifelong love of learning.

I am fortunate to know that at least one of my lecturers agrees with this statement.

Andrew Gelman writes on the University of Columbia Stat blog about how Statistical-significance filtering does more harm than good. This made me turn my head — this is exactly how I am being trained, as Gelman points out. At least now, I know about the pitfalls involved.

Mike Sosteric gives me this week’s helping of we are all FUCKED. Dammit.

Through a Reddit thread (which I cant resurface right now), I’ve added some sociology-adjacent podcasts to my rotation. I’ve listened to af few episodes of Thinking Allowed, and the episodes on snobbery and the class ceiling were particularly apropos my current courses. The one on snobbery also presented a classist angle to my discussion on middle-class yearning for authenticity: It is a form of class distinction, of saying ‘I am not common!’. Sometimes while appropriating the attire and artifacts of ‘common’ people.