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quoted Against the Grain by James C. Scott (Yale agrarian studies series)

James C. Scott: Against the Grain (2017, Yale University Press) 4 stars

Why did humans abandon hunting and gathering for sedentary communities dependent on livestock and cereal …

... in which we humans have intervened to gain more control over the reproductive functions of the plants and animals that interest us. We selectively breed, protect, and exploit them. One might arguably extend this argument to the early agrarian states and their patriarchal control over the reproduction of women, captives, and slaves. Guillermo Algaze puts the matter even more boldly: "Early Near Eastern villages domesticated plants and animals. Uruk urban institutions, in turn, domesticated humans"

Against the Grain by  (Yale agrarian studies series)

Wonderful book! Really gets me thinking...

Laleh Khalili: Sinews of War and Trade (Verso) 5 stars

On the map of global trade, China is now the factory of the world. A …

Sinews of war and trade, a nice introduction to global shipping

5 stars

This book is a pleasure to read and dense with history about the Arabian peninsula and the surrounding area. The narrative is thematic rather than chronological, so there are chapters on labor, ports, and wars which go over the same periods but with different views. The author's own trips help bring the vessels to life.

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Jaron Lanier: Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now (2018, Holt & Company, Henry) 3 stars

Jaron Lanier, the world-famous Silicon Valley scientist-pioneer who first alerted us to the dangers of …

Disappointing and poorly defended

1 star

This was such a frustrating read because I agree with so many of the problems he identifies with social media, but I found his reasoning deeply flawed.

To the extent that this is a diatribe about how unpleasant social media is in his personal experience, I was mostly onboard, but the difference, I think, between a rant and a book is rigor.

His citations were mostly news articles and wikipedia entries, and he relies heavily on a superficial understanding of popular, flawed studies like the Stanford Prison Experiment. He makes bold, sweeping, and imprecise statements about the a number of things, particularly the nature of addiction and how addicts behave, without any backup or indication that he is speaking in any way besides entirely off the cuff.

I was disappointed as well in how stuck his reasoning is within the frame of capitalism and tech solutionism.

Max Blumenthal: Management of Savagery (2019, Verso Books) 5 stars

Review of 'Management of Savagery' on 'GoodReads'

5 stars

This book was difficult to read, although the author's prose was itself easy and approachable, the subject is tough. He succeeded in destroying any faith I had left in how media in the USA reports on foreign policy. The book begins with Operation Cyclone, a haunting semi covert operation that began the funding and arming of extremist terrorist in an effort to "transition democracies". It ends with an afterward summarizing nicely the brief post cold war history of Russia and how Russiagate and the neocons around it created a new cold war.

China Miéville: October (2017, Verso) 4 stars

"Acclaimed fantasy author China Mieville plunges us into the year the world was turned upside …

Review of 'October' on 'GoodReads'

5 stars

A captivating read, Mieville illustrates the events of 1917 with vivid details and a special literary flourish, clearly an experienced novelist and now historian. It feels vividly present, and it helped me keep up with my Trotskyist reading group thanks to Mieville's appreciation for Victor Serge. Maybe the main thing that threw me out of the revolutionary trance Mieville invokes, is that he uses so many interesting and peculiar words that I have to constantly consult a dictionary!