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Wesley Aptekar-Cassels Locked account

Joined 10 months, 3 weeks ago · sysadmin

feel free to request to follow if you have a filled-out profile, i just have things locked down since i don't want everything i read to be completely public.

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Wesley Aptekar-Cassels's books

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Woman on the Edge of Time 3 stars

Woman on the Edge of Time

3 stars

I'll start off this review by saying that I'm probably being harsher on this book than I should be due to my general distaste for second-wave feminism and 60s and 70s era environmentalism, which are the two main traditions this book seems to come from. Perhaps in a book aligned more with my politics, I would have forgiven more of my frustrations with the characters, dialog, and worldbuilding. But as it was, I disliked this book.

The narrator/protagonist is a Connie, a Mexican-American woman (written by a white author), and the book opens up with her living in a slum, talking about the drugs and crime there, and interacting with her niece, who is a sex worker, something the protagonist clearly feels disgust about — disgust that feels like it comes straight from the author, since there doesn't seem to be much of any attempt to subvert that or make …

The Children of the Morning Light (1994, Macmillan, Maxwell Macmillan Canada, Maxwell Macmillan International) 4 stars

A collection of traditional stories that describe the creation of the world and the early …

The Children of the Morning Light

4 stars

I'm surprised at how similar so many creation stories are. I wonder how much of that is a result of folk stories subtly changing to fit with the pressures of Christian missionaries — probably some, but I suspect there is also a inherent sameness in many creation stories.

I quite liked the story of Grandfather Sun spending less and less time in the sky because people weren't friendly or grateful with him, that will definitely stick in my memory.

I am grateful for this book, but I do wish it included more stories and talked a little more about the history of the stories. I can understand why it doesn't, though.

Content warning eugenics

Woman on the Edge of Time 3 stars

Content warning TERF stuff / racism / eugenics / anti-sex-work / spoilers

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Paperback, 2005, Harper Perennial Modern Classics) 4 stars

"The real cycle you're working on is a cycle called 'yourself.'"One of the most important …

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (3rd re-read)

4 stars

This is the third time I've re-read this book, and I liked it the least this time. This book has a few important points, some of which I haven't found other books that talk about — in particular, the ideas about the tautological nature of "rationality" and "science" are important and unique, and the ideas about the nuances of what about the relationship of people to technology causes unhappiness and strife is well-considered. Unfortunately, much of the book is discussion of the novel philosophical concept that the author calls "Quality", a concept which I think is ill-considered and ill-argued. Frustrating, since the disagreements the author assumes a reader might have with his arguments are not the ones that I have.

I still do love this book, and I certainly would still recommend it in many circumstances, but I was sad to return to it and find it not quite as …

When We Cease to Understand the World (Paperback, 2021, New York Review Books) 4 stars

A fast-paced, mind-expanding literary work about scientific discovery, ethics and the unsettled distinction between genius …

Important to realize that this book is substantially fiction going into it and that is part of the point, rather than being me and getting embarrassingly far into it before thinking "there's no way this is true" and looking up the most basic of information about it

Palo Alto (2023, Little Brown & Company) 4 stars

Palo Alto’s weather is temperate, its people are educated and enterprising, its corporations are spiritually …

Palo Alto

4 stars

Very good on the whole, although a bit of a slog. I especially appreciated the early history of California, which was much better than the whitewashed version I got in school. The bits on Stanford and Palo Alto history were enlightening as well. By the time it got to silicon valley, it was mostly stuff I was already aware of, but still historically accurate and worthwhile criticism.

Witches, Midwives, and Nurses (2010, Feminist Press at the City University of New York) 4 stars

Witches, Midwives, and Nurses examines how women-led healing was delegitimized to make way for patriarchy, …

Witches, Midwives, and Nurses

5 stars

Astonishingly good, avoiding all of the traps that feminist writing of this era tends to fall into, and providing a excellent history of the "professionalization" (masculinization) of medicine in the United States.

This book does a excellent job of looking at the interlocking systems of gender, class, and race, and provides a essentially anarchist view of what "professionalization" means and how it operates — focusing on the medical context, but much more broadly applicable. The discussion of Nightingale nursing in particular was excellent — laying bare the class implications of it is a very different history than what I'm used to.

I wish there were more historical sources for some of the claims about witches in particular — while everything they say seems plausible, I would prefer to know thier primary sources.

Highly recommended.

Stone by Stone (Paperback, 2004, Walker & Company) 3 stars

Stone by Stone

3 stars

Content warning CW: discussion of misleading historical accounts of the colonization of America

Stone by Stone (Paperback, 2004, Walker & Company) 3 stars

Just started this today. I'm a bit dubious about the history here, since it seems extremely focused on colonists (who, to be fair, were the ones building the walls, but like, describing the "lingering hostilities between the colonists and Native Americans [lessening] with the end of the French and Indian wars" is just pretty... bad, and it really glosses over the fact that Native Americans were doing agriculture in the region long before the colonists were), but the geology is interesting so far, and I'm hopeful that I will be able to take some interesting history away from it, even if I need to be alert for erasure of the more horrific parts European colonialism.