Book Review: Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

waveAlthough I’m an avid book lover, I find it easy to get out of the habit of reading. However, I find it just as easy to get back into the habit which is what happened after I finished reading The Painted Girls, by Cathy Marie Buchanan. Hungry for more delicious literature, I started reading Wave on my Kobo. Partially because it was there and partially because I’d recently watched The Impossible in preparation for movie awards season.

Both The Impossible and Wave are centered around the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. The reason why I’m finding this topic so intriguing is because it occurred in such recent history and because I can so clearly remember it happening. I don’t remember the fallout very well (which possibly had something to do with my selfish teenage self focused more on high school prom and university applications), although I do remember my history teacher, a priest named Father T, letting us throw money at him which he tried to catch in a garbage can to give as donations. Continue reading

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Minimalism 101

minI went to talk about minimalism tonight at the Centre for Social Innovation. Promoting their new book were minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, the two men behind the blog The Minimalists. They spoke for about a half hour about how minimalism changed their lives and increased their happiness and then did a really extensive Q&A with the audience. Continue reading

Emily Haines’ Love Letter to Detroit

Who would have thought that an email subscription to METRIC‘s newsletter could be so relevant and meaningful in light of the upcoming US election? Yes, I’ll admit that I completely rely on these emails to let me know when METRIC is coming to a city near me or when their next album is going to drop. But when I read this email from band frontswoman Emily Haines, I was so excited that it was more than just an email about tour dates and merch sales. If I wasn’t completely enthralled by Ms. Haines before, I can say that it’s officially official. Continue reading

Conspiracy Theories: For Better or For Worse

Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory. People love to debate and give reasons as to why a certain event couldn’t have gone down in history the way textbooks, or the government, want us to believe. There’s an element of pride in being able to see through the apparent lies we’ve been told and a feeling of success in having “cracked the case,” even if it’s not on the official record. I also believe that people has an inherent desire to impart meaning to random circumstances, making superficial connections between unrelated events. I really believe it’s in the human nature to attach such meaning in order to rationalize and categorize events that occurred that often lack a clear or definitive result. Continue reading

The Legacy of a Jerk

I listened to an interesting Freakonomics podcast on my drive home today. It was called The Legacy of a Jerk and featured several stories related to people who were, or were made out to be, jerks and how their jerkiness was treated after their deaths.

As historians, it is important to be as truthful and accurate as possible when recounting past events and delving into the lives of people who have passed on. But it’s human nature, and perhaps more of a social more, to not speak ill of the dead. How can we reconcile these two very different approaches to remembering the past? Continue reading

How much is too much? Information overload in the growing digital world.

Gordon Bell. The man who digitized his entire life. When a friend of his began scanning books into a computer, Bell decided that he would scan everything he had ever accumulated during the course of his life into a computer of his own. Upon first reading the article, I have to admit that I didn’t have a problem with Bell scanning the contents of his filing cabinets and boxes that were stored in his house, and putting it onto a computer. I can even see the practical value of this: get it on the computer, save it, back it up, throw out the originals, and voilà, more space! But I continued reading and saw that he scanned scrapbooks, photographs, and even labels of wine that he’d enjoyed at some point in his life. This is where it stopped being practical and became unsentimental. As someone who has personally made scrapbooks, compiled photo albums, and written journals, it’s difficult to imagine throwing out the real copies and being satisfied with a digital version on a computer screen. Flipping through the pages of these books and reminiscing about all things that have happened in my life just cannot be substituted for scrolling down a computer screen with a mouse. It’s too unsatisfying! Continue reading