Is social media essential to society? We know it’s not. Human societies functioned perfectly well before the arrival of Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. It would be more accurate to say that social media has forever changed the ways by which different elements of society interact.

Social platforms have placed the means of global communication into the hands of the masses. There are benefits and risks to this dispersion of power. On the plus side, social media makes it harder for the powerful to silence the weak. …

I am enthralled with the book I’m reading right now. Boy, is it good. This is a frequent problem for me because I like to read in the morning when I’m in my car on my way to the office. Today, as I read behind the wheel of my Chevy, I risk a ticket for a moving violation at best — and vehicular homicide at worst. The inevitable arrival of driverless cars will not only keep me out of jail during my morning commute but will also solve a host of competing problems. …

I stumbled on to the books of Ken Robinson in the way that thousands of others probably have: through his wildly popular TED Talks. His easy-going speaking style and gentle sense of humor serve the topic of self-discovery particularly well. In Finding Your Element, you’ll find a writing style that closely matches what you may have seen while watching those videos. Robinson has a genuine interest in sharing the wisdom of self-knowledge that shines through.

Happily, this is not some airy-fairy self-help book that promises you that anything can be yours through the power of positive thinking or “communicating with the spirit of the universe” or similar new age fluff. Rather, this is a book about stimulating you to think about some very serious questions. What are you doing with your life? How do you feel about it? Would you rather be doing something else? What would that something else be? …

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A review of “Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War” by Michael Neufeld

You may have some pre-formed opinion of who Wernher von Braun was: American engineering hero who helped make man’s first steps on another world a reality; amoral opportunist who would would work for any government willing to fund his dreams of space; or, as designer of the V-2 rocket, a Nazi villain guilty of crimes against humanity. Michael Neufeld’s 470 page biography of Wernher von Braun is a clear-eyed contemporary examination of the life of the famous rocketry pioneer that benefits from meticulous and detailed research. In it, Neufeld conducts an unvarnished review of Von Braun’s life, showing that he was none of these simple caricatures. …

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The Beginning of Infinity: A Review

Feeling starved of intellectual engagement? Is PBS failing to meet your craving for mental stimulation? Is your spouse tired of listening to your pontifications on the origins of the universe? Well, good news then: David Deutsch is here to provide relief. “The Beginning of Infinity” is a wide-ranging book of ideas. Hard to pin down succinctly, it offers a sampling of what I’d call “1 o’clock discussions.” …

A Review of the book by Rick Houston

This is the fourth book I’ve read in the excellent “People’s History of Spaceflight Series,” the prior books covering Projects Gemini, through Apollo, ands finally, Skylab. “Wheels Stop,” familiar to space-watchers as the final call heard from Mission Control at the conclusion of a Shuttle mission, is a solid addition to the series, covering the highlights of the Space Shuttle program from 1986 to 2011.

I have to say up front—and as you might suspect—due to the nature of the Shuttle program, much of the narrative is a bit less thrilling than, say, the books covering the exploits of the Apollo program. Having said that, I have to praise author Rick Houston for doing a fine job. It’s no easy feat to summarize twenty five year’s worth of shuttle flights in a single volume. (What should be highlighted? What should be left out? Who should be specifically mentioned?) I think Houston handled it about as well as anyone could, deftly weaving together many personal stories gathered in dozens of interviews with the astronauts and engineers behind the program. …

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Thoughts on Dave Eggers’ ‘The Circle’

The Circle is Dave Eggers’ response to what’s happening to us all: the fundamental transformation of human society created by perpetual electronic connectedness. Surely you’ve felt it. I know I have…and I’m glad that a major novelist like Eggers has taken it on. Someone needs to.

Eggers wraps his criticism of this phenomenon around a company called The Circle, a thinly disguised version of Google. …

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A review of the biography by A. Scott Berg

Say the name “Lindbergh” and it’s likely that one of two things immediately come to mind: that Charles Lindbergh was the first man to cross the Atlantic Ocean in an airplane or that he was the famous flier who’s baby was kidnapped in what was once known as the “crime of the century.” Both of these facts reflect what Charles Lindbergh is best remembered for today but for most of us, time has erased the significant, and in some cases, equally important details of this extraordinary American’s life.

In this fine (but necessarily incomplete—more on that later) biography by A. Scott Berg, the modern reader is transported back to the beginning of the 20th century when aviation was still in its infancy, hazardous and somewhat miraculous. Berg naturally begins with Lindy’s upbringing in Minnesota where the staunchly midwestern values imparted to him as a child and young man would form the principles of modesty, humbleness, practicality and stoicism that guided him for much of his adult life. A relatively poor student with middling academic talents, Lindbergh found his calling in mechanical interests that eventually led him to aviation. Never completing a college degree, he instead pursued a career as an air mail and stunt show pilot, eventually becoming enthralled with the challenge of the Orteig Prize offered for the first successful crossing of the Atlantic by plane. …


Gary Schroeder

Web designer, content strategist, artist, chicken farmer, and oenophile.

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