Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Library Loot ~ ends today, December 31

Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America ~ by Linda Tirado, 2014
"I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time. Well, not this book, because I never imagined that the book I was waiting for would be so devastatingly smart and funny, so consistently entertaining and unflinchingly on target. In fact, I would like to have written it myself – if, that is, I had lived Linda Tirado’s life and extracted all the hard lessons she has learned. I am the author of Nickel and Dimed, which tells the story of my own brief attempt, as a semi-undercover journalist, to survive on low-wage retail and service jobs. Tirado is the real thing." — from the foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich, New York Times bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed, which I have read.
Esquire called this "One of the Best 5 Books of 2014."
We in America have certain ideas of what it means to be poor.  Linda Tirado, in her signature brutally honest yet personable voice, takes all of these preconceived notions and smashes them to bits.  She articulates not only what it is to be working poor in America, but what poverty is truly like — on all levels.  Tirado discusses openly how she went from lower-middle class, to sometimes middle class, to poor and everything in between, and in doing so reveals why "poor people don’t always behave the way middle-class America thinks they should."
The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next ~ by Lee Smolin, 2006
In this groundbreaking book, the renowned theoretical physicist Lee Smolin argues that physics — the basis for all other sciences — has lost its way.  For more than two centuries, our understanding of the laws of nature expanded rapidly.  But today, despite our best efforts, we know nothing more about these laws than we knew in the 1970s.  Why is physics suddenly in trouble?  And what can we do about it?  One of the major problems, according to Smolin, is string theory:  an ambitious attempt to formulate a “theory of everything” that explains all the particles and forces of nature and how the universe came to be.  With its exotic new particles and parallel universes, string theory has captured the public’s imagination and seduced many physicists.  But as Smolin reveals, there’s a deep flaw in the theory:  No part of it has been tested, and no one knows how to test it.  In fact, the theory appears to come in an infinite number of versions, meaning that no experiment will ever be able to prove it false.  As a scientific theory, it fails.  And because it has soaked up the lion’s share of funding, attracted some of the best minds, and effectively penalized young physicists for pursuing other avenues, it is dragging the rest of physics down with it.  Smolin charts the rise and fall of string theory and takes a fascinating look at what will replace it.  A group of young theorists has begun to develop exciting ideas that, unlike string theory, are testable.  Smolin not only tells us who and what to watch for in the coming years, he offers novel solutions for seeking out and nurturing the best new talent — giving us a chance, at long last, of finding the next Einstein.
Okay, I'm aware that most of you reading Library Loot posts read only fiction, which this (obviously) is not.  I read fiction, and I also think physics is fascinating.  Am I alone in my interest in science?

Library Loot WAS a weekly event that encouraged readers to share the names of books we checked out of the library.  Interest has lagged, and now there appears to be nowhere to link up and share.  So it's over.  It's been fun.

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