Archive | Books

Book Coming Out Later This Year: ‘The Art of Atari’

2016 05 02 atari

“The Art of Atari,” a book by pop culture author Robert V. Conte and designer Tim Lapetino set for publication in October, looks really amazing.

From the description on Amazon:

Sourced from private collections worldwide, this book spans over 40 years of the company’s unique illustrations used in packaging, advertisements, catalogs, and more.

And:

The Art of Atari includes behind-the-scenes details on how dozens of games featured within were conceived of, illustrated, approved (or rejected), and brought to life!

There’s more artwork to marvel at on the book’s official site, ArtofAtari.com.

(Via Kottke.)

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On Exercise and Weight Loss — and a Re-Plug for the Excellent ‘Why Calories Count’

2016-04-30_why_calories_count

There’s a Vox story doing the rounds on social media called “Why you shouldn’t exercise to lose weight, explained with 60+ studies.”

Much of the post will be old news to those who have read the excellent book “Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics,” by Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim.

In Aug. 2012, I recommended the book here on Newley.com, summarizing some of the points the authors made on exercise:

Many people over-emphasize the importance of exercise in weight loss. The best way to lose weight, or to maintain a healthy weight, is not to overeat. Yes, exercise is important because it keeps our bodies functioning optimally, and it provides psychological benefits. But to maintain your weight, just as we’ve heard through the years, its best to consume fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, etc. Yes: this is common sense.

Interestingly, one reason, the authors say, that weight loss strategies in the U.S. so often focus heavily on exercise — think about the workout scenes in “The Biggest Loser” — is that exercise doesn’t threaten the food industry or policymakers. If you tell people to eat less, then the question becomes: Eat less of what? And that raises problems for, say, companies that derive their revenues from packaged food products. (As the saying goes, you can only squeeze so much profit out of broccoli.)

If you’re interested in nutrition, exercise, and the culture of food, the book is a must-read.

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2015 Media Picks: My Favorite Book, Album, Movie, TV Show — and Goal and Save

2016-01-04harrisjpgBook: “Waking Up”

I read a lot of really great books this year, most of which were published prior to 2015.

The one that comes closest to qualifying for this list, however, since it was published in late 2014, is Sam Harris’s Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion.

Harris, a neuroscientist, illustrates that our perception of the world quite literally dictates the quality of our lives. He discusses eastern and western religions, consciousness, the illusion of the self, meditation, gurus, and psychedelic  drugs.

“Our minds are all we have,” he writes early on in the book. “They are all we have ever had. And they are all we can offer others.”

Highly recommended.

Album: “Meamodern Sounds in Country Music”

2016-01-04_sturgillAgain, I’m kind of cheating here. Sturgill Simpson’s “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music” came out in mid-2014. But it’s too good to ignore. I blogged about it back in February.

Unfortunately, it’s not available on Spotify — my current pick for music streaming given Rdio’s demise and my brief but ultimaely ill-fated dalliance with Apple Music — but you can listen to it on Amazon or YouTube.

Movie: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

2016-01-04SWSerious “Star Wars” nerds may have their quibbles. But as a casual fan — as in, I like the movies, I really do, but I don’t live or die by them — I found “The Force Awakens” to be thrilling and fun.

It’s great to have the crew back again.

TV show: “Fargo”

2016-01-04fargoHoly shit, “Fargo.”

Season one was fantastic. And so was season two, which just concluded.

It seems crazy, the idea of replicating, for TV, the setting (mostly) for one of the finest films ever made. But it works. And there’s more to come!

Goal: Messi vs. Athetic Bilbao

Okay, so a goal represents the greatest achievement in the world’s greatest game (except for saving a penalty), and isn’t a piece of media, exactly. But it kind of is, when it’s reproduced. Like it is here. I don’t care.

THAT MESSI GOAL against Atheltic Bilbao, which I mentioned back in June, was outrageous:

Save: David De Gea vs. Everton

Again, we have to go back to late 2014, but it’s worth it.

As I blogged at the time, De Gea was exceptional against Everton. The save he pulls off at the one minute mark here is just…I’m speechless.

What a year.

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Richard Scarry, 1963 vs. 1991

2015 11 12 scary

These photos from Flickr user alan taylor show how editions of the popular book for children, “Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever,” changed between 1963 and 1991.

Males in the kitchen, less overtly obedient kids, fewer “handsome” airline pilots, the addition of menorahs, gender neutral professional titles and more.

A fascinating study.

Via Kottke. There’s more over at Fusion.

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There’s Finally an Ebook Version Available of Nicholas Negroponte’s ‘Being Digital”

2015 03 07 being digital

Back in Dec. 2012, I blogged about the irony that there seemed to be no ebook version available of Nicholas Negroponte’s popular book about the future of technology, “Being Digital.”

A major theme of the book, which was published in 1995: We’re moving “from atoms to bits,” and everything that can be digitized eventually will be.

Yet 17 years after the hardcover came out, the very book itself apparently hadn’t been digitized into an ebook format.

No more.

Behold:

2015 03 07 ebook bd2

Thanks to reader Pierluigi Montinaro, who recently left a comment on my earlier post pointing out that an ebook version of the book is finally available, as of Jan.

Atoms do indeed turn into bits. Sometimes it just takes time, it seems.

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Another Novel I Really Loved: Adam Johnson’s ‘Orphan Master’s Son’

2015 02 11 oms

Back in September, I wrote I post called “A Novel I Really Loved: Adam Johnson’s ‘Parasites Like Us’”:

At the airport on my way to a recent beach getaway I picked up a copy of Adam Johnson‘s “Parasites Like Us.”

It is a remarkably good novel.

Though the book was published ten years ago, I hadn’t heard of it. (Johnson’s 2012 novel, “The Orphan Master’s Son,” won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. “Parasites Like Us” is his debut novel.)

Well, I recently got around to reading “The Orphan Master’s Son.” It, too, is exceptional.

Sam Sacks wrote in a WSJ review after the book was published:

Adam Johnson’s remarkable novel “The Orphan Master’s Son” is set in North Korea, an entire nation that has conformed to the fictions spun by a dictator and his inner circle. Mr. Johnson’s book is based on years of research (including a trip to North Korea that the regime carefully choreographed), and though experts on the region will know better than I, his depictions have the feel of eerie authenticity. Set during the recently ended reign of Kim Jong Il, the book is a work of high adventure, surreal coincidences and terrible violence, seeming to straddle the line between cinematic fantasy and brutal actuality.

Indeed, there is a Gabriel García Márquez-style magic realism about the book.

It’s very much worth reading, especially for those interested in North Korea.

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A Novel I Really Loved: Adam Johnson’s ‘Parasites Like Us’

2014 09 21 parasites

At the airport on my way to a recent beach getaway I picked up a copy of Adam Johnson‘s “Parasites Like Us.”

It is a remarkably good novel.

Though the book was published ten years ago, I hadn’t heard of it. (Johnson’s 2012 novel, “The Orphan Master’s Son,” won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. “Parasites Like Us” is his debut novel.)

It tells the story of an eccentric anthropology professor, his similarly wacky students, and an apocalyptic scenario. (Previous post about apocalypic scenarios is here.)

But the book’s mostly about relationships, love, the passage of time, and what, if anything, we can learn from those who inhabited the earth 10,000 years ago, at the dawn of civilization.

The writing is evocative. The characters are vivid. And it’s extremely funny. I found the passages describing the landscape — the story takes place in South Dakota — especially moving.

For more, here’s the New York Times‘s review. Some reviews I’ve read are critical of certain elements of the book. But I loved it.

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There’s No E-Book Version of Nicholas Negroponte’s ‘Being Digital’?

Being digital no ebook

More later on this topic, perhaps, but I wanted to post this for now.

Is there truly no e-book version of Nicholas Negroponte’s 1995 book Being Digital?

What’s wrong with this picture?

The text I’ve circled in the image above is Amazon’s standard “Tell the Publisher! I’d like to read this book on Kindle.”*

Is this situation ironic? (It would seem so. It depends on your perspective on technology and traditional media, I suppose.)

Is it telling? (Perhaps.)

*My initial searching reveals there isn’t an e-book version available elsewhere, via any other retailers.

UPDATE: Here’s a new post — there’s an ebook available now!

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Off Topic: An Excellent Book about Nutrition

2012 08 10 why calories count

I’m read several books, over the years, about food and nutrition. I’ve tackled Gary Taubes’s popular books “Good Calories, Bad Calories” and “Why We Get Fat,” as well as “In Defense of Food”, the hit book by Michael Pollan.

I’ve also done some reading on “paleo nutrition,” which is popular in Crossfit circles.

Perhaps the most compelling nutrition book I’ve read so far, though, is one I recently completed called “Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics.”

Written by the nutrition scholars Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim, the book is — as you would expect — rooted in science and references hard data. And that approach appeals to me.

The book focuses on topics like the scientific history of our understanding of calories; how our bodies use calories; how calories are measured; how our metabolism works; what happens when we consume too few and too many calories; and — perhaps most interesting — the modern food environment and public policies surrounding food.

Here are some of the points that stood out for me:

  1. The authors say that when it comes to gaining or losing weight, the quantity of what you eat is generally more important than the macronutrients in your food. As the title says, calories do count. So while diets that restrict carbohydrates — the kind of diet that seems to be especially popular now (see this earlier post) — work well for some people, science dictates that when you restrict calories, you lose weight. Generally, it doesn’t matter if you cut back on carbs, fat, or protein — it’s the overall calories that have been shown to matter. (Of course, long-term strategies for weight maintenance are a different story.)
  2. The human body has a tremendous capacity to deal with severely restricted calories, but we are horrible at dealing with calories in great excess. Once you’re obese, your metabolism actually fights to keep you overweight.
  3. Our physical surroundings matter: The authors talk about the U.S.’s “eat-more” environment, with its prevalent advertisements for calorically dense food. This seems to contribute to overeating, especially among children.
  4. Body weight is thought to be about 60 to 70 percent genetically determined.
  5. Many people over-emphasize the importance of exercise in weight loss. The best way to lose weight, or to maintain a healthy weight, is not to overeat. Yes, exercise is important because it keeps our bodies functioning optimally, and it provides psychological benefits. But to maintain your weight, just as we’ve heard through the years, its best to consume fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, etc. Yes: this is common sense.
  6. Interestingly, one reason, the authors say, that weight loss strategies in the U.S. so often focus heavily on exercise — think about the workout scenes in “The Biggest Loser” — is that exercise doesn’t threaten the food industry or policymakers. If you tell people to eat less, then the question becomes: Eat less of what? And that raises problems for, say, companies that derive their revenues from packaged food products. (As the saying goes, you can only squeeze so much profit out of broccoli.)
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7 Books

2012 04 27 books
Some books and long-form works I’ve downloaded, bought in physical form, am reading, or have recently finished:

  1. The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer, by David Goldblatt
  2. Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945, by Max Hastings
  3. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, by Atul Gawande
  4. The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All the Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will(Eventually) Feel Better, by Tyler Cowen
  5. The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust, by Diana B. Henriques
  6. Soccer Men: Profiles of the Rogues, Geniuses, and Neurotics Who Dominate the World’s Most Popular Sport, by Simon Kuper
  7. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg

(Cartoon via.)

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