Challenging authority, going against the grain

A round-up of and casual commentary on things I’m reading, listening to, watching or thinking about.

“You want to be in charge of your machines, you have to learn to write code.”

I’ve had a casual interest in cryptocurrency and blockchain tech for more than a year now. And diving deeper into decentralized tech has made me want to go back and read Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. I finally got around to doing it and was able to appreciate it even more this time around.

In this YA novella, the protagonist, Marcus goes against a government that’s become obsessed with “catching terrorists”. The book explores themes like government and human rights, as well as provides an entertaining introduction to cryptography, privacy and decentralized technology.

If you’re looking for a fun, weekend read, you can download the book (released under a Creative Commons license) on Doctorow’s website: Get the ebook

“What we do going forward defines who we are.”

At the end of last year, I requested book recommendations on Instagram and Wool from the Silo series was on the list. The blurb at the back of the book was not very informative so I had no idea what I was getting into.

But by the end, I was loving it.

My key takeaways were: 1) Whatever I know of the world is tiny compared to how gargantuan it really is; 2) The adventure cannot start until you step outside your known world; and 3) a question: does authority always “know better”?

Don’t operate heavy machinery when listening to this!

I’m always on the lookout for new podcasts to add to my library. Although My Dad Wrote a Porno has been running for about three years (and isn’t all that new), I only recently looked it up.

It is hilarious!

The podcast is hosted by Jamie Morton and his friends – Alice Levine and James Cooper – and was created after Jamie’s father wrote the erotic novel Belinda Blinked.

In each episode, Jamie reads a chapter of the book, all the while being interrupted by James and Alice. Not surprising, as there are many WTF moments and inexplicable scenarios.

I’ll admit that I listen to this mostly when I’m driving (that’s my podcast time) and it’s not a good thing. I’ve missed turnings, forgotten things and been honked at while listening.

If you still want to have a listen, episodes are available on their website: My Dad Wrote a Porno

There’s more than one way to the top!

There’s a period before I fall asleep, after I’ve done my reading. That in-between time when the lights are out, that’s my Netflix time.

The other night, I rewatched Monsters University and fell in love with it again. It’s not one of the greats, by Pixar standards but I am always inspired by its ending.

Monsters University is a prequel to Monsters Inc, where the two characters Mike and Sulley are partners and “top scarers” at Monsters Inc. The company converts the screams of children into energy that powers the monster world.

[spoiler alert]

Long story short: In spite of their final achievement at university – together they manage to scare a group of adults and create enough scream power to fill up a room full of storage tanks – they are expelled due to their earlier behavior.

And yet, they never give up on their dream – to become scarers. They start from the bottom, in the mailroom and work their way up.

I like to think that’s how Sulley was able to take over as CEO in Monsters Inc. He’s not just a scarer; he’s been on the ground in a bunch of other departments and he knows how the company works.

Sometimes, bad situations are only bad if you see them that way.