Mar 19

I've recently finished reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.  This is an emotionally moving story, purely fictional, but not entirely out of the realm of reality/possibility in context of life faced by women in Afghanistan through more recent history.  This, I have on good faith by individuals who have lived extensively in, and around, the nation of Afghanistan, and who possess a global perspective on such matters.

A Thousand Splendid Suns is centered around the story of one woman's upbringing - from early childhood, to adulthood.  She endures many hardships as the bastard daughter, the enslaved wife, and finally, the liberated humanitarian.

Now, a story wouldn't be a story if it didn't possess a certain amount of drama, and a story like this one would not be such a riveting page-turner if so much drama were not compressed into the life of a single primary character, such as it is.  However, through extrapolation, one stands to gain insight into the conditions which have defined the lives of women in Afghanistan through recent history.

I definitely put A Thousand Splendid Suns on the must-read list as a horizon-expanding, thought-provoking story of human endurance.

Posted by Adam KrauseGo w.i.d.eTweet MeShort URL

Mar 3

I don't post in this category as often as I should - I do tend to read a lot, but often can't (or won't commit to) find the time to note my observations here...well, I found the time tonight:

In Death by Meeting, Patrick Lencioni lets an engrossing personal tale of a CEO's struggle to save his newly acquired company play out to a happy ending by providing a model for, and illustrating the value of effective communication and leadership.

Death by Meeting is fictional, but the problem addressed is very real, and the solution through which it is addressed is invaluable in today's world of too-many/all-too-ineffective meetings.

I've read Death by Meeting twice, and plan to re-read every three to five years as refresher.  Some may argue that it has a diminishing place in the world of 24x7 global organizations - I submit that the principles remain the same regardless, and are of even greater importance in such a world.

Posted by Adam KrauseGo w.i.d.eTweet MeShort URL

Feb 13

A couple of days ago, I was interviewed as part of a screening for a consumer focus group panel.  I found one of the questions that I was asked to be particularly intriguing - "If you could write a book on any topic, what would the topic of your book be?".

Naturally, I gave some inane response that included writing a book about the merits of UI design for web apps, and how it's this, and that, and something something.  Never mind the fact that books about web design probably never get written, and those that do, probably never ever get read.

This question did get me to thinking though - so here goes.  The real answer to the question "if I could write a book, what would the topic of my book be?":

The subject of my book would explore the paradox that is the demand and perceived reward for the ever-increasing speed and depth of the delivery of information, and the impact and consequences of this on our global society, long term well-being, and sustainability as a species. 

I would submit that there is a theoretical tipping point at which society no longer benefits from accelerating rates and depths of information exchange.  Rather, it does greater harm than good in context of our general well-being, and could well culminate in catastrophic collapse, yet the thirst for the very same information is unquenchable and drives a pace for obtaining it which will never remain static.

So there you have it - sounds a bit like a Charles Handy dissertation.  Indeed, I think he is one individual who could have done the topic justice - perhaps him or Malcolm Gladwell.

Posted by Adam KrauseGo w.i.d.eTweet MeShort URL

Jul 9

I finished The Road today, by Cormac McCarthy.  An interesting story set in a post-apocalyptic world roughly 10 years from now, about the journey of a man and his young son as they struggle South and to the coast - presumably to make contact with a less wretched class of humanity than they've encountered in the harsher North.  It's not clear exactly how global events have led to conditions as they are, but my personal observation is that they are akin to what one might expect as a result of a comet (or large meteorite) strike - vast amounts of dust/ash pervade literally everything and hang densely in the atmosphere.  Very little life exists, including vegitatio, most of which has been incinerated to point of near-ash.  Given the conditions, there is little to eat aside from other human beings, thus spawning bands of predatory cannibals which are evaded several times throughout the story.

I wouldn’t say that The Road was an ‘uplifting’ story, but it wasn’t altogether negative either – it depends on the level at which it is being considered/analyzed, I think.  From a macro point of view, it paints a grim picture of the environment, and degeneration of society under the most extreme of conditions imaginable.  On the other hand, from a relationship point of view, it suggests a glimmer of hope and humanity, even in the darkest of hours.

Posted by Adam KrauseGo w.i.d.eTweet MeShort URL

Jul 6

Just finished reading The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan.  For me, this story had special meaning as it effectively told the story of my grandparents and great grandparents who farmed in Red River Valley of Oklahoma and Texas panhandle near Amarillo during one of the toughest eras of our American history - when an entire region of the country had devolved from richest grazing land on the continent, into the richest wheat producing land the world had ever known, into a vast and unyielding desert - the Dust Bowl.  Mind this all occurred in the space of a couple of decades, and coincided with the Great Depression.

The message is crisp, though the language of the story is familiar - almost in rhetoric as told by one of the survivors directly.  While I had some notion of what this period in American history was like - from a survivor's point of view - it hits home in a very different way as I draw parallels to events which have unfolded in more recent history.  How I wish I could get time again to re-visit the stories I heard as a child about my family's experiences during the years documented in The Worst Hard Time.

Posted by Adam KrauseGo w.i.d.eTweet MeShort URL


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