Read - Want to Read: The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution by Eric Foner (W. W. Norton & Company)

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning scholar, a timely history of the constitutional changes that built equality into the nation’s foundation and how those guarantees have been shaken over time.

The Declaration of Independence announced equality as an American ideal, but it took the Civil War and the subsequent adoption of three constitutional amendments to establish that ideal as American law. The Reconstruction amendments abolished slavery, guaranteed all persons due process and equal protection of the law, and equipped black men with the right to vote. They established the principle of birthright citizenship and guaranteed the privileges and immunities of all citizens. The federal government, not the states, was charged with enforcement, reversing the priority of the original Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In grafting the principle of equality onto the Constitution, these revolutionary changes marked the second founding of the United States.

Eric Foner’s compact, insightful history traces the arc of these pivotal amendments from their dramatic origins in pre–Civil War mass meetings of African-American “colored citizens” and in Republican party politics to their virtual nullification in the late nineteenth century. A series of momentous decisions by the Supreme Court narrowed the rights guaranteed in the amendments, while the states actively undermined them. The Jim Crow system was the result. Again today there are serious political challenges to birthright citizenship, voting rights, due process, and equal protection of the law. Like all great works of history, this one informs our understanding of the present as well as the past: knowledge and vigilance are always necessary to secure our basic rights.

References to this book and Foner’s work Kai Wright and John Biewen‘s shows I’ve heard in the past week. [1] [2]

Read - Want to Read: Design For Community: The Art Of Connecting Real People In Virtual Places by Derek PowazekDerek Powazek (New Riders)

Communities are part of all successful web sites in one way or another. It looks at the different stages that must be understood: Philosophy: Why does your site need community? What are your measures of success?Architecture: How do you set up a site to createpositive experience? How do you coax people out of their shells and get them to share their experiences online?Design: From color choice to HTML, how do you design the look of a community area?Maintenance: This section will contain stories of failed web communities, and what they could have done to stay on track, as well as general maintenance tips andtricks for keeping your community garden growing.

book cover of Design For Community: The Art Of Connecting Real People In Virtual Places

Bookmarked The Tragedy of the Commons [.pdf] by Garrett Hardin (The Social Contract | garretthardinsociety.org)
Originally given as an address to the Pacific Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is copyrighted by the AAAS, and is reprinted with their permission from Science, 13 December 1968, vol. 162, pp. 1243-48.
Read - Want to Read: The Lives of the Twelve Caesars by Gaius Suetonius TranquillusGaius Suetonius Tranquillus
As private secretary to the Emperor Hadrian, the scholar Suetonius had access to the imperial archives and used them (along with eyewitness accounts) to produce one of the most colourful biographical works in history. The Twelve Caesars chronicles the public careers and private lives of the men who wielded absolute power over Rome, from the foundation of the empire under Julius Caesar and Augustus, to the decline into depravity and civil war under Nero and the recovery that came with his successors. A masterpiece of observation, anecdote and detailed physical description, The Twelve Caesars presents us with a gallery of vividly drawn—and all too human—individuals.
Read - Want to Read: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (a.d. 121 180) embodied in his person that deeply cherished, ideal figure of antiquity, the philosopher-king. His "Meditations "are not only one of the most important expressions of the Stoic philosophy of his time but also an enduringly inspiring guide to living a good and just life. Written in moments snatched from military campaigns and the rigors of politics, these ethical and spiritual reflections reveal a mind of exceptional clarity and originality, and a spirit attuned to both the particulars of human destiny and the vast patterns that underlie it."
Read - Want to Read: Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire (Bloomsbury Academic; 4th edition)

First published in Portuguese in 1968, Pedagogy of the Oppressed was translated and published in English in 1970. Paulo Freire's work has helped to empower countless people throughout the world and has taken on special urgency in the United States and Western Europe, where the creation of a permanent underclass among the underprivileged and minorities in cities and urban centers is ongoing.

This 50th anniversary edition includes an updated introduction by Donaldo Macedo, a new afterword by Ira Shor and interviews with Marina Aparicio Barberán, Noam Chomsky, Ramón Flecha, Gustavo Fischman, Ronald David Glass, Valerie Kinloch, Peter Mayo, Peter McLaren and Margo Okazawa-Rey to inspire a new generation of educators, students, and general readers for years to come.

Book cover of Pedagogy of the Opressed by Paulo Freire

Bookmarked Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology by Adrienne MayorAdrienne Mayor (Princeton University Press)

The fascinating untold story of how the ancients imagined robots and other forms of artificial life—and even invented real automated machines

The first robot to walk the earth was a bronze giant called Talos. This wondrous machine was created not by MIT Robotics Lab, but by Hephaestus, the Greek god of invention. More than 2,500 years ago, long before medieval automata, and centuries before technology made self-moving devices possible, Greek mythology was exploring ideas about creating artificial life—and grappling with still-unresolved ethical concerns about biotechne, “life through craft.” In this compelling, richly illustrated book, Adrienne Mayor tells the fascinating story of how ancient Greek, Roman, Indian, and Chinese myths envisioned artificial life, automata, self-moving devices, and human enhancements—and how these visions relate to and reflect the ancient invention of real animated machines.

As early as Homer, Greeks were imagining robotic servants, animated statues, and even ancient versions of Artificial Intelligence, while in Indian legend, Buddha’s precious relics were defended by robot warriors copied from Greco-Roman designs for real automata. Mythic automata appear in tales about Jason and the Argonauts, Medea, Daedalus, Prometheus, and Pandora, and many of these machines are described as being built with the same materials and methods that human artisans used to make tools and statues. And, indeed, many sophisticated animated devices were actually built in antiquity, reaching a climax with the creation of a host of automata in the ancient city of learning, Alexandria, the original Silicon Valley.

A groundbreaking account of the earliest expressions of the timeless impulse to create artificial life, Gods and Robots reveals how some of today’s most advanced innovations in robotics and AI were foreshadowed in ancient myth—and how science has always been driven by imagination. This is mythology for the age of AI.

Bookcover of Gods and Robots

Sean Carroll Mindscape Episode 40: Adrienne Mayor on Gods and Robots in Ancient Mythology (#)
Read - Want to Read: Why We're Polarized by Ezra Klein (Simon & Schuster)

“The American political system—which includes everyone from voters to journalists to the president—is full of rational actors making rational decisions given the incentives they face,” writes political analyst Ezra Klein. “We are a collection of functional parts whose efforts combine into a dysfunctional whole.”

In Why We’re Polarized, Klein reveals the structural and psychological forces behind America’s descent into division and dysfunction. Neither a polemic nor a lament, this book offers a clear framework for understanding everything from Trump’s rise to the Democratic Party’s leftward shift to the politicization of everyday culture.

America is polarized, first and foremost, by identity. Everyone engaged in American politics is engaged, at some level, in identity politics. Over the past fifty years in America, our partisan identities have merged with our racial, religious, geographic, ideological, and cultural identities. These merged identities have attained a weight that is breaking much in our politics and tearing at the bonds that hold this country together.

Klein shows how and why American politics polarized around identity in the twentieth century, and what that polarization did to the way we see the world and one another. And he traces the feedback loops between polarized political identities and polarized political institutions that are driving our system toward crisis.

This is a revelatory book that will change how you look at politics, and perhaps at yourself.

Bookcover of Why We're Polarized by Ezra Klein (stark black background with bold text only)

Ezra Klein Why the media is so polarized — and how it polarizes us (Vox) () (#)
Bookmarked Things That Make Us Smart: Defending Human Attributes In The Age Of The Machine by Donald A. Norman (Basic Books)
An examination of the complex interaction between the human mind and the "tools for thought" it creates calls for the development of machines that fit that mind rather than ones to which humans must tailor their minds.
Hat tip: Strong recommendation by Vicki Boykis (#)
Bookmarked The Federalist with Letters of "Brutus" by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay, Terence Ball (Cambridge University Press)

The Federalist represents one side of one of the most momentous political debates ever conducted: whether to ratify, or to reject, the newly drafted American constitution. This authoritative new edition presents complete texts for all of the eighty-five Federalist papers, along with the sixteen letters of "Brutus", the unknown New York Antifederalist. Each paper is systematically cross-referenced to the other, and both to the appended Articles of Confederation and U.S. Constitution. Terence Ball's editing skills enhance the accessibility of a classic of political thought in action.

More and more I find myself wanting to go back and read all of these.
Bookmarked The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion by John R. Zaller (Cambridge University Press)
In this book John Zaller develops a comprehensive theory to explain how people acquire political information from the mass media and convert it into political preferences. Using numerous specific examples, Zaller applies this theory in order to explain the dynamics of public opinion on a broad range of subjects, including both domestic and foreign policy, trust in government, racial equality, and presidential approval, as well as voting behavior in U.S. House, Senate and Presidential elections. Particularly perplexing characteristics of public opinion are also examined, such as the high degree of random fluctuations in political attitudes observed in opinion surveys and the changes in attitudes due to minor changes in the wording of survey questions.
Hat tip: Strong recommendation by Vicki Boykis (#)
Bookmarked Permanent Record by Edward Snowden (Metropolitan Books)

In 2013, twenty-nine-year-old Edward Snowden shocked the world when he broke with the American intelligence establishment and revealed that the United States government was secretly pursuing the means to collect every single phone call, text message, and email. The result would be an unprecedented system of mass surveillance with the ability to pry into the private lives of every person on earth. Six years later, Snowden reveals for the very first time how he helped to build this system and why he was moved to expose it.

Spanning the bucolic Beltway suburbs of his childhood and the clandestine CIA and NSA postings of his adulthood, Permanent Record is the extraordinary account of a bright young man who grew up online―a man who became a spy, a whistleblower, and, in exile, the Internet’s conscience. Written with wit, grace, passion, and an unflinching candor, Permanent Record is a crucial memoir of our digital age and destined to be a classic.

Hat tip: Strong recommendation by Vicki Boykis (#)
Bookmarked Politics Is for Power: How to Move Beyond Political Hobbyism, Take Action, and Make Real Change by Eitan Hersh (Scribner)

Who is to blame for our broken politics? The uncomfortable answer to this question starts with ordinary citizens with good intentions. We vote (sometimes) and occasionally sign a petition or attend a rally. But we mainly “engage” by consuming politics as if it’s a sport or a hobby. We soak in daily political gossip and eat up statistics about who’s up and who’s down. We tweet and post and share. We crave outrage. The hours we spend on politics are used mainly as pastime.

Instead, we should be spending the same number of hours building political organizations, implementing a long-term vision for our city or town, and getting to know our neighbors, whose votes will be needed for solving hard problems. We could be accumulating power so that when there are opportunities to make a difference—to lobby, to advocate, to mobilize—we will be ready. But most of us who are spending time on politics today are focused inward, choosing roles and activities designed for our short-term pleasure. We are repelled by the slow-and-steady activities that characterize service to the common good.

In Politics Is for Power, pioneering and brilliant data analyst Eitan Hersh shows us a way toward more effective political participation. Aided by political theory, history, cutting-edge social science, as well as remarkable stories of ordinary citizens who got off their couches and took political power seriously, this book shows us how to channel our energy away from political hobbyism and toward empowering our values.

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