Category Archives: Blogroll

The NIJOT Reading List — Part 1 — Fiction

I’ve never been confident that the link in the Blogroll properly fed people to the GoodReads account I set up in connection with this project.

If you have been there, then this may be a bit redundant.  I’m starting with the fun stuff — fiction.


Forty Signs of Rain, Fifty Degrees Below, & Sixty Days and Counting (Kim Stanley Robinson): This series has been called by one of my friends “Global Warming:  The Series!”  A tipping point in global warming has been reached and our heroes are scientists and politicians (mainly scientists) in Washington, DC trying to find a way to reverse the effects of global warming or at least mitigate the disasters it will cause.  I liked it because it didn’t fall into an Armageddon-like all-or-nothing solution.  Things changed, a lot, and people found themselves adjusting – sometimes badly – but still adjusting to the new normal.  I also think the politics of the later books reflected a lot of the climate campaigns happening now.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (Max Brooks):  Mel Brooks‘s son decided that he liked zombie movies and wrote a semi-serious guide for what to do if caught in a zombie outbreak.  He followed that up with World War Z, a much better book purporting to be the notes gathered by a journalist researching the aftermath of a global zombie apocalypse.  Yes, zombies aren’t real, but to paraphrase the guys at Zombie Squad, if you are ready to have your friends and neighbors come after you to eat your brains, you’re probably ready for most disasters.  Brooks makes a compelling case that the U.S. and the world is not prepared for disasters, large or small, that are likely to come our way.

Oil Storm – film (James Erskine, director):  Oil Storm was probably the most direct inspiration for NIJOT.  The movie was a fictional documentary on the effects of a cascade of events that cut-off much of the oil supply to the United States in the Fall of 2005.  The first event was a fictional Hurricane Julia striking the Louisiana oil hub at Port Fouchon.  The story proved scarily prescient when Hurricane Katrina just narrowly missed fulfilling Julia’s role.  The movie focused on both the high-level politics and the effects on everyday life that an oil crisis could cause.

Night Watch (Terry Pratchett):  Although this story is set in Pratchett’s ever-popular Discworld fantasy setting, this book has some very real and harrowing lessons about revolution, authoritarianism, and abuse of power.  Sam Vimes is Pratchett’s avatar of Rule of Law and this book shows why such a rule is so important.  An MIT acquaintance said that this is the best book on fascism ever written in the English language.

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (Robert Heinlein):  If you can get by the dated looks at technology and Heinlein’s inevitably strange sexual politics, this book is an entertaining primer on revolution and colonial independence movements.

1984 (George Orwell):  Welcome to the surveillance state.

It Can’t Happen Here (Sinclair Lewis):  I’m ashamed to admit that I have yet to get my hands on Lewis’s story of the fragility of democracy in America.  The 1930s are gone, but Lewis’s assertion that “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross” is still chillingly accurate.

Space Wars: The First Six Hours of World War III (Willliam Scott, Michael Coumatos, and William Birnes):  This one I’m a little ashamed to admit to having read.  The prose and characters are worse than the worst Dale Brown thriller.  That said, the plot is based off of actual war-gaming scenarios and shows just how vulnerable the new information economy is.

The Long Road Home: One Step at a Time and The War Within: One More Step at a Time (Gary Trudeau):  Tudeau maimed one of his characters that we had all known for so many years and then took his audience through the process of coming to grips with that injury and what it means to come back from war.

Into the Forest (Jean Hegland):  There’s never really an explanation of what is happening in the outside world as the two teenage girls in the center of this book are forced to make do on their own.  Things just slowly come apart until the very idea of security and home is being questioned.

World Made By Hand (James Kunstler):  The author of The Long Emergency takes his theories of where the world is headed and places it in the lap of a semi-autobiographical character living in a post-Peak Oil upstate New York.  Pompous and elitist as hell, but still a good read.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

I know my blogroll isn’t very long. I guess it’s just not something that I think to maintain or add to much. However, one of my entries over there on the sidebar has come up with dead air. Shotguns and Sweetpotatoes is no longer available. Yes, some pages you can grab from the Google cache, but Mr. SnS is off the air.

I wonder why. Did he decide that it was too much work? Did he decide that the time was ripe to bug-out for his little slice of security in the Michigan UP? I hope the shutdown was his decision.

I’m also a little annoyed. I’d been thinking about what to pack in our place up in the Great North Woods when I found the SnS blog. Immediately it was a load off my shoulders. I didn’t need to compile so much information because this guy was doing it for me. I could just hop over there whenever I needed to to pick out books on wilderness survival or building defensible homes or sustainable agriculture in the north country of the US. While my liberal soul felt uncomfortable with his emphasis on firearms, at least I knew where to get information on what guns to put in a home defense battery when I chose to build one.

Now all that information and compilation is gone…up in a puff of digital smoke. Well, I’ve got to start compiling this stuff for myself now. Instead of building a new page here on NIJOT, I’m going to use Goodreads, a tool built to share booklists.

If you want to see my budding library for our cabin in the woods, go to my Goodreads profile. I’ll try and keep it up-to-date and get it better organized. If you’re already in Goodreads, you can add me as a ‘friend’ and get updates whenever the list changes. Let me know if this is useful for any of you all.

The cure for bad information is more information.

Friday, Jan. 9, 2009

Neve and I have been reading Shotguns & Sweetpotatoes (on the NIJOT blogroll!) mostly because it is a good place for reviews of books on disaster preparedness, low-impact living, and the like. Mr. & Mrs. SNS are generally looking at the large-scale disasters, but I wonder if Inauguration Day isn’t going be small to medium-sized challenge here in Boston. If a Coastie from Virginia is willing to jump in on my “federal worker walk-out” idea, what is the Boston Anarchist Drinking Brigade going to be up to? Whether it is anarchists, terrorists, or security contractor/mercenaries in the streets, I’d like to know that my city is ready and willing to share its information and resources with it’s citizens.

Somerville, just across the town line from us, has made a pretty good step with their 311 system. This lets the citizens act as the eyes and ears of the city, to let them know about things that need to be dealt with but aren’t enough of an emergency to warrant a 911 call. On the other end, the system sends out mass-phone calls to city residents about snow emergencies, road closures, and the like. A friend of ours has dubbed it the ‘city AI’.

I love the idea of these systems, and unlike the federal government under the current regime, I trust the city governments to use them in the interests of their citizens. However, there are a lot of communities stacked one on top of the other in greater Boston. I wonder how hard it would be to get something comparable set up for the stay-at-home mothers and nannies (letting you know what playgrounds have been plowed, advertising promotional events, mapping stroller-friendly routes after snow storms). Or, jumping back to Inauguration Day, what would it take to build a system for all the protesters and and would-be insurgents to meet, share information, and track any possible blowback from the Powers That Be?

There’s gotta be some MIT kid out there just dying to try this hack.

Friday, Nov. 21, 2008

Everybody is clearing out early here from work to avoid the storm.

I apologize to folks reading this from sunnier climes if there is no post for a bit.  If we lose our cable connection I might not be able to post for a while.  Go read some of the other sites on the Blogroll instead.  Just be polite when you comment and tell them NIJOT sent you.