Links for the Week - March 26, 2008

Bill Clinton Visits Richmond, Indiana

Shaking Hands with Bill Clinton - 2008I spend a lot of time on this blog and elsewhere encouraging people to avoid ceding too much power over their lives to the individuals who would claim it for the wrong reasons (or in many cases, claim it at all), or to institutions and organizations that may not truly have our best interests in mind. But despite my own wariness of those things and of participating in a superstar celebrity culture, it's still pretty hard to ignore the excitement and intrigue that follows around a former President of the United States. This is amplified when he appears in a place quite unexpected, like Richmond Indiana.
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Right now I'm blogging about Twitter

At the office today, a few of us were discussing Twitter, the website that lets people broadcast mini-updates about their life, thoughts, whereabouts and other news in chunks of 140 characters or less, all the time. People do it through their cell phones and desktop computers, and they do it from home, the car, the airplane, the airplane skyway, the airport lobby, the baggage claim, press conferences, government meetings, trade shows, beaches, you name it. Barack Obama uses Twitter. So does CNN, so does Wil Wheaton. There are YouTube videos explaining how Twitter works. There are how-to articles on how to get more people watching your Twitter updates.

The one question I have is...
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Daniel Quinn's Write Sideways

Daniel Quinn's Write SidewaysDaniel Quinn's book If They Give You Lined Paper, Write Sideways is a short read, but it's not necessarily an easy one to digest, and it leaves more challenges and questions on the table than it takes off. But for anyone interested in having effective engagement with fellow humans about how to make the world a better place, I definitely recommend having it in your toolbox.

Quinn, who I've mentioned here a few times, is an author who has spent much of his life writing books that try to show readers a different way of looking at the world and the story we tell ourselves about how the world works. In Write Sideways, Quinn essentially tries to answer the question, "once you have seen the world from a different perspective, how do you help other people see that same new perspective in a way that's meaningful and lasting for them?"
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Steve Alten's The Shell Game

The Shell Game by Steve Alten If you read political thrillers or action novels for their ability to transport you away from the concerns of current events into a fantasy that seems realistic but is purely fictional, then Steve Alten's book The Shell Game is probably not for you. And I wouldn't blame you; most folks probably don't want anxieties about their real lives and the future of our society to be a central part of the escapist action and adventure reading that we do on the beach. But after I heard that the book takes on the realities of peak oil, government corruption, American foreign policy and the political futures of today's Presidential candidates, and weaves them all into a 466 page novel, I couldn't help but be intrigued by it. Here's my review, some spoilers if you read on.
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