Thursday, April 18, 2013

Watcha Reading? Blog Hop - The Future and Furies

I'm one of those people who reads more than one book at a time. The two nonfiction titles that I am currently into are The Future by Al Gore and Furies: War in Europe 1450 - 1700 by Lauro Martines.

Interestingly the books are rather complementary. Furies focuses on the awful wars that tormented Europe during the Early Modern period, and The Future often cites developments in civilization from the Early Modern period that are still having impacts today.

What have I gotten so far from Furies?

During the Early Modern period in Europe nation-states were emerging as the main entity of political power. The power wielded by nation-states stimulated a voracious appetite for war that drove ever rising taxes, the creation of new taxes, the impressment of unwilling people into the ranks of armies, and a wholesale disregard for the common good.

The details about killing deserters, sacking cities, peasants having their gruesome revenge on pillaging soldiers, raping, and plagues of disease are quite alarming. No wonder so many people chose to take their chances crossing the Atlantic in a sail boat to get to the New World.

Out of this war torn period the elites of the ruling class developed a heightened disregard for the victims of their wars. Drafted soldiers tended to come from the lowest classes and the homeless. Shoveling these starving souls and nasty rogues in front of guns and canons was seen as cleansing for society by many rulers.

So how's the Future looking?

In Al Gore's remarkably well researched tome The Future, I am receiving a vast quantity of information that basically everyone on the planet needs to digest and deal with.

Here's some main issues:

- Most stock and other financial transactions are performed by software. Humans have less involvement and less control of global finance than ever before. This system has developed because machines can do the trades faster and this gives competitive advantage to financial transactions on vast scales. Oh, and many of these financial instruments that software are so frantically playing at the speed of light are not based on reality and likely defy human comprehension. It's basically Skynet from the Terminator.

- Unemployment will continue to worsen. Outsourcing and robosourcing (machines are replacing you) boost productivity and profits for companies but lessen employment of actual human beings. At some point the inability of millions upon millions of people to obtain income will collapse demand for products and services.

- The Internet is creating a Global Mind in which people are able to share information and identify with each other beyond cultures and natiions. This aspect is hopeful for humanity, but the Internet is also another powerful media tool for manipulating societies, so it's power can serve both humanity and evil.

- Colossal amounts of data are being collected on everything we do and being stored for perpetuity to be used potentially for purposes ranging from benign to oppressive.

- The tools of mass communication and mass marketing coupled with the unlimited wealth of multinational corporations manufacture consent on a vast scale across societies and undermine democracy. The power of gigantic multinationals goes beyond the power of nation states. If you've heard of too big to fail, these companies are too big for laws made by representative democracies. They make the laws in various countries to suit their narrow profit-driven interests and override the self interest of citizens. All democracies are seriously threatened by the removal of governance by the people for the people. The United States is a shining example of this process in action.

- Vast increases in human population and consumption are hitting the limits of natural resources, especially metals and food. Serious issues like climate change and loss of topsoil will greatly impact food supplies.

Very cheerful stuff isn't? When I picked up The Future by Al Gore, I had meant to skim through it, but I've ended up reading it very carefully. I even study all the meticulous details in the charts at the start of each chapter. It's an astouding work and everyone should read it. I'm only a quarter way in. It's been fascinating so far. It's actually refreshing to see serious issues presented instead of totally ignored like in mainstream news.

I expect that some of the other reading material being presented on the Watcha Reading? Blog Hop will be of a little lighter nature than mine, but I wanted to let my readers know about some of the tough material I tackle. No wonder I like writing fantasies where magic can solve so many problems.

Please hop around the other blogs during this event. You might find a reading recommendation that fits your taste and you'll find some great blogs that you can start following. 

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Ebook Giveaway

During this blog hop I am giving away 3 ebook copies of my novel Judgment Rising: The Rys Chronicles Book III

Although it's the third novel in the series, new readers can jump in because it's a new point of entry into the saga. It starts five years after the events in the last novel and starts new adventures.

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