The world is getting sickier and stupider. It is a world, as I said, I can’t understand.

The temperature is now a bit cooler. But the world is still burning. For example, the forest in California is burning, Oregon is burning, Amazon is burning, Syrian forest is burning, Canada is burning, India is burning…

Moria was burnt to the ground. But for another reason.

Just the fact that the world is hit by Corona doesn’t our world is not dying.

How about we read more before we die together with our world?

Media: Why it matters?

Nick Couldry, Polity, 2019

A short but unbelievably succinct book on the functions of media. If I would teach a media studies introductory class, this book should be an essential reading for my students. It introduces 5 core functions of media: representing, connecting, imagining, sharing, and governing, which are more relevant than the classical view 1.

On Tyranny: Twenty lessons from the twentieth century

Timothy Snyder, Penguin Random House, 2017

This book has been quoted in many op-eds and publicity material from my home country. The intention for this book is very obvious: although it references the rise of fascism in 40s and the horrible rule of communist states, the target is the tyrant in the U.S – Trump. The lessons are valuable and please practice some of them, e.g. read more (but not social media) and remember professional ethics (for example, if you are judge or policeman – you are not the executor of tyrant’s might).

The myth of race: The troubling persistence of an unscientific idea

Robert Wald Sussman, Harvard University Press, 2016

The book is 70% history and 30% science, but don’t get me wrong: It is nice. The 70% history is important to explain why the idea of racism is still so persistent today – mostly through publicity funded by some white nationalist organizations / hate groups. The R word is a social construct and the scientific consensus is to explain it by Boas’ concept of culture. 2

Footnotes

1 It is cheating to provide a footnote to a 3-sentence review. Charles Wright, probably extending Robert Merton’s functionalist view, suggests (mass) media has 4 functions: surveillance of the environment, correlation of the parts of society in responding to the environment, transmission of the social heritage from one generation to the next, and entertainment. I think Couldry’s view is more comprehensive.

2 Sorry I cheat again. The influence of culture on our phenotype is more mutable than gene, as Franz Boas had shown. But I have a question myself: what if these hate groups switch their attack on minority groups from “poor gene” to “poor culture”? And I think attacks on this front are quite common these days. This book doesn’t provide an answer.