A fine tour d’horizon of innovative enchantment and its ground rules and responsibilities.

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ENCHANTED OBJECTS

DESIGN, HUMAN DESIRE, AND THE INTERNET OF THINGS

MIT Media Lab instructor Rose explores the ramifications of the coming human-machine interface as it impacts the designs of and experiences we have with the things in our lives.

Screens are a dead end, writes the author in this futuristic foray into how best to shape the elements of our everyday lives: dealing with the weather, playing the guitar, driving, medical devices and medicines. In the future, we will want more tactility than we have with screens. But more to the point, and here Rose touches something significant to most of us, he wants the things we use or encounter each day to be invested with enchantment, to create an emotional connection with our “fabled desires,” stories that build from the past and have the hallmarks of becoming heirlooms. “The enchanted objects that will succeed will be the ones that carry on the traditions and promises of the objects of our age-old fantasies,” writes the author, “the ones that connect with and satisfy our fundamental human desires.” Rose’s requirements are both demanding and capacious: The objects must be suitable to the job and relatable to the worker, summon memories and stir emotions, be pleasurable to use and look at, and be able make us more skilled and capable. He is talking about things we know—wallets, lights, automobiles, etc.—so that we build upon lineage but enhance to gratify needs and drives and meet certain measures of affordability, lovability, durability and usability—wearable is another bonus. Occasionally, the author tosses around words like “omniscience,” “teleport” and “immortality,” taking some wind out of his examples, which are remarkable in their own rights: the narrative clip, which “captures photos every 30 seconds to give you a time-lapse lifelong” and the Mimo onesie, which “measures your infant’s respiration, skin temperature, body position, and activity level.”

A fine tour d’horizon of innovative enchantment and its ground rules and responsibilities.

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-2563-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

FRONT ROW AT THE TRUMP SHOW

The chief White House and Washington correspondent for ABC provides a ringside seat to a disaster-ridden Oval Office.

It is Karl to whom we owe the current popularity of a learned Latin term. Questioning chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, he followed up a perhaps inadvertently honest response on the matter of Ukrainian intervention in the electoral campaign by saying, “What you just described is a quid pro quo.” Mulvaney’s reply: “Get over it.” Karl, who has been covering Trump for decades and knows which buttons to push and which to avoid, is not inclined to get over it: He rightly points out that a reporter today “faces a president who seems to have no appreciation or understanding of the First Amendment and the role of a free press in American democracy.” Yet even against a bellicose, untruthful leader, he adds, the press “is not the opposition party.” The author, who keeps his eye on the subject and not in the mirror, writes of Trump’s ability to stage situations, as when he once called Trump out, at an event, for misrepresenting poll results and Trump waited until the camera was off before exploding, “Fucking nasty guy!”—then finished up the interview as if nothing had happened. Trump and his inner circle are also, by Karl’s account, masters of timing, matching negative news such as the revelation that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election with distractions away from Trump—in this case, by pushing hard on the WikiLeaks emails from the Democratic campaign, news of which arrived at the same time. That isn’t to say that they manage people or the nation well; one of the more damning stories in a book full of them concerns former Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, cut off at the knees even while trying to do Trump’s bidding.

No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4562-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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