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Ben Babcock

4 Articles in January 2017

  1. Some thoughts on Hidden Figures, the movie

    I just returned from watching Hidden Figures, and I have some thoughts! Going to try to keep this short (I’m tired), but this is more than 140 characters, and I don’t like threads. That’s what blog posts are for. Also, I already reviewed the book, so read that for more information on the basic premise and why it’s so exciting. I’m going to try to restrict myself to gushing about the movie itself. And yes, I’m going to gush. Hidden Figures was excellent, sublime even. I’m not sure I have words to describe how much I enjoyed it.

    First, this movie is a brilliant piece of American propaganda. It really is. It captures that “can-do” attitude that American movies always like to evince about their history, the sense of American exceptionalism, dedication, and hard-working spirit that has them “win” the space race (eventually). Yes, the movie does this by showing how Americans of all races and colours come together to achieve orbital flight, and then the moon landing. But this is unquestionably a movie that celebrates the triumphs of a booming, technologically-savvy post-WWII United States. This does not do much for me, personally, as a Canadian and someone…

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  2. Reading goals for 2017

    Now that I’ve discussed my favourite books from last year, here’s what is in store for this year, hopefully.

    I’m not a super organized reader. I know some people make lists of what they are going to read, keep calendars of upcoming releases they want to buy, etc. I am a messy, spontaneous reader. I pre-order books and then forget about them until they show up at my door. I keep saying, “I’ll get to it next!” of many a book, only for it to languish in a pile. People have given me books for my birthday or for Christmas from years ago and I still haven’t read them.

    I say this so you get an idea of the kinds of goals I set. Think of these more as aspirations that will influence the books I choose to buy/borrow in 2017 and the priorities I give books I already own.

    Let’s start there: I currently have about 70, give or take, unread books that I own sitting in my room. If I make the pace required to meet a goal of 156 again this year, that means I could wait well into June before I need to go to…

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  3. Best Books of 2016

    Oh hey, it’s a new year.

    I usually do a round-up of my best 10 (and worst 10) books of the year and post it as a list. I’m fairly proud of the lists area of my site, but I also have ambitions to do a little overhauling this year, so the lists might be evaporating—hopefully temporarily. I’m going to keep it simple and simply blog about my year of reading.

    Also, I’m not going to try to rank my favourite books from 2016 like I usually do. This can be a fun exercise, because it really makes me think about why I enjoyed a book so much. Nevertheless, I would prefer to speak in general about more books. I had a good reading year! I met my goal of 156 books (which is based on a theoretical average of 3 books per week, kind of the most comfortable number I can achieve)—though, to be fair, a chunk of those were Animomrphs. I had fewer 5-star ratings this year than in 2015, 1 more 4-star rating, and 1 more DNF. I also had fewer 3-star ratings and more 2-star ratings. That doesn’t sound promising, I know. However, I…

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  4. What are your blindspots?

    I’ve been reading Hidden Figures, in anticipation of the movie coming out next week. It’s a fantastic book, and I already have so much I want to say in the review. This is one topic that would be too much of a digression, so I’ve spun it out into an adequate starting place for my blog posts of 2017.

    Throughout the book, Margot Lee Shetterly discusses the attitudes of people towards Black, female computers working at NACA/NASA. One thing that really got me was her descriptions of how these women were simply used to the discrimination and segregation foisted upon them by life in Virginia, how they might not like it, but they tolerated and accepted it. Moreover, Shetterly goes on to discuss the white people who would work with these women, even be congenial towards them, yet did nothing to stand up against these policies, to dismantle them, to protest them or support the fledgling civil rights movement. These well-educated, fairly progressive white people, who were happy to let Black women work alongside them, could not necessarily support these women using the same bathroom or living in the same part of town. That would be going too far.

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About Me

I’m a 27-year-old math and English teacher back in Canada after two years teaching in England. In my free time, I read books! When I’m not reading, I’m writing, coding, or knitting.

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About this site

I started coding websites, in bad HTML on Geocities, in 2004 in a fit of whimsy. Since then I’ve learned PHP/MySQL, coded my own blog software, and rebuilt this site several times. With the exception of the blog, it’s currently running on the exquisite Symphony CMS. This website is hosted by HawkHost

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