To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Publisher Description Voted America’s Best-Loved Novel in PBS’s The Great American ReadHarper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterwork of honor and injustice in the deep South—and the heroism of one man in the face of blind and violent hatredOne of the most cherished stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than forty million copies worldwide, served as the basis for an enormously popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the twentieth century by librarians across the country. A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father—a crusading local lawyer—risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime. APPLE BOOKS REVIEW First published in 1960, Harper Lee’s classic is an affecting and compelling tale that deals with racism, morality, and social justice. Set in a small Alabama town during the Great Depression, the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel is narrated by six-year-old Scout, whose father, Atticus Finch, is a righteous lawyer appointed to defend a black man wrongfully accused of rape. To Kill a Mockingbird is an enduring, masterfully written coming-of-age novel about learning to think for yourself, differentiate right from wrong—and fight for your beliefs. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY SEP 4, 2006 Lee’s beloved American classics makes its belated debut on audio (after briefly being available in the 1990s for the blind and libraries through Books on Tape) with the kind of classy packaging that may spoil listeners for all other audiobooks. The two CD slipcases housing the 11 discs not only feature art mirroring Mary Schuck’s cover design but also offers helpful track listings for each disk. Many viewers of the 1962 movie adaptation believe that Lee was the film’s narrator, but it was actually an unbilled Kim Stanley who read a mere six passages and left an indelible impression. Competing with Stanley’s memory, Spacek forges her own path to a victorious reading. Spacek reads with a slight Southern lilt and quiet authority. Told entirely from the perspective of young Scout Finch, there’s no need for Spacek to create individual voices for various characters but she still invests them all with emotion. Lee’s Pulitzer Prize -winning 1960 novel, which quietly stands as one of the most powerful statements of the Civil Rights movement, has been superbly brought to audio. “Available as a Perennial paperback. ” . GENRE
The Bigger Picture Behind Bitcoin’s Latest Price Rebound
Apr 15, 2019 at 04:00 UTC Updated Apr 15, 2019 at 17:48 UTC opinion
Bitcoin’s out-of-the-blue bounce over the $5,000 mark this month has prompted some predictable pontificating from price-obsessed people within and outside the cryptocurrency community.
Investors who are long-cryptocurrencies have gleefully pronounced that the Crypto Winter, which began when bitcoin’s bubble burst at the end of 2017, is now mercifully over. The most optimistic are forecasting a rerun of bitcoin’s fall 2015 bounce from its prior post-bubble collapse, which sent it not only back above its 2013 high of $1,150 but all the way to a December 2017 peak of $19,500.
At the same time, bitcoin skeptics have pointed to the seeming lack of fundamental news behind the price rise and declared it meaningless. Typical of the genre, Matt Novak at Gizmodo penned an angry screed titled “ Bitcoin Surges 15% Overnight Because Nobody Learned Their Lesson After the Last Crash .”
One of Novak’s insights: “To be clear, bitcoin is absolutely worthless by any real measure. It’s fake money that’s about as practical to use in the real world as Monopoly bills.”
Readers won’t be surprised to hear that I disagree with Novak’s simplistic rant. But I’m also turned off by the knee-jerk cheerleading from crypto traders whenever bitcoin’s price bounces.
There’s something fundamentally wrong with reducing the measure of bitcoin’s worldwide importance to a price metric that’s denominated in a fiat currency that its advocates hope to replace. It pushes the debate into an inane all-or-nothing binary set of predictions: bitcoin is either going to zero or “to the moon.”
What matters is that 10 years after an unidentified software engineer created it, this decentralized system for recording sequences of transactions continues to do its job, block after block, with no authority in charge, no user able to alter past transactions, and no person or entity able to shut it down.
The more this goes on, the more it reinforces the powerful vision behind bitcoin: a peer-to-peer, disintermediated system for exchanging value around the world. And in that context, we can also think of bitcoin the cryptocurrency – differentiated from bitcoin the system – as a unique, provably scarce digital asset that expresses the overall value in that vast potential. Bitcoin is valuable because it exists
A point that’s lost on critics like Novak is that the longer bitcoin simply survives – in the face of the $90 billion valuation that stands as a de facto bounty for hackers to try to take it down, compromise its security or corrupt it – the more its overall value is confirmed.
Bitcoin is progressively proving itself to be an unstoppable, digital system of global exchange, one that functions outside of the traditional national government-mandated system of currency and banking. That status is what gives bitcoin its value.
Of course, the global impact of the bitcoin value exchange system, and therefore its worth to humanity, will be significantly enhanced if adoption advances to a much wider scale and it is used frequently in the world’s transactions. And, yes, a great deal of development work is still needed if it is to ever reach that point.
(Some recent technological leaps such as the Lightning Network and the emergence of decentralized, non-custodial asset exchange technologies offer hope that this scaling challenge can be achieved, though nothing is guaranteed.)
However, widespread adoption in payments is not necessary for bitcoin to have value. To understand why that’s the case, it’s useful to think about gold, to which bitcoin is often compared. The power of common belief
Similar to bitcoin, gold is a mutually agreed store of value that, for all intents and purposes, lies outside the control of nation-state governments and banks. It’s not widely used as a day-to-day currency, but it does enjoy a widespread, shared belief in its value.
Where does gold’s value come from? The answer is somewhat tautological: it comes from that same widely held belief, from a shared understanding in gold’s capacity to function as a depoliticized global system of exchange that’s free of manipulation. Sure, we tend to think of gold in terms of its material qualities: that it’s durable and that it’s shiny in a way that connotes beauty. But its lasting worth really derives from the more esoteric notion that human beings have for a long time deeply held a shared belief in its value.
That belief has turned gold into a system for protecting property, a system used through the centuries by refugees, dissidents and investors for moving and storing value and for hedging against lost spending power. That we now have a digital version of this concept, one that’s designed for the borderless, internet-shaped world of the 21st century, is a big deal.
When dealing with debates over bitcoin’s value, it’s also worth going a little way down the rabbit hole of thinking about what money actually is. Not everyone agrees on a definition, but I think it’s useful to think of money as a societally agreed system for storing and exchanging value. The system has to have certain properties for people to reach this agreement – it must fungible, durable, transferable, divisible, etc. – but it’s the agreement itself that gives it its value.
Here, too, is where many of bitcoin’s detractors get lost.
Fixating on the misplaced idea of money as a thing, they exclaim that bitcoin can’t have any value as it isn’t backed by anything. This, of course, also misses the fact that it is backed by the energy and other resources that miners spend to do the computational work needed to secure the bitcoin ledger.
But the bigger point is that bitcoin’s value, as with all forms of money, comes from the existence of a wide agreement in its potential use as a store of value and medium of exchange.
In bitcoin’s case, the agreement is arguably one that involves 35 million people, if Cambridge University’s latest survey of authenticated users is to be believed . This large level of participation is essentially why bitcoin holds a much greater value than the altcoins that are forks of its code.
So, this is why bitcoin at $5,000 is important, not because it’s a sign of that new investors are coming to push up its price again, but because it validates the core proposition of bitcoin’s resilience and promise.
Bitcoin puzzle via Shutterstock
Pip Berry Garland, Ivory, Rustic Stars, 42″
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Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio – Toybox
What’s not to love about this bitumen burning Latin lovely?
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
Passion – It’s why we publish and you read Unique Cars .
Having spent a week with the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio I have no doubt passion is also what drives the Italian brand.
Steeped in Alfa history, the Giulia badge is not only back with us, so too is rear-wheel drive and stunning performance. Its zenith is the magnificent Giulia Quadrifoglio.
Sure it is up against the mightiest of opponents, the Mercedes-Benz C63 and BMW M3. Both are brilliant but feel a bit clinical compared to the Quadrifoglio. QV meets SZ forebear. Both are serious performance cars from their respective eras
The Quadrifoglio seems like it was crafted by an artist, from a blank canvas, sitting under a tree overlooking Lake Como with a bowl of pasta, a glass of Barolo and breathtaking scenery for inspiration, resulting in the Alfa Romeo masterpiece with its beautiful flowing lines.
When I saw the Competizione Red Quadrifoglio I fell for it like a teenager in their first romance. The broad, hunkered stance, sculptured forged alloy wheels filling the subtly flared guards, carbon boot spoiler and quad exhausts projecting from the rear diffuser. Stunning.
The romance continued as I lowered myself into the carbon fibre, cocoon-like, body hugging sports seat and gently caressed the steering wheel (in optional leather and alcantara). The Alfa V6’s six cylinders breathe out through four tailpipes
Then I pressed the starter button and the 2.9-litre V6 Bi-turbo fired into life with a resonant tone. Under the carbon fibre bonnet lives what is basically the same engine as in the Ferrari California, however with two cylinders lopped off.
Top speed is 307 km/h and it races to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds, thanks to its 375 kilowatts and 600 newton metres of torque that produce devastating urge with just the gentlest touch of your right foot. A stunningly accurate visual definition of a ’purposeful stance’
Nail it and the Quadrifoglio rushes to the redline in each of its eight gears as the speedo, in a blink, rockets deep into triple figures. How the traction control contains the immense power through its carbon fibre drive shaft, to the wide rear Pirelli P-Zeros without leaving smouldering rubber everywhere is astounding. Then there is the vast mid-range torque giving the Quadrifoglio huge flexibility for passing and climbing hills plus lashings of top end power.
Like the entry model Giulia I drove last year the steering is exceedingly direct with just two turns lock-to-lock, which, on winding roads means you can steer it almost telepathically. Of course several drive modes are available for extra sparkle, including a race mode that switches off the traction control and should be confined to track exploits, which I can imagine would be huge fun.
The Brembo brakes have more bite than a well-aged cheddar and, like the fast steering, they take some getting used to, but once you’ve mastered the volumes of feel and feedback from both you’ll feel very confident when having a decent crack on a favourite road. Weight is kept to a minimum with carbon fibre used for the roof, bonnet and boot, while aluminium is employed for the suspension, guards and doors. Point to point the Quadrifoglio’s huge speed, quick steering, powerful brakes, planted ride and racecar handling make it a very special car. The Quadrifoglio (four-leaf clover) theme almost extends to the wheels
It’s luxurious and spacious inside and though it rides on wide, low profile tyres and taut suspension it’s remarkably comfortable and doesn’t jiggle about over road blemishes. The same goes for cabin quietness despite the exhaust note barking out an entertaining stream of bangs and pops up and down the gears.
There are a couple of niggles: the steering wheel mounted start/stop button isn’t illuminated at night; the paddle shifts tend to foul a quick grab for the indicator and wiper stalks and it misses out on Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. That’s about it. And none are deal breakers.
But in every way the Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio is mightily impressive. The way it looks, the way it sounds and the way it drives are the products of the overwhelming passion that Alfa Romeo focuses on creating something very special. The result comes into focus for the driver from behind the wheel. If you have but one fibre in your body that is passionate about driving, it will be impossible not to enjoy the Quadrifoglio. Grille styling is unmistakable
The stunning Alfa Romeo SZ you see belongs to Unique Cars Alfa Romeo aficionado Mary Lee. We asked her why she and her husband Victor would want such a car. “The SZ has always been a creature of curiosity for us, ever since we saw it featured in an Alfa Romeo calendar in 1990. Being a car that was never released here and with no internet back then, there wasn’t much else to go on. There wasn’t anything else like it back in the nineties and the rarity of being a low production model just added to its unique and quirky appeal. Fast forward to 2010 and we finally saw one in the flesh at Phillip Island and the fascination grew from there.
“As it turned out, there was one available interstate the following year, so the decision to chase it up wasn’t hard at all. So, sight unseen other than a few photos, the deal was done – which luckily paid off.
“The car needed a bit of TLC but overall it was pretty good. Plus there was plenty of time to get it cleaned up because of a five-year wait to qualify for the Victorian Club Permit Scheme for left-hand-drive cars.
“Since then the car has had a few cosmetic improvements – a full cut & polish, some rust spots cut out of the roof and C-pillar, plus a full wheel refurbishment last year . These days the SZ is a regular at club events and weekend cruises and it never fails to turn heads.
“It’s not a classic beauty, but it drives better than it looks. The sound of the Busso 3.0-litre V6 is enough to make you forgive and forget about a few little characteristic creaks and rattles. It’s a small car and very nimble, which helps in traffic being a left-hooker. The SZ was ahead of its time for road handling ability, with an urban myth of 1.4g cornering force (the official figure was 1.1g).”
After Mary had a quick blast in the Quadrifoglio she had this to say: “Sliding into the Giulia QV was a whole different experience. It’s not for the faint-hearted with serious performance on tap. I think my beaming smile said it all. Maybe it’s an Alfa thing…” Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio