Categories
Review

“The Citizen’s Guide to Climate Success”

Mark Jaccard

The intro to this book does a good job of explaining what the whole book is going to do: go through some common climate beliefs and prove them wrong. And not in a single direction, either—sure, there’s the usual “anthropogenic climate change is a theory in the same way that gravity is” thing, but there’s also some good deconstruction of a couple of my personal pet theories. Which is for the best: when it comes to the climate emergency, being able to look at the evidence and change your opinion as necessary is pretty important!

I don’t actually have a great deal to say about this book; it was useful to read, and I appreciate that it came with some clear action items. (tl;dr: push for politicians to put in climate regulations; bonus points for flexibility in implementation, extra bonus points for handing power to regulatory agencies a la California’s Air Resources Board)

So hey, give it a read! As an extra push, the PDF version is free to download, so all it costs you is the time.

Categories
Review

“Venom and Vanilla”

Shannon Mayer

I picked this at random out of the pile of unread books on my Kindle, and it lined up oddly well with the last book I read, though in a way that gave me mental whiplash. Where Song of Achilles was a powerful and emotional read, Venom and Vanilla was just kinda silly and fun. It feels like an action-adventure novel written in the style of a pulp-paperback romance.

I found the protagonist a bit irritating at times—her background was “escaped from a religious cult,” and I do get that part of the story arc for her is meant to be getting over the leftover indoctrination from that. Except the escape part happened like a decade gone, and the interim, she was a small business owner in Seattle; there’s a certain amount of naïveté that I just can’t really believe someone would hold on to through that.

Similarly, the worldbuilding has a lot of characteristics that remind me of Teen Wolf fanfiction. It’s an interesting concept, and fun to play around in, but if you try to examine it closely, it gets really hard to figure out the intervening steps between “the world as it really was 20 years ago” and “the world as it is in this book, having had One Big Thing change.” Do I believe that the reveal of the existence of supernatural creatures would trigger massive waves of xenophobia, especially in the US? Yes! No suspension of disbelief required. Do I believe that we’d then built a 40-foot concrete wall the entire length of the US-Canada border, move all the humans out of Canada, and start dumping every supernatural we could find onto the Canadian side? No, sorry, I’m actually not capable of suspending my disbelief enough to get past the idea of the US Congress trying to sell that concept to the average Québécois. Much less the Canadian Parliament as a whole.

For my overall opinion, I’m calling back to the first paragraph I wrote: it’s silly and fun. I don’t know that I’d recommend actually spending money on this, but you could maybe find a copy in the library and give it a go.1

  1. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.
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Review

“Song of Achilles”

Madeline Miller

It may be possible to read this book without knowing how the story has to end. I suspect it’s not possible for anyone raised in the global West, and even outside of that, by the time you know enough English to read this book, you’ve probably picked up enough cultural background knowledge to have a good idea. The phrase “Achilles heel” isn’t exactly uncommon.

With that foreknowledge, the entire novel feels like a growing weight, the crushing inevitability of that end coming towards you. It’s the sound of rushing water as your paddle-less boat approaches the falls; the growing vibration of the rails you’re tied to as the train approaches.

The rending heartbreak of one of the most beautiful love stories I can remember ever reading. So much of this stories is about Achilles and Patroclus growing up together and falling in love. Their first kiss is another inevitability by the time it arrives, something you’ve been waiting for for what feels like months—that just-out-of-reach realization, the word hovering on the tip of your tongue, and then the satisfaction of grasping it.

Truth be told, I haven’t finished the book yet. I’m nearly to the end, and as I’ve done many times while reading, I have to take a break. Set it down, and give myself time to process the feeling of grief coming in all out of order.

This may be one of the greatest books I have ever read. For someone who grew up reading Greek mythology, it was entirely predictable, and yet so very new. A breath of fresh air, and the pounding weight of a waterfall, crushing you down into the deep, cold water. I cannot recommend it highly enough; please, read it.1

  1. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.
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Review

“Encounters with the Archdruid”

John McPhee

Somewhere over the course of my last several moves, I lost my copy of The Control of Nature; given that I absolutely loved that book, it’s been on my list to get another copy of it. During a recent foray to a local used book store, I took the chance, and also took a chance on grabbing another of McPhee’s books to see if it would captivate me in the same way. About an eighth of the way through Encounters with the Archdruid, I had a very clear vision of my future, wherein I have an entire shelf dedicated to a collection of all of McPhee’s works. While Control of Nature was maybe the single best possible option to start with for me, Encounters with the Archdruid also grabbed my interest in the same way.

Encounters with the Archdruid is in three parts, but this time, the unifying thread isn’t a single theme. Instead, it’s a single person: David Brower, head of the Sierra Club, stout conservationist. He’s… a character:

Jerry Sanderson, the river guide who has organized this expedition, calls out that dinner is ready. He has cooked an entire sirloin steak for each person. We eat from large plastic trays–the property of Sanderson. Brower regularly ignores the stack of trays, and now, when his turn comes, he steps forward to receive his food in his Sierra Club cup. Sanderson, a lean, trim, weathered man, handsome and steady, has seen a lot on this river. And now a man with wild white hair and pink legs is holding out a four-inch cup to receive a three-pound steak. Very well. There is no rapid that can make Sanderson’s eyes bat, so why should this? He drapes the steak over the cup. The steak covers the cup like a sun hat. Brower begins to hack at the edges with a knife. Brower in wilderness eats from nothing but his Sierra Club cup. (186-187)

The book isn’t solely focused on Brower, though. It’s focused on three people opposed to him in very different ways—a miner, a developer, and a dam-builder. McPhee managed to arrange for these meetings on grand scale, setting up long tours with himself, Brower, and each of his three ‘natural enemies.’ It’s a powerful way to tell the story, and makes for some fun moments. For example, at the dedication of a dam on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, where the man who spearheaded the construction of the dam introduced him thus:

Then Dominy spoke. “Dave Brower is here today,” he said, and the entire ceremony almost fell into the reservoir. “Brower is not here in an official capacity but as my guest,” Dominy went on. “We’re going to spend several days on Lake Powell, so I can convert him a little. Then we’re going down the river, so he can convert me.” (196)

It’s a really interesting way to tell… well, not a story. Several stories, twining together, and lacking the clear beginning, middle, end of what you’d find in a novel. It’s just the events, the interactions, told in a deeply personal way that still manages to get the author well out of the reader’s way. I really enjoyed reading it, and I recommend checking it out yourself.1

  1. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.
Categories
Playlist

Playlist of the Month: August 2022

In perceived time, I’d list this month as being about 135 days long.

How It Was – Yoste on A Few Brief Moments – EP

twentyfive – Yoste on twentyfive – Single

All Eyes On Me – Bo Burnham on Inside (The Songs)

Holy Ghost and Hallelujah – flora cash on Our Generation

Lost in Space – Emmit Fenn on Lost in Space – Single

How It Is – Majik on Under the Influence – EP

Let Me Swim – Yoste on Let Me Swim – Single

Fall Into Me (Acoustic) – Forest Blakk on Fall Into Me (Acoustic) – Single

Save Me – Majik on It’s Alright / Save Me – Single

Minimum – Charlie Cunningham on Lines

Friends – Yoste on Friends – Single

Lungs – Yoste on Lungs – Single

Coastline – Yoste on Never The Same

(This Is) The Thing – Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine on A Beginner’s Mind

Poets – Gallipoli on On Vodno – EP

Glass House – Henry Jamison on The Years

Mothercall – Hayden Calnin on Something / Anything – EP

Oceans – RY X & Ólafur Arnalds on Oceans – Single

Atom 6 – Sleeping At Last on Atom 6 – Single

Friends (Under the Influence) – Majik on Paralysed / Friends (Under the Influence) – Single

Running Up That Hill (Dermot O’Leary Saturday Sessions) – Will Young on 20 Years: The Greatest Hits (Deluxe)

Caves – REUNIØN on Caves – Single

Violet – Yoste on Never The Same

Die Hard – Kendrick Lamar, Blxst & Amanda Reifer on Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

It’s A Waste Man (feat. Aquilo) – Fyfe & Iskra Strings on It’s A Waste Man (feat. Aquilo) – Single

Modern Warfare – EDEN on Modern Warfare – Single

Egosystem – Fyfe & Iskra Strings on Interiority

sausalito – Daniel Leggs on sausalito – Single

Slowly – ODIE on Slowly – Single

Livin It Up (with Post Malone & A$AP Rocky) – Young Thug on Punk

Solo Mission – The Chainsmokers on So Far So Good

Hallucinate – Fyfe & Iskra Strings on Interiority

pirate song – mehro on Dark Corners – Single

Amman – Emmit Fenn on Amman – Single

Dark Room Dancing – RY X on Blood Moon

Dermot (See Yourself In My Eyes) – Fred again.. on Actual Life (April 14 – December 17 2020)

Rich Spirit – Kendrick Lamar on Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

Implode – Vancouver Sleep Clinic on Fallen Paradise

The Fall – The Chainsmokers & Ship Wrek on So Far So Good (+ Time Bomb)

Major Tom (Coming Home) [Director’s Cut] – Peter Schilling on Major Tom (Coming Home) – Single

Baja – Mt. Wolf & Henry Green on Baja – Single

Healing Grid – ODESZA on The Last Goodbye

Marnie (Wish I Had U) – Fred again.. on Actual Life (April 14 – December 17 2020)

Fallen Paradise – Vancouver Sleep Clinic on Fallen Paradise

Hannah (The Sun) – Fred again.. on Actual Life 2 (February 2 – October 15 2021)

Balling – EDEN on Balling – Single

Happy New Year (feat. Love Harder) [Takis Remix] – ricky retro on Happy New Year (feat. Love Harder) [Takis Remix] – Single

S.O.B. – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats on Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats1

Cradle – Amber Run on Cradle – Single

United In Grief – Kendrick Lamar on Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

TV – Billie Eilish on Guitar Songs – Single

Nothing’s Missing – By The Coast on Nothing’s Missing – Single

Funny Way – Allegories on Endless

Not Holding Back – HAEVN on Holy Ground – EP

Let’s Dance – Hayden Calnin on Let’s Dance – Single

Waves – Kidswaste on Colors of Your Heart

Equal (feat. Låpsley) – ODESZA on The Last Goodbye

Carlos (Make It Thru) – Fred again.. on Actual Life (April 14 – December 17 2020)

Daze – ItsLee on Daze – Single

Roze (Forgive) – Fred again.. on Actual Life 2 (February 2 – October 15 2021)

Wide Awake (feat. Charlie Houston) – ODESZA on The Last Goodbye

Testing – The Chainsmokers on So Far So Good

This Version Of You (feat. Julianna Barwick) – ODESZA on The Last Goodbye

Angie (Interlude) – Fred again.. on Actual Life (April 14 – December 17 2020)

Tate (How I Feel) – Fred again.. on Actual Life 2 (February 2 – October 15 2021)

Kahan (Last Year) [feat. Kodak Black] – Fred again.. on Actual Life 2 (February 2 – October 15 2021)2

22 (OVER S∞∞N) – Bon Iver on 22, A Million

Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa – FINNEAS on Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa – Single

Faisal (Envelops Me) – Fred again.. on Actual Life 2 (February 2 – October 15 2021)

Heartbeat – The Midnight on Heroes

Somewhere (feat. Octavian) – The Blaze on Somewhere (feat. Octavian) – Single

Edge of the Edge – Panda Bear & Sonic Boom on Reset3

Home – Kidswaste on Colors of Your Heart

Mollie (Hear Your Name) – Fred again.. on Actual Life 2 (February 2 – October 15 2021)

Angie (I’ve Been Lost) – Fred again.. on Actual Life (April 14 – December 17 2020)

Colorblind – RY X & Ólafur Arnalds on Blood Moon

Tayla (Every Night) – Fred again.. on Actual Life 2 (February 2 – October 15 2021)

sun+tide – Golden Vessel on everythingeverydayeverything

Smoke (feat. Jamie xx) – Headie One & Fred again.. on GANG

Jungle (Rico Nasty Remix) – Fred again.. on Jungle (Rico Nasty Remix) – Single

Big Hen (Steal My Joy) – Fred again.. on Actual Life (April 14 – December 17 2020)

Closer – Majik on Closer – Single

Bigger Stronger – Coldplay on The Blue Room EP

Wait to Come Over – Charles Fauna on Eulogy – EP4

Grapevine (feat. Elderbrook) – Lane 8 on Grapevine (feat. Elderbrook)

Alright – FRENSHIP & Yoste on Alright – Single

LA FAMA (feat. The Weeknd) – ROSALÍA on MOTOMAMI

Catrin (The City) – Fred again.. on Actual Life 2 (February 2 – October 15 2021)

can’t help but let you down – beaux on can’t help but let you down – Single

Bittersweet Symphony – Thorin Loeks on Bittersweet Symphony – Single

Kyle (I Found You) – Fred again.. on Actual Life (April 14 – December 17 2020)

Peeling / Heaven – Jemima Coulter on Grace After a Party

Body (feat. brando) – Loud Luxury on Body (feat. brando) – Single

Stop and Stare (Acoustic Version) – Landon Austin on Stop and Stare (Acoustic Version) – Single

Kaleidoscope – Phony & Petey on At Some Point You Stop

Moscow Mule – Bad Bunny on Un Verano Sin Ti

Let Me In – EMBRZ on Back Where We Belong

In This Shirt (Original) – The Irrepressibles on In This Shirt – Single

  1. This song is very entertaining to me. It so perfectly sounds like something that would’ve been on the radio alongside, like, Elvis… except the lyrics wouldn’t have made it past the censors.
  2. There’s really a lot of Fred again.. in this playlist, and I’m alright with that.
  3. I do like the whole “modern music done in the style of a different era” thing.
  4. Several minutes of trying to remember enough of the lyrics to figure out what song this was later…
Categories
Review

“Dark Matter”

Blake Crouch

A friend of mine gave me this book and told me I have to read it. Which was a good push to have, because if I hadn’t had that in the back of my head, I don’t think I would’ve stuck it through. The whole first half of the book is… not all that interesting. It’s a generic sci-fi trope (oh, what’s that, there’s infinite realities, and each choice we make splits off into two or more??? unprecedented) and a protagonist who takes way too long to figure out what’s going on. (And, frankly, he never really figures much out until the end, and even then it feels like he’s still running behind, but at least by then it was somewhat understandable.)

Really, it just felt like it spent entirely too long setting up the premise. Which is probably useful for a broader audience, but in that regard I’m the wrong person to read it—as is, really, anyone who’s watched Rick and Morty.

But if you stick with it, it actually does a good job of exploring the concept in a new way. One that even the aforementioned Rick and Morty hasn’t delved into. The narcissism of small differences, the sheer overwhelming number of uncanny valleys you can have in an infinite multiverse. And the issues that arise when those infinitely-splitting choices keep infinitely splitting.

So, overall, I found myself quite enjoying the book. It’s not at all hard sci-fi, and sitting here looking at the cover, the little “a novel” down in the corner is doing a lot of heavy lifting. It’s far more about the characters than it is about the adventure. If that sounds interesting to you, check it out.1

  1. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.
Categories
Review

“catalog of unabashed gratitude”

ross gay

I’ve never felt like I know how to read poetry. I, in fact, very distinctly remember saying, during a class on composition, “I have not an ounce of poetry in my soul.” Which was, in retrospect, a poetic way to put it, so maybe I’ve got a couple grams floating around in there.

Nevertheless, poetry is not my strong suit. Take this book as evidence: at this word count, a good estimate for how long it’d take me to read is “an afternoon, if that.” And yet, here I am, having taken nearly a year to work my way through it.

I think I like that, though. I think it’s better to have taken my time, and given each piece space, instead of trying to cram it all into my head in one go. It works better that way, when you leave room for a line to echo in your head.

I’m not writing this in the style of ross gay. I am, however, writing it in my style, tinged with more of his improvisational, stream-of-consciousness feel. And hey, it’s always neat to try something new. As far as new things go, unabashed gratitude never hurt anyone. Give it a try.1

  1. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.
Categories
Playlist

Playlist of the Month: July 2022

Writing this up in the midst of a heatwave has me feeling like this playlist should be either more summer-y, or go in the complete opposite direction and have a bunch of winter music to remind myself that the heat won’t last forever. (If you want winter-y music, go for either Christmas carols or Blueneck.)

How It Was – Yoste on A Few Brief Moments – EP

twentyfive – Yoste on twentyfive – Single

All Eyes On Me – Bo Burnham on Inside (The Songs)

Holy Ghost and Hallelujah – flora cash on Our Generation

Fix You – Thorin Loeks on Fix You – Single

Lost in Space – Emmit Fenn on Lost in Space – Single

How It Is – Majik on Under the Influence – EP

Let Me Swim – Yoste on Let Me Swim – Single

Real – Majik on NOON // 215

Fall Into Me (Acoustic) – Forest Blakk on Fall Into Me (Acoustic) – Single

Save Me – Majik on It’s Alright / Save Me – Single

Minimum – Charlie Cunningham on Lines

Friends – Yoste on Friends – Single

PARIGI RMX – Alfa, Slings & SHUNE on PARIGI RMX – Single

Lungs – Yoste on Lungs – Single

Crying As We Fall – Mark Diamond on Crying As We Fall – Single

Oxford – Yoste on Never The Same

Holy Ground – HAEVN on Holy Ground – Single

Coastline – Yoste on Never The Same

Figureskating, Neusiedlersee – SOHN on Figureskating, Neusiedlersee – Single

Auntie Diaries – Kendrick Lamar on Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

Underneath – Hayden Calnin on Something / Anything – EP

(This Is) The Thing – Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine on A Beginner’s Mind

Poets – Gallipoli on On Vodno – EP

Glass House – Henry Jamison on The Years

Hollow – Seafret on Hollow – Single

Mothercall – Hayden Calnin on Something / Anything – EP

Oceans – RY X & Ólafur Arnalds on Oceans – Single

Fire Burns You Cold – Isak Danielson on King of a Tragedy

Atom 6 – Sleeping At Last on Atom 6 – Single

I Don’t Wanna Talk (I Just Wanna Dance) – Glass Animals & Albert Hammond Jr. on I Don’t Wanna Talk (I Just Wanna Dance) – Single

Leywole – Falle Nioke & Ghost Culture on Badiare – EP

Friends (Under the Influence) – Majik on Paralysed / Friends (Under the Influence) – Single

Running Up That Hill (Dermot O’Leary Saturday Sessions) – Will Young on 20 Years: The Greatest Hits (Deluxe)

Bittersweet, TN (feat. Erin Rae) – Kevin Morby on This Is a Photograph

Where Does the Good Go – Luca Fogale on Where Does the Good Go – Single

Caves – REUNIØN on Caves – Single

Behind The Sun – ODESZA on The Last Goodbye

Violet – Yoste on Never The Same

Die Hard – Kendrick Lamar, Blxst & Amanda Reifer on Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

Mirror Me – Mansionair on Happiness, Guaranteed

It’s A Waste Man (feat. Aquilo) – Fyfe & Iskra Strings on It’s A Waste Man (feat. Aquilo) – Single

Modern Warfare – EDEN on Modern Warfare – Single

Egosystem – Fyfe & Iskra Strings on Interiority

Sausalito – Daniel Leggs on Sausalito – Single

Slowly – ODIE on Slowly – Single

Livin It Up (with Post Malone & A$AP Rocky) – Young Thug on Punk

Notion – Tash Sultana on Notion

Solo Mission – The Chainsmokers on So Far So Good (+ Time Bomb)1

All In Words – RY X on Blood Moon

Hallucinate – Fyfe & Iskra Strings on Interiority

Trade It for the Night – HAEVN on Trade It for the Night – Single

Too Serious – Internet Baby on Desert Daydream – EP

Sights – Attom on Sights – Single

Day ‘N’ Nite – Teflon Sega on Day ‘N’ Nite – Single

pirate song – mehro on Dark Corners – Single

thursday drive – ford. on The Color of Nothing (Reprise)

Amman – Emmit Fenn on Amman – Single

illicit affairs – Taylor Swift on folklore (deluxe version)

Charlie Brown – Rolipso on Charlie Brown – Single2

Last Time – Sickick on Last Time – Single

Kite in a Hurricane – HAEVN on Holy Ground – EP

Have A Little Faith In Me – SYML on Have A Little Faith In Me – Single

A Random Act of Kindness – Kevin Morby on This Is a Photograph

Dark Room Dancing – RY X on Blood Moon

Trouble – RY X on Blood Moon

My Skin – Hazlett on My Skin – Single

Crawl – RY X on Blood Moon

Pictures – Seafret on Pictures – Single

Welcome the Wind – HAEVN on Holy Ground – EP

Never Really Loved Me – Kygo & Dean Lewis on Lost Without You – Single

Getaway Car – Yoe Mase on Getaway Car – Single

FOOLS – Troye Sivan on WILD – EP3

Slingshot (feat. Chance Peña) – Zach Seabaugh on Slingshot – Single (feat. Chance Peña) – Single

Carolina (From The Motion Picture “Where The Crawdads Sing”) – Taylor Swift on Carolina (From The Motion Picture “Where The Crawdads Sing”) – Single

Dermot (See Yourself In My Eyes) – Fred again.. on Actual Life (April 14 – December 17 2020)4

Magic – Vancouver Sleep Clinic on Fallen Paradise

Rich Spirit – Kendrick Lamar on Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

Implode – Vancouver Sleep Clinic on Fallen Paradise

The Fall – The Chainsmokers & Ship Wrek on So Far So Good (+ Time Bomb)

Magic – Coldplay on Ghost Stories5

  1. The title of this one occasionally makes my brain jump to Major Tom.
  2. Discovered courtesy of my roommate’s Spotify algorithm. This came on in the car, and after a minute, he just said “yodelstep!”
  3. I’ve spent several months occasionally getting a single word of this stuck in my head. “Tanqueray”, even with the little melodic riff going on in it, isn’t enough for Shazam to figure out what song you mean.
  4. Putting this together I finally went “okay, yeah, it’s worth it” and added two entire albums of his music to my library. I absolutely love this track.
  5. This is what happens when you combine the cover of Charlie Brown with a song titled Magic earlier in the playlist.
Categories
Review

“Strong Towns”

Charles L. Marohn, Jr.

I’ve been hearing about this book off and on for a while now. Mostly by way of Merlin Mann’s podcasts, I suspect, as he’s been a proponent of some of the ideas of late.1 Honestly, I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t what I was expecting.

If I were to try to distill it down, I think the core argument of the book is that we need to stop optimizing for growth. Which largely makes sense — building a city budget around “if you build it, they will come” can look like it’s working, but infrastructure maintenance is expensive and tends not to be budgeted for all too well.2 What Marohn argues is that we should stop building new infrastructure, cut off the stuff that’s the worst bang-for-buck, and refocus on value-per-acre. Specifically, that city planners should be focusing on value-to-the-city-per-acre. And, again, it’s a solid argument: why should the city spend $10 million building roads and water and sewer and power lines to connect up a new Walmart when that Walmart will take 30 years to put $10 million of tax revenue back into the city’s coffers, and over those 30 years a bunch of that infrastructure will need to be (expensively) maintained or replaced?

If I sound skeptical, it’s the Keynesian economist in me. I rather suspect I’m going to have to read this book a second time and sit with it some more, though. Because, yes, Keynesian theory — I think the role of government is to not act like a business, to spend money that private industry won’t in order to solve problems that the economy doesn’t provide the incentive to solve.3 But then, maybe Marohn is right, and that’s only true at the state and national level, and that sort of responsibility doesn’t fall to cities? What’s the right level of government for interventions like that? I don’t know!

That whole debate aside, I think there’s some arguments he makes that don’t need that sort of alloying to be palatable. We totally should be lightening or even getting rid of zoning restrictions — when I was studying a broad in Vienna, one of the nicest things that was easy to not notice is that there was always a grocery store in walking distance. Going grocery shopping without needing to get in the car is the best, and any city regulation making it harder to achieve that state of being is bad and it should feel bad.

All in all, I… am a bit unclear on how I felt about the book. I don’t regret having read it, though, and I think at worst it’s a good way to start asking yourself some interesting questions. So, hey, check it out!4

  1. Relatedly, he was also the tipping point for me on buying an ebike, which I’ve been enjoying and slowly working into more ‘personal mobility’ use.
  2. Citation: gestures broadly
  3. And hey, while we’re on the topic, call your state and federal legislators and tell them to pass a carbon text.
  4. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.
Categories
Review

“Soonish”

Kelly Weinersmith and Zach Weinersmith

I’m really the exact target market for this book — I love the sort of ‘pop science’ stuff like this, examining some of the stuff currently happening in the lab and looking at what it could be useful for in the future. A nice plus to this book over the versions of that that you’ll find online, though, is that they’re willing to say “actually, no, that’s a cool concept but it just won’t work.”1

Honestly, I don’t have a ton to say about this book. It’s an easy read, comedic and informative, and I totally recommend it to any of my fellow “I wanna know about the Cool Science Stuff” people. Check it out.2

  1. Specific example: space-based solar power, which they pan for being so economically infeasible that it’ll probably never pan out. Personally I still somewhat disagree, but part of that is that I think they’ve missed an opportunity for getting two birds with one stone by parking the space-based solar panels in an orbit where they block some light from reaching the Earth. A one-two punch against climate change!
  2. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.
Categories
Review

“Open Borders”

Bryan Caplan and Zach Weinersmith

As a Certified Liberal, it was never going to be particularly hard to sell me on “we should loosen our immigration restrictions,” but I still think this book did a great job at selling me on it. It’s a very quick read—more of a highly-illustrated essay than what you’d think from the term “book”—and is well-organized around the topic idea.

Structurally, it reminds me of writing essays in school. A chapter of overview, a chapter of the primary argument for, and then a few chapters rebutting the arguments against your thesis, and then a final wrap-it-together with a call to action. And, hey, they teach essay structures like that because it’s effective!

I think my favorite line from the book comes from a discussion of keyhole policies.1

“How can immigration restrictions handle problem x?” is simply a bad question.

It makes far more sense to ask: “What’s the cheapest, most humane way to handle problem x?”

The final call to action is less a “let’s make open borders happen!” and more a “let’s start moving the Overton Window to make open borders happen!” So, by reading this post: thank you for your contribution. If you’re interested in furthering that goal, I recommend you check out the book, as I quite enjoyed it.2

  1. Keyhole policies are defined in the context of keyhole surgeries: instead of cutting the patient wide open, you make as small an incision as possible—a keyhole—in order to reduce collateral damage/side effects. Similarly, a keyhole policy is a narrowly-focused policy in place of a (possibly overly-) broad one.
  2. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.
Categories
Playlist

Playlist of the Month: June 2022

Apropos of… something, how about you go see how your senator feels about filibuster reform, and then give them a call and either say “thanks for thinking we should reform this!” or “we desperately need to fix this horrible broken system.”

How It Was – Yoste on A Few Brief Moments – EP

twentyfive – Yoste on twentyfive – Single

All Eyes On Me – Bo Burnham on Inside (The Songs)

Holy Ghost and Hallelujah – flora cash on Our Generation

Fix You – Thorin Loeks on Fix You – Single

Lost in Space – Emmit Fenn on Lost in Space – Single

How It Is – Majik on Under the Influence – EP

Let Me Swim – Yoste on Let Me Swim – Single

How To Save a Life (feat. Max Schneider) [Acoustic] – Tyler Ward on How To Save a Life (feat. Max Schneider) [Acoustic] – Single

Real – Majik on NOON // 215

Walk Me Home – Said The Sky, ILLENIUM & Chelsea Cutler on Sentiment

Howling – RY X on Dawn

Fall Into Me (Acoustic) – Forest Blakk on Fall Into Me (Acoustic) – Single

Save Me – Majik on It’s Alright / Save Me – Single

Minimum – Charlie Cunningham on Lines

Friends – Yoste on Friends – Single

Small Things – Declan J Donovan on Small Things – Single

2012 – Joey Purp on QUARTERTHING

iPad – The Chainsmokers on So Far So Good

PARIGI RMX – Alfa, Slings & SHUNE on PARIGI RMX – Single

lOnDn – EMBRZ on Don’t Look Back

Making Memories of Us – TORRES on Making Memories of Us / All Apologies – Single

Lungs – Yoste on Lungs – Single

Heartbeat – Childish Gambino on Camp

Purpose (feat. Ghostpoet) – Fyfe & Iskra Strings on Purpose (feat. Ghostpoet) – Single

For a Long Time – Star Pitchee on For a Long Time – Single

Set The Fire To The Third Bar – Snow Patrol on Eyes Open

City of Angels – Thirty Seconds to Mars on LOVE LUST FAITH + DREAMS

Sunrise – Childish Gambino on Camp

Paris (Acoustic) – Canyon City on Paris (Acoustic) – Single

Centre (The Fairmount Sessions) – Arliston on The Ground Might Disappear (The Fairmount Sessions) – EP

Crying As We Fall – Mark Diamond on Crying As We Fall – Single

Oxford – Yoste on Never The Same

Holy Ground – HAEVN on Holy Ground – Single

Coastline – Yoste on Never The Same

Figureskating, Neusiedlersee – SOHN on Figureskating, Neusiedlersee – Single

Auntie Diaries – Kendrick Lamar on Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

Destiny – Chloe Ament on Broken Bodies, Broken Hearts – EP

Underneath – Hayden Calnin on Something / Anything – EP

STAY (Apple Music Home Session) – KAWALA on Apple Music Home Session: KAWALA – Single

(This Is) The Thing – Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine on A Beginner’s Mind1

Love Me Again – Isak Danielson on King of a Tragedy

Tell Me, Before I Forget – Allegories on Endless

Give You Love – Forest Blakk on Give You Love – Single

GRACIAS POR NADA – Rauw Alejandro on TRAP CAKE, VOL. 2

Poets – Gallipoli on On Vodno – EP

Glass House – Henry Jamison on The Years

The Reason I Hate Home – Munn on The Reason I Hate Home – Single

Olympus – Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine on A Beginner’s Mind

Party – Bad Bunny & Rauw Alejandro on Un Verano Sin Ti

Hollow – Seafret on Hollow – Single

Mothercall – Hayden Calnin on Something / Anything – EP

Freeze – Kygo on Freeze – Single

Oceans – RY X & Ólafur Arnalds on Oceans – Single

Fire Burns You Cold – Isak Danielson on King of a Tragedy2

Atom 6 – Sleeping At Last on Atom 6 – Single

Sidelines – Phoebe Bridgers on Sidelines – Single

Dry Spell – JORDY on Dry Spell – Single

I Don’t Wanna Talk (I Just Wanna Dance) – Glass Animals & Albert Hammond Jr. on I Don’t Wanna Talk (I Just Wanna Dance) – Single

Leywole – Falle Nioke & Ghost Culture on Badiare – EP

Sailor – KAWALA on Better With You

Sunburn – Isaac Dunbar on Banish The Banshee

Friends (Under the Influence) – Majik on Paralysed / Friends (Under the Influence) – Single

Running Up That Hill (Dermot O’Leary Saturday Sessions) – Will Young on 20 Years: The Greatest Hits (Deluxe)

The Ground Might Disappear (The Fairmount Sessions) – Arliston on The Ground Might Disappear (The Fairmount Sessions) – EP

Ojitos Lindos – Bad Bunny & Bomba Estéreo on Un Verano Sin Ti

Mountaineer (The Fairmount Sessions) – Arliston on The Ground Might Disappear (The Fairmount Sessions) – EP

Fareal – Joey Purp & KAMI on You and the Money

Bittersweet, TN (feat. Erin Rae) – Kevin Morby on This Is a Photograph

Where Does the Good Go – Luca Fogale on Where Does the Good Go – Single

Caves – REUNIØN on Caves – Single

Yours – K E M A L on Yours – Single

Behind The Sun – ODESZA on The Last Goodbye

Violet – Yoste on Never The Same

Die Hard – Kendrick Lamar, Blxst & Amanda Reifer on Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers

Nazareno – Farruko on Nazareno – Single

Mirror Me – Mansionair on Happiness, Guaranteed

Is It Alright for You – Isak Danielson on King of a Tragedy

It’s A Waste Man (feat. Aquilo) – Fyfe & Iskra Strings on It’s A Waste Man (feat. Aquilo) – Single3

Modern Warfare – EDEN on Modern Warfare – Single4

Zeroes & Ones – Yoe Mase & Gavriel on Zeroes & Ones – Single

Lacrimae – Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine on A Beginner’s Mind

Arizona – Adam Turley on Arizona – Single

The Way Back Up (feat. Nick Acquroff) – Hayden Calnin on Something / Anything – EP

damn Right Pt. 2 – AUDREY NUNA & DJ Snake on damn Right Pt. 2 – Single

Hold Me Down – YOKE LORE on NOON // 187

Rush – Tomas Ferdinand on Lover, I’m Down for It. – EP

Slower – Addict., Rewind & Achex on Slower – Single

Bloodstream – Stateless on Bloodstream – EP

Egosystem – Fyfe & Iskra Strings on Interiority5

Sausalito – Daniel Leggs on Sausalito – Single

Him – Isak Danielson on King of a Tragedy

Chaotic (Acoustic) – Landon Austin on Chaotic (Acoustic) – Single

Slowly – ODIE on Slowly – Single

Livin It Up (with Post Malone & A$AP Rocky) – Young Thug on Punk

Notion – Tash Sultana on Notion

Solo Mission – The Chainsmokers on So Far So Good (+ Why Can’t You Wait)

All I Want – Kodaline on In A Perfect World

  1. Sufjan Stevens has a very specific musical vibe, and a very specific album art vibe, and they are not the same vibe.
  2. I should start tuning into the lyrics, I really think Danielson is just out here writing and performing entire musical theatre productions.
  3. Absolutely love both Aquilo and Fyfe & Iskra Strings, so this is a great collaboration.
  4. I’d forgotten how much I like EDEN; this sounds new and also absolutely like EDEN.
  5. Really reminds me of Steve Reich, at least the opening.
Categories
Review

“The King’s Man”

Evidently, I do movie reviews now? I suppose it’s somewhat in keeping with all the book reviews I’ve been doing, but as it’s a new thing I still feel the need to point out: I am not a professional reviewer, I just don’t want to make an account on… whatever website it is that people use to do movie reviews.

After having it in my queue for a while, I finally got around to watching The King’s Man. I absolutely love Kingsman, and while there’s still a good deal to enjoy in the sequel, it was nowhere near as good as the original. I was hoping the prequel, then, would be as good as the original. Sadly, it wasn’t.

Quite frankly, The King’s Man is bad. Not terrible, but absolutely not good. It’s campy, but I can’t tell if it’s campy in the “this will be a cult classic in a decade” way or just campy in the “we’re all going to forget about this” sense. Too early to tell on that regard.

The plot makes absolutely no sense. And, yes, I realize that I’m saying this about a prequel to a film that had “a SIM card makes you murder people” as the core of the plot, but at least that just required some hand-wavey science fiction. That’s the problem with trying to do a prequel—we know how history went. If you haven’t sat down and called it Alternate History as a genre, then when you start breaking the timeline, it gets really hard to suspend that disbelief.

Like Deadpool 2, it feels like they came up with a couple key scenes they wanted to have in the movie, and then had to figure out a way to string them together with some semblance of a plot. As a result, though, here I am, a day later, still trying to come up with a sensible explanation for why any of the Bad Guys were listening to the Big Bad. He’s just… some guy? Like, sure, I can believe some guy with a hatch to grind could pull together a few well-connected people with grievances to start this evil plot, but Rasputin just doesn’t fit. What’s Rasputin’s motivation for listening to you, dude? He’s the de-facto ruler of Russia, he’s got all the food, drink, drugs, sex, and power a man could want; why would he show up to your drafty Evil Meeting Place in the middle of nowhere together threatened by you into messing with his good thing he’s got going?1

That said, I still enjoyed watching it. I’m glad I missed it in the theater because the best way to watch this is somewhere that you can pause it to laugh in disbelief with your friends. It’s got some solid action scenes, and the cast is fun and does a good job of it all. The pacing is all over the place, the plot makes no sense, and there’s a serious change of tone for a bit in the middle, but so long as you don’t go in expecting something that’s gonna win awards, you’ll have a good time.2

  1. And, speaking of that drafty Evil Meeting Place: this movie is set prior to the invention of the jet plane. How, exactly, is Rasputin making it from Moscow to your undisclosed location on the other side of Europe for these meetings without it being commented on?
  2. The bit in the middle is probably even more effective if you haven’t seen Kingsman, or you have the kind of brain that doesn’t latch on to world building details like mine does. For me, it was predictable, and the tension was in wondering when that Canonical Event was going to happen; I suspect that scene feels very different if you go in without that foreknowledge.
Categories
Review

“Sandstorm”

James Rollins

I, for whatever reason, grew up reading Clive Cussler. My favorite was always The Oregon Files, because I’m a sucker for the high tech kinds of things, and a ship with sci-fi engines and a bunch of hidden weaponry worked quite well for my teenage aesthetic.

These days, though, I don’t ever read much Cussler; thanks to his “get someone else to write a book, stamp his name on it for the Brand Recognition” methodology, there’s a great deal of them that I’ve never read. But, between the aforementioned mass-production, and the same plotline getting reused in every book, they just can’t hold my interest. They’re airplane reading—the kind of thing I’ll go for when I’m gonna be mildly oxygen-deprived.

The rest of the time, though, I’m good working through big pile o’ backlogged books. And, when I’ve got the hankering for that Cussler-esque adventure novel, I go for James Rollins.

And that’s the best way I can think of to explain what Rollins’ writing feels like. He’s the upmarket Clive Cussler; there’s fewer of the books, but each one feels like a lot more care went into writing it. Plus, his treatment of female characters, while not perfect, feels a lot better than Cussler tends to manage. They exist to be more than a motivation for the male protagonist; in fact, I’d argue that the male protagonist in “Sandstorm” is a supporting character, as just about everything driving the plot is either Safia’s doing or Cassandra’s. Palmer is largely just along for the ride, which in a way gives it a bit of a “space opera” feel.

That’s my review, then: if you want an action-adventure novel, James Rollins is a solid bet. And hey, may as well start with “Sandstorm”, since it’s how he kicked off his Sigma series.1

  1. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.
Categories
Playlist

Playlist of the Month: May 2022

I have no idea when the seasons officially happen, but I do know that it definitely feels like spring now!

How It Was – Yoste on A Few Brief Moments – EP

twentyfive – Yoste on twentyfive – Single

Oh Dear, Oh Beaux – beaux on A Love Letter To the Moments Spent Outside

All Eyes On Me – Bo Burnham on Inside (The Songs)

Holy Ghost and Hallelujah – flora cash on Our Generation

Fix You – Thorin Loeks on Fix You – Single

Lost in Space – Emmit Fenn on Lost in Space – Single

How It Is – Majik on Under the Influence – EP

If I Die – Ed Prosek on If I Die – Single

Let Me Swim – Yoste on Let Me Swim – Single

How To Save a Life (feat. Max Schneider) [Acoustic] – Tyler Ward on How To Save a Life (feat. Max Schneider) [Acoustic] – Single

Real – Majik on NOON // 215

You (feat. Tusks) – Axel Flóvent on You (feat. Tusks) – Single

Walk Me Home – Said The Sky, ILLENIUM & Chelsea Cutler on Sentiment

Show Me Where I Belong – Extreme Music on Dream Folk

Howling – RY X on Dawn

Fall Into Me (Acoustic) – Forest Blakk on Fall Into Me (Acoustic) – Single

Save Me – Majik on It’s Alright / Save Me – Single

Good Like This – KAWALA on Better With You

Hurt – Johnny Cash on Unearthed (Box Set)

Echoes (Apple Music Home Session) – KAWALA on Apple Music Home Session: KAWALA – Single

I’m Gone – Charles Fauna on Renewal

Where’s the Catch? (feat. André 3000) – James Blake on Assume Form

Minimum – Charlie Cunningham on Lines

Catwalk – Emmit Fenn on Catwalk – Single

Friends – Yoste on Friends – Single

Dumb – Emmit Fenn on The Last Dance, Pt. 2

Small Things – Declan J Donovan on Small Things – Single

2012 – Joey Purp on QUARTERTHING

iPad – The Chainsmokers on So Far So Good

PARIGI RMX – Alfa, Slings & SHUNE on PARIGI RMX – Single

Liquorice – Tomas Ferdinand on Liquorice – Single

lOnDn – EMBRZ on Don’t Look Back

Tainted Love – Isaac Dunbar on Tainted Love – Single

Why Does It Hurt – Will Young on Why Does It Hurt – Single

Making Memories of Us – TORRES on Making Memories of Us / All Apologies – Single

Deep Dive – Forester on Watercolor

June – King Henry on June – Single

Lungs – Yoste on Lungs – Single

Heartbeat – Childish Gambino on Camp

Cambria – Forester on Watercolor

A New Kind of Love (Demo) – Guy Sigsworth, Imogen Heap & Frou Frou on A New Kind of Love (Demo) – Single

get away (feat. Rewind) – Addict., Aliss & Hue on get away (feat. Rewind) – Single

Crazy Like Me – Emmit Fenn on Crazy Like Me – Single

dntstartwme. – Knxwledge. on HX​.​PRT14​.​8

BAG BOY (feat. DexLVL) – Joey Purp & KAMI on BAG BOY (feat. DexLVL) – Single

Purpose (feat. Ghostpoet) – Fyfe & Iskra Strings on Purpose (feat. Ghostpoet) – Single

Petrichor – Mark Diamond on Petrichor – Single

Asleep – Sleeping At Last on Asleep – Single

Hold You Down – Childish Gambino on Camp1

Les – Childish Gambino on Camp

Beyond My Reach – sød ven on Beyond My Reach – EP

New Ambition – DJ Taz Rashid on Illuminate

Fire Fly – Childish Gambino on Camp

Letter Home – Childish Gambino on Camp

Ingenue (Acoustic) – Jane. on Ingenue (Acoustic) – Single

MUSEO – Rauw Alejandro on TRAP CAKE, VOL. 2

All Apologies – TORRES on Making Memories of Us / All Apologies – Single

Lovely – Bleedingxheart on Lovely – Single

For a Long Time – Star Pitchee on For a Long Time – Single2

Set The Fire To The Third Bar – Snow Patrol on Eyes Open

City of Angels – Thirty Seconds to Mars on LOVE LUST FAITH + DREAMS3

Sunrise – Childish Gambino on Camp

Paris (Acoustic) – Canyon City on Paris (Acoustic) – Single

Centre (The Fairmount Sessions) – Arliston on The Ground Might Disappear (The Fairmount Sessions) – EP

heartisahouse. – Knxwledge. on HX​.​PRT14​.​8

Crying As We Fall – Mark Diamond on Crying As We Fall – Single

Oxford – Yoste on Never The Same

Holy Ground – HAEVN on Holy Ground – Single

Coastline – Yoste on Never The Same4

Figureskating, Neusiedlersee – SOHN on Figureskating, Neusiedlersee – Single

Take My Breath Away – Duncan Laurence on Take My Breath Away – Single

Auntie Diaries – Kendrick Lamar on Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers5

Antidote – j. pastel on Waiting Days: B-sides – EP

Destiny – Chloe Ament on Broken Bodies, Broken Hearts – EP

It Was You – Said The Sky & We the Kings on Sentiment

Forgotten You – Said The Sky & Olivver the Kid on Sentiment

Underneath – Hayden Calnin on Something / Anything – EP

  1. I know, I know, I’m very late to this album, but as it turns out, it’s still very good!
  2. Whilst thoroughly explicit, I still love this – the backing vocals are just beautiful and haunting, and it all comes together so, so well.
  3. Having just moved from the suburbs into the actual city, this song felt strangely appropriate. (Ignoring that the city I moved to definitely isn’t ‘the land of a billion lights.’)
  4. Absolutely loving this whole album. Yoste is starting to fill the hole in my heart left by Majik disappearing.
  5. “To truly understand love, switch positions”