• Finished reading: Translation State by Ann Leckie 📚

    This one lagged a bit in the middle, but wound up regaining its momentum and more in the latter third. If you’ve ever wondered just what the Presger are, this book will leave you with tantalizing possibilities, all while being an exploration about what it means to belong when you’ve been an outsider all your life. Bonus points for trans and queer inclusive language and themes handled deftly and naturally! 🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️

  • Currently reading: We Won’t Be Here Tomorrow by Margaret Killjoy 📚

    I loved Killjoy’s other books. I’ve excited to finally get to this collection!

  • Sword swallowing and its side effects

    In case you, like me, have always wanted to be a sword swallower. Here’s to the crazy ones, the sword swallowers! 🤹🗡️

  • The beliefs in market efficiency and the idea that well-being can be measured in money have become second nature to much of the economics profession. Yet it does not have to be this way. Economists working in Britain–Amartya Sen, James Mirrlees, and Anthony Atkinson–pursued a broader program, worrying about poverty and inequality and considering health as a key component of well-being. Sen argues that a key misstep was made not by Friedman but by Hayek’s colleague Lionel Robbins, whose definition of economics as the study of allocating scarce resources among competing ends narrowed the subject compared with what philosopher Hilary Putnam calls the “reasoned and humane evaluation of social wellbeing that Adam Smith saw as essential to the task of the economist.” And it was not just Smith, but his successors, too, who were philosophers as well as economists.

    How Misreading Adam Smith Helped Spawn Deaths of Despair - Boston Review

    In other words, when you hold one virtue above all others, you twist it into a vice, and hurt the project you esteem.

  • Finished reading: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer 📚

    Finally finished. It would have been much, much better if Foer not indulged in his cleverness, or at least made the different styles connect instead of virtually epiphenominal. It felt like reading a book that impresses the literati, rather than being immersed inside a grieving, motivated boy.

  • Currently reading: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer 📚

    I’ll be glad when I finally finish this book. Less than 50 pages to go, but it feels like 500. Foer writes like someone who blinded their editors with something other than literary skill, and everyone finds them too charming to put a stop to it.

  • Currently reading: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer 📚

    I’m picking this up again where I left off. I’d like to see if it holds my interest now that some time has passed. If not, we’ll, at least I’d have given it my best.

  • Ashil to Borlú, about how vital the mental gymnastics are to living in The City:

    “Nowhere else works like the cities”, he said. “It’s not just us keeping them apart. It’s everyone in Besźel and everyone in Ul Qoma. Every minute, every day. We’re only the last ditch: it’s everyone in the cities who does most of the work. It works because you don’t blink. That’s why unseeing and I sensing are so vital. No one can admit it doesn’t work. So if you don’t admit it, it does. But if you breach, even if it’s not your fault, for more than the shortest time… you can’t come back from that.”

    He’s talking about people in the cities not acknowledging each other though they literally walk past each other, but it could just as easily be about any systemic structure set up to maintain an artificial boundary. Racism, sexism, classism, religious differences, homelessness: wherever there is a dividing line that depends on both sides not acknowledging the other, learning to see the differences so that you do not see them. Once you stop unseeing the differences, once you perceive reality, you can’t go back. The genius of Miéville’s setup is those who grow up in it automatically give cover to the boundary keepers who do unsee by not seeing them. And if the citizen does unsee, they are given a choice: unspeakable disappearance, or remain and become complicit in its structure. It’s not hard to see examples in reality, of those boundary crossers who disappear or become the enforcers, for various reasons.

    This is a truly spectacular book that gives voice to a difficult to perceive and talk about subject, merely by explicating and showing in relief how it works in an extraordinary setting.

  • Finished reading: The City & The City by China Miéville 📚

    Wow, this was good. Imagine if Borges and the team behind Black Mirror decided to write a noir detective thriller. I have a feeling the concept and images of this city and this city will stay with me for a while.

  • Sometimes, self care is expensive.

    I had a beautiful day reading over tea, sharing lunch with a dear friend, and enjoying a pleasant nap. Despite this, my brain has decided I need to be punished with negative self-talk and obsessing over failures that happened years ago.

    My demons have home advantage here. I don’t have to give them that.

    I am about to drive to Middletown, treat myself to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, and then enjoy a local band another friend raved about have their first gig as an opening act. If I should finish my book at the restaurant, I have another book I can start in my bag.

    Expensive? Sure, but think of it as choosing to fight your demons at advantage. If they want to bring me down, they’ll have to chase me.

  • Keegan McNamara is building bespoke artisanal wooden computers, the way luthiers build musical instruments. Absolutely beautiful! 💻

  • I’m behind on what I want to blog about because I was finishing Star Trek: Lower Decks. Despite my initial feel, the series grew on me, and season 3 hit all the right spots. But now that it’s finished, I have a bit of posting to catch up on tonight and tomorrow!

  • I realize I’m tempting fate by saying this in August, but…

    I’m so glad it’s sweater in the morning weather!

  • This London Bookstore Let’s You Try The Recipes Before You Buy

    It’s more than “try before you buy”, it’s a whole experience for 8 pounds. And Eric Treuille knows what he’s doing! 🥘📚

  • I think I know how I’d shoot the movie version of The City & The City. I don’t want to ruin it for those who haven’t read it, because immersing yourself in this city is a huge part of the book’s fun. If anyone else has read this book, though, I’d be curious how you’d shoot the film version! 📚📽️

  • Mandy Brown’s reading note about Caliban and the Witch, on changing attitudes towards work during the Black Death:

    The layoffs, the strikes, the return-to-office plans, the renewed efforts to police women’s bodies–all are of a piece with capital’s response to a pandemic, whether that pandemic started centuries ago or this decade. Maybe history will repeat itself. But we have an advantage our predecessors did not: we have their history to learn from.

    We have their history to learn from, not just in how we act, but also in what reactions we can expect. We should listen well.

  • This made me laugh out loud in a busy restaurant:

    “What Mahalia was doing was trying to decide what the title of her project called ‘A Hermeneutics of Identity’ from the layouts of gears and so on.”

    “I’m not sure I understand.”

    “Then she did a good job. The aim of a PhD’s to ensure that no one, including your advisor, understands what you’re doing after the first couple of years.”

    ( From The City & The City, pg. 89.) 📚

  • Taken earlier on my morning walk to a local bakery.

  • Did some difficult but necessary things today for my well being - put in for fully remote work, and pushed hard for a change in my ADHD meds. I’m exhausted, but the good kind of exhausted.

  • Review of _The Rise and Reign of the Mammals_ by Steve Brusatte

    This book wins for one of my top three books of the year. I’d read his previous book, The Rise and Reign of the Dinosaurs, a year ago and could not put it down. Mammals brought me the same level of joy.

    The overarching themes of this book are: the success of mammals was never assured and in fact was precarious at best; the evolutionary changes that differentiated mammals weren’t the cause of their success, instead it was their ability to quickly adapt to and exploit niches while other groups grew and dominated; the environment and plant evolution played an outside role in mammalian evolution; and the evolution of mammals wasn’t a straight line of ascension but instead a tangled hedgerow of evolutionary development amongst different groups and types of mammals, any one of which could have succeeded instead of the dominant forms we see today.

    One of Brusatte’s writing talents is in making obscure details seem wonderous and vitally important, and placing them in a context an enthusiast can follow along. You wouldn’t think pages and pages of minutae about orthodontia could be fascinating, but he makes it so, with such skill that I found myself anticipating developments before he laid them out. I also had no idea the ancestor of primates, the mammal that began to develop bone traits that all mammals share, evolved after the KT impact that ended the dinosaurs and possibly just before it! I’m a very enthusiastic lover of dinosaurs and ancient life since childhood, so take that assessment as you wish, but I can confidently say Brusatte’s writing chops will hook any lay science reader.

    That links to two of Brusatte’s other writing talents: his joy and inclusivity. Brusatte’s writes about the other paleontologists and scientists he met and studied under, and his own boyhood as a paleontology nerd leading to a PhD and teaching position in Edinburgh, but the book doesn’t center his story. He writes generously and effusively about the other scientists involved and their accomplishments, with well chosen anecdotes that flesh them out as real people. People across time periods, genders, nationalities, and other backgrounds and facets are woven into this story of mammals and the discoveries about them, and Brusatte is their scientist hype man. It’s the kind of attitude and voice that I wish more people had, and which inspires me in my own writing.

    Overall, top marks, 5 out of 5 stars. This is scientific writing for the lay person at its best. 📚🦖🐘

  • Finished reading: The Rise and Reign of the Mammals by Steve Brusatte 📚

  • Currently reading: The Rise and Reign of the Mammals by Steve Brusatte

    I had no idea primates were so old - our most primitive cousins date to just after the KT extinction event, or possibly just before! 📚

  • Be a good date - Austin Kleon

    Some fantastic advice for many kinds of creating, including blogging. I can always count on Austin to give an encouraging stoke to the fires of creativity. I’m sure if you read his thoughts, you’ll find the same.

  • I finished Strange New Worlds Season 2 last night. I think every episode brought me joy, even the heartbreaking ones, and especially the musical! SNW may be challenging TNG for my 2nd favorite Trek series (DS9 being the favorite).

  • Is this a good book for me, now?

    I used to believe that every book has an objective value. And I used to believe that this value is fixed and universal.

    Now, I believe it’s much more useful to say something in this form: this book has this value to this person in this context.

    A way of approaching books that’s humane and context dependent. 📚

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