Skip to main content

Quick capsule reviews

I've been plowing through books on my kindle and on paper, so the backlog of ones I wanted to mention is getting insurmountable.  Here's some short takes on them anyway.

1) Mother Tongue, by Bill Bryson.  An amusing and surprising pop history of the world's most important language.  Highly recommended.

2) Losing Mum and Pup, by Christopher Buckley.  Poignant and surprisingly hilarious.  I miss WFB, the old scoundrel.  Highly recommended.

3) Blackwater, by Jeremy Scahill.  The subject is important and the research exhaustive, but the preening moralizing is irritating.  Mildly recommended.

4) The Years of Rice and Salt, by Kim Stanley Robinson.  Insanely ambitious yet rather whimsical, for Robinson anyway.  Fun for nerds.  Recommended.

5) Mother Night, by Kurt Vonnegut.  One of the last Vonneguts I hadn't read, and among his best.  Highly recommended.

6) Free Culture, by Lawrence Lessig.  If you think copyright law is boring, think again.  Chapters 13-14 are about the most disturbing thing I've read all year.  Highly recommended.

7) The History of Western Philosophy, by Bertrand Russell.  By far the best philosophical overview I've read, mainly because Russell doesn't pull his punches.  If he thinks someone is full of crap, then by God he'll say so.  Probably egregiously unfair in parts, but that's part of the charm.  Recommended.

8) Exploration of the Colorado River of the West and Its Tributaries, by John Wesley Powell.  Still probably the best book about running the Grand Canyon.  Highly recommended.

9) The Silmarillion, by Tolkien.  Finished it for the second time awhile back.  I loved it, but non LOTR geeks probably wouldn't.  Recommended anyway.

10) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey.  Definitely a product of its time, but beautiful and moving nonetheless.  Very highly recommended.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why Did Reality Winner Leak to the Intercept?

So Reality Winner, former NSA contractor, is in federal prison for leaking classified information — for five years and three months, the longest sentence of any whistleblower in history. She gave documents on how Russia had attempted to hack vendors of election machinery and software to The Intercept , which completely bungled basic security procedures (according to a recent New York Times piece from Ben Smith, the main fault lay with Matthew Cole and Richard Esposito ), leading to her capture within hours. Winner recently contracted COVID-19 in prison, and is reportedly suffering some lingering aftereffects. Glenn Greenwald has been furiously denying that he had anything at all to do with the Winner clusterfuck, and I recently got in an argument with him about it on Twitter. I read a New York story about Winner, which clearly implies that she was listening to the Intercepted podcast of March 22, 2017 , where Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill expressed skepticism about Russia actually b

On Refusing to Vote for Bloomberg

Billionaire Mike Bloomberg is attempting to buy the Democratic nomination. With something like $400 million in personal spending so far, that much is clear — and it appears to be working at least somewhat well, as he is nearing second place in national polls. I would guess that he will quickly into diminishing returns, but on the other hand spending on this level is totally unprecedented. At this burn rate he could easily spend more than the entire 2016 presidential election cost both parties before the primary is over. I published a piece today outlining why I would not vote for Bloomberg against Trump (I would vote for Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, or Biden), even though I live in a swing state. This got a lot of "vote blue no matter who" people riled up . They scolded me and demanded that I pre-commit to voting for Bloomberg should he win the nomination. The argument as I understand it is to try to make it as likely as possible that whatever Democrat wins t

Varanus albigularis albigularis

That is the Latin name for the white-throated monitor lizard , a large reptile native to southern Africa that can grow up to two meters long (see pictures of one at the Oakland Zoo here ). In Setswana, it's called a "gopane." I saw one of these in my village yesterday on the way back from my run. Some kids from school found it in the riverbed and tortured it to death, stabbing out its eyes, cutting off its tail, and gutting it which finally killed it. It seemed to be a female as there were a bunch of round white things I can only imagine were eggs amongst the guts. I only arrived after it was already dead, but they described what had happened with much hilarity and re-enactment. When I asked why they killed it, they said it was because it would eat their chickens and eggs, which is probably true, and because it sucks blood from people, which is completely ridiculous. It might bite a person, but not unless threatened. It seems roughly the same as killing wolves tha