there are lots of ways to ingest content
Yeah, I get it. That’s the kind of thing that, at this point, implies that if your reaction to injustice isn’t some kind of personal fear or sadness, it’s not a valid thing. Or that, your reaction to bigotry is viewed through some weak, involuntary offense of your sensibilities. Like all bigotry, it’s interesting (not that interesting) how there’s an implied sense of, like, Victorian femininity being implicitly denigrated with this shit as well, as if being able to power through the “offense” of racism is somehow a desirable, masculine trait. Fuck.
I mean, you’re not cringing because you think you look not racist.
What do you think about it? Doesn’t it feel like that didn’t do anything to make white people any less powerful or human?
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More Cluster Fudge Here
I had to stop the experiment for a bit because I wasn't getting much reading done while finishing up a project. But, I'm back on track, and I'm going to try to run weekly book reviews from here on out.
For transparency: If you click the links below, for the next 24 hours, if you buy something on amazon, SMBC gets a small payment. So, basically, if one of the books below looks tempting, we'd appreciate if you clicked the link before buying.
This is a new thing we're doing, so if you have any thoughts on how it can be improved, please let us know.
A quick bit of history and science on the topic of bringing humans back from the brink of death. It’s a quick read, with a lot of dorky humor injected. It’s not bad, and there are a lot of neat stories and weird science, but it kind of felt like it was Not Quite Mary Roach. Still, fun if you’re interested in the topic.
An INSANE memoir about Browder’s life in high finance, going on adventures making crazy deals as the Soviet Union collapses and breaks apart. Making deals required him to go to strange places and repeatedly risk being assassinated. He sounds like he’s totally nuts, but it’s a hell of a story.
An interesting book. It starts with the economic observation that efficiency (which theoretically is good for the environment) often leads to increased consumption (which is probably bad for the environment). Owen suggests that if efficiency tends to lead us to consume more, the only way to save the environment is to reduce our lifestyles.
I don’t buy everything he’s saying, but I think it’s a very interesting argument that’s worth confronting.
A great novel about a group of Confederate soldiers, written with a lot of realism and depth. An interesting feature of this book is that it’s stylistically very 19th century, but it yet contains the violence and sex that tend to be elided in actual books from that period.
This was a pretty excellent book. It’s a sort of combination of a memoir of Rosa Brooks’ time in the Pentagon, along with the history and psychology of how (according to her) our relationship to war has changed for the worse in recent times.
A good historiography of poor whites in the history of the United States, and how they tend to be viewed by cultural elites. I felt like it got a bit less compelling as we got to modern times, but maybe that’s just because I’m more familiar with life now than life 300 years ago.
Like a lot of these early Philip K Dick novels, I feel like it’s a cool idea and a well-developed world, but the execution is really hokey.
The plot is about a bunch of people who get zapped by a high energy beam, who then somehow start serially inhabiting each other’s consciousnesses. Each such universe contains the strange biases of its consciousness. It’s fun, but it’s really just 1950s pulp stuff, despite the clever premise.
A fun little book on how interesting ideas often come from what Harford refers to as “messy” situations, in the broad sense of (supposedly) non-ideal creative environments. It contains a lot of fun stories ranging from musicians to scientists.
Verdict: This book is written by an author I have met personally, and I’ve decided my policy on such reviews is that I won’t list a number verdict.
A dystopia story about a sort of puritanical world, only the puritanical culture stems from something like suburban American cultural norms circa 1950. It’s all right. Dick has so many stories about controlling prudish middle-aged women that I’m starting to wonder if the character isn’t based on someone real.
Now this is something interesting! It’s Philip K Dick, but not science fiction, and it wasn’t published until after his death. Early on in his career, Dick wrote literary fiction, and I would say this is the best one I’ve read so far. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good. It’s a story about two couples - one very young and accidentally pregnant, and one divorced because they were unable to conceive. The dynamics are really interesting, but it lacks the subtlety and depth that Dick would later develop. I found myself wishing he had come back to this novel later in life.
A very enjoyable and in depth history of the last six years of the USSR. The only part that was slightly odd was that now and then he seemed to really fanboy over Ronald Reagan. I certainly don’t mind reading history books from people with political views (because the alternative doesn’t exist), but it felt out of place in such a long meticulous work of history. Still, quite good!
For her 2000 book Obituaries in American Culture, Janice Hume collated thousands of newspaper death notices to reveal the most admired characteristics of American men in various eras:
1818: Patriotism, gallantry, vigilance, boldness, merit as an officer
1838: Benevolence, intellect, kindness, affection, indulgence, devotion to family
1855: Public esteem, activity, amiability, fame, intelligence, generosity
1870: Christianity, education, generosity, energy, perseverance, eminence
1910: Professional accomplishments, wealth, long years at work, associations, education
1930: Long years at work, career promotions, education, associations, prominence, fame
In general, men who died in the 19th century were remembered for personal virtues such as piety and kindness, while 20th-century obituaries listed associations and accomplishments. Women, when they were remembered at all in 1818, were praised for passive traits such as patience, resignation, obedience, and amiability; by 1930 women were becoming recognized for accomplishments such as political voice and philanthrophy, but their most noted attribute was still their association with men.
In Through the Looking-Glass, John Tenniel’s two illustrations above are designed to fall on opposite sides of a single page. In this way the page itself becomes the looking-glass — Alice enters one side and emerges from the other, where all the details are reversed, including Tenniel’s signature and initials.
“Tenniel this time clearly draws the borderline between the world of dreams and reality,” writes Isabelle Nières. The dream occupies the center of the physical book. “Yet not all perceived that Alice’s return was not a symmetrical one, i.e. back through the mirror, but is symbolized by an almost perfect superimposition of the Red Queen on the kitten.”
(Isabelle Nières, “Tenniel: The Logic Behind His Interpretation of the Alice Books,” in Rachel Fordyce and Carla Marello, eds., Semiotics and Linguistics in Alice’s Worlds, 1994.)
Yeah, nothing like “tasteful” racism.
Not even joking - I had to upload this comic from my garage because we thought we had a carbon monoxide leak. So, while I was onlining things, there were actual firemen in my home.
Leo Rosten once received this note from Groucho Marx:
Dear Junior: Please excuse me for not answering your letter sooner. But I have been so busy not answering letters lately that I have not been able to get around to not answering yours in time. Love, Groucho.
The blinking light atop the Capitol Records tower spells out the word HOLLYWOOD in Morse code.
It’s done so ever since the building opened in 1956.