What Have You Been Reading? Listening To? Watching?

Post your recommendations here.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

I've been much enjoying David Black's Harry Gilmour novels, about a young British submariner during World War II. It's not my usual genre (I tend to read science fiction and fantasy), but it's very nicely done.

I also recently finished Martha Wells' latest in the Murderbot Diaries series of novels and novellas. The titular hero is a cyborg security unit in a far future; the books are fresh, fun, and engaging, and Wells is good at creating nonhuman but emotionally engaging characters (as in her Books of the Raksura series).

I'm rewatching the iZombie series with my wife (who hadn't seen it before), and it's as good the second time around. The short plot summary is: Young doctor turns zombie, gets a job at a morgue for obvious reasons, finds that eating a brain temporarily gives her some of the dead person's memories and character traits, uses this to help a police officer solve murders. But what makes it work is the engaging set of characters (see if you can guess my favorite), coupled with the five-season story arc; let's just say that a lot changes over those five seasons.

I haven't been listening to much music recently, and the new items on my playlist are Russian songs by DDT (the one about the wreck of the Kursk, plus three about war: Умирали пацаны, Господь нас уважает, and Война бывает детская; Russian singer-songwriters, at least back to Bulat Okudzhava, have written much more really good material about war than I've heard in English). I realize that this isn't much use to most of our readers.

Please feel free, though, to post your recommendations in any genre and medium. I think it's more fun, and less likely to lead to repetition if I post this query again, if you focus on what you've been reading, watching, or listening to recently; but don't feel tied down to that if you're going through a dry spell.

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  1. I’ve been reading Tristram Shandy, listening to Bleak House (the Sean Barrett/Teresa Gallagher recording), and watching Doc Martin. Hard to get better than that!

    1. Tristram Shandy!

      1. One of my favorite books! This is my third time through it.

  2. I’ve been reading Mick Herron’s “Slough House” series, about a set of failed spies (the “slow horses”) in London. It’s hard to describe fully: spy novels, satirical and darkly comic, very well written. Warning: the series has to be read in sequence, as even main characters are killed off from time to time.

    Here is a review in The Atlantic on the latest instalment, which I’ve just finished: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/10/broken-spies-for-a-broken-england/596650/

    1. I’ve read them & they’re pretty good : A group of spy’s thrown together as oddball misfits. He did a stand-alone called “Nobody Walks” which is also worth ready..

    2. Great recommendation, thanks. Almost done the first book-he’s got a great ear for a sentence.

  3. Perhaps off topic, but Wreck of the Kursk is a larger issue that the world is going to have to deal with — likely in our lifetimes.

    She was recovered but there are the two nuke subs we lost, I believe the Soviets lost an additional five, one of which (K-129) we may or may not have recovered.

    Sooner or later, these boats are going to rust out and whatever is containing the radioactive materials is going to deteriorate and while it’s not going to go “bang” (there are serious questions about if a 40–year-old warhead actually *could* detonate under ideal conditions) there is a lot of radioactive stuff released into the ocean.

    Yes, the oceans are big — but not as big as some might think.

    1. Eh, they’re not infinite, that’s true. But the oceans are estimated to hold about four BILLION tons, and I don’t mean those puny English “billions”, either, of dissolved Uranium.

      The radioactive isotope content of those boats is a small drop in a very big pond indeed.

    2. A 40 year old thermonuclear device could not detonate – at least not high-order. The very best that could be achieved would be a fizzle… But the triggers for the nuclear lenses would have deteriorated in seawater…the batteries too. The tritium has a half-life of 12 years, so 4 half-lives or more past and there isn’t enough to do the job..

      As far as the reactors, they are already on the bottom of the ocean, in very, very deep water, and covered with silt. At some point (another 100 years? More?) the sea water will start to seep in.

      But, the experience off the Farallon Islands, where radioactive waste from post WWII test shots were dumped, shows no impact on the biosphere.

    3. Meh.

      Sea water contains 3 parts per billion Uranium. There’s currently over 4 billion tons of uranium in the ocean water. Another 400 kilograms won’t make a big difference.

    4. Bomb tests in the 40s and 50s and 60s released for more radioactivity into the oceans than a few subs.

    5. K-129 was a Golf II diesel-electric submarine that sank in 1968. In 1968 also sank the French Minerve, and the Israeli INS Dakar, under more or less mysterious circumstances. Only Scorpion, of the boats sunk in 1968, was SSN.

      Both American nuclear submarine sinking sites are regularly monitored and neither has been reported to have elevated radioactive contamination levels. Not that there are any corrective actions to be taken if they to.

      The Soviet / Russian record is not so good, as they practiced seabed disposal of nuclear waste. See Bellona Project .nl.

      Thank you for remembering. The fifty year old compact of silence must be broken. January 1968 was also the final Firefall in Yosemite NP. So passes the glories of the world.

      USN SS ‘69 – ‘75

  4. I read Volokh, Althouse, Reynolds, and of late, Taibbi.

    And on special occasions, Clarence Thomas.

    1. Does Taibbi only post at Substack? I also read Rod Dreher at The American Conservative but his Christianity is a little overwhelming with the Jesus and the resurrection and the yadda yadda…

  5. Conceived in Liberty by Murray Rothbard

    1. Is that his four part colonial America history? It fascinated me. So many times, those in power corrupted themselves, got thrown out, replaced by the wannabes, and the cycle repeated … meanwhile most of the populations just wanted to get on with their lives. It was amazing how many times the ins and outs swapped power and everybody else just kept on with their lives.

  6. I just finished an interesting book titled The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm. It’s a short read; only about 100 pages. For those unfamiliar with the Jeffrey MacDonald case, in 1970 an Army officer was accused of murdering his family. His defense was that a band of drug-crazed hippies broke into the house and killed everybody except him. He allowed a journalist, Joe McGinnis, to imbed with the defense during trial on the understanding that he would then write a book exonerating MacDonald and proving that government prosecutors overreached, were stupid, incompetent, vindictive, lazy, etc.

    Well, halfway through trial, McGinnis became convinced that MacDonald was in fact guilty, so he did write a book, but it wasn’t the book MacDonald was expecting. Further, McGinnis allowed MacDonald to continue to believe that McGinnis believed in his innocence so that MacDonald and the rest of the defense team would continue to talk to him and share privileged information with him. And, since he had been imbedded with the defense, he had lots of privileged information to share in his book, most of which pointed to MacDonald being guilty.

    So, MacDonald then sued McGinnis for fraud and breach of contract. I won’t ruin the ending for anyone unfamiliar with the case who decides to read the book. The book is really fascinating because it deals with journalistic ethics, the con game that much of journalism actually is, the legal issues involved, the duty, if any, owed by a journalist to his subject, etc.

    1. I wont spoil the ending either, but the fact that Dr. M didn’t include a libel claim speaks volumes.

  7. I’ve been re-reading Plutarch’s Lives. Great stuff in there.

    Also, jumped into a few selected passages of the Malleus Maleficarum based upon posts about the Salem Witch Trials in the Thursday open thread. This reminded me that the concept of due process, especially procedural due process, is extremely old. Anyone out there who ends up arguing due process cases might be wise to jump into a little bit of the history pre-Englightenment. Might make for some engaging brief content.

  8. I am currently reading “Stamped From the Beginning” to see what the anti-racist movement is about. Dr. Kendi seems far more rational than Robin DiAngelo. My brother has me reading the Case for Christ, which is a lot like homework. Lotta referring a Bible during my reading, but it’s a good exercise.

    As an unrepentant metalhead, I’ve been listening to Currents, Silent Planet an two Post-rock artists, Pillars and Lost in Kiev. I am also eagerly awaiting the new Animals as Leaders record.

    1. I read Stamped from the Beginning. It took a long time (months) but it was all worth it. Dr. Kendi’s thesis that there are three threads throughout American history is extremely interesting and I have not yet read anyone who has elaborated it. (Makes me think most people don’t make it through the book.) He divides writing about race since the 1400s into the anti-racist ideas, the segregationist ideas, and the assimilationist ideas. While Kendi is writing about history and about intellectuals and politicans who are already dead, he’s pretty ruthless in cutting up their ideologies. No abolitionist leader and no civil rights leader has ever *only* written anti-racist things, and that’s the genius of this thesis; Kendi cuts them apart to find the parts which he considers anti-racist, but it’s never the whole body of work. Once he gets to the leaders who are still living he treads a lot more lightly. But it shows the futility of looking for the “one correct civil rights leader to follow.” His book “How to Be an Anti-Racist” was much less weighty and after reading the big book it felt anticlimactic. He has released another shorter version of “Stamped” cowritten with Jason Reynolds which I haven’t read.
      I don’t think Kendi came up with the term “anti-racist” and I think his use of it is not the only use. As far as I can tell, really using the anti-racist/segregationist/assimilationist sorting algorithm is an intellectually rigorous activity, involves a lot of questions, and a lot of famous people don’t come up looking perfect. But it does get to the core of issues. In terms of “the movement,” I think Kendi is an academic, not currently a street activist. The book also steers clear of “capitalism” per se; he is not a Marxist although he supports reparations. The “socialist” aspects of current reform movements are not reflected in “Stamped.” I think that’s fine. He himself goes to great lengths to explain that he does not expect most people of any community to be already anti-racist, that it’s a process of discovering and evaluating your beliefs, and he details his own individual growth process. His mantra is “the only thing wrong with Black people is that people think there’s something wrong with Black people.” It’s a tricky idea in terms of what we’ve been told are the “correct” terms of the debate in the past about equality and opportunity. Permission to re-evaluate everything. Very worthwhile read.
      I think I will probably have to read DiAngelo one of these days just in order to know what she said. The basic idea of “white fragility” is familiar but I want to be able to decide which parts of her version are interesting or necessary.
      I’m overdue for a listen to Eugene Chadbourne’s classic “Governments Love Anti-War Songs.”

    2. I read the Case for Christ as a favor for a friend too. What I recall, is a really bad misunderstanding of and incorrect application of the hearsay exception for ancient documents.

      Oh, and, according to the author, presumably familiar with Goldilocks, there are exactly the right number of inconsistencies to prove that the various human authors didn’t collude, but also that the New Testament is the inerrant word of god.

      Convincing stuff, that.

  9. Reading “Human Action” and “Are You Smarter than an Economist: 100+ Puzzles to Train Your Brain”

    Been playing Red Dead 2

    Watching Community (which is great)

    Recommend iZombie as well… but if Ravi isn’t your favorite you’re doing life wrong.

    1. Supergirl on the CW has better eye candy but I watch it with the sound off so I don’t follow the plot.

    2. Ravi is absolutely my favorite — glad we agree on that!

  10. I recently discovered Ben Macintyre, who generally writes about Cold War and WWII espionage. He writes beautifully, and has a wry wit.

    A Spy Among Friends, which focuses on Kim Philby, is probably my favorite; but everything I have read by him has been great.

    1. Funny, I’m in the middle of Tim Powers’ Declare, which is a supernatural spy thriller set during and after WWII. It has Kim Philby as a character and I only now realized he was a real person.

  11. Fred Drogula’s bio of Cato the Younger, a man whose reputation is one of the biggest con jobs in history. And Tracy Edwards account of sailing around the world with an all-female crew in the ’89 Whitbread Race.

  12. I decided to read the major landmarks in economics. (I was an econ major, but undergrads in econ don’t read original works.) So far I have finished The Wealth of Nations and Ricardo’s Principles of Political Economy, and I am in the middle of volume 1 of Capital. Keynes and Friedman are yet to come.

  13. I have been deep into the Warhammer 40K Horus Heresy series, which is like 50+ books just in the main series with numerous side-books.

    Because (spoiler warning) books about bioengineered space marines (some of whom are lycanthropic, some are wizards, some are just immortal) fighting demons from the dimension of pain (which, y’know, you can travel through for FTL interstellar travel) and occasionally running across ancient alien civilizations is just a LOT more satisfying than reading anything about what’s going on.

    Hooray for escapism.

    1. The chaos gods seem to be gaining ground in real life imo. So much for the God Emperor protecting humanity.

  14. I’ve been bouncing between The Sherlock Holmes mysteries and Heart of Darkness. Just finished The Enchiridion and my roughly 10,000th read of Simon Travaglia’s BOFH series.

  15. In Hoffa’s Shadow, by Jack Goldsmith. It certainly makes going to work in the “RFK” Department of Justice building every day feel a little different, given how poorly RFK comes off in it.

    A question for Eugene: what are some of your favorite fantasy and sci fi novels?

    1. Second this question. I’m reading through the DUNE series in anticipation of the release of Denis Villeneuve’s DUNE on 18 December 2020.

  16. I have been reading the Scott Turow Kindle County books in order. I had read them all before but after reading The Last Trial (his most recent) this summer, I realized that I was not getting a number of the references to other characters in the series that come up in that book. It won’t hurt your enjoyment of that book if you haven’t read any of the others and it is very good (an extremely accurate portrayal of what a criminal trial and criminal law practice are like, albeit in a more interesting scenario than most of us get to enjoy) but it made me curious to revisit the earlier stories, most of which I hadn’t read in 20+ years.

    Some good suggestions in this chain, which I will check out. Many thanks.

    1. I read Pleading Guilty during law school and it is still on the short list of my favorite books. Thanks for the reminder

  17. Just finished reading “Six days of war” by Michael Oren; interesting history of the 6-Day War. Also read “Circle of Light, Gate of Darkness” by Tanya Huff (early urban fantasy) and “The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet” (sci-fi, generally less space opera-y than I like, but it was a really good book).

    Listening to the new Taylor Swift album and really enjoying it. I’m not convinced I’m her target demographic (I’m a mid-40s conservative dad of teens), but I have loved her music ever since “Mean.”

    1. Becky Chambers is OK. I got through a closed and common orbit. Record of a Spaceborn Few I couldn’t finish.

  18. I mentioned on Thursday that I was reading a The Salem Witchcraft Trials: a Legal History by Peter Charles Hoffer. Recent discussions in the media have compelled me to also pick up The Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson.

    As for fiction, last month I finally read my first Grisham book: The Pelican Brief. It was a really good thriller. Ridiculous and over the top of course, but really fun.

    I’ve been re-watching The Office recently. I find it makes great background noise for doing other things around the house, and there are a lot of episodes and scenes that I have forgotten that made me laugh out loud which is nice.

  19. Professor, I recently came across an SF short story that cited you of all people in a recent SF collection by Ken Liu. It’s likely you’ve heard of Ken Liu if you’re a fan of Martha Wells. The story is called Byzantine Empathy in his latest collection The Hidden Girl and Other Stories. At the end he cites your paper with Mark Lemley on Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.

    Just an odd aside to see your name come up in my SF reading. If you want to read Ken Liu’s best works I would start with The Paper Menagerie. Byzantine Empathy is interesting conceptually, but it’s not a great read overall.

  20. Finally got to the book store and picked up “Peace Talks“ by Jim Butcher, and “The Pursuit of the Pankera” by Robert Heinlein.

    The only problem with Butcher’s “Harry Dresden” books is that I have to start reading them early in the day, because I can’t put them down.

    1. Peace talks was good. Ending was a little…it’s more like it was a part one of two.

      1. Definitely a part one considering the next book is out this September.

      2. Yes, that’s definitely how I felt. Although it wasn’t as bad a cliffhanger as “Changes” 🙂

        1. Yeah, I couldn’t really call it a cliffhanger. It really did feel more like part 1 of 2, with Battle Ground coming out in the Fall

  21. Ah, good ol’ Murderbot. Finished the novel earlier this summer.

    Also, went through This is How You lose the Time War by Max Gladstone. A good book, a little denser than Murderbot, it’s two separate authors who take the role of two protagonists (Red and Blue) in the proverbial time war, and write letters back and forth to each other. A less usual style of writing, but good nonetheless.

    For the more classic Fantasy, there was the City of Brass, Kingdom of Copper, Empire of Gold trilogy that just got finished. A solid read, a middle-eastern focused Fantasy that I can recommend, that kept you reading.

    As for watching something, if you want something a little lighter, I’d recommend Food Wars! (Season 1 on Netflix). Think of it as a combination of Dragonball Z and the Great British Bakeoff. Somehow…it works. Be forewarned, the cooking can ahem “blow people’s clothes off”. Doesn’t get worse than that though.

    1. This latest Murderbot entry felt weaker than the others. I was looking forward to longer books than the earlier ones, but if this what we get then idk. Still an enjoyable read tho

      1. I thought the latest one was quite good. I enjoyed all the earlier ones, but I thought one problem with the format is that the only recurring character is the narrator, and the rest of the cast were essentially discarded in the entry that introduced them. That left most of the characters feeling interchangeable and forgettable. I like that the author brought back some old characters and focused a little more on their individual personalities and further developed the main character through their relationships.

  22. I’m now embarking on re-reading James Branch Cabell’s “Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice”. A book which has aged well, and might interest you by having some legal significance as well; You might find “Jurgen and the Law” an amusing accompaniment.

  23. Dickens “short stories” like _Martin Chuzzlewit,_ and re-reading _Oliver Twist._

    I want to read _I’ll Be Gone in the Dark_ by Michelle McNamara but haven’t found it yet without running to the bookstore, where I don’t want to go, even with a mask. I have been watching the Liz Garbus series by the same name on HBO and it is ho hum. What I have read by the late Michelle McNamara is beautiful prose, so I want to read more of her.

    I try to keep up with the UFO documentaries, animals, venomous snakes, ID, and once in a while the paranormal on the teevy. Also vet Drs. Pol, Oakley, and Ben and Erin Shroeder. Gorgeous Dr. Oakley in Alaska & Yukon is my fave. I am jealous of her husband. And once in a while, a Dr. Pimple Popper squeezing huge zits and digging out liver-sized lipomas.

  24. The Harry Gilmore series was both interesting, and educational…The way that the Brits ran their subs was quite different than the US, and their operational requirements were interesting too.

    Funny that the new technology (newish, anyway), aircraft, and submarines, both had very young people in charge…much different than today. A 26 year old Sub commander, or a 26 year old Wing Commander seems fantastical these days.

  25. I recently finished: The Aleppo Codex by Matti Friedman, about the vicissitudes of an ancient and perfect codex of the Hebrew Bible, Dutch Mandarin: The Life and Work of Robert Hans van Gulik, a biography of the diplomat and oriental scholar who wrote the Judge Dee stories, The Outlaw Ocean by Ian Urbina, about lawlessness on the high seas, Ancient Egyptian Phonology by James Allen, and Commander in Cheat by Rick Reilly, about Donald Trump and Golf.

    My current books are: How the Indians Lost their Land: Law and Power on the Frontier by Stuart Banner, and The Social Amoebae: the Biology of Cellular Slime Molds, by John Tyler Bonner.

    I just finished the series “The Princess Weiyoung” (Jinxiu Weiyang) on Netflix, a drama set in the Northern Wei kingdom around 450CE, with a good mix of soap opera in the form of the rivalries among the young women of the Wei court and their romantic liaisons. I really enjoyed this, and look forward to the quasi-sequel set in the Liu Song kingdom. I hope that they make one for each of the Sixteen Kingdoms. I have to admit that I kept fantasizing about how cool it would be if the characters spoke in the original languages rather than in Mandarin Chinese.

    I just started the Korean series “Save Me” (Guhaejwo) , about a family that moves to a small town and becomes enmeshed with a cult. So far I like it.

  26. Erin Morgenstern’s The Starless Sea, a beautifully-written fantasy. Check it out.

  27. Earlier, I read Till We Have Faces, a novel by C.S. Lewis which is a re-telling of Cupid and Psyche from the perspective of one of Psyche’s sisters. It was written very beautifully. I also recommend A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor and Beyond East & West, which is an autobiography of a Chinese lawyer, judge, and lay theologian named John C.H. Wu.

    In terms of listening, I’ve gotten into detective stories. If you’re looking for something different, you can find old radio shows from the ’50s on YouTube. I personally enjoy the Nero Wolfe radio shows the most.

    In terms of watching, I’ve been watching these old Charlie Chan movies on YouTube. I really wish I could recommend them, but its hard to because even though they’re fun detective movies, they are, unfortunately, products of their time and they star an actor in yellow-face.

  28. Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table, an autobiographical set of short stories in Italy during WWII. Richard Dawkins the The Selfish Gene, an enlightening view of evolution. James C Scott, Against the Grain – a deep history of the earliest states, some insights into early human development. Victor Frankel, Man’s Search for Meaning, an analytical holocaust memoir. Currently listening to the Odyssey and War and Peace, very, very long, but beautiful. Watching “Srugim” on Amazon Prime, trying unsuccessfully to learn Hebrew.

    1. The Selfish Gene is an incredibly powerful book. It would be hard to say whether it or Thinking, Fast and Slow by Kahneman has influenced my understanding of the world more.

  29. Reading – I’m currently reading A Blight of Blackwings by Kevin Hearne which is the second book in hi Seven Kennings series (he was also the author of The Iron Druid Chronicles which I enjoyed). I’ve also got Peace Talks by Jim Butcher (latest in the Dresden Files series) to start when I’ve finished this. I’ve also been reading a lot of European graphic novels – Shakara, Artesia, Snowpiercer and I’m about to start XIII and Jeremiah.

    Watching – I finished watching the first season of Snowpiercer (pretty good – they definitely took a different take than the graphic novel or the movie), did my fourth rewatch of Battlestar Galactica and I’ve been watching reruns of Babylon 5 and Stargate SG-1.

    I spent the first month and a half of the pandemic watching movies (trying to alternate between ones I haven’t seen before and ones I’m watching for the first time) – really enjoyed The Raid Redemption, Marathon Man, The Singing Detective, John Carpenter’s The Thing and Maggie (Arnold Schwarzenegger did a zombie apocalypse movie after he left office and he plays a father who is mourning the impending loss of his daughter and he’s really good in it).

    I’ve also been watching a ton of anime on Tubi and Peacock – who I just learned has the entire run of ExoSquad available. ExoSquad was a two season sci fi series that takes place in a future where humanity made an artificial slave race called the Neo Sapiens who overthrow humanity and it’s about the remnants of the military who try to retake their homeworlds (this was made before the new Battlestar Galactica). It’s really good and definitely has a lot of anime influence and I’m excited about being able to watch it again after all these years.

  30. Just finished Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Several friends are pushing The Splendid and the Vile hard, but I tell them I’m really Nazi-ed out for now.
    In between endless chapters of Reich atrocities polished off And Then There Were None. Krazy Judge!

  31. Journal of the Plague Year, by Daniel Defoe. For something lighter, we’ve been watching reruns of Foyle’s War, a detective show set in Hastings (southern England) during World War II. The plots and characters are excellent, and what the British civilians had to go through then seems far worse than what we’re going through now. Puts a good perspective on the current pandemic.

  32. I enjoy movies, music and TV shows from the 80s and 90s. I can’t tell if it’s because they transport me of my youth, or if it’s because they were actually good.

  33. The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. So far, I prefer The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, another alternate universe underground railroad book. The Whitehead novel is outstanding though, so it’s no knock on Coates.

    Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction by Philip Tedlock and Dan Gardner. Excellent stuff and draws on/refers to Thinking, Fast and Slow which (as I noted elsewhere in this thread) one of my favorite nonfiction books, so gets points for that.

  34. Reading wheelock’s Latin Ed 7, Pride and Prejudice, and the gospel of John. Also, watching the majin buu saga of dragon ball.

  35. In the last month or so…

    Reading: Karl Polyani, The Great Transformation; JS Mill, On Liberty; Cynthia Ozick, The Shawl; William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying.

    Watching (not much outside Youtube): Au Hasard Balthazar, Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich.

    Music: On a bit of classical piano binge – Bach and Schubert. Also some African music from the 70s (Super Mama Djombo) and a few albums from John Zorn’s Tzadik label (esp enjoying the Mary Halvorson Quartet).

  36. I’ve read Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying”. One of the weirdest tales I have ever read, and will never read Falkner again after that book!

  37. I listen to Blues music, am reading Tolstoy’s short stories “Courage and Conflict”, don’t watch movies anymore, and watch pretty much only the local news on TV.

  38. Escapist reading: Marko Kloos’s *Frontlines* novels (not the alternate media spin offs). Science Fiction! Volume 1, *Terms of Enlistment* illustrates Public Residence Cluster riots.

    Serious reading: *The Athenian Democracy in the Age of Demosthenes* (Blackwell, 1991) by Mogens Herman Hansen (tr. J. A. Cook from Danish). All of the manipulations of democracy have been tried before and failed before. The Ancient Greek citizens elected volunteers by sortition using a lottery machine KLOTERION, VoterID PINAKION.

    Watching: *Suspects* British TV Police Procedure Drama.

    Science Fiction tells us of the dream that has failed for the wealth poured down the blackhole of equality that might have taken men to space. Mankind will not leave Earth. Men might, but not the species.

  39. Reading: Book of the New Sun. Some trippy sci-fi right there.

    Listening: In Our Time archives https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qykl/episodes/

    Watching: The Last Dance. And Parks and Rec.
    And Kruggsmash’s Dwarf Fortress stories.

    Playing: Stellaris

  40. Ahh, passing time as entertainment: I ‘bicycle’ (recumbent tricycle HPV) for escape. My objective of 2 hours and 25 miles every other day has been accomplished. I am trying to increase mileage per ride and adding a ten mile recovery ride on rest days. I am 71 years.

  41. Oh, currently playing “Chess in 5 dimensions” or 5D Chess. Really, 4 dimensions: height; width; time; parallel dimensions.

    It is certainly quirky.

    1. This really needs more explanation. Some of the quirkier things that have happened.

      1. The CPU escapes check by having their king flee to an alternate dimension.

      2. I somehow checkmate the CPU because the queen checkmates the enemy king in the past.

      3. The CPU checkmates me with a single bishop by sending into the past, where it checkmates my king in a parallel universe where I would castle into the bishop’s attack the next turn.

    2. You are confused by your epistemic trespassing. The space-like dimensions are orthoganal – mutually perpendicular and in no way parallel. Time is at least not space-like.

      A primer: *Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe* (HM, 2013) by Lee Smolin. ISBN 978-0-547-51172-6

      Smolin is not the easiest lecturer or author and the field suffers for that, but I believe that he is on the right track.

      Leonardo Susskind has a vast playlist of mathematical physics lectures playlist on YT, from Classical Mechanics to the Higgs Boson and the Holographic Paradigm.

      1. “You are confused by your epistemic trespassing.”

        Ahem.
        1. It’s a game. How it treats dimensions may differ from real life.
        2. I enjoy how it treats alternate timelines as an alternative axis for chess pieces to travel through.

        1. Parallel ‘dimensions’ aren’t dimensions. Garbage in, garbage out.

          1. You seem to feel very strongly over something that’s a game…

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallel_universes_in_fiction

  42. I just finished one of the most famous and least “woke” novels in American history, “Gone With the Wind.” And yes, it is a deeply, profoundly, and thoroughly racist book. But precisely because of that, it is also a vivid milestone against which to judge how far we’ve come, for which meta-purpose I recommend it.

  43. Reading: Many Japanese ‘light’ novel series (some of which aren’t very light). I’m not sure how many books I’ve read in the past year but in July it was over 3k pages. I track my reading backlog by the shelf.

    Listening: Scott Adams’s blog

    Watching: Whatever movie the wife puts on

  44. The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Steven Erikson. Easily the best fantasy series I’ve ever read. https://www.sfsite.com/05a/ma343.htm

    1. I got halfway through Dust of Dreams (After going through the entire rest of the series) and had to put it down. The series is great, but man is it a slog sometimes.

      I’m currently re-reading the Dresden Files, a great mix of fantasy and modern noir detective stories. The latest book came out earlier this month and the final book is slated for release in September.

      Listening to The History of Rome podcast. Good chronological history in short bites.

      I don’t really watch TV, but have been enjoying Avatar with the kids.

    2. I got halfway through Memories of Ice and just had to quit. Throughout the series it just felt like some of the major plot events came out of nowhere. Things that seem like they should be of profound importance are just mentioned as asides and dismissed. Basic rules of the setting are still being established three books in. And worst of all, character development seems to happen in the author’s mind, without ever being communicated.

      I think the second book was a major improvement over the first, and I was much more invested in the characters and their struggles. But then in the third book we’re stuck with the characters from the first book again.

      Maybe I’ll come back and finish it eventually. There are definitely some interesting things going on, and some very powerful character moments. The stuff that’s new to the third book is certainly more compelling than everything left over from the first, and I am curious to read about what results from everything that happened at the end of the second. But there’s just so much nonsense in between.

  45. Hmmm. Reading: Ngaio Marsh. Except that I’ve gone through all 32 novels and the handful of short stories again, so need to move on. (Margery Allingham? Elizabeth George? Edmund Crispin?) I have been interspersing them with Heinlein. The Door Into Summer is marvelous, and Farnham’s Freehold is, er, “problematic” in 2020. I love it, but I don’t think I’ll get much agreement.

    Watching: Well, we’ve long since finished The Americans and The Man in the High Castle and Breaking Bad, so have fallen back on Wallander (the Swedish one) for our occasional bleak dystopian break, varied with the odd Inspector Morse. Though two nights ago we broke out Kind Hearts and Coronets, and only partly for the fun of seeing Alec Guinness play about eleven parts.

    Listening? Part of my job is CD-reviewing, so I have a lot of them on hand, but I’m between assignments right now, for the most part. Still, there are a few left over from the last bout, so listened to a disc called “Viola Gems” (they mostly were) yesterday, as well as the Orlando Qt.’s Debussy. And a zillion recordings of Mozart’s “Hoffmeister” Quartet, b/c my husband has been recording string quartets all by his lonesome downstairs, and has settled on that one next.

  46. Beowulf, in the Seamus Heaney translation (“Hwæt. We Gardena in geardagum,þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.”)

    Also successfully binge-watched all of Cheers, Derry Girls, the Tudors, the Windsors, and the Last Kingdom.

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