Riley’s Newsletter for August 25, 2020

Note: I’ve decided to publish my monthly newsletter on my site because it serves as a useful Table of Contents for what I’ve been up to lately. Also, I realized that I am sharing the list of articles I’m reading on social media and by email but not on my website. So here it is:

Hello and Happy Dog Days,

Another month of not watching many movies. I blame the return of sports. (The Raptors swept an opponent for the first time! The Leafs…were the Leafs.)

At least I have a couple of “new” articles for you to read. (One of them is quite old.)

I hope you and your family are staying safe.

What I’m Writing

This summer is not conducive to writing for me, apparently.

What I’m Reading

  • Trudy Govier: A Practical Study of Argument: I don’t know exactly when I picked up this textbook on logic and arguments – I think I maybe got it from my old boss – but I sort of figured it might be good to read. So far it feels like it was written for high school students (though she explicitly states it is for university level students) so I don’t know how long I’ll be reading it.
  • William S. Burroughs: Naked Lunch: The older I get, the better I am at abandoning things I do not enjoy. I’m happy to say that, 80 pages in, I gave up on this novel. It is probably important for its style, but it has dated very poorly, in its satire and in its attempts to outrage. I found it boring. At 22 or 25 or even 30 I likely would have read the whole thing and maybe told you it was “significant”. But I’m getting better with age (I think).
  • Peter Turchin: War and Peace and War: An attempt to turn history into a science. It’s ambitious, it’s flawed, it’s provocative, it’s readable.
  • “Watershed data indicates more than a trillion dollars of corporate profit smuggled into tax havens”: What it says. We should all be worried about climate change. But our other biggest problem is tax avoidance.
  • The Truth is Paywalled But The Lies Are Free: This is about how we have to pay for access to much of the best information out there, be it journalism or scientific research. It gets pretty utopian by the end, but I still think it’s worth reading.
  • “The Furious Hunt for the MAGA Bomber”: A riveting telling of a story I must say I ignored at the time.
  • “The Left is Now the Right”: The humourlessness of the Bush-era conservatives has infected the US Left.
  • “An honest photograph can be turned into almost anything by a misleading caption.”: If you want to combat the lies and truthiness of the current American administration, you should get your facts straight.
  • “The “free speech debate” isn’t really about free speech”: The “cancel culture” debate annoys the hell out of me. I was going to write something about it in July but then I went away on vacation for a week and calmed down. This article does a better job than I would have of exploring some of the nuance. This guy is more on one side than I might be but this is a much better summary of the nuances of the disagreement than any open letters you might have happened to read this summer.

What I’m Watching

  • Altered Carbon: A very watchable science fiction show, which can get a little silly and has too much nudity – I’m such a prude! – but is otherwise more enjoyable than a lot of the fictional TV I’ve struggled through lately. The first season is much better than the second. (The show is not over but given the pandemic who knows when/if it’s coming back.)
  • City Island (2009): The American aughts indie comedy only moved to an Italian family in the Bronx.
  • Cinema Paradiso (1988): More enjoyable than most of these Italian nostalgia trips to childhood in a small town but hardly the masterpiece it’s supposed to be. (Note: I watched the director’s cut which is way too long. Most people who celebrated this movie saw a much shorter film.)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: We tried to start watching this online but we’re now waiting for the first season from the library.
  • Drive to Survive: Still watching the odd episode.
  • Parks and Recreation: Still plugging away. Season 4 now but sports have gotten in the way. (Remember sports?)

What I’m Listening To

Where I’m Going

At one point we were thinking of trying to go to another cottage but life got in the way.

As you might imagine, we have no fixed international travel plans. We’ve been musing about more travel within Canada but we’re in the midst of making a pretty big life decision and that doesn’t lend itself to travel planning.


The latest episodes from my two podcasts:

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