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
- “Essentialism: The Terrible Legacy of Western Philosophy”: I wrote a rough draft of this a couple of years ago and never really loved it. I published it today just so I could show you I’m still writing. I agree with the point. I don’t love what I wrote. Starting over seems to hard.
- “Time to Abolish Juries?”: Not necessarily. But the track record (in the US) is bad.
- Just World Fallacy: Nothing knew this month, sorry. My publishing ennui keeps sapping my will to write.
- Latest reviews for Cover Me
- My Business Blog: I realize I never mentioned that I write a blog about my business. That’s actually where I’ve been most productive lately.
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
- Podcasts: Still listening to too way many podcasts. Here are the ones I usually manage to listen to each week:
- Behind the Bastards: Comedy about the worst people in history. I’m still listening to 2018 episodes.
- The Lowe Post: Basketball is back!
- Revolutions: One or two more and I’m done the French Revolution!
- Science Vs.: I finished their recent COVID season and am now back listening to archival episodes from a couple of years ago.
- 30 for 30: The new season is about two Romanian gymnastics coaches who defected to the US and helped win medals.
- Trump Inc.: Certainly one of the best ways of keeping up on the conflicts of interest of the Trump administration without having to watch the news.
- Deftones: White Pony (2000): Nu metal meets British alternative. Seriously.
- Cursive: Domestica (2000): A concept album about a break up – there’s a new idea! – that is just a perfectly adequate emo album.
- The Chemical Brothers: Exit Planet Dust (1995): Try as I might I cannot get into British electronica. This is probably a big deal. I do not care.
- Natalie Merchant: Tigerlily (1995): Good songs. Pretty blah sound.
- Fear Factory: Demanufacture (1995): Industrial metal but with a real drummer! Also a groove!
- Sonic Youth: Goo (1990): Their most accessible album too date. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
- Decide (1990): Just ridiculous death metal. Very fun. Busiest drummer ever.
- Uncle Tupelo: No Depression (1990): People will tell you this is the birth of alt country. If you scroll down you’ll see another album from 5 years earlier which is also the supposed birth of alt country.
- Mariah Carey (1990): The debut album of The Greatest Female Pop Singer of All Time is a little lacking on songs and significantly more ’80s than her later work. Still, there’s the voice.
- Teenage Fanclub: A Catholic Education (1990): I thought this band was power pop or jangle pop. Apparently they’re almost grunge? On their debut anyway.
- New Kids on the Block: Step by Step (1990): Please google “Stay With Me Baby”. Then tweet at Donnie Wahlberg for his terrible Jamaican accent. Worst. Boy. Band. Ever.
- Entombed: Left Hand Path (1990): Apparently the birth of Swedish death metal. Regardless, this is what you want death metal to sound like.
- Rites of Spring (1985): Emocore (not emo, okay?) which is just so much musically interesting to me than other post hard core.
- Mekons: Fear and Whiskey (1985): According to some, the first ever alt country album. And they’re British!
- Motley Crue: Theatre of Pain (1985): Bluesy glam rock sung by a guy who is not that good at his job which contemporaries decided was somehow “metal” because, once upon a time, this band knew what metal sounded like. (They don’t on this album, to be clear.)
- Megadeth: Killing is My Business…And Business is Good! (1985): Speedy thrash.
- Talking Heads: Little Creatures (1985): One of the best bands of the era takes a dramatic left turn to the mainstream and makes a pretty good album.
- Sting: The Dream of the Blue Turtles (1985): The lead singer and primary songwriter of one of the best bands of the era left it so that he could make smooth jazz world music that your mother probably likes.
- Queen: The Game (1980): Queen can do anything. Pity they’ve never put out an entire album of good songs. (I got into a twitter battle over this album!)
- Chic: Real People (1980): Not enough songs.
- The Soft Boys: Underwater Moonlight (1980): Apparently the most important jangle pop album of the ’80s.
- Bob Marley and the Wailers: Uprising (1980): Marley’s last album before his death. Solid reggae but I still don’t love him as a songwriter.
- Bee Gees: Main Course (1975): Their first disco album but also their last baroque pop album. Those two things, um, don’t go together.
- War: Why Can’t We Be Friends? (1975): Part pretty good Latin funk, part not so good ballads. The two most famous songs are the best songs.
- Eagles: One of These Nights (1975): Country rock gone arena (with a brief detour into faux disco).
- The Isley Brothers: The Heat Is On (1975): Half excellent funk, half sub Curtis Mayfield.
- Diana Ross (1970): Ross’ debut is very Motown but contains at least one interesting re-imagining of a classic song.
- The “Angry” Young Them (1965): Perhaps the best – or, at least, rawest, ’60s British R&B record I’ve ever heard.
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:
- The Back Check Hockey History Podcast:
- No Cultural Authority: (see the links for the detailed descriptions)