First, some housekeeping:
- This blog is now funded by Emergent Ventures! Huge thanks to Tyler Cowen for this.
- My Miles Davis post got a fair amount of traction. I got a lot of feedback, most of which was constructive. My biggest error was not paying more attention to the late career live recordings, which are often significantly better than the studio albums. I’m keeping the post updated in response to my current thoughts and tastes.
- I’ve decided to rename these posts from ‘media diet’ to ‘links’. I’ll still include films and albums I recommend, but most of it will be links to podcasts, articles, and other interesting things that I find.
- I’ve made some aesthetic changes to the website, and I now have a cute lil’ owl as my icon.
What I’ve been reading
Luke Muelhauser gives a “painless introduction” to pre-Socratic philosophy.
Carl Zimmer in the NYT on aphantasia, or the inability to form mental images, and hyperphantasia, the formation of unusually vivid mental images. “Based on their surveys, Dr. Zeman and his colleagues estimate that 2.6 percent of people have hyperphantasia and that 0.7 percent have aphantasia.” I’m glad to see this subject getting more coverage.
Stephen Fry on the classics.
An oldie but a goodie: Scott Alexander’s Biodeterminist’s Guide to Parenting.
Exciting progress in the fight against dengue fever.
My investigations into Napoleon Bonaparte have continued.
In Defense of Finance The amount of outrage that people have about finance does indeed appear to vary in inverse proportion to how much they know about it.
Parasite: A Graphic Novel in Storyboards I couldn’t recommend this more highly.
The Death of Stalin Both the film and graphic novel are excellent. It is hard to imagine a work of fiction being more insane than what actually occurred after Stalin’s death.
Music: A Very Short Introduction Really an introduction to classical music. These Oxford ‘very short introduction’ books are excellent.
What I’ve been watching
Straight Outta Compton Recommended even if you know nothing about the subject matter. And Ben Westhoff on the evolution of gangster rap.
Kill Bill, Vol. 1 I know that Tarantino is a great filmmaker. What I’m less certain of is whether he’s ever directed a truly great film.
Sherpa Is there now a sherpa union? Is Everest overcrowding due to squeamishness about raising prices? How highly are guides implicitly valuing their lives? Someone needs to write a paper about the economics of sherpas.
The Dawn Wall There seem to be unusually many great documentaries about mountain climbing.
The Adventures of Tintin One of my favourite comic series as a kid, although some of it is indeed horribly racist so I am not sure the print versions will survive cancellation. I think this film is an underrated masterpiece.
Tom Scott on Ogham, the ancient Irish writing system. We learned about this in school, but the unusual implications for unicode I did not know about.
What I’ve been listening to
Blue’s Moods One of the most underrated jazz albums I know about. My favourites are ‘I’ll Close My Eyes’, ‘Scrapple from the Apple’ and ‘When I Fall in Love’.
Louis Armstrong in Scandinavia A wonderful collection. The best tracks are ‘Dinah’ and ‘The Gypsy’.
The Capitol Studios Sessions Jeff Goldblum released a jazz album and it’s actually… surprisingly good. Listen to ‘Cantaloupe Island’.
The Sidewinder I recently watched the documentary ‘I Called Him Morgan’, which has rekindled my interest in Lee Morgan. The best tracks are the title song and ‘Totem Pole’.
Covered (Live at Capitol Studios) I mentioned Robert Glasper in my Miles Davis post, this is one of his ‘pure’ jazz albums. ‘So Beautiful’ is my favourite song here.
Agnes Callard on status and polyamory.
Elijah Milgram on Nozick, Nietzsche, Mill and others.
David Whyte on his poetry collection ‘Consolations’. The Making Sense podcast is worth subscribing to the premium version of (they give it to you for free if you can’t afford it).
The Very Bad Wizards podcast try to make sense of Gogol’s short story ‘The Nose’ with Yoel Inbar.