Top Tens

March 4, 2023

Wolfram on how large language models work and Ted Chiang on the same

Ron DeSantis at Guantánamo – DeSantis refuses to talk to non-Murdoch press, and the press that is covering him focuses on the stunts he pulls as governor to establish his antiwoke-crusader bona fides, so this detail of his biography has escaped notice

Child migrants used as labor in the States

Israeli hackers-for-hire manipulating opinion through a fake social media army (part of the Story Killers project which is very much worth reading)

The Fallen of WWII – amazing dataviz from 2015

Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s Minister of Chaos

Why Don’t We Just Ban Targeted Advertising? – a hopeful story in that it posits that a rational decision could be made regarding transitioning business models to more respectful, humane ones; this has no chance of happening but the possibility is worth pondering

Literally nothing escapes absurd politicization: the evils of the walkable city

France secretly owns 14 countries – we all accept America's economic hegemony established at Bretton Woods but the French version of this is also comprehensive

In a pretty downer top ten, a ray of light in a brilliant and elegant rocket design from Stoke Space

February 20, 2023

The NYT’s Jason Farago on the new Vermeer show

On Yemen: What Have You Left Behind? by Bushra Al-Maqtari and Isa Blumi talks to The War Nerd – Blumi’s book is Destroying Yemen: What Chaos in Arabia Tells Us about the World

The NYT goes to Ghibli Park

Commercial pressures warp modern documentaries

I have no mouth and I must scream – one of the better summaries of the creature emerging from Microsoft’s use of ChatGPT

Open source development is broken and personally destructive – The Register summarizes and provides context

Decarbonization: The long view, trends and transience, net zero – also Mark Mills warns of materials constraint on the green energy transition (though in the case of cobalt the constraint might have lifted)

Disinformation on behalf of clients: The Story Killers – no surprises here (who could have imagined DCMA takedowns would be weaponized) but glad this is getting attention

Dark energy comes from black holes which “gain mass by coupling to the expanding universe” – someone’s due a Nobel for this

A much better explanation for the Nord Stream 2 sabotage than Hersh’s

February 9, 2023

Refik Anadol’s generative art at MoMA – this is a pretty negative piece, but it does a great job of explaining what Anadol’s work is and does; there are plenty of videos out there of this and Anadol’s previous work, including his in-depth talk with MIT

The Mystery of the Dune Font

AI is coming for us all, chapter 459: music generated from text prompts

Public Broadcast Laboratory on police/minority relations, 1968 – chillingly very little has changed (relatedly: Professionalize the Police)

How Failed Regime-Change in Belarus Shaped Putin's War Plan

The United States Frequency Allocation Chart and the spectacular Chart of Electromagnetic Radiations

Adversary Drones Are Spying On the U.S. and the Pentagon Acts Like They’re UFOs

Fitzcarraldo Editions – trying to resist collecting them all and failing, so much great fiction and they have their finger on the pulse with four Nobel winners

Sean McFate’s lectures on various wars and especially his lecture summarizing his book (in this particular talk he commits the same sin as everyone else in mischaracterizing Fukuyama’s argument in The End of History which is unfortunate)

Codename: Sydney – users can goad GPTs into disclosing their own guidelines; shades of interrogating Ian Holm’s head in Alien

January 25, 2023

Aftersun from 2022 – emotional journey anchored by an incredible child lead

As people think about finally addressing missing-middle housing they’re also belatedly thinking about social housing – the Viennese being an excellent model. The Nation surveys modern reactions, the historical background, pics of Alt-Erlaa, Bloomberg has an excellent preçis

Romp through The Waste Land – every online annotated text is frustrating so I’d recommend instead the Norton Critical Edition

Exxon – who by the way still has a favorable ESG rating – had the most accurate global-warming projections in the 1970s but continued to dissemble for decades

The Beautiful, Brutal World of Bonsai

Aging reversed … in mice

Why Google fears ChatGPT

Neo-Nazis attacking electrical infrastructure

Jan Křesadlo’s Astronautilia

Macroeconomic Changes Have Made It Impossible for Me to Want to Pay You

January 6, 2023

The FT’s list of upcoming books for the first six months of 2023

Bruce Duffy’s The World As I Found It – terrific novel (amazing to think it was Duffy’s first) about the lives of Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell

Quantum Field Theory and the Limits of Knowledge

Andor – I had decided that 50-year-old franchises were no longer for me and had avoided this for a while, but really enjoyed it. It’s much smarter than ... well, I would say all other Star Wars product, not only from Disney but including the original films. There's historically-derived nuance (the Soviets and their sphere came repeatedly to mind), believable characters, a plot that makes sense, and sex between adults in addition to the dependable excellence in art direction and score. The franchise is feeling more and more dated, though, to allow Western and Guns of Navarone retreads: there's faster-than-light travel, but money is still piles of pseudo-gold?

Amazing visualization of inequality, driven purely by chance

Introducing the layman to the concept of technical debt, a valuable service

The Wonder – fantastic film, made me want to chase down everything the director’s done

The case against Mars

For Pynchon obsessives, as close as we’ll come to a biography while he’s alive: Who Is Thomas Pynchon… And Why Did He Take Off With My Wife? and On the Thomas Pynchon Trail

Last but not least, one of the most thought-provoking articles I've read in a long time: Planetary Scale Vibe Collapse: The Death of Liminal Consciousness As the Origin of Human Suffering – competitive behaviors, encouraged by you-know-what, lead to traumatic breakdowns in societal trust in previously idyllic communities

December 28, 2022

Robert Wilson’s staging of the 2000 John Eliot Gardiner production of Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice should not work at all but it’s brilliant

In honor of the TV adaptation concluding, Tony Watkins on the anti-religiousness of His Dark Materials


A Spy Among Friends, marvelous and dense series about Kim Philby – the show begins with the revelation of his being a Soviet agent, so this is not a finding-the-mole story a la Tinker Tailor (itself based on Philby and the four other agents planted in the UK) but more of a who-is-this-person tale akin to A Perfect Spy. One of the great pleasures of the show is its meticulous period references: in the first episode alone a Philby press conference is lovingly recreated, and Morecambe and Wise appear

Fabulous radio documentary with photographs on composer Arnold Bax, and a review of Bax’s symphonies by conductor Vernon Handley. Currently enjoying the piano sonatas

Cy Twombly – some day I’ll see his work in Houston or elsewhere; I think his work much more than others suffers in reproduction. Over time he’s begun to exert a fascination over me, even though I think his classical fixations are more inspirational catalysts than claims to significance

Situating Xinjiang in its historical context

Jim O’Rourke on his Roland Kayn remasters

Xenakis révolution: Le bâtisseur du son – easily the best and most creative documentary ever made on the composer

AI-corrected footage: just astonishing, when I think of what footage like this will look like in just a few years ...

December 15, 2022

As someone fascinated with Weimar I came embarrassingly late to the fantastic Babylon Berlin series, an adaptation of Volker Kutscher’s crime novels – the main titles are so great I never skip through them. The series borrows some style and tone from Lars von Trier’s Europa, especially its iconic opening sequence

Jodorowsky’s Tron, ChatGPT economics pundit – no job is safe from AI

Next-level reputation laundering: the German agency that enabled the completion of Nord Stream 2 with Russian money and avoided sanctions for doing so was called the Foundation for the Protection of the Climate and Environment

Asteroid impact simulator

Paul Hindemith is, and has been for a long time, deeply unfashionable which is a shame as there are so many great works, like Ludus Tonalis and the Piano Concerto from the forties, to the raucous Kammermusik of the twenties, to the marvelous Op 15 nocturnes of 1919

Doom Christmas tree ornament

“Common good constitutionalism” – the next step in conservative thought beyond originalism, this time positing that “ruling well” and “natural law”, not protecting and promoting individual liberty, should be the highest goals of the state

Dylan Vandenhoeck’s astonishing perception-paintings – via the excellent contemporary-painting blog Two Coats of Paint

AI-generated music via spectrograms – sounds like 90s Drop-era Eno but the real brilliance is the Stockhausen-like interpolated transitions between sounds; there’s an automated DJ project which looks terrific as well

The great Backlisted pod on the Strugatskys’ Roadside Picnic

November 23, 2022

The Honourable Woman, 2014 series from Hugo Blick of The Shadow Line fame – maybe the best thing Le Carré didn't write

Black Earth Rising, another Blick series, this time on the Rwandan genocide, which led me to Rwanda's Untold Story, a BBC documentary which digs into the many layers of culpability and blame, as well as Gérard Prunier’s Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe

There's a terrific History of Africa series that the BBC produced in association with UNESCO’s African history project

RIP HR Gigeresque sculptor Lee BontecouNYT obit

The tangent piano, another proto-piano of the 18th century along with the virginal, fortepiano, harpsichord, etc

A new cubism exhibition at the Met – there’s a video walkthrough – as well as a Jason Farago artwork-deep-dive from 2019 I missed on a Gris

George Benjamin’s remarkable Written On Skin opera from 2013

So ... we can read minds now: things seen, things read

Marc-André Hamelin’s recording of Samuil Feinberg’s piano sonatas

San Antonio’s Riverwalk canal system, a parallel community unto itself

November 6, 2022

Decision to Leave, a delicious, dense Hitchcockian romance

A biography of Malcolm Arnold focusing on the symphonies, also a Presto Music pod on Arnold

Profile of a port-container driver and his struggles

The Chipmunks Sing Koyaanisqatsi

2020 documentary Being Beethoven in which Peter Capaldi reads Beethoven

In the land of zero covid

Two lectures by Dr John Sides on the 2020 election and his book on it The Bitter End, or rather roughly the same lecture with two different Q&As afterward

Francis Spufford’s brilliant 2010 fantasia on the Soviet planned economy Red Plenty, which features a star turn by Alexander Galich (another of his tunes, this time with subtitles)

Desert of the Tartars from 1976, haunting Kafkaesque allegory

Dostoevsky’s Demons, as well as Irwin Weil’s delightful overview of Dostoevsky

October 25, 2022

Matt Levine on the Musk/Twitter Schrödinger's deal

WordPress compiled to WebAssembly

Execution ballads and an exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands

“Unionization throughout one’s career is associated with a $1.3 million mean increase in lifetime earnings, larger than the average gains from completing college”

Playing Mozart on Mozart’s own fortepiano

EU Ambassadors Conference keynote by Josep Borrell Fontelles – the jungle/garden metaphor was unfortunate but imagining its use was malicious is belied by the content of the speech

Haydn2032 No 17: Per Il Luigi

“We said there’s way too much empathy going on here”: the advent of algorithmically-generated ever-increasing rental prices

The impossibility of Californian high-speed rail

Athena, the latest in a long line of action films set in banlieues featuring some of the best long takes since 1917

September 30, 2022

Approval and ranked-choice voting systems compared – this has a very Seattle focus given there is an upcoming vote, but could be valuable for anyone

Emily the Criminal – taut thriller which is also a cri de cœur in the same way Parasite was

2017 arrangement of King Crimson’s Discipline – the mark-VII lineup of Crimson is more interesting when you can see the three-drummer interplay

Riotsville, USA is a Chris Markerish documentary that reveals the mindset of the Sixties more than many others

The new Zappa box: two 1974 shows and one 1976 one, just glorious, improvisational jams packed with bonhomie that are largely free of latter-day Zappa strident prurient doggerel

The best explanation I've heard for the US ‘strategic ambiguity’ posture vis-a-vis Taiwan

Somebody had to say it: Mental Health Is Political

Mal Waldron’s work with Steve Lacy I’d been aware of, being a big Lacy fan, but now spending time with Waldron’s solo piano LPs: Meditations from 1972, Searching In Grenoble from 1978, Plays Satie from 1983 ...

Paris Police 1900, which has been on BBC for a while and will eventually make it Stateside

JACK Quartet plays Xenakis’ Tetras (1983) – incredible performance of a still-astonishing piece

September 17, 2022

Power and Politics in Today’s World absolutely essential lecture series at Yale from 2019

Hikers nearly trapped in a wildfire

“Incarceration cannot be justified on the grounds it affords public safety by decreasing recidivism”

The iPhone 14 Index, a modernization of the Economists’ Big Mac Index

Alt Shift X’s House of Dragon-explaining videos – he remembers so much backstory lore which completely escapes me while watching the show

Why Aren’t You Voting in Your Financial Self-Interest?

Explaining how QR codes work

A modest proposal for queueing for the Queen’s coffin

Men of Iron, engrossing 2004 documentary on Victorian engineering mostly focusing on Brunel: part 1, part 2, part 3

Is Ron DeSantis the Future of the Republican Party?

September 10, 2022

The New York Review of Books and The Economist with two good overviews of an impending federal collapse/schism in the US

Lars Vogt, a man staring down the barrel of his own imminent death, plays late Brahms

The Durutti Column – LC

Sam Thielmann on Jim Woodring

AI-generated imagery continues to exponentially improve: stable diffusion, outpainting (via Benedict Evans)

Wild theory about a clandestine use case for SpaceX’s Starship

1983 documentary on the Spanish Civil War

The elaborate plans laid for the death of Queen Elizabeth II

1986–87 ECM supergroup Bass Desires with Jon Scofield and Bill Frisell: 1986 gig, 1988

Russell Crowe as Zeus in the latest Thor movie

September 3, 2022

Brilliant Kipling poem noted by Neil Gaiman in an NYT profile

Recent Cassandra Miller composition performed by Explore Ensemble

The Disappearing Modernists

Sibelius symphonies performed by the Oslo Philharmonic conducted by Klaus Mäkelä

Michael Heizer’s City prepares for its first visitors after 52 years

David Pepper on antidemocratic state legislatures

Bronzino’s Allegory with Venus and Cupid which features routinely in art history texts and suffers in reproduction but in life at the National Gallery is stunning

Much Ado About Nothing at the Globe

Yellow fever epidemics as a feature, not a bug, of New Orleans society

Thirty Years’ War film The Last Valley

July 30, 2022

The NYT's 2018 proposal to overhaul the House of Representatives: part one, part two

Ella Zarina Trio at Bimhuis

What Are Edge Networks?

Omar El Akkad’s American War from 2017 – reviewers get hung up on the details of the novel’s future history and miss the brilliance of the book, which is to put Americans in the position of Iraqis or Syrians

The New Politics of Evasion

Build Back Better, Dead Again (somewhat obviated by Manchin’s recent and sudden acquiescence to what I would consider moderate tax and climate legislation, most likely prompted by a deal that would advantage a pipeline from his state of West Virginia)

July 16’s Down with Disease

The Denver Post and the PBS NewsHour on the imminent end of the Colorado River

“Seeing the dystopias of your own imagination being created is not the best thing you could wish for”: A flood of absurd marketing for the Brobdingnagian NEOM project which has its antecedent in Superstudio’s Continuous Monument from 1969

Carter Scholz’ Radiance from 2002 – very indebted to William Gaddis and a joy to read, this is one of the few things Scholz wrote (along with music composition)

June 29, 2022

Barry season 3 – now escaping further from its black-comedy box and plumbing Lynchian depths of dreamlike intensity

How space debris threatens modern life

The Procedure Fetish

Twisted tale of an inspirational coach-cum-cult-leader The Deep End – relatedly How to Start a Cult

Alexa the oracle speaks in the voices of the dead: “The goal is to ‘make the memories last’ after ’so many of us have lost someone we love’ during the pandemic”

Infrastructure challenges in moving to zero-emission energy sources

Public Choice Theory and the Illusion of Grand Strategy

Absurd visualization of an unworkable New Gilded Age elite playground

Why America Can’t Build

Cassidy Hutchinson’s January 6 hearing testimony

June 12, 2022

“What Are You Willing to Do”

Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms and History of Mass Shooters – two studies that contradict but contain interesting detail and argument

Panel discussion on Is Russia Fascist? Unraveling Propaganda East and West

Thane Gustafson interviewed on Klimat: Russia in the Age of Climate Change – mentioned in the interview is a primer on hydrogen energy from the Economist

Never did I think we'd get a fourth season of Borgen but we have and it's terrific

Quentin Tolimieri’s Monochromes – maybe the most significant piano repertoire expansion since Ligeti’s Etudes (recorded recently by Danny Driver), and so far the record of the year

The endless parade of hilarious and absurd DALL•E mini creations

Footage of a Min Tanaka-Derek Bailey performance

Fascinating “conversation” with an AI – language processing has become so good this is no indication of sentience at all, but it's compelling reading

There Is No Antimemetics Division – coming very late to this (from 2015) but still fantastic

May 26, 2022

Col. Roger Cirillo hilariously slagging Patton

Real-time bidding considered harmful – adtech-derived info on people gets sold to China, which is busy compiling a massive data trove on Westerners to aid in recruiting assets (h/t the Seriously Risky Business newsletter)

Jon Anderson with tales of topographic Vangelis (RIP)

Nuclear Fusion Is Already Facing a Fuel Crisis

The Russian military, press-ganged into impossible tasks with unclear aims, does excel at terrorizing civilians – “They’re Armed to the Teeth, But They’re Not An Army”, “Such Bad Guys Will Come”: How One Russian Brigade Terrorized Bucha, “We Will Never Be the Same”: Bullets and Blindfolds in a Ukrainian City Under Siege

Roche’s metabolic pathways and cellular and molecular processes maps

Il Giardino Armonico plays Sonata Jucunda

From 2016, an excellent intellectual history – Black Wind, White Snow: The Rise of Russia’s New Nationalism

Gun control being an issue captured by a vocal minority isn't supported by the data – the status quo is reified by the majority, despite their expressions to the contrary when polled (via David Shor)

Amazing visualization of a proton – more from Jefferson Labs and MIT on the project (via Martin Bauer)

May 17, 2022

Ascension doc on the deranged hustling in the hyperreal of modern China; filled with bizarre and hilarious images

When I Went Away from the World

Stoppard’s Coast of Utopia plays on the intellectual ferment of pre-Revolutionary Russia. Why is it so hard to see any Stoppard production that's not Rosencrantz?

Soviet Storm, a 2011 Russian documentary on WW2 depicting the immense struggle in the East; less friendly to Stalin than you might think, but also less nuanced than you might hope

Dylan tries to figure out what key Not Dark Yet is in – he gets a lot of stick for screwing around with his arrangements but it's not just perversity or boredom prompting that, the song is always being discovered (which in typical Dylan style Dylan himself says can’t be done)

Pinning down the source of the Wow Signal – the star being offered is 1800 light-years away, which would mean the transmission occurred in 177 CE

Fantastic documentary on Claude Shannon: The Bit Player – the doc makes the case for him as a modern Newton and the comparison seems apt

Battlefield – PBS series with long, detailed episodes on WW2 battles and campaigns

Tooze on the reasons for inflation – not what you think it is, and unfortunately this information will do nothing to prevent inflation from being politically weaponized over the next few years

Wonderful, detailed musical genre exegeses with historical context from Road Jack

April 13, 2022

Drone vid of Tesla’s Berlin “gigafactory”

Lectures and interviews on early Christianity – Why Invent the Jesus? and The Gospel According to Carrier – and the science of the ancient world from Richard Carrier

The search for an octopus amenable to study

Microplastics will become more and more a pressing concern: in the oceans, in the Salish Sea, in our blood

Jef Raskin, he of Apple user interface guideline fame, came up with great input tech for his Canon Cat

Marc Sabat’s Euler Lattice Spirals Scenery – on the Another Timbre label

Ukraine could be the second-largest supplier of natural gas

One man and his singing-Torah software

DALL•E 2, art generator – giant leap forward and in some examples indistinguishable from a human-created illustration

Carbon offsets “really are a distraction from true progress toward net zero”

April 2, 2022

Ingrid Fliter playing Schumann

Black Wind, White Snow: The Rise of Russia's New Nationalism – and a lecture from the author

Making the point that you have to invest in the military you need

The Cruelties of Self-Help Culture

Hours-long Theo Parrish mixes on NTS and his first LPs First Floor and Parallel Dimensions

The films of Sergei Loznitsa – his Donbass from 2018 is remarkable, grueling and absurd

Drones in the Ukraine and the prospect of more

Museum of the Future, Dubai

Tour of the International Space Station and more on the ARED exercise device

Visualization of the Kyiv offensive

March 21, 2022

Translation of an FB post on Ukraine that whether or not it was actually written by an FSB analyst is fascinating

Schiff playing Haydn on Haydn’s own fortepiano

Stephen Kotkin on current events and the Hoover Institution generally

David Torn’s Splattercell project from 2000

Yukihiro Takahashi remasters

Radical Interoperability is a Political Agenda

Terrific performance of Prokofiev's String Quartet No. 2 in F Major, Op. 92 in a lecture on Prokofiev living in the USSR

Annotated lyrics to the Fall’s “Free Range”

The collapse of higher education

Raised By Wolves, which has been gradually impressing me more and more, might be one of the all-time best SF shows

March 6, 2022

Mesmerizing Couperin from Atsushi Sakai, Christophe Rousset, and Marion Martineau

Interview with Fiona Hill re Putin from Feb 22

David Runciman on Fukuyama’s End of History and the Last Man – seen once as triumphalist, then hopelessly naive, really neither of those but more prescient

Myths and misconceptions in the debate on Russia – how they affect Western policy, and what can be done

Stanley Cursiter’s Scottish Futurism from 1913: The Sensation of Crossing the Street, Synthesis of the Supper Room at an Arts Club Reception, Rain on Princes Street

Long Covid-19 as the fast track to homelessness

Russia, Ukraine and the 30-year quest for a post-Soviet order – I would have liked the article to trace US policy past 1994, but still worth reading

Ransomware for industrial coercion rather than extortion

On Auden by Elisa Gabbert

Tone Glow returns with a John Oswald interview

March 3, 2022

Ukraine on the Brink

Kagan and Richter play Medtner in 1980

Tiny coral-like (but unlikely coral; more likely, salt) structure on Mars

Barbirolli’s 1967 Mahler 6

Condemnation of the American left's abasement, in which the US is more to blame for enabling bad actors than the actors themselves: The New Strategic Narcissists, “anti-imperialism of idiots”

Vice extensively covering Ukraine post-2014: a collection of 2014–15 dispatches including Donbass In 2014Donbass in 2016, the new Cold War, volunteer militias, Crimea in 2017–2019, Russian and Ukrainian far-right extremism as a magnet for right-wing extremists worldwide

Center for Strategic and International Studies Ukraine brief from January and a discussion from March 1

Game in which you sort Wikipedia entries chronologically – gets deviously more difficult the longer a game goes on

Institute for the Study of War Ukraine briefings

Severance – a show that’s closer to Philip K Dick’s work than many actual Dick adaptations

February 24, 2022

Finance capital, unwilling to incur losses, impedes addressing climate change: “[the] problem, in the models and in our current reality, is the arrogant fidelity to growth.” Daniela Gabor as well on the boondoggle of carbon pricing

PT Anderson’s Licorice Pizza, an absolute delight

“Mental health care, [Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital in Spokane’s administrator] said, is a money-losing proposition. Medicine is reimbursed based on procedures patients undergo, he pointed out, and with mental health ‘there are no procedures.’”

Magdalena Kožena sings Mahler’s “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” with Abbadolyric translation

The very extreme weather of a “hot Jupiter” 850 light-years away

“[The] correct game theory move for Ukrainian soldiers is to follow their own oligarchs into defection and accept the 2-3x salary increase from joining the Russian Army”

Prof John Mearsheimer on Ukraine now and Ukraine in 2015 – our strategy, such as it is, reaping predictable rewards

Protons striking dust were likely source of Earth’s water

Masters of British Comic Art

Playlist of Afghanistan-campaign Russian popular music

February 19, 2022

Marilyn Crispell and Tyshawn Sorey in 2014

Cory Doctorow on Uber and transit

1994: Why Fascism is the Wave of the Future

Previously unissued 1973 Cecil Taylor

When your implants are abandonware

Asset manager capitalism – “when government conceives its role as being essentially to derisk investment by gigantic private asset managers”: executive summary, longer survey of the topic from Tooze

Stan Getz and his excellent 1972 wardrobe – along with Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea, and Tony Williams

Given NIMBY activism against wind farms, the changes that would need to happen for the US to reach net zero emissions will most likely never happen, tragically – the US is a vetocracy while China is defining and building its future (h/t Albert Pinto)

Kit Downes Trio from 2020

George Packer on Afghanistan: The Betrayal

February 7, 2022

Ian Leslie on the Get Back documentary

23 years later, finally finishing Jason Lutes’ Berlin comic set during Weimar, a tremendous achievement (here as well is the obligatory enormous Comics Journal interview with Lutes)

Caspian Report summing up Russian rationale and military options

“A new Vermeer”

Radio image of our galaxy reminds me of 1990s Twombly

A useful synonym/paradigm for 'procrastination' and 'avoidance', Ugh Fields

Socialist realism: Stalingrad – the 'prequel' to the better known Life and Fate – and music lecture series Music Under Stalin

A Disaster In Plain Sight – empathetic fentanyl reporting from the SF Chronicle

Hans Werner Henze symphonies performed by the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin conducted by Marek Janowski

Gonzo travelogue in the FT that should be put in a time capsule: How Miami became the most important city in America

January 27, 2022

Voice acting, music: synthetic performances are nigh

#BIGJAZZ archival music streaming on Twitch Wednesday evenings

Against Identity Politics by Francis Fukuyama – Richard Rorty foresaw most of this and had largely the same remedy in 1997

Michael Hudson on the history and present of debt, which summarizes his 2018 book ... and forgive them their debts

The 30-Year Mortgage is an Intrinsically Toxic Product

Moscow’s Compellance Strategy

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia – marvelously restrained filmmaking

“Making the world safe for autocracy” – Russia and China’s plans for a new world order

How Tech Reform Diminishes Us

MMA in spaaaaaaace

January 19, 2022

Single-room-occupancy hotels (SROs) were the last housing option for the now homeless

“A month later, a microscopic, wormlike invertebrate known as a bdelloid rotifer was crawling around inside. Radiocarbon dating revealed the rotifer to be twenty-four thousand years old”

Michael Kofman on the Russian military buildup around Ukraine

soClassiq, online classical-music reference

Another terrific art-piece deep dive in the NYT, this time on Jasper Johns’ 1961 In Memory of My Feelings – Frank O’Hara – more along similar lines in Artforum

England's Reformations and their Legacies

Excellent F1 car diagram-exploded-view animation

Allan Adams’ introductory quantum mechanics lectures at MIT

Complete William Byrd keyboard music performed by Davitt Moroney

Like SQL, a technology that has never been bettered and finds ever-new applications: the turboencabulator

January 9, 2022

HBO’s Station Eleven adaptation – the apocalypse while suitably scary has a sweet, elegiac, tentatively hopeful tone reminiscent of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō

The lovingly curated James Tenney YouTube channel, better assembled than most biographical Wikipedia pages

“Green nickel is not green for us” – the NYT is doing a great job following tech-manufacturing-materials mining

James Meek’s The People’s Act of Love – why Meek is not better known I’ll never understand; astonishing and gripping novel

Earth, a film by Nikolaus Geyrhalter

Living In Expectation of the Unexpected Gift

The tenth volume in the complete-Haydn-symphonies project (and the Haydn2032 project more broadly)

Preparing for an authoritarian America

Nikolai Medtner – terrific Scriabin/Rachmaninoff contemporary unjustly forgotten, championed by Horowitz to no avail

The Big Misconception About Electricity

December 24, 2021

Daniel King recapping Game 6 of the 2021 World Chess Championship

Fossil Fuel’s Downfall Could Be America’s Too

1982 Rigoletto production with Pavarotti

World War I doc The Great War

We reached Peak Rationality in the mid-1970s – it's been downhill since then and got steeper in 2007

Surveying a US democracy at risk from minoritarianism

James Meek on Russia and Ukraine

Jason Hickel on degrowth, post-capitalism, and human survival: part 1, part 2

Walter Reed has been developing a pan-coronavirus vaccine and the tests look good in primates

All about the James Webb Space Telescope – addendum after its successful launch: Where is the JWST, and another great explainer focusing on what might be achieved

December 2, 2021

András Schiff lectures on Schubert’s D960

Miyazaki returns

Keith Jarrett’s Sun Bear Concertsexcerpt

Joe Biden’s Big Squeeze: “The Koch brothers are strategic; their voters are bananas,” one leading Democrat confided. “Our voters are moderate, but our funders are crazy.”

Things you can do with Starship’s enormous payload size

The Met's 2013 production of Parsifal

How To with John Wilson

Testimony of Jeffrey Clark to the House Select Committee on January 6th

The Journal of Universal Rejection

Deception Pass State Park

November 20, 2021

The Slip live in 2011: part 1, part 2, part 3

Neat mRNA vaccine animation

The case of Wilhelm Fürtwangler – there was a film adaptation made of Ronald Harwood's play about the post-war investigation into Fürtwangler

New Steve Reich – a rare vocal composition; interview

Destruction of a satellite as part of an anti-satellite weapons test created a debris field 40km wide that ISS astronauts had to protect themselves from ... the inevitable Kessler Syndrome apocalypse approaches (extra credit: NASA's documentation listing historical debris as of 1999 – via the excellent Orbital Index)

Bits About Money newsletter – terrific financial-literacy education

Colburn School lecture series on composer Erwin Schulhoff

Nash Ensemble plays Ravel's Piano Trio

The Science of the Solar System

Niskanen Center on state capacity

November 11, 2021

“Spacecraft built before Starship are a bit like steel weapons made before the industrial revolution”

The last-mile problem in electrical infrastructure

A new, improved version of Fisher-Price's phonograph toy

The coming battle over space

John Cage's Concert for Piano and Orchestra (1957–58): a jam-packed dedicated website for the 2020 project about it featuring a player creating your own version of the composition, pod featuring Martin Iddon on the piece and the project, Philip Thomas's recording of its Solo for Piano

How Imaginary Numbers Were Invented

The story of Viktor Orban

Amtrak's investment traps

The story of Cassini: part 1, part 2

Widows – terrific 2018 remake of an 80s UK series

October 24, 2021

The Octacube

The trouble with the media

Joséphine Olech plays Steve Reich

Tooze on the futility of West Virginia and coal

Reconciling Social Media & Democracy

sitelen sitelen, a sort of Sanrio-meets-Mayan script for Toki Pona, an artificial language

The business and life of escorting

Solti recording the Ring – also Anna Russell summarizes the Ring

Thorough walkthrough of the Chinese social credit system

The New Meth

October 12, 2021

Physics at the End of the Universe

The Most Important Device In the Universe

András Schiff on Schubert

Matthias Goerne sings Schubert: D700, D933

Sohei Nishino's fractal photocollages

Tesseracts explained as much as they can be

This Real Estate Bubble Won't Pop

Theatrical production derived completely from Reality Winner's interrogationNYT review

The Next Conflicts Will Be Fought Over Sand

Rethinking housing to ward off loneliness

October 1, 2021

Review of a 1989 Jasper Johns exhibition by William H Gass, Jerry Saltz on Johns, also Redo an Eye, the monograph which accompanies Johns’ catalogue raisonné

Dover Quartet playing Beethoven – a revelation

As More Workers Go Solo, the Software Stack Is the New Firm

The new Foundation adaptation – there's also an excellent 1973 BBC radio adaptation which hews a lot closer to the books

Lyman Woodard special on NTS

Why everything is becoming a subscription

Barbados PM at the UN speaking for everyone left out of the First World

Taylor Ho Bynum on the new Seattle Love Supreme

Seeing so many divisive binaries in the world – opinions, political parties – makes me wish Brian Eno's 'axis thinking' became a common heuristic (also: review of The Scout Mindset which exhorts us all to be good Bayesians)

Mitchell & Webb – Identity Theft and Dr. Glaucomflecken – Who Do You Work For

September 22, 2021

Matthew Shipp – Symbol Systems, Strata, Equilibrium ... the Shipp discography is full of riches and variety

4-voice polyphonic piece of music generated by 210 bytes of Cmore background

Grassy Knolling the 2021 Italian Grand Prix

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice

On Cultures That Build

Heroes of the Fourth Turning

A Hypothesis Is a Liability

Possible explanation for the legend of Sodom's destruction

New Kris Davis Trio

Why Equality Is Unhelpful as a Political Goal

September 16, 2021

“I helped destroy people” – the FBI and the War on Terror

The Other Afghan Women

“The dead abandon you; then, with the passage of time, you abandon the dead.”

9/11: One Day In America

Two Jasper Johns exhibitions: at the Whitney and in Philly

The North Water

Will Powers – Dancing for Mental Health

David Runciman on Max Chafkin's bio of Peter Thiel

The trouble with Bob Woodward

RIP Norm Macdonald

September 6, 2021

Better outcomes with a fraction of the resources: the public-health emphasis of Costa Rica

Navalny interview, the first since being jailed

Solar system at Moon:1px scale

Igor Levit plays Beethoven at Wigmore Hall

David S. Ware, 1999 documentary recording the recording of Surrendered

Excellent 1975 analysis of the US depression somewhat marred by bad OCR; via Rick Perlstein

Yet another grandiose libertarian planned community

Death of the Carbon Coalition

One by One, My Friends Were Sent to the Camps

Space Opera Clichés – so much more comprehensive than the headline suggests

August 23, 2021

Contrasting F1 and Formula E: Motorsport In the Electric Age

A Chinese intellectual observes America Against America in 1991

The mysteries of modern obesity

Darren Byler on Chinese biometric surveillance

Gastropod on cannabis – biology, economics, jurisprudence, and why CBD-in-everything is a scam: 1, 2

Contronyms – words which are their own opposites

Perpetual Spawning

The Fall, June 4 1981

Afghanistan: The Great Game (2012) – part 1, part 2; also How Afghanistan Became a Failed State

White-collar-crime support groups: “The elements that made them successful are also the elements that contributed to their demise.”

August 19, 2021

Beautiful article on a Seattle-area Japanese garden

Excellent interview with Spencer Ackerman re the War on Terror

Simplistic but compelling review of China's strategic motivations

New box set of Cage number pieces from Another Timbre

Is Planet Nine a black hole? – don’t miss the illustration of a five-Earth-mass black hole at 1:1 scale

If domestic political incentives require that oil production is kept high so prices are kept low, climate change cannot be addressed

Lawfare/Brookings on the fall of Afghanistan

“The algorithm is set up to convince clinicians that care of anybody with more serious illness represents the greatest possible liability. And in that way, it incentivizes the abandonment of patients who have the most serious problems.”

Highlights of the WA GOP’s election-fraud rally: 1, 2

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo

August 5, 2021

Next-gen AC

Two great lectures by Adam Tooze on Germany: 150th Anniversary of German Unification: Bismarck, Realpolitik, and Birth of a Nation and The Wages of Destruction

Excellent explainer vid on the recent ISS docking problems – also How the Space Station Moves In Orbit Like A Spaceship

RIP Chicago house legend Paul Johnson

Legal Systems Very Different Than Ours

Is Taiwan Next? and relatedly a Caspian Report on the likelihood/challenges of an invasion

Being held hostage by the stupidest person: the Food and Drug Administration

Terrific NYer profile of the artist Kerry James Marshall

American incarceration has a lot more to do with class than race

The smooth sounds of Stanley Clarke

July 24, 2021

Algorithmic redistricting via David Shor

Saariaho’s incredible new opera Innocence, premiered in Aix – NYT review, NYer

Excellent review of Delta and a good conversation with Dr. Ashish Jha

“Falling psychiatric biodiversity” – noted within, post-traumatic counseling considered harmful

Exquisite riches are to be found in obscure symphonies: Atterberg’s Third, Magnard’s Fourth Langgaard’s Fourth, Martinů’s Fourth

Talking about inequality not only demotivates people to actually address it but generates even more inequality-aggravating legislation

William Carter’s edited Moncrieff translation of Proust

The Tyranny of Spreadsheets

“The median Democrat is substantially more conservative, at least on social issues, than really almost any Democratic politician that is out there.”

Making criticism of textbooks into a political career in 1966

July 3, 2021

Steven Osborne plays Debussy

Tone Glow talks to Terre Thaemlitz

Steven Isserlis & Thomas Adès – Lieux retrouvés, an evocative program (filled with diacritical marks) of Liszt, Fauré, Janáček, Kurtág, and Adès – NPR review

The World Is Wrong podcast features lesser-known film recommendations which I'm checking out (like 2012’s The Paperboy which was excellent and haunting)

“There are, of course, no shortage of analyses that relate the climate crisis to the dynamics of capitalism. A good case can be made that rather than the Anthropocene, we should be discussing the Capitalocene”

The Most COMPLEX Pop Song of All Time

The machines are coming: writing your code, sorting your Legos, blocking your videos

Every so often a performance comes along that makes you hear compositions in a completely new, exciting way – this was definitely true for me listening to Garrick Ohlsson’s Brahms recordings on Hyperion

Soderbergh’s latest No Sudden Move – like the Ocean films any objections you might have about the plot or script are made irrelevant by the fantastic cast (the 50s Detroit setting is also terrific)

I’ve linked to a lecture by Ed Baptist before about his book The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, but I’m finally getting around to the book and it’s marvelous

June 24, 2021

The outsider and the insider perspectives on taxes and the absurdly wealthy – I await Matt “Everything Is Insider Trading” Levine’s take

We don’t have a drinking problem, we have a social disconnection problem

Tone Glow interviews George Lewis

John Eliot Gardiner’s podcast on Monteverdi and the world of 1600 – also Harnoncourt’s Monteverdi productions are subtitled on YouTube: L’Orfeo and Poppea

Samuel Andreyev on Lachenmann

Russia’s Adaptive Authoritarianism

When Graphs Are a Matter of Life and Death

“Neither the evolutionary nor the technological changes to our social systems have come about with the express purpose of promoting global sustainability or quality of life. Recent and emerging technologies such as online social media are no exception — both the structure of our social networks and the patterns of information flow through them are directed by engineering decisions made to maximize profitability […] The emergent functional consequences are unknown”

Relatedly: Out-group animosity drives engagement on social media

The Underground Railroad – I was unfamiliar with the source material, only knowing it was highly regarded, so I was unprepared for how fantastic this adaptation is. The magic-realist tone (reminding me of Exit West) is a daring choice, and should not work but succeeds brilliantly and adds layers of emotional depth. It's a nightmarish experience to watch – the closest thing I can think to its unflinching cavalcade of horror would be Come and See. (There's a film the director Barry Jenkins uploaded featuring static shots of Railroad’s characters which is also remarkable.)

June 7, 2021

What the Tulsa Race Massacre Destroyed

The Brazilianization of the World

Can Elites Start the Climate Revolution?

Another great art exegesis by the NYT, this time on Morisot

People for the Ethical Treatment of Reinforcement Learners via the excellent NYT interview promoting The Alignment Problem

Wittgenstein’s experience as a teacher may have determined his later work

Are We Entering a New Political Era?

The Man Who Put Out Fires with Music

America’s Scarcity Mindset

Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz – prefigures Twin Peaks for me: dreamlike tone, emotionally labile (swerving between horrific and saccharine), every character in some ways is reprehensible, baffling mystical conclusion, drags on insufferably in parts but unforgettable

June 1, 2021

Interbrain synchrony – “a tour de force in bioengineering”

Not quite comics but comic-adjacent: Yuichi Yokoyama and Ilan Manouach

Vyto B’s Tricentennial 2076

Terrific backgrounder on Israel-Palestine by Mohammad Alsaafin

2003 documentary The First World War

Lozenges that regenerate tooth enamel

The history of the “individual mandate”

Hardware/Software Co-design: The Coming Golden Age – note: presenter’s business is selling server hardware

All Quiet on the Western Front

Russian Piano Masterpieces: Prokofiev

May 24, 2021

John Richardson may be dead, but the fourth volume of his Picasso bio arrives in November

Ferrofluid BT speaker

Jim Woodring talks about David Lindsay’s bizarre 1920 novel Voyage to Arcturus – an edition featuring Woodring’s illustrations is out via Beehive Books

Napoleon may be a collective delusion via Ted Gioia’s Substack

Excellent explainer vid on the recent events in Gaza – it’s a shame news outlets can’t package the conflict in such an understandable and even-handed way as this

“Geometrical and Topological Analogues of Rubik's Cube”

Poulenc’s Sonata for Two Clarinets (FP 7, 1918) perf. Ronald van Spaendonck & André Moisan

Washington state’s long-awaited capital gains tax and how it came to be

Review of Peter Zeihan’s book The Accidental Superpower

Cambridge’s Prof. Christopher Clark on the 1848 Revolutions

May 13, 2021

The Scale of the Universe

Sean Carroll on the recent muon experiments

React framework Remix beta walkthrough

Josquin Depres / des Prez’ Dice Mass – and an NYT article on the composer

“Class, you have permission to kick him in the balls”

How to Draw a Line, one of Heydon Pickering’s hilarious web-tech-explainer vids Webbed Briefs

Bittman on the folly of artificial meat

Hubert Dreyfus’ lectures on Heidegger’s Being and Time: Division I, Division II

Safari really is the new IE nb: written by Chromium dev

“MMAcevedo (Mnemonic Map/Acevedo), also known as Miguel, is the earliest executable image of a human brain” – fiction, but for how long

April 25, 2021

Russian Piano Masterpieces lecture series

Open source vaccines from the Rapid Deployment Vaccine Collaborative

Brandon Magner on the Amazon-union defeat

“Each day on twitter there is one main character. The goal is to never be it”

In-the-trenches, no-spin view of historical events in El Salvador, Angola and Afghanistan from the oral history collection of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, cited as part of the Afghanistan Papers

Breakdown of Henry George’s Progress and Poverty: An Inquiry into the Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth: The Remedy from 1879

John Plowright plays Bach and Brahms

A utopian libertarian charter city embedded in Honduras

The Apollo Guidance Computer

Ken Russell’s short film The Strange Affliction of Anton Bruckner

April 5, 2021

Genghis Tron – Dream Weapon

Understanding Heidegger on Technology

Graham Lambkin reissued – reviewed by Geeta Dayal

The Ministry for the Future

Excellent Napoleon documentary: 1, 2, 3, 4

Mark Viner lectures on Charles-Valentin Alkan, contemporary of Chopin and Liszt

Examining works of art in a new way online: Mughal miniatures

Janet Yellen and Mario Draghi Have One Last Job

The Great Reversal: How Neoliberalism Turned the Economic Aspirations of Liberalism Upside Down and another version of the same talk, again with an excellent Q&A

The Many Lives of Grandmaster Jay

March 27, 2021

In & Of Itself

The lost IDM of Beaumont Hannant: mix

Quo Vadis, Aida?

The Canyons

Too Like the Lightning

The Unnatural Endurance of Bipartisanship

Chris Watson interviewed

SpaceManT’s series of IDM mixes

Yoann Bourgeois’ The Mechanics of History and another take

March 8, 2021

On the infamous boondoggle Space Launch SystemSLS: Is cancellation too good?

Embassytown, terrific SF with clever things to say about language, meaning, politics

Cryptodamages: Monetary value estimates of the air pollution and human health impacts of cryptocurrency mining – and the relative energy cost of transactions

BBC4’s The Inquiry, giving much-needed deep context to events

Einojuhani RautavaaraPiano Concerto No. 1 (1969)

In Oakland, the beginning of the end for leafblowers, an offense against God and man

John Edmark’s zoetrope sculptures


Mathematics in Music and Writing lecture series, via NYT

The problem isn't QM, it's you: Quantum Mechanics Isn’t Weird, We’re Just Too Big and The Zen Anti-Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

February 28, 2021

Political values are absorbed and maintained because we want to impress people around us or because elites instruct us to have them

History of Ideas Series 2: Rousseau, Bentham, Douglass, Butler ...

Farmer grabs lynx by scruff of neck, scolds it for killing chickens

The unified cosmic vision of Alexander von Humboldt, the nineteenth century’s great naturalist-adventurer

Fall of Civilizations does the Inca

Tram trip through Amsterdam

Joshua Abrams’ Natural Information Society


Scott Ross, harpsichordist and a guide to the harpsichord

The Fermi Paradox Is Our Business Model

February 21, 2021

Judas and the Black Messiah

Can't Get You Out of My Head

Backlisted, a podcast on lesser-known or cult fiction

Maintaining position in a hierarchy is more important than serving one's own needs

The Death of Yugoslavia and The Trial of Ratko Mladic

The alternate-history space-race series For All Mankind, back for its second season

The Politics of a Second Gilded Age – the Dems’ constituency is now a tax-avoidant affluent suburb

Gramophone's top Mahler symphony recordings

Eric Foner – Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877

The helicopter Perseverance carries on Mars and the rover’s engineering generally

February 14, 2021

Transparent wood

The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845–1877


Kris Davis Borderlands Trio at the Vanguard


Cryptocurrencies are horrendous energy consumers

The Investigation

Niskanen Center’s The Science of Politics: When Partisans Endorse Violence

The Slate Star mishegas: Cade Metz, Elizabeth Spiers, Scott Alexander, Robert Reinhart

Riding on a tram through Amsterdam

February 6, 2021

NYer profile of Adam Curtis

James Wood on Beethoven

Martin Eden

Genesis in 1973

Gulf city-state slavery

The Democratic Party Has a Fatal Misunderstanding of the QAnon Phenomenon

The future unemployment line gets longer: generating SQL from plain English using GPT-3

Tyshawn Sorey, Joe Lovano, and Bill Frisell at the Vanguard

First Cow

Tortoise doing TNT in 2019

January 30, 2021

Mayor: Ramullah seen through the lens of Tati

Putin's Palace

The original Manchurian Candidate, Henry Wallace‘Wallace would have created an American foreign policy run by Soviet agents he had installed in the White House’

Some reasons to hope re climate change: After Alarmism

James Meek's To Calais, In Ordinary TimeGuardian review

To Counter China’s Rise, the U.S. Should Focus on Xi

New Khashoggi doc The Dissident – relatedly an excerpt of an MBS bio and the beyond-parody Line city announcement

A History of Cities In 50 Buildings

Tony Bennett and Bill Evans via Iverson

‘I have reconsidered the matter, you have changed your mind, he has gone back on his word’ via Scott Alexander

January 22, 2021

The Plague Year

Mike Westbrook – live performance of Citadel/Room 315

Apartment House’s Morton Feldman concerts at Wigmore Hall: 1, 2, 3 via Steve Smith

Where Year Two of the Pandemic Will Take Us

Stick mobility exercises

Next-level 12-string from Rob Noyes

Huawei, 5G, and the Man Who Conquered Noise

Backlash-avoidance as policy

‘Every Man Has His Breaking Point’: Reagan, Brainwashing and the Movies

Excellent mix of classic Franco tunes

January 5, 2021

Your Trip Is Short, imaginative and bizarre Dead/Phish covers by avant- and noise groups

The North Carolina Kid Who Cracked YouTube’s Secret Code – the world has become a Gibson or Stephenson novel now

Reverse Engineering the Source Code of the BioNTech/Pfizer SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine

The Soul of Erlang and Elixir

How Russia Wins the Climate Crisis

‘Rising anxiety over declining social status tells us a lot about how we got here and where we’re going’


Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine, truly epic black metal from Mare Cognitum and Spectral Lore

GA Sec of State refusing to carry water and/or break law

Philip Sherburne’s Best Mixes of the Month series

December 28, 2020

A Delicate Truth audiobook, read by le Carré himself

Trickle-down economics is a scam, but we knew this

Top Retractions of 2020

A Portrait of 19th-Century Creole Culture

Interview with AWS engineer

Christian Wolff – Exercise 15 from Wandelweiser

The butt pajamas will follow you forever

Streetwise and Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell

The Gospel of Hydrogen Power

The Gone World

December 14, 2020

History of Philosophy podcast

2020's What I Learned list from Tom Whitwell

ML reveals a previously unknown galaxy collision among the collisions forming our own galaxy, via Orbital Index

'60s European filmed jazz gigs (bonus: Paul Gonsalves nods off three times on the stand with Duke in '65)

Sometimes, by Olly Wilson via Tone Glow

Review of lesser-known GRM artists, with great links to documentaries

Man Is the Bastard

Monetizing the Final Frontier: The strange new push for space privatization

RIP John le Carré: the original, and by far the best, Tinker adaptation and Smiley’s People

Bandcamp's Best of 2020

December 8, 2020

Why is the M1 so fast?

Excellent review of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

The cosmic weirdness of Magnetars

I will always associate Arecibo with GoldenEye

The environmental consequences, including poisoning, of road tires

JACK Quartet via Library of Congress playing Rodericus, Seeger, Carter, and new Tyshawn Sorey

Carrie Coon’s Criterion picks

The Party that Failed

I didn’t buy the portrayal of Welles in Fincher’s Mank, but I didn't mind – it was a terrific film

Ferneyhough’s string quartets

November 30, 2020

The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X

How the Coronavirus Hacks the Immune System

The Sparrow with Four Sexes

The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

The Timing of Evolutionary Transitions Suggests Intelligent Life Is Rare

Primer on mRNA vaccines via Zeynep Tufekci


Execute Program spaced-repetition courses

Romain Grosjean surviving a horrible crash

17 CDs of Henry Cow

November 26, 2020

Sibelius’ Voces intimae, Op 56 (1909)

The insane engineering of Apollo’s computers and rope memory

A lecture on Kurtag’s musical setting of Beckett’s Fin de Partie, with the premiere in French with Italian subs, its libretto in French and Italian, and the text of the full play in English

Penguin Cafe Orchestra on the Beeb in ’89

I may or may not be responsible for destroying American working-class prosperity

The Grand Unification Proposal

Finnish Radio TV Symphony Orchestra playing Lutosławski

The Best Man (1964)

“We are not the leader of first choice because we’re always right, or because we’re universally liked, or because we can dictate outcomes,” he said. “It’s because we strive to the best of our ability to align our actions with our principles, and because American leadership has a unique ability to mobilize others and to make a difference.”

Politics, Science and the Remarkable Race for a Coronavirus Vaccine

November 15, 2020

Excellent inside-the-NYT piece on its culture and business

Nice try, Elon – you can’t escape laws and regulations in space

black midi – Schlagenheim

From Peter TurchinThe Strange Disappearance of Cooperation in America


Excerpt from Obama’s memoir, on passage of the ACA

The brilliant compositional processes of Maya Verlaak

Steven Drury plays Rzewski

The Big Lessons from History, and regarding point 3, You Can’t Tell People Anything

Incredible visualization of the contents of a cell

November 10, 2020

The excellent David Shor from back in July on electoral trends

Steve Potts soundtrack reissue

Brewing coffee in space

A Theory of Justice: The Musical!

Democrats attempt to arrest the leftward moves of the party by preventing incumbents from being unseated by progressive challengers

How Trump lost

Terrific BBC docu-drama on Beethoven in three parts: 1, 2, 3

New dates for the nearly-cancelled Guston retrospective

Two hours of spasmodically gyrating Deadheads in the hall outside a 1987 gig

The .org TLD won’t be sold to a private equity firm

November 2, 2020

Marbled crayfish, which travel across land and water at night and eat whatever they can, do not occur in nature and are banned by the European Union’

Einstein’s Bridge, OOP SF by John Cramer – set at a fully-functioning Superconducting Super Collider; in our reality, the SSC was abandoned a fifth of the way into its construction (this last piece also usefully functions as a management-culture cautionary tale) and the LHC went on to find the Higgs

The sounds of π

Private press MI music via Inzane Michigan on NTS

Counterpart, nice Cold War parable SF show

Informed crash course in the Chinese tech landscape with contrasts to the US

Interactive infographics on voting methods that are better than first-past-the-post

Blanche Blanche Blanche

Hilarious deep-fake-awareness vid from the South Park guys

Younger people abandoning democracy, via Talking Politics

October 25, 2020

‘Everything is impossible until it’s not. I want to be in a world where we’re thinking about what we need, not just what we think we can get.’

More on the possibly-microwave attacks on US embassy personnel and diplomats

The Future of Programming

The Fall of the CDC

I never dreamed that I'd be eaten by a bear, says voter for the Freedom to be Eaten by Bears Party

Joe Frank: Somewhere Out There

I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Nazakat & Salamat Ali Khan

Quintessence as an explanation of dark energy got some supporting evidence

Marc Sabat

October 18, 2020

360-degree video of orbiting around a black hole

Hacking former PMs using only a boarding pass

Measurement = entanglement – relatedly the Transactional Interpretation of QM in which waves travel back and forth in time to create the present day – I think

Seeing revanchist UK political trends through the lens of Morrissey

History of the Colorado Coalfield Wars in the early 20th c

Stressed Election NYT documentary series on electoral mechanics

Harlan County USA

Trial of the Chicago 7 – has problems, and a couple of scenes really grate, but worth seeing

Why arrays are zero-indexed

Lachenmann-esque Clara Ianotta on Wergo, perf. Jack Quartet

October 13, 2020

Maybe the most insightful presentation you’ll see on the electorate in the 2016 and 2020 elections

'We fed the beast that ate us' – the GOP has been forced down a far-right populist road by its own hand

Niskanen Center on the OMB’s recommendations to expand health care – calling Medicare for All single-payer is a confounding misnomer

‘This is an emotional exchange between a human and an AI on a website with 430 million active users’ – GPT-3 bot has lengthy, numerous, undetected posts on Reddit

Breakdown of dark money in Supreme Court nominees and cases courtesy of Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI)

Terrific print of the spectacular 1970 recreation of Waterloo by the same guy who did the epic 1966 version of War and Peace

The Good Lord Bird adaptation

Serene Wandelweiser compilation of 9 diaphanous compositions and a combination of all of them

Excellent Feldmanesque tribute to ‘a French astronomer who had a particular talent as a comet hunter’

New Prana Crafter feels like a coherent whole rather than disparate tracks

October 5, 2020

Turns out time-restricted feeding is a good way to lose muscle mass, not fat

‘The kinds of opportunists who are attracted solely to wealth and status have no principles at all beyond accumulation of these two objects’

Fusion might actually be happeningtechnical presentation from 2019, technical presentation from 2016, 2014 article on fusion and ITER

Wire survey of Tashi Dorji's excellent improv

Another terrific Tone Glow interview, this time with Eiko Ishibashi

ML-generated death metal based on metal that already sounds ML-generated

The 1968 Monk gig at a high school in Palo Alto is finally released after some licensing disputes

Why we can’t fix infrastructure

Azerbaijani Army propaganda

Some apropos music for the season and of the times: Adès’ Totentanz, from 2013 via Alex Ross

September 27, 2020

Partially Examined Life on Rorty’s Achieving Our Country: Part one, part two

Adding 127 states to amend the Constitution and avoid the tyranny of the minority

The horrible Expo 2025 logo may be one of the most memorable of all time

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness

40 years since the Dead’s Fall 1980 run at the Warfield

‘Perversely, the only way to build bipartisan political support for a green transition in the United States may be to pitch it as a national security issue in a cold war competition with China.’

Maybe the most adorable animal vid ever

'I’ve been ordered to find and destroy': the latest chapter in the insanity of Silicon Valley

Michael Sandel on the Case Against Meritocracy

Anand Giridharadas on tech’s billionaires: ‘Are they even on the same team as us?’

September 19, 2020

Astonishing 'good girl' Saturday Evening Post illustrator Edwin Georgi

Somewhat dated and un-PC but fascinating talk by ex-KGB on subversion

Quiz showing how hard it is to spot fake social media accounts

Relatedly, a service flagging suspected fake or disinfo-promoting accounts

Wildfire smoke clearing at long last

This generation will end up as ‘fascists or revolutionaries, one or the other.’

Iverson on 20th C American piano music

Gould in conversation on Schoenberg

Sublime solo Kayhan Kalhor performance

A highlight from The Heat Warps’ continuing survey of Miles electric bootlegs

September 14, 2020

Patrick White’s 1957 novel Voss, winner of the Nobel Prize

Relatedly Rob Tomlinson’s reviews of White are excellent as well as his writing on books generally

Francis Fukayama’s 2014 essay America In Decay, using the Forest Service as an example of a dysfunctional institution, via Marginal Revolution

Incredible Economist piece on viruses: 'integrated viral sequences, known as endogenous retroviruses (ervs), account for 8% of the human genome'

Brötzmann’s Chicago Tentet in Atlanta in 2002 on YouTube and in Chicago in 1997 on record

Phosphene on Venus

Handy AQI macOS menu bar app

Thanks to people who make comprehensive appliance review videos

Recycling plastic is diversionary marketing

Carbon footprints are diversionary marketing

September 7, 2020

Foodman’s goofball juke/footwork house set from 2019

The note played in a 639-year Cage performance was changed September 5; the next is May 2022

Incredible illustrations from Ernesto García Cabral, from luscious film posters to classic Deco

Moving beyond the 'chemical imbalance' paradigm of mental illness and acknowledging biological, social, and financial reality – a long time coming, but a very welcome development

Bizarre rollerderby-WWE mashup from 1989; Fox now has the rights, so periodically uses episodes to fill time on its soccer channels

Information has mass (and therefore energy) – not sure if you can then say dark matter is information, but the paper's authors do via HN

Documentary on Wittgenstein and Schoenberg

The Partially Examined Life philosophy podcast series

The 2020 Italian GP, memorable madness that rescued the season from predictability

Connary Fagen’s impeccably crafted fonts

August 30, 2020

Radio show reviewing work of Terry Jennings, early minimalist composer

Intense live gig from the Santana-McLaughlin 1973 tour

A guy who's attempting to generate music through ML has reviewed every Dead show

Website for Alice Coltrane’s devotional recordings

Erin Jorgensen does soothing Sunday broadcasts of marimba improvisations

Archives of Tom Johnson’s avant-garde show reviews from the Voice, ’72–’82

Using ML to generate images of Roman emperors – not a position conducive to a long life after Marcus Aurelius

New free jazz from Alan Braufman

Rick Perlstein doing promotion for Reaganland

A great drone piece by Catherine Christer Hennix

August 24, 2020

Olly Chubb’s techno nostalgia shows on NTS

Feds swarming a giant yacht and arresting Bannon for grift

A story about hanging with Borges which will inevitably become a movie

The latest (and last? Say it isn't so) volume of Rick Perlstein's history of American conservatives

Iconic PowerPoint slides

New Nonlocal Forecast on Hausu Mountain, evocative vaporwave reminding you of synthesizer LPs of yore


Ars subtilior, a polyphonic musical style of the 14th century, via Samuel Andreyev’s podcast with composer Jonathan Bell – a superb recording is Figures of Harmony’s 4CD set of songs from the Chantilly Codex

The Harvard Foundations of Physics lecture/debate series

Shit and Shine’s deep-fried Krautrock, which is a goofball melange of Faust/Can/Nurse with Wound/Butthole Surfers/Atari Teenage Riot

August 15, 2020

Lost Control’s house/techno shows on NTS

New Fall of Civilizations pod, this time on Byzantium

The Bureau series 5, still adult espionage of the highest order

The Flow State Substack of focus-music playlists

Chris Dench’s Piano Sonata performed by Peter de Jager – waiting for a recording of this, I'd be happy with just the take captured here which won an award

Magnesium glycinate

24-bit 96kHz Pat Metheny remasters

Microtonal pop from James Mulvale

RIP Julian Bream, classical guitarist extraordinaire

1996 production of Berg's Lulu, incredible in every way, the set design is particularly fascinating; unfortunately this video is truncated and other copies of it are only French subtitled

August 9, 2020

Line-by-line annotations for Finnegans Wake from the Finnegans Wake Extensible Elucidation Treasury – there are other annotated references, but I prefer this layout which combines both the notes and the text

June 21–23 1993 Dead run

The latest new age LP from Steve Roach, A Soul Ascends

Thomas Adès’ 2008 composition In Seven Days is on a great new record from Kirill Gerstein and the Tanglewood Music Centre Orchestra

New Krallice, released on a Bandcamp Friday of course

Purcell’s Fantasias for Viols by Jordi Savall and Hespèrion XX

Historical montage of the Silverstone track for the 70th Anniversary GP (thanks to @Mattzel89)

Astonishing 68mm footage from 1902 of the still-running Wuppertal suspended railway

A hellishly optimized, inhuman megacity in SimCity 3000

Adam Tooze on China and a new Cold War and COVID and past economic crises

August 2, 2020

Minnie Riperton is inescapable in Bette Gordon and James Benning’s United States of America

Scorcese’s The Age of Innocence

New Philip Guston retrospective on tour in 2021, to Boston, Houston, Washington DC, and London, COVID permitting

Lando Norris' helmet design for the 2020 British GP weekend

Samuel Andreyev on Schoenberg

Paul Jacobs’ Schoenberg piano music

Sean Carroll‘s Biggest Ideas in the Universe physics lecture series

Into Great Silence, currently bootlegged on YouTube, is an incredible documentary inside a silent monastery in the Alps; as the film goes on you realize the subject of the film is not the initiated but yourself and your own thoughts and reactions

Thanks to the people who like to post how-to repair videos

Lull's 1994 'dark ambient' LP Cold Summer

July 26, 2020

John WilliamsButcher's Crossing

Mark Strand

Igor Levit’s complete Beethoven piano sonatas

Robert Wright's Why Buddhism is True

October 1994 Dead

Phish's Dinner and a Movie YouTube series

In-season blueberries

The New Age music of Al Gromer Khan

Still House Plants

HN thread on meditative breathing techniques

Top Ten inspired by Greil Marcus’ long-running columns