I have a subscription to Harper’s and try to solve the cryptic crossword each month in the vain hope that I will win a free year’s subscription. The puzzles back to 1976 have been posted online.
This slideshow makes me want to go to Slurping Turtle again.
Food : An Atlas is a book project on kickstarter by people who do “guerrilla cartography.” It is about food, broadly construed. $25 gets you a copy of the book, and it looks awesome, especially if you like maps. And who doesn’t like maps?
I remember reading about the demise of the American Chestnut tree, but apparently it may make a comeback!
Troubles in how science is marketed to girls.
Human remains at Richard III’s grave! (That sounds like a cryptic clue but it isn’t).
An interesting take on Karachi, but I’d want a local’s opinion of it…
The case of Aseem Trivedi is a real travesty.
Did I mention I love the Chicago Public Library? It can be frustrating at times, but the main branch is right on my way to and from work.
The Magician King (Lev Grossman) — The sequel to The Magicians, sometimes described as Hipsters in Narnia. This book is actually darker, if such a thing as possible. I think it’s interesting to look at it plotted in terms of the lives of likely readers. The first book is for college kids. The second is for post-college working kids who have nice jobs and realize that their lives feel a bit empty.
Odd and The Frost Giants (Neil Gaiman) — I’ve been on a children’s book kick. A lovely little tale set in Viking mythos.
The Alchemyst, The Magician, The Sorceress (Michael Scott) — Children’s/YA fantasy series. I had mixed feelings about it but it featured John Dee as a villain, and having read so much of Crowley’s Aegypt Cycle, I was interested in Dee as a character. Very different here — he’s a supervillain.
The Poisoner’s Handbook (Deborah Blum) — A fascinating tale about the rise of the medical examiner’s office and forensic medicine. The descriptions of how to detect various poisons in the tissues of the deceased is not for the squeamish!
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Rebecca Skloot) — This book tells the story of the cell line HeLa, taken from Henrietta Lacks, an African-American patient in the 50s who died of cancer. Her cells were able to multiply on their own in the lab and ushered in a new era of research, but the way she and her family were treated epitomizes the ethical void at the heart of many scientists’ view of human subjects research. Despite this being an important story to tell, Skloot manages to make a lot of the story about herself — there’s a rather vigorous critique here.
1Q84 (Haruki Murakami) — Pretty classic Murakami, but a little more focused in content if expansive in scope. Investigates in fictional form some of the cult phenomena that seem to have captured his imagination lately. Critical opinion has been pretty divided, but I’d recommend it if you like Murakami, but not as an intro to his oeuvre.
The Atrocity Archive (Charles Stross) — sysadmins battle Cthulhu-eqsue horrors from the beyond. This is the first book in the Laundry series, and while the narrator is entertaining, I’ll probably give the rest of the series a pass.
Halting State (Charles Stross) — a near-future in which massive fraud/theft in an online game threatens to undermine the real economy. Takes gold farming and selling of WoW stuff on eBay to its extreme and then looks at what happens. Stross is good at extrapolating economic scenarios, and this was certainly more fun to read.
This is an awesome approach to getting consensus on neighborhood boundaries in Boston. They should do that for Chicago!
A history of currywurst.
Classical Movies in Miniature Style. I like the horses in the Terminator II picture.
I have a rather long-ish commute on public transit, and sometimes it’s hard to get a seat on the train/bus, so I’ve been listening to a lot more podcasts. Here are a few which I’ve been enjoying recently:
- 99% Invisible, which is a design podcast. I’ve been catching up from the beginning, but this little bit on flags may appeal to Chicagoans and San Franciscans.
- Backstory is a podcast about American History. They usually take a theme (e.g. “national monuments,” “birth,”, “booze”) and do a number of segments running through different centuries.
- Story Collider : story telling about science(-ish).
Music with giant Tesla coils.
Dogs and cats and babies can get along.
Another cool optical illusion.
I recently visited Taos, NM, and the sky there was clear and you could see so many stars. I was listening today to Debussy’s Arabesque #1 and it brought back memories of Jack Horkheimer‘s Star Hustler (c.f. this episode from 1991). Horkheimer passed away in 2010, but his show was a PBS staple.
More reasons to miss California. I do like Chicago, but… dumplings!