≡ Menu

Social Media Dump Jan 17-31 2022

See also:  Jan 1-16 and Feb 1-15 (View all)


Music Discoveries Jan 2022 #13

See also: December 2021 and Feburary 2022 (View all)

Last Saturday I waded through one of those unending subreddit threads — if you could only listen to 4 albums from the entire 90s decade, what would you choose? Discovered a lot of things I hadn’t heard of before. Here are my four: Bjork — Debut, Paul Van Dyk — Seven Ways, Patti Rothberg — Between the 1 and 9, Kristin Hersh — Hips and Makers. I could also have added Dead Dog’s Eyeball by Kathy McCarty, something by Stereolab, Throwing Muses‘ University, a Suzanne Vega album (either 99.9 or Nine Objects of Desire), one by Praga Khan (either Pragamatic or Twentyfirstcenturyskin). I also would have added these 90s Russian language albums which are incredible: Mummiy Troll’s Morskaya, Linda‘s Vorona, Zemfira’s Prosti Menya Moya Lyubov’ [Forgive Me, My Love], Agata Kristi‘s Heroin O (Remixed) (trust me on this!)

Articles and Interviews

Emusic Purchases

  1. List begins here

Bandcamp Purchases

  1. Begin

Youtubey Things

I was poring over old albums from the 1980s and 1990s and found this gem by an early rock Russian group called Nautilus Pompilius (Наутилус Помпилиус). I thought the album came from the 1990s, but actually it came from the mid-1980s. The album, Князь Тишины — Knyaz’ Tishiny (Prince of Silence) named after a Hungarian poet. I’m linking to a live performance below — and it’s great and rough, but really you have to listen to the studio album — it’s full of all kinds of eerie and otherworldly synthpop effects. In my capsule review, I wrote Lovely 80s Russian pop with a timeless charm. Despite the rock and roll feel, this album floats between styles and genres — from slow jazz to light synthpop to melancholy love ballad. There’s also a lovely saxophone. Looking up the lyrics, I see cool rebellion (both political and personal). This band was led by Vyacheslav Butusov and poet Ilya Kormiltsev (who later died a tragic death) and is identified with “Ural Rock Music” — as well as Chair, Agatha Kristiy (whom I love!)

I just recently got around to reading the lyrics (mainly translated). The lyrics for this one are pretty wild (which I copied below).

A look from Screen

She read the world as a novel,
But it turned out to be a novella.
The neighbors from her house
Are guys with pimply conscience.

A walk in the park without a dog
May cost you too much.
Mother memorizes by heart the morgue phone number
When she’s not at home for too long.

Father, coming home, does not find the door
And spits into the prepared dinner.
She is older than mother,
He must become her husband.

The first experience of fighting against sweaty hands
Always comes too early.
Love is just a face on the wall,
Love is a look from the screen.

Alain Delon speaks French, (1)
Alain Delon speaks French.
Alain Delon, Alain Delon does not drink cologne (2).
Alain Delon, Alain Delon drinks double bourbon.
Alain Delon speaks French.

Guys can try their best in the apartments of their female friends,
She is there sometimes, too,
But this does not give her a damn thing,
Except for everyday morning dramas.

But at home there’s a completely different movie:
She looks into his eyes,
And fantasies enter the bosom of love
Stronger than all those who would meet her.


1.French actor Alain Delon, known for his good-looking, was very popular among Soviet women. He was a household name, the phrase “handsome like Alain Delon” was common. Like BTS for k-pop fans today.
2.This would probably sound weird, but due to Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign, drinking cologne was quite common in 80’s Soviet Union. For example, one of the most popular cologne brand was “???????” (“Troynoy”, Tripple), which was originally mentioned in the lyrics (but Vyacheslav Butusov refused to sing it).

I love that chorus (“Alan Delon speaks French….”). Amazingly, the translator adds that “This song is a cover version of 1983 British song “Robert De Niro’s Waiting by Bananarama” although the lyrics are much darker.” Wait, what? I found the Banarama song on Youtube, and it’s an homage, not a cover version, but I also love that song (and the video of the song!)

Freegal and Library CDs


Podcasty Things



Robert’s Roundup # 27( Jan , 2022)

View Previous Roundup and Next Roundup (View All)

Abbreviations: KU means Kindle Unlimited, LE means that lending of this Kindle title is allowed, and APUB means it was published under an Amazon imprint.NYP means “Name Your Price” (that’s an option on Smashwords and other booksellers).

I learned a few fun fact about Kindles.

Indie Author Spotlight


Under the Radar

Several books by Marco Vassi, an cerebral erotica writer who I’m writing an essay about.

Unlearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career by Scott Young (author website). 2.99 An autodidact shares some techniques for tackling complex learning projects. Recommended.

Poilu: The World War I Notebooks of Corporal Louis Barthas, Barrelmaker, 1914 – 1918 by Louis Barthas. (wiki article). Journal of a French infantry soldier.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. (author website).

Library Purchases/Printed books


Creative Commons/Freebies


Literary Articles and Essays




Capsule Book Reviews


Book Roar Review


Multimedia/Podcasts, Etc


Personville Press Deals

I run Personville Press, a small literary book press where all the ebooks cost less than $4. Most are regularly discounted, so prices may be cheaper than appears here. You can buy DRM-free ebooks and audio files directly from the Personville Press payhip store or from SmashwordsThese two places generally have the cheapest prices because they offer a higher percentage of royalties to the publisher. Alternatively, you can buy cloud-based ebooks from GoogleAmazonBNApple and Kobo. Check them out! Fall 2021 Personville Press will have a mailing list to help people to stay informed about upcoming sales and promotions.


Social Media Dump Jan 1-16 2022

View Previous Roundup and Next Roundup (View All)

Don’t Look Up film

I’ll add some thoughts about Adam McKay’s Netflix movie, but first let me give some quotes:

No metaphor is perfect, but there are two aspects of it that do afford a comparison with the climate problem. One is that it’s something that’s going to happen in the future that’s not having much effect today. The other thing that is dramatically true in that case, and is also true in the climate case, is that the longer you wait, the harder it is to do anything about it and the more expensive it is to do anything about it. If you catch this meteor or asteroid when it’s still very far away, you don’t need very much energy at all to knock it off course. But if you wait until the last minute, you have to exert huge forces on it. And at some point, you don’t have enough energy to do anything about it. And the climate is similar in that sense. If we had started doing [climate action] 40 years ago, we wouldn’t have had to spend very much money and we’d be fine today. You keep putting it off, putting it off, and hoping it will be the next generation’s problem and not ours, and it’s getting more and more expensive. And at some point, you won’t be able to do anything about it.” (Climate Scientist Kerry Emmanuel)

Here’s is a 15 minute video discussion with Mehdi Hasan about Don’t Look Up — with the scriptwriter and Michael Mann about the meaning and significance of the film and its metaphorical resonances. (Start at 38:51).

Here’s a review page by the online film critics.

Eleanor Cummins writes about imagining environmental disasters:

To be both hilarious and motivational is a tall order, but it’s the bar writer-director Adam McKay set for himself. Contrary to the critics’ opinions, a quarter-million IMDB star reviewers seem to think that McKay cleared it. The last act—smarter and more somber than the rest—may have even roused some of them to further action (including this writer, who walked out of the theater finally committed to dietary changes). But whatever one’s reaction to this latest climate film, at the very least, we’re talking about it.

While rage, even when repellent, and sadness, even when all-consuming, are worthy of representation, imagining a response to the crisis seems hardest of all.

For there’s a strong case to be made for a “more the merrier” mindset with “cli-fi” in every genre. We now live in a world that is “trans-apocalyptic,” as climate futurist Alex Steffen recently told Elizabeth Weil. “We’re in the middle of an ongoing crisis, or really a linked series of crises,” Weil elaborated, where our lives are increasingly “defined by ‘constant engagement with ecological realities,’ floods, dry wells, fires. And there’s no opting out. What does that even mean?” Art could help us find out. The more TV shows, books, and movies depicting climate change—and the more variety of climate consequences depicted—the better. But “the climate crisis is also a crisis of culture,” novelist Amitav Ghosh wrote in The Great Derangement in 2016, “and thus of the imagination.” While rage, even when repellent, and sadness, even when all-consuming, are worthy of representation, imagining a response to the crisis seems hardest of all.

Cummins is a science journalist dabbling in the arts. She recommends the Icelandic movie WOMAN AT WAR as a good story that imagines dilemmas posed by environmental commitment.

Update: I watched Woman at War on Kanopy. Okay, it isn’t perfect — it’s hard to believe that a potential mother would be so hellbent on environmental sabotage, but I loved the “Icelandic touches,” and having a soundtrack performed by live players was also amusing. I’m guessing that Iceland is battered both by environmental sensibilities and economic realities. Great scenery too!

Here are two podcast interviews with David Roberts of Volt: with Adam McKay (writer/director of Don’t Look Up) and Anat Shenker-Osorio (a leading messaging expert). Here’s what message Ms. Shenker-Osorio says that climate change people should be publicizing:

 No matter what we look like, or where we come from, most of us want to care for our air, land, and water and leave things better off for those to come. But today, a handful of politicians and the fossil fuel CEOs that fund them are trying to divide us from each other, hoping that if they can distract us from the fact that they are profiting off of poisoning, our families will look the other way, while they put the clean energy solutions we know work out of our reach. By rejecting their lies and joining together across race, across origin, across ZIP code, we can make this a place that we’re proud to leave our kids for generations to come.

This is a good message — but it sounds a little formulaic.


RJ Geeky Explorations — 2022 Jan

See also:  October 2021  and February 2022 (View all)

(Sorry, I was too busy with other stuff to do this column for Nov and Dec).

Preliminary Review — 11th Generation Paperwhite (2021 Edition, Signature Edition with 32 gig memory)

Last month I decided to buy the latest Paperwhite. I’m buying it mainly for testing purposes — though I hope to use it more than previous Paperwhites. I bought the 2020 Paperwhite and was underwhelmed.

[continue reading…]

Robert’s Roundup #26 (December, 2021)

View Previous Roundup and Next Roundup (View All)

Abbreviations: KU means Kindle Unlimited, LE means that lending of this Kindle title is allowed, and APUB means it was published under an Amazon imprint.NYP means “Name Your Price” (that’s an option on Smashwords and other booksellers).

I wrote a longish review of 11th generation paperwhite (2021 edition, Signature edition, 32 gig memory).

Smashwords Ebook Sale

Here are the most interesting presses I’ve seen so far on Smashwords: Unsolicited Press | Fomite Press | Whitepoint Press | OpenBooks (interesting but overrpriced?), Bold Venture Press (republishes classic, pulp and genre fiction | Lethe Press |  Hamilton Stone, a NJ based press which publishes a lot of poetry and literary fiction | ReAnimus Press (established scifi press which republishes lots of things) | LDB Press | Black Opal Books | Propertius Press (too expensive though) | Atthis Arts | Leaf Garden Press (mainly poetry — see here). Also I would be remiss if I didn’t link to my own Personville Press titles — great stuff — all discounted! In November Personville published another story collection by Jack Matthews, Second Death of E.A. Poe and other Stories . Here’s the book description I wrote: In contrast to previous story collections (which lean more to the cerebral or poetic), the Matthews stories collected here are down-to-earth yarns: gently satirical and reminiscent of John Cheever’s fiction. Most are like pleasant strolls through Midwestern neighborhoods, glimpsing random people at backyard parties, cafes and parking lots.

I noticed that all Unsolicited Press titles are discounted to 1/3 of their normal price — hovering below $2. These are usually high quality and I summarized a few in previous columns here , here and here.

If you are hunting for just one author from Unsolicited Press, I would check out Anne Leigh Parrish. All her titles have been very well reviewed, and I just noticed that a Winter’s Night was released in April 2021.

Way We Get By by Chris Dabick.

Portland Dreaming: Eight Stories by Frederick Kirchhoff. Here’s an interview. Apparently he has a 6 volume series, Emperor’s Library. All ebooks are on sale for 1.49.

Speaking of Portland, Dictionaries Out of Order by David Michael Slater is a Borgesian journey through Portland’s City of Books which “range from the silly to the sublime, veering expertly from philosophy to farce.” (Honestly I have no idea what this means!). On the publisher page we see several reviews, one which says It is a flight around the world from Powell’s Books to Mikhail Bulkagov’s backyard bathroom at midnight; from John Wesley’s Georgia to Three Rivers Stadium–with stops in Warsaw and the Vatican–and with visits by Comenius and by the author himself– that writer of picture books and historical psychological reflections, Mr. David Michael Slater. According to the author website, Slater publishes a lot of YA and early chapter fiction. Here’s a page linking to interviews and this Youtube interview about one of his kid’s books.

Reviews and Reflections on Books, Literature and Writing by John Walters. 1.99. Walters has written a lot of sci fi too — some free. (author’s blog). Here’s a description of all of his titles. I’ll probably pick one fiction title as well. He had some freebies, but most of his interesting-sounding fiction titles were not discounted.

Happy to discover another high quality indie press on Smashwords: Hamilton Stone, a NJ based press which publishes a lot of poetry and literary fiction. View bios of their authors. During this sale most titles are between 1.50 and 2.50.

Various ebooks by Caleb Bedford who is a 28 year old Mississippi writer.

Milk Blossom Pushes Free by Basil Rosa (a pseudonym whose author site is here).

Two works by female UK author R. Burrow (author website). Tree Outside the Window (about a young girl battling schizophenia and the mental health system) and

Strutting and Fretting by Kevin McKeon (Free). Coming of age story about a young actor struggling through graduate school. (author website). Author is in theater scene, adapts books into plays. One review says, “This superb work of fiction peels back the layers of [Bob’s] carefully guarded soul for readers to explore. It is a masterful examination of a young man struggling to balance chronic low self-esteem with a performer’s perpetual need for approval.”

Séjour Saint-Louis by Reed Stirling. (author website). Poet in 19th century Montreal.

At Fortunoff’s and other Stories (1.99) by Miguel Antonio Ortiz and Parental Sins. Immigrations in NY.

Fiction and the Facts of Life by Edith Konecky. (here’s her Bio on a Jewish woman biography site). Later novel work and the mundane aspects of the author’s life.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Me by Carole Rosenthal (stories). 2.49 Stories of domestic like (a la Joy Williams). Loved the first story The Independent Nose.

Salad Days by Frances Badalamenti. FB is a Portland-based psychotherapist (author website) who has written two fiction titles (only one on SW). Salad Days (on sale for 1.49) is a story about a young woman in the 1990s trying to manage the transition to adulthood. She did two interviews with Chloe Caldwell at Rumpus and Lithub. Here are some essays she wrote for MuthaMagazine. Fun fact: she’s the daughter of the famed composer of the Twin Peaks incidental music (one of my faves)


Speaking of Chloe Caldwell, not only does she interview cool-sounding authors, she’s written a few essay collections herself (none on Smashwords unfortunately). Alas, I’ll Take You There is at my local library and is periodically discounted to 1.99 or 2.99. Here’s some interviews people did with Caldwell at Columbia Journal and Electric Lit. Here’s another feature/interview with Buzzfeed about Caldwell titled This Woman Wrote a Book with Almost No Male Characters and Women Love It. Wow, apparently Steve Almond interviewed her in 2012.

(OT: I am listening to Allman Brother’s Rambling Man song, which is exhilarating! Did you know that Duane Allman was the one who suggested Wilson Pickett do a cover version of Hey Jude and provided the Kickass guitar backing.

Various ebooks by Meredith Sue Willis from West Virginia (author website). About half her titles are available on Smashwords. MSW produces a very impressive monthly literary newsletter which I highly recommend subscribing to. I chose

In Human Form by David Kubicek. 1.50 Fantasy novelist in the spirit of Ray Bradbury and Rod Serling. A woman who has amnesia is suspected to be a space alien?

Monterra’s Deliciosa & Other Tales & by Anna Tambour. 30 stories by noted Australian sci fi author. (author website).

Circus of the Grand Design by Robert Freeman Wexler.

Scar Jewelry by Sue Perry. (FREE). (Author Interview).

Mick by Willie Orr. Homeless mother in Scotland.

Girl in the Blue Shoes by Shaun Hume. Oxford college professor twice encounters a strange girl in similar circumstances.

Machines by Nick Sheppard. Comic sci fi novella about a woman who has to deal with robots. Australian author. (Author Interview and author website).

Various titles by James Lawless: Peeling Oranges, Knowing Women and For Love of Anna.

Thick and Fast by Tommy Dakar (author’s blog). Satirical novel a mentally challenged individual by an English author and musician living in Spain. On Kindle Unlimited he has published several individual stories and novellas, many of which are already on Smashwords for free! (Here’s an interview). See Unzip and other Compact Stories, Refuge, a World Apart. I’m intrigued by his book Trap-Door which is about man who finds a trap-door takes him into an escape from a world of logic and reason. It costs 2.99 on Smashwords, 99 cents on KU.

Milk Blossom Pushes Free by Basil Rosa (a pseudonym).

Joseph Smith The Twenty-Fifth

Aisha: Tale of Retribution by Ian Tremblay (Free). YA tale about beautiful girl born in poverty and how she triumphs.

Philosopher Massimo Pigliucci posts several free ebooks on his home page (which are links to Smashwords items which are free). Most of his ebooks are on stoicism. Two notable works are Nature of Philosophy and 20 Essays in Practical Philosophy: Because Philosophy Actually Matters. Also notable is his Weekly Readings – a weekly assortment of links to interesting articles.

Indie Author Spotlight

Just wanted to mention that after slaving on a wikipedia article about the living author Clay Reynolds, the editors decided to approve it today. Here is the article about Clay Reynolds author. Feel free to edit it/butcher it/whatever. At least I don’t have to worry about it anymore.

Under the Radar

Arnold Falls by Charlie Suisman

Garvey Girls by Robert R. Randall

Divine Boys by Laura Restropo.

Megafauna: First Victims of the Human-Caused Extinction by Baz Edmeades

Arnold Falls by Charlie Suisman

Tales I’ve Told by Ted Fink. Short stories.

Looking for a Weegie to Love by Simon Smith. 11 stories by Scottish author with erotic elements.

All Saturday’s Children by Dylan Boyer (KU)

Philosophical Detective Returns by Bruce Hartman 99 cents.

Grifter’s Daughter by Duane Lindsey.

Gopher King: Dark Comedy by Gojan Nikolich.

CC’s Road Home by Leah Eskine. YA 1st novel about a 16 year old girl who lives on her grandparents’ Louisiana farm. It’s a nostalgic look at the 1960s with “Dark Secrets Colored by Alcohol, Jealousy and Lack of Education and Addiction.”

Manufactured Witches (Witches of Tanglewood Book 1). by Michelle Rene. KU YA Texas winner of Indie Author project in 2019.

Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang 2.99

Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599 by James Shapiro. 1.99 Nice historic look at a critical year in Shakesepare’s life.

Long Live the Post Horn! by Vigdis Hjorth. translated from Norwegian. Loneliness at the post office.

People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. 2.99 Finally bought it.

Titan by Robert Kroese.

Taking A Long Look: Essays on Culture, Literature and Feminism in Our Time by Vivian Gornick. On sale at Verso Books . I always enjoy an essay by Gornick. Here’s a Youtube interview she did in 2021.

Library Purchases/Printed books

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now
by Meg Jay. Recommended to me by a 20something student, and I bought it as a Xmas gift for a 21 year old.

Creative Commons/Freebies

Wild Goose by Mori Ogai.

Literary Articles and Essays

MILOSZ IN CALIFORNIA (QUOTE) Miłosz often complained that his students—and perhaps most Americans—lacked a “historical consciousness.” Yet when asked to explain what this grasp of history involved, he responded in a way that shocked me: “This awareness was half a knowledge of history and half a knowledge of evil.” (From Ted Goia’s great substack on music and literature).

Egad, Booktok is more superficial than bookstagram.

George Saunders on his process for writing short stories.



Capsule Book Reviews


Book Roar Review


Multimedia/Podcasts, Etc

Several conference panels about indie writing and publishing: Myths of Money, 5 Pillars of Publishing, Rapid Release Marketing, Small Publisher Panel, Indie Leaders Panel. Facebook ads, Newsletter Techniques, Direct Sales panel, Social Media, Advanced Business Techniques, Erotica Panel, Subcontracting tasks, Advanced Marketing Strategies,

Here’s a book budget planner.

Personville Press Deals

I run Personville Press, a small literary book press where all the ebooks cost less than $4. Most are regularly discounted, so prices may be cheaper than appears here. You can buy DRM-free ebooks and audio files directly from the Personville Press payhip store or from SmashwordsThese two places generally have the cheapest prices because they offer a higher percentage of royalties to the publisher. Alternatively, you can buy cloud-based ebooks from GoogleAmazonBNApple and Kobo. Check them out! Fall 2021 Personville Press will have a mailing list to help people to stay informed about upcoming sales and promotions.


Social Media Dump Dec 17-31 2021

See also:  Dec 1-16 and Jan 1-15 (2022) (View all)

First, Smashwords ebook sale is from Dec 17-31; check my Robert’s Roundup of Ebook Deals to see my recommendations.

Here’s a nice and revealing interview with Paula Jean Swearengin . Swearengin is an anti-coal activist who ran for Senate twice (once as a primary challenger against Joe Manchin). Now she’s abandoned the Democratic Party to join the People’s Party. Her insights from running twice as a Democrat are revealing: she says that West Virginia are more cynical about the Democratic Party which has promised lots but never delivered. She also is critical about other Justice Democrats (like AOC) for abandoning Medicare for All movement and not “sharing the wealth” with other progressive candidates. She complained about how national fundraising groups that end up not delivering all the money they raise; it’s better to support the candidate directly. Paula Jean has learned a lot about the political process; I hope she finds a way to use this knowledge to get elected in some way.

Nice analysis of the breakup of the Thwaites ice shelf.

Once the ice shelf shatters, large sections of the glacier now restrained by it are likely to speed up, says Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a leader of the Thwaites expedition. In a worst case, this part of Thwaites could triple in speed, increasing the glacier’s contribution to global sea level in the short term to 5%, Pettit says.

Even more worrisome is the process that has weakened the ice shelf: incursions of warm ocean water beneath the shelf, which expedition scientists detected with a robotic submersible. Because Thwaites sits below sea level on ground that dips away from the coast, the warm water is likely to melt its way inland, beneath the glacier itself, freeing its underbelly from bedrock. A collapse of the entire glacier, which some researchers think is only centuries away, would raise global sea level by 65 centimeters. And because Thwaites occupies a deep basin into which neighboring glaciers would flow, its demise could eventually lead to the loss of the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which locks up 3.3 meters of global sea level rise. “That would be a global change,” says Robert DeConto, a glaciologist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “Our coastlines will look different from space.”

I’ve been a big fan of Craig Ferguson’s talk show. Here is a two part interview with Stephen Fry.

Perfect Bid: Contestant who Knew Too Much. Great story about a Price is Right contestant who beats the system.

Comedian Ali Siddiq does a lot of racial-themed humor and I find it hysterical. Here’s his piece about how white people taught me to complain.

Here’s a nice and nuanced discussion about how pivotal a role that slavery played in the American Revolution. God, I wish I had taken more history classes at college!

Why Mary Bailey is the true heroine in It’s a Wonderful Life:

“Mary Bailey is the true hero of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ ” says Caleb Norris, a film buff with whom I chatted about our shared Mary devotion. “And some mopey ­man gets all the glory.” Mary deals with the same leaky roof and small-town limitations as her husband with one major difference: She never complains. She doesn’t need an angel named Clarence to descend from heaven and inform her that she’s actually led a wonderful life. She knows intuitively that wonderful lives are not made by collecting passport stamps or military honors; they are made by investing in the community around you and wallpapering the bejesus out of an old Victorian. “Why must you torture the children?” she asks George when he takes out his foul work-mood on the family. Why indeed? She’s the one who’s been home all day with a sick toddler and a clanging piano…. The entire movie celebrates the personal sacrifices of a nice man while ignoring the identical sacrifices of a nice woman. Why? Because “It’s a Wonderful Life” assumes something that society assumed in the 1940s and sometimes continues to assume to this day: A wife is supposed to sacrifice, buck up, make do, slog through. But when the husband does it, the whole town must take note.

Propublica investigates the lax regulation of ethylene oxide. This has led to a series of cancer deaths in Texas, especially around Laredo.

A climate scientist talks about what resonates from the Adam McKay movie Don’t Look Up.

We live in a society in which, despite extraordinarily clear, present, and worsening climate danger, more than half of Republican members of Congress still say climate change is a hoax and many more wish to block action, and in which the official Democratic party platform still enshrines massive subsidies to the fossil fuel industry; in which the current president ran on a promise that “nothing will fundamentally change”, and the speaker of the House dismissed even a modest climate plan as “the green dream or whatever”; in which the largest delegation to Cop26 was the fossil fuel industry, and the White House sold drilling rights to a huge tract of the Gulf of Mexico after the summit; in which world leaders say that climate is an “existential threat to humanity” while simultaneously expanding fossil fuel production; in which major newspapers still run fossil fuel ads, and climate news is routinely overshadowed by sports; in which entrepreneurs push incredibly risky tech solutions and billionaires sell the absurdist fantasy that humanity can just move to Mars.


I saw DONT LOOK UP yesterday. Not a great movie — the characters are cartoonish, but the plot is unbelievably cynical (and sobering) and there are touches of surreal horror everywhere. It certainly captures the feeling of being powerless in a society that overlooks real social problems and yet only seems to notice pop culture trivia.. I’m currently reading 3 novels that address climate change — FLIGHT BEHAVIOR by Barbara Kingsolver and MINISTRY FOR THE FUTURE by Kim Stanley Robinson. Also let me mention a third climate change title by an environmental activist from south Texas, LUZ AT MIDNIGHT by Marisol Cortez.


Shallow Puerile Thoughts #1 (Dec 2021)

See also: Jan 2022 (View all)

I’ve changed to blogging whenever the mood hits me to writing monthly topics and then incrementally adding to it until the end of the month. So far I’ve done Robert’s Roundup of Ebook Deals (monthly), Linkdumps (2x a month), Musical Discoveries (monthly), RJ’s Geeky Explorations (monthly). Now I’ve decided to add another category — Shallow Puerile Thoughts. It’s just going to contain incidental observations about nothing which don’t belong in my other monthly categories. Listen, I’m just starting out, I don’t know what the heck I’m doing! I may end up developing these ideas into something more substantial. Hopefully it will be a combination of aphorisms and idea fragments.


Movies and TV shows rely way too much on flashbacks and end up simply burdening the current narrative. It is an attempt to offer clues about motivation or explanation; instead, it simply feels like it is jerking the viewer or reader around by selectively revealing details. Most stories are good enough to stay in the present. These time jumps merely delay action or insights into the present time, which is all that matters. (True for literature too — I call this the “italics effect.” I really hate sections entirely in italics in a novel or novella. The italics is to denote an event removed in time, but most of the time I can skip these things. Indeed, when I’m watching movies with these kinds of flashbacks, I frequently get lost and am unable to tell the difference between what is supposed to be Past 1 or Past 2 or present or Future 1. Don’t make things difficult for the audience!


Larry David revealed several secrets of living: Pee Before You Leave and (one other, I can’t remember). Here’s my rule for living: Go out of the house only once a day. In other words, combine all your errands and outings as much as you can. I don’t mind going out for exercise to to walk the dog, but in general, the goal is to maximize the days where you don’t have to put on your shoes and get caught in traffic.


Social Media Dump Dec 1-16 2021

See also:  Nov 16-30 and Dec 17-31 (View all)

Observation: My new blogging strategy of posting empty posts at the start of the month or two week period looks awful rough and polished, but it’s working overall. I usually end up polishing older posts a bit, so eventually things look ok.

Overjoyed to see the Third rock reunion. I wrote in the comment section my proposal for the sequel:

Stone Phillips Jr, the lovechild of BG Head and Vicki Dubchek wants to visit his birthplace on Earth, and build a bigger, badder version of Monkeyworld — (Or a BIG GIANT WALL, or something crassly commercial like that). The gang has to find him and stop him (and solve global warming in the process) before some alien hunters dissect him and sell the story to Fox News. Also, they want to look up old friends and catch up on soap operas. Don Orville would have some lowly job as a security guard as a big box store until Sally finds him and recruits him to help the investigation (but not before inspiring him, seducing him and revealing she always was a space alien). . August Leffler will be a crusading journalist trying to expose the evil oligarchy financing Stone Phillips’ empire — completely unaware of his alien provenance. Nina would be Dean of Students at Pendleton, while Vincent Strudwick would be Pendleton’s president. Neither would know about Mary Albright’s whereabouts — only that Mary is off doing undercover fieldwork with some secretive scientology-like cult. Turns out that Stone Phillips Jr. gets all confused and builds Monkeyworld inside a videogame simulation. The old gang is chased by debt collectors who are looking for someone to pay for the astronomical credit card bill from Season 6. At some point there has to be a shot of a lovelorn Don staring into space and wondering where Sally is now. Other things I’d like to see: one of them getting a messed up body and have to trade it several times, Mary’s sister Renata (aka Megan Mullaly) has to be visited to provide clues about Mary’s whereabouts, Transistor Harry needs to get hacked by either Russians or some unknown band of aliens, Tommy gets Internet famous by accident and tries unsuccessfully to gain more followers, Sally has to team up with Don to find Stone Jr. until they find him locked up in a room playing a massively multiplayer online game version of Earth (aka “Monkeyworld Planet”) leaving it unclear which is the simulation and which is the reality. Gosh, I could write 5 episodes in no time. You could never recover the original magic of the 3 camera show with live audience, but a one camera show would still work — and you wouldn’t need to create a conceit of aliens learning about X; all you really need are catching up with old characters and being surprised at how things have changed in a mere 20 years…

(I wrote this in response to another commenter who said,

They could totally do a series of specials where the cast returned to Earth in present day. Having to wear older versions of their human selves so as to not rouse suspicion. Dick goes on the hunt for Mary (because that is the real reason they have come back, though he’s told the crew otherwise) in the hopes that she can remember him again. Sally coming to terms with being a cougar, Tommy not understanding why he’s not “down with the kids” anymore, Harry getting caught up in fake news and possibly becoming a viral social media star just because of the way he is.
There’s so much they could fit into a set of 45 minute specials that – with the right people writing – could really give the fans something awesome to look back on. 🙂

Mom and I have been watching the Peter Jackson Get Back documentary. Finished part 1 of 3, and it is extraordinary and historic. Perhaps some of the edits are designed to maximize the dramatic tension (and the performers were always aware they were being filmed), but it is amazing their process of tinkering with song lyrics to get it right. I predicted that Don’t Look Up would win Best Picture at the Oscars. Now I’m thinking that Get back will get nominated for Best Picture category (even though World War 1 documentary They Will Not Grow Old is probably as deserving.

I bought a Kindle Paperwhite 2021 Signature edition — mainly for testing ebooks, but also for the bigger display. In the past I have not really used the Paperwhite as much as I would have liked, but this version might actually be usable.

Nice 25 minute visual essay about Max Headroom. Two details: He’s a glitchbot (an imperfect robot) and Max Headroom is actually not an animated character but a real actress whose makeup was made to appear like a robot — along with an animated background.

First interview with Reality Winner on 60 minutes. You might remember that I nominated her for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.

David Wallace-Wells has another missive about the current climate change calamity.

Max Liboiron explains the true way to approach plastic pollution:

When we teach pollution science, which is different than litter science, what we teach people is that it’s called a stock-and-flow problem. The best metaphor is, OK, you walk into your bathroom and your bathtub is overflowing. Do you, a) turn off the tap, or b) get a mop? I mean, eventually you’ll do both, but you better turn off that tap before you start mopping up or you will never stop mopping up and you will never catch up to the water spilling out. That’s a great model for job security but a horrible model for dealing with pollution. … The question doesn’t become, is cleaning up worth it compared to turning off the tap? We know turning off the tap is better. Full stop…. I’ve been saying turn off the tap the whole time. Turn off the tap, turn off the tap. That’s what we do. And we can name who is keeping the tap running. Coca-Cola. ExxonMobil. We have their phone numbers.

Also, he talks about how geologists will name the anthropocene era:  This new epoch, this new species era, is characterized by human activity. The big argument amongst the geologists is what [geologic] signal are we going to use to mark this era? The two contenders are plastics or nuclear fallout from atomic bombs.

Curb Your Enthusiasm’s 15 Rules for Living.

The connections haven’t been made yet, but I’m guessing that the school board protests (about Critical
Race Theory, “dangerous books” and mask mandates) are quietly being funded by a major conservative donor which after extensive testing identified it as a wedge issue after abortion and gay marriage have been abandoned. It seems very suspicious that these cultural issues have suddenly become prominent. NPR investigated this at the end of October, and identified some usual suspects (but not one big contributor like Americans for Prosperity got behind banning gay marriage). Aha, according to Washington Post, Koch bankrolled some anti-mask grassroots initiatives. That still does not explain to me why book banning and CRT is coming up so frequently in Texas.

Two articles about the horrors of the oil and gas industry along the Gulf Coast. First, multiple Texas coastal towns are building oil/LNG export terminals to export LNG and oil shale. Environmentalists have filed lawsuits and launched protests to little avail.

DEEP SPACE NINE DOCUMENTARY: (RECOMMENDED) The actor who plays Garak (Andrew Johnson) introduces it with a very entertaining speech.


Music Discoveries Dec 2021 #12

See also:  November 2021 and January 2022 (View all)

Wow, wonderful musical things have been raining all over me. First, a discounted subscription to Amazon Music (for 3 months, I think). Also, Peter Jackson’s amazing Get Back documentary which I’m in the middle of.

To my shock and delight, rateyourmusic has improved their website considerably. They have new put together a music genre list which contains all sorts of subcategories and lists of examples in that genre.

Articles and Interviews

I’ve been relying on beehy’s end of year list of world music to help me discover new things. (Note that I limit my interest mainly to bands on emusic and on Bandcamp). Wait, looks like there’s a Beehype best of 2021 as well.

Emusic Purchases

My big emusic purchase needs to be spent by mid December. Hurry! Labels: Barbes Records (which seem to consist of American performers who love Latino or European musical styles).

  1. Panamerica by Las Rubias Del Norte. 6.99, 45 minutes. Early 2006 album by NY-based Latino art folk group with amazing classically trained female vocalists. The tracks are all upbeat and delightful (and apparently classical tunes from Latin America). The backing band sounds terrific as well. (See this NPR article about the group).
  2. Marte y Jupiter by Sara Ontaneda. 18 minutes, 5 tracks. 99 cent EP by Lovely and dreamy Ecuadorian aoustic pop singer who moved to NYC in the mid 2010s.
  3. Slight Disconnect by Bis. 4.49 10 tracks, 32 minutes. Absurd offbeat style reminds me of B-52s.
  4. s/t by Granula Grace. 99 cents, 5 tracks, 19 minutes.
  5. Meçhul: Singles & Rarities by Erkin Koray. 4.99, 11 tracks. 70s Turkish electronic rock. Surprisingly Pitchfork has a review.
  6. Hey Genius by Oh Baby. 19 minutes, 1.99. Retro techno-disco music. Also, another EP Art of Sleeping Alone for the same price.
  7. s/t by Mellows. 27 minutes, 12 tracks, 5.49. Texas rockabilly band whose lead singer Colton Turner sings like Buddy Holly. Also I ended up getting Need You (30 minutes, 5.49, 12 tracks as well). (Reviews of the Mellows).
  8. Lonesome Road by Mitch Polzak. California Country music. 2.99, 7 tracks, 23 minutes.
  9. Девушки фабричные by Fabrika. 45 minutes, 12 tracks, 45 minutes. Female Russian pop band from the 2000s. Also bought Мы такие разные by Fabrika. 16 tracks, 58 minutes, 4.99. Guilty Russian pop pleasure, but these songs are hummable.
  10. Trio II by Dolly Parton, Linda Rondstadt, Emmylou Harris. Sequel to a famous live performance 20 years after the fact.
  11. Various EPs by Nazca: Covers, Away, Cowboy’s Secrets. All 99 cents. Dreamy acoustic group with ethereal Latino sound.
  12. Babes in Arms by MC 5. Compilation of classic hits by a 60s/70s bluesy rock band.
  13. Extra-Deluxe-Supreme by Hazmat Modine. 51 minutes, 6.99, 10 tracks.
  14. Overwinter by Grasscut. 9 tracks, 3.99, 41 minutes. Everyone was a Bird by Grasscut.
  15. Erotic Reruns by Yeasayer, 3.99, 29 minutes, 9 tracks. Fun, taut and peppy rock songs with clean harmonies, unpredictable sounds and original melodies.
  16. Yves Montand Collection. 2 hour collection, 6.49, 40 songs. Great classic French songs.
  17. There will never be another you by George Benson. 4.99, 12 tracks. 130 minutes. Hip all jazz instrumental with Benson on piano — surprisingly he doesn’t sing at all! Allegedly a live 1973 performance, so pretty rare too.
  18. 2 Albums by Tülay Nedret Baran: Huriyem and Zühtü – Dımbıllı. Both are 4.99, 15 tracks and 1 hour. (BC here and here). Lively 1970s Turkish funk/soul, with a hard beat, guitar. She’s a great singer with interesting vocal qualities too.
  19. Dostum Dostum by Şakir Öner Günhan. 70s traditional Turkish folk-pop. The recording sounds pretty washed out, and sometimes the ballads drag, but there are some great musical moments too.
  20. Satanic Panic in the Attic by Of Montreal. Very bubbly album by this classic band. One of their best.
  21. s/t by Yüksel Özkasap. 4.99, 35 minutes, 10 tracks. Probably my favorite Turkish pop discovery.
  22. Lines Pt 3: Emily Bronte by the Unthanks. (I already bought pts 1 and 2). Great British folk songs (for some sort of theatrical concert).
  23. Elde Var Hüzün – Handan by Nur Yoldaş, 56 minutes, 11 tracks. 4.99. Well-rated 1980s album by Turkish pop star with songs written with her husband.
  24. A Sound of the Wooden Fish by Artur Maćkowiak and Grzegorz Pleszyński. 42 minutes, 3 tracks. 2.49. I’d already bought 2 albums by Mackowiak; they are great!
  25. I was born swimming by Squirrel Flower. 6.49, 35 minutes, 12 tracks. Polyvinyl release of female vocalist who sings gentle soulful rock songs. Slapback is the best song.
  26. Neura by Juliano Guerra. 99 cents, 12 tracks, 52 minutes. Brasilian folk singer. There are two other 99 albums by the same singer.
  27. Assim Traduzi Voces by Paulinho Martins. 99 cent, light Brasilian instrumental pieces, with flute, guitar and whatever else.

Bandcamp Purchases.

  1. Pornsick EP by Femegades. Feminist protest punk from UK.
  2. Look Homeward Angel Numbers by Doleful Lions. More by that amazing indie band.
  3. The Mira Variable by San Mateo. Interesting and soaring soundscapes. always pleasant-sounding.
  4. Mages by Color Theory. Synthesizer-driven pop with nice vocals by Brian Hazard (bio), with some nice minimalist melodies.
  5. Dynamic Stillness by Steve Roach. More ambient by the master.
  6. Forever Cascades by Forrest Fang. Ambient composer. Just released.
  7. Two albums by Kekal: Audible Minority and Autonomy Indonesian Experimental heavy metal. Occasionally it’s too much and too noisy, but this veteran performing group is definitely trying to push the boundaries of what rock music really is. A for effort, unsure if I really sold on it yet.

Youtubey Things

Serebro‘s Mama Luba is flirty, silly, mindless, but they do it well. I have their acclaimed Opiumroz album which is more of the same (and that’s good, isn’t it?)

The editor of that music video deserves an Academy award — if only for the concept and the switch between studio version and live version. When trying to think of other clever music vids fully inside a car, I can think of Robert Miles’ Children (a personal favorite), Alanis Morissette – Ironic (duh!) and Everyone You Know’s The Drive (very clever) . Also, here’s a nice series of musical impressions of a girls’ group who do lots of numbers in their car. Their other videos are filmed inside cars as well.

Freegal and Library CDs

  1. Boney M. Singles
  2. Josephine Baker. Just realized I have nothing by her (practically)
  3. Serebro. Blatantly commercial Russian girls band formed initially to win Eurovision. (They only got 2nd, but the performance was relatively terrible. Other songs are pretty great though.
  4. Shangaan Shake. South American dance music.
  5. Slowdive
  6. Spy OST. US comedy with some hot European pop on the soundtrack.
  7. Ignorance by Weather Station.
  8. Lingua Ignota by Wind Atlas
  9. Billy Preston, Collection
  10. Dry Cleaning

Podcasty Things



Social Media Dump Nov 16-30 2021

See also: Nov 1-15  and Dec 1-16 (View all)

Emily Atkin spots the b.s. in an Exxon CCS on the NYT podcast about misinformation. “There’s so many misleading aspects to this ad,” said Ben Franta, who studies the history of climate disinformation at Stanford University. Because of its strategically vague language and presentation of micro-facts without context, he said, “You read it and it gives you the impression that carbon capture is new and effective and we’re gonna scale it up, when in reality none of that is the case.”

Wow, Atkin mentions paltering, a term referring to misleading people with truthful statements and letting readers read more into these statements than was supported. Here’s a longer explanation of paltering:

OSCAR PREDICTION TIME: I predict that Adam McKay’s picture DON’T LOOK UP will win BEST PICTURE in 2022. (Opens on Netflix December 24). Sit tight and assess!

IF YOU TRAVELED BACK TO 1986 AND TOLD PEOPLE THESE THINGS, THEY WOULD THINK YOU WERE CRAZY: 1. There’s only 8 planets now, 2. we can make money by filming ourselves play games, 3. You can legally walk into the bank with a mask on to get money to legally buy weed next door on your way to your friend’s legal gay wedding. 4. People are able to instantly, reliably, fact check any statement via a powerful, heldheld, internet connected, computer yet are more prone to misinformation and being wrong than ever, 5. Computers eventually reach the point where we have to prove that we’re not robots in order to use them. 6. A billionaire flies a giant penis into space while wearing a cowboy hat. 7. The Treasury department was going to replace Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill, but then there was a massively popular rap musical about him and they decided not to. 8. MTV will no longer play music videos and instead play reality shows that no one asked for. 9. Meathead, Laverne, and Opie are some of the most respected directors in Hollywood. Also, that guy from Bosom Buddies won Best Actor twice.(From REDDIT)

If I had to add one thing, I’d mention that communism fell pretty quickly in Eastern Europe

Great zoom conversation between great cli fi novelists Barbara Kingsolver and Kim Stanley Robinson.

Here’s a moral argument for destroying fossil fuel infrastructure.

We could destroy the machines that destroy this planet. If someone has planted a time bomb in your home, you are entitled to dismantle it. More to the point, if someone has placed an incendiary device inside the high-rise building where you live, and if the foundations are already on fire and people are dying in the cellars, then many would believe that you have an obligation to put the device out of action.

This is the moral case which, I would argue, justifies destroying fossil fuel property. That is completely separate from harming human bodies, for which there is no moral case.

And this particular moral case for direct action is, I believe, overwhelmingly strong, if the realities of the climate catastrophe are recognised. On that premise, how could the physical integrity of fossil fuel property possibly be given precedence?

There are far easier solutions than destruction: nullifying leases on public land for petroleum exploitation, cashback carbon pricing, boycotts.

I’m mystified by the 2nd trick David Blaine performs before Jimmy Fallon. I asked in a comment: I’m trying to figure out the middle trick ( 3:20 )about the 9 of diamonds. How many cards did Blaine have to pre-position to make sure it contained Fallon’s card choice? Do you think the 5 cards in the first trick (Ace, 4, 4, 7, 10) forced Fallon to avoid those numbers? If Fallon had chosen a strange card (like the Queen of Spades or Ace of Clubs), do you think Blaine would have simply chosen to do another trick? (I’d love for a commenter to give an intelligent reply).

Here’s a long and good profile of Mehdi Hassan as a debater and TV interviewer.

Here’s a masterpiece of a conservative-leaning BBC interviewer asking Ben Shapiro about his beliefs. It is a master class about to interview. Here are some things I admire:

  1. Andrew Neil asks a simple question and then shuts up and waits for Ben Shapiro to give a full answer. It’s a real trick not asking overlong or leading questions.
  2. When Ben Shapiro tries to turn the tables on the interviewer with a liberal bias accusation, Neil doesn’t take the bait and just continues forward.
  3. Neil (and his staff) expertly pick previous statements that appear to contradict what Shapiro is arguing for in his book. Points off for mentioning that Shapiro’s videos are called “Ben Shapiro destroys X” without following up to say that these videos appear on Shapiro’s own channel, so it is probably Shapiro himself who wrote that label. But the quotes that Obama is a fascist seems well-chosen.
  4. The hard part about real time interviews is that you have to listen very carefully to what they are saying and not be thinking so much about what you need to ask next. For example, I would have leapt at Shapiro’s asinine statement that GOP ideas are new while liberal ideas are old. But Neil had to pick his battles. On the other hand, it isn’t that interesting whether liberal ideas are old or new, so maybe that was not a good point to pounce on.

Social Media Dump Nov 1-15 2021

See also:  Oct 17-31 2021 and Nov 16-30 (View all)

Wow, late getting this up. Yippee, my Personville Press published another story collection by Jack Matthews — Second Death of E.A. Poe and other stories. Normal price is $3, but for the next 2 days, the price is 99 cents at Amazon. My description, “In contrast to previous story collections (which lean more to the cerebral or poetic), the Matthews stories collected here are down-to-earth yarns: gently satirical and reminiscent of John Cheever’s fiction. Most are like pleasant strolls through Midwestern neighborhoods, glimpsing random people at backyard parties, cafes and parking lots.”

I am preparing a new Climate Change Cheatsheet (2021 Edition). (For now it mainly has graphs and charts). I prepared a version in 2014 as a handy reference which probably needs updates. Thankfully, there’s a lot more coverage of the topic, more research, more scientists, more think-tanks, more tools.

Here’s a dispiriting report about how after COP 26, Biden Administration will soon have the largest oil and gas lease sale in US history on November 17. According to the article, the Biden’s position is that they can’t obstruct a sale authorized under the previous administration, but critics say that Biden could do a lot to prevent this firesale from taking place.

Clive Thompson on how to tell when you’re done with research (a short explanation of saturation theory).

New data tend to be redundant of data already collected. In interviews, when the researcher begins to hear the same comments again and again, data saturation is being reached… It is then time to stop collecting information and to start analysing what has been collected. (source)

Thompson comments:

I feel like I suffer from the opposite. When I’m researching a new subject, I’m prone to feel I’ve never reached saturation. If I decide I’ve done enough research to begin writing, the moment I’m at my keyboard I get a stab of panic: Wait, do I really know what I’m talking about? Maybe I should interview one more expert! Or read another book! Because the truth is — as all genuine experts know — the complexities of any given field are enormous. There’s always more to learn!
But the type of “saturation” I’m describing isn’t about becoming a deep expert in a subject. Even if you spend a few months doing serious research into a new subject, you’re only going to — at best — amass the strong grasp of a layperson. You’re not going to reach the insight a serious professional has for their field, or a devoted long-term hobbyist has for theirs.
But when you’re writing for a general audience? You rarely need that level of extreme expertise (though if you have it, that’s awesome). You’re looking for enough understanding to write something that’s usefully informed. That’s when the feeling of saturation is a useful guide.

NPR reports that accounting errors by the Trump Administration’s Department of Commerce, mistakes at the Census caused them to have to ask former employees to repay them . I can vouch for the accuracy, because I received a letter asking me to pay back $250!

Third Rock had a reunion a few days ago — can’t wait for it to go on Youtube. My eyes always tear up at the final scene where they sing the mission song.

A week ago SNL had a crazy but somewhat familiar sketch called What Up with That? Kenan Thompson played a musically-inclined talk show host for BET network who has three guests, but ends up never interviewing them because he’s too busy singing the show’s theme song (and variations). This sketch is utterly stupid and mindless — it was probably easy to write and rehearse, but I can’t help it. I like watching these sketches — a lot! (and reading Youtube reactions as well). I created a playlist of all of them — with my favorite 3 at the top . Watch out for the way that track suit guy (Jason Sudeikis) leaps onto stage — there is substantial debate about whether these are actual jumps or whether he is using a trampoline. (Several commenters who were former audience members say unequivocally that they are natural jumps). It’s worth remembering that the brilliant Not Ready for Prime Time players (who never actually appear in the sketch) are responsible for making the sketch so groovy.

Ian Millhiser is a crackerjack legal reporter who has published several books about the Supreme Court (one of which I own– haven’t gotten the latest one though). Here’s his frightening take about the new Conservative justices are resurrecting the nondelegation doctrine to remove the power of federal agencies to regulate. Here’s another analysis of a case about whether Puerto Rico residents are entitled to receive Social Security benefits.

Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds show up at each other’s talk show appearance. (Here and here) Hilarity ensues.

I discovered a foolproof way to determine if you are actually dreaming: Say “Hey google, what is the capital of Tanzania? What about Tunisia? Madagascar? What’s the population of Ghana?” In last night’s dream I kept asking Google Home the same question and was exasperated that it didn’t seem to be working.

How to determine whether the universe you are living in is a simulation requires more time and effort. (more)

Star Trek trivia contest between Patrick Stewart and Pete Buttigieg — it’s surprisingly close!


Climate Change Cheatsheet (2021 Edition)

In 2014, I prepared a cheatsheet of climate data. I still refer to it semi often. Since that time a lot has been published, so this post needs a substantial revision. Actually the day after I posted this, Washington Post published an analysis of estimated carbon emissions and estimated that the true amount is 23% higher than what is currently reported.

[continue reading…]

Robert’s Roundup #25 (November , 2021)

View Previous Roundup and Next Roundup (View All)

Abbreviations: KU means Kindle Unlimited, LE means that lending of this Kindle title is allowed, and APUB means it was published under an Amazon imprint. NYP means “Name Your Price” (that’s an option on Smashwords and other booksellers).

(Dec 31 Update. God, this roundup looks like crap. I’ll catch up and add stuff to it in a few days!)

Happy to report that my Personville Press has published a new story collection by Jack Matthews called Second Death of E.A. Poe and other Stories. In my book description, I say, “In contrast to previous story collections (which lean more to the cerebral or poetic), the Matthews stories collected here are down-to-earth yarns: gently satirical and reminiscent of John Cheever’s fiction. Most are like pleasant strolls through Midwestern neighborhoods, glimpsing random people at backyard parties, cafes and parking lots.

Also I bit the bullet and bought the 2021 Kindle Paperwhite. I found the previous generation of Paperwhites to be practically unusable — mainly because of the bad interface, ad clutter, puny display and difficulty finding the right spot to turn the page or do basic commands. This version has .8 inch more height,

Indie Author Spotlight

How to win with your data visualizations by Elizabeth Clarke. This was a 99 cent special and contained great info about using visual information.

Under the Radar

I think I’ve blogged about Scott Bradfield before, but I was delighted to learn that most of his fiction titles are priced at 99 cents today on Amazon. Also, Why I Hate Toni Morrison’s BELOVED: several decades of reading unwisely looks fun to read. (Bradfield talks about classic books and postmodernism on his youtube channel). Update: Why I hate Toni Morrison is a fun collection of curmudgeonly essays, most about bookish topics. highly recommended. Also Millennial’s Guide to Death: Stories, Animal Planet, What’s Wrong with America and History of Luminous Motion.

Daisy Fields by Maki Matsui

Brilliant White Peaks by Teng Rong (author’s website)

Ping-Pong Champion of Chinatown by James Hanna (author website). I liked his Call Me Pomeroy book from a while back. I’ll buy anything he writes, and h

Old Men Who Row Boats and Other Stories by David Joseph.

Fire Escape Belongs to Brooklyn by Chuck Cascio. I’ve bought the other story volumes that describes

All the Broken People by Amy Rivers. (author website) This book won her national prize as best author by the Indie Author Project. It’s a suspenseful family drama about secrets. Other regional winners are here. That was 2021. Here are the regional winners from 2020.

Berlin Diary by William L. Shirer

Homeland and Other Stories by Barbara Kingsolver

Flights by Olga Tokarczuk. 1.99.

Chronicle in Stone by Ismail Kadare. I’ve read several Kadare novels; this appears to be the most accessible and have the best translation. 1.99 and discounted often.

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara Wertheim Tuchman

Based on a True Story by Norm MacDonald. I admit, I’m fascinated by this transgressive comedian, and the first chapter was actually insightful.

Library Purchases/Printed books

Song of the World Becoming : New and Collected Poems, 1981-2001 by Pattiann Rogers

Dawn Powell, 1944-1962 : My Home Is Far Away – The Locusts Have No King – The Wicked Pavilion – The Golden Spur

Creative Commons/Freebies


Literary Articles and Essays




Capsule Book Reviews


Book Roar Review


Multimedia/Podcasts, Etc

Great Early interview with John Barth in the 1970s (He’s a former teacher of mine). Gosh, what a windbag! (But very fun to listen to. I will say, in the 1980s, he was really sharp and witty). He reports asking Robert Creeley how long it takes him to write a poem. Creeley replied, “Half an hour. How long does it take to write a novel?” “Seven years,” Barth replied.

Personville Press Deals

I run Personville Press, a small literary book press where all the ebooks cost less than $4. Most are regularly discounted, so prices may be cheaper than appears here. You can buy DRM-free ebooks and audio files directly from the Personville Press payhip store or from SmashwordsThese two places generally have the cheapest prices because they offer a higher percentage of royalties to the publisher. Alternatively, you can buy cloud-based ebooks from GoogleAmazonBNApple and Kobo. Check them out! Fall 2021 Personville Press will have a mailing list to help people to stay informed about upcoming sales and promotions.


Music Discoveries Nov 2021 #11

See also: October 2021  and December 2021 (View all)

Sorry, got started late on this.

Articles and Interviews

Rob Tannenbaum on how Afternoon Delight became a hit song. I already knew most of the song’s background, but was amazed to learn that Suzanne Ciani provided the backing for the song.

I’m such a Mazzy Star fan. Heard this interview:

INTERVIEWER: How do you make your albums? Do you start with a lot of songs and then hone them into a coherent album?

ROBACK: Well, maybe we’d like to make albums that are incoherent almost as much as we would like to make albums which are coherent.

INTERVIEWER: I love that. What’s your most incoherent album?


Emusic Purchases

  1. Papari by Porrosivo.

Bandcamp Purchases

Discovered the hard way that items exit your shopping list if you leave them there for a few days.

  1. Passage by Baychimo
  2. Red Roses are Red now by Thme
  3. Calavera-Exposion by Calavera
  4. Two albums by Ian Ramil: Derivacivilização and IAN
  5. Semente de Maçã ep by Semente de Maçã
  6. Fool and the World by Edward Givens
  7. Everything drops except stamps(excerpts) by hikaru yamada and the librarians
  8. music at a distance 85 by snwv
  9. Dream Clinique by Rasterphonics
  10. Latencia by pau
  11. Buck Up by Carsie Blanton
  12. Massive purchase of Mississippi Records albums during their NYP day. (Don’t worry, it could come again).
  13. Various recordings by Doleful Lions (all NYP), an underappreciated Illinois pop band who have been releasing albums since 1997. I started with Out Like a Lamb, Hidden Thunderdomes, Shared Lodge and Mausoleum, Motel Swim and New Slushies.
  14. El egotismo de Nildo el suspirante by El Egotismo de Nildo.
  15. Late in the Day by Sontiche. Great slow Irish songs by a duet, one of whom passed away suddenly. (Here’s a profile of Marty McClatchey).
  16. Palabras Malas by Many Arms
  17. Squeeze Me Ahead of Line by Season Standard.

Youtubey Things

I’m becoming a huge fan of the rap singer Chali 2na (the last name is pronounced “Tuna”). He sings the third part in the great bilingual song, America by Canadian Somalian rapper K’naan. Here’s his youtube channel. He was a founding member of a 1990s group Jurassic 5, sang for Ozomatli‘s first album

I’m a big fan of Bill and Taffy Danoff (the singer-songwriters who formed the core of Starland Vocal Band and sang backup for John Denver, including a song they wrote, Country Roads Take Me Home). Here’s Taffy singing a great song with kazoo:

(There’s a higher quality audio-only version here).

I occasionally get lost on Russia Beyond, a russian culture site (which apparently is run by the authoritarian Russian government, so beware of hidden agendas! Here’s a nice listicle of 10 legendary Russian girl bands.

Freegal and Library CDs

  1. Live from the Ryman and More by Sheryl Crow (also on Youtube).
  2. Billy Preston
  3. Bloc Party
  4. Death-Grips
  5. Marila Mendoca
  6. Microphones
  7. Nicki Nicole
  8. Robyn
  9. Slowdive
  10. Soda Stereo (and Gustavo Cerati)
  11. Todd Rundgren
  12. Jurassic 5. Influential rap band with Charlie 2una (see above).
  13. Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers
  14. BTS Compilation

Podcasty Things



Social Media Dump Oct 17-31 2021

See also: Oct 1-16 and Nov 1-15 (View all)

MR DINOSAUR SPEAKS: “Let me tell you — and you kind of think this would be obvious, going extinct is a bad thing. And driving yourselves extinct? In 70 million years, that’s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard! At least we had an asteroid, what’s your excuse? You’re headed for a climate disaster, and yet every year governments spend hundred of billions of public funds on fossil fuel subsidies. Imagine if we had spent hundreds of billions per year subsidizing giant meteors. That’s what you’re doing right now!”

Note: I’m leaving the Social Media Dumps at top of my blog for their corresponding month, but in fact most of my work is not done on these linkdumps but the Robert’s Roundup of Ebook Deals and the music discovery posts. These things take forever to complete (I’m still working on the September column for both posts).

Word for the decade: solastalgia.

Paula Kael reviews the movie Bladerunner.

Here’s an ongoing list I’m keeping about favorite sitcoms by decade. I’ll be adding to it over time.

Here’s an incendiary anti-Manchin video. Maybe we can persuade him to step down?

FUN COMIC SONG (OR VEILED POLITICAL ALLEGORY?) This funny & slightly irritating multilingual song by this Malaysian and Taiwanese singer pokes gentle fun at “little pinkies” (slang for Chinese nationalists), Chinese firewall censorship, Pooh (i.e. Chinese president) and NMSL (slang for “Your Mom is Dead”) Here’s a list to some fun Chinese Internet slang.

I’ve been a Wikipedia editor since 2006. I’ve even created several new articles. I submitted an article for review, and it’s been in the waiting queue for approval for more than 7 weeks. General observations:

  1. Wiki rules are much more complicated than they used to be 5 years ago. (Examples here, here, here and here). The documentation is really incredible, but there’s so much of it.
  2. At least half of the newly submitted articles are about living people or companies.
  3. Initial quality of submitted articles is a lot higher than it used to be.
  4. The rich text editor is easier to use and more powerful. Great job! At the same time, it is very hard to use correctly and according to policy.
  5. Templates are a monster subject. Here’s the “quick guide.” Good luck figuring it out.

After doing a lot of research, I have figured out the best way to upload images (i.e., photographs) to Wikipedia:

  1. Ask the photographer to register with Wikimedia Commons . Direct them to go here.
  2. Have them fill out the form and assign it creative commons sharing rights.
  3. Then any person can assign it categories and tags for the sake of findability. Here’s an example of a photograph taken of me which was uploaded by the photographer himself. Here’s an example of an artsy selfie-photograph of me which I uploaded myself.

It is also possible to submit documentation supporting that the artwork was work-for-hire and that the copyright owner doesn’t have to be the creator, but oh, that’s complicated.

It’s NSFW, but here’s Great long AVN profile/obituary of Gloria Leonard, porn star who later became a magazine editor and advocacy for the porn industry. Fun fact: She used to hit the college circuit to have debates with conservatives about porn, and she in fact visited my college campus at Trinity. I even remember asking her a question at the event — though for the life of me I don’t remember what about.

Leonard is also remembered as the mistress of the bon mot—what are called nowadays a “sound bite”—most notably her oft-quoted line, “The difference between pornography and erotica is the lighting.” It was also said of her, in a phrase she often repeated, “She’s as famous for what comes out of her mouth as what went into it.”

On the relationship between Chicxulub impact crater (the one that killed the dinosaurs) and climate change:

By analyzing the fish fossils inside, researchers determined that global temperatures were stable for a long time before the asteroid impact, but then, afterwards, temperatures quickly rose and stayed about 5 degrees Celsius warmer for about 100,000 years.

MacLeod says it’s notable that the impact pumped up carbon dioxide over a short time span that, geologically speaking, is comparable to what humans have been doing in burning fossil fuels since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

“The atmosphere was loaded for a very brief interval of time, and the consequences of that change in atmospheric composition lasted for 100,000 years,” MacLeod says. “So it illustrates, I think, really strongly, even if we went back to 1850 levels of carbon dioxide emission, it’s going to take a 100,000 years for the carbon dioxide that we’ve already put in the atmosphere to cycle through the Earth’s systems.”

Lots of information about climate change and Biden’s infrastructure plan. Outlook is extremely gloomy. Actually a lot of the sources are on NYT, Washington Post, so let me find sources elsewhere.

As a climate change activist interested in climate policy, it’s hard to describe my feelings these past few weeks. DISMAYED at the failure of the Senate to settle on a sensible climate policy, OVERWHELMED by the amount of media coverage (even I can no longer keep up) and PESSIMISTIC about the upcoming Glasgow climate conference (which China, India, Russia and Brazil won’t be sending leaders to). DAILY PODCAST had Coral Davenport yesterday — where she basically described the ugly process of letting Manchin write the climate bill — and then backing away from the bill he himself wrote. Like I said, the amount of news is overwhelming even for environmentalists. The best source of info has been the twitter and substack newsletter of David Roberts , Climate Crocks blog and the FB/Twitter of scientist Michael Mann.

Overall, we have topnotch environmental reporting around the country, but nobody really cares or notices. The main obsession is with gas prices (ugh!)

Here’s the best explanation of the climate change problem that I’ve seen –– told with graphs. I know a lot about the data being presented (for a layman anyway), and I know that a lot of assumptions are grounded in a moderate estimate of climate sensitivity. That is not guaranteed at all.

I mentioned before that I go on Twitter a lot mainly as a lurker. I still think Twitter like any variation of social media limits your expression. It can get maddening. I for one refuse to embed any tweet on my blog! (Just like I won’t embed tiktok, etc). Today I learned quite accidentally that the QUOTE TWEET function is a HIDDEN dropdown option on the retweet icon. What a stupid interface for a social media platform! (This tutorial explains how to do it right). I have relished not going on twitter — it’s a surefire recipe to have your thoughts drowned out by other random and frequent bullshit. About 6 months ago I relented and decided to post my monthly columns there. Now that I know how to quote other tweets the right way, I’ll be posting somewhat more frequently. (No more than once a day aside from a special occasion). So you might want to start following my twitter now which is @NAGLETX. Ouch I see that the default option of WordPress is to embed tweets and youtube.

Merrill Goozner on US’s failure to develop its lithium recycling program:

Lithium-ion batteries, which first became commercially available in the early 1990s, are now ubiquitous in computers, cell phones, cameras, and other electronic devices. Worldwide, only about half those batteries are currently being recycled. The rest get thrown away or lie dormant within products no longer in use (like the old computers and cell phones gathering dust in people’s homes).

Most of the battery recycling taking place today is in China and Europe, which have far more stringent regulations than the U.S. The Energy Department estimates only 5 percent of America’s discarded lithium-ion batteries get recycled. Call2Recycle, a nonprofit consortium promoting battery recycling, counted collections of just over 1,000 metric tons in 2020, which is just 12 to 15 percent of rechargeable batteries available for recycling, a spokesperson for the organization said.

Mark Jacobson on solving climate change with existing technology (rather than waiting for other solutions).

Already in many places, solar plus batteries is cheaper than coal or nuclear and is replacing both. In fact, battery costs have declined 90 percent in the past 10 years. No miracle is needed in this area, just more rapid deployment. Thus, we have no need for modern bioelectricity, nuclear, or carbon capture attached to fossil or bioelectricity…Electric vehicles are commercial and replacing fossil-fuel vehicles of all types and weights, aside from long-distance aircraft and ships, the longest-distance trucks and trains, and heavy military vehicles. Such long-distance, heavy vehicles are part of the last 5 percent of energy technologies that may take until 2035 to 2040 to commercialize. However, such vehicles can and likely will run on hydrogen fuel cells. To produce hydrogen, we will use existing and improved electrolyzers powered by renewable electricity. Thus, no biofuel, such as ethanol, biodiesel, or bio-jet fuel, is needed.

This Australian progressive group produced a fun & cynical & (yes!) informative look at the risible claims about the “promise” of carbon capture and storage (Authorized by the Department for Prolonging the Fossil Fuel Era — and Making YOU pay for it)