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