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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.

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Robert’s Roundup #25 (November , 2021)

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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)


Social Media Dump Oct 1-16 2021

See also: Sept 16-31 and Oct 17-31 (View all)

Babylon 5 Reboot. Best news I’ve heard. J. Michael Straczynski is incredibly talented (even though I couldn’t get into the glitzy futurism of Sense 8). Hopefully there will be cameos from some of the (still living) actors. Babylon 5 did so many things differently than the Star Trek universe that I really learned a lot about storytelling in general.

Here’s a nice video clip from the TV version of the Martian Chronicles. I read this in 6th or 7th grade, and it had a great impact upon me (more than Farhenheit 451 certainly). The writing was simple and unembellished, but dramatically they worked great.

Kate Arnoff writes about the unjust sentencing on Stephen Donziger:

“The rules in place to protect Chevron are simply much stronger than those in place to protect the planet, in no small part thanks to the amount of fossil fuel cash sloshing around Washington. How is it, after all, that a judge in New York can invalidate a ruling made in and about Ecuador? For all of the party’s sunny rhetoric about helping the environment, directly challenging the fossil fuel industry head on remains a third rail for all but a few Democrats in Congress; starting to unravel the thicket of rules that allows them to operate with virtual impunity around the world is almost unthinkable. In that context, a multinational oil company being held accountable threatened to set an uncomfortable precedent.

Words cannot capture how angry I am about the way Chevron abused the judicial system. Chris Hedges publishes another commentary:

The persecution of Donziger fits a pattern familiar to millions of poor Americans who are coerced into accepting plea deals, many for crimes they did not commit, and sent to prison for decades. It fits the pattern of the judicial lynching and prolonged psychological torture of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning. It fits the pattern of those denied habeas corpus and due process at Guantánamo Bay or in CIA black sites. It fits the pattern of those charged under terrorism laws, many held at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan, who cannot see the evidence used to indict them. It fits the pattern of the widespread use of Special Administrative Measures, known as SAMs, imposed to prevent or severely restrict communication with other prisoners, attorneys, family, the media and people outside the jail. It fits the pattern of the extreme sensory deprivation and prolonged isolation used on those in our black sites and prisons, a form of psychological torture, the refinement of torture as science. By the time a “terrorist” is dragged into our secretive courts the bewildered suspect no longer has the mental and psychological capability to defend themselves. If they can do this legally to the demonized they can, and one day will, do it to the rest of us. The Donziger case is an ominous warning that the American legal system is broken. 

Ralph Nader, who graduated from Harvard Law School, has long decried the capture of the courts and law schools by corporate power, calling the nation’s attorneys and judges “lucrative cogs in the corporate wheel.” He notes that law school curriculums are “built around corporate law, and corporate power, and corporate perpetration, and corporate defense.” 

Victor Klemperer, who was dismissed from his post as a professor of Romance languages at the University of Dresden in 1935 because of his Jewish ancestry, astutely noted how at first the Nazis “changed the values, the frequency of words, [and] made them into common property, words that had previously been used by individuals or tiny troupes. They confiscated words for the party, saturated words and phrases and sentence forms with their poison. They made language serve their terrible system. They conquered words and made them into their strongest advertising tools [Werebemittle], at once the most public and most secret.” And, Klemperer noted, as the redefinition of old concepts took place the public was oblivious.

Kaiser Family Foundation polled people to find out the reasons gave by people for the high COVID spread:


  • 89% not masks and distancing
  • 87% refusing to get vaccine
  • 75% Delta more infectious


  • 55% immigrants and tourists
  • 41% Delta more infectious
  • 40% vaccines not effective

(source: this graphic and the related article).

About thought-terminating cliches and Deepity. (from the Rationalwiki).

Animal psychologists try to figure out if the language buttons provide insight about whether pets really miss us when we’re gone.

Here’s a nice in-depth comparison of the economies and social structure of California and Texas.

Climate policy guru David Roberts writes a long piece about how climate policy involves lots of different fields that don’t factor in the “political economy” angle:

Unlike disciplines with some academic or professional standards of rigor, political punditry and advocacy are a veritable festival of gut instincts, guesses, bad logic, bad faith, and confirmation bias. Pundits rarely offer empirical evidence; they rarely assess the accuracy of their prior predictions; they rarely change their minds.

It drives scientists, economists, and, uh, ex-philosophy students out of their heads. It is tempting to try to claim some authority, to claim that a background in economics (or some other technical field) confers the status of referee, making the final calls on the merits of various policies.

But it doesn’t. There are no real “experts” in politics, despite many claims to the contrary. The best we can hope for is to develop a few empirically informed heuristics (including those from economics), to remain open and alive to new evidence, to find trustworthy guides to the current political economy, and to strive toward, for lack of a better word, wisdom.


Music Discoveries Oct 2021 #10

See also: September 2021  and November 2021 (View all)

I was a podcast guest once again for the Out of Obscurity podcast with Omnifoo. This episode we featured Monk Turner‘s God Complex and Leslie Hall‘s Song in the Key of Gold. I had already written a review of this album calling it a “Suburban Rock Opera with Mythical Overtones”.

Articles and Interviews

Ted Goia (Website) has 12 predictions for the future of music. I just purchased his Love Songs: Hidden History today!

Emusic Purchases

  1. Sampler by Strawbs. 17 tracks, 49 minutes. 7.99 Early album with many tracks by legendary singer Sandy Denny
  2. If it’s not Real by Artur Maćkowiak. 8 tracks, 6.50, 44 minutes.
  3. Cursed! by Lucid Sins, 8 tracks, 38 minutes, 3.49 . Also see their NYP BC album Occultation.
  4. Two albums by Sexy Bicycle: Ellipsis and Saint. 30-45 minutes each. 4.99 each. Experimental jazz-pop pieces by Georgian singer Nika Elia who is currently living in Spain (not the USA one even though the songs are in English). BC Page. It has the eclectic pop feel of David Byrne
  5. Hold yourself together by Asha Jefferies. 99 cent, 6 tracks, 25 minutes. Australian country.
  6. XO by Medio Hermano, 9 tracks, 3.99
  7. Several by Los Ex: Cocodrila and Caida Libre. Later solo works by its lead singer Colombina Parra (bio in English) Otono Negro, Obertura A Un Río De Sangre Corre (99 cents for a fun 46 minute soundscape) and Cuidado Que Grita (Edición Especial) 4.00 for 35 minutes.
Los Ex — Columbina Parra singing

Bandcamp Purchases

From now on I’m primarily scooping up Name Your Price (NYP) albums on Bandcamp. A lot of NYP albums are compilations and samplers, but I’m looking towards the NYP or low-cost albums.

  1. That Seventies Compilation. NYP. 26 tracks, energetic heavy metal.
  2. More Doomed and Stones compilations: Doomed & Stoned in Chile, D&S in Texas, D&S in New Zealand, D&S in Latin America Duos, D&S in Australia, D&S in Asia,
  3. NYP Records (various). The African compilations also look tempting.
  4. Latencia by Pau Chile.
  5. Business Casual (Full Digital Discography of Vaporwave stuff for only $2)
  6. Just Popping in to Say Hi by Crywank. (Great album, but you can get all the albums for NYP 2$)
  7. Full Digital Discography by Hasenfang (an Idaho-based songwriter)
  8. Mukambo presents Global Afrobeat Movement (Vol 1 and 2).
  9. Cat-shaped hole in my heart (compilation)
  10. Great Barrier by Soul Whirling Somewhere.
  11. Highlights by Black Tape for a Blue Girl.
  12. Kitsune by Jarguna & Ryuzen
  13. Various things by Polly Fae, Dreamwalkers, Earthlight, Metamorphosis and Secret Language of Trees
  14. s/t by Tearwave. Also, see Different Shade of Beauty by Tearwave.
  15. Sounds like Rain by the Adelaidean.
  16. Kinecism by Kinematic
  17. Compilations: Radio Mawimbi Vol 1 and Volume 2 )
  18. 187 Steps to Cross the Universe by Jardin de Croix
  19. OK Smartypants and Mr. Gikokovich 2000-5 by Max Levine Ensemble
  20. Hors-Jue by Hinn. France’s answer to the Clash, U2 and the Cure, etc which channels a lot of the same energy and excitement.
  21. Wild Goats and Useless Heroes by Freak Fandango Orchestra. Zany and joyful multi-ethnic Spanish jazz band which probably are incredible live in concert.
  22. Black Lantern Clan 100: Black Latern is Dead and BLC 50 Raise the Black Lantern . Gigantic Hip-hop /electronic compilation from various Scottish artists. Hit & miss but always interesting and fun.
  23. Through the Sharegate by Kid in Arcadia (Ecuador). Great chiptune videogame music with dazzling melodies and rhythm.
  24. Two albums by Helenguard (Ukrainian folk-electronica group, Ozuka wannabees). s/t and Firebird
  25. s/t by Ill Considered. UK Jazz improvisation.
  26. Night in Berlin by Acid Carrots. I love the title song (which was also included in That Seventies compilation. Other tracks are so, so, but there’s a lot of promise in this Swedish rock band.
  27. Various compilations from Sahel Sounds (an Oregon based collector of African music): Music from Saharan Cellphones (outstanding), SS Label Sampler, SS Label Sampler 2, SS Label Sampler 3, This is Kologo Power! , Ishilan n-Tenere (guitar from Senegal + Mali), Gao Rap — Hip Hop from Northern Mali, Agrim Agadez (field recordings from Niger), Laila Je T’Aime (guitar from Mauritania, Senegal, Mali),
  28. Crescendo by Novanta. Italian synthetic pop. Some of the synth sound is almost glitchy, but still these are interesting, minimalist, meditative songs with some vocals.
  29. Exotic Instrumentals by Junk Shop Guru. Surreal 60s elevator muzak from Hawaii. Junk Shop Guru digitizes/collects a lot of incredibly strange 60s lounge music with themes (Bachelor, Empty Bed Music, etc).
  30. 訪問した (Visited) by Rasterphonics. Really strange/cool/soothing vaporwave music by a Denver artist. I also immediately snatched up the equally lovely MegaUpload. Wow, I really need to snatch the other two NYP album as well.
  31. Various compilations and original pieces by UK’s Death is Not the End: I’m always crying by Nina de la Puebla (classic flamenco), George Katsaros: Greek Blues in America Vol 1, Bury Me in a Corner of the Yard, (Classic Cajun compilation), My Torment by Ercilia Costa (classic Brasilian fado), Death is not the End (sound experiments), Kirkfield Non by East of the Valley Blues (experimental rock instrumentals), Selected Improvisations from Golha, Pt. 1 (Iranian improvisational piano pieces from the 1950s) by Morteza Mahjubi. s/t by Washington Phillips (classic blues/spiritual music), Sun is setting on the world by VA. Greek rebetika recordings from 1930s to 1950s, s/t by Kouta Katsutaro (1930s Japanese geisha music)
  32. Mainframe by Waveshaper from Sweden. Cool instrumentals/videogame music which sound like 80s dance music in the Stranger Things style.
  33. If I had a pair of wings: Jamaican Doo Wop Volumes 1-3 (also from Death is Not the End label)
  34. Binge Purge by Grand Mal. Fave of superfan Oddio Overplay who describes it as “energetic sound of Washington DC early 1980s”. Excitable punk-pop
  35. Lifetime Psychedelic Dance Lessons EP by Dalt Wisney — remixes which sample lots of random kid’s TV.
  36. Not Old, Not New by Carsie Blanton. Mostly jazz standards with piano accompaniment. Still lovely. (She has some great original albums on BC — check out Buck Up).
  37. Bloody Winter by Les Becasses. Recent French punk girl pop with great energy and fun.
  38. Sweeter Sounds by the Rurals. (UK 2001) Triphop, EDM with dance grooves and occasional “soul-drenched vocals” (that’s how the band describes it).
  39. Grow by Dendrites. Bombastic Greek heavy metal which is closer to Sammy Hagar or Van Halen than what passes as heavy metal these days.
  40. Kuuhaku by Morimoto Naoki. Slow meditative Zen pieces by Japanese electronic composer.
  41. Coercion of Deities (compilation by Neotantra) . Basically a big compilation of ambient, minimal music.
  42. Broke by Baychimo. Danish drum and bass explorations
  43. Seeing Inside by Serena Gabriel and Steve Roach. New age musician Steve Roach teams up with Gabriel who has a heavely, ethereal voice. Home run.

Youtubey Things

Larry Groce sings his novelty song 40 years later. This was one of the first records I ever bought! I loved it!.

FUNNY JAPANESE SONG-LESSON!? This great song by Malaysian hiphopper Namewee pokes fun at “tourist English” and “tourist Japanese.” I didn’t realize until rewatching that the Japanese lady was speaking “Japenglish” at the start of the song. (Namewee does somewhat less successful and more earnest songs about Cantonese, China Reggaeton,

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”) . Don’t miss the awesome panda dance during the end credits. More Chinese Internet slang here.

Holy cow! Turns out Namewee did a rapping duet with Hong Kong superstar G.E.M. Folks, It doesn’t get better than this!

Here’s an offbeat audio only appearance of the Beatles in 1968 on the Tonight Show, being interviewed by baseball player Joe Garagiola!

Freegal & Library CDs

I’m way behind on documenting my discoveries here. I’ll be brief

  1. Interstellar OST Soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. This is serene, uplifting music in the spirit of Philip Glass‘s Koyaanisqatsi. Now one of my alltime favorite OST!
  2. Listen by David Guetta. The world always needs more David Guetta.
  3. Shinedown. Various albums
  4. Various albums by Anna Vissi. Vissi is a Greek singer (and Eurovision competitor) who sings traditional Greek songs with a electronic dance twist.
  5. American Legend by Link Wray. Compilation of one of USA’s best rockabilly guitarists.
  6. Lake of Shadows by Phil Coulter. I’m exploring several classic works by this famous Irish folk singer. (Live performance of his most famous song is below).

RJ’s Geeky Explorations — 2021 October

See also: August 2021 and November 2021 (View all)

PC Mag has a table comparing different camera/camcorder options.

Michael Muchmore has a review of Vegas Pro. I’m debating upgrading to version 19. Apparently, based on googling, it appears that Davinci Resolve’s has a lot of mindshare; they have a free and premium version, but they also sell a lot of specific DaVinci specific equipment.

Vegas 19 tutorials: Making the Brady Bunch intro on Vegas 18. Long review of Vegas 19.

CSS and Grids

About 6 months ago I learned that my knowledge of CSS is really outdated. I took pride in being able to do media queries and responsive design with CSS 3, but I had really fallen behind on grids and flexboxes and even units of measurement. It doesn’t matter so much in the limited formatting world of ebooks, but a major deal if you’re doing static HTML or even some templates for content management systems. Una Kravets has some interesting and helpful overviews of new developments.

Even better, CSS-tricks has a list of CSS guides including: grids, flexbox, queries, HTML color, centering.

G Drive Review (i.e., Google One)

Wow, recently Google notified me that its Backup and Restore Windows program in its Google One service has been updated (i.e., it’s going to be retired). Fine, fine, fine. I’ll do it; I just need to configure it properly. And it’s a big deal because most of my personal content is saved onto Google Drive after Dropbox became prohibitively expensive. I pay $30 annually for 200 gigs of cloud storage. (Dropbox only has as 2 TB plan and manages versions for only 30 days — which is practically the same as Google One).

Basically you were confronted with two tasks: Do you want to mirror the G drive on your local machine or do you want to stream it? I actually create a lot of content on Google Docs, but I’ve also been using it for file backup. The answer turned out to be that I really wanted to stream my drive (which meant that most content resides on the cloud, except directories you specify). You do that by right-clicking on the local directory and selecting Offline Access –> Available Offline.

After thinking about it, I can appreciate the better features in this arrangement. Being able to keep mirrored directories on your local directory was unwieldy — particularly true if you’re using one of those Chromebook with limited local storage. Synchronization proceeds as it did before, but there are some scenarios I haven’t really contemplated: what happens if you need extra space on your laptop and want to delete content from a directory which you’ve arranged to be available for offline use. I’m assuming that changing it from Available offline to Online only will safely delete the local copy, but I’d have to test that out first.

During the migration, my local content appeared the same as before. Everything fine, right? Not so fast. It turns out I had two different local paths:

  • G:\My Drive\1local (new path)
  • C:\Users\idiot\Google Drive\1local (old path)

1local was a root level directory which I created to contain all stuff I wanted locally. G is a virtual drive which really doesn’t exist on the physical drive — but contains a listing of all directories and files (which are available even if you check the properties tab — the number of files and directory size is as before).

To my horror, I realize that I still had multiple files open in text editors which were stored on the C drive rather than the G drive. Also, I had pinned several Google directories from the C drive to my Quick Links.. Don’t want to do that!

Even though I didn’t quite remember when I did the software migration, but I searched all my files in my C drive Google Drive path for this week and last. Luckily, I hadn’t edited a lot of things and could manually verify which files were in my new virtual G drive. I caught a few recent saves which were not in my G drive, so I simply copied them over to G.

Now the big question. Google is asking: Do you want to remove your old Google Drive folder? Delete all my files?? I’m not confident to do it just yet. I need to test some things, and then I’ll let you know.


Robert’s Roundup #24 (Oct 2021)

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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).

Here’s an interesting bit of news to indie writers. When you submit your ebook to Amazon, previously you were given a choice about whether to make an ebook lendable or no. For some reason, Amazon has changed that policy and now requires that all submitted indie ebooks be lendable. I think this is a good thing, because the lending feature is very good and time-limited and more people should allow it. Instead, it seems that a lot of books have opted out of that. Very few people used the feature anyway, which is sad — if only because it reveals how few readers are out there. Here is the kicker. Almost none of the Big 5 publishers enable lending for their Kindle ebooks. It’s outrageous! The Big 5 do it to protect their product; instead, you merely deprive a way for avid readers to share a title with their friends. Mostly when I want to borrow an ebook, I end up buying a copy anyway. Incidentally, I’ve been using archive.org book digital borrowing to temporarily access out of print books. Often I do this to check copyright information, introductions, etc., but most often I check it out in order to decide whether I ought to buy the actual book! This month I bought two books (a poetry book and a literary reference guide) only after borrowing a digital facsimile through archive.org .

Oh, yes, forgot why I brought that up. Up until now I had been using LE by the book title to indicate whether a book is lendable or not. However, generally now I think we can assume that all new self-published ebooks and most ebooks in general are lendable, and ALMOST ZERO BOOKS BY BIG 5 PUBLISHERS ARE LENDABLE. So maybe this will be the last month that I put that acronym by ebook titles.

A Personville title, Minor Sketches and Reveries by Alberto Balengo has been priced at free for almost 2 weeks. Get it while it’s still free.

I keep meaning to say this. I’ve joined a book reviewing service called Book Roar (which I recommend for authors). I agree to review random ebooks, and in exchange someone somewhere agrees to review mine. These are books I wouldn’t normally read (much less review), but actually it is a bit fun to discover new books outside of your comfort zone. I’ll be posting my reviews at the bottom of these roundups.

A few years ago I have started compiling a list of tips for publishers and authors. I have been adding a lot of useful information on this blogpost and updating it often. This might be useful for indie authors.

Indie Author Spotlight

I wanted to call attention to Diane Donovan, ( a freelance book critic who has reviewed/worked with over 50,000 books) and usually writes capsule reviews for a fee with Midwest Book Review. The reason why I mention her name (besides the fact that I have used her service for 2 Personville titles) is that now that you know her name, you will certainly see her name on blurbs for lots of indie books on Amazon Her personal website contains most (all?) of her reviews over the years (either here or here). Here’s a nice 15 minute podcast interview with Donovan on Youtube.

Under the Radar

Undergrowth: A face-paced ecological adventure set in the dark woods where glowing mushrooms live by Ellen King Rice (website).

Taxi: Harold Chapin Story by Peter Morton Coan KU, LE (Author’s Amazon page and Twitter). (Free). Chapin sang the song Cat’s in the Cradle.

Meiselman: Lean Years by Avner Landes. 99 cents. Here’s an interview and a book review calling the protagonist  “an aggravating, ridiculous being. He’s no one you’d want to know, but he’s a lot of fun to laugh at. There are even moments when the odd reader might find some of Meiselman’s shenanigans familiar, but those moments are best not admitted to. Best to keep them to oneself, or learn to do the opposite.” Here’s another interview,

Zoolinguist: A Humorous Crime Fantasy by S.A. Adams.  Original and quirky story where Mario finds himself in prison, but also possesses the ability to communicate with animals, which talent he intends to use to escape.

Chipless by Kfir Luzzatto. (Author website and blog). Here’s his smashwords page. Diane Donovan praised this, saying it is “ultimately designed to make readers think about the roots of tyrannical impulses and freedom. Chipless is very highly recommended both for its strong characterization and a deeper action that revolves as much around ethical questions as it does upon individual choice.”

Peace of Music by Denise Kahn (Vol 1 of 3 volumes). (Author website). Historical fiction by world traveler/linguist)

Girl Named Dara by Tom Flynn (Author’s website) College student falls in love with a Belarussian girl who has more problems than he realizes.

Comedian walks into a funeral home by Dennis Kelley. (author website).

Dead Moon: Page Turning Space Horror Tale of Survival by Jonathan Maas. San Antonio born author who studied on East and West coasts, Peace Corps volunteer, comedian, plus a whole lot more. These sound like YA novels.

Departures by E.J. Wenstrom. (author home page and book page). YA dystopian novel about a 17 year girl who finds she is scheduled to die.

Before Our House Fell into the Ocean: Stories of Love and Death by William John Cook. (author website)

Auctioneers by Florian Schneider. California-based photo-journalist (not to be confused by the Kraftwerk band member with the same name). Political novel about an El Salvadorean social worker living in Los Angeles while gunmen open fire at a LA shopping mall.

Snow White and the Wicked Queen by Regina Grimm (author website). (Great pen name!)

Sylvie: Novel by Sharon Kreider. (author’s website) A teenage girl is bullied, and how her family responds. Author is a therapist and suicide prevention trainer (giving her credibility); unfortunately book description sounds vague and wishy-washy. (The reader reviews are better though).

Sailing to Byzantium by Robert Silverberg. 1.99 (6 selected novellas) I am really liking this sci fi author’s novel Dying Inside. I consider Silverberg to be a Tier 1 sci fi author (up with Dick, Butler, Bradbury, etc).

Torn Veil by George R. Marshall. KU(Here’s a video interview). Also Fables of Failure. KU, so I’ve gotten them for free.

Last Will of Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh. (Author’s Website).

50 titles from She Writes Press/Spark Press are priced at 99 cents until October 25. A lot of memoirs, some fiction written by interesting people. Will report back.

  • Book of Old Ladies: Celebrating Women of a Certain Age in Fiction by Ruth O. Saxton. (Author website) A great and timely exploration of how old women are depicted in fiction. Saxton cofounded a woman’s studies program at Mills College. I liked this study so much that I’d even want to read her 1998 work Girl: Constructions of the Girl in Contemporary Fiction by Women.
  • Journalist: Life and Loss in America’s Secret War by Jerry Rose. (website). Memoir about Vietnam war journalist.
  • Poetic License: Memoir by Gretchen Cherington. (author website) Daughter of Pulitzer prize winning poet Richard Eberhart reveals that he molested her as a child. Jay Parini gives this blurb, “Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Richard Eberhart was a close friend of many years, a beloved colleague. I loved his genial personality and admired his unique poetic gift. He was a generous man but, as his daughter shows, a difficult and complex person as well. This is a vivid memoir, flaws and all, and Gretchen Eberhart Cherington has crafted a narrative worth reading closely.”
  • Theory of Everything Else: Essays. by Laura Pederson. Personal essayist by former columnist for NYT. (author’s website) Fairly prolific writer though her books are never discounted.

 Spy at the Heart of the Third Reich: The Extraordinary Story of Fritz Kolbe by Lucas Delattre. Story of German bureaucrat who secretly helped the Allies during WW2. I love these kinds of stories.

Under a White Sky: Nature of the Future by Elizabeth Kolbert. (author website) I assume it is nothing more than a collection of Kolbert’s essays about climate. She’s a great writer and great at writing long form science articles.

Stories of John Cheever. 1.99 I used to own this book; am buying again!

Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing. (author website). 2.99 Critically acclaimed essay about a subject dear to my heart.

Injustices: The Supreme Court’s History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted by Ian Millhiser (profile and Twitter) . 2.99 This year he published another book (not on sale) called “Agenda: How a Republican Supreme Court is Reshaping America.”

Platformed: A Modern Dystopian Novel by Kelsey Josund

Library purchases/Printed Books

Goethe – The Poet and the Age: Revolution and Renunciation, 1790-1803 by Nicholas Boyle. This is volume 2 when Goethe was in his 40s and early 50s. George Steiner reviewed it favorably, noting that Boyle is a “literary expositor and critic of vivacious perspicacity.”

Tune In : The Beatles: All These Years by Mark Lewisohn. I’ve been afflicted by Beatlemania in anticipation of Peter Jackson‘s upcoming documentary Get back. Tune It In is supposed to be the best and most definitive history of the Beatles. Here’s several long interviews on youtube: with Conan O’Brien (recommended) , and a 2 pt 2 hour interview from 2021 (Part 1, Part 2)

Two books by feminist literary critic Elaine Showalter (author’s Wiki page). Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin de Siecle (1990) and A Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx (2009). She’s a prolific critic; certainly I have read essays or reviews here or there. JC Oates recommended Sexual Anarchy; with a title like that, how can I deny myself?

102 Minutes : The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers by Pulitzer-winning Jim Dwyer (with Kevin Flynn). who died last year (Wikipedia page). I loved this compelling narrative about the fall of the World Trade Center, which conveyed the sequence of events, the haphazard nature of who survived and the obstacles which prevented people from being rescued. Lifted probably from numerous NYT articles and obituaries, it summarized the tragedy eloquently. Dwyer has written several other journalistic type books like Subway Lives, More Awesome Than Money etc. The great thing about people who win Pulitzers is that pretty much anything they write in any context are bound to be interesting.

Personal Accounts: New and Selected Poems by Robert Phillips (1966-1986). I bought this simply because it is longer than other Phillips titles (most of which were chapbooks) and because it was cheap. For a long time university presses have published most poetry titles and pricing them so high nobody can read them except from a library. Fun fact: I met this poet randomly in Houston (we talked for maybe 2 minutes). Then last week I stumbled upon his wikipedia page which looked like total crap. I spent a few minutes editing and adding stuff to it to make it look barely presentable but at least it no longer looks like crap.

Particles and Luck by Louis B. Jones.

Love Songs: The Hidden History by Ted Gioia. I love Gioia’s criticism about anything, but his books are always expensive. This one I bought at a great discount. can’t wait to read.

100 Great American Novels You’ve (Probably) Never Read by Karl Bridges. (Recommended by NeglectedBooks). Update: I really love this reference guide. Have discovered a lot of overlooked books, and the reference guide is well-written, succinct and provides a good hint about what each book is all about.

The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen. Modernized fairy tales. Contemplating giving it to teens as a Christmas present. Undecided.

The Stone Reader: Modern Philosophy in 133 Arguments. Compilation of NY essays by famous philosophers. Really big heavy book with heavy essays, but always expensive. Luckily bought it for next to nothing.

Creative Commons/Freebies

Thomas Mann’s War: Literature, Politics, and the World Republic of Letters by Tobias Boes. (Cornell U., free).

Literary Articles and Essays

Liza Featherstone writes that we need more radical climate fiction.

Yesterday on a whim I made significant improvements to the page for poet Robert Phillips. (which used to look like this). He’s an interesting poet, and there’s not much online information about him even though he’s published lots of books. Here’s a 2000 keynote address for the Whiting Awards which were humorous and insightful. Here’s a 2007 video lecture he delivered at American Book Review at University of Houston-Victoria.

Speaking of which, all the Whiting keynote addresses are available to read here.

Scott Bradford on why he hates Toni Morrison’s Beloved. (I touched upon a similar sentiment in an essay I wrote. )

Ted Goia on the rise of the fragmented novel.


Someone pointed out to me about bookstagrammers, so that gave me an opportunity to rant about it on reddit:

Wow, I didn’t even know that was a thing. After googling around, it seems that it consists of a lot of pretty people posing with printed books (and other props). I’m guessing that this phenomenon must have began when print publishers mailed pretty printed ARCs to pretty people so they can pose with them.

All this ignores that 1)ebooks are where most indies are and that 2)bookworms/authors like myself are really ugly people.

I’m sure there’s at least one bookstagrammer doing a decent job talking about the freebies they receive, but “posing with pretty freebies” doesn’t seem to be a major influence about which ebooks are being sold.

Intellectually I’m open to the idea of (free) social media, but I haven’t seen a great return on my time investment. Even reddit (which holds a lot of potential) has a lot of rules governing self-promotion. That’s a shame, because there are ways to allow self-promotion without things becoming spammy.

(After several author/literary types protested, saying that 1)well, bookstagrammers could pose with tablets with your ebook cover and 2)it’s more about the books themselves, not about the personality talking about it and 3)bookstagrammers are a great way to attract readers, I did a followup).

Indie publishers face a lot of hurdles when competing against the Big 5 publishers. One such hurdle is the availability and distribution of printed books. The Big 5 still distribute a lot of printed copies — both as ARCs and as titles which are later remaindered and discounted. To no surprise, the two titles you mentioned are from Big 5 publishers, and indeed, Penguin and Random House books seem to be all over the feeds of many bookstagrammers.

A lot of critics still refuse to review ebook-only titles (indeed some literary awards require physical copies). More importantly, printed titles end up earning the author less money per sale than ebooks.

I can imagine graphic novels would be ideal candidates for being suitable selfie objects. Maybe Harry Potter books or what not. In my generation several high quality books had good packaging (I’m thinking Kundera books, Pavic’s Dictionary of the Khazars, etc.) And on occasion I have done annotated selfies with long out of print titles (mostly from Africa and Europe) and annotated photos of bookshelves , so I get the appeal. (Actually here’s one I did in 2004 ).

Come to think of it, GLAS (Derrida’s masterpiece of intertextuality) might have found an audience if some instagrammers were around to talk about it).

I certainly enjoy using older books as prop for photos or home decor. But that is not what we’re talking about. Aside from Big 5 titles and graphic titles, I am not optimistic about a literary market driven by the need to include a printed book in a photo. Perhaps it is possible for bookstagrammers to include pictures of ebooks in their bookstagram photos (either by doctoring the photograph or including the cover on a tablet). But I expect to be waiting a very long time (perhaps an eternity) for an instagrammer to decide to turn my ebooks into a photo that can attract lots of likes.

As I said, I don’t have any problem with people using photos of books to talk about books. And I recognize that annotating photographers is a fun way to talk about anything. But limiting your discourse to photo-friendly books is not helping many writers.

Capsule Book Reviews


Book Roar Review

Two reviews today for Bookroar, the book review swap service.

Snow White and the Wicked Queen: Chapter 1: An Erotic Retelling of the Classic Snow White Fairytale (The Snow White Series) by Regina Grimm.

Regina Grimm has taken a well-known fairy tale and teased out its sinister erotic dimensions for a 3 part adult novel. “CHAPTER ONE” is kind of misleading, because this part actually consists of 7 chapters. These chapters are kind of intense to read all at once, and I actually think it’s more than simple publishing convenience that the author broke this up into 3 longish parts. (I think Anne Rice did something similar with her Sleeping Beauty stories). It’s certainly good to revisit a well-known tale and reveal the psychosexual drama bubbling underneath it, and Grimm does a decent job injecting new plot details (and not merely embellishing the original tale with sexual details). This part describes the birth of Snow White, how Queen Calista seduces the King and the strange and perverse relationship between the queen and the enchanted mirror. The inward subjective style sometimes can get slow, focusing a little too heavily on the emotional resonances and queen’s dark decadent desires. (I felt Anne Rice’s Beauty stories suffered from the same issues). To no one’s surprise, this PART is brimming with all kinds of sex (although the specific situations and people involved were unexpected). Sometimes the queen’s sexuality is paired too often with her evil power; I would have thought that the queen would be more adept at faking civility or human emotions rather than just ordering everybody around. For future parts I remain curious about whether the story will delve into Snow White’s sexual activities as a way to reveal her individual personality (going beyond the original fairy tale) or whether it will stick with using sexual desires as a way to illustrate the archetypal decadence of the queen.

SUMMARY: Although the prose can sometimes seem slow and introspective, this story/series is a must read for fans of Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty series.

PS. I only reviewed part 1 for bookroar, but in fact the author is breaking the story down into several parts. I generally did not like this — I would have liked to have it all inside one book. I have enough interest in this series to buy PART 2 — but not enough to buy the whole thing.

Barb the Bird of Hope by by Zowie Norris (illustrated children’s book).

This is a nice tale for children about an unusual bird dealing with change and turmoil in her life.

It is a challenge to portray an animal in a tale (even a tale intended for children). You don’t want the bird to seem too smart or chatty. A bird can physically interact with other humans and animals (and I think this book does that well), but it can’t really communicate; it can merely observe surroundings and occasionally have private thoughts. Also, a bird cannot really understand human structures (i.e., it can’t read words on signs). On the other hand, birds (like children) can instinctively grasp realities that adults might miss.

Several things stand out about Barb the Bird of Hope. First, the illustrations are incredible, full of eye-catching details, light rainbow colors and nice & crazy perspectives. The pictures of the birds were particularly lovely. The drawings seem to be done in pencil or crayon — a style that young readers could relate to easily. I uploaded two screenshots which demonstrate the nice colors and textures and perspectives. Actually most of the illustrations are much simpler than what I uploaded with this review — a lone bird flying down a road, a bird sitting on the same park bench as a doctor.

Second, the book portrays society during time of COVID — showing hospitals, deserted parks, humans cooped in their homes. The society portrayed in this book seems familiar even to the youngest of us; it maintains an appropriate balance between mentioning COVID and dwelling too much on it. In a way, the book will serve as a time capsule for that year or two where everybody (even children) had their lives upended by COVID. Because of this timeless quality, I could easily imagine this book being read long after COVID fades away.

Third, while the book does mention COVID without getting too melodramatic, one of the “scarier” parts of the book is having the park (and the laburnum tree) damaged by torrential rain and how the birds try to cope. This resonates with people of all ages — especially in places that experience flooding or other natural disasters. In fact, the book weaves the two “scary things” into the bird’s story, offering a way to see the pandemic in a bigger context of environmental threats. Environmentally-minded readers might view the loss of species habitat as another problem alluded to here; bird species are constantly having to adapt to changing circumstances. No wonder that the story has to end on a hopeful note.

The writing is conversational, although the vocabulary is certainly not dumbed down for children. (Ex. perching, exquisite, destruction, torrential, engaged, transform, symbolise). It’s a great story book to read with children. If I were to guess, it’s ideal for readers 5-8 years of age, but there’s enough complex story and vocabulary to interest kids up to the age of 11. It’s a pretty book to look at — to the point that all readers (even pre-readers) would love flipping through the pages.

My main “complaint” is that as an adult is that I had no idea what a laburnum tree looks like! I was genuinely surprised to find a photograph of one on the Internet — it’s beautiful! Although several illustrations show the tree, they were “miniaturized” to allow for more elements to be included together. Now that I know what a laburnum tree looks like, I wish it had been introduced earlier in the story — if only so readers could get a sense of what it looked like BEFORE THE STORM and AFTER THE STORM.

SUMMARY: With amazing colorful illustrations, this story dramatizes how two events (the COVID pandemic and the destruction of a laburnum tree in park) seem to a unique bird with violet tail feathers.

Laburnum Tree
Laburnum Tree

Multimedia/Podcasts, etc.

I have been a huge fan of Romanian-American dadistic poet Andrei Codrescu (website) — and a while back, I went on a massive buying spree of his books although I’ve read only a few. A safe place to start was Ay Cuba, delightful travel book about going to Cuba. The ebooks are too expensive.

A wonderful quote from a 1995 radio feature he did about virtual reality games and where he interviewed Jeff Bezos (of Amazon) and Rob Glaser (of Real Media networks). QUOTE: “In 15 or 20 years (they say) I won’t be able to tell the difference between reality and synthetic reality. Well, that’s what they said when they came out with fake fur, plastic flowers, inflatable love dolls, zircons and the Monkees. We’ve learned to enjoy these things, but did we ever mistake them for the real thing?”

Here’s a 1991 compilation of his video appearances after the Romanian revolution. It occurred to me this poet would be delightful in audio/podcast form. Here’s some podcasts and NPR has a ton of 2 minute radio essays by him.

I stumbled upon a trove of author videos: American Book Review (lots!) Here’s a bunch of interviews — many with Michael Silverblatt (of Bookworm). To my surprise and delight, I see that William Gaddis has also done some interviews (here, here and here). Also I noticed that Scott Bradford has been doing a lot of video lectures from his home.

Here’s an author interview video podcast called DIY Writer. Lots of writers I’ve never heard of, several sci fi, genre. Here’s the audio version of the podcast.

Personville Press Deals

I run Personville Press, a small literary book press where all the ebooks cost less than $4. You can buy DRM-free ebooks and audio files directly from the Personville Press payhip store or from Smashwords. These 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 Sept 16-31

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

Reddit discussion about the similarities and differences between the Irish Potato Famine and Holodomor (the Ukraine famine in the 1930s). Also discusses the economic writings of Amartya Sen.

Some research into copyright and fair use. 2 legal experts comment on how fair use should be used in modern society. Very perceptive article. They also wrote a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts.

Legal guide to podcasting.

Here’s a profound discussion about news media, social media, censorship and propaganda. Lots of good insights and references. This discussion was posted two days ago, and very current. They reference a new book by Yochai Benkler which is here.

NEW TERM: CONTEXT COLLAPSE: “the flattening of multiple audiences into a single context; i.e., ” “trying to comfortably chat with your mother, bar buddy, work colleague, and ex-boyfriend at the same time.”

Nardwuar interviews raunchy comic Whitney Cummings. Nardwuar is a great interviewer, but Cummings truly had no idea what was going to happen.

Outrageous! One peculiar thing about Texas government is that there’s something called Texas Railroad Commission which regulates (or rather, fails to regulate) the entire oil and gas industry in Texas. Apparently the TRC Commissioner Christi Craddick (who was elected by the people) owns a considerable amount of O&G assets and yet doesn’t recuse herself from the multitude of decisions relating to oversight of those companies. Here’s the PDF of the whole report.


Social Media Dump Sept 1-15

See: August 16-31 and Sept 16-30  (View All)

CNN report on the healthiest and most sustainable seafood to eat.

Ted Baxter is finally right about something:

Chris Perez (husband of slain Tejano singer Selena) announced on Facebook today that he has resolved a lawsuit with Selena’s family. This is good news, and actually Perez deserves his fair compensation. Apparently, when Selena died, she had no will, so the husband would stand to receive 100% of her estate. However, two months after her death. Selena’s father made him sign an agreement to receive 25% of the Selena company’s earnings. Perez (who was 22 at the time) was in mourning and hadn’t even consulted an attorney.

I’m not sure we say Selena’s father defrauded Chris Perez, but certainly he didn’t disclose to Chris Perez his legal rights at the time. Then he maintained strict control over the Selena name (which was trademarked). Also, the father sued Chris Perez a few times, mainly over a memoir he wrote about Selena and his plans to develop some sort of TV show about their marriage.

It’s interesting because this disagreement mirrors the cultural disagreement between the two of them as presented in the 1990s biopic of Selena starring Jennifer Lopez. I had the good fortune to see Chris Perez perform in Houston in the early 2000s– what a class act — great musician who really wrote a very personal memoir many years later, when he felt the time was right.

RIP Norm McDonald. I only discovered his comedy recently. Faves: Moth Joke, Logic Professor joke. Also, his compilation of OJ Simpson jokes from SNL were hilarious (here’s part 2).

Great (and devastating) opinion piece on 9-11 by a leading Moroccan-American author Laila Lalami . FUN FACT: Her “Moor’s Account” novel is a fictionalized account of a Muslim man who went with Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca in the 1530s through Texas and southern parts of the US:

The fact that the United States itself went on to attack, and wreak even greater violence against innocent civilians around the world, was largely omitted from official narratives, as it was in the museum. This erasure is not accidental. After the initial phase of fighting, the Pentagon did not release regular and precise reports of civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We got out of the body count business years ago,” Mark Kimmitt, a retired U.S. Army brigadier general and former State Department official, said in 2018. “The numbers, while relevant, are not something that we quote, nor do we keep in our back pocket.” The work of counting the civilian dead fell instead to human rights groups, research centers and special sections of newspapers.

Likewise, the speeches of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama were more likely to offer assurances that the nation was “staying the course” or “fulfilling our commitment” than to give an honest accounting of the wars. Every time I heard them speak, I wondered what goals they wanted to achieve. Was it the surrender of the Taliban? The capture of Osama bin Laden? The fall of Saddam Hussein? The staging of elections in Iraq and Afghanistan? Each milestone was reached, and yet the wars continued, largely out of sight. Within the first few months of combat operations, news of the wars disappeared from front pages. Nightly news broadcasts spent so little time on the wars that yearly coverage was measured in seconds per newscast.


Robert’s Roundup #23 (Sept 2021)

View the Roundup series || View Raves & Reviews || Mike’s Likes ||  Read how I compile this list. || How to Submit Smashword deals || How to Submit your own Ebook Deals in the Comment Section || Commercial Disclosures

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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).

Indie Author Spotlight


Under the Radar

Bell Hammers: True Folk Tales of Little Egypt by Lancelot Schaubert.

Luz at Midnight by Marisol Cortez. (Home Page). Here’s a podcast interview with Cortez about the book. South Texas/San Antonio based author & environmental activist. Looking forward to reading this one!

Luz at Midnight novel cover

Rub-a-Dub Double: SWAP Story by Ivy Garcia.

Yes and (ish) by Paul Teresi. Struggles between actors in love. (Here’s a dramatic book/play trailer on youtube).

Trailer behind the Garage by Todd Davis. (Author website). Fun and amazing fact. This book takes place a few miles north of where I live!

Reincarnations (Stories) by Nathan Elias. (Home page).

Drop in the Ocean by Jenni Ogden. (author home page). New Zealand fiction. “story about love, sea turtles and an unthinkable choice. Of course it draws a little on some of my own experiences, as a turtle tagger—in my youth—on a tropical island on the Great Barrier Reef, and also on the medical (and neurological) issues that become increasingly common as mid-life creeps up on us. “

Quite, Please! by Scott Douglas. (Home page and book blog).

Three Zen Sutras: Heart, Diamond, and the Platform Sutras by Red Pine.

Untethered: Overcome Distraction, Build Healthy Digital Habits and use Tech to create a life you love by Sini Ninkovic. (home page)

Several titles by Dean Scott — an animal doctor/storyteller/cartoonist. Incomplete Dog Book: Nothing You Ever Wanted To Know About Dogs and Something for Everyone. The first is a totally whimsical book about dogs

Dust and the Dark Places Part 1 and Part 2) by Andrew D. Gracey.

nostalgia & other forms of boredom: collected poems 2005-8 by J. Andrew Schrecker.

Blink and it’s Gone Sales

Why we Swim by Bonnie Tsui.

Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford. (Author Wikipedia Page).

Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright (2nd edition) by Patricia Aufderheide, Peter Jaszi.

March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam by Barbara Tuchman 2.99 (Wiki page). I’ve always heard great things about Tuchman’s history writing.

5 books by Hilma Wolitzer.

Cold Warriors: Writers who Waged the Literary Cold War by Duncan White.

Library Books/printed books

Sugar among the Freaks: Selected Stories by Nordan Lewis.

Literary Articles and Essays

PROLIFIC PLAYWRIGHT/NOVELIST REDISCOVERS LOST CLASSICS: David Blixt is one of the best kept secrets in the US literary world. He’s been cranking out all kinds of stuff (especially historical novels taking place in Elizabethan theatre). Now he has republished some novels by famed 19th century muckraking journalist — Nelly Bly. Most of Blixt’s novels (as well as the Nelly Bly novels) are less than $2 each on Amazon — sometimes 99 cents or even free.

What is the ideal size for a printed book? A bookseller discusses the pros and cons of different dimensions. I don’t really read a lot of printed books anymore, but my philosophy is the bigger the better. (My middle-aged eyes will complain less).



Capsule Book Review

Dust and the Dark Places Part 1 and Part 2) by Andrew D. Gracey (author home page).

This lively and action-packed Western takes place in 1880s, as a series of stories-within-stories. Mostly they center around a gang of outlaws called the Black Outlaw Riders and their cruel leader, Howling Jack Holliday. The biggest chunk of the story involves a young man named Benjamin who witnesses how the gang has terrorized his family and Benjamin’s improbable journey to find and kill the people who did it. Throughout the novel, the reader watches how Benjamin changes from an immature bystander to a man confident and determined enough to actually avenge the deaths he witnessed in his hometown. After meeting a woman (Molly) who is also hellbent on killing Howling Jack and his gang, the two concoct a plan to rid these gang leaders on their own turf. Finally at the beginning of the novel, there is Jade, a mysterious stranger Jade who helps Benjamin for unknown reasons.

I need to be vague about plot details for fear of giving too much away. Safe to say that there are twists and surprises and plans that go awry (as boxer Mike Tyson would say, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”) I’m impressed by how lean the story is (and how adeptly the pared-down, dialogue-driven style keeps the story galloping forward). There’s a lot of talking and telling (most often about the morality and psychological costs of exacting a personal kind of justice). One complaint (and maybe this is better handled in a later volume) is that throughout the book I barely had time to catch my breath; I really wanted a chance to stop and enjoy the scenery and maybe get to know the characters a little better. Some of the early scenes with Benjamin’s friends Chick and Audrey start to do that, but I swear, sometimes I feel I got to know Marilyn (Benjamin’s horse) better than Molly (Benjamin’s potential love interest).

By the end of the novel, it’s clear that personality and inner motivation are revealed in a roundabout way — making me all the more eager to see what loose ends are pursued in Book 2.

IN SUMMARY: this is a chatty, action-packed Western adventure about two people seeking a well known outlaw and and how it disrupts their lives in unexpected ways. It’s a fast, galloping story — but we hardly know the characters

Multimedia, Podcasts, etc

Podcast interview with Hilma Wolitzer. Her most recent collection includes a covid story (Wolitzer and her husband contracted covid in March 2020. Two other great podcast episodes on Texas Book Talk.

Personville Press Deals

I run Personville Press, a small literary book press where all the ebooks cost less than $4. You can buy DRM-free copies of ebooks from Smashwords (and often at a substantial discount over the ebook’s price on Amazon). Alternatively, you can buy ebooks from GoogleAmazonBNApple and Kobo. Check them out! Starting at the end of September I’ll be starting a mailing list for people to stay informed about upcoming sales and promotions.


Music Discoveries Sept 2021 #9

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

Wow, a week has gone by without my posting anything about music. I actually put off music for a few weeks until I faced several important tasks: figuring out the best way to rip CDs on my new computer (done with dbpoweramp), figuring out podcast subject (done) and dealing with the mess which is bandcamp (more below). Actually I went ahead and bought a final $200 credit (really only $75) for emusic. Practically speaking though, I’m more focused now on Bandcamp.

Articles and Interviews

WORK SONGS PLAYLIST: Here’s a nice YouTube playlist created by music critic Ted Gioia. He has written 12+ books about music — including one called “Work Songs” which presumably provided the songs for this playlist. Here’s an article he wrote about why pop songs are 3 minutes long … and why they shouldn’t be.

Emusic Purchases

I put my account on hold last month, but at the end of the month I bought a big shack of credits.

  1. Flames to Ashes by Elissa Pernu. 4.99, 41 minutes. Australian country singer.
  2. Pendulum by Originalii. 99 cents, 24 minutes.
  3. Best of Valerie Dore. 1980s Italo Disco group. I wrote an article about this band’s origins which showcases mainly works by Monica Stucchi but at first was fronted by Dora Carofiglio.

Bandcamp Purchases

Here is what I have learned about bandcamp from the last occasion.

First, if you contribute something (any amount) to a NAME YOUR PRICE (NYP) album, that gives you the right to stream it through the bandcamp app.

Second, you have the ability to follow FANS, not just musicians. Following fans can be a great way to discover low-cost albums from a variety of places and styles. Also, you can follow fans of other fans.

Third, significantly, whenever you pay for some bandcamp thing, you have the right to write a short review/praise. This praise will appear on the album page. That’s interesting, but more importantly, it will appear on your collection, so if other people are browsing through your collection, they can see these annotations as well. For example my Bandcamp fan profile is here, but there’s another fan I follow, Oddiooverplay, who annotates her favorite purchases — which immediately makes me want to hear them.

Fourth, when scrolling through people’s collections, you can see how many other fans have the same album in their collection. I hesitate to make a general rule here, but the more fans who have an album in a collection, the more likely the price is to be less.

Fifth you can browse through albums by following tags — which refer to styles, locations or even price. When you land on a tag page, you can choose to view HIGHLIGHTS or ALL RELEASES. Obviously All Releases is a way to turn on the firehose, which usually what you don’t want. The Highlights view is obviously more limiting to maybe 12 titles, but sometimes that’s the way to get started.

Ultimately though, surfing music through collections of other fans can be more satisfying and allows for more serendipity.

I haven’t really found a way to find a way to filter out picks to include under $3 or $5 and for the album/EP to be substantial (like over 30 minutes). Bandcamp has feature articles about albums, except that they are some of the pricier titles. Everything is about the $10 range, something I buy very rarely.

Bandcamp lets you sign up for mailing lists, but that is pretty arduous. Suppose you signed up for 500 mailing lists. I suspect most of these announcements are about single tracks or overpriced albums, so I don’t need to hear about it. On the other hand, I really want to hear about name your price deals.

I would think that blogs or social media could come up with a new way to track Name Your Prices. How about setting a twitter search result to capture the latest NYP

Much later update: For various reasons, I am listing my Sept purchases on the October page.

Youtubey Things

Thank god I didn’t see this 70s performance of Parton-Rondstandt-Harris, or I would have developed massive crushes on all 3 people.

Biff Gore vs. Sisaundra Lewis: “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” on the Voice.

Here’s a nice environmental song:

Here’s a nice video essay about how the 2001 movie uses Gyorgy Ligeti’s music. Fun fact: I owned this album and have listened to this album thousands of times.

If you haven’t already seen it, Stanley Kubrick explains the film’s ending

Freegal & Library CDs

  1. Cosmic Psychos. Australian punk band I found out about by watching the Australian Dramedy Five Rooms.
  2. Social Distortion. s/t
  3. Elza Soares. Brazilian.

Letter to the Houston Chronicle

Here’s the letter I wrote to the Houston Chronicle about climate change. Like the previous ones, it will probably not be published. Oh well.

Uncertainty Cuts Both Ways

I thought Sunday’s front page story about climate change skepticism presented the issues in a muddled way. Indeed, why, did the article keep citing Steven Koonin and his book which is already under fire from climate scientists? Climate scientist Ben Santer wrote, “It is simply untrue that Prof. Koonin is confronting climate scientists with unpleasant facts they ignored or failed to understand. The climate science community treats uncertainties in an open and transparent way. It has done so for decades.” Merely stating that uncertainty exists about climate predictions ignores the fact that predicted harms could turn out to be even worse than predicted. Says Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt (two leading climate scientists), “there is a great asymmetry in risk between the high and low end estimates. Uncertainty cuts both ways and is not our friend.”

Practically speaking, policymakers and citizens can and should still make decisions based on available scientific information and assessment of risk. That is why the IPCC Summary for Policymakers uses clearly defined phrases like “virtually certain,” “high confidence” and “medium confidence” to help nonscientists weigh the cost and benefits of various actions. Unfortunately, delaying action on climate change imposes additional risks and costs on both our natural system and global economy.

A carbon fee and dividend is a fast and effective way to reduce the production and consumption of fossil fuels. It also brings substantial benefits: cash dividends to consumers, reduced deaths from air pollution (estimated at 100,000 annually in the US alone) and more jobs created (renewable energy historically has created many more jobs per dollar invested than fossil fuels do).

Robert Nagle (not a climate scientist!)


(Read more of my unpublished climate change letters to the Chronicle here).


Social Media Dump Aug 16-31 (2021)

See:  Aug 1-15 and September 1-15  (View All)

You have written some famously bad blogposts (here and here) predicting who will win the race for president. In 2016 and 2020 I was ridiculously wrong, but had a lot of fun predicting things. I’m thinking of writing up a 2024 election version — and to be wrong again. The real question is whether anyone will run on the Democratic Party ticket; I’m tempted to say it will be Inslee, Klobuchar and Kamala Harris. On the Republican side it will be Nikki Haley (duh!), Ron DeSantis and Paul Ryan. Possibly Ben Sasse too. (and because of DeSantis, I predict far right-wingers like Tom Scott and Rick Scott won’t run). Incidentally, I’m currently 55 and even though it’s not bad or anything, it’s hard to imagine someone younger than me winning the presidency.

A typographer makes his Oscar picks — solely on the basis of fonts on the poster. He designs types himself and has an online “book” with suggestions about using fonts and typography on the web.

Nestflix.fun is a Netflix parody consisting of fake movies (which usually appear in TV shows or films). My favorite is a whole page listing movie parodies from Arrested Development.

Fun with Glass and Trampoline. Here’s a more perfectly realized choreographed number (and longer too). Kudos to YOANN BOURGEOIS for devising this performance concept.

To give you an idea of how strange my life is: 1)my floor lamp beside my bed fell on me in the middle of the night (breaking the main light bulb) and 2)my TV has been powering up at random intervals. (I have to unplug it to prevent that from happening). UPdate: I think I’ve found the cause. My PC seems to be sending bluetooth signals to my TV.

Pet peeve: I inevitably keep dozens (if not hundreds) of browser tabs windows open. I’m always in the middle of something — these WordPress edit windows are especially easy to misplace. I just want to kill everything and start again.

Here’s a good diagram illustrating plot.

“Comirnaty!!??” Seriously, the marketing department couldn’t come up with a better name for the Pfizer vaccine than that? I can barely pronounce or spell it. Why not give it a memorable name and just move on. (MY suggestions: Bongo-Pongo, Perkosan, Gradifex).. Or reuse names of comic book heroes or rap stars or other celebrities designed to appeal to a demographic –i.e, Spiderman, Cool Juice, BigPicasso, LambofGod. Think outside the box.

Article about a Shapeshifting cam girl rewriting the rules of digital porn. Apparently the digital artist (in her 30s) used various graphical tools to make herself look younger (and prettier?!). Here’s her instagram account pics, which are sort of PG-13 rated, sort of NSFW. She’s managed to monetize everything, so good for her, although I’m not sure she’s getting that adulation only for the money.. Good case study though.

I’ve been really amazed at the Jane Ferguson on-the-ground reporting in Kabul, Afganistan. She is one of those amazing PBS reporters who manages to get accepted in Muslim countries under fire. Actually CNN has a good reporter in Kabul as well — not to mention the English-speaking Afghanis. The big question is that if 70% of Afghanis have access to smart phones with Internet, how will the Taliban be able to crack down?

I’m preparing a wiki page for a writer and am floored by the amount of wiki guidelines. (Look at this wiki style guide and this help page on citing sources. Hey, here’s the draft of that article in the submission pile. Let’s see if they approve or massacre it some more.

I stumbled upon an old blog post complaining about politicians who use the phrase “Make no mistake.” NAGLE’S ADDENDUM ON POLITICAL RHETORIC:  Whenever a politician uses the word “strongly” in a speech, you should always substitute that with the word “stupidly” to capture the exact same meaning.

“It’s completely lovely—and also bonkers,” said her mother, Laura. “Betty climbs in Lacey’s long hair like it’s some kind of jungle.”(About a teen girl who has adopted a bumble bee). There’s a killer line at the end.

““Up to 50 kilos of fish caught in Brazil are thrown away for every kilo that arrives on land; more than 400,000 tons of marine life were discarded between 2000 and 2018 in just four states.”(Source)

I’m used to John Oliver uncovering some little known scandal, but his clips about Housing Discrimination, the Pace program (a home renovation program) and how EMS programs around the country are underfunded are shocking. Apparently some EMS technicians don’t even get health care or a living wage.

Comedian Fumi Abe did a hilarious set on Stephen Colbert. Watch that name.

Comic reporter Jordan Klepper (from the Daily Show) interviews a lot of anti-vaxxers. He really is an incredible comedian.

Here’s a profile on Brit comedienne Flora Anderson.

Some shrewd analysis about sitcoms by comedian/writer Olivia Cathcart. Why the show What We Do in the Shadows shows how TV serials have more comedy potential than movies.

While the Shadows movie is indeed fantastic, the very premise it set up was always more conducive to TV. The point of the film wasn’t to send these vampires on some grand quest to carry out an evil plan, it was a look into the average day-to-day lives of vampires who, other than eating humans, live relatively mundane lives. If TV is a diary, then a film is a book report. With the show, Shadows is able to perpetually expand their world and fill in gaps from the movie, namely adding more female characters like Nadja to the main cast as well as guest appearances from Kristen Schaal, Vanessa Bayer, Greta Lee, Sondra James’ little Joanie, and former Great British Bake Off contestant Helena Garcia (honestly, case closed right there). And then there’s Colin Robinson, the energy vampire who feeds off people’s energy, nearly boring them to death in cubicle-filled office spaces and town hall meetings. Such an off kilter character might seem out of place in a movie about blood-sucking vampires, but here these subplots can run parallel to the main story without feeling distracting. On that same note, more writers on staff means more jokes from more perspectives, while too many contributors on a film script often leads to a disjointed story.

See also her wondering why late night talk shows still exist (post-Conan and post-Covid)? (I’m a big fan of late night talk shows. They are celebrity-obsessed (not to mention obsessed with anything new). But it’s nice to follow the host and cast.

Here’s my take on talk shows and Covid. Stephen Colbert was mostly terrible during COVID, Jimmy Fallon was fun and silly and still could play games and run music vids. Seth Meyers was even more brilliant and entertaining; he was perfectly comfortable transitioning to No Audience. Trevor Noah and his gang has really been killing it with every episode. Great sketches, great interviews and fast-paced. Very intellectual too. Now that things are returning to normal with talk show audiences, Colbert is much more entertaining and can really milk a joke when he wants to.

About the political thing, our country has experienced a national tragedy with Trump; if talk show hosts weren’t sounding the alarm, I don’t know who else could be. It’s good though that talk shows have stepped back and focused more on traditional entertainment. Talk shows used to be even-handed towards both parties, but the lack of a credible conservative leadership has made it impossible to treat them as anything more than a bunch of crazies — especially when it comes to climate change and vaccine mandates.

How much is ton of carbon dioxide? The U.S. EPA has found that a typical 22 MPG gas-based car emits about 5 tons of carbon dioxide per year. On average, you emit one ton of CO2 for about every 2,500 miles you drive—about the distance from Boston, Massachusetts to Salt Lake City, Utah. (The US annual carbon footprint is about 16 tons annually). Concludes the report:

Most of the CO2 humans emit doesn’t come from everyday activities like driving. In fact, when we say that the average American emits 16 tons of CO2 a year, most of this isn’t from our direct emissions. Instead, it’s from large-scale processes, like making electricity or manufacturing products and building materials, which are averaged across the whole population. For example, the World Steel Association estimates that, for every ton of steel we produce, almost two tons of CO2 are added to the atmosphere.

A while back my ebook press published Hanger Stout, Awake about a teenage boy who competes in contests to see who can freehang from a bar the longest. Apparently, some Youtube celebrity has challenged all kinds of people to freehang for money. For those interested, I wrote a nice essay about that novella, pondering the ephemeralities of youth.

I am saddened to learn about the deaths of US servicemen and Afghani citizens in Kabul (presumably at the hands of terrorists). It’s important to remember that US soldiers are often asked to provide protection for international humanitarian efforts in risky places and can become a target for bad actors. (To a lesser extent, this happens also with UN peacekeeping troops). Without having these spaces secured, it can be hard to run humanitarian operations. It is only on tragic days like today that we can appreciate the risks and sacrifices that enlisted people take during such missions. We should honor them for that.

Here’s a 16 minute audio interview with James Loewen from 2015 (audio link is in middle of page).

After Ed Asner has died, I was recalling favorite Mary Tyler Moore show moments with him. Here’s him with Ted Knight. Hilarious scene. The most interesting (for me at least) is that the scene is so unimportant; all Ed and Ted are doing is hamming it up to absurd levels. I saw an interview with Asner where he said the serious drama Lou Grant (which I never watched!) was his best performances. I look forward to watching it somewhere.


Social Media Dump Aug 1-15 (2021)

See    July 16-31 and August 16-31  (View All)

Malcolm Gladwell talks about his latest book about understanding strangers. He talks about the TV show Friends, where it’s easy to interpret the words and gestures of characters — which is the opposite of real life. Some other shows which are easy to decode: Larry Sanders Show, Third Rock from the Sun, Brooklyn 99, Taxi. (all favorite shows btw). These shows have types and then have actors who give them unique and quirky qualities.

Here are two tweets which just astonished me:

  • PAULA JEAN SWEARENGIN: It’s a fair assumption to think I have millions of dollars because I run for office. Most of our representatives come from privilage. I am a single mom and never made $25,000 a year in my life. Paula Jean Swearengin, who ran for US Senate twice in West Virginia. She ran against Joe Manchin in 2018 and then against Republican Shelley Moore Capito — losing both by substantial margins, but putting in enormous efforts both times. She was also featured in the Netflix documentary Knock Down the House (about how first time politicians ran political campaigns). She’s West Virginia’s version of Bernie Sanders, she’s a great speaker, and even though her main issue is opposition to coal, she embraces a lot of other progressive cause. I found out about her from a 3 minute speech she gave at a coal mine protest — which was one of the most remarkable political speeches ever. Perhaps it was her first political speech ever. Despite losing massively, she became a much measured and better speaker and capable of talking about policies and reading the room. Also, her volunteer staff punched well above their weight. She has learned a lot and I would love for Paula Jean to stay in politics. (Her twitter feed is always remarkable).
  • SETH MACFARLANE: Tucker Carlson’s latest opinion piece once again makes me wish Family Guy was on any other network. Look, Fox, we both know this marriage isn’t working anymore. The sex is only once a year, I don’t get along with your mother, and well… I’ve been having an affair with NBC. This is certainly the case of biting the hand that feeds you, but it’s amazing and sad that MacFarlane lacked the insight to see a disconnect between his personal values and the values of the company which run his shows.

Thomas Geoghegan on that time I ran for Congress:

VIDEO Training cats to do tricks with dominoes.

To my delight, the South Park people are contemplating buying the Casa Bonita Mexican Restaurant. They used it as the setting for the hilarious Casa Bonita restaurant episode. Totally worth it. I was looking up a South Park clip and came across this gem. Here is Cartman Bra being interviewed by NPR interview Julie Rovner. Would like to see that full episode without paying, but can’t find a way! Wow, here’s a 1997 interview of Trey & Matt on South Park with Jay Leno and an outrageous trailer to their comedy movie Orgazmo (which is pre-South Park!)

To my amazement, I see that they made another sick comedy in college called Cannibal — the Musical. It’s available for free on Youtube. I’ll admit, it never occurred to me when I was in college that college students could make passable movies — maybe I would have tried to make a few myself! (Instead I was writing plays and stories in creative writing classes).

An interior designer imagines and reconstructs the spartan set for the Honeymooners TV show. She also draws inspiration from famous movie sets.

Don’t ask me how I surfed to it, but here are interviews with people who survived the Titanic. Here and here. “An iceberg? I’ve always wanted to do see one!” The most amazing was the inteview with Frank Prentice who dived from the top before it started sinking. Two more interviews here. 16 minute interview from 1960 here. Here’s a 50 minute audio recording by survivors.

IPCC 6 just hit the streets today. Here’s a 42 page Policymaker’s Summary PDF (which is surprisingly hard to find on the ipcc site). Carbon brief gives a very interesting deep dive into IPCC6 . In particular I was interested in climate sensitivity (aka, what is the effect of doubling CO2 over preindustrial levels?) IPCC AR6 report gives a central estimate 3.0C, with a likely range of 2.5-4C and a very likely range of 2-5C. (Likely = 66-100% and Very likely = 90-100%)

Here’s a succinct summary of IPCC6 and climate scientist Gavin Schmidt writes several responses and analyses here and here. According to a guest article, the best estimate of when 1.5ºC warming might be reached in the AR6 report is around 2034.5 (the year on which the 20-year period 2025-2044 is centred), with lots of wiggle room. (More symbolic than important is when the North Pole will first have an ice-free summer, which could be happening any year now).

Climate sensitivity is a vital scientific question, but even more vital is how quickly will we be able to reduce carbon emissions? (“we” meaning “the entire world.”) I am very pessimistic at the ability of our country (and even developing countries) to reduce emissions. It requires a lot of capital and a lot more planning and political will to do this. My prediction (based on not a lot of study) is that the world will underdeliver on its goal by a significant amount — leading to the possibility that we may end up tripling our emissions — an almost unthinkable possibility). As a result, there may be a need to do “negative emissions” (figuring out a mechanism to remove CO2 from the atmosphere). Technology Review has the lowdown about what negative emissions are all about the tall price they exact in the future.

See also Emily Atkin’s cynical take on responses to IPCC 6 (one of which was sponsored by Chevron).

I have to say, I am not particularly impressed by Biden’s infrastructure plan — which has been watered down. Frankly, I’m surprised that carbon fee and dividend hasn’t been a centerpiece of any climate change legislation.

Just for kicks I will google my name and see what comes up. My blogposts no longer show up at top; instead I see lots of obituaries for various Robert Nagles around the country — and 2 wedding announcements! Apparently I am married either to someone named Medora or Alicia, take your pick. Still no TikTok vids about me (although there is one for Robert NAUGLE). Several Robert Nagles are dentists and real estate agents, but my favorite is the item on RATEMYPROFESSORS: “Robert Nagle is the worst professor I have ever had in my academic career. He knows very little about his subject and will brag about his 10 years experience of teaching a class incorrectly. I would avoid him at all costs, even if it means waiting until the next semester to take this class,” and “This professor does not like women!” Hey, with praise like that, it’s no wonder that my namesakes across the country are kicking the bucket! Just to be on the safe side, maybe I should consult a psychologist who specializes in my ailment.

Had an argument with my mother about which kinds of plastics can be easily recycled. Here’s a great deep dive by NPR into how oil and gas companies have sold the myth that plastics can be recycled (when in fact only categories 1 and 2 are easily recycled). This 2020 Greenpeace report (PDF) covers the material in even greater detail. Some materials are recycled at relatively high levels: more than two-thirds of paper and about a third of aluminum. But for plastic, the rate is just eight percent. Another 16 percent is incinerated. The vast majority of plastic — that remaining 76 percent — ends up in landfills. Here’s a screenshot from a PBS Frontline investigation:


Robert’s Roundup #22 (Aug 2021)

View the Roundup series || View Raves & Reviews || Mike’s Likes ||  Read how I compile this list. || How to Submit Smashword deals || How to Submit your own Ebook Deals in the Comment Section || Commercial Disclosures

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).

Last month’s column was very long because of the Smashwords sale. August will be much lighter. Actually that may give me extra time to actually read the books I blog about 🙂

Oops, I ended up buying some more print books (see below).

The craziest thing. Ever since my Kindle app updated to the latest version, I have noticed the books in my library disappearing for about 5 minutes. I will often need to kill and restart the process. It’s at the point of being annoying, but not so much that I’m going to try technical support (not yet anyway). It’s surreal going from having a library of several thousand ebooks to a library which shows absolutely no titles at all. Strangely, in this state, you can see collections easily — and it shows that all the titles are downloaded onto the device’s memory card. So there’s no problem with the external storage. This is happening regularly and almost predictably. The main solution is to stop the application and restart — problem solved.

Another issue raised by the above software bug is how important it is to assign a new ebook to a collection. That makes it easier to find invisible ebooks.

Indie Author Spotlight


Under the Radar

How to Self-publish and Market a Children’s Book (Second Edition): June 2021. Self-publishing in print, eBooks and audiobooks, children’s book marketing, translation and foreign rights Kindle Edition by Karen P. Inglis (author website). I know next to nothing about children’s books, and so in Aug 2021 I paid 6.99 for the second edition which just came out. It’s an excellent book which covers a lot of ground. The author is from UK, and UK/Europe has a different market than USA, but most of her tips still hold true.

Social Life of Books: Reading Together in the Eighteenth-Century Home by Abigail Williams. (Academic page) 2.99. A Yale U. Press about how people read to one another and used books for social purposes. Fascinating! Here’s a book excerpt.

Laughing Dolphins by Amber Polo. (KU,LE). (Author website) . “A rom-com story of lovers living parallel lives for twenty years….Tales of the City, without the sex and drugs.” (Here’s the author’s explanation of where she got the idea for the book).

Barrie Hill Reunion by Lisette Brody.

Layers: A Collection of Short Stories by Zusanne Belec.

Puppets of Prague by David Canford.

Lessons from my mother’s life by Tam May.


Blink and it’s Gone Sale

Conjunctions Radical Shadows issue (Recent translations of 19th century works). Edited by Bradford Morrow. I love it when Conjunctions is discounted to 1.99.

Hard Times: Oral History of the Great Depression by Studs Terkel. 1.99. Have a hard copy which is falling apart.

20th century: memoirs of a Hungarian Mathematician by Miklos Farkos. Free.

Editors on Editing: by Gerald Gross. Good essays about what editors were like in previous decades.

Had I known by Barbara Ehrenreich. (Latest essay collection). Ehrenreich is unstoppable! (one of my faves).

Creative Commons/Academic/Public Domain


Library Books/Printed Books

I can’t believe that I spent more money on print books, but I found several rare titles for under $5.

Conversation in a Train and Other Critical Writing by Frank Sargeson. Sargeson is a New Zealand author aren’t easily available here.

The Lesser Bohemians: A Novel by Eimear McBride. Detailed intimate look at a young Irish girl’s sex life. “McBride evokes brilliantly the distinctive pleasure of days spent in bed, moving imperceptibly between humour and passion, and between violent and tender desire. ” (Source)Here’s a 2021 interview with her (hey that’s last week!) I’m going to keep an eye out for her latest novel, Strange Hotel .

Taking Stock: A Larry McMurtry Casebook (Southwest Life and Letters). Edited by Clay Reynolds.

Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician by Christopher Wolff. Nice biography which I checked out of the library a year ago and started reading. He answered a key question I always had: how could Bach compose the brilliant and artistically perfect Mass in B Minor? The answer: This actually wasn’t an original composition, but he borrowed many melodies from previous choral pieces Bach composed; he stuck everything inside one mass. (So it’s like a Greatest Hits compilation).

Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression by Morris Dickstein. Cultural Criticism. Dickstein has written a lot about 20th American literature; I guess this is a good place to start.

Literary Articles and Essays

Wow, I didn’t realize that my “Conversation with a famous technical author” link no longer works. Here it is (please excuse the awful layout and look — it’s still readable though)

I spent several weeks working on a wiki article about Texas author Clay Reynolds. (Here’s the draft submission).



Capsule Book Review


Multimedia, Podcasts, etc.

I really enjoyed the 44 minute zoom call between southern authors Ron Rash and George Singelton. As I wrote on the youtube comment, Book Titles mentioned: From GEORGE: Lewis Nordan, Barry Hannah, John Cheever, Flannery O’Connor, Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle, Lake Life by David James Poissant, Blue Marlin by Lee Smith, Big Door Prize by M.O. Walsh. FROM RON: Hieroglyphics also (“dark and sad but true and wise”), Randall Keane (sp?!?), Chekhov. RON: “I can’t read Faulkner while I’m writing — he’s just like a magnet — he pulls you in” (George says that the author who does the same for him is Cormac McCarthy — although he admired the earlier editions). Earlier in the interview, they both praised Denis Johnson‘s TRAIN DREAMS novella. I love this fun talk… Big fan of both authors.

(I ended up buying a story collection by Lewis Nordan called Sugar among the Freaks : Selected Stories. I definitely plan to buy the Jill McCorkle book very soon. I already have one book by Poissant, but not the most recent title. I was an early fan of Denis Johnson (before it was fashionable). Indeed, purely on the basis of Denis Johnson’s stories, I applied to the Phd program at Michigan State in Kalamazoo. I got in and wanted to go, but the money wasn’t there, plus I had already gotten into Peace Corps by that time. But I often wonder why I passed on the opportunity to study with Mr. Johnson.

Personville Press Deals

I run Personville Press, a small literary book press where all the ebooks cost less than $4. You can buy DRM-free copies of ebooks from Smashwords (and often at a substantial discount over the ebook’s price on Amazon). Alternatively, you can buy ebooks from GoogleAmazonBNApple and Kobo. Check them out! Starting at the end of August I’ll be starting a mailing list for people to stay informed about upcoming sales and promotions.