No Musings This Week™️
No musings his (bi)week. I (perhaps sadly) haven’t been up to much in the past couple weeks, aside from my day job, of course 🙃
What I’m Reading
Going Postal, the first Discworld novel I’ve read, is easily one of my favourite novels now. It so deftly combines a warm human heart with Douglas Adams-esque humour, while ruthlessly (but not unkindly) skewering everything from government bureaucracy to human rights activism to crime and punishment. The only complaint I have is that the highly evasive, comedic writing style does sometimes leave it unclear what, exactly, is going on, but it’s such a rollicking good ride it doesn’t really matter. I’m quite looking forward to Small Gods, the other Discworld novel I picked up at the library.
I finally finished A Storm of Swords, which is of course fantastic, although it does start to drag slightly towards the end of its 900-page bulk. It is interesting to note the divergences between show and book; the first two books were fairly faithfully adapted, but the third starts to show pretty severe adaptational divergences, from the apparently-small (Tyrion is much more clearly on the path to villainy, whereas he remains an audience surrogate throughout the show’s runtime; the Red Wedding feels less brutal and leaves Robb’s young wife alive) to the much larger (pretty much anything to do with the Brotherhood Without Banners, which have much more of a fantastical Robin Hood feel in the books, and indeed play a much larger role in the plot). And, of course, there’s the ending, which is one of the best cliffhangers I can remember, but was completely dropped by the show 🤷♀️ I do wonder if trying to adapt the story was a fool’s errand all along; the first few seasons of the show are of course fantastic, but the internal narration and worldbuilding exposition lend so much more depth to the story. In any case, Sherry’s now starting on A Feast For Crows (where the real divergences start) and I’ll no doubt be following soon.
I’m also knee-deep in Days of Rage, an account of the underground leftist terror groups of the early ‘70s, like Weather Underground, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and so forth. It’s been fairly interesting so far—as it points out early on, most people don’t think about how bombings were practically a daily occurrence in many metropolitan areas of the early ‘70s—but the writing style has somewhat left me wanting. It’s written by a professional journalist, not a historian, so it’s heavy on the narrative and light on the analysis, and goes for a literary style (occasionally even putting quotes in literal dialogue with each other), a feeling evoked also by, say, Accidental Billionaires (the book that became The Social Network). That’s not necessarily a problem, but it does leave me wishing for a more academic take on the topic.
To keep up with[Apocrypals] (which you should also be keeping up with 🙂), I read the [Acts of John], a reconstructed compilation of early Christian writings about John-the-Apostle-aka-John-the-Revelator-aka-every-other-John-in-the-Bible (all of whom, of course, are, historically speaking, probably different people). As is the case with most Christian apocrypha, it’s pretty bonkers, featuring a collapsing temple of Artemis, a pretty horrific case of necrophilia, more resurrections than the rest of early Christian writings put together, and a rather surprising gnostic interpolation that is… dense, to say the least. It doesn’t quite have the punchiness of, say, the wizard battles of the [Acts of Peter], so I can’t quite recommend it unless you’re already knee deep in apocrypha… but if you listen Apocryphals, like you should, you soon will be 🙂
What I’m Listening To
At Warped we caught the tail end of an act by Ozomatli, a band that plays a melange of hip hop, Latin, and rock, and in retrospect was a rather strange choice for Warped. Anyway, I’m checking out their (1998!) debut, which is Really Quite Good.™️
On the podcast front, as a newly-minted iOS developer, I decided to subscribe to some iOS and Swift podcasts, but of course it turns out that iOS developers are the kinds of people that just love to make podcasts, and so I now find myself flooded with Swift podcasts, most of which seem to involve a John Sundell, who I gather keeps the Swift community through sheer force of will. Anyway, they’re all fine, but i opulent really recommend them to non-iOS developers, unlike Apocrypals, which, like I said above, you should definitely be listening to.
What I’m Learning
I’ve given up on Crafting Interpreters for the moment, or at least until the next chapter is finally released. Instead I’ve been spending time with [Type-Driven Development with Idris], which is a really fantastic little textbook, though perhaps not strictly that accessible to those without a bit of functional programming background. In any case, I think just working through the book and doing all the exercises has made me a better programmer, even if it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever use Idris for anything non-trivial (especially with Idris 2 around the corner, natch). In any case, I highly recommend it.
I’ve also been using Duolingo to learn Mandarin. Or, perhaps more truthfully, to not completely lose what little Mandarin I had scraped together. I’m not sure Duolingo is really all that effective—I think the general opinion of the linguistics profession is “just talk to people, dummy”—but given it’s free and ten minutes with it makes me feel Productive™️, it can’t really hurt. In any case, if anybody has suggestions for good Chinese learning podcasts (or other resources, really) I’m all ears 😃
I had taken up guitar again sometime around starting work, but then put it back down sometime between then and now. I intend to pick it back up again, hopefully to more productivity this time.
And that’s about it. Thanks for reading! I’m not sure anybody besides me gets any value out of this newsletter, but if you’re reading this at the bottom, I suppose it must be the case that you are, in point of fact, getting some value out of this newsletter. But, in any case, thanks.