A few days ago Jason Kottke posted his media diet - a list of books and movies he's read and watched recenty. I found some interesting things on his list, which I made a note of. (I keep a running list of media to consume on Workflowy, the best task manager. If I meet you and we chat, chances are good I will pull out my phone and add something we talked about to my list.)
In the spirit of Kottke's media diet list, here are some books that I've read recently and recommend.
People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo -- and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up, by Richard Lloyd Parry. A true crime novel about the disappearence of a young British woman who worked as a hostess in Toyko's Roppongi nightclub district. Her body was found several months later. The most interesting part was the glimpse into Tokyo's criminal justice system, which is very different from the United States'. In Japan, getting a suspect to confess is an essential part of the process, and their legal system almost breaks down when a suspect refuses to confess.
11/22/63: A Novel, by Stephen King. This was my first Stephen King novel, and many people say it's his best work. It's about guy who finds a secret portal to 1958. He enters it through the back of a diner, and no matter how long he is in that past, when he re-enters the present, only a few minutes have elapsed. Read the rest
If you’re looking for the perfect combination of snark and insight to get you through the Trump administration, look no further than Pod Save America. Hosted by former Obama White House staffers Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Tommy Vietor, and Jon Lovett, the twice-weekly podcast starts with a conversation about current political events and then moves on to interviews with politicians, analysts, and social justice advocates. One particularly strong recent episode featured an interview with Elizabeth Warren, who was funny and frank in her assessment of the Democratic Party.
Pod Save America is the flagship series for a larger network of political podcasts, which also includes Tommy Vietor’s foreign policy-focused Pod Save The World and DeRay McKesson’s activist-focused Pod Save The People. You can learn more on the Crooked Media website. Read the rest
After trying too many different options, I decided that GreenSavers
[Amazon link] best met the twin goals of keeping veggies fresh while making the fridge navigable.
Beginning today, the editors of Cool Tools will be recommending 6 items in an extremely short email every week. Mark, myself, and Claudia — the entire staff of Cool Tools — will suggest good stuff we have personally used, consumed, or experienced. We’ll try to keep each recommendation light and fast. They won’t be definitive reviews; rather they’ll be quick recommendations. Going back again to our roots, we’ve named it Recomendo — which, believe it or not, was the name of Cool Tools before I renamed it.
If you want great tools, stay on (or sign onto) the Cool Tools newsletter. To get all the other kinds of things we encounter and enjoy sharing, sign up for Recomendo here. As usual, we don’t do anything with your info except send you short and sweet one-screen news once a week.
Here's the first issue of Recomendo:
DESTINATION: The world's coolest nature museum: The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, England (pictured above). It's a day trip from London. Take the 1-hour train to Oxford, then walk 15 minutes from the station to the museum, co-housed with the Oxford University Nature Museum. Enter into a lost world of curiosity. You are surrounded by three floors of artifacts collected over centuries by eccentric British explorers. Displays include shrunken heads, voodoo dolls, tomb relics, weird insects, ancient folk tools, dinosaurs skeletons, taxidermy galore, uncountable biological and mineralogical specimens, all stacked in glassy cabinets with typed cards and labels. It's supremely old-school and hugely satisfying. Read the rest
What Should I Read Next? suggests books, similar to the algorithm used on sites like Netflix and Amazon based on your use patterns and ratings. Read the rest
Meet The Executioner.
Earlier today, I got a tour of the mosquito breeding facility at North Carolina State University. Basically, it's a small room — about the size of my bathroom at home — where scientists breed and grow the mosquitoes they use in scientific research. The downside: Mosquito enclosures are somewhat less than foolproof. Which means the mosquito breeding facility has a significant number of loose mosquitoes. That's where The Executioner comes in. There were multiple Executioners in that one small room. Then entire time I was talking with the scientists, they were simultaneously swinging around these electrified tennis racquets to zap any mosquito that blundered into their personal space.
Personally, I consider this a hell of an endorsement for any bug killing tool. Read the rest
Anecdotes aren't data, but they do make data memorable. Alice Bell has a list of books that use storytelling and narrative to explain the often complicated science of climate change
. One of the books on the list — Spencer Weart's The Discovery of Global Warming
— is an oft-recommended favorite of mine. If for no other reason than the fact that I like to see how people react when I explain that we have known about the science behind climate change since the 19th century. And if it didn't work the way we think it does, then Earth would be a cold wasteland, like Mars. (Bonus, Weart and the Institute of Physics have a fantastic website
that delves deeper into Weart's sources and can help you do your own research and answer follow-up questions.) Read the rest
Looking for high-quality, smart reads on science? This Twitter list
, put together by Scientific American's Khalil A. Cassimally will introduce you to lots of great, young science writers you might not have heard of previously. Some of the folks on the list whose awesomeness I can vouch for: freelancer David Manly
, Smithsonian Magazine contributor Colin Schultz
, blogger Hannah Waters
, and Scientific American associate editor Ferris Jabr
. Many new voices to discover! Read the rest
I wrote earlier this month about how much I loved coffee table books as a kid, and a couple of people asked me about recommendations for science books that kids will love today. Smithsonian has a great list up right now
: 10 books that cover everything from inventors, to failed experiments, to whales. Read the rest