Earlier this week I decided to start the well-recommended “Bad Blood” and, less
than 24 hours later, I had finished it. I’ve never listened to an audiobook
(admittedly, on 2x-3x speed) in one day, but this story was gripping,
staggering, galling, and endlessly fascinating.
The Theranos that emerges is paranoid, vindictive, and capricious. They recall
“I, Claudius” under Caligula where at the peak of summary executions and
orgiastic excess the ringleader, Caligula, asks “Am I mad?” We, in both the
case of Theranos and the Julio-Claudians can only marvel at “How can you not
Also appropriately called into question by the author is the culture of the
lone genius and the American, if not the world, economy’s need to believe
that something special is happening in the Santa Clara Valley and that the
people there are doing the quotidian business of business better and grander
than ever before, that the people there are titans only on the caliber of Steve
Jobs et al.
There are no twists and turns as the startup dreams, launches, grows,
metastasizes, fleeces, and then keels over — the seeds of destruction are
obvious very early, but the collapse is beyond breathtaking.
Around the City, Google’s LinkNYC kiosks stand as monolithic sentries along our
major thoroughfares. They’re a place for free phone calls, wifi, and a cell
phone battery top-up. They also have cameras installed and are, no doubt,
mining our traffic patterns and more direct use of the kiosks for advertising
insights. No such thing as a free lunch.
When idle, the machines have taken, lately, to posting pithy quotes about the
city, its inhabitants and both of their incomprehensible customs. A recent
winner by E.B. White from his magnum opus urbis urborum “Here is New York:”
New Yorkers temperamentally do not crave comfort and convenience — if
they did they would live elsewhere.
I could think of no finer way to honor White than to check out this book from
the library system of this city. To my chagrin, and proving White’s maxim,
there were no copies available.
However, while browsing, I found this collection of his work on dogs. Being a
dog owner myself in the selfsame city, I checked it out.
Cal Newport’s years of experience as a blogger shine through in this
wonderfully cogent, clear, minimalist and well-structured blog post that lies
at the heart of the book. It’s a powerful argument against the
perma-connected, perma-distracted state of the world. Needlessly fattened by
(occasionally breathless Tom Friedman-esque) name-dropping and anecdotes that
suggest a minimal page count required by the book contract, it left me with the
thought “Shoulda been a blog post.” To this I add, now, “Woulda been
unforgettable as a blog post or pamphlet.”
On my flight back from getting married I read Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation. As many will attest, it’s hard to stop reading the Southern Reach trilogy, of which Annihilation is the opener, once you’ve started. One dynamic that really interested me was how VanderMeer’s writing can be conceived of as a post-DNA-theory, “bio-philic” Lovecraftian horror.
Describing Lovecraftian Horror “Lovecraftian” summons many images. In order to rightfully merit that appellation I propose these criteria:
Notes and Highlights
Introduction After finishing Infinite Jest earlier this year, Lauren decided I needed another big, complex, labyrinthine book to explore. She gifted me Murakami’s 1Q84. Prior to reading 1Q84, I had only heard snatches of Kafka on the Shore, so I walked in with few prejudices but was prepared for some Murakami signature tropes: magical realism, supernatural sex, and cats.
Style / Structure Normally I don’t like magical realism.
What a joyful surprise: both in terms of presentation of the material as well as the story that was shared. A tender, poignant, and occasionally phantasmagorical surprise about a figure that perennially fascinates Americans: Abraham Lincoln.
How did a seemingly simple (but documented as ambitious) man from rural Illinois / Kentucky resolve to undertake the bloodiest slaughter in American history? How did he square all that death as he lay his head down at night.