Tom MacWright

tom@macwright.org

Recently

After a long drought, this has been a great month for music.

Bill Callahan’s Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest is his most cohesive album so far.

I don’t think it has the mind-altering differentness of his early work like I Feel Like the Mother of the World from A River Ain’t Too Much to Love – the song that got me into Smog in the first place – but it feels finished, and has something to say.

Another sad middle-aged white man released some long-awaited new music: Purple Mountains, the new David Berman record. It’s classic Berman, filled with epic double-entendres like

The light of my life is going out tonight / As the sun sinks in the west / The light of my life is going out tonight / With someone she just met

Speaking of men in their 50s, Thom Yorke’s ANIMA is incredible, especially Dawn Chorus. I wish I could embed the video that goes with it, but it’s specific to Netflix subscribers. Anyway, the choreography for Dawn Chorus, with his partner Dajana Roncione, is lovely.

Tom Lee’s The Inspiring Power of Bad Ideas was an incredibly fun read about how people can get lost in the details of fundamentally impossible inventions.

I go on about this too much, but the vast, vast majority of blockchain is a scam. But if you don’t trust me, read Bruce Schneier’s “There’s No Good Reason to Trust Blockchain Technology”. His knowledge of security, safety, systems, and cryptography is nearly unmatched.

Read Alex Haagaard and Liz Jackson’s piece “Queer Eye” demonstrates how we can show disability, but still fail to represent it: it’s a great example of holding the line, clearly showing how a media portrayal of disability could and should be better.

One of the reasons J.K. Rowling’s books exerted such an appeal over every sentient creature on earth is that they resolved, indeed fused, a cultural contradiction. She took the aesthetic of old-fashioned English boarding-school life and placed it at the center of a narrative about political inclusiveness. You get to keep the scarves, the medieval dining hall, the verdant lawns, the sense of privilege (you’re a wizard, Harry), while not only losing the snobbery and racism but actually casting them as the villains of the series.

Computer Love about Star Trek and also a bit about Harry Potter, makes some jawdropping points about how the two pieces of media fused ideas in such an attractive – but subversive or revisionist – way.

I took a little bit of video this month, from my roof, of The Sutro Tower. It’s been a while since I was taking photos regularly – I’m eager to return to it.

August 01, 2019   @tmcw