Archive - 2011
My goal was to read 30 books this year. I only got through 26, I think. Although I'm in the middle of reading about 8 more right now. Couldn't seem to stay focused on one at a time. Anyway, Here's the list, more or less in reverse order:
Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal
Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass by Randy Mosher
Conquest of the Useless: Reflections from the Making of Fitzcarraldo by Werner Herzog
Working with Anger by Thubten Chodron
The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charles Papazian
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
Shoplifting from American Apparelby Tao Lin
Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics by Richard Davenport-Hines
Apathy and Other Small Victories by Paul Neilan
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Amnesia Moon by Jonathan Lethem
Gun, with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem
Singularity Sky by Charles Stross
Hell by Robert Olen Butler
Dreamland: The Way Out of Juarez by Charles Bowden
Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity by David Foster Wallace
When Anger Hurts: Quieting the Storm Within by Matthew McKay
Stand Up to the IRS by Frederick W. Daily
Experiments With Truth by Mark Nash, curator
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
Hyperborder: The Contemporary U.S.Mexico Border and Its Future by Fernando Romero
Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields
A Friend of the Earth by T.C. Boyle
The Cannibal's Guide to Ethical Living by Mykle Hansen
Rampaging Fuckers of Everything on the Crazy Shitting Planet of the Vomit Atmosphere by Mykle Hansen
I get a lot of spam, of course, like we all do, but I also get a variety of unsolicited email from people I've never heard from before about various projects of mine that they're interested in or have questions or kudos on. Rarely do I get totally anonymous and context-free insults out of the blue. The other day I received this, via my website contact page:
----------------------------------------------------- This message was sent by someone looking at: http://detritus.net/cgi-bin/contact from: 188.8.131.52 ----------------------------------------------------- Poor Steev. Must be difficult to be an intellectual when you're not very smart. You're a shining example to all who wish to appear to be trafficking in ideas.
This was sent using the address LucilleDMcKenzie@teleworm.com, which it turns out is a fake address generated by the wonderful http://www.fakemailgenerator.com - a service I had not known about before and which looks quite useful for various things, so in a way it was worth getting assaulted in this way. This person clearly didn't wish to engage in conversation but simply wanted to attack me with no opportunity given to respond - when I sent a query asking for more information I got a bounce (the fake email service seems to allow replies, but perhaps only for a limited time, perhaps governed by the life of a cookie it hands out. not sure of the details. at any rate, my reply bounced). My message, btw, noted that I don't recall ever calling myself an intellectual, and therefore would take the statement as at least partially a compliment.
however, I have a pretty clear idea who the sender is because the message is not entirely without context, or drama. I recently removed from my list of facebook friends a certain Kim Scarborough - I honestly am not sure why I was ever friended by him or recall why I agreed to the friending. I don't think I have ever met him face to face, though we were both at WCBN, the University of Michigan student radio station, at about the same time and he's from Ann Arbor and knows some other Ann Arbor folks that I know. I think I recall him being on my Detritus Rumori mailing list and some other underground music related online communities like the negativland Snuggles list, etc.
But he's the kind of person I would never want to spend time with or be friends with IRL. He's a computer geek and somewhat smart, but he's also a libertarian, and a devotee of Milton Friedman (who I consider just shy of Hitler or Stalin in terms of the misery he's brought upon the world). He worked at Playboy as a system administrator, I think, and now does the same at the Chicago Stock Exchange, I think. (Both worthless, at best, employers.) Most of his facebook posts were kind of vaguely philosopolitical pronouncements that seemed carefully calculated to produce debate, but which cleverly did not clearly state exactly what he was talking about or believed in, so that later when people argued with him he could change the subject in a weird attempt to make disagreement seem inappropriate. He was also a master of the "straw man" rhetorical tactic and of cognitive dissonance. I eventally just got tired of him, though I spent about a year thinking over and over after every exchange I had with him, "gosh I'm just wasting time reading this guy's posts and getting worked up and trying to engage in conversation." I resisted unfriending him for that long a time because I believe the "Filter Bubble" effect is a real problem in our society right now, and I felt like I should be exposing myself to opposing worldviews, at least if it was from people relatively articulate and intelligent. But at some point you realize that even having an open mind is with some people not doing anybody any good. He's got an entrenched opinion of who I am so he's not really listening to me when I say anything; he's clearly just being a troll trying to create online drama and attention for himself.
He lives in Chicago and that IP address above traces back to a chicago network, and the message, which I just noticed today, came in 3 days ago, the day after my last reply to a string of email harrassments that he peppered me with after I unfriended and blocked him on facebook. So this latest attack is pretty likely him. This is an interesting and sad phenomenon, and the truly objectionable thing is his refusal to just give up and go away. People are going to disagree and argue, and that's fine. But if one person chooses to withdraw, after repeated attempts at fair and good faith attempts at conversation are met with purposeful obfuscation and intellectual dishonesty, the LEAST that the other person can do is honor repeated requests to cease contact. But this jackass continued to pester me with emails feigning surprise and shock that I had unfriended and blocked him, asking me stupid questions I'd previously answered and uttering further straw-men style provocations. Then after I blocked his real email addresses he now uses a fake one.
He must be really invested in a view of himself as some kind of tolerant and friendly guy with a wide variety of social connections, and it evidently bothers him and angers him when someone severs one of those connections. This is supported by previous and numerous facebook posts in which he complained about other people defriending him, supposedly unjustly and unfairly. How pathetic. He just can't seem to accept with dignity and introspection that maybe a lot of people consider him an annoying bore at best, a malicious asshole and waste of time at worst, and maybe he should do something about that or else accept it when people give up trying to put up with his bullshit.
It's kind of mindboggling when someone so unknown and inconsequential to me, and so different in terms of politics and belief system, is so set on maintaining contact. I've already wasted too much time on this guy today with this post but I do it not as some kind of vengeful counterattack but just to note it as an intriguing pathology. Read more>>>
So i went and bought a bag of supposedly one of the best coffees in the world, according to this article. Finca Mauritania, from Aida Batlle's farm in El Salvador. Roasted just 3 days ago at Counter Culture in Noth Carolina and arrived at my doorstep by USPS yesterday, i woke up this morning and prepared a cup exactly the way this article describes one should, even down to measuring out ~20g of coffee and ~320g of water, pouring the water in the precise amounts and time pattern described, etc. Had a taste. I hate to say it, but I just don't see much of a difference from any other cup of coffee I've ever had. In fact it was kind of sour and overly tangy, to my tongue. Part of the problem, or maybe all of the problem, might be that I normally take my coffee with a little milk and sugar, but Batlle says to really taste the difference you have to drink it black.
So, if I take the time to get used to drinking my coffee black and learn to enjoy it (I do sometimes have espresso black, but not drip coffee), and then do another test, maybe i'll be able to discern the "intoxicating flavors of butterscotch, pastry, and sweet chocolate" that "infuse the cup and create a profoundly complex, satisfying coffee experience," as the tasting notes on the bag describe. But that's one of the issues brought up by the article - is it really worth my time and effort to train my palate in this way, so that then I'll not be satisfied without the daily extra money and time spent on this gourmet affectation? Especialy when, after all, in a couple years the tastemaking coffee gurus will probably declare that some other method is better and everyone doing it otherwise is a philistine? and when people made coffee in Ethiopia, where it came from, for thousands of years by just boiling grounds and water in a clay pot over a fire? How can one cabal of foodies say this other way involving burr grinders and pre-flushed paper cones is more authentic or "right"? And besides, coffee without milk is bad for my digestive tract!
In the end, the most important thing about the coffee world is that the farmers and the ecosystem are treated right. Direct trade and other 'better than even Fair Trade' practices as well as organic and shade-grown growing, go a long way. But really, the logical extension ends up, to my mind, here: we shouldn't be drinking coffee at all. We should be helping those coffee farmers convert their farms back to mostly just growing food for themselves, just like we should be growing food for ourselves in our own locales, and maybe some of us could grow our own coffee plants in greenhouses and hydroponic setups if we're really capable and dedicated. But for the most part, when you get down to it, coffee, for most people, is just a vector for a chemical stimulant that we really don't need. We should be changing our culture (which involves our work habits and entire lifestyle) so that we don't think we have to have that stimulant every morning and often throughout the day, so that we then don't need to have this global commodity market that forces poor people to grow this cash crop to the exclusion of being self-sufficient in their own local communities. Coffee culture is really just, at its roots, the same as crystal meth culture - a social pathology brought about by the fetishization of work, productivity, and intensity. The social pressures that lead poor working class double-shifting meatpackers in rural Iowa to get hooked on meth are really the same social pressures that white-collar infoworkers in cubeland turn into a daily cuppajoe addiction. The gourmet coffee waves and trends are just a surface layer of genteel sophistication over the top of this sordid reality.
To be fair, I love my coffee. But I recognize that, like a lot of unfortunate activities in my modern life, it's not something that really matches my values and ideally i should stop or at least lessen it. Read more>>>
Just a look at daily life at the Occupy Tucson encampment in downtown Tucson, Arizona.
Cast: steev hise
author: Sesshu Foster
average rating: 3.42
book published: 2005
read at: 2006/01/01
date added: 2011/11/26
shelves: fun, novels, own-it, to-re-read
This is one of the best and most fun novels I've read in a long while. It has been super inspiring and influential on my writing too.