Archive for November, 2021

Review: You Feel It Just Below The Ribs

Monday, November 29th, 2021

You Feel It Just Below The Ribs is a novel set in the Within The Wires world. As I mentioned in my Anthropecene Reviewed review, I tend to prefer podcasts when I have the choice, but I was so impressed by their pre-released excerpt that I ordered the novel. Jeffrey Cranor and Janina Matthewson claim that you don’t need to know anything about the podcast to enjoy the book, and I think that’s probably true. That said, I recommend Within The Wires wholeheartedly; also there’s a lot of Feel It that seems targeted at existing fans. You’ll understand it either way, but how much you enjoy it will depend on how much you like world-building.

While there is a lot of continuity service and world-building in Feel It, there’s plenty of style and substance independent of it. The world is an alternate history of the 20th Century, which lets the authors riff on the nature of human relations, families, and the societies they build. I think they’re very insightful about the world and use the medium effectively in entertaining and provoking thought in the same work.

The balance concerns between entertainment and provocation is possible because they write very effectively. One of the features that drew me into Within The Wires was their ability to creep up on an emotional bombshell while keeping me oblivious to what’s coming and then to drop that bomb in a short, casual phrase. This comes through it Feel It.

The other salient point is that all the Within The Wires stories are framed as found audio and they indulge their writing ability to give each season its own texture. They continue this strategy here, constructing a found autobiography annotated by the academic publisher. That publisher has its own agenda, and the reader is never fully trusting of the text.

Strongly Recommended.

Review: The Anthropcene Reviewed

Sunday, November 28th, 2021

I fell in love with John Green’s Anthropecene Reviewed as a podcast. The podcast is a compelling combination of detailed exploration of seemingly incidental societal artifacts and revealing brave personal essay. This is obviously not for everyone. I loved the writing, research, and perspective he brings to these topics along with the boldness of revealing himself. I like his writing style and delivery as well.

The book is a pretty close transcription of these essays. The advantage is that if podcasts aren’t for you, you can still get to his writing. I personally prefer hearing him read, but you may enjoy reading these in the bathroom.

Either is Strongly Recommended.

Review: Unsettled

Saturday, November 27th, 2021

One of my friends who is on the more conservative side of my bubble recommended this critique of Climate Science and coverage. Steven Koonin is a physicist and researcher who is well respected in his field. He does have experience as a first-class researcher and scientist as well as experience In politics. He was employed as an Undersecretary for Science in the Department of Energy under President Obama. He worked for BP as a their chief scientist for renewable energy. In short, he’s familiar with the field and qualified as a scientist. He also has identifiable biases.

Given all that, I think the factual questions he raise point to places where the various studies seem reasonable to question. I’m not a climate scientist and not terribly familiar with the studies, so I can’t address the correctness of his factual claims. Nothing he claims is unbelievable to me. I think that models can be sensitive to small perturbations of initial assumptions and that the interpretation does depend on the bias of the interpreters. Scientists have points of view, even when they try to be as objective as possible. Considering that is interpreting any research is important, especially research that is as charged as Climate Science is.

I think these kind of questions represent a healthy tussle about facts. That said, I think that no matter how extreme one finds the bias of climate reporting, there are plenty of problems that are frequently framed as climate problems that I care about regardless. For example, even if renewable energy is completely neutral to the climate, I support adoption and subsidies for plenty of other reasons. I don’t see Koonin’s concerns as significantly changing my policy positions.

If you are curious about critiques of Climate Science and reporting, it’s a well written set of concerns from a prominent scientist. There’s a back and forth about the content, of course. I found it interesting and worth my time, even if I didn’t fundamentally change my worldview.