Ephemera, Baubles and Items of Transitory Joy
A perfectly preserved 2,000-year-old glass bowl was unearthed in the Netherlands. #
  • Tyler Cowen had Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand on his podcast and they discuss a wide range of topics, from travel to the stars (neither think we will) to hippie culture.#
  • Here's Brand on end-of-the-world predictions:#
  • "I’ve seen a lot of the-world-is-doomed illusions come and go. Y2K — when we got all the computers are going to stop because they don’t know how to handle the year 2000. Stuff like that, on and on — the peak oil, and one thing after another. I’ve become a . . . trying to encourage a certain sense of perspective and realism when people say that the world is going to end because of this, that, or the other thing.#
  • "Humanity’s been around for a long time now. The world’s been around for a long time now. Biology is incredibly resilient and robust, and I think the world-ending trope is just a waste of mind." #
  • Here’s a proven method for reading 100 books a year:#
  • 1. Always be reading a printed book and listening to an audiobook. #
  • 2. Read at least 50 pages every day in the printed book and listen to the audiobook whenever you can (doing chores, driving, walking).#
  • 3. Immediately stop reading any book you're not enjoying.#
  • This method worked for me for five years, until Covid threw me off of my groove. And point #3 above is critical. Slogging your way through books you don’t like is a great method for reading about 10 books a year.#

I like to dive into nonfiction the way I dive into TV series. That is to say I let others test the water first and look for recommendations from a number of sources. I went through several nonfiction best of the year lists for 2021 and came up with the following books I plan to read at the beginning of this year. I have finished the first two and if they sound interesting to you, I recommend them.

  • A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life by George Saunders. Saunders reviews seven short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol, examining both the writing craft and the deeper meaning of each piece. Saunders is the author of Lincoln in the Bardo and this book was developed from a class on Russian short stories he teaches at Syracuse University.

  • Enemy of All Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History's First Global Manhunt by Steven Johnson. The true story of seventeenth century pirate Henry Every and the global repercussions of his attack on an Indian treasure ship. It’s both a history lesson and an adventure tale in one and would make a great movie.

  • Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner, who had a big year. As the lede singer for Japanese Breakfast her 2021 album was on most “best of” lists and her autobiography topped the New York Times best sellers list.

  • Taste, by Stanley Tucci is a “memoir of life in and out of the kitchen.”

  • The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson. A biography of an innovator of gene editing and the developer of CRISPR.

  • The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times by Jane Goodall and Douglas Carlton Abrams. “In The Book of Hope, Jane focuses on her ‘Four Reasons for Hope’: The Amazing Human Intellect, The Resilience of Nature, The Power of Young People, and The Indomitable Human Spirit.”

  • The Boys : A Memoir of Hollywood and Family, by Ron Howard, Clint Howard and Bryce Dallas Howard. Ron and Clint Howard examine their lives in show business.

  • Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach examines “the curious science of human-wildlife conflict, a discipline at the crossroads of human behavior and wildlife biology.”

  • The Hospital: Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town by Brian Alexander takes a look at the American medical industry by “following the struggle for survival of one small-town hospital.”

  • The Sound of the Sea: Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans by Cynthia Barnett is a “history of seashells and the animals that make them, revealing what they have to tell us about nature, our changing oceans, and ourselves.”

  • The Horde: How the Mongols Changed the World by Marie Favereau is a well-reviewed history of the Mongols.

  • The Genome Odyssey: Medical Mysteries and the Incredible Quest to Solve Them by Euan Angus Ashley. “For the first time we have within our grasp the ability to predict our genetic future, to diagnose and prevent disease before it begins, and to decode what it really means to be human.”

  • From Enemy of all Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History's First Global Manhunt, by Steven Johnson:#
  • "The Barbary pirates had been attacking British merchant ships in the Mediterranean for more than a century, but they also posed a far more immediate threat to the coastal communities of England and Ireland. In 1631, a Barbary pirate raid on the small Irish village of Baltimore in County Cork in the dead of night absconded with almost a hundred people, half of them children, all of whom were sold into slavery back in Algiers. Fourteen years later, two hundred forty English citizens living on the Cornish coast were captured and enslaved. (Many were ultimately ransomed by Parliament and returned to England years later.) #
  • "Rumors held that as many as sixty Barbary men-of-war were actively prowling the English Channel, waiting for the opportunity to capture more product for the slave markets of Algiers and Tripoli. For most of the seventeenth century, an English or Irish family living near the coast confronted the real possibility that they might be hauled off without warning to a North African prison. #
  • "A Committee for Algiers established by Parliament in 1640 estimated that as many as five thousand English citizens were enslaved in North Africa. Those numbers suggest that the odds of sudden enslavement by Barbary pirates were far higher for the average Devonshire resident than the odds of experiencing a terrorist attack in a modern-day Western city."#
The 2022 Bonnaroo lineup is out. Every year people complain about the headliners and mix of artists, but the displeasure chorus is louder this year. Maybe those people won’t go. I will. There’s a lot to find in the 113 announced artists. I usually catch all or some of about 18 acts. I already see about 12 artists this year I’m excited about and I’m just starting to work through the lineup to discover new acts. In the end there will be more performers I want to see than I will be able to see. I can’t wait.#
"Spotify doesn’t pay artists directly, instead paying those who hold the rights to a song or album (normally record labels, distributors, aggregators and collection societies) who take a cut and give artists the rest. It also doesn’t pay a flat rate per stream, rather, paying rights holders based on “streamshare,” a figure calculated from the number of streams of a rights holder divided by the total number of streams in a particular market. So, the amount rights holders earn per stream varies. But most estimates range from around $0.003 to $0.005 per stream." - The Seattle Times#
A distillation of 80 album of the year lists: 2021 Music Year End List Aggregate#

Several publications have posted their lists of the top 50 albums of 2021. There are 153 different albums on these five lists: Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Billboard, Paste and NPR.

Fifty-four albums appear on more than one list. But only five albums appeared on all of the lists. They are, in alphabetical order:

  • Japanese Breakfast , Jubilee

  • Jazmine Sullivan, Heaux Tales

  • Little Simz, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert

  • Turnstile, Glow On

  • Tyler, the Creator, Call Me If You Get Lost

Four albums appear on four of the lists, while 18 albums appear on three of the lists. Jazmine Sullivan's Heaux Tales and Olivia Rodrigo's Sour were each the top picks on two of the lists. But while Heaux Tales appears somewhere on all five lists, Sour doesn't appear at all on two of the lists.

All of this to say there is a great deal of variety about what people (even professional reviewers) consider the best albums of 2021. There is some limited consensus about a few albums, but not very much. Which is fine. I never much cared for music as a contest. Some albums I like very much appear at the bottom of these lists and the albums I most enjoyed this year aren't on any of the lists. So who is the winner here? You, the music listener, because these lists are great discovery tools for dipping into some albums you might have overlooked.

I've put a full breakdown of the album rankings as well as each top-50 lists into a spreadsheet you can browse yourself:

Five top-50 album lists in a spreadsheet.

The elves are looking sporty this year.#
Ginger old fashioned.#

A while back I posted a recipe for ginger simple syrup. This simple recipe for a ginger old fashioned uses that syrup and has a tangy flavor, making a nice holiday cocktail.

  • 2 oz rye whiskey

  • 1/4 oz ginger simple syrup

  • 2 dashes orange bitters

  • 2 maraschino cherries

Add simple syrup, bitters and maraschino cherries to cocktail glass and lightly muddle cherries. Add a few cubes of ice and stir about 30 seconds or until cold. Top glass with ice and enjoy.

Note: The fruitiness of the cherries pairs well with the spiciness of the ginger syrup. For a step up use Luxardo cherries.

The rule of thumb I've heard is it takes an hour to edit one minute of video. I've found this to be true and it may even underestimate the work involved.#
Beautiful and poignant portraits of primates in zoos as photographed by Anne Berry.#
"You know, we had arguments, but then I'm reminded that so do families, you know? But yeah, it's - he was a fantastic guy. And I do sometimes think, wow, you know, I sat down all those years and wrote songs with John Lennon..." - Paul McCartney.#
Paul McCartney on the life and death of John Lennon, 41 years after his death. #
The FAA is considering allowing the Dream Chaser space plane to land at Huntsville International Airport beginning in 2023 and are holding a virtual public meeting tonight to discuss it. Here is a copy of the FAA's Draft Environmental Assessment of the plan. I live about 3 miles from the airport and can't imagine any noticeable disruption from the landings. The most likely impact would be the swell of spectators trying to get a view of the space plane, but that's hardly more than a minor nuisance (and I will likely be among the crowd). Living in Huntsville means being involved with or directly adjacent to space work. In any gathering here there is almost certainly a rocket scientist in the room, so I expect the landings to be approved.#
This comic explains why thieves keep stealing catalytic converters.#
The 100 best songs of 2021 from Pitchfork, Billboard, NPR and Treble.#
I've updated the header image to be seasonal. The photo is from a Christmas party on Saturday.#
Here is a little journalism project I maintain for a large residential and commercial project adjacent to my neighborhood. It's built with Google Sheets and Google Data Studio and I keep it updated with the status of the many businesses, apartment complexes and restaurants announced for the area. I share it on local community boards, but it started out as a project for myself to keep track of what's going on next door. Once setup it's easy to maintain. It also feeds my need to keep doing journalism.#
Drummer templates are easy to work with. I made a couple of minor changes to this template as a test and all went as expected. All I ever expect to do is make minor tweaks, so this should be easy.#
Only poodles in the building.#
Awesome Drummer: A resource list for all things Drummer.#
  • I was able to set up a reverse Proxy using AWS CloudFront. This is a pretty easy method for using a custom domain on a Drummer blog and doesn't require setting up a server. You will need an AWS account. Once setup go to AWS CloudFront and "Create a distribution." Below are the settings I used that varied from the default. Where you see "dailymiscellany.com" and "KenBooth" use your own domain name and Twitter handle.#
  • General Settings / Alternate Domain Name
  • General Settings / Custom SSL Certificate
    Follow the steps to “Request certificate.” You’ll need to have admin privileges on the domain you are trying to use. I used email verification.
  • Origins / Origin Domain
  • Origins / Protocol
    HTTP Only
  • Origins / Origin Path
  • Behaviors / Viewer Protocol Policy
    HTTP and HTTPS
  • Behaviors / Cache Policy and Origin Request Policy
  • Invalidations / Exclude
  • In Drummer under File/Edit OPML Headers I put
    urlBlogWebsite = www.dailymiscellany.com
  • For my DNS I entered a CNAME record for www.dailymiscellany.com pointing to my CloudFront distribution. I set up a URL redirect for the non-www version of the domain. #
whatsmydns.net is a handy DNS propagation checker.#
I have started documenting the settings to use CloudFront as a reverse proxy for an oldschool hosted site. I'll share them once I'm certain everything is working the way I want it to.#
I'm working on setting up a custom domain for this blog using AWS CloudFront. I'm most of the way there. Going to http://www.dailymiscellany.com will load the site and the directory structure is maintained. I have a problem where the URL redirect for the non-www version of the domain works in all browsers but Chrome.#
Please do not stand in line at the Post Office this holiday. Go to USPS.com and buy your labels with Click-N-Ship. When you get to the Post Office there will be a location where you can just drop your packages and leave. Or, better yet, use their website to schedule a pickup from your front porch. You can thank me later.#
The head of design at a newspaper where I once worked told me there are many right ways to do things. If you want something to be done differently, you need to ask yourself if you are trying to change it from a wrong way to a right way or if you're simply trying to change one right way to another right way. If the later, leave it alone.#
  • Traveling around Charleston and Mount Pleasant there are a lot of opportunities to pass by or over water, which always improves the mood.#
  • To look at the two-and-a-half mile long Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge you would think nobody would want to walk across such a massive structure. Yet there were dozens of people walking across on Saturday and now I want to do it. It's a nice looking bridge too. Bridges should always have pedestrian walkways included in their design.#
  • Historic Charleston is beautiful and makes me sad for what New Orleans could be with proper care.#
  • There are a lot of dining surprises in Charleston, from the flavorful dishes at Taste of the Islands Caribbean on Ashley River Road to the charming Sermet's Garden on Daniel Island serving Mediterranean dishes with a southern touch. It is easy to eat well in the city. There is also standout barbecue to be eaten.#
  • Charleston feels both smaller and larger than it is. Barring backups on the I-526 bridges, it's quick and easy to get around the metro area. Nothing seems to be more than about 20 minutes away. Yet downtown Charleston is quite dense with a lot of mid-rise apartments going up. Everything on the peninsula south of Mt. Pleasant Street has a very urban feel and the area around the hospital district feels very "big city."#
  • Lord Huron's new album Long Last feels both completely modern and like a soundtrack from a 1950s western. Mesmerizing.#
  • Snacktime!, the new LP by Japanese pop band Atarashii Gakko is addictively upbeat. Think The Go-Gos and The B-52's.#
  • I'm pretty sure I lost partial hearing at a Courtney Barnett set in 2015, but I won't hold that against her and I'm enjoying her new album Things Take Time, Take Time. Less driving-rock sound than her other releases.#
  • Lorde's Solar Power, released this summer. #
  • Dreamland by Glass Animals. A band I hope will be at next year's Bonnaroo.#
  • Valentine by Snail Mail.#
  • Adele's 30. I'm not sure exactly how much I'll listen to this, but I think it will be a good background album for the holidays.#
  • And finally, but not least, Raise the Roof by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.#
Austin Kleon has created a gratitude zine for Thanksgiving that you can print out. It's very clever. Watch this video to learn how to fold it. #
Forgive Kanye.#
Forgive Trump.#
Forgive Brandon.#
The new header image is of grain growing in a field in ‎⁨Phillipsburg⁩, ⁨Kansas⁩. May 21, 2021. Shot on iPhone in portrait mode.⁩#
Bonnaroo 2022 tickets go on sale Friday. I've attended every festival since 2013, but haven't been since 2019. The festival was scheduled twice for 2020 and canceled both times due to COVID-19. This year's festival was moved to September to give the pandemic time to run its course, only to be canceled due to flooding from Hurricane Ida. There was some concern the festival wouldn't return next year, so there is great excitement in the Bonnaroo community that the show will go on. #
The new EP by the Japanese, all-female pop band Atarashii Gakko! is a lot of fun. Tracks on SNACKTIME include the playful names "Pineapple Kryptonite," "Fantastico" and "Happy Hormones." This would be a great group to see performing live.#

© Daily Miscellany 2021

Last update: Thursday January 27, 2022; 10:00 AM EST.