WBH Weekly Digest 2024-02-09: Tempus Fugit

WBH Weekly Digest 2024-02-09: Tempus Fugit

I've got a raft of reviews in draft, but nothing ready for publication yet. We've been slowly working through everyone in the house getting sick and snow days from the big storm that blew in from the Pacific.

Marlene Dietrich’s War on Nature | John Byron Kuhner
Marlene Dietrich’s life is a parable about growing old and being famous.

First Things: Marlene Dietrich's War on Nature

This was unbelievably sad. Kuhner uses Marlene Dietrich's 1930 role in Morocco as a synecdoche of a life lived in rejection of the motto tempus fugit, memento mori.

John Walker, founded of AutoCAD has died. RIP.

Many, many years ago, I started following John's Reading List, which is where I got the idea for my own reading log. I ended up going in a different direction with my own reviews and criticism, preferring a much longer format than John used, but John Walker had a part to play in shaping my choices.

Bukele’s War for Peace
How El Salvador fought the gangs and won

Until I read this, I hadn't been aware that when Bukele was first elected, his opponents conspired with the El Salvadorian Supreme Court to try and block him from the ballot.

I love that things like this can be hiding in plain sight for millennia. Vergil "signed" his most famous work, the Aeneid, in the same way a snarky undergrad might. Credit to Cristiano Castelletti.

Public Domain Review: Eugène-François Vidocq and the Birth of the Detective

Not the origin of the detective story per se, but the detectives themselves

According to his memoirs, Eugène-François Vidocq escaped from more than twenty prisons (sometimes dressed as a nun). Working on the other side of the law, he apprehended some 4000 criminals with a team of plainclothes agents. He founded the first criminal investigation bureau — staffed mainly with convicts — and, when he was later fired, the first private detective agency. He was one the fathers of modern criminology and had a rap sheet longer than his very tall tales. Who was Vidocq? Daisy Sainsbury investigates.

The Long View: The Seafort Saga

David Feintuch's Seafort Saga is on sale at Amazon, the Open Road Media ebook editions that combine multiple volumes.

Nine years ago, I said I probably wouldn't come back to these stories, but I think about them fairly often, so apparently that wasn't really true. While I certainly won't claim these are the most amazing stories ever written, they are entertaining, and seem to give me something to think about even years later.

Seafort Saga 1-3
Seafort Saga 4-7

Gizmondo: Larry Ellison's Oracle Started as a CIA Project

The secret history of Silicon Valley is never so secret.

Steve Blank's Secret History of Silicon Valley is my primary source here.

Scott Locklin: Yet another bookpoast early 2024 edition

I enjoy Locklin's dyspeptic commentary on the world. I largely agree with Locklin's diagnosis of the ills of contemporary science: too many of the wrong people. My rule of thumb is that 90% of published research is either wrong or useless or both. Most of it should have never have happened.

You can of course find diamonds in the rough. I've certainly been able to sometimes find exactly what I need to do something practical. But I think panning for gold probably has a higher rate of finding something good.

Open Road Media is also running a sale on Tim Zahn's Quadrail series. I really enjoyed this series, even though it's premise is too ridiculous to believe. If you are a hard sci-fi purist, the idea of a train connecting the stars is probably off-putting. But if you can simply accept that the idea is fun, then The Orient Express in a futuristic setting is awesome.

Quadrail 1-3
Quadrail 4-5