Writer/editor/programmer on Mac, JavaScript, CSS, & Web geekery. See dori.com, b
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Who will play Trump in Clinton's prep debates?

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The Clinton campaign is currently wrestling with how to prepare for the first debate with Trump coming up at the end of September. Part of that challenge is picking a proper sparring partner for the mock debates.

It's one of the most uncomfortable and important jobs in Democratic politics: trying to embarrass the woman who could be the next president.

The person picked to be Hillary Clinton's sparring partner in her upcoming debate prep sessions is expected to confront her about the death of Vincent Foster, label her a rapist's enabler, and invoke the personally painful memories of Monica Lewinsky and Gennifer Flowers.

I've been thinking about this since the Republican convention and there's an obvious choice here: Stephen Colbert. Clinton needs to prepare to deftly counter energetically delivered nonsense, personal insults, and things no politician would ever say. Does that sound like the host of a certain Comedy Central show? Colbert's smart, quick, knows the issues, and, with his talent, could tweak his Colbert Report persona toward the Trumpesque. He wouldn't have a problem tearing Clinton down in person; he did the same thing to George W. Bush at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner. I bet he'd jump at the chance to do it too. Let's make this happen, America!

Tags: 2016 electionDonald TrumpHillary Clinton politicsStephen Colbert Stephen Colbertpolitics
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9 days ago
I've always thought that the obvious choice was Al Franken, personally.
Healdsburg, CA
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I’ve had a big secret. Now I’m sharing it.


This post will upset many of you. I am sorry about that. I’ve been ill for quite some time, but I haven’t talked about it. Brace yourself for the really bad news.

I’ve got cancer. It’s bad, and I’m not going to survive it.

Back in late January 2014 I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastasized renal cell carcinoma. It’s a return of my 2010 kidney cancer (which we thought was cured), but spread, and it is inoperable and terminal. It’s now spread to many areas of my body. I’m all too familiar with this, because my father died from same kind of cancer in 2013. Soon, I will follow him. How soon? It’s hard to say. Back when I was diagnosed, my doctor told me that I was likely to still be here in two years, but perhaps not in three.

In general, I haven’t gone public with this, though I told family, some friends, and colleagues when I had a chance to sit down with them at Macworld Expo 2014. I’ve kept things mostly under wraps because I didn’t want to publicly become Cancer Guy, because I’ve seen that happen to other people I know. Cancer is something I have; it does not define who I am.

Over the past 28 months, we’ve tried a variety of treatments, including radiation therapy and two very different kinds of drugs. I was never under the belief that these treatments would save my life. I was bargaining that they would extend my survival, and overall, they did. But in May 2015, I had to stop the first drug because of a complication. I wasn’t able to restart that drug until September, and three days after that, I had an unexpected allergic reaction to it which gave me a stroke.

That took a few months of recovery, and in February 2016, I tried a brand-new drug that actually offered some hope for a possible cure. Two weeks later, we learned that instead of eating the cancer, the drug turned on me and made my body begin to eat itself. Not a recommended response, so that avenue was done.

At that point, my oncologist said “It’s time to start talking about hospice care.” We met with the hospice nurse in March, and we came to the conclusion that although I’m an appropriate candidate for hospice, I’m not yet ready for it. But it’s definitely in my future, and it will provide me with some good services towards the end of my life.

Let’s Talk About Talking About Cancer

It’s difficult to discover that someone you’ve know for a long time is going to die, and relatively soon. I’ve had a lot more time to think about it than you have, so here’s some ideas.

Things To Say To Me When You Find Out That I’m Dying

This is almost certainly not an exhaustive list, but it seems to be the useful things that I’ve learned people can say. The most common feelings most people have expressed to me is that they feel overwhelmed and helpless. That’s totally normal. If you’re the kind of person who likes to control things or make them happen, add on “frustration” to that list. After more than two years, here’s what I’ve learned are good things to say:

  • Express your sorrow and surprise that this is happening to me and Dori.
  • Express your empathy. The situation really sucks.
  • If you feel moved to, offer help. Most people say something like “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.” You’re not obligated to say it. I won’t be offended if you don’t. But don’t be surprised if I accept your offer and ask you to do something. For example, a friend whom I know to be a brilliant social planner recently offered her beautiful home and planning services for a memorial celebration. I would have been a fool to say no, so I didn’t.
  • After I die, do anything you can to help Dori. She’s going to miss me a lot, and she’s going to need support.

Things Not to Say to Me When You Find out That I’m Dying

  • Please don’t ask me not to die. There really isn’t anything I can do about it. Believe me if there was, I would’ve been doing it for the past 28 months. In fact, I have been doing that for the past 28 months. I know that you don’t want me to die. I don’t want to die either. However asking me not to die is a frustrating request that I can’t fulfill, so it just makes us both sad.
  • Similarly, insisting that I can beat this cancer if I just have hope, or if I fight real hard is a crock of crap. I know you mean well, but this is really an expression of your own denial rather than a comment about me.
  • Since my diagnosis, I’ve been intermittently sending out an email newsletter. I’ve been publishing it approximately every three months, mainly so I didn’t have to make a zillion phone calls to family and close friends every time there was a medical development, and there have been a lot of them. If you are interested in reading these newsletters from the start, they are all available at this link on Dropbox. Feel free to subscribe if you’re interested in future details. If you have any problems using the links in the PDFs, let me know in the comments here and I’ll add a signup form to this blog.
  • If you suggest to me that everything will be better if I become a vegan/vegetarian/ignore Western medicine, or take some bullshit treatment that you read about on Facebook or the University of Google or Joe’s Magical Cancer Cure Site, Dori has volunteered to delete your comment with extreme prejudice and unfriend you for me on Facebook and/or Twitter. The same goes for other superstitions like astrology, homeopathy, drum circles, and rubbing blue mud in my navel. That’s because at this point my most precious commodity is time, and I simply don’t have the time to waste on stuff that isn’t proven to work. “Anecdotal evidence” is a term like “jumbo shrimp” or “military intelligence.” I have already tried all of the things that have been proven to work. I won’t waste my time grasping at straws based on Internet anecdotes. I realize this is going to hurt some people’s feelings. So it goes.
  • Along the same lines, I appreciate that your cousin/great aunt/friend of a friend had an amazing experience with cancer after they did blah blah blah, but please keep those experiences to yourself. I do not want to read about other people’s cancer stories. I have all the cancer stories I need. I made my own.

I Think Religion Deserves Its Own Category

I am an atheist. I do not believe in a loving God. I was born with spina bifida, which has made my life difficult and painful in ways that, were I to describe them all to you, you might think that I was exaggerating for effect. Yet this is my real life, and I have lived with it for longer than I have known you. If I were to believe in God, I would tend to think of Him as a malign, sadistic thug, because my childhood was a terrible torment of multiple surgeries and social alienation. Approximately every 10 years since, just when I think that I have a handle on everything spina bifida has done to me, something new and awful happens. Dying of cancer has nothing to do with being born with spina bifida, as far as we know. But it does kind of put the cherry on top of the cupcake.

Back to religion. I don’t have it, but you may. I ask this in the strongest possible terms: do not urge me to get right with God before I die. No matter what, you will only succeed in pissing me off. On the other hand, if you tell me that I am in your prayers, I’m totally cool with that. I’m not a believer in the power of prayer to beseech a God that I don’t believe exists. But oddly, I feel fine and comforted with the idea that other people care about me and are hoping for the best. If that’s as formalized as a prayer, that’s fine with me. If it’s a fleeting thought that you hope I’m having a good day, that’s also okay. But no matter what, I’m not going to get religion at this late date. Don’t try to sneak it in on me that way.

My Current Status

Most days, I’m mentally alert, and despite the stroke, I talk just fine. The stroke did slow down my reading speed, which I find really annoying. Also because of the stroke, I can’t drive the Mercedes I bought right after my diagnosis, which is frustrating to no end. I’m tired a lot of the time, and for now, I use a walker to get around, though I’m about to start some physical therapy in the hopes of getting back on my feet. I’ve also become very familiar with different kinds of powerful pain medication (it’s less fun than it sounds). For now, I’m still having more good days than bad.

I’m going to continue to talk about my cancer. If I have a lot to say, I’ll do it here on the blog and in my email newsletter (described above). Briefer comments will end up on Twitter and/or Facebook. If you have questions about my medical status, feel free to ask, though I reserve the right not to answer.

So that’s the news I’ve been holding on to for more than two years. I’m still Tom; I haven’t become just Cancer Guy. But now you all know I’m a guy who is going to die of cancer, and though we hope it won’t happen this year, it very well might. Wish me (and Dori) well in the comments.







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115 days ago
Healdsburg, CA
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It’s Our 16th Blogivarsary!

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Back in 1999, when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, Dori decidedly to create this newfangled thing called a “blog.” Frankly, I was skeptical.

“So you write stuff you want, on any subject at all, and random people come and read it?”

“Yeah, that’s the way it works,” she replied.

That didn’t sound quite right, but I decided “What the hell,” and joined Dori in building Backup Brain. I’m glad I did. Even now, in the age of social media that has taken the things I may have once written about in blog posts and distilled it into 140-character sound bites, I’m still happy to have a place where I can expound at length, especially for personal subjects.

Around the start of September, I had a series of seizures that left me with a stroke. You might not be able to tell by talking to me, but it’s impaired my reading and writing. I think this is the longest thing I’ve written since the stroke. It’s good to know I can still write; the thought that that ability could have been taken from me was terrifying. Because, if I am not a writer, then who am I? I’m happy to say I’m still here, 16 years and many setbacks later. Thanks to all of you who have read and enjoyed my stuff, and my love and gratitude to Dori for getting me into this.


The initial plan when I launched this blog was that it would primarily be for links, which I could then easily find and refer to later — hence its name.

Over time, the purpose and goals of blogging and blogs in general have evolved dramatically, and this one has not been immune to those changes. OTOH, that’s true of all teenagers, right?

But throughout all those changes, there’s been one — completely unexpected — result I truly appreciate, and that’s the people I’ve met as a result of blogging. I’m not going to call out names; there’s far too many, and I’m sure I’d forget several (if you’re reading this, you’re likely one of them).

That community of fellow bloggers, and later, commenters, are what I cherish most about this blog. That includes those of you I’ve only met virtually; back in ’99, it was considered bizarre to have friends you’d never met in person, and now, it’s common. But electronic or face to face, I deeply appreciate the friendship you’ve all shared with us over the years.

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295 days ago
Healdsburg, CA
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★ De Facto Veto Power


Thom Holwerda posted a link on OSNews to my comments about Apple effectively having veto power over new web technologies. He didn’t add much commentary, other than:

What could possibly go wrong.

I’ll save you a link hover — “wrong” links to Wikipedia’s entry on IE 6.

The comments on Holwerda’s piece are interesting, insofar as they convey the frustration of those who resent Apple’s position.

It has nagged me ever since the “Safari Is the New IE” debate erupted a few months ago that there’s a simple, succinct, counterargument. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Reading Holwerda’s post yesterday, it popped into my head. The difference is that IE 6, at its peak, wasn’t just so popular that it allowed Microsoft to unduly influence the direction of the web — IE 6 was so popular that it allowed Microsoft to define the web. It was as though IE 6 was the web. When banking sites required ActiveX plugins, they were making websites that only worked in Internet Explorer, only on Windows. In the eyes of many web developers and publishers, it was the one and only browser that mattered.

The web today is nothing like that. No single browser (or rendering engine) has an overwhelmingly dominant position. Four browsers/rendering engines share the world: Microsoft’s IE/Trident (and now the modernized Windows 10 browser, Edge), IE/Trident, Mozilla’s Gecko, Apple’s Safari/WebKit, and Google’s Chrome/Blink. In a world where one rendering engine does not rule the entire web, conflicts between the various popular engines are inevitable.

There are a lot of nerds — and I use that term affectionately, not pejoratively — for whom politics of any sort are just anathema. Government, office, standards body — any sort of politics. Politics are often illogical, and often unfair. Nerds like logic and fairness. Because of this willful political blindness, my main point regarding Apple’s veto power over web browser technologies is missed by some. It isn’t whether it is right or wrong, fair or unfair, that they have this power, or whether Apple’s strategy is the correct one. It’s simply to point out that they have this veto power. And so do Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla — Apple isn’t any more powerful than the others. (Except Mozilla, which I’d argue is the least powerful of the big four rendering engine makers — see below.) What makes Apple and Safari stand out isn’t that they have more influence. It’s that Apple’s interests have diverged from those of a certain segment of the web development community — the segment interested in making mobile web apps more like native apps.

WebKit’s contrary priorities are not the result of disinterest in the web; they are the result of differing interest in the web.

As for how Apple can simply do what it wants, consider the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council: the United States, United Kingdom, France, China, and Russia. They each have veto power over any resolution. Critics complain that this veto power is undemocratic. Of course it is! These are the countries that won World War II and are officially recognized as nuclear-weapon states. Democratically, it isn’t fair that each member gets veto power. But a nuclear weapon arsenal gives each country geopolitical influence that cannot be denied or ignored. Might makes right. Whether that is how it ought to be doesn’t matter. That’s how it is.

There is no official “Web Standards Security Council”, but web browsing market share creates a de facto one. Apple (or Google, or Microsoft, or Mozilla) can’t single-handedly veto a new API from becoming an official W3C standard, but if any one of them decide not to implement it, it can’t be relied upon by web developers. The real web is not that which is defined by the W3C as a standard,1 but that which is implemented in a consistent manner across WebKit, Blink, Trident, and Gecko. The secret to the web’s wonderful success is that it’s a (nearly) universal meta-platform; that which is not implemented on a major platform, like, say, iOS, is by definition not universal.

The web community cannot compell any of these browser engine makers to implement a standard. Nothing the community does will make Apple, Microsoft, or Google act against their own self interests. Mozilla is a little different — they are of the web community. They control no popular device platform on which Mozilla is the factory-installed default browser. But in that same way, the other companies could not force Mozilla to accept the patent-encumbered H.264 standard for HTML 5 video. Mozilla stood its ground, on principle — effectively exercising its own de facto veto power. Years later they changed their mind in the face of overwhelming demand and the failure of WebM to catch on. (They should have seen supporting H.264 as inevitable as far back as 2010, but it was their prerogative to remain blinded by political high-mindedness in the name of “openness”.) The same will happen with any web technologies that Apple is slow to adopt. If such standards become popular in Chrome, IE, and Mozilla — popular in a way that it becomes obvious that iOS users are missing on something everyone else is enjoying — Apple will be forced to relent, because it will be obvious that it’s in their own self-interest to do so. And if these web technologies don’t catch on, and pressure from real-world widespread usage doesn’t weigh upon Apple, there’s nothing the web developer community can do about it.

I’m not saying that’s good or bad. It just is how it is.

  1. If that were the case, we’d all be generating XHTML 2.x markup, and HTML 5 — which is what we’re all actually generating — wouldn’t even exist. ↩︎

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344 days ago
My actual long-time opinion is that Apple is in the business of making and selling consumer hardware. That's not Google's business model, or at least not 99% of it.

In order to see Apple as being fundamentally anti-Google, you have to have a very skewed idea of one (or both) of the company's business goals. Or always immediately assume that Apple is morally suspect, which I've found to be the usual case.
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4 public comments
344 days ago
"...the failure of WebM to catch on..."

Which had absolutely nothing to do with Apple's refusal to support WebM, of course.
344 days ago
The point is, Gruber is explicitly not making any moral argument. He is only laying out the state of the world. When others try to turn that opinion of "veto" into a, "Apple has veto; veto is bad; therefore, Apple is bad," argument, the same argument applies to all major browsers.

As for all this harping on "attacking Google business model!" Even if that point is granted, so what? That is how business works. I could also say that Android was/is an attack on Apple's mobile business. Doesn't make Android inherently bad or good, it's just competition. Nobody has a right to a business model free of change. Google adapts, Apple adapts, the market adapts.
344 days ago
But don't you know? If Apple does something, it is, by definition, morally bad. Likewise—as is the case here—if Apple doesn't do something, it is, by definition, morally bad. Google = "not evil"; therefore, "not Google" = evil.
344 days ago
The "it is, what it is" argument is my least favorite argument anyone can make.
344 days ago
Yes, let's hear it for standards non-compliance in support of Apple's business objectives, which basically involve an attack on Google's revenue model. AOL, the dream continues.
344 days ago
Otherwise known as "competition".

The long legacy of a short life


The Rosses were expecting twins but learned that one of the two, Thomas, wouldn't live much past birth. They decided to donate Thomas's body to science. And then, they decided to investigate just what it was they had given and how it had helped others. Great piece by Radiolab.

See also this piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The next day, Gray met James Zieske, the institute's senior scientist, who told her "infant eyes are worth their weight in gold," because, being so young, they have great regenerative properties. Thomas' corneas were used in a study that could one day help cure corneal blindness.

Thirteen more studies had cited that study. Gray felt a new emotion: pride.

Tags: audio   death   medicine   Radiolab
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380 days ago
Great piece and amazing story, but there's one typo: the family name is Gray, not Ross (that's the father's name).
Healdsburg, CA
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1 public comment
380 days ago
this is a great listen

Book Report, 2014.

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My annual list of the best books I read this year:

Non-fiction, Biography: 


 Hardcore Troubadour: The Life and Near Death of Steve Earle by Lauren St John. Born in rural Texas, Earle dropped out of school after the eighth grade and was living on his own by 16. By the time he was 30 he had become a hardcore crack and heroin addict, ruined his relationship with everyone who cared for him—and made brilliant albums that blended bluegrass, country, folk, and rock into something new. St John was given unlimited access to Earle, his friends and his family, including his five wives (as of 2003 when this book was published. He’s had a few more marriages since then.). This is a fascinating, well-written biography of a great American songwriter. By the way, the author quotes Emmylou Harris as calling this “the saddest song in the world”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nb2JmcBuEo&list=RDOcus-K7BtSY&index=3&spfreload=10

Queen of the Air: A True Story of Love and Tragedy at the Circus by Dean Jensen. Trapeze artist Leitzel was the most famous woman in the world at the turn of the 20th century. Alfredo Codona was the world’s greatest trapeze flyer (who could do “The Triple”—three somersaults in midair at 60mph). This is their story. Hat tip: Joan Goldsmith.

Lighting Out for the Territory: How Samuel Clemens Headed West and Became Mark Twain by Roy Morris, Jr. “He had come west as Sam Clemens, out-of-work riverboat pilot and Confederate Army deserter. He returned east as Mark Twain—increasingly renowned journalist, lecturer, and short story writer.”
Non-fiction, History/Politics:

My Promised Land by Ari Shavit. I have always been deeply conflicted about Israel. Certainly Jews deserve a homeland after surviving the Holocaust. And yes, Israelis have transformed the desert into a dynamic, thriving modern democracy in a very hostile neighborhood. Yet the state of Israel survives through ruthless tactics and is responsible for many sordid episodes in its past. Shavit, a columnist for the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz, has written a history of the country’s ethical struggle since its independence. I found it to be well-balanced, informative, and helpful in understanding this complicated country.

Stalingrad by Antony Beevor. Hitler’s ill-conceived invasion of Russia was based on his belief that Russia would fall as quickly as France and Poland. Instead, this two-year bloody battle of attrition (1942-1943) became the turning point of the war, weakening the Germans so they could not resist the Allied invasion in 1944. Consider the cost: At Stalingrad the USSR suffered more than a million casualties (including a half-million dead) and the Axis powers suffered 850,000 casualties. Beevor’s readable history delivers the big picture of the battle as well as intimate stories of the human suffering on both sides, both military and civilian.

Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific by Robert D. Kaplan. Despite the current headlines about the Middle East, Ukraine, North Korea, and Russia, Kaplan argues that the geopolitics of the South China Sea will become the flashpoint for future international power struggles. Thoughtful and somewhat alarming.

Non-fiction, Media/Business: 

Writing on the Wall: Social Media—The First 2,000 Years by Tom Standage. Social networking isn’t new, says Standage, who is digital editor at The Economist. The one-to-many mass media of the 20th century was an aberration—in the past, person-to-person connections were common, like the graffiti on a wall at Pompeii that reads like a Facebook news feed, Roman newspapers annotated with reader comments, shared journals of the Tudor era, coffee houses as social connectors, and the close-knit wired community of telegraph operators.

Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by Victor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier. In the world of Big Data it doesn’t matter why something is happening, only that it is happening. For example, WalMart discovered through data mining that when hurricanes were predicted, their Pop Tart sales increased. They then adjusted their inventory based on that obscure fact. Takeaway: The ability to collect and analyze vast amounts of information is transforming everything by finding correlations that enable accurate predictions of future behavior. 

Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff. The Internet (mobile, texting, streaming media, location-based services, etc.) has caused everyone to focus primarily on the immediate moment. Past and future have become less important than staying current with what is happening right now. This new “presentism” affects our politics, our relationships, our business, and our careers.

Non-fiction, General: 

How Music Works by David Byrne. I loved this book. It delivers exactly what the title promises, from the way the architecture of musical venues influences instrumental arrangements, to how the brain perceives sounds, to a look behind the scenes of today’s music business, to the history of American and non-western music, and more. Hat tip: Joan Goldsmith

The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton. The world’s best thinkers become practical advisors for today’s emotional problems: Help for unpopularity from Socrates, for not having enough money from Epicurus, for frustration from Seneca, for inadequacy from Montaigne, and for a broken heart from Schopenhauer. Much wise. Much humor.

The Table Comes First: Family, France and the Meaning of Food by Adam Gopnik. The history, philosophy, and meaning of food; the history of restaurants, the origin of the cookbook, slow food, understanding wine reviews, and charming insights into the national character of the French. For anyone who likes to eat and think.

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherje. I don’t know anyone whose life has not been touched by cancer, either personally or through a friend or family member. This is an eloquent history of the science behind the fight against this disease. Mukherjee, a practicing oncologist, also illuminates the complicated relationship between doctors and patients and some of the ethical issues that arise during treatment. 

Distrust That Particular Flavor by William Gibson. A collection of essays and journalism on modern culture by the science fiction writer who coined the term, “cyberspace.” He believes all cultural change is essentially technologically driven.

Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death by Joan Halifax. Halifax is a Buddhist teacher who has worked with the dying for more than 30 years. Clear-eyed. Practical. And inspiring.


Beware of God by Shalom Auslander. Dark and funny irreverent parables about sex, money, God, shame, and death. My favorite book of the year.

Canada by Richard Ford. Here is how this novel begins: “First I'll tell you about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later. The robbery is the more important part, since it served to set my and my sister's lives on the courses they eventually followed.” Beautifully crafted, carefully observed, powerful and haunting. Unlike some literary fiction, Canada kept me turning the pages until the very end. Important Note: This book is not about Canada.

Forty Stories by Anton Chekhov. Portraits of the Russian character (often drunk), and the Russian landscape (Crimea to Siberia), written with, well, Chekhovian ironic detachment: Stuffy government officials, secret love affairs, the last days in the life of a Bishop.

Bangkok Tattoo by John Burdett. Much like Agatha Christie did for the archetypical English village, Burdett creates an entire world for his detective hero to inhabit—in this thriller, it’s Bangkok’s seamy and corrupt underworld. Not for the squeamish.

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. Every year I try to read a classic novel that I missed in high school or college. First published in 1726, this is a brutal satire of politics, religion, science, gender, the possibilities of progress, and just about everything else. Slow going in parts and some of the references are obscure, but overall the book is amazingly relevant to today’s world.

The Afghan Campaign by Steven Pressfield. A young Greek joins the Persian army of Alexander the Great on its way to conquer India. But first, Alexander must conquer Afghanistan, whose army uses unconventional (and horrific) tactics in battle. Unputdownable.

The Devil’s Company by David Liss. A historical novel set in London in 1722. A private investigator (called a “thieftaker”) is tricked into an adventure filled with intrigue and high stakes. Twists and turns and a deeply satisfying ending. 

The Continental Op by Dashiell Hammett. On a back shelf in my library I found a 1975 paperback ($1.95!) of Hammett’s early stories. I’m glad I did. The Op (unnamed, overweight, cynical, and tough as shoe leather) became the foundation for Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, and the entire genre of hard-boiled detectives. Razor sharp writing here—not a single word is wasted. 

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. Love and obsession, lust and oppression, a world where the erotic and political blend together. This 1984 novel, written and set during the Cold War, is actually a book of philosophy that asks whether or not our actions have significance in the world. 

Lock In by John Scalzi. In the future, a terrible disease has resulted in extremely advanced technology. Human nature being what it is, this doesn’t go smoothly. A science fiction crime thriller that is a great ride. Hat tip: Tom Negrino.

The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck. A man whose family lost their fortune is reduced to working in a small grocery store he once owned. He is caught between following his moral code and providing a better life for those he loves. Steinbeck wrote this short novel in 1961, a year before he won the Nobel prize for literature. Highly recommended.

Pro Tip: For long flights or insomnia you can’t do better than to pick up one of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher mysteries. They’re all terrific reads—well plotted and full of surprises. I buy ‘em by the armful at our local library’s used book sale.
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608 days ago
Healdsburg, CA
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