Sunday, February 07, 2021


I finished reading a book a couple nights ago, I figured I had enough (4) to blog. I was surprised to see that the last time I blogged on books read was Dec 5. So only 4 books in just over 2 months? Where does the time go?

Well, lately, I sleep til 8-9am, out walking/biking by 10-11. Generally 2ish is the earliest that I am finished with the morning walk/bike ride, chores, showering, and lunching. I was up to practicing guitar & singing 3-4 hours a day. Some reading. I've started doing crossword puzzles again. If I'm cooking, I generally start 6-6:30. After supper, more reading, then lately 2-3 hours of TV/movies. starting 10ish. Finished bingeing "Lucifer" - surprisingly fun, although at times as trite as you would expect of a multi-year series. Then binged the end of "Vikings". Next up "The Expanse".

I've decided I'm only going to binge things. I still have 1/2 a season of "Peter Gunn" to watch and harvest jazz standards from. But Amazon has decided to start charging me $0.99/episode, which seems like too much for 1/2 hour episodes. Oh well, only like 15 to go, when I'm done working up the 60-70 songs currently in the queue and need more I'll cough up the dough.

I had an abfab couple of weeks Jan 16-29: my youngest daughter visited me here in Naples, FL with her husband and 3 sons aged 6, 3, and 1 YO. They were going to stay a week, I told them early on they could stay as long as they wanted, so they stayed an extra week. Her husband worked remote Mon-Fri, and the 6 YO did remote classwork Mon-Fri. They went to the beach 4x, the IslandWalk pool 3x, Vineyards Community Park splash park 2x, a nice walk in a rookery (alligators!), and on their last day the very nice little Naples zoo (more alligators! - and dozens of Lego animals?!?!?).

It was great getting to cook 9 days in a row. Normally I cook 2 nights in a row, 4 servings a night (or sometimes only 2 of protein), so I then eat (alternating) leftovers for the next 6 days. Their last night in Naples we ordered out for pizza; the 2 nights before that my son-in-law acquited himself most excellently in the kitchen, making fish tacos the 1st night and chicken kabobs with homemade tzatziki sauce the 2nd night.

My daughter (and her sons) worked a 300 piece jigsaw puzzle, and she started a 1000 piecer, and left it for me. So I've been spending some time on that too.

Well, not like it really matters. I am in my 9th year of being gloriously and happily retired, FTW!

1st book read: "Fleet Elements", by Walter Jon Williams, 2020, 454 pages, 123k words. The 2nd book in the 2nd trilogy in the Praxis meta-series, which also includes 2-3 short stories. Williams' writing is like an old friend to me. Good space battles, I guess. More plot regarding our star-crossed lovers. Slightly annoying cliff-hanger ending.

2nd book read: "Machine", by Elizabeth Bear, 2020, 495 pages. The 2nd book in her new "White Space" series. I was really psyched by the 1st book in this series, which seemed to have appointed itself the successor to Iain Banks' Culture series. So I was excited to get this 1. I don't think it is as good as the 1st, but still a page-turner. Characters include humans, aliens, and AIs, what's not to like?

3rd book read: "Perfidia", by James Ellroy, 2014, 705 pages, 204k words. This is the 1st book of "The Second L.A. Quartet" by Ellroy. I read several of his books decades ago, and have watched "L.A. Confidential" a few times. I think I got the 2nd book of the new quartet ("This Storm") on sale at Bookbub, and bought this 1 when I realized this fact. Ellroy considers himself the king of True Crime, there's plenty of that. The book starts the day before Pearl Harbor, after which things get pretty crazy in L.A. Most of the characters are cops or informants. Everyone stops sleeping, instead working all the time, doing drugs, and having sex with movie stars. I really wondered about that. Are Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in the public domain? Don't they have descendants or estates who might take exception to their being protrayed as lascivious individuals? Somewhat off-putting to me. I think I'm kind of over this genre, I think it will be a while before I read the 2nd one.

4th book read: "Some of the Best of 2020 Edition", various authors, 2020, 789 pages, 214k words. Tor publishes new stories online, a few a month, and at the end of the year creates a compilation of the best 30 or so stories and publishes them as a free eBook - yay! Generally a pretty good collection, and this year is no exception. This year's collection seems to skew heavily towards fantasy and horror, with very little science fiction. The collection was not as totally dominated by LGBTQA stories as I expected.

I totally forgot to clear the magazine stack in January, so I need to get that and February next.

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

100 Videos

As I described in this blog post, on September 27, 2020, I started posting 1 song/day to YouTube. I tagged them and tweeted them as #SongOfTheDay.

As of Monday, January 4, 2021, I had posted a song for 100 straight days! Time for a break I think.

80 jazz standards were posted to the Jaz Dumoz account:

Currently 108 songs in my OnSong "Standards" book. Another 55 or so still in the list to be added. Still 2/3 of the final season of "Peter Gunn" to harvest. Wow, season 3/3, they got rid of "Mother's" and Edie Hart, Pete's girlfriend, has her own club "Edie's".

The Jim Dumas account currently has 20 songs:

In late November I was running low on standards, so I added #BluesTuesday and posted a bluesy song to this channel on Tuesdays to pad things out.

From December 20 to Jan 2, I posted 14 holiday songs. Something that impressed me when I 1st met Ricky Howard, David Johnson, and some of the other professional musicians I get to play with in Naples FL was that when the holidays rolled around, they all had holiday songs. So I decided I'd be professional and add some too. No hymns. For #BluesTuesday, I did "Blue Christmas" and "Please Come Home For Christmas". For #SomethingNewerSaturday, I did "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" and "Jingle Bell Rock". These songs have both been covered by enough people to be considered standards, but I decided that any song with "rock" in the name was not a standard.

The 1st holiday song I worked up was "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". The 3rd verse starts:

Through the years we all will be together,
If the Fates allow.
Well, Fates allowed pretty much 0 this year. No family whatsoever for the holidays. My wife was unable to get off work & come to Florida for the 1st time in 11 years. I took me several tries before I could make it through that 3rd verse without tearing up.

As usual, this is way too many songs to work with. For a 3 hour gig, the most of these I could imagine using is 60. If I use the looper more and put some solos in, that goes down to 40-50. So I'm going to start creating some set lists of the ones I think would work best. But, I'll keep adding songs in case of requests, and also because I always get tired of playing the same stuff.

Here's some of my favs so far.

I have to put this one as #1, because my wife was home when I was working it up, and whenever I sang "Go on and kiss her, go on and kiss her", she would come in and lay a big ol' kiss on me. I'm thinking "Finally! That's how music is supposed to work!".

These 2 songs were off of Julie London's 1955 debut album. "Julie Is Her Name", with Barney Kessel on guitar & an upright bass player. That is a great album, I think I've gifted it to 3-4 people. These were the hardest songs I did, as I tried to get all of Barney's licks.

Barney did a similar album with Sarah Vaughan, "Sarah + 2" in 1962. I worked up Barney's licks on this next song from that album, but wound up mostly doing the arrangement by my teacher, the most excellent jazz guitarist Ricky Howard. What a pretty song!

A few weeks ago I realized I needed to start doing more of the Fats Waller songs that I have loved for 50 years. In college, the 2nd band I played in "Blue Eyed Boy Mr. Death" was led by Delbert Lionel Hilgartner III ("Del") who sang most of the leads and played organ (Hammond B3 with a Lesley) and tambourine. He turned me on to Fats. I bought these 3 albums then.

I've started to seriously harvest these tunes, targetting 1/week. I have posted 5 Fats tunes so far, 2 more in process. Here's the Fats playlist. Here's 1 of his many happy, upbeat songs. My wife described them as playful, I agree.

Here's video #100. Nice, this is a fav!

On the other channel, this was the most popular song. I tweeted thanks to David Crosby for writing it, maybe that gave it a boost - all the way up to 40 views (LOL)!

Note, the intonation problems seem to come and go. If I pay more attention to it I do better. So that means I need to make sure I have the guitar parts down cold so I have the bandwidth to pay attention to the vocal intonation.

Saturday, December 05, 2020

4 + 2

1st up, "The Eden Tetrology" recommended to me by my son:
  1. "The Eden Paradox", 2011, 392 pages.
  2. "Eden's Trial", 2012, 318 pages.
  3. "Eden's Revenge", 2013, 285 pages.
  4. "Eden's Endgame", 2014, 368 pages.
Note, 1 of the 4 was not available on Kobo, so I bought "The Complete Series" on Amazon.

This was a fun read. My son said it reminded him of Herbert, i.e. evolution, I didn't get that much. It is a tale that escalates nicely, from involving just Earth to a full galactic civilization. I was not particularly pleased that the civilization was strongly heirarchical - 19 levels, with humans on level 3. Going up the levels is mostly about increased processing speed. The cast of characters is varied and strong.

Next up, "Fire & Blood", by George R. R. Martin, 2020, 971 pages, 264k words. Set 300 years before Game of Thrones, this book covers the Targaryen conquest of Westeros with dragons and the 1st 100-200 years of their rule. Guess what? Succession problems. Civil war. Dragons fighting dragons. Having read and watched all of Game of Thrones, I guess I had to read this. But, I found it annoying everytime he refered to "the smallfolk" - commoners, as opposed to feudal lords. I want to read novels that don't glorify feudalism. Feudalism is too much of a strange attractor for how to organize human civilization as is.

This wasn't particularly "Game of Thrones"-y - no really unexpected (mass) murders, etc. More of a history book feel. My son referred to it as "The Silmarillion for GOT". It's not nearly that bad.

It looks like there's going to be 1 more of these.

Finally, "Dead Lies Dreaming", Charles Stross, 2020, 409 pages, 111k words. Set in the current universe and chronology of the earlier Laundry Files novels, this 1 features a completely different cast of characters. Charlie is definitely keeping himself current - all the characters were some flavor of LGBTQA... some of them I was never sure which. Maybe that's the point. The story centers around a quest through time to retrieve a mystical book of great power. The plotting was good I guess. I'm back to thinking that Charlie is burned out on this series - this is book #10. I'll keep reading them, but I wish he'd go back to writing about bright shiny futures with things like cornucopia machines.

Still 80 unread books on my iPad - oops. #SongOfTheDay is eating into my reading time, like everything else. Well, maybe we'll have a vaccine soon & I can get out and play music in public & quit obsessively working up new songs.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Music In Is In Disarray

Last "music in" post was in June, when I was home in Lexington, KY for 10 days. Then I went back to Naples, FL until September 10.

My music collection, currently 21,509 tracks, lives on my PC in Lexington, administered by iTunes. New music stays in the _unrated smart playlist, which is my default home listening, until I have heard it enough to rate it. This can only happen in Lexington. So my prolonged stay in Naples this year has messed that up.

Plus, I think I am encountering Yet Another Case of "hey, we have a new business model, we're no longer particularly supporting how things used to work." Apple, Amazon, etc, all want you use their subscription streaming music services - something which I have no interest in doing. Amazon used to send me weekly emails of music suggestions. No more. Not even when an artist whose stuff I have purchased from them releases new material. No, they want me to buy a subscription to Prime Music or whatever.

But, I've really enjoyed curating my own music collection. I don't think I'm quite ready to give that up yet. It sure is annoying that this is what they are trying to make me do.

Also, I purchased a 2TB USB drive for $60. I formatted it 1/4 for my MacBook to use TimeMachine backups, the rest accessible by PC or max (exFAT). I have moved all the music there. Tomorrow, going to try to see if the metadata from my PC can be copied to the MacBook, after which I would set it to reference the music from the USB drive, to where both systems could work off the USB drive. Not hopeful at all that this might work. They so much all are gradually letting interoperability lapse and focusing on playing solely in their own sandboxes. Assholes ...

The only one helping out is Bandcamp. They put out an email every Friday with 5 new albums for my perusal. I have gotten some good music from them - they're like the main source of new stuff at this point - but, maybe 30% of the time, the music is below what I would consider professionally produced. Not that big a deal I guess, they still have good stuff.

Which reminds me, I am really cutting back on birding. My eyesight is not as good, and I really have trouble learning birdsongs. I have theorized that our brains have only so much plastic audio-processing neurons, and mine have been taken over by music-processing - so there is no hardware left for processing birdsongs. I could do a poll on Twitter, "Are you both a musician and a birder able to recognize lots of birdsongs?" - but my last Twitter poll got 2 votes. I'm not sure exactly why I'm such a non-entity on social media. I think I'm really smart, interesting, and insightful. But, I guess, OK boomer. 69 YO pretty old for social media. Despite the pressing need for it, I try to make sure and not mansplain - I'm sure the yunguns aren't up for that.

Well, let's try to process some of this music. The oldest stuff is from June, I don't remember much of it at this point ...

  • EOB, "Earth", 2020, 9 tracks. EOB is Ed O'Brien, a member of Radiohead. This is his 1st solo album. Several of the tracks kind of sound like Radiohead, the rest don't. A good effort, 4 stars. Here's "Banksters".

  • Fiona Apple, "Fetch The Bolt Cutters", 2020, 13 tracks. Ms. Apple is genuine. Ms. Apple is writing from her heart. Ms. Apple has 0 fucks to give. You gotta respect that. 4 stars. Ha ha, I love this lyric: "Kick me under the table all you want. I won't shut up. I won't shut up". Right on, Fiona!

  • Superorder, "Excellent Systems", 2020, 12 tracks. This is a duo featuring a keyboard/synthesizer player and my nephew, most excellent drummer out of Portland, ME, Max Heinz, on drums & percussion. Very listenable, but not quite hooky enough, so 3 stars.
  • School of Language, "I Could Have Loved U Better", 2020, 5 tracks. I continue to like this band's work. These tracks have more of an 80's disco/techno feel. 4 stars. Ah, here's a nice track. Nice rich chords. "Call U Up".

  • RJD2, "The Fun Ones", 2020, 14 tracks. My daughter Erica introduced me via CD to RJD2 in 2002, his "Deadringer" album. Wow, I only gave that 2 stars - just upgraded to 3. Also changed from "Rap/Hip Hop" to "Electronica/Dance". Nice listenable stuff, plus, you can dance to it! 3 stars.
  • Joey Guilones, "The World I Know", 2020, 2 tracks. Definitely Bandcamp. Nice neo-motown, 4 stars. Here's "Left With A Broken Heart".

  • Coco Montoya, "Coming In Hot", 2019, 11 tracks. Someone (Greg Stone?) told me, you have to work up "Good Man Gone". So I got the album & worked that song up. Overall, the album is not bad, a blues album with not everything 1 4 5. 3 stars. I did work up "Good Man Gone", I think it will be a fun song to perform. I like this line: "If your phone don't ring, then you know it's me." LOL!
    Coco did journeyman's work, playing with Albert Collins, and then John Mayhall's Bluesbreakers for 10 years starting in the early 1980's.

  • Nubiyan Twist, "24-7"+, 2020, 2 tracks. Really tasty Brit neo-Motown? Neo-techno? Neo-??? 4 stars. Here's 24-7.

  • Moodyman, "TAKEN AWAY | KDJ-49", 2020, 10 tracks, Bandcamp. Very tasty, more Brit neo-Motown or whatever. 4 stars. Here's "Do Wrong", seriously channeling some Al Greene.

  • NIIKA, "Close But Not Too Close", 2020, 9 tracks, Bandcamp. Very nice alternative tracks from Oz. Close, but 4 stars. Here's the last track, "For The Key".

  • Norah Jones, "Begin Again", 2019, 7 tracks. This is what I mean. I have all of Ms. Jones' music, but she releases a new album last year and nobody tells me! Grrr! 4 stars. Here's the 1st track, "Just A Little Bit".

  • Norah Jones, "Pick Me Up Off The Floor", 2020, 12 tracks. Purchased at the same time as the previous album. Grrr. This album has tracks "I'm Alive", "To Live", and "This Life" consecutively. A theme maybe? Life? 4 stars. Here's "This Life".

  • Andrew Bird, 2020, "Panthology Songs I", 6 tracks; "Panthology Songs II", 6 tracks; "Panthology Songs III", 6 tracks. Our 1st pandemic music! Yay? Groan? I think this is mostly rereleases of older material, something to do while hunkered down. Bird has (obviously) chosen some of his best stuff, and that is some seriously good stuff. So I will give them all 4 stars, but not include a video. I guess the precedent is, I don't post a video for rereleased material.
  • St. Paul & The Broken Bones, "Live From Wichita", 2020, 16 tracks. 8 piece white R&B band out of Birmingham AL. 2 horns. Live performance. Not a bad band - I'd enjoy playing in it - but I got tired of it. Maybe needed fewer tracks. 3 stars.
  • Rough Trade Publishing/Bank Robber Music, "Talk - Action = Zero: A Compilation Benefitting Black Lives Matter", 2020, 100 tracks! 100 tracks! So this was put together as a fund raiser for BLM. I always pay a minimum of $1/track, so I paid Bandcamp $100 for this album. Well worth it, a great compilation of styles and tunes. Weird, only about 60 would import into iTunes?!?!? I'm presuming problems with unpopular characters in the song names. That's OK, I can listen to the whole thing in the Bandcamp app on my phone, and the app will bluetooth into my car, FTW!. This is a very good compilation, nothing obviously bad or obnoxious. But, due to the size, 3 stars. I got an email, their target was $30,000 to support BLM, they made their goal, FTW!
    Maybe a month later they came out with Volume 2, another 60 tracks. I presume I gave them another $60. This one did even worse with iTunes, it only liked 9 tracks.
  • Julie London, "Julie Is Her Name", 1955, 13 tracks. What a great album! I found it thanks to Edie performing "Easy Street" on Peter Gunn. This was Ms. London's 1st album - she put out about 4/year for the next 10 years after this. Backed solely by Barney Kessel on guitar and Roy Leatherwood on upright bass. Both Ricky Howard my guitar teacher and internationally renowned guitarist the inimitable Ben Lacy said that they are big fans of Barney. 4 stars, 5 for "Cry Me A River", which is really fun to perform. Here's that track and "Easy Street".

    Oh, and, bonus! Here's me doing those 2 songs. "Cry Me A River" I transposed from G down to E to sing it. A few of the chord voicings changed, I think for the better, FTW! "Easy Street" I could sing in her key.

  • Sarah Vaughan, "Sarah Plus Two", 1962, 11 tracks. Ricky Howard told me about this album. Following Julie London's lead in 1955, this album features Sarah backed solely by Barney Kessel on guitar and Joe Comfort on upright bass. Great stuff, 4 stars. Here's 2 tracks I worked up off of this album: "Just In Time", and "When Sunny Gets Blue". I posted both to Ultimate Guitar.

  • Becca Mancari, "The Greatest Part", 2020, 12 tracks. Very strong alternative chick pop, I really liked this stuff. 4 stars. Here's "Lonely Boy".

  • Tracey Thorn, "Record", 2018, 9 tracks. Again, I have everything Tracey Thorn has done solo, and all of Everything But The Girl, and I find out she has new material 2 years later? You suck, music distributors. Sadly, no standout tracks for me, as much as I love Ms. Thorn's voice. Plus track "Sisters" featured Corinne Bailey Rae! But, sadly, 3 stars.
  • The Beths, "Jump Rope Gazers", 2020, 10 tracks. Very nice alternative music from New Zealand. Some a bit energetic, but, I'm not completely old yet! They seem to be getting some press/attention. 4 stars. Here's the title track.

  • Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship, "Blows Against The Empire", 1970, 10 tracks. I think the transitional album between Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship? When they still were preaching a revolution? My guitar teacher Ricky Howard told me I needed to get it??? 4 stars, I guess. Here's "A Child Is Coming".

  • Madeline Kenney, "Sucker's Lunch", 2020, 10 tracks. My 2nd album of Ms. Kenney. Very good music. 4 stars. Here's "Double Hearted".

  • Jorge Elbrecht, "Presentable Corpse..", 2020, 2 tracks. My nephew the most excellent drummer loves this guy. I like these tracks better than his most recent stuff before this that I have. Much more approachable. 4 stars. Here's track 2/2, "Ancient Grief".

  • Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, "Reunions", 2020, 10 tracks. I think Isbell has become the bard of Americana. Case in point, "Dreamsicle". 4 stars.

  • Half Moon Run, "Look Me in the Eyes", 2020, 8 tracks. Nice power folk, guitar rock, whatever. Very listenable. 4 stars. Here's "Grow Into Love".

  • Frank Zappa, "Shut Up And Play Your Guitar", 1981, 20 tracks. Originally a 3 disk albums. Great chance to listen to the underappreciated fabulous guitarist Frank Zappa. Looking forward to the authorized documenentary coming out any day now. But, I'm a lyrics kind of guy. 3 stars.
  • Christelle Bofale, "Borderline (An Ode to Self Care)", 2020, 1 track. The guitar and the vocals go so well together. I really like this. Out of Austin, TX. 4 stars. Hmmm, no video available, here's the track on Bandcamp:
  • Lianne La Havas, eponymous, 2020, 12 tracks. Again, I have this artist's previous work, she puts out a new album, I am forced to stumble upon it. Just like the previous artist, her guitar and voice work so well together. She has an interesting approach to guitar, playing much more on the lower strings than most people. Out of London, of course. 4 stars. Here's "Bittersweet", and also, her excellent cover of "Weird Fishes" by Radiohead.

  • Easy Love, "Wander Feeler", 2020, 12 tracks. Chill alternative with laid-back female singers. Maybe a little too chill. Plus, I can't find any videos. 3 stars.
  • B Fachada, "Regabofe d'Abertura", 2020, 16 tracks, Bandcamp. Well, I wasn't too impressed by Fado music, so when this contemporary Portuguese group came up on Bandcamp and sounded interesting, I went for it. Glad I did, interesting, edgy, energetic music. 4 stars. Here's "Canção de Rejeição".

  • Market, "Inner Smile", 2020, 1 track, Bandcamp. Another group from Australia (Melbourne). A nice track, 4 stars.

  • katie dey, "mydata", 2020, 12 tracks, Bandcamp. Nice alternative music, not particularly guitar oriented, different. 4 stars. Another ozzy (Australian, Melbourne). Here's "word". I'm a sucker for strings like this. Also, kudos to dey for eschewing the use of upper case.

  • Kate Bollinger, "A word becomes a sound", 2020, 5 tracks, Bandcamp. More chill alternative, dreamy guitar. I liked her EP from last year. 4 stars. Here's the title track.

  • Johnny Mathis, "Open Fire, Two Guitars", 1959, 12 tracks. Recommended by my guitar teacher Ricky Howard. A bit to schmaltzy for my taste. 3 stars.
  • Rick Howard, "Trio - 4 Songs", 2013, 4 tracks. My guitar teacher. He is such a great jazz guitarist. 4 stars, but no video.
  • katie dey, "solipsisters", 2019, 10 tracks. Apparently I liked dey's latest effort enough to backfill this earlier release. Interesting stuff, really eclectic vocals. 4 stars again. Here's "stuck". Holy crap, what an odd video! Plus, a handy technique for trimming long hair?!?!?

  • Billie Holiday, "Lady in Satin", 1958, 16 tracks. I think this was recommended by Walter Tunis, the Lexington Herald-Leader's music critic for the last 40 years. I thought this was her last album - she died July 17, 1959, age 44 - but apparently this one was fairly successful, so she recorded another, "Last Recording" in 1959. I am very sorry that this is my introduction to her work. Her voice is mostly gone, weak, wavery - I know, I've got my nerve, I posted links to me singing above, not so great - but I'm 69 YO. I need to find something from earlier in her career that will let me appreciate her talent. 3 stars.
OK! Done. Patting myself on the back, _unrated is down from > 500 to 84. FTW! I did yeoman's work yesterday and today: 4-5 hours maybe? 41 albums/EPs processed! It's good to be retired! Now to work on the mac/windows interoperabilty issue - oops! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Ministry for the Future

[Last Updated 2020-12-17 4:34pm]

"The Ministry for the Future", 2020, 673 pages, 183k words, 106 chapters, is the latest from the bard of climate fiction, Kim Stanley Robinson.

It follows in the vein of "2312", 2012; "Green Earth", 2015; "New York 2140", 2017; and "Red Moon", 2018.

As I read this book, I thought of many recent posts I had done, and think, "Damn, KSR & I are on the same page." So are we on the same page, or am I just appropriating his ideas? My 1st post (of 60) tagged "economy of plenty", aka "post scarcity utopia", was September 25, 2012. My post on "2312" was November 28, 2012. But, the Green Earth novel was originally the Science in the Capital trilogy, published 2004-2008. Oops. Way ahead of when I started blogging on Economy of Plenty. But you know, I think, with the economics reading I've done, I am not just borrowing KSR's ideas. I think we are indeed fellow travelers. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

I strongly recommend that you purchase "The Ministry for the Future" and read it right now. It addresses strategies for defeating the .01% and getting through the climate crisis on our way to a post scarcity utopia. Plus it's an enjoyable, well-written novel, with good plotting, an interesting variety of characters, a satisfactory conclusion without any deus-ex-machina, and a very important moral point to ponder. When you have finished reading it yourself, you can come back here and share my spoiler-filled thoughts on the book. If you are not going to read it yourself, then by all means just forge ahead.

*********************** SPOILER ALERT ***********************

What will it take to make people take the climate crisis seriously? This novel answers that question by opening with 20 million Indians dying in a heat wave. India then unilaterally jumps into a massive geoengineering project, flying 1000s of flights to release sun-reflecting aerosols into the upper atmosphere. And it seems to work, 5 years later, no more deaths from heat waves.

As the Chinese seemed to be the heroes of "Red Moon", the Indians seem to be the heroes of this book.

I have noticed how most of Climate Fiction seems to be taking geoengineering as a given. I still remember Naomi Klein, in "This Changes Everything", describing geoengineering as "fighting pollution with pollution". But, in a recent KSR blog post about this novel, Klein is listed as someone who participated in positive discussions of this novel. So, maybe her thinking has evolved?

This event leads to the establishment by the UN of The Ministry for the Future - an agency who represents the interest of future generations. I think the 1st time I was exposed to this concept, of future generations (and non-human species) as stakeholders, was in "Capitalism 3.0", by Peter Barnes, 2006. It is a completely valid concept, and a good way to start trying to break modern capitalism's myopic pursuit of quarterly reports.

The ministry is headed by a plucky mid-50's Irishwoman - chosen, I think, because KSR believes that the Irish are the most bluntly speaking people on earth. She survives a kidnapping, bonds with her kidnapper - a survivor of the Indian heat wave - and does not engage in romantic side plots until after she has retired and the good guys have mostly won.

My pinned tweet for a while has been a George Orwell quote: "Either we all live in a decent world, or no one does." To me, this kind of defines decency. And, surely, for rational people of good will, decency is high on the list of our goals. KSR reformulates this several times:

  • Chapter 4, “No one is safe until all are secure."
  • Chapter 69, Either everyone’s happy or no one is safe.
  • Chapter 69, Either every culture is respected, or no one is safe.
  • Chapter 69, Either everyone has dignity or no one has it.
  • Chapter 74, It’s all of us succeed or none of us is safe.

There are several chapters where we are addressed by seriously anthopomorphised entities: Chapter 43, blockchain. Chapter 46, the market. Chapter 53, a photon. Chapter 66, carbon dioxide. Chapter 88, herd animals.

Definitely felt kinship as KSR vents his frustration, which I totally share, re economics as a science:

The whole field and discipline of economics, by which we plan and justify what we do as a society, is simply riddled with absences, contradictions, logical flaws, and most important of all, false axioms and false goals.


Extinctions and ocean warming can’t be fixed no matter how much money future people have, so economics as practiced misses a fundamental aspect of reality.


the neoliberal order was all about efficiency, in its purest economic definition: the speed and frictionlessness with which money moved from the poor to the rich.


mainstream economists everywhere were fearful that this sudden flood of new currency was going to cause massive deflation. Or perhaps inflation: macroeconomics was no longer so very clear on the ultimate effects of quantitative easing, given that the evidence from the past half century could be interpreted either way. That this debate was a clear sign that macroeconomics as a field was ideological to the point of astrology was often asserted by people in all the other social sciences, but economists were still very skilled at ignoring outside criticisms of their field, and now they forged on contradicting themselves as confidently as ever.


Either a huge boon, a complete calamity, or a non-event. Thus the economists, faced with explaining the biggest economic event of their time. What a science!


Macroeconomics had thus long ago entered a zone of confusion, either early in the century or perhaps from the moment of its birth, and now was revealed for the pseudoscience it had always been.

KSR also calls out financialization, aka financial engineering, financial capitalism, as we encountered in "Foundational Economy".
These were not economists, but speculators. Finance in that late moment of capitalism’s exhaustion meant gamblers, sure, but more than that, the casino in which people gambled. And the house always won.
I thought it was freaky in Chapter 60, when KSR uses the "economy as sailing ship" metaphor that I arrived at so painfully in my MMT conclusion [my bold]:
the better to keep the financial ship of the world steadily sailing on into the great west of universal prosperity— for the elites first, and everyone else if they could be accommodated without endangering the elites on the first-class deck.
I liked Chapter 64, an in-depth exploration of Keynes' "Euthanasia of the Rentier" - one of my favorite phrases, remarked upon in this blog whenever it is encountered.
Now, it could be argued that the rentier class is not suffering, and in fact is happily engaged in eating up everything. A parasite killing its host by overindulgence is not suffering. In which case, really the rentier class needs to be executed.


“The rentier class.” Keynes meant by this the people who made money simply by owning something that others needed, and charging for the use of it: this is rent in its economic meaning. Rent goes to people who are not creators of value, but predators on the creation and exchange of value.


The rentier class will not help in that project. They are not interested in that project. Indeed that project will be forwarded in the face of their vigorous resistance. Over their dead bodies, some of them will say. In which case, euthanasia may be just the thing.

Chapter 67 is on Taxes, 1 of my fav subjects! KSR quotes some of my favs:
In the early 1950s, a time when many people felt that wealthy individuals had helped to cause and then profit from World War Two, the top tax bracket in the United States had earners paying in income tax 91 percent of all earnings over $400,000 (current value, four million dollars). This rate was approved by a Republican Congress and a Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower


Capital asset taxes, sometimes called Piketty taxes, tax the assessed value of whomever or whatever is being taxed. [I think the term "wealth taxes" is the most understandable.]


Land taxes, sometimes called Georgist taxes, after an economist named Henry George, are taxes on property, meaning in this case specifically land itself as an asset.

Chapter 69 is a notable chapter. After a heat wave in the US south & southwest kills a few 100 1000s, KSR talks about an old favorite of mine, cognitive errors - blogged here as "cognitive illusions".
This was yet another manifestation of racism and contempt for the South, yes, but also of a universal cognitive disability, in that people had a very hard time imagining that catastrophe could happen to them, until it did. So until the climate was actually killing them, people had a tendency to deny it could happen. To others, yes; to them, no. This was a cognitive error that, like most cognitive errors, kept happening even when you knew of its existence and prevalence. It was some kind of evolutionary survival mechanism, some speculated, a way to help people carry on even when it was pointless to carry on.
Chapter 71 gives us, as mentioned above, the rehabilitation of geoengineering. Rightfully so, IMO, these points totally make sense.
This is part of why geoengineering no longer a useful word or concept. Everything people do at scale is geoengineering.


All geoengineering, all good. The word itself needs to be rehabilitated.

Chapter 102 continues:
Geoengineering? Yes. Ugly? Very much so. Dangerous? Possibly.
Necessary? Yes. Or put it this way; the international community had decided through their international treaty system to do it. Yet another intervention, yet another experiment in managing the Earth system, in finessing Gaia. Geobegging.
Chapter 73 was a pleasant surprise. For the 1st time, KSR includes Modern Money Theory, aka #MMT, FTW!, in the tool box for fixing the world. I was a little bemused that he led with JG/ELR, the universal job guarantee, prescriptive MMT, weak tea IMO, rather than descriptive MMT, money is imaginary, money is software. He does wind up stating 1 of my conclusions re how MMT gets implemented: most governments must embrace it, or there will be problems.
Enough governments were convinced by MMT to try it.
Chapter 75 so has KSR doing more mind-reading on me - I should start working on a tinfoil hat. He has the Kurds form Kurdistan, FTW! This is just 1 of those things, for the last 10 years or so, I'm thinking, "Damn, the Kurds surely deserve Kurdistan!".

KSR also advances his musings about money:

And when definitions of value shifted from talking about interest rates to talking about social trust— when finance and theories of money fell through a trapdoor in daily normality, down into the free fall of philosophy’s bottomless pit


Money was made of social trust. Which meant, in this spasmophilic moment, with everything changing and the ground falling under one’s feet in immense tectonic jolts, that money itself was therefore in limbo.

Chapter 76 is a really nice discussion of economic inequality. The US Navy is a completely well run and respected organization. A large organization (> 600,000 employees). Top salary, $200k, 8x the lowest salary. Corporate world, top salaries, 500x lowest. Hmmm. Who would have thought that the US Navy would be such an illuminating example? We of course hear more about the inspirational Mondragon Cooperative, but who knew that the US Navy would be so instructive? KSR proposes a nice round number 10x, for the legal limit of highest paid to lowest paid employee in any company.

Chapter 81 had something really interesting. Following the lead of Kate Raworth in "Doughnut Economics", I kick "Homo Economicus" in the nuts every time I encounter him. He's just so lame, he is nothing like a normal human being!

But, oops, KSR has a killer point here: the very rich are actually pretty much like Homo Economicus.

Maybe it’s the rich who are most like homo economicus was supposed to be. They have all the information, they pursue rational self-interest, they try to maximize their wealth.
That's really scary!

Chapter 82 introduces 1 of our favs from the other KSR books listed above, the Householder's Union. This is a good plan, and fits in with the rent/mortgage payment strike postulated in the other KSR books:

the Householders’ Union backed the Student Debt Resistance in support of its payment strike.
This chapter also eloquently extols the Foundational Economy:
The necessities are food, water, shelter, clothing, electricity, health care, and education. All these are human rights, all are public goods, all are never to be subjected to appropriation, exploitation, and profit. It’s as simple as that.


The Zurich plan, the Mondragón system, Albert and Hahnel’s participatory economics, communism, the Public Trust plan, the What’s Good Is What’s Good for the Land plan, the various post-capitalisms, and so on and so forth; there are lots of versions of a Plan B, but they all share basic features. It’s not rocket science. The necessities are not for sale and not for profit.

Ha ha, I loved this line, I tweeted it to @TomTomorrow:

One thing that happens over and over in the 2nd 1/2 of the book: our plucky Irish heroine Mary winds up having serious head-to-head meetings with ... bankers. And more bankers. And more bankers. We really, really need to get people thinking MMT and realizing that money is imaginary. At this point, money mostly exists to keep rich people rich. Resources are what is real.

It is funny and sad when Mary convinces some reserve bank that they needed to fight climate change because if they didn't then western civilization would end and they wouldn't be able to make their inflation and unemployment goals. Sadly, it seemed to work.

They were securing money’s value, they still told themselves; which in this moment of history required that the world get saved.

Chapter 87 had some poignancy:

All these sad little towns, the backbone of rural civilization, tossed into the trash bin of history.
But, paying attention to history, what, in the early 1900s, 90% of people worked on farms? When I was a kid in the 1950s, most people (>80%) still had a tie to a farm. [From when I was 7 or so until my mid-teens, I would spend a week or 2 every summer on my grandma's farm outside LaGrange, KY: milking, feeding, and herding cows; feeding chickens and collecting eggs; repairing fence lines; etc. I think my fav thing ever was when I was maybe 12 and my grandpa (George William Boemker aka Pop) and I tore down a small barn. I learned The Way Of The Crowbar.] How many people now have a tie to a farm? 5%? 2%? And with the passing of small-to-medium-sized family farms goes "rural civilization".

Chapter 89 introduces blockchain and cryptocurrencies into the mix.

As significantly, money itself was now almost completely blockchained, thus recorded unit by unit in the consolidated central banks and through the digital world, such that any real fiat money now traveled within a panopticon that was in itself a global state of sorts, unspoken as yet, emerging from the fact of money itself. Another brick in the controlocracy
This is really a stretch for me. That the rich would really allow us to track their money. Well ...

Chapter 94 was surprisingly inspirational.

Indeed it can never be emphasized enough how important the Paris Agreement had been; weak though it might have been at its start, it was perhaps like the moment the tide turns: first barely perceptible, then unstoppable. The greatest turning point in human history, what some called the first big spark of planetary mind. The birth of a good Anthropocene.
I did not know it was called the Keeling Curve. Now I do.

The Jevons Parados is mentioned. We have seen that before here and here. Totally new to me was Red Plenty algorithms. Man, that is a wordy damn post. Makes sense, tho. Markets worked better than communist 5 year plans because markets were far superior as computational engines. With improved modelling and 100,000x faster computers, maybe we can accurately model our economy. Hmmm, I seem to think so here: I talk about having a working model of the economy.

Chapter 101 really had me knocking wood. The basic theme is, Hong Kong successfully avoids being pithed by the mainland Chinese government. Well, good luck and godspeed.

Chapter 103 is inspirational. Mother Ocean is invoked - but not Mother Earth. "We live inside our mothers forever." Nice linguistic-foo, riffing on "Mama Mia" - apparently universal across many languages. And this is a wonderful piece of evolutionary biology/psychology speculation:

We turned wolves into dogs and they turned us into humans— we were something like orangutans before, solitaries who didn’t know how to work together, it was the wolves who taught us that, who taught us the idea of friendship and cooperation.
And finally, a fab piece of genetic trivia:
We are all family, as the new religion was telling us, and as every living thing on Earth shares a crucial 938 base pairs of DNA, I guess it’s really true.
New words:
  • usufruct: The right to the use and profits of something belonging to another.

Chapter 69 1st introduced us to our "very important moral point to ponder".

A private jet owned by a rich man— boom.
A coal-fired power plant in China— boom.
A cement factory in Turkey, boom. A mine in Angola, boom. A yacht in the Aegean, boom. A police station in Egypt, boom. The Hotel Belvedere in Davos, boom. An oil executive walking down the street, boom. The Ministry for the Future’s offices— boom.
Who is doing this? In Chapter 78, Mary's 2nd in command, who she put in charge of black ops at his suggestion, is talking to the Children of Kali in India:
So now if you keep killing, it’s just to kill. Even Kali didn’t kill just to kill, and certainly no human should. Children of Kali should listen to their mother.
We listen to her, but not you.
He said, I am Kali.
Suddenly he felt the enormous weight of that, the truth of it. They stared at him and saw it crushing him. The War for the Earth had lasted years, his hands were bloody to the elbows. For a moment he couldn’t speak; and there was nothing more to say.
KSR's earlier climate books seemed to be generally happening later, when climate catastrophes have happened and people are ready to fix our broken (economic) system as a result. Ideas like a Householder's Union rent strike to induce Yet Another Banking Crisis, and then nationalizing the financial industry rather than bailing them out - nice! Elegant!.

[But, so we nationalize the financial industry - so what? If it still pursues financialization, so what if 50% of its ill-gotten gains go into the public coffers? I guess the idea is that if we own it, we keep it focused on the things that were originally its focus: creating capital to fund companies that create jobs and products, rather than creating Yet Another Derivative Investment to skim even more wealth out of the system.]

But in this book, people get all proactive, and it appears that we stave off the worst of the climate crisis. But, via lots of booms as noted above.

So, our "important moral point to ponder". The climate crisis unchecked could conceivably lead to the end of human civilization as we know it. Dithering as we are now, it will probably kill a minimum of 1 billion people, maybe several x that, and lead to equal numbers of climate refugees.

On the other hand, the .01% represent (8,000,000,000 x 0.0001 = ) 800,000 people. < 0.1% of 1 billion. So maybe losing the .01% is a small price to pay for the rest of us? Euthanasia of the Rentier, with a vengeance? I'm not sure how I feel about that. Clearly a point to ponder. #EatTheRich #BeforeTheyEatUs

One thing I liked towards the end of the book, as airplanes are replaced by airships. If we ever do realize, we've done it, capitalism is done, we've got all the capital we could ever need, we have arrived, can we then slow down and enjoy and savor life? So going to Europe on an airship takes a few days as opposed to a few hours on a supersonic jet, so what? Enjoy the journey, enjoy the view!

Yay, that does it! Thanks KSR for another hopeful book pointing us on our way to a post-scarcity utopia. FTW!

[Updated 2020-12-13 2:54pm]

Here's the Rolling Stone interview with KSR on the book.

[Updated 2020-12-17 4:34pm] Locus has an interview with KSR behind their paywall. Here's some excerpts.

Here's an article by KSR in Bloomberg.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Tamir Rice

Rolling Stone today published an article titled "I voted, for Tamil Rice", by Jamil Smith. I posted this comment:
Tamir Rice's killing stuck a knife in my gut. 12 YO, playing w a toy gun, cop shows up, 20 seconds later, the kid's dead!?!?!? Fuck fuck fuck!
A little bit after that, I was playing at a jam in a black nightclub, I was outside smoking, a 10 YO black kid comes by playing with a cap gun, I start yelling at him: "If you see the police, throw that toy gun away! They will kill you if they see that toy gun!" Poor kid, crazy old whitey yelling at him.
And just after that, I was driving home from playing at a jam on KY 4, New Circle Rd, Lexington, KY's beltway, & a sporty car passes me doing 80-90 mph. Normally, I would call 911 & report that. But, maybe driven by black men. They get pulled over, who knows, they may wind up dead. So I didn't call it in. Lawless police breed lawlessness.
I get an email response from Rolling Stone:
Your comment on I Voted, For Tamir Rice has been rejected as it seems to contain content that is not in line with our community guidelines.
OK. Science! Let's take out "Fuck fuck fuck!", see if that flies.

Nope, rejected again. OK, let's replace "whitey" w "white men".

Tamir Rice's killing stuck a knife in my gut. 12 YO, playing w a toy gun, cop shows up, 20 seconds later, the kid's dead!?!?!? Fuck fuck fuck!
A little bit after that, I was playing at a jam in a black nightclub, I was outside smoking, a 10 YO black kid comes by playing with a cap gun, I start yelling at him: "If you see the police, throw that toy gun away! They will kill you if they see that toy gun!" Poor kid, crazy old white man yelling at him.
And just after that, I was driving home from playing at a jam. On KY 4, New Circle Rd, Lexington, KY's beltway. A sporty car passes me doing 80-90 mph. Normally, I would call 911 & report that. But, maybe driven by black men. They get pulled over, who knows, they may wind up dead. So I didn't call it in. Lawless police breed lawlessness.
OK! Looks like their AI is happy now, FTW! I think the comment is now posted? A confimatory email would have been nice ...

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Email to Paul Krugman

My name is Chris Heinz. I was born June, 1951, Louisville, KY. Grew up in Jeffersonville, IN. MIT BS Physics 1972. I was a staff scientist astronomer at the MIT Center for Space Research 72-74. Married (still) 1975. We had 2 children born in Louisville & 2 born in Lexington KY where we moved for a job in 1981. My kids are now aged 44-37. 4 grandkids aged 9-1. I retired Sep 2012, after 40 years as a software developer/manager/executive.

In my retirement, I decided to study economics.

I had earlier done a lot of reading in evolutionary psychology & cognitive science and gave it up when I concluded that all of human civilization - mind, language, big brains - came about primarily from sexual selection. Yes, mind, language, ... have some species selection value. But they were primarily sexually selected - the traits thrived because chick's dug 'em. We grew big brains, mind, language so that guys could say "Oh baby, baby, you so fine." & women could reply "Daddy, you so full of shit." Pecking order in 7th grade was indeed what it was all about. This crushed my spirit & led me to quit reading cognitive science books.

I tried the MIT Economics 101 class, downloaded the PDF of the free curriculum reference book. I didn't get much traction with it. [Why are textbooks such a rip off? Do the authors see much in the way of royalties, or is The Man hoovering the $$$ up?]

So I decided to start reading random economics books. Since 2012 I have read/reviewed/summarized 27 economics books.


You were #4:

June 12, 2013, 1K words, "End This Depression Now", Paul Krugman, 2012.

Only 1K words, my worst was the recent review/summary (May 1) of Wray's "Modern Money Theory", 24k words.

In my conclusion on that book, I proposed that MMT should broken into 2 pieces: descriptive MMT and prescriptive MMT.

Descriptive MMT talks about how all money is created by the Fed when congress tells it to, and how taxes destroy wealth. Governments with sovereign currencies do not have to collect taxes to spend money - they create money.

Descriptive MMT I proposed calling MMT.

Prescriptive MMT consists mostly of JG/ELR. The best feature of JG/ELR is that it is counter-cyclic with the economy. But Wray kept describing JG/ELR as an "anchor". I was like, what does that mean?

My conclusions on Wray MMT - you wind up being mentioned in there on 2x different topics. 3 minutes to read total:

After failing to think of a metaphor that encompassed safety nets and anchors,

My subconscious came through at 4:33 this morning (2020-04-30). The metaphor that encompasses anchors and safety nets is a sailing ship.
I realized that the best metaphor for JG/ELR is ballast. If you don't have enough cargo (non-JG jobs), then JG jobs make up the difference. They are counter-cyclic with the economy.

But "ballast" == "dead weight". So, "Ballast Economics".

Foundational Economics sounded good. But, "Foundational Economy" already taken by a Manchester UK group. The latest economics book I read/reviewed was:

July 21, 2020, 6.5k words, "Foundational Economy", the Foundational Economy Collective, 2018.

I read/reviewed that book June/July 2020. OMG, the pandemic totally defined the Foundational Economy: anything that wasn't closed. They also defined the "overlooked economy", which were all the businesses that it totally ticked people off when the pandemic closed them: beauty parlors, barber shops, gyms, pedicure/manicure spas. Their insight totally confirmed by the pandemic is astonishing. IMO, anytime someone predicts the future that accurately, pay attention to them.

I settled on Stability Economics for that to call Prescriptive MMT. I propose it should include, as the things that it studies:

  • The Foundational and Overlooked Economies, as a starter.
  • JG/ELR (Job Guarantee, US government as Employer of Last Resort).
  • Informal caregiving as a JG job.
  • Universal Basic Income.
  • Permanent stimulus programs, as proposed by Paul Krugman.
With all of these, you are trying to stabilize the amount of demand in the economy. Then maybe Wall Street's swings (if those ever happen again) or a pandemic won't mess things up so much.

I was corporate for 40 yrs. It is totally bad manners to attempt to write into someone else's todo list. But, whatever, here's 3 for you:

  1. If you have not already, read "Foundational Economy". It is a quick read.
  2. Think about your permanent stimulus program in the context of Stability Economics. In some ways your idea seems to me to be a cousin to UBI. I know you are not a UBI fan.
  3. Open your mind to MMT. I was so excited when on Oct 13, Piketty proposed just setting some of the Fed/ECB balance sheet entries to 0. Debt? What debt?
Done with econ. 2 more things:
  1. Thank you so much for your music recommendations, particularly Lucius & Lake Street Dive, I have all their stuff. I curate 22,000 tracks of music in my iTunes collection. Lately, all the big players who formerly would send me emails of new releases of artists I had purchased from them no longer do so. Instead, they want me to buy into their subscription streaming service, in which I have no interest. I'm lately getting most new music from Bandcamp. Any ideas? I blog new music as Music In. I would bet you can find some interesting new music there. Lately tho, Music In is suffering from the overhead of #SongOfTheDay in Music Out.

  2. In my retirement, I am a semi-professional musician. I've played guitar 55 yrs, sung 62 or so. March-September in pandemic hunker-down, I averaged adding 9 new songs/week to my book. (OnSong app on my iPad, currently at 1048 songs). Towards the end, 2/3 of those were standards. My Standards book is currently at 81. Playing a gig, you do 10-15 songs/hour, depending on availability of solo instruments.
    Sep 10 I came north to Lexington from Naples FL. Time to let things settle in & not ingest new music so vigorously. So I started doing #SongOfTheDay Sep 27.
    6 days/week, #standards here, Jaz Dumoz channel:
    Saturday, something newer, Jim Dumas channel:
    My vocal intonation started out horrible, maybe from not singing into a mic for 6 months, or not using my voice in lockdown, or recording the songs mid-afternoon pre-bourbon. It may be getting better, maybe not. Still, I make sure my guitar is always in great tune, & these jazz standards have such beautiful chords. So, check out a few. "Easy Street" I got ~85% of most excellent jazz guitarist Barney Kessel's licks. Next up "Cry Me A River" off of the same album, "Julie is her name", 1955, Julie London's premier album, Barney on guitar, Ray Leatherwood on upright bass. Fabulous album.
Best regards, stay healthy.