Quick thought 3 April 2023

Taking the L: It’s honestly pretty embarrassing that, despite being around music for a quarter century and a fan of Belle and Sebastian for almost that long, I’m only learning from his obituary that Seymour Stein was not just a real person but one of the most influential music executives of the past 75 years.

He signed the Ramones, the Talking Heads and Madonna! He got Lou Reed to write New York! What a fucking life!

Seymour Stein, Record Industry Giant Who Signed Madonna, Dies at 80 (New York Times)

What I’ve Been Reading (29 March 2023)

  • Users by Colin Winnette. There have been a lot of novels over the past ten years about what technology, and specifically the internet and social networks, have done to us and society; there have been far fewer looking at the people that develop that technology. Users may not be the product management comedy of errors that I’m waiting for, but it’s a beautifully written and plotted dive into the hollowness and disorientation that lurk behind Miles’s occupation building virtual reality Original Experiences.
  • Saving Time by Jenny Odell. I’m only one chapter into Odell’s pandemic-inspired dissection of humanity’s relationship to time and the physical world, and I’m already convinced it’s one of those books that’s going to have a huge impact on my thinking. (We’re talking Gutenberg Galaxy levels of inspiration here.) The first chapter is about the specific cultural and financial concerns that have brought about our very quantized approach to measuring and valuing time, and I’m not going to read or watch a science fiction story without considering that for a good long while.

What I’ve Been Reading (20 March 2023)

  • Larva Pupa Imago by Eric Schwitzgebel at Clarkesworld. I’m always a sucker for an SF story with alien biology, and this one—from a philosophy professor at UC Riverside, no less—delivers the goods. It’s not just looking at the lifecycle of post-Anthropocene butterflies, but a dive into personhood and memory as well. Highly recommend.
  • This Isn’t the Middle Age Millennials Expected by Jessica Grose in the NYT. A wide ranging look at the millennial generation as we start to enter middle age (and on the precipice of yet another damn recession). I’ve got thoughts on this that I’m trying to get sorted into a longer, actual structured essay, but it boils down to our generation making the most out of a bad hand, and that this isn’t too different from what generations other than the Boomers really faced.
  • Two Rivals, One Bedroom by Rory Smith in the NYT. Two footballers in the top flight of Dutch soccer, playing on rival teams—and still sharing their childhood bedroom!