September 8, 2005

High Phase Shifts [Open Thread]

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at September 8, 2005 5:29 PM

My severe tardiness with this week's open thread has already led to one threadjacking. In the spare minutes I've had available for blogging this week there's always been a higher-priority post on my mind. Anyway, here it is, almost in time for next week's open thread.

Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner: Freakonomics: My main complaint about this was: too short. Levitt takes the reader through several very interesting economic studies, with a focus on incentives and correlation vs. causation. There wasn't an overall theme, but a nice variety of topics ranging from detection of cheating among schoolteachers administering standardized tests, to the economics of crack dealing, to Levitt's controversial finding that the Roe v. Wade verdict led to a drop in crime 20 years later, to the influence of one's given name on future prosperity. The book was a quick and easy read, written at a very non-technical level (it was amusing at times when they try to explain something like regression analysis).

I'm now reading Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner, at Phi's recommendation.

The New Pornographers: Twin Cinema: It's hard to listen to this without comparing it to their previous LP Electric Version, which is one of my all-time favorite albums. I discovered The New Pornographers and Electric Version while suffering from a series of foul and dark moods, and the music was a pure shot of happiness that immediately lifted my spirits. With that kind of personal significance it's hard to imagine that Twin Cinema can compete, and instead it takes a different direction and stakes out its own territory.

Cinema has a sound like a more refined version of the band's debut album Mass Romantic, and trades the constant exuberance of Electric Version for a wider and more contemplative emotional range. The better tracks on this one are longer and almost anthemic rather than three-minute triumphant bursts: "The Bleeding Heart Show" was the first track on the album that really made me sit up and listen, and the amazing closer "Stacked Crooked" completely erases any doubts I might have had about this record. The only downside is that this band always manages somehow to write one song that annoys the hell out of me for reasons unknown and mysterious, and in this case it's "These Are The Fables". But aside from that, this is a really great CD.

I'm seeing them live later this month, so you'll undoubtedly be hearing about that as well.

Tags: Books, Music, Open Thread

And you thought all along I only dressed up as the Unabomber for kicks... (Or maybe you only led me to believe that... oh crap! Maybe I've finally been caught this time?)

Posted by: Mason | September 8, 2005 11:16 PM
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