What I’ve Been Reading

I had given up on RSS for a fair while after Google killed Reader. Some months ago I decided to try again, using Feedly* and to be more selective about the feeds I followed.

When I occasionally send articles to potentially interested parties, they often ask “where do you find this stuff?”

So I figured I’d answer.

I’ve roughly divided my feeds into topics, and provided a link to a sample article.

If this list suggests other blogs I might want to follow – drop me a line with a pointer to a good sample article. I’d welcome the reccomendation.

General Interest:




* I’ve since switched to self-hosting miniflux, but you probably don’t care.

The Damage Looks Pretty Bad From Out Here

I started writing this thinking it would be about the ongoing goat rodeo around the impeachment trial, and the disfunction in both American politics and media it highlights – but that’s not what ended up coming out…

Distance is a funny thing.  Sometimes it makes things harder to see.  And sometimes it draws things into painfully clear focus.

I work for a large international tech company – and my colleagues here in London are a pretty diverse bunch, hailing from nearly everywhere.  That diversity brings challenges – not everyone is equally proficient in English, for instance. Combine that with different backgrounds, cultural norms, experience levels, and clear communication gets tricky.

But some things span those chasms.  Those moments seize my attention.

The reaction in the office to the recent Seattle shootings, for instance.

Watching my colleagues react to that event – each of them being at least loosely connected to Seattle by nature of their employer having its headquarters there – was a pointed reminder of how much America has normalized gun violence.  Some of my colleagues come from countries that America would generally consider part of the ‘second’ world – and they recognize, sometimes from personal experience, that normalizing these sorts of acts of violence is a destabilizing force in society.

Some of those colleagues are traveling to Seattle this week for a work event to be held not far from the shootings, and they wonder about their personal safety.  If you’re American your instinct might be to dismiss that as over reaction.  Before you do, take a moment and ask yourself:  Is it?  

Seattle has had multiple shootings over the past weeks.  And more broadly America experiences a nearly constant barrage of gun violence in its major cities.

If you were being asked by your employer to travel to such a place, can you really say you wouldn’t be a bit concerned?

If you’re an America you’re likely tired of the gun control debate.  It flares up around these events, gets the left and right wing press into a lather, and then goes away. It’s been this way for most or all of your life.  That’s just the way it is. Like a Star Trek episode, the universe is the same at the end of the episode as it was at the beginning.

It won’t change anything for me, as a gun-owning American, to reiterate that America has a problem that desperately needs attention.

So I won’t.

‘Cause we can’t fix a problem until we recognize that we have one.
And it seems pretty clear that as a whole we aren’t there yet.

So for the moment it seems I’m stuck trying to stay out of harms’ way. 

And grieving for the people who didn’t.

What, the curtains?

With apologies to Nick Hornby.

Which came first, the Monty Python or the geekery? Was I drawn to Python’s breed of ridiculous and surreal comedy because of who I was, or did “getting” them help point me down this path?

I remember watching The Flying Circus on KDOC-TV (channel 56) on the black and white Zenith television in my bedroom as a pre-teen. Laughing at the few sketches that I understood. Wondering who let this clearly insane group of people make a TV show. And more often than not marveling at whatever the hell was going on with the cartoons. It was my first exposure to what I thought was a British sense of humor. Only later would I learn that appreciation for their brand of funny wasn’t universal anywhere.

I first encountered The Final Ripoff in High School – on cassette. I don’t remember for sure, but I think it belonged to my girlfriend – I’ll ask Dawnise if it was hers when she gets home. Suddenly I could listen – over and over – to the sketches I understood and loved. And maybe more importantly, to the ones I didn’t. I bought the collection on CD – probably from Columbia House Records. It might have even been one of the CDs I owned before I owned a CD player.

From Flying Circus I followed the Pythons where they went and had been – How To Irritate People, the Python films, Faulty Towers, Time Bandits, Michael Palin’s travelogues, Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives. I’d give anything connected to that group a try.

And now there are five.

And the world is a little less funny.

And a little less kind.

Rest in joy and laughter, Mr. Jones. And Thank You.