The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister's Pox by Stephen Jay Gould

I enjoyed this argument for the sciences and humanities to get along, respecting and borrowing knowledge and techniques of each other. Gould is opposed to E O Wilson’s reductionist approach in Consilience which argues for an all-inclusive strategy to remake all human endeavour in the image of science. Wilson has previously written Sociobiology, interpreting human behaviour in terms of evolutionary biology. Maybe it could have been called the snail (Gould’s study animal) vs the ant (Wilson’s specialty) but I’m not quite sure how to work that metaphor.


Angry White Men


This exhibit of paintings by David Haughton at the Visual Space gallery consisted of portraits of criminals and disturbing collages of white supremacists, based on photos on the internet. Haughton is appalled by their behaviour and hoped that presenting their images could be a chance to role play our opposition to them. Haughton said he hoped they would be ashamed of their actions, but the images themselves seemed like fairly straightforward depictions, so conceivably the subjects might actually be pleased to see themselves so depicted. It seemed well intentioned but misguided. I don’t know if my cartoon is any better.

Breakfast thoughts

I am thinking about evaluating art, specifically sciart, the portmanteau for art mixed with science. I haven’t read Zen and Art of Motorcycle maintenance in a long time but but it’s discussion of quality was profoundly important to me once upon a time. It talked about the prof not telling the students their marks to see how they would perform. That would probably make my daughter go crazy. She is so obsessed about her marks.


How to American by Jimmy O. Yang

Jian Yang in Silicon Valley is not a character Asians would be proud of, but according to this entertaining and disturbing memoir, the actor who plays him seems quite tickled with the opportunity. He has been desperately trying to fit in since emigrating to the States as a kid. Inspired by the commencement speech by Mike Judge (who would later create Silicon Valley), Yang abandoned a career in finance to commit to entertainment (and driving Uber) and the luck to pull it off. Even though he feels more at home in Hong Kong, America is the irresistible land of opportunity.

Not this

An urn not used to house the ashes of the first emperor of China.



Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but I enjoyed Anna Kendrick in Pitch Perfect and Into the Woods. I still haven’t seen Up in the Air for which she was nominated for an Oscar. Her memoir, though perhaps premature, is entertaining. She did musical theatre from a young age and went all in to Los Angeles while just a teen. The title seems to reflect her attitude about things. She is sarcastic, thoughtful, and self-deprecating. And it was fun to hear her read it. I felt like she was chatting with me while I washed the dishes.

Aya, an entertaining graphic novel set in Africa

Aya is a character in a graphic novel series set in a city in Côte d'Ivoire during the 90s. She is a serious young woman planning to become a doctor while her friends are only interested in men, who are all scoundrels. The colour drawings made it easier to keep track of all the characters and it was intriguing to see the different details of life there. The artist, Clément Oubrerie, must have had to research a lot. The writer, Marguerite Abouet, who moved to France as a child, said she wanted to capture the stories she’d heard growing up.


My Science World post about rooibos is up. In case the cartoon doesn’t quite make sense. The smug guy is supposed to be drinking rooibos and his companion is supposed to be a coffee addict. Also, the scene through the window is supposed to sort of look like a field of rooibos with the Cederburg mountains in South Africa in the background.

1902 rooibos.jpg

The Umbrella Academy

An enigma wrapped in a mystery, baked into a jelly donut. I loved how this show kept surprising me with surprises that fit into a broader understanding of this topsy turvy world, which seems mostly modern, but people do not use cell phones or computers. Even at the very end of the season, I had no idea what will happen next. And even though the main characters have super powers for unknown reasons, their individual struggles and secrets are what compelled me to keep watching. The heroes are problematic and the villains are sympathetic. Awesome.

On leisure

Apparently it is quite popular among the middling aged.



The Incredibles 2 by Brad Bird

I found this movie interesting, if not always entertaining. The mom loves her job but worries about her family. The dad is doing his best to deal with the kids though they are driving him crazy. The stereotypes are funny when played off the super powers. Mine combines the moodiness, neediness, and volatility of the three kids. The enemy Screen Slaver says we spend too much time in front of screens and relying on superheroes makes us weak and passive. I was sympathetic to the enemy’s point of view, if not the misanthropic approach. What was this trying to say?