Welcome to the latest feature here at Confessions of a Science Librarian -- Music Mondays! My plan is to have a vaguely music-related post here most Mondays, somewhat in the vein of my Friday Fun posts, but probably not quite as regular. I'll probably mix in short CD reviews, odd bits I've found on the web, the occasional "Five Songs I Love" feature with who knows what else I think of.
And speaking of odd bits...
Rob Halford, Metal God, Judas Priest front man, solo act with a couple of really great albums under his belt, has a new Christmas CD coming out called Wintersongs
Let's hear what he has to say for himself:
Let's focus on the business at hand for a couple moments here and talk about this Christmas record and why. The big question - I'm sure a lot of fans are asking - why bring the Halford band together for a seasonal album?
Well, it was a pretty simple idea on the basics of the whole thing and it was very much from my own personal desires and wishes, and I wasn't sure how Metal Mike (Chlasciak - guitar) and Roy Z (guitar) and Bobby (Jarzombek - drums) and Mike (Davis - bass) would take it. But do you remember I did that song for radio many years ago called 'Christmas Ride'? And then, I forget what year that was, it was around the time that we were making Crucible (actually 1994). But prior to that in the FIGHT band, around the first Fight record, I made a handful of CDs of a song called 'Silent Night' just for family and friends. So both of those experiences had been kind of locked away in the metal memory banks but never really disappeared. So each time successive Christmases would come along I would say, 'oh, God, I've done this again.' I really wanted to try and get something out this year, you know, and again for the obvious reasons of being immersed with all the metal around me, I just didn't have the time or the window or the opportunity to make it all happen. But anyway, the decision was made a long time ago. What do you think about this? Do you think it's cool? Are you up for it? Do you believe in it? What do you think we're gonna do? And everybody ran to the idea and once it got the thumbs up, then the slow piecing process bit by bit started to come together over a couple of years. And you know, when you say a couple of years, that wasn't like two years of intensity, that was just really the guys finding time in their own schedules, their own busy schedules, to put all of these ideas together as a band.
One of the most interesting lists every year is The Globe and Mail's Globe 100, and this year is no exception. There's relevant stuff all over the spectrum, from biography to history to graphic novels to popular science to the environment.
In the print version, the categories are pretty basic: Canadian fiction, international fiction, poetry, non-fiction, graphica. Online, the categories are, well, a little more granular, and we'll get to that train wreck after the list.
- Logicomix by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou, art by Alecos Papadatos and Annie Di Donna
- Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent by Andrew Nikiforuk
- Norman Bethune by Adrienne Clarkson
- Angels and Ages: A Short Book about Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life by Adam Gopnik
- The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom by Graham Farmelo
- Why Your World Is about to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization by Jeff Rubin
- Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson
- The Price of a Bargain: The Quest for Cheap and the Death of Globalization by Gordon Laird
- The End of a River: Dams, Drought and DÃ©jÃ Vu on the Rio SÃ£o Francisco by Brian Harvey
- The Well-Dressed Ape: A Natural History of Myself by Hannah Holmes
- Grass, Sky, Song: Promise and Peril in the World of Grassland Birds by Trevor Herriot
- Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis by Alanna Mitchell
- Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy
- The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins
- Hope for Animals and their World: How Endangered Species are being Rescued from the Brink by Jane Goodall
- The Third Man Factor: The Secret to Survival in Extreme Environments by John Geiger
Like I mentioned, The Globe did divide the books up into a bunch more categories in the online version than in print. In particular, the non-fiction got separated out into Canadiana; social studies; history & war; biography, memoir & correspondence; economics & travel and ... science, religion & the environment.
Yes, science and the environment bundled together with religion, with the comment, "Richard Dawkins in one corner, Karen Armstrong the other..." Of course, Armstrong's The Case for God was the only religion book mentioned in the list. Without getting all angry atheist here or anything, I think it's silly to group the evidence-based subjects with mythology. Would they have included a book on Norse or Greek mythology (or pink unicorns) in with the science books? Of course not. And they shouldn't have included the Armstrong.
Actually, not jackass, but asshole, but this is a family blog, at least as far as post titles are concerned.
In any case, Scott Berkun's Asshole driven development post on practices in the software industry from a couple of years ago is so true that it almost passes from being funny to being sad. Yes, in my previous career, I was a software developer in the insurance industry and while I had a couple of great bosses (you know who you are!), there were a couple who were...
Well, read on:
Asshole Driven development (ADD) - Any team where the biggest jerk makes all the big decisions is asshole driven development. All wisdom, logic or process goes out the window when Mr. Asshole is in the room, doing whatever idiotic, selfish thing he thinks is best. There may rules and processes, but Mr. A breaks them and people follow anyway.
Some of the other management theories Berkun discusses are Cover Your Ass Engineering, Development By Denial and Get Me Promoted Methodology. And the 300+ comments are worth their weight in gold.
Unfortunately, LJ's Best Books 2009: 31 Titles, Plus Best Genres & How-To doesn't have a dedicated science section but there are a few good recommendations nevertheless.
- NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman
- The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom by Graham Farmello
- The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes
- Waiting on a Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service--A Year Spent Riding Across America by James McCommons
- Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City by Eric W. Sanderson
- Got Sun? Go Solar: Harness Nature's Free Energy To Heat and Power Your Grid-Tied Home by Rex A. Ewing & Doug Pratt
BTW, as I've mentioned before, if you see a Year's Best books list out there somewhere that you think I should highlight, please let me know either in the comments here or by email (jdupuis at yorku dot ca).
I like to cook. I have a few standard, signature dishes where I more or less freestyle every time I make them -- beef stew, chili, quesadillas, pasta sauce.
I also like to try new things. For example, I'll probably be making Tyler Hamilton's lamb shank Irish stew this weekend. So yeah, the first time I make something I usually follow the recipe pretty closely; and I find a lot of my recipes on the web.
But, at the same time I also own a fair number of cookbooks which I do like to use for their recipes and, more importantly, for a bit of immersion into a style or a philosophy or a technique. And I find cookbooks are still really great for that.
Interestingly, Adam Gopnik is thinking some of the same things in his recent New Yorker article, What's the Recipe? Our hunger for cookbooks.
Another answer to the question "What good is the cookbook?" lies in what might be called the grammatical turn: the idea that what the cookbook should supply is the rules, the deep structure--a fixed, underlying grammar that enables you to use all the recipes you find. This grammatical turn is available in the popular "Best Recipe" series in Cook's Illustrated, and in the "Cook's Bible" of its editor, Christopher Kimball, in which recipes begin with a long disquisition on various approaches, ending with the best (and so brining was born); in Michael Ruhlman's "The Elements of Cooking," with its allusion to Strunk & White's usage guide; and, most of all, in Mark Bittman's indispensable new classic "How to Cook Everything," which, though claiming "minimalism" of style, is maximalist in purpose--not a collection of recipes for all occasions but a set of techniques for all time.
If you love cookbooks, it's a great read.
FWIW, the most recent cookbook I've purchased is Michael Smith's The Best of Chef at Home: Essential Recipes for Today's Kitchen. I really like the way he sees his recipes as starting points for improvisation.