Top Tens

2021 | Week 22

What the Tulsa Race Massacre Destroyed

The Brazilianization of the World

Can Elites Start the Climate Revolution?

Another great art exegesis by the NYT, this time on Morisot

People for the Ethical Treatment of Reinforcement Learners via the excellent NYT interview promoting The Alignment Problem

Wittgenstein’s experience as a teacher may have determined his later work

Are We Entering a New Political Era?

The Man Who Put Out Fires with Music

America’s Scarcity Mindset

Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz – prefigures Twin Peaks for me: dreamlike tone, emotionally labile (swerving between horrific and saccharine), every character in some ways is reprehensible, haunting, drags on insufferably in parts but unforgettable

2021 | Week 21

Interbrain synchrony – “a tour de force in bioengineering”

Not quite comics but comic-adjacent: Yuichi Yokoyama and Ilan Manouach

Vyto B’s Tricentennial 2076

Terrific backgrounder on Israel-Palestine by Mohammad Alsaafin

2003 documentary The First World War

Lozenges that regenerate tooth enamel

The history of the “individual mandate”

Hardware/Software Co-design: The Coming Golden Age – note: presenter’s business is selling server hardware

All Quiet on the Western Front

Russian Piano Masterpieces: Prokofiev

2021 | Week 20

John Richardson may be dead, but the fourth volume of his Picasso bio arrives in November

Ferrofluid BT speaker

Jim Woodring talks about David Lindsay’s bizarre 1920 novel Voyage to Arcturus – an edition featuring Woodring’s illustrations is out via Beehive Books

Napoleon may be a collective delusion via Ted Gioia’s Substack

Excellent explainer vid on the recent events in Gaza – it’s a shame news outlets can’t package the conflict in such an understandable and even-handed way as this

“Geometrical and Topological Analogues of Rubik's Cube”

Poulenc’s Sonata for Two Clarinets (FP 7, 1918) perf. Ronald van Spaendonck & André Moisan

Washington state’s long-awaited capital gains tax and how it came to be

Review of Peter Zeihan’s book The Accidental Superpower

Cambridge’s Prof. Christopher Clark on the 1848 Revolutions

2021 | Week 18

The Scale of the Universe

Sean Carroll on the recent muon experiments

React framework Remix beta walkthrough

Josquin Depres / des Prez’ Dice Mass – and an NYT article on the composer

“Class, you have permission to kick him in the balls”

How to Draw a Line, one of Heydon Pickering’s hilarious web-tech-explainer vids Webbed Briefs

Bittman on the folly of artificial meat

Hubert Dreyfus’ lectures on Heidegger’s Being and Time: Division I, Division II

Safari really is the new IE nb: written by Chromium dev

“MMAcevedo (Mnemonic Map/Acevedo), also known as Miguel, is the earliest executable image of a human brain” – fiction, but for how long

2021 | Week 16

Russian Piano Masterpieces lecture series

Open source vaccines from the Rapid Deployment Vaccine Collaborative

Brandon Magner on the Amazon-union defeat

“Each day on twitter there is one main character. The goal is to never be it”

In-the-trenches, no-spin view of historical events in El Salvador, Angola and Afghanistan from the oral history collection of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, cited as part of the Afghanistan Papers

Breakdown of Henry George’s Progress and Poverty: An Inquiry into the Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth: The Remedy from 1879

John Plowright plays Bach and Brahms

A utopian libertarian charter city embedded in Honduras

The Apollo Guidance Computer

Ken Russell’s short film The Strange Affliction of Anton Bruckner

2021 | Week 13

Genghis Tron – Dream Weapon

Understanding Heidegger on Technology

Graham Lambkin reissued – reviewed by Geeta Dayal

The Ministry for the Future

Excellent Napoleon documentary: 1, 2, 3, 4

Mark Viner lectures on Charles-Valentin Alkan, contemporary of Chopin and Liszt

Examining works of art in a new way online: Mughal miniatures

Janet Yellen and Mario Draghi Have One Last Job

The Great Reversal: How Neoliberalism Turned the Economic Aspirations of Liberalism Upside Down and another version of the same talk, again with an excellent Q&A

The Many Lives of Grandmaster Jay

2021 | Week 12

In & Of Itself

The lost IDM of Beaumont Hannant: mix

Quo Vadis, Aida?

The Canyons

Too Like the Lightning

The Unnatural Endurance of Bipartisanship

Chris Watson interviewed

SpaceManT’s series of IDM mixes

Yoann Bourgeois’ The Mechanics of History and another take

2021 | Week 9

On the infamous boondoggle Space Launch SystemSLS: Is cancellation too good?

Embassytown, terrific SF with clever things to say about language, meaning, politics

Cryptodamages: Monetary value estimates of the air pollution and human health impacts of cryptocurrency mining – and the relative energy cost of transactions

BBC4’s The Inquiry, giving much-needed deep context to events

Einojuhani RautavaaraPiano Concerto No. 1 (1969)

In Oakland, the beginning of the end for leafblowers, an offense against God and man

John Edmark’s zoetrope sculptures

Microservices

Mathematics in Music and Writing lecture series, via NYT

The problem isn't QM, it's you: Quantum Mechanics Isn’t Weird, We’re Just Too Big and The Zen Anti-Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

2021 | Week 8

Political values are absorbed and maintained because we want to impress people around us or because elites instruct us to have them

History of Ideas Series 2: Rousseau, Bentham, Douglass, Butler ...

Farmer grabs lynx by scruff of neck, scolds it for killing chickens

The unified cosmic vision of Alexander von Humboldt, the nineteenth century’s great naturalist-adventurer

Fall of Civilizations does the Inca

Tram trip through Amsterdam

Joshua Abrams’ Natural Information Society

Zama

Scott Ross, harpsichordist and a guide to the harpsichord

The Fermi Paradox Is Our Business Model

2021 | Week 7

Judas and the Black Messiah

Can't Get You Out of My Head

Backlisted, a podcast on lesser-known or cult fiction

Maintaining position in a hierarchy is more important than serving one's own needs

The Death of Yugoslavia and The Trial of Ratko Mladic

The alternate-history space-race series For All Mankind, back for its second season

The Politics of a Second Gilded Age – the Dems’ constituency is now a tax-avoidant affluent suburb

Gramophone's top Mahler symphony recordings

Eric Foner – Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877

The helicopter Perseverance carries on Mars and the rover’s engineering generally

2021 | Week 6

Transparent wood

The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845–1877

Glory

Kris Davis Borderlands Trio at the Vanguard

Arkadia

Cryptocurrencies are horrendous energy consumers

The Investigation

Niskanen Center’s The Science of Politics: When Partisans Endorse Violence

The Slate Star mishegas: Cade Metz, Elizabeth Spiers, Scott Alexander, Robert Reinhart

Riding on a tram through Amsterdam

2021 | Week 5

NYer profile of Adam Curtis

James Wood on Beethoven

Martin Eden

Genesis in 1973

Gulf city-state slavery

The Democratic Party Has a Fatal Misunderstanding of the QAnon Phenomenon

The future unemployment line gets longer: generating SQL from plain English using GPT-3

Tyshawn Sorey, Joe Lovano, and Bill Frisell at the Vanguard

First Cow

Tortoise doing TNT in 2019

2021 | Week 4

Mayor: Ramullah seen through the lens of Tati

Putin's Palace

The original Manchurian Candidate, Henry Wallace‘Wallace would have created an American foreign policy run by Soviet agents he had installed in the White House’

Some reasons to hope re climate change: After Alarmism

James Meek's To Calais, In Ordinary TimeGuardian review

To Counter China’s Rise, the U.S. Should Focus on Xi

New Khashoggi doc The Dissident – relatedly an excerpt of an MBS bio and the beyond-parody Line city announcement

A History of Cities In 50 Buildings

Tony Bennett and Bill Evans via Iverson

‘I have reconsidered the matter, you have changed your mind, he has gone back on his word’ via Scott Alexander

2021 | Week 3

The Plague Year

Mike Westbrook – live performance of Citadel/Room 315

Apartment House’s Morton Feldman concerts at Wigmore Hall: 1, 2, 3 via Steve Smith

Where Year Two of the Pandemic Will Take Us

Stick mobility exercises

Next-level 12-string from Rob Noyes

Huawei, 5G, and the Man Who Conquered Noise

Backlash-avoidance as policy

‘Every Man Has His Breaking Point’: Reagan, Brainwashing and the Movies

Excellent mix of classic Franco tunes

2020 | Week 53

Your Trip Is Short, imaginative and bizarre Dead/Phish covers by avant- and noise groups

The North Carolina Kid Who Cracked YouTube’s Secret Code – the world has become a Gibson or Stephenson novel now

Reverse Engineering the Source Code of the BioNTech/Pfizer SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine

The Soul of Erlang and Elixir

How Russia Wins the Climate Crisis

‘Rising anxiety over declining social status tells us a lot about how we got here and where we’re going’

Reaganland

Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine, truly epic black metal from Mare Cognitum and Spectral Lore

GA Sec of State refusing to carry water and/or break law

Philip Sherburne’s Best Mixes of the Month series

2020 | Week 52

A Delicate Truth audiobook, read by le Carré himself

Trickle-down economics is a scam, but we knew this

Top Retractions of 2020

A Portrait of 19th-Century Creole Culture

Interview with AWS engineer

Christian Wolff – Exercise 15 from Wandelweiser

The butt pajamas will follow you forever

Streetwise and Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell

The Gospel of Hydrogen Power

The Gone World

2020 | Week 50

History of Philosophy podcast

2020's What I Learned list from Tom Whitwell

ML reveals a previously unknown galaxy collision among the collisions forming our own galaxy, via Orbital Index

'60s European filmed jazz gigs (bonus: Paul Gonsalves nods off three times on the stand with Duke in '65)

Sometimes, by Olly Wilson via Tone Glow

Review of lesser-known GRM artists, with great links to documentaries

Man Is the Bastard

Monetizing the Final Frontier: The strange new push for space privatization

RIP John le Carré: the original, and by far the best, Tinker adaptation and Smiley’s People

Bandcamp's Best of 2020

2020 | Week 49

Why is the M1 so fast?

Excellent review of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

The cosmic weirdness of Magnetars

I will always associate Arecibo with GoldenEye

The environmental consequences, including poisoning, of road tires

JACK Quartet via Library of Congress playing Rodericus, Seeger, Carter, and new Tyshawn Sorey

Carrie Coon’s Criterion picks

The Party that Failed

I didn’t buy the portrayal of Welles in Fincher’s Mank, but I didn't mind – it was a terrific film

Ferneyhough’s string quartets

2020 | Week 48

The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X

How the Coronavirus Hacks the Immune System

The Sparrow with Four Sexes

The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

The Timing of Evolutionary Transitions Suggests Intelligent Life Is Rare

Primer on mRNA vaccines via Zeynep Tufekci

PHP 8

Execute Program spaced-repetition courses

Romain Grosjean surviving a horrible crash

17 CDs of Henry Cow

2020 | Week 47

Sibelius’ Voces intimae, Op 56 (1909)

The insane engineering of Apollo’s computers and rope memory

A lecture on Kurtag’s musical setting of Beckett’s Fin de Partie, with the premiere in French with Italian subs, its libretto in French and Italian, and the text of the full play in English

Penguin Cafe Orchestra on the Beeb in ’89

I may or may not be responsible for destroying American working-class prosperity

The Grand Unification Proposal

Finnish Radio TV Symphony Orchestra playing Lutosławski

The Best Man (1964)

“We are not the leader of first choice because we’re always right, or because we’re universally liked, or because we can dictate outcomes,” he said. “It’s because we strive to the best of our ability to align our actions with our principles, and because American leadership has a unique ability to mobilize others and to make a difference.”

Politics, Science and the Remarkable Race for a Coronavirus Vaccine

2020 | Week 46

Excellent inside-the-NYT piece on its culture and business

Nice try, Elon – you can’t escape laws and regulations in space

black midi – Schlagenheim

From Peter TurchinThe Strange Disappearance of Cooperation in America

Beethoven

Excerpt from Obama’s memoir, on passage of the ACA

The brilliant compositional processes of Maya Verlaak

Steven Drury plays Rzewski

The Big Lessons from History, and regarding point 3, You Can’t Tell People Anything

Incredible visualization of the contents of a cell

2020 | Week 45

The excellent David Shor from back in July on electoral trends

Steve Potts soundtrack reissue

Brewing coffee in space

A Theory of Justice: The Musical!

Democrats attempt to arrest the leftward moves of the party by preventing incumbents from being unseated by progressive challengers

How Trump lost

Terrific BBC docu-drama on Beethoven in three parts: 1, 2, 3

New dates for the nearly-cancelled Guston retrospective

Two hours of spasmodically gyrating Deadheads in the hall outside a 1987 gig

The .org TLD won’t be sold to a private equity firm

2020 | Week 44

Marbled crayfish, which travel across land and water at night and eat whatever they can, do not occur in nature and are banned by the European Union’

Einstein’s Bridge, OOP SF by John Cramer – set at a fully-functioning Superconducting Super Collider; in our reality, the SSC was abandoned a fifth of the way into its construction (this last piece also usefully functions as a management-culture cautionary tale) and the LHC went on to find the Higgs

The sounds of π

Private press MI music via Inzane Michigan on NTS

Counterpart, nice Cold War parable SF show

Informed crash course in the Chinese tech landscape with contrasts to the US

Interactive infographics on voting methods that are better than first-past-the-post

Blanche Blanche Blanche

Hilarious deep-fake-awareness vid from the South Park guys

Younger people abandoning democracy, via Talking Politics

2020 | Week 43

‘Everything is impossible until it’s not. I want to be in a world where we’re thinking about what we need, not just what we think we can get.’

More on the possibly-microwave attacks on US embassy personnel and diplomats

The Future of Programming

The Fall of the CDC

I never dreamed that I'd be eaten by a bear, says voter for the Freedom to be Eaten by Bears Party

Joe Frank: Somewhere Out There

I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Nazakat & Salamat Ali Khan

Quintessence as an explanation of dark energy got some supporting evidence

Marc Sabat

2020 | Week 42

360-degree video of orbiting around a black hole

Hacking former PMs using only a boarding pass

Measurement = entanglement – relatedly the Transactional Interpretation of QM in which waves travel back and forth in time to create the present day – I think

Seeing revanchist UK political trends through the lens of Morrissey

History of the Colorado Coalfield Wars in the early 20th c

Stressed Election NYT documentary series on electoral mechanics

Harlan County USA

Trial of the Chicago 7 – has problems, and a couple of scenes really grate, but worth seeing

Why arrays are zero-indexed

Lachenmann-esque Clara Ianotta on Wergo, perf. Jack Quartet

2020 | Week 41

Maybe the most insightful presentation you’ll see on the electorate in the 2016 and 2020 elections

'We fed the beast that ate us' – the GOP has been forced down a far-right populist road by its own hand

Niskanen Center on the OMB’s recommendations to expand health care – calling Medicare for All single-payer is a confounding misnomer

‘This is an emotional exchange between a human and an AI on a website with 430 million active users’ – GPT-3 bot has lengthy, numerous, undetected posts on Reddit

Breakdown of dark money in Supreme Court nominees and cases courtesy of Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI)

Terrific print of the spectacular 1970 recreation of Waterloo by the same guy who did the epic 1966 version of War and Peace

The Good Lord Bird adaptation

Serene Wandelweiser compilation of 9 diaphanous compositions and a combination of all of them

Excellent Feldmanesque tribute to ‘a French astronomer who had a particular talent as a comet hunter’

New Prana Crafter feels like a coherent whole rather than disparate tracks

2020 | Week 40

Turns out time-restricted feeding is a good way to lose muscle mass, not fat

‘The kinds of opportunists who are attracted solely to wealth and status have no principles at all beyond accumulation of these two objects’

Fusion might actually be happeningtechnical presentation from 2019, technical presentation from 2016, 2014 article on fusion and ITER

Wire survey of Tashi Dorji's excellent improv

Another terrific Tone Glow interview, this time with Eiko Ishibashi

ML-generated death metal based on metal that already sounds ML-generated

The 1968 Monk gig at a high school in Palo Alto is finally released after some licensing disputes

Why we can’t fix infrastructure

Azerbaijani Army propaganda

Some apropos music for the season and of the times: Adès’ Totentanz, from 2013 via Alex Ross

2020 | Week 39

Partially Examined Life on Rorty’s Achieving Our Country: Part one, part two

Adding 127 states to amend the Constitution and avoid the tyranny of the minority

The horrible Expo 2025 logo may be one of the most memorable of all time

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness

40 years since the Dead’s Fall 1980 run at the Warfield

‘Perversely, the only way to build bipartisan political support for a green transition in the United States may be to pitch it as a national security issue in a cold war competition with China.’

Maybe the most adorable animal vid ever

'I’ve been ordered to find and destroy': the latest chapter in the insanity of Silicon Valley

Michael Sandel on the Case Against Meritocracy

Anand Giridharadas on tech’s billionaires: ‘Are they even on the same team as us?’

2020 | Week 38

Astonishing 'good girl' Saturday Evening Post illustrator Edwin Georgi

Somewhat dated and un-PC but fascinating talk by ex-KGB on subversion

Quiz showing how hard it is to spot fake social media accounts

Relatedly, a service flagging suspected fake or disinfo-promoting accounts

Wildfire smoke clearing at long last

This generation will end up as ‘fascists or revolutionaries, one or the other.’

Iverson on 20th C American piano music

Gould in conversation on Schoenberg

Sublime solo Kayhan Kalhor performance

A highlight from The Heat Warps’ continuing survey of Miles electric bootlegs

2020 | Week 37

Patrick White’s 1957 novel Voss, winner of the Nobel Prize

Relatedly Rob Tomlinson’s reviews of White are excellent as well as his writing on books generally

Francis Fukayama’s 2014 essay America In Decay, using the Forest Service as an example of a dysfunctional institution, via Marginal Revolution

Incredible Economist piece on viruses: 'integrated viral sequences, known as endogenous retroviruses (ervs), account for 8% of the human genome'

Brötzmann’s Chicago Tentet in Atlanta in 2002 on YouTube and in Chicago in 1997 on record

Phosphene on Venus

Handy AQI macOS menu bar app

Thanks to people who make comprehensive appliance review videos

Recycling plastic is diversionary marketing

Carbon footprints are diversionary marketing

2020 | Week 36

Foodman’s goofball juke/footwork house set from 2019

The note played in a 639-year Cage performance was changed September 5; the next is May 2022

Incredible illustrations from Ernesto García Cabral, from luscious film posters to classic Deco

Moving beyond the 'chemical imbalance' paradigm of mental illness and acknowledging biological, social, and financial reality – a long time coming, but a very welcome development

Bizarre rollerderby-WWE mashup from 1989; Fox now has the rights, so periodically uses episodes to fill time on its soccer channels

Information has mass (and therefore energy) – not sure if you can then say dark matter is information, but the paper's authors do via HN

Documentary on Wittgenstein and Schoenberg

The Partially Examined Life philosophy podcast series

The 2020 Italian GP, memorable madness that rescued the season from predictability

Connary Fagen’s impeccably crafted fonts

2020 | Week 35

Radio show reviewing work of Terry Jennings, early minimalist composer

Intense live gig from the Santana-McLaughlin 1973 tour

A guy who's attempting to generate music through ML has reviewed every Dead show

Website for Alice Coltrane’s devotional recordings

Erin Jorgensen does soothing Sunday broadcasts of marimba improvisations

Archives of Tom Johnson’s avant-garde show reviews from the Voice, ’72–’82

Using ML to generate images of Roman emperors – not a position conducive to a long life after Marcus Aurelius

New free jazz from Alan Braufman

Rick Perlstein doing promotion for Reaganland

A great drone piece by Catherine Christer Hennix

2020 | Week 34

Olly Chubb’s techno nostalgia shows on NTS

Feds swarming a giant yacht and arresting Bannon for grift

A story about hanging with Borges which will inevitably become a movie

The latest (and last? Say it isn't so) volume of Rick Perlstein's history of American conservatives

Iconic PowerPoint slides

New Nonlocal Forecast on Hausu Mountain, evocative vaporwave reminding you of synthesizer LPs of yore

“Infodemiology”

Ars subtilior, a polyphonic musical style of the 14th century, via Samuel Andreyev’s podcast with composer Jonathan Bell – a superb recording is Figures of Harmony’s 4CD set of songs from the Chantilly Codex

The Harvard Foundations of Physics lecture/debate series

Shit and Shine’s deep-fried Krautrock, which is a goofball melange of Faust/Can/Nurse with Wound/Butthole Surfers/Atari Teenage Riot

2020 | Week 33

Lost Control’s house/techno shows on NTS

New Fall of Civilizations pod, this time on Byzantium

The Bureau series 5, still adult espionage of the highest order

The Flow State Substack of focus-music playlists

Chris Dench’s Piano Sonata performed by Peter de Jager – waiting for a recording of this, I'd be happy with just the take captured here which won an award

Magnesium glycinate

24-bit 96kHz Pat Metheny remasters

Microtonal pop from James Mulvale

RIP Julian Bream, classical guitarist extraordinaire

1996 production of Berg's Lulu, incredible in every way, the set design is particularly fascinating; unfortunately this video is truncated and other copies of it are only French subtitled

2020 | Week 32

Line-by-line annotations for Finnegans Wake from the Finnegans Wake Extensible Elucidation Treasury – there are other annotated references, but I prefer this layout which combines both the notes and the text

June 21–23 1993 Dead run

The latest new age LP from Steve Roach, A Soul Ascends

Thomas Adès’ 2008 composition In Seven Days is on a great new record from Kirill Gerstein and the Tanglewood Music Centre Orchestra

New Krallice, released on a Bandcamp Friday of course

Purcell’s Fantasias for Viols by Jordi Savall and Hespèrion XX

Historical montage of the Silverstone track for the 70th Anniversary GP (thanks to @Mattzel89)

Astonishing 68mm footage from 1902 of the still-running Wuppertal suspended railway

A hellishly optimized, inhuman megacity in SimCity 3000

Adam Tooze on China and a new Cold War and COVID and past economic crises

2020 | Week 31

Minnie Riperton is inescapable in Bette Gordon and James Benning’s United States of America

Scorcese’s The Age of Innocence

New Philip Guston retrospective on tour in 2021, to Boston, Houston, Washington DC, and London, COVID permitting

Lando Norris' helmet design for the 2020 British GP weekend

Samuel Andreyev on Schoenberg

Paul Jacobs’ Schoenberg piano music

Sean Carroll‘s Biggest Ideas in the Universe physics lecture series

Into Great Silence, currently bootlegged on YouTube, is an incredible documentary inside a silent monastery in the Alps; as the film goes on you realize the subject of the film is not the initiated but yourself and your own thoughts and reactions

Thanks to the people who like to post how-to repair videos

Lull's 1994 'dark ambient' LP Cold Summer

2020 | Week 30

John WilliamsButcher's Crossing

Mark Strand

Igor Levit’s complete Beethoven piano sonatas

Robert Wright's Why Buddhism is True

October 1994 Dead

Phish's Dinner and a Movie YouTube series

In-season blueberries

The New Age music of Al Gromer Khan

Still House Plants

HN thread on meditative breathing techniques


Top Ten inspired by Greil Marcus’ long-running columns