Top Tens

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


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