Book Report: Ecology of Fear

Angelenos worry about disaster a lot. At least that's the premise of Ecology of Fear. Los Angleles is prone to disaster, both in real life, in the movies, in books,... Maybe it's true. And yet. He cited many books showing how Los Angeles gets destroyed in popular culture plenty. He cited many books that I hadn't read. And he cited Dinner at Deviant's Palace, which I had read. Yes, this (pretty good) book takes place in a post-apocalypse L.A. But... the whole world of that story is post-apocalypse. The story just happens to take place in L.A. Oh, and I disagreed with his take on Bladerunner, too.

There was plenty of stuff in this book that wasn't about science fiction. He talks about earthquakes, fires, racial unrest. I just am familiar with the science fiction, I guess. And that makes me wonder how much he knows about the other stuff he writes about.

He's at his best when he writes about Angelenos' attitude towards risk. Shoddy buildings fall down in earthquakes, though everyone knows that there will be earthquakes. But people freak out when mountain lions attack, though those attacks are pretty darned rare.

And he convinced me that there are occasional tornados in Los Angeles.

Not his best book. I wish someone had warned me to skim parts that didn't seem relevant. Still, there were some good parts.

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Book Report: The Roads to Sata

In this travelog, our hero walks the length of Japan, from the tippy-top of Hokkaido, the length of Honshu, down south past Sakurajima. This was in the 1980s, and gaijin were mysterious; he encounters much racism. He speaks Japanese fluently, talking with folks in small towns. He wrestles with sumo. He farts loudly. He endures rain, sun, and incorrect navigation instruction. It's a good read.

Did you loan this book to me? I don't remember buying it. I probably borrowed it from someone. But now I can't remember who. I asked a couple of the usual suspects, but no dice.

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Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, Even Arkansas

I know, you're still trying to decide which MIT Mystery Hunt puzzle was your favorite, but I nevertheless encourage you to go read David Hill's recap of Midnight Madness 2006. Torrential rain! RC boats! A man who can't see being directed by people watching through a camera mounted to his head! The acronymically unalterable smell of raspberries!

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Book Report: Sacrifice (Age of Bronze collection vol 2)

It's another volume of Eric Shanower's great comic adaptation of the Iliad. Learn the strange story of Telephus. Feel even queasier about the fate of Iphigenia as you put a face to the name. See wonderfully-rendered drawings of people wearing historically accurate funny hats.

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Book Report: Ready Made #16

I read an issue of Ready Made, a magazine for crafty re-users and recyclers. I am not sure what I think about it. It is witty and amusing. It was inspiring to read instructions for making furniture from leftover pallets and planters from just about anything.

On the other hand, I have plenty of furniture, and more planters than I need.

In the end, I felt like I'd fallen for a lifestyle-porn magazine. While I was reading, I fantasized about living in my green loft which I was filling with dream furniture. But when I looked up from the magazine, I was still in my cramped studio apartment.

I ruined my raincoat recently, planting trees in Oregon. Maybe someday soon Ready Made will have an article telling how to make a raincoat out of, say, plastic produce bags and surplus beeswax. That would be awesome. But I don't know that I'll keep reading their magazine in the faint hope of such an article.

Meanwhile, I could make a poncho out of a plastic garbage bag, if only I had a plastic garbage bag. But I don't. Good thing it's not raining today.

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