2013′s Best Books

I think I’m going to start writing an annual blog post about my favorite books every year. Here’s this years run down. In case you are wondering I don’t actually have a memory capable of remembering all the books I’ve read this year and what I thought of them, but I’ve been logging my reading at GoodReads.com and that makes it easy.

Here they are in no particular order. I’m probably going to try to stick to one book per category.

Non-Fiction Politics: The Law by Frédéric Bastiat. One of the only real books I actually read this year (I “read” most books by listening to them). It’s short. It’s funny, and it’s full of thoughtful insights.

Non-Fiction Theology: Knowing God by J.I. Packer. A classic I had never read before. Lots of good stuff, I’m sure I’ll read it again.

Science Fiction: MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood. One of the best science fiction writers knocking another one out of the park, but it’s the 3rd in a series and you should read the other two books first.

There were lots of other good book I read this year, checkout my Good Reads profile if you want to see what I’ve been reading. If I have any regrets I wish I would have made time to finish a computer book or two and maybe read a bit more history. I also could have done with a little less science fiction, but it was a good year for me and books.

Erin and Jachin’s 2013 Christmas Playlist

It’s getting to be Christmas time again. That means a lot of awful annoying music that might have been fun at some point but after while just feels soul crushing, but also some that’s actually kinda good. Once again me and Erin have tried to assemble some of the better music (some new some old) to improve everyone’s holidays.

We just try not to repeat any exact tracks from previous years. I’m not sure we’ll be able to keep that up forever, but we managed to do it again this year. Some of our favorite Christmas songs are on previous year’s list, so you should check those out too (2012, 2011, 2010). If you listen to all 4 plays lists back to back, that’s over 4 hours of Christmas music.

  1. We Wish You A Merry ChristmasFolk AngelComfort & Joy – Christmas Songs Vol. 3
  2. Do You Hear – We Three Kings – The 12 Songs of Christmas
  3. Winter NightLittle & AshleyWinter Night EP
  4. You Make The Cold DisappearAmy StroupMusic City Unsigned Family Christmas
  5. They Shined Up Rudolph’s NoseThe David Mayfield ParadePaste Holiday Sampler 2013
  6. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)Death Cab for CutieMaybe This Christmas Tree
  7. It Came Upon a Midnight ClearNorah JonesIt Came Upon a Midnight Clear
  8. Christmas With You – Johnny Cash – The Classic Christmas Album
  9. Kris KringleKate RusbyWhile Mortals Sleep
  10. I Hear (Click, Click, Click)The RosebudsChristmas Tree Island
  11. More Than I Wished ForSchuyler FiskSounds Of The Holiday
  12. Hark the Herald Angels SingSmalltown PoetsSmalltown Poets Christmas
  13. What Child Is This – Sleeping At LastChristmas Collection 2013
  14. Lumberjack Christmas / No One Can Save You from Christmases PastSufjan StevensSilver & Gold
  15. Christmas In PrisonEmmy the Great featuring Lightspeed ChampionIt’s Not Like Christmas
  16. Three Ships – We Three Kings – The 12 Songs of Christmas
  17. Come Thou Long Expected Jesus / Joy To The WorldFolk AngelHeaded Home – Christmas Songs Vol. 2
  18. The BlizzardCamera ObscuraThe Blizzard
  19. One More Sleep ’Til Christmas – The Muppets – The 12 Songs of Christmas
  20. Christmas Auld Lang SyneOrtolanA Familyre Christmas – Volume 4!

Also, here’s the playlist on last.fm.

Here’s a bonus track, we didn’t put in on the CD because we felt like it needs the video.

State Secrets

All this business about Edward Snowden, the NSA, Wikileaks, etc has reminded me about a story I heard on This American Life a while ago about “state secret privilege.”

The short summary:

  1. Three civilians died in an Air Force plane crash.
  2. The widows sued the Air Force for negligence.
  3. The Air Forced refused to hand over the accident report or even show it to the judge.
  4. This goes all the way to the Supreme Court, which decides in favor of the government. The judges say that the government does not have to hand over (or even show anyone) the accident report if the government claims that doing so will reveal state secrets.
  5. Time passes. This case is used over and over as precedent for the state secret privilege.
  6. Many years later the accident report is declassified and discovered. The accident report says nothing about any secret equipment or a secret mission or anything secret at all. Instead, it shows that the Air Force was very, very negligent.

It is a very sad story. The message I hear from it, loud and clear, is that state secrecy will be abused. This puts any “cure” for terrorism or any other kind of crime that relies on secrecy into the category of “the cure being worse then the disease.”

Allow me to put this a couple of different ways.

If you are a conservative: state secrecy represents a massive threat to public trust in critical institutions and with out this trust they will not be able to function effectively.

If you are a progressive: state secrecy is a tool for well connected powerful people to prey on others.

If you are a libertarian: you already get what I’m saying.

Songs About The End: Skullcrusher Mountain

Jonathan Coulton‘s song Skullcrusher Mountain is maybe only tangentially about the world ending but it’s does seem inevitable.

Read more

Songs About the End: It’s Only Life

The ShinsIt’s Only Life” does not actually seem to be about the apocalypse or the end of the world or anything like that but the music video sure is.

Read more