Suggested reading



Speaking of Bandcamp, this appeared yesterday, or day before, or something, and it contains some really excellent music, including some by composers or musicians I’ve been following a bit.


Thanks for the recommendation, I just ordered this online from my local bookstore.


ok, seriously, i just finished the three-part series ‘rememberance of earth’s past’ by liu cixin, consisting of “the three-body problem,” “the dark forest,” and “death’s end.”

no doubt in my mind that this will go down as one of our generation’s towering works of speculative fiction, totally astounding.


Same here, and I totally agree. Wonderful books.


Fascinating from a bunch of angles. In particular, I loved her riff on the McGurk Effect.

The McGurk Effect was mentioned yesterday. I didn’t know the name for that, but I knew it existed.

That’s a really important point. Humans evolved to get information, primarily from vision. Neurologically, we have much, much more processing power and neural resources devoted to processing what we see compared to what we hear. The auditory system is very crude, so when we see something, it is going to dominate our decision-making compared to what we hear. But, that said, the hearing, because it’s a simpler mechanism, is faster and more automatic. Students who stare at the screen and the waveform are literally suppressing and denying themselves the capacity to listen. They don’t need to see the waveform. There’s no useful information there, beyond a certain point. When you’re listening to a performance, you need to see the levels, and you need to see the transport controls. But, other than the meters and the transport controls, there’s no information there that you need. All the information you need is coming out of the speakers. That’s what you should be attending to. It contains the message.

Turn the screen off.

Yeah! And block competing sources of information that are not useful in the moment. We’ve got these sensory organs that are constantly taking in information, and then we’ve got internal sources of information, telling you you’re hungry, tired, cold, or thirsty. The whole brain is processing sound. So, as you’re listening to sound, you’re taking in what you see, but you’re also taking in what you smell and what you taste. You’re taking in whether you’re happy, or sad, or cold, or hot, or tired, or hungry, or in a good mood, or in a bad mood. You’re taking in anxieties. Is there something happening later that night, or the next day? The whole system is processing what you hear, and can influence what you hear. Associative memory – associations between a song and memories of it – can influence our liking or disliking of that song. We all like songs that make us happy, even when we don’t know why it makes us happy. We probably heard it when we were just deliriously happy at some point, whether at a wedding, or a baseball game, or whatever. It’s incredibly powerful, in part because auditory processing is so incredibly crude.


Take the location of Lincoln Meadow, east of San Francisco, in the Sierra Nevada mountains; in 1988 a tree felling company convinced the local community that, by practicing selective logging (taking out a tree here and there) instead of wiping down entire areas, they would have preserved the habitat.

From a camera perspective, spot on, they were right.

But look at and listen to the sound spectra of birds dawn choruses before and after.

Even after years the spectrum never returned to its pre-logging state.


I haven’t read this book yet, but this review is interesting. I’m sure many here would agree what there is something special about “analog”.


Machine learning is a field I have some personal and professional interest in.
Smart writing here about the limits of disembodied machine learning.


Einstein’s pop science book is actually a surprisingly accessible read, whilst really trying to explain all the concepts presented. There’s a part where he describes special relativity (i.e the part which doesn’t relate to gravitation) in terms of trains, tennis balls & lightning strikes, iirc. Great, (mindbending) fun!

The edition I had was called simply ‘relativity’ - with a first half for special relativity (things moving really fast), second half for general relativity (gravity). special is much more digestible than general.

So there you have it - a lovely (and unusual) case in science where you can get into some pretty wild stuff in fairly plain language, straight from the horse’s mouth…


Thanks Rick! Can you link me to it? (I’m having trouble finding an Einstein pop science…or rather the specific one you might be referring to–THANKS!)

There was a similar thing in this book, but the diagrams just aren’t clear enough. They seem like afterthoughts.


couldn’t find the exact edition I owned… but this looks like the same text:

and I think the title of the book is ‘relativity: the special & general theory’ Re-reading his introduction I think ‘pop science’ is pretty accurate!

The present book is intended, as far as possible, to give an exact insight into the theory of
Relativity to those readers who, from a general scientific and philosophical point of view,
are interested in the theory, but who are not conversant with the mathematical apparatus of
theoretical physics


Harmonic Experience: Tonal Harmony from Its Natural Origins to Its Modern Expression

Gratitude goes to Walker Farrell for opening my eyes and ears to this book. I’m taking it super-slow and practicing the exercises until I embody them somewhat before moving on. I’m only to Chapter 7 and it’s seriously blowing my mind.


Can somebody recommend a book on psychoacoustics? The more practical examples the better. Interested in things like Franssen effect, McGurk effect and otoacoustic emissions.


This does not do exactly what you describe (as in does not go into those effects) but does provide a multi-disciplinary analysis of ‘sonic effects’:

Very much from an acoustic ecology angle, but also quite general and readable.


Thanks, ordered! Looks like a useful book!


I thought Wolf in White Van was just astonishing. A deeply humane book about the capacity for violence. I’d recommend it, especially if you’ve admired John Darnielle’s lyrics (the Mountain Goats) -


(more than) Words. [a thread about writing]


Excited to have picked this one up (no idea why it’s so expensive here):

Also, highly recommend reading some Postman, in light of the conversation from earlier in the year on this thread. There are some anachronisms in his writing, and some questionable metaphors to be sure, but the overarching point is very prescient, now more than ever, and outlines in clear terms the myriad problems with deifying technology.


Cool interview! Had no idea about all the varispeed tricks he pulled off. I do kinda miss the dirty sound and vibe of his older albums though, the new one felt a bit limp. Sounds like he’s doing exactly what he wants to do though so all the best to him.