I had a week off for Christmas, and that was awesome. It went by way too fast, though.
Also, I got my refund for the crap laptop I bought off Amazon, and instead bought an Omen 15t directly from HP, which should be here in about 3 weeks. Looking forward to that.
- Washington Post: Trump’s lawyer and the Venezuelan president: How Giuliani got involved in back-channel talks with Maduro – It seems like Rudy Giuliani and Co. have been operating as a sort of shadow State Dept. for the Trump administration.
- AP: 5 stabbed at Hanukkah celebration in latest attack on Jews – Anti-Semitic violence is on an upswing in the US. No, seriously. Shit’s getting bad out there, people.
- Reuters: U.S. monitoring North Korea closely, finds situation concerning: White House – With all this Ukraine talk, one of Trump’s other favorite dictators is apparently feeling neglected.
- New York Times: Behind the Ukraine Aid Freeze: 84 Days of Conflict and Confusion – A good overview of the mess behind the Ukraine scandal that lead to Trump’s impeachment.
- Future Crunch: 99 Good News Stories You Probably Didn’t Hear About in 2019
- New York Times: Among the World’s Most Dire Places: This California Homeless Camp
- The Atlantic: Jews Are Going Underground
Books I Read Recently
We watched Netflix’ The Witcher last weekend, so I spent Christmas week chewing through the whole Witcher series, by Andrzej Sapkowski. These include:
- The Last Wish
- Sword of Destiny
- Blood of Elves
- The Time of Contempt
- Baptism of Fire
- The Tower of Swallows
- The Lady of the Lake
The first two are anthologies of short stories, and the last five are a series of novels. And they’re… okay? They’re decent. Three stars: ⭐⭐⭐.
The anthologies are pretty good – the short stories are entertaining and often funny. The first two and a half books are quite good and frequently laugh-out-loud funny.
The last book and a half are kind of a slog. Like, the author got close to finishing and panicked because he hadn’t taken things seriously enough and tried to get all EPIC FANTASY at the end.
These books are about a superhuman dude banging his way across the continent while he kills monsters and accidentally embarrasses himself at various social functions. Occasionally there are politics, which is sometimes interesting and sometimes tedious. About once a book there’s a group of dwarfs and they are hilarious: earthy, vulgar, farty little scrappers who argue murderously over a card game called Barrel which is obviously just Bridge.
So you start out with Conan the Barbarian meets Terry Pratchett, and suddenly, without warning, the books pop the clutch and shift into high fantasy, and it kind of doesn’t work very well. You can’t start out at murder-boners and dwarf farts, then try to tack a Lord of the Rings ending on it.
Overall, like, taken as a whole, I mostly enjoyed the books, because there were a lot of cool characters, the world was super interesting, and it had a lot of potential. It just didn’t stick the landing, is all.
PS: The TV Show…
Speaking of, Netflix’ The Witcher was pretty good.
It’s non-linear and doesn’t go out of its way to explain which parts are happening when, so that’s going to lead to some confusion. The first three or four episodes are a bit meh. There’s a couple of awesome fight scenes to get you through, though, and Jaskier, the bard, is a hoot.
After that the show appears to abruptly realize that not only is it not Game of Thrones, it isn’t ever going to be, so they might as well be having more fun, and then things start picking up speed.
We’re looking forward to season two.