Music this week
- Anderson .Paak – Venice. Anderson Paak, previously known as Breezy Lovejoy (which is what I have known him as), is a singer, rapper, and music producer from Los Angeles. I knew him in the past due to collaborations he’s done with Dumbfoundead, Wax, and Elements of Music in L.A., but now he’s elevated to the next level after appearing on about half of Dr Dre’s new album, Compton. This particular album (titled Venice) is melodic and laid back, and a completely different vibe from Compton. Enjoying it a lot.
- Vangelis – Blade Runner. Every five years or so I come back to this album, one of my favorite movie soundtracks of all time. It’s fantastic music to work to, with the majority comprised of instrumental ambience that suits the rainy neon scenes of Blade Runner the movie perfectly. Rachel’s Song in particular still gives me chills. This particular album aside, Vangelis is among the most inspiring musicians that I know of, being able to create completely synthesized and totally other-worldly soundscapes which defined an era of cinema. Below is a great photo of Vangelis in his studio scoring Blade Runner.
- JD McPherson – Let the Good Times Roll. A new album from an artist who I wasn’t familiar with until recently. Singer and songwriter from Oklahoma with a decidedly retro sound, inspired by blues and rockabilly from the 1950’s. The standout track on this album is titled Head Over Heels.
Movies this week
- The Avengers: Age of Ultron – Despite really enjoying both Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier in theaters, I skipped Avengers 2. After seeing the movie at home, I do not regret that choice. The special effects are amazing, as everyone knew they would be, but it really feels like too much at this point. At several points during this movie I felt like I was watching a video game pulling out every stop imaginable to impress me. It is beautiful to look at it, but it is simultaneously gratuitous eye-candy. One interesting effect of watching this video at this particular point in time is that all of the explosions looked small to me, compared to the recent Tianjin explosion in China.
Articles this week
- Is the game up for China’s much emulated growth model? – With clouds of uncertainties swirling overhead about China, this is the bigger question which connects them. Is this a turning point in China’s recent decades of explosive growth? No one knows the answer but asking the question and analyzing the indicators is fascinating. China, now as much as ever, feels like the biggest experiment ever conducted. Meanwhile Russia, Brazil, India and South Africa continue to languish. A new era of difficult challenges for BRICS.
- Vigilante Justice: How cheated Chinese investors captured the head of Fanya Metals Exchange – China’s stock market continued its meltdown last week, and amidst that crisis are millions of defrauded but otherwise-normal Chinese people. This article is about a particular company which withheld billions in funds from its own investors, leading to a group of hundreds hitting the street to confront the fund manager in a Shanghai luxury hotel. China has a thing for street justice.
- Logging daily mood with the Moodnotes app, which has been rewarding. Each day optionally allows for enriching entries by practicing thinking habits which improve mood. Usually these are in the form of questions which make you look at problems from a different angle, or think in terms of constructive solutions. In the words of Moodnotes: These journaling activities promote mindsets known to boost happiness. Used over time, they can bring more positivity, engagement, and meaning into your life.” Utilizing these framing techniques to re-contextualize challenges is refreshing.
- Recording all food eaten with the MyFitnessPal app over the last few weeks has made me realize how much food I eat that I probably shouldn’t be eating. I very rarely eat candy and I don’t smoke or drink soda, but I can see that I have a long way to go. Another dimension to this challenge is that I need to eat 3,200 calories just to maintain my weight with my current exercise level.
- Tracking sleep every night with the Sleep Cycle app. I am struggling to get 8 hours of sleep per night because of activities which are creeping into the early morning. I’m addressing this by setting an alarm in the evening which tells me when to go to sleep. Another thing that I will try is to set the smart lightbulbs in my house to turn red one hour before I go to sleep. I hope this will do two things: mentally convey that it’s time to get ready for sleep, and allow my eyes to adjust to dimmer light which should help me get to sleep faster.
Incredible footage of the Tianjin explosion in Eastern China. Another clip shows multiple handheld shots of the same explosions, synced together.