Ronit Ray


Recently- August 02-15

2021-08-15 • 4-minute read

Of course I fall off a bandwagon the second after I start it. RIP Weekly Digests, here's to more sporadic updates, I guess. Personally, things have not been great, but I'm not going to be writing about that. Here's literally everything else that is keeping me sane.

Books

I took some time off my read of Don Quixote to join a read-along of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series with a group of friends. This is probably my third read-through and I am honestly amazed by how fresh the writing still feels. I have absolutely no problems professing my love for this series and Riordan's subsequent work. It's a huge mood lifter. We are two weeks and two books in at this point, and having more fun than ever.

About the gentleman from La Mancha, it's... fine? I am admittedly not too far in, but it seems an easy enough read considering the work is 400 years old at this point. I guess the Edith Grossman translation is very approachable. That said, the book has yet to grow on me. It's pretty funny, no doubt, but I do feel it is trying a bit hard at this point. I have not written it off yet, and fully intend to return to it soon.

Movies

I watched The Suicide Squad this week, and it was spectacular. The movie has style, humor, action, heart, and hilariously over-the-top gore and silliness. I'm absolutely delighted by it, and happy for James Gunn. It is an upgrade in every way over the atrocity that was the previous movie, and honestly just good. Hopefully the positive reception it gets sends the right messages to WB: stop making your comic book movies ridiculously dark and dreary, and don't interfere with the people who know what they're doing.

I also watched the first episode of Marvel's What If? series on Disney+, and was left underwhelmed and seriously disappointed by it. The animation was wooden and unenjoyable, the plot could have been much, much wilder but chose to be a rehash of a movie everyone had already seen, with a couple of switcharoos thrown in for fun, and all the chances for character development even within the reduced scope of the plot thrown out due to self-imposed time constraints. I have very, very low expectations for the rest of this series if it is destined to be more of the same. In achieving one of Disney's primary goals of selling a ton of toys, I have no doubt it will fare well. However, the entire venture feels rather lazy to me at this point, especially coming off the wonderful Loki series.

Videos

How We Fix the Climate- Hank Green, vlogbrothers : I am rather fond of the Green brothers and everything they do. For a channel that is many things at many times, vlogbrothers is a gift that keeps on giving. I enjoyed Hank going deeper into economics this week, it really is a rather good video on the different measures that can be implemented to fend off, and hopefully avert the climate crisis.

I've also mostly been watching videos from a channel called Answer in Progress this week. I think the format is interesting, the 3 hosts are pretty great, and the range of topics covered is very good too. There's no doubt that 10-15 minute videos are hardly deep dives, but they can be solid jumping-off points to start a conversation or get you interested in topics you didn't know you would like... and they're just fun. Here are some of my favorites:

Is Fancy Food Accessible? : Which goes into how we define "fancy" food, and how class divides and power dynamics can affect societal perceptions about what things are "posh", "gourmet", and so on. Food, no pun, for thought.

i taught an AI to solve the trolley problem : A fun ride throughout and just a tiny taste of AI ethics and how silly the machines and software we trust and will continue to trust several aspects of our lives can be. I know us STEMfolk should probably exercise a bit more scientific rigor, but (a) garbage in garbage out is a thing, (b) data modeling is a damn hard thing to do, especially for complex problems, and (c) goddamn I will not apologize for having fun.


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