Michael's Monthly Recommendations (March 2018)

Michael Fairley

31 Mar 2018

I’m constantly reading, watching, listening to, playing, and using a million different things, and I recommend some of my favorites on a monthly basis.

Enlightenment Now  Steven Pinker
Bill Gates has called this his “new favorite book of all time”, which oversells things a bit, but was enough to get me to immediately pick it up.

Part II, which makes up the bulk of this book (and is by far the strongest of the 3 parts), is a lengthy look at how almost every modern measure of human well-being (e.g. lifespan, income, education, women’s rights, democracy) are at their all time highs (or have been trending upwards for decades), and human suffering (child mortality, extreme poverty, war, murder, domestic and sexual violence, slavery) are at their all time lows1. (He does address a few areas where we’re not doing so hot right now, like caring for the environment, the global rise in authoritarianism and nationalism, and slow recent gains to wealthy countries’ middle classes, so it’s not all warm fuzzy feelings.)

I highly recommend picking this up, breezing through Part I (an introduction advocating that the principles of the 18th Englightment are the root of all modern progress), soaking up Part II as a way to calibrate yourself to the current state of human progress, and then stopping before Part III (which is mostly a wordy-yet-poorly-argued rant about how humanities departments and religion are the ultimate enemies of progress).

Opus Magnum  Zachtronics
Zachtronics keeps doing what they do best: open-ended engineering puzzle games. Opus Magnum is easily the most accessible and polished of their games, and is something I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys solving (often difficult) engineering problems.

Kindred  Octavia Butler
A black woman living in Los Angeles in the 1970s finds herself transported through time and space back to Antebellum Maryland, circa 1815, and has to adapt to live in a complicated and hostile place.
(H/t David Peter for the recommendation.)

Paradoxica  Wide Eyes
This is a very good instrumental metal album that I listened through almost every day last month. If you’re normally turned off of metal because of all the yelling or whatever, you might enjoy this.

Chris Hecker - Part 2  Designer Notes
Chris Hecker and Soren Johnson have a fascinating chat about a lot of little design details in Spy Party, which is IMO one of the most well designed competetive games around.

Deku Deals  Michael Fairley
I launched a new website at the beginning of March! It helps you find the best discounts on Nintendo Switch games and accessories.

Icons by Icon Solid.

  1. Many of these statistics are all their all-time best levels on an absolute basis, while others are “only” at their all-time best per capita.