Michael's Periodic Recommendations (December 2019)

Michael Fairley

20 Dec 2019

I read, watch, listen to, play, and use a ton of different things, and every so often, I pick out a few of my favorites to recommend.

Exhalation: Stories Ted Chiang

Phenomenal collection of some of the best sci-fi short stories I've ever read. (Think "sci-fi" as in strange inventions and what if the universe worked a little differently? rather than pew pew laser guns and aliens in space ships. It's like Black Mirror, but with a lot less of the dark dystopian stuff.)

His previous collection of stories is also worth a read.

Outer Wilds (Windows/PS4/Xbone) Mobius Digital

(Not to be confused with Outer Worlds, another recent game with an unfortunately similar name and a much bigger marketing budget.)

Outer Wilds is an open world mystery about a solar system trapped in an endless time loop.

This is very solidly my favorite game of 2019.

Thing Explainer Randall Munroe (the xkcd guy)

Using only the 1,000 most common English words (plus lots of drawings), Randall explains a bunch of complicated things (mostly machines and scientific concepts), like boxes that make clothes smell better, picture takers, and tiny bags of water you're made of. The writing is simultaneously educational, hilarious, and awe-inspiring.

La La Land: Galileo's Warning Cautionary Tales - Tim Harford

Galileo tried to teach us that adding more and more layers to a system intended to avert disaster often makes catastrophe all the more likely to happen. His basic lesson has been ignored in nuclear power plants, financial markets and at the Oscars... all resulting in chaos.

The Art of Gathering Priya Parker

Insightful book about how to bring people together in ways that foster meaningful experiences and authentic connection. If you regularly run meetings at work, host dinner parties, or organize any other sort of gathering, this book will help you make the most of that time spent together.

A rechargeable hand warmer

I got one of these last winter and it has been an incredibly convenient way to keep my hands warm when I'm outside in cold weather. It charges over USB, turns on/off with a simple switch, and stays hot for a few hours. (It also has a USB port that other devices can charge from, letting it double as a portable power bank.)

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