BLG’s Top Reads of 2022

Here’s a look back at the best I read during 2022.  These are roughly listed best, first; but the quality was generally so high as to make fine distinctions specious.  Some comments on each follows the lists.  I’ll be fleshing those out over the next few days so visit to see updates, if you like.

Also, I have to give a shout-out to my wonderful wife, who bought me most of these books last Christmas and keep me happily swamped in reading material for most of the year.



  • How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States by Daniel Immerwahr
  • Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes by Mir Tamim Ansary
  • Money: The True Story of a Made-up Thing by Jacob Goldstein
  • Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks by Keith Houston 
  • The Wordhord: Daily Life in Old English by Hana Videen
  • Immune: A Journey into the Mysterious System That Keeps You Alive by Philipp Dettmer
  • Hitler’s American Gamble: Pearl Harbor and Germany’s March to Global War by Brendan Simms and Charlie Laderman
  • Papyrus: The Invention of Books in the Ancient World by Irene Vallejo
  • Who Killed Jane Stanford?: A Gilded Age Tale of Murder, Deceit, Spirits and the Birth of a University by Richard White
  • The Alchemists: Three Central Bankers and a World on Fire by Neil Irwin
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Review: Altered Carbon

{Ed. note: Another thing languishing in my Drafts for multiple years.  Maybe I thought I’d be expanding it?  Clearly I won’t, so here it is.}

I’ve finished all of (season one?) of Altered Carbon, and have reached the conclusion that it is decidedly … adequate. It’s so-so cyberpunk and so-so noir, desperately trying to be distinct from Blade Runner while simultaneously desperately wanting to be Blade Runner.

Spoilers below the fold.

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My manifesto

{Editor’s note: This has been sitting in my Drafts since early 2017 but seems as appropriate now.}

You want an ACTUAL political revolution? You want to take back our democracy or “make America great again”? Then here are the vitally important but unsexy changes you should be advocating:
* minimal obstacles to voting
* true, non-partisan, proportional redistricting
* adequate — no, expansive — funding of research organs of government, to give legislators advice and education independent of corporate lobbying
* meaningful enforcement of anti-monopoly and anti-monopsony laws, at all levels of the economy
* effective isolation of legislators (and aides) from lobbyists and corporate interests — no taking their money in office, no taking a cushy job after being in office.

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Doctor Who Season 9 Episode 10: Face the Raven

Spoilers abound, so if you, like me, are watching this over a year late {ed. note: now more like seven years}, be warned.

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Family Values

{Editor’s note: Whoof, this is an oldie that’s just sat in my Drafts for — seven(!) years, for no good reason.}

As predictable as the rising of the Sun, a figure on the right has assailed same-sex marriage equality as an “assault on families”.  I am so tired of this.  You know what undermines families?  Thirty years of

  • trade policies that eliminate high-paying middle class jobs
  • immigration policies that create a permanent underclass in fear of the law and unable to resist demands of their employers
  • education policies that destroy public schools and public universities to trap people in low-paying jobs.
  • labor practices that eviscerate unions and the power to bargain collectively.
  • economic policies that force parents to work two or three jobs to provide basic necessities for their children

You know what doesn’t undermine families?

  • Allowing two people who love each other to join their households with the sanction of the state.
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Strange New Worlds: All Those Who Wander

A bug hunt.  How I hate bug hunts.

Spoilers for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 Episode 9 “All Those Who Wander”.

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Strange New Worlds: The Serene Squall

What can I say?  They can’t all be winners…

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Sixteen years

Still going.  I’ve been writing this blog on and off — really, mostly “off”, but hey — since this date in 2006.  That’s weird to think about.

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Strange New Worlds: Spock Amok

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds continues to impress. “Spock Amok” has all the ingredients for an epic disaster, yet…

(spoilers ahead, Captain!)
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More inanity from the author of “Ending Online Church”

This piece (7 Thoughtful Reader Responses on Ending Online Church, NY Times, 2022 Feb 6) reeks of the same dismissive (and unimaginative) hubris as the first. With obvious great reluctance, the author admits – halfway through and fleetingly – that whole swaths of people are necessarily and deliberately left out by in-person worship. It’s nice to see that acknowledged, rather than blithely downplayed (“churches have been dealing with the homebound for centuries”), but the author is clear to inoculate her arrogance by first showcasing a convenient “we’re immunocompromised but agree 100%” story that gets paragraphs, before tucking away the counter argument in a short bit sandwiched between two “you’re so right” pieces. Seven insightful responses but only one that can be read as disputatious. But what struck me the most was the “insightful” response that the author chose to emphasize by putting first and at length:

I am 76 years old … [and] not frightened by Covid, whose main harm is that it causes increasing community isolation

7 Thoughtful Reader Responses on Ending Online Church

Its main harm is increasing isolation? Its main harm? There are roughly 900,000 (and counting!) dead Americans who might disagree with your analysis, doctor, not to mention the literal millions who are “isolated” from their loved ones by having seen them die from this disease.

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