2019 reading list

It’s been a while since my first (and so far only) reading list (2016) [1], but this decade shall not end without another one. Rules for the 2019 reading list:

  • The content must have been interesting throughout the year; sources with only a few notable publications of an otherwise unremarkable output don’t qualify
  • I overcame my aversion to podcasts, so they’re included in this year’s list
  • High-traffic, mixed bags of big companies were omitted

Politics and social sciences

Deevy Bishop’s BishopBlog [2] is an opinionated journal about social sciences, sprinkled with psychology and neurology – and politics! While not pop-science grade, I feel I can follow most topics and as a non-scientist I appreciate the mix of topics, including statistical methodology and opinions on the state of social science and the replication crisis.

Tanner Greer’s The Scholar’s Stage [11] has shifted to a westerner’s view on China with an inside spin which helped me see global politics in a different light. His writing alone on the India-China stand-off or Taiwan make this a worth-while read.

The law blog [12], one of the few non-English blogs I follow, is Udo Vetter’s log from the trenches of the German justice system. Short, informative, often funny.

And the E-lawyer [13] is another rarity, a Greek language law blog where Vassilis Sotiropoulos deals with legal topics of broad interest such as data privacy, employment law and human rights. I enjoy his thorough analysis and the ample sources he provides as well as the fast-paced stories of his court cases.

Yannis Varoufakis [14] is still out there saving the world and explaining the world of economics in an approachable but complete way. I started following his blog when I learned about the modest proposal, a solution to the Euro crisis he and others devised which restructures the European Central Bank into an infrastructure investment organisation; the modest proposal later evolved into what is now knows as the Green New Deal.

Sam Harris [15] is a neurologist whose long running podcast is a series of one-on-one conversations about society, psychology and politics. Harris’ diverse guests, his distinct own opinion, calm manner and reflection reminds me of the humanistic political left that somehow was lost on the way to modern politics.

Ben Shapiro [16] is a conservative US American political analyst who vlogs for the Daily Wire. He is probably the most critical Tump supporter I know and usually well informed about current events. I tune into his channel at the end of the day for a quick recap of American politics and his witty, often hilarious delivery, though I personally find little to no overlap with my own political views there.

The Philosophy Tube [17] is Oliver Lennard/Thorn’s virtual university where he talks about western, eastern and African philosophy – with recently more focus on social and gender-related topics. As he is a professional actor he slips on occasion into different characters who bring his intellectual points across in an enjoyable and funny theatrical way.

Kyle Kulinski’s Secular Talk [19] is that voice of reason I had been missing in the US American political debate. Kyle is critical on US foreign intervention and on conservative politics, while not pulling punches when pointing out weaknesses in the democratic party’s inner workings.

Mathematics and Physics

Nick Berry’s DataGenetics [3] is a collection of math and logic puzzles which, however, reveal a deeper connection to reality. I found practical applications for most of those puzzles (challenge: can you find the practical application of the impossible escape?) and I particularly enjoy the cut-to-the chase writing style. I wish Nick all the well for his continuing health battles and hope for many more great posts in 2020.

Ask a Mathematician / Ask a Physicist [5] remains my favourite physics blog talking about astrophysics and quantum physics in an approachable way. The “gravy” section at the end of each post dives into equations which occasionally is refreshing to read and a good way to keep the rest of the post light. Did you ever wonder whether you can perform quantum experiments in the macro world, like the double slit experiment with cats (cats apparently are the lab rats of quantum physics)?

Featured in the last reader list, John D. Cook [9] continues to deliver great insight into Maths, programming and data privacy for another year. He sometimes has an unusual perspective on things, eg. when studying a series for convergence we were told in school that divergent series are not interesting, or are they? And if you feel you’ve picked sides in the metric vs. imperial system stand-off, maybe he can change your mind to walk away from the debate altogether 🙂

Sabine Hossenfelder explains in the tradition of a natural philosopher quantum physics, the universe and the meaning of life on Backreaction [10]. It’s fun to follow the lively comment section and her crusade against wasted grants, the scientific establishment and classical interpretations of quantum mechanics.

Information Technology

After a longer hiatus, the Performance Calendar [4] is back! The blog deals with advanced web performance topics with a focus on HTML, JavaScript and edge computing.

Matt Green writes about the algorithmic and political dimensions of cryptography on A Few Thoughts on Cryptography [6] without becoming tedious or dry.

Oona Räisänen puts sound music and signal processing to words in absorptions [7]. I came across her blog over a post featured on Hacker News which traced a mysterious helicopter sound.

Expedia’s CTO, Subbu Allamarju writes in Subbu’s blog [8] about the big picture of corporate IT with special attention given to the intersection between man and machine. I particularly liked a series of “tales from the engine room” type posts which explain what and how one can learn from production incidents and I enjoy his down to earth way of telling a compelling story.

Anna Shipmann is one of FT’s technical directors who documents her professional and technical journey; among the many things she writes about is technical architecture, work life in a team and strategy.

And the rest

Athlean-X [18] is about working out and training which helped me overcome mental and physical blocks in my workout and manage long lingering joint problems. If you have been postponing that new gym subscription for January, this channel is definitely worth subscribing to.

ChrisFix is a marine biologist student who fixes cars; need to do paint work before your other half scoffs over the evidence of your reckless driving or change those squeaky breaks? Chris is your guy.


[1] 2016 feed reader shortlist

[2] BishopBlog

[3] DataGenetics

[4] Performance Calendar

[5] Ask a Mathematician / Ask a Physicist

[6] A Few Thoughts on Cryptography

[7] absorptions

[8] Subbu’s blog

[9] John D. Cook

[10] Backreaction

[11] The Scholar’s Stage

[12] Law blog

[13] E-lawyer

[14] Yannis Varoufakis

[15] Sam Harris

[16] The Ben Shapiro show

[17] Philosophy Tube

[18] Athelan-X

[19] Secular Talk

[20] ChrisFix

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