I am not planning to look back and reflect on 2019. Instead I will look forward to the future.

🎬 I really enjoyed Rise of the Skywalker. Sure, it contains fan service, but, honestly, all sequels are fan service. I liked it a lot more than The Last Jedi, and think that reviewers like A.O. Scott are just blowing off steam about franchise films or something.

🎵 Album of the day: Better Oblivion Community Center’s eponymous debut. B.O.C.C. is the duo of Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst. I’m only familiar with Conor Oberst, and I think this album fits in very well with the rest of his work. It is quiet, moody indie rock. The songs are beautiful and the production sounds good.

When I read articles about the obesity rate in the United States, like this one, I’m surprised to learn that it is as low as 40%. It seems so much higher here.

I’m really looking forward to latkes all of a sudden.

🎵 Album of the Day: “Designer” by Aldous Harding. It is a quiet, intimate, folksy album that reminded me a little of Hope Sandoval from Mazzy Star.

Obamacare Insurance Mandate Is Struck Down by Federal Appeals Court

Abby Goodnotes reports in the New York Times:

A federal appeals court on Wednesday struck down a central provision of the Affordable Care Act, ruling that the requirement that people have health insurance was unconstitutional.

Who didn’t see this coming? Surely not the Republicans in Congress who removed the ACA tax penalty for not having health insurance.

Pop mastermind Jack Antonoff is N.J.’s artist of the decade

Bobby Oliver posted a profile of one of my favorite current musicians (songwriter, producer, collaborator, and band leader), Jack Antonoff:

Antonoff is an overwhelming, chameleonic presence and an easy pick as New Jersey’s most dynamic and prolific artist of the 2010s — no local musician has created so much or touched so many corners of the industry. His extensive impact is felt at the Grammys, on the radio and deep within whatever streaming service millennial listeners call home.

I can’t agree with this more.

I bought my ticket to “Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker” and can’t wait until Friday night to be disappointed by it. 😅

The Miseducation of the American Boy

Peggy Orenstein’s article in The Atlantic exploring the sorry state of musculinity, as experienced by the American teenager, is well written and worth reading:

Feminism may have provided girls with a powerful alternative to conventional femininity, and a language with which to express the myriad problems-that-have-no-name, but there have been no credible equivalents for boys. Quite the contrary: The definition of masculinity seems to be in some respects contracting. When asked what traits society values most in boys, only 2 percent of male respondents in the PerryUndem survey said honesty and morality, and only 8 percent said leadership skills—traits that are, of course, admirable in anyone but have traditionally been considered masculine. When I asked my subjects, as I always did, what they liked about being a boy, most of them drew a blank. “Huh,” mused Josh, a college sophomore at Washington State. (All the teenagers I spoke with are identified by pseudonyms.) “That’s interesting. I never really thought about that. You hear a lot more about what is wrong with guys.”

In order to make masculinity less toxic, we (men especially) have to define it in positive, attainable attributes. To be masculine should mean (1) to have self-discipline, (2) to take responsibility for your actions (even when you are wrong), and, most importantly, (3) to care for people (friends, family, community, and those who are vulnerable) with your words and actions. Masculinity should be about using your strength-both physical strength and, more importantly, inner strength-to preserve and protect people, society, and nature, as best you can. I don’t think this is a new definition of masculinity, though. I think it is a very, very old one—one whose traits do not stand in contrast with femininity, but, instead, they overlap and support femininity—and feminism too.

🎵 Album of the day: “U.F.O.F.” by Big Thief. I found it on several “best of 2019” lists. It’s a quiet folk-rock album, with ruminative lyrics and a sound that borders on dream pop in places. I’m not sure if it really speaks to me, though.

I’m releasing updates of two of my apps this week, with very minor updates. I have found it hard to sit down and work on new features or the next version of any of my apps for the past couple months. One thing that keeps happenings that I get caught up in indecision about what to do, how to design it, and how to code it. I’m hoping to move past this phase and get back into a flow state soon, but first, I have to push forward.

NPR Music Staff Picks: The Best Albums Of 2019

If I were smart, I would listen to every album on this massive list-of-lists, over the next few months. I kind of like the idea of all the critics' top albums in one place a lot better than a single, definitive list.

LogMeIn is being acquired by a private equity firm. I hope this doesn’t make LastPass, which LogMeIn acquired in 2015, worse or more expensive.

🎵 Today’s album: “So” by Peter Gabriel. It’s a masterpiece. I kind of forgot that, and had not listened to it in several years. I barely know what else to say.

Maybe I am unplugged from things because of my age or something, but it seems to me that hardly anyone is excited about the new “Star Wars” movie coming out this week. I’m not excited either, but I want to see it eventually. I’m wondering if the drastic tonal shifts in “The Last Jedi” killed fans' enthusasiam the franchise.

I have reached the time of year in which my hands are so dry that fingerprint sensors no longer work for me.

I really like this video in which audiophile YouTuber DMS describes all the jargon you need to know to decipher hifi headphone reviews. I wish I had seen this six years ago or so when I first got into good headphones.

📺 “Watchmen”, which ended last night (spoilers ahead if you read the linked article) is easily the best sci-fi/fantasy show I’ve since since “Westworld” season 1. I actually hope HBO either (1) doesn’t make a season 2, or (2) gives several years for something that equals it to be developed, because “Watchmen” was just perfect.

The reviews for “Frozen II” might be lackluster, but I really liked it, and think that the songs, though few in number, are great. I think I preferred them before I saw the movie, but that’s just me.

🎵 Today’s listen: Hawksley Workman’s “For Him and the Girls”. The songwriting is strong and eclectic, some of the hooks are really catchy, and he played all the instruments and recorded it himself. The top track for me is “No Sissies” though I’m not sure how well its title has aged.

The real problem with robocalls, contrary to what is in The Verge today, is that they have undermined the usefulness of the telephone. Do you pick up the phone for “unknown caller”? I usually don’t. All phone calls have become suspicious for me, unless they are pre-scheduled meetings.

Van Halen’s “1984” is a great album and still holds up today, I think, even with all those synth lines. It certainly sounds great all the way through. It’s a shame about rock being dead and all…😅

Plex is a great music player on iOS. I’m playing lossless tracks (from my old CD rips) stored on my home server, over the network, over AirPlay, controlled by my iPad. I love seeing the song’s waveform on the progress bar, and reading the rich metadata about each album I listen to.

I’m spending some time pruning my music collection, which I barely listen to anymore, but is higher quality (all CD rips or 24/96k files!) than Apple Music. It has been so long, though, that I forgot most of my file renaming and converting tricks.