“Oath Keeper,” or, “I was very wrong about where this book was going”

I’m gonna be honest, I didn’t actually intend to finish this book so soon after I read the last one, but it sorta just happened. Whoops.1
So, first things first: this is the second book in an ongoing series, and I kinda doubt I can get through a review of it without at least slightly spoiling the first one, so if you, like me, hate having things spoiled, and you haven’t read the first book, go do that.
Now, on to the second: much like the first, it’s got a lot of different plot lines going on at once. One or two got dropped entirely, which I thought would make things a bit easier to follow, but they got replaced with different new ones. Seriously, the cast of this series is spreading like nobody’s business. Which kinda works, I guess – it makes the whole thing feel bigger, but manageably so, to have so many different angles on the same underlying plot.
And that plot, I must say, got more interesting than I was expecting: most of the way through the first book, and a good bit of the way through this one, I thought I had a good grasp of where the series was going. It felt a bit like a Star Wars arc: you get some success in the first book, everything goes to hell in the second, and in the third you’ll pull it all back together, good guys win, fireworks and a party in a forest with a bunch of weird small creatures.2
And boy, was I wrong about that. I still think it’s possible for the arc of the series to be wrapped up in the third book,3 but what actually needs to be wrapped up is very different from what I was expecting to need to be wrapped up.4
It was a very solid addition to the series, though; the first book took a bit to get going, but this one has done a much better job of capturing that Septimus Heap-style “I have no idea what’s going on, so many questions, I can’t stop reading” feeling.5 I definitely recommend it – though, as I said before, read the first one, and then the second one.

  1. I’ve also realized how well I’m doing for reading Jefferson Smith’s books; with this one done, I think there’s only one non-children’s book he’s got published that I haven’t done a review of, and it’s in my To-Read pile. 
  2. There’s definitely a few analogues between the two series, you’ve gotta admit. 
  3. Which, I should note, doesn’t actually exist yet. Not that I’m mad about this or anything. 
  4. But seriously, I really hope there’s going to be a third one, because the ending of the second is such that I could see that being the end of the series, but the sheer amount of unanswered questions would drive me insane. 
  5. I’m referring to it as a ‘Septimus Heap’ thing because that’s the first series I can remember reading that really did that; media-wise, I think it might have been the Atlantis animated film that Disney did as a direct-to-VHS/DVD thing when I was a kid?
    Tangent off this tangent: that was a good movie, and I’m disappointed that the spin-off TV series turned out to be so meh and only got three episodes. What an under-appreciated movie. 

“Strange Places,” or, “I don’t know if it’s the *places* that are the strange part”

In the “books I don’t know how I wound up with” category, we have Strange Places. I actually wound up starting the second book in this series before the first, which was a bit annoying – I’m not a big fan of spoilers, y’know, and accidentally spoiling the ending of the first one wasn’t the best thing that could’ve happened.
Still, I did enjoy the book; the way it begins is definitely interesting, and I think I enjoyed that part the most. About a quarter of the way in1 it jumps off the rails, though, and even a bit of fourth-wall-breaking “this is so weird” from the narrator/protagonist didn’t work to keep me from calling the book out on the suddenness of it all.
Still, the story is interesting, and I’m invested enough that I’m going to go back to the second book and continue reading. From the first book I’ve figured out a bit more about how everything works in the setting, but plot-wise it’s all loose threads still hanging there.2
Which is where I’ll leave this review – fairly short, but I’m supposed to be on vacation right now, and this is ostensibly work,3 so I’m going to cut it off here and go back to getting sunburned on the beaches of southern California. If you’re interested in the book, here’s the link.

  1. Pushing the limit of my ‘no spoilers’ rule here, I know. 
  2. I think there’s three books, but I only have two, so… I’m going to be sad when I finish the second one, aren’t I? 
  3. At least, according to the organizational systems in my task- and time-tracking software it is. 

Idealized Love in Music

This is an essay I wrote for a class I took in the spring of 2017 titled “Art Song.” Since I’ve now got a bit of a tradition of posting my essays once the courses are over, I figured I may as well.
Love is an integral part of the human experience and a source of inspiration for a vast portion of all the music created by mankind. Love is almost always treated with positivity, but at times this positivity goes too far, and the loved one becomes less a person than an ideal, a concept that cannot exist in reality. The exact nature of this idealization, however, has changed over time, from the Renaissance poetry of Petrarch in which the beloved is perfect and untouchable to the Romantic poems of Heine and Hugo, when that perfection is acknowledged as fragile, ready to break with the lightest touch, and beyond that to a point when the idealized love has broken and twisted, as in Viardot’s “Hai Luli.”
Our examination begins in the 1300s, with Francesco Petrarca (anglicized as “Petrarch”), the most famous poet of the Italian Renaissance. A priest, Petrarch became famous, basically, for seeing a woman – Laura – attending church and falling deeply in love. His was a courtly love, a distant affair: she was married, and he was ordained to remain celibate. The poems that resulted from his infatuation have been set to music many times, but the most famous setting of them is Liszt’s song cycle, “Tre sonetti di Petrarca.” The poetry around which the first song is based describes the pain of separation that Petrarch felt;1 the second and third, however, focus on the positive side of that love.
In the second – “Benedetto sia ‘l giorno” (“Blessed be the day”) – Petrarch devoted the entirety of the first stanza to a gushing thankfulness, asking blessings for the ‘day, month, year, season, time, hour, and moment’ when he first saw his love, and beyond that, ‘the beautiful country and place where I first saw her eyes’ (paraphrasing from the Kline translation of the text). In keeping with this gushing feel, Liszt’s setting of the text moves through this portion quickly, leaving the singer only eighth-note-rest in which to take a fittingly quick breath. The third stanza, however, comes only after a long pause in the vocal line, and moves slower than the earlier portions of the song; Petrarch remembering once again that his love is a distant one, a saddened recall of “the sighs, and the tears.” In the fourth and final stanza, though, the pace picks up once again, sad thoughts replaced once more by adoration.
The third song in the cycle, however, is the most characteristic of this period of courtly love. The poetry sets the stage: “I saw angelic virtue on earth/ and heavenly beauty on terrestrial soil,” it begins, and continues to describe “two lovely eyes that . . . made the sun a thousand times jealous.” Petrarch describes his love not as a woman but as an angel, a work of art delivered from Heaven. She is no more real to him than a beautiful sunset is to any of us: something that can be seen from afar, but never reached, never touched.
As time went on, however, this ideal changed: the Renaissance ended, and, eventually, the Romantics rose to prominence. Some of this idea remained: the objects of their love were still just that – objects – but the distance, once insurmountable, had closed to something in a way too small. Take, for example, Liszt’s setting of Heine’s poem, “Du bist wie eine Blume” (“Thou art like a flower”).2 The text begins in a manner similar to the Petrarchian style, describing the unnamed beloved as ‘pure, fair, and kind.’3 The twist is quick to begin, with the ‘sorrow in my heart,’ but the true point of interest is in what form that sorrow takes: ‘I must then pray that God may preserve thee/ as pure and fair as now,’ the poem ends. In Liszt’s setting of the text, the instrumentation serves to emphasize this moment: as the singer says “Gott erhalte” (“God keep/preserve (thee)”) the piano, for the first time in the piece, falls silent. That earlier perfection of the beloved, though still there, is no longer held as an immutable fact; it is something that must be protected, by both the beholder and by God himself.
And yet, we are not done. The Romantics had changed this idea further still, evidenced in Hugo’s “Oh, quand je doers, viens auprés de ma..” (“Oh! when I sleep”).4 Of interest to us here is the third stanza, in which the text reads “Then on my lips . . . place a kiss, and transform from angel into woman” (Ezust). This idea is a French addition to the concept of the distant romantic love, and would go on to define ‘courtly love’ as a new subcategory of that concept. In the transformation from angel to women, triggered by the kiss, we see the true twist of the concept of courtly love: not only is the beloved’s heavenly status fragile, it is the deed of acting upon the love that does the damage.
Again, Liszt’s setting follows the poem well: the first stanza is underlaid by a calm, rolling piano line, portraying the dreaming state of the speaker. In the second stanza, however, the music accelerates, the piano and vocal lines both bringing more excitement to match the dream as it “become[s] radiant”. For the third stanza, the peaceful quality of the first stanza is brought back, but the chords are arpeggiated more clearly, granting a purity of sound to match the “flash of love” that the poet describes as “pure”. Once again, Liszt makes use of a silence in the piano line to highlight the words of the poem: as the vocalist goes through the phrase “et d’ange de viens femme” – “from angel into woman” they are, for that moment, alone: Liszt’s recognition of the importance of this single moment. It is the kiss, the moment of contact between the love and the lover, that marks that most important change.
To truly love their distant ideal,5 then, is to deliberately maintain that distance; to protect the perfection by refusing to sully it with their own mortality.
There is, however, an interesting twist on this concept, made quite visible in Xavier de Maistre’s untitled poem, set to music by Pauline Viardot as Hai Luli: the ‘heavenly perfection’ is expected, required, only of the female love. Rather than an aspect of heaven, the (male) love in the text has failed the speaker, “Perhaps he betrays his oath to me/ Beside a new lover” (Bamberger). Though, of course, the lover has not, in actuality, betrayed the speaker: instead, the poem is more of a plan for “If one day he should abandon me” than it is a response to actual events. Nonetheless, the fact that the love is treated as even capable of such horrible deeds is a sharp contrast to the (feminine) descended angels of the other poetry.
The concept of the idealized love was so integral to the Romantic era of art that the term ‘romance’ has come, in colloquial usage, to refer to a moment of ideal love. That we need a specific term for that sort of love then implies that such an idea has fallen out of popular use; and, as the current state of popular music can attest, it has.6
The manner in which humanity has idealized their distant loves has changed over time. At the beginning, there was an innocence to it: the beloved is something pure and holy, a stand-in for the most holy of women, the Virgin Mary. As time went on, though, the idealism shifted, and the perfection became something fragile, an eggshell-thin veneer of holiness which would be tarnished and broken by the slightest contact from the beholder. And then, finally, the concept broke entirely, and a poem that boils down to “he might leave me for another, and if he does, everybody burns” was penned: the love is utterly human, utterly fallible.


Anonymous translation of “Du bist wie eine Blume”

  1. “I feed on sadness, laughing weep:/ death and life displease me equally:/ and I am in this state, lady, because of you.” (Kline) 
  2. In my discussion of this poem, I’m using both an unattributed translation and my own knowledge of the German language as reference. 
  3. And, of course, this is done at an implied distance: “I gaze on thee,” states the text. 
  4. There’s a nice bit of self-reference in this poem thanks to the presence, in the first stanza, of the line “approach my bed,/ as Laura appeared to Petrarch.” (Ezust) 
  5. And of course, there is a self-awareness to this concept: Errico’s “Ideale” (“Ideal”), set to music by Tosti, has the poet, in a waking dream, speak directly to the imagined version of the beloved. In the poem, she is referred to as the titular “dear ideal.” (Paton) 
  6. For my citation, I’m going to point out the fact that a song whose chorus consisted of “my anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns, hun” spent eight weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard “Hot 100” list. 


This is an essay I wrote for a class I took in the spring of 2017 titled “Art Song.” Since I’ve now got a bit of a tradition of posting my essays once the courses are over, I figured I may as well.
“Phänomen” was written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) and published in 1819 in the first book of his West-Östlicher Divan, Buch des Sängers. The Divan as a whole was inspired both by Goethe’s written conversations with Marianne von Willemer (1784-1860) and Joseph von Hammer’s (1774-1856) translations of the works of Hafez, a 14th-century Persian poet. The title of the book, and its contents, are inspired by the combination of Western and Eastern philosophies, the coming together of Germany and the Middle East. This was more than just two regions meeting, though: it was also the meeting of two faiths, Islam and Christianity, and of two very different imperial histories – the Roman and Persian empires. The text of “Phänomen” opens with a description of a rainbow appearing from the rain, establishing the idea of hope through what was overwhelming shadow. This appearance of hope is replicated and passed on to the “cheerful old man,” reassuring him that, in spite of his age, he will “still love,” or “love again.” The poem was set to music by Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897) in 1874, and then by Hugo Wolf (1860 – 1903) in 1888-9, being published in 1891. Though the two settings share the same text, overall they are very different pieces.
The two settings are incredibly different, vividly demonstrating the difference in writing style between the two composers. The melody in Brahms’ setting is fairly constrained; the voices throughout move in a stepwise pattern, occasionally leaping – but only to outline the underlying chord. The use of a second voice is an interesting addition, but in terms of melodic contour it doesn’t add all too much: the second voice is, throughout the piece, either echoing or harmonizing with the first; in moments where the lower line moves ahead of the higher, the higher then takes the role of echoing the lower.
Contrary to Brahms’ constraint, Wolf – a member of the Wagnerian school of music – made liberal use of chromaticism in his melodies. His setting of the text has the singer performing acrobatics, making use of frequent leaps from high to low notes in the first half of the song, and then switching to leaps from low to high towards the end. Measures 12-14 utilize these upwards leaps, F#-D, F#-C#, E-C#, both rhythmically and melodically highlighting certain words. The first rise ascends to the word “nicht” before descending again on “betrüben”; a descending line for the verb in ‘do not sadden yourself,’ with the high point on ‘not,’ an excellent use of text paining. The second rise is a mimic of the first, with the high point on “gleich” – ‘similarly.’ The third of these leaps is the most notable, emphasizing as “doch wirst du lieben” – ‘but you will (again) love.’ It is the only one of the three ascending patterns to continue upwards after, a movement that is echoed by the piano moments later, emphasizing the overall sense of happiness in the text.
Some of the most interesting moments in Brahms’ settings are in his use of rhythmic contrast between the two voices. This motive first appears in measure 7: as the higher voice moves in even quarter notes from “Phö-bus” to “sich,” the lower line pauses on “Phö-” holding it out for a full two beats before moving quickly through the “bus sich” as if trying to catch up. The moment lasts only that single measure, but appears again elsewhere: both voices simultaneously use the hold-then-catch-up rhythm in measure 14; the tension between the two is brought back in measure 41, and the rhythm makes a final appearance in measure 48. The version in 48 is different, however: the text is used differently, with only two words across the measure, (“wirst du”) thus leaving the measure lacking in the slight tension created by the need to ‘catch up’ with the beat that the other instances use.
Rhythmically speaking, however, there is only one other point of interest in the piece: measures 19-33, where the voices play an extended game of catch-up. The higher voice starts two full bars ahead of the lower, pauses in mm.22-23 to allow a bit of catch-up, takes off again in m.24, and the two finally meet in m.27 after another pause on the part of the higher. Then it’s the lower voice’s turn to start ahead, though not by as much, and the two finally come together again for good in measure 32 as the lower, rather than pausing, repeats the words “der Bogen.” This is, however, the only place of rhythmic interest in the vocal line; the rest is either even quarter notes, a half note and a quarter note, or the occasional dotted-quarter-eighth-quarter measure. The piano plays a near-constant stream of eighth notes throughout, pausing only in measures 21 and 23 when the job of filling the space with eighth notes is taken up by higher and the lower voice, respectively.
Wolf’s setting does a better job of varying the rhythm throughout, taking advantage of the “sehr langsam” pace he wrote for and giving it an almost recitative feeling at times. There are two rhythmic ideas that he uses multiple times throughout the piece to great effect: the dotted-eighth-sixteenth pattern used at the end of every duplet, and the shifting of certain points off the expected beats by a half-beat. The repetition of the dotted-quarter-eighth rhythm is a subtle way of drawing the entire piece together; in certain spots, such as measure 9 or measures 14-15, its presence is masked by the repetition of a note or the carrying over of a longer note into the idea. The second of these ideas is less obvious: the two best examples are the stretching of the word “farbig” from measure 3 into measure 4, and the right-hand lines of the piano in measures 5 and 10. Rather than allow the melody to move on the strong beat, Wolf gives them a slight twist, making the motion occur on the off-beats.
The two composers have differing ideas about how the structure of the poem should be used: Brahms’ version follows a rounded binary structure, with the division between the different portions of the song being the stanza breaks in the original poem. Wolf acknowledges the stanzas with a bar of rest in the voice at the end of each stanza, but doesn’t return to his original material, instead opting for a through-composed structure that allows for his soaring portrayal of a rainbow in the final measures.
In Brahms’ setting, the piano has two basic ideas the entire time: ascending eighth notes in the left hand with chords in the right, or chords in the left hand with rocking high-low eighth notes in the right; the second of these two is also sometimes modified with chords above the eight-note pattern. Contrast this to he final two measures of Wolf’s setting of the poem: an excellent use of the piano, a piece of text painting that fits the piece while being an entirely new idea. The other moments of solo piano, in measures 5 and 10, also make great use of the instrument’s capabilities, mimicking the effect of a continuing upper voice while continuing the existing piano line. In the moments when the piano is supporting the voice, it still does so in an interesting manner: only rarely is the rhythm in the piano the same as that of the vocal line. In both settings, the piano is subordinate to the singer or singers, but Wolf’s piano solo moments are more musically interesting than Brahms’, indicating that the piano receives higher billing in his version than in Brahms.
The tonal scheme of the two settings is where their differences are most visible. Brahms begins fairly calmly, in the stated key of B, and largely remains in that key for the entirety of the ‘A’ section of the rounded binary structure of the piece. The ‘B’ section, however, is far more interesting: it’s a gleeful exploration of the harmonic spaces around that original key of B major that begins by transforming B major into the V of e minor, returns to b minor instead of B major, makes a pit stop in G (as VI of b minor) and finally, through an extended V7-I cadence in measures 34-38, returns to B major just in time for the returning ‘A’ section to sound at home once again. Wolf, ever the Wagnerian, makes no such concessions to a home key: he begins, briefly, in the stated key of A major, and the piece ends in E major, but in between is a land of glorious uncertainty. As if predicting the atonal music that would arise in the next century, the piece makes a gleeful game of avoiding any true tonal center, instead opting to move almost constantly from place to place. The result is fiendishly difficult to analyze, but, as a true show of his skill as a composer, never sounds out of place.
Brahms’ setting of “Phänomen” is a wonderful piece: the harmonic playfulness in the central portion of the song, as well as the subtle rhythmic variations, give it a distinctive, and enjoyable, feel. Wolf’s, however, feels more closely fit to the actual text: the slower tempo feels more fitting for a conversation with a ‘white-haired’ man, and the ending piano line is a beautiful bit of text painting, a gentle ascension that feels like the sound a rainbow would make as it appears. Though a close match, I must conclude that Wolf’s setting of the poem is the more successful of the two.

“Things 3”, or, “it’s like they brought the best of Material Design to iOS”

So, in my last post about what apps I use I gave a fairly glowing review of Things 2, my to-do list app of choice. The third version of the app has finally been released, and now that I’ve been using it for a few weeks I figured I’d give it a bit of a review.1
Things is a suite of apps: it’s available on macOS and separately on iPhone and iPad. They’re linked together by Things Cloud, a free account for a service that works incredibly well.
The main paradigm hasn’t changed all that much since Things 2: it’s still (roughly) a Getting Things Done style, with the centerpiece being the ‘Today’ list and the various Areas of Responsibility. The biggest change, aside from the UI, is how Projects are handled: you can now create subheadings within projects, to keep everything a bit more organized, and each individual task can now have a ‘checklist’, so you’ve got another layer of hierarchical organization to take advantage of.2
Where Things 3 really shines is the UI, and it’s pretty clear why it took Cultured Code so long to release a new version: a ton of work went into it. To be honest, my main guess about what happened is “they started work on an Android version, then quit on that to go back to working in the Apple ecosystem, and stole all the best ideas from Material Design along the way.”3 Adding a task is as simple as the plus button that now lives in the very reachable bottom-right corner; if you want to put it somewhere specific, you drag the plus button over the area you’d like the to-do to go, and it gets smoothly inserted there. Drag an item to the right to schedule it for a later date – or to set a reminder at a certain time of a day, another new (and much-awaited) feature – and to the left to send it to an Area or delete it. Projects are even easier to work with, thanks to a filling-circle motif for their completion status.4
Getting somewhere is easier, as well – on macOS, you can just start typing, and as long as you didn’t begin with the spacebar5 it starts searching in your Areas and Projects for whatever list you’re typing. iOS includes the same mechanic, with the added step of pulling down6 to open the keyboard.
Beyond that, it’s just little touches that make everything nicer: the UI as a whole is brighter and more open; setting the ‘when’ for an item on macOS accepts natural language input, so I can just start typing ‘tomorrow’ and it’ll know what I mean; you can close the sidebar, or pull it open wider, on macOS. The biggest win for me is the ‘Upcoming’ view – it links in with your calendar7 to show events as scheduled8 alongside all of your Scheduled items and anything with a due date. OmniFocus has had a feature like this for a while, and it was one of the biggest things that almost got me to switch, so seeing that come to Things is delightful; it’s nice being able to see the whole week (or as far as you’d like) in advance.
All told, I consider Things 3 a great update to a great app, and I can happily continue to recommend it. If you don’t have any sort of to-do list manager, pick it up on your iPhone and Mac; if you’re all-in on it, like me, or are just one of those people who can actually get all of their work done on an iPad, get it there too.

  1. This blog used to be for stuff other than reviews, but I’ve run out of fun travels and I don’t do much else so… here we are, I guess. 
  2. It’s nice for, say, a grocery list: going grocery shopping is only one Thing To Do, so it makes sense to keep it as a single item, but you still want to be able to check off the various items you’ve got to buy. 
  3. And yes, that’s where I got the title of the post from: roll credits. 
  4. It’s reminiscent of the way Things 2 handled Projects in the ‘Projects’ view of the macOS app, with a progress bar filling the space behind the name, but now consistent across all of the apps. 
  5. Which remains the ‘add new’ shortcut, so you won’t even need to rewrite any muscle memory. 
  6. Think ‘pull to refresh,’ it’s a pretty standard pattern in iOS. 
  7. Very easily, too; macOS and iOS include some very nice calendar APIs 
  8. That link also makes an appearance in the Today view, where you get a quick overview of your schedule for the day; if I didn’t add calendar events as often as I do, I could actually stop having Calendar.app open on all of my devices all of the time, and let Things handle that as well. 

Playlist of the Month: May 2017

This one’s a bit shorter than usual, to be honest, because I didn’t have time to do anything with it while I was busy dying of finals. I’ve got a backlog of music to listen to, though, so I’m expecting next month’s to be a good deal longer.
Smoke Filled Room (Acoustic) – Mako
Killer Queen – FIL BO RIVA
22 (OVER S∞∞N) – Bon Iver
Real – Majik
Technicolour Beat – Oh Wonder
Haze – Amber Run
Alps – Novo Amor & Ed Tullett
Machine – Amber Run
Wastelands – Amber Run
Dante’s Creek – THEY.
Beauty – Down Time
Wasted My Love – Axel Mansoor
Don’t Say (feat. Emily Warren) – The Chainsmokers
Go (feat. Ed Droste) – Woodkid
Lies In The Dark – Tove Lo
Petals – Truitt
It Won’t Kill Ya (feat. Louane) – The Chainsmokers
Young – The Chainsmokers
On His Knees – Danny Elfman
Paris – The Chainsmokers
Cruise (Feat. Andrew Jackson) – Kygo
Ultralife – Oh Wonder1
Carry You – Novo Amor
Ramada – Kidepo
My Friends – Oh Wonder
Big Jet Plane – Angus & Julia Stone
Hold Me Down – YOKE LORE2
Ultralife (Acoustic) – Oh Wonder
Kill V. Maim – Grimes

  1. Having this one and the acoustic version on this playlist is fun, because it demonstrates really well that Apple’s shuffling algorithm isn’t the best at seeming random to humans. I’ve heard those two songs playing in a row something like 40 times over the course of the month? 
  2. This and Kill V. Maim are throwbacks to last summer; it happens sometimes. 

“Please Don’t Tell My Parents I Have A Nemesis,” or, “seriously just read the series it’s delightful”

First, a disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book (prior to the release) provided I’d write a review of it.1 That said, I was planning to buy the book and write a review of it when it came out, so I’m fairly sure my opinion of it is safe from being affected by the Free Stuff, but still, it’s good to make these things clear.
I’ve reviewed at least one of Roberts’ books before, and a short story or two, but I think my love for this series actually predates my hobby of writing book reviews for everything I read. So, first things first: if you haven’t read any of the other books in the series, go do that. Like, right now. Because, seriously, they’re fun. It’s exactly my aesthetic in what I want from media: young people with superpowers, and some fun exploration of how that world works. This one is one of my favorite: the superhuman community has a self-policing thing going on, with a core rule of “don’t get personal.”2 Which is fascinating, really; I love that sort of stuff, just explorations of how the world would have to be different to not be super different from a bunch of people having superpowers.
This one deals with some leftover plot stuff from earlier in the series, and it was really nice to see those things get wrapped up in a good way.3 And it provides some solid lead-up to the next book in the series, which I’m quite excited for. I think that’s my biggest problem with this one, actually: the rest of the series has had a solid “monster of the week” feel to it – not exactly a ‘monster of the week,’ but that same idea of being a self-contained thing. This one is clearly working to tie together the whole series, instead – the end is really leading into the next book, and the first half is, plot-wise, devoted to wrapping up stuff from earlier in the series.4
Which isn’t precisely a bad thing; the overarching plot has been very slowly working towards something. I guess I’m slightly irritated that the whole “time to tell the parents” plot that the book felt like it was building up to is getting pushed to the next book, at the earliest, but at very least it means I’m guaranteed at least one more book in the series, so I’ll call it a win.
End result: it wasn’t perfect, but it gave me a whole lot of what I love about the series, so I’m quite happy, and I’m quite happy to recommend the book to you, dear reader.

  1. Don’t be too excited for me, this isn’t a ‘you’re a Real Book Reviewer’ moment; I follow the author’s blog, and I’ve read one or two advanced chapters from this book and a couple of the others that get posted there. The publisher wanted a few early reviews, which resulted in a “comment your email address if you’d like an advanced review copy!” post, and I commented my email address. Still, it’s cool! 
  2. As a fun bonus, one of the books in the series covers how this system was created, and while it follows a different group of characters than the rest of the series, it’s just as much fun. 
  3. It’s difficult to do these reviews without giving away spoilers, sometimes, and a lot of the time I feel like I wind up being too vague, but I have a deep hatred for spoilers so I’m fairly okay with that result. 
  4. That said, I specified ‘plot-wise’ because, by volume, most of the first half of the book is devoted to the sort of “this is what superheroes do when they’re not being superheroes” stuff that I love

Playlist of the Month: April 2017

April is wrapping up, which means I’m going to spend the next month being super-stressed, and then I’ll finish finals, and the sudden cessation of stress will probably make me melt. It’s a system, it’s fine.
Your Hand In Mine – Explosions In the Sky
Smoke Filled Room (Acoustic) – Mako
Killer Queen – FIL BO RIVA
22 (OVER S∞∞N) – Bon Iver
Real – Majik
Technicolour Beat – Oh Wonder
Haze – Amber Run
Friends (under the influence) – Majik
Hands Held High – LINKIN PARK
Performance – The xx
Alps – Novo Amor & Ed Tullett1
A Violent Noise – The xx
Are You Home? – Amber Run
Machine – Amber Run
In The Morning (Mura Masa Edit) – NAO
Something Just Like This – The Chainsmokers & Coldplay
Hypnotised – Coldplay
Wastelands – Amber Run2
Wild (feat. Khai) – Kidswaste
Visions (ft. Leu Leu Land) – Danrell & Alec King
Dante’s Creek – THEY.
Words – School of X
Beauty – Down Time
My Type (feat. Emily Warren) – The Chainsmokers
Break Up Every Night – The Chainsmokers3
Wasted My Love – Axel Mansoor
Don’t Say (feat. Emily Warren) – The Chainsmokers
Not Afraid Anymore – Halsey
The One – The Chainsmokers
Go (feat. Ed Droste) – Woodkid4
Bloodstream – The Chainsmokers
Lies In The Dark – Tove Lo5
Something Just Like This – The Chainsmokers
Petals – Truitt
Helium – Sia
Oh Wonder – Lose It (Jerry Folk Remix) – Jerry Folk6
It Won’t Kill Ya (feat. Louane) – The Chainsmokers
Young – The Chainsmokers
On His Knees – Danny Elfman7
Paris – The Chainsmokers
The Scientist – Corrine Bailey Rae
Last Day Alive (feat. Florida Georgia Line) – The Chainsmokers
Cruise (Feat. Andrew Jackson) – Kygo8
Ultralife – Oh Wonder9
Lifetimes – Oh Wonder
Carry You – Novo Amor
Zombie (Acoustic Version) – The Cranberries
Ramada – Kidepo
Anchor – Novo Amor
My Friends – Oh Wonder
Big Jet Plane – Angus & Julia Stone10
Touch – Haux
Vulnerable – Midnight Pool Party
Rupture – The Cranberries

  1. This works surprisingly well as a vocal warm-up. 
  2. But seriously, this is probably going to wind up as my Favorite Song of The Year, I just love the lyrics so much. 
  3. “This isn’t a healthy relationship you’re in,” I mutter to myself every time I listen to this song. 
  4. “This song is two guys singing to each other; the chorus is them, like, trying to break up, and the verses are basically just them sexting. And it’s backed by a youth choir. It’s so twisted and I love it and I want to be Woodkid when I grow up” – me, describing this song to a friend 
  5. Warning: will get stuck in your head. 
  6. I’m going to bet this song won’t survive into next month’s playlist, and there’s a single reason for that: I recognize one of the synthesizers the artist used, and it kicks me out of being able to listen to the song every time I hear it. 
  7. I’m gonna be honest, at least half of the reason this song is in here is because I’m a twelve-year-old and laughed at the title. 
  8. I blame Chase playing this song for the reason that I have this entire album. 
  9. New Oh Wonder! I am excited. 
  10. It’s just a classic, okay? 

The United States and the European Union

This is an essay I wrote for a class I took in the fall of 2016 titled “Austrian Politics and Society in a European Context.” I’ve decided to publish it here because… why not?
In the wake of the fall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the world was left massively changed. The era of two superpowers had ended; for a while, the world lived under the hegemony of the United States of America. That era, too, has come to an end, though a much quieter one: new superpowers have begun to develop. China is coming into its own as a world power; India has high aspirations that have yet to be realized; the Russian Federation has, under the control of Vladimir Putin, used the legacy of the Soviet Union to re-emerge as a military superpower, if not an economic one. The most interesting emergent superpower, however, is the European Union: rebuilt in the wake of the Second World War by the United States as a colony-esque bulwark against the spread of Communism, it has become an economic powerhouse to rival the United States. The European Union, thanks to its history of US-backed construction, has the most in common with the reigning hegemon; it does, however, have some key differences. It is these similarities and differences that will be examined in this paper.
The core institutions of the European Union (E.U.) are, in writing at least, more complex a structure than those of the United States (U.S.A.): while the E.U. has seven key institutions, the government of the U.S.A. is split into three.12 What is, in the U.S.A., the Executive Branch of the government is in the E.U. distributed across several institutions: the European Council, combining the heads of state of all the member nations into a President-by-committee; the European Commission, to handle the day-to-day functionality of the E.U. in all its aspects; the European Central Bank, coordinating the monetary policy of the E.U.; and the Court of Auditors, ensuring that the monetary policy and budgetary strictures of the E.U. are actually being followed. The Legislative Branch is, similarly to the U.S.A., a bicameral structure, though split into the Council of the European Union and the Parliament, rather than into a Senate and House as in the United States. The Judicial Branch in the U.S.A. is closely matched in structure by the European Court of Justice in the E.U.: the Court of Justice itself at the top, in answer to the Supreme Court of the U.S.A., with a network of lower courts beneath it.
Within these structures are further differences. One of the most visible differences is in the party systems of the two unions. In the U.S.A., two parties have nigh-on absolute control of the political system: the liberal Democrats and the conservative Republicans. Smaller parties exist, but none are large enough even to have ballot access in every state, making them largely irrelevant on the national playing field.3 In the E.U., the political system allows for representation of more parties: in the current European Parliament, seven different parties are represented amongst the 762 Members of the European Parliament (M.E.P.s), and 31 M.E.P.s are listed as “unattached” – generally referring to an affiliation with a party that exists only within their member state, and not across the E.U. as a whole.4 A point of similarity across both, however, is the existence of partisan politics – the vitriolic nature of the recent election in the U.S.A. demonstrates the prevalence of blind party loyalty. The E.U., as well, is to some degree guilty: take, for example, the actions of the European People’s Party to shield Hungary’s Orban government from criticisms in the European Parliament.5
The varying parties are not the only way in which the two superpowers differ. The U.S.A. has always had a common foreign policy; it is one of the rights granted to the President and the Congress by the Constitution. In the E.U., this is not so – though the Treaty of Lisbon created the office of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the powers of that seat are still limited largely to defense and security policy.6 The other core difference between the two is in their sources of revenue: the U.S.A. is able to levy taxes directly, while the E.U. income is a mix of direct contributions from member nations, a very small percentage of the E.U.-wide Value Added Tax, and import duties on non-E.U. goods.7 This creates a sharp difference between the amount of monetary force the organizations are able to throw behind their various initiatives. For example, the United States federal research and development budget for 2017 is almost the same as the entirety of the E.U. budget for the same time period.89 The budgetary differences alone are enough to guarantee that the federal government of the U.S.A. is much more powerful, relatively, than the E.U. is in relation to its member states.
Economic differences, however, are not the only reason that the federal government of the U.S.A. holds more power than the institutions of the E.U.: the largest part of this difference is due to the set of powers given directly to the organizations. In the E.U., this list of powers (or rather, competences, as they are termed by the organization) is fairly concise: the creation of a customs union, the ability to create competition rules to maintain the internal market, Eurozone monetary policy, the common commercial policy, a limited ability to conclude international agreements, and the common fisheries policy for the conservation of marine biological resources.10 In the United States, that same list of fiscal powers is given to the national government, but has several additions on top of that. These additions include the full spectrum of foreign policy, notably the declaration of war; the creation of the armed forces, as an extension of foreign policy; the creation of post offices; and the ability to create any law that is “necessary and proper” to carry out those other powers.11 And, of course, the fact remains that the E.U. does not have the capability to levy taxes, while the federal government of the U.S.A. shares that ability with the states. At their root, the two superpowers have a very different stance on the centralization of power; as a result of this, the governance of the U.S.A. is much more cohesive than that of the E.U.
Economically, the two have quite a bit in common: they are the two most powerful economies in the world, and sit comfortably at the top of the “developed” economies list.12 The top ten companies worldwide, by revenue, includes three U.S. corporations and three E.U. corporations, in a mixed order.13 The picture changes a bit when sorted by profitability: the three Chinese state-owned and the Japanese contender all vanish… as do the three E.U. corporations. Instead, the list becomes entirely U.S. companies, mostly financial services firms but made incredibly top-heavy by the presence of Apple.14 In both finance and information technology, the U.S.A. has a strong lead over the E.U., a gap that may grow larger with the pending Brexit talks: not only will Britain take BP (the 10th-largest company in the world) with her when she goes, but with her goes London, the “financial capital of the world.”15
At the governmental level, more similarities and differences are evident: the U.S. Dollar remains one of the world’s strongest currencies, and serves as the official currency of the entirety of the U.S.A., as well as a remarkably long list of other countries. The Euro, though nearly as strong, lacks the historical backing of the dollar, and theoretically only applies to those member states that meet the requirements to join the Eurozone – though, one should note, that a few non-Eurozone member states use it as their official or de facto currency, and the membership requirements for the Eurozone have not always been met by its members.16 The central banks of the two superpowers have similar levels of power, though their response to the global financial slump in the 2000s was quite different: the European Central Bank focused on containing inflation, while the Federal Reserve System in the U.S.A. was much more active in restoring the U.S. economy.17 There is also a notable weakness in the European banking system, thanks in no small part to the different division of power: the lack of a strong pan-European banking union.18 In the U.S.A., the Federal Deposit Insurance Company provides deposit insurance to member banks, providing a strong signal of trustworthiness for member banks to show to their customers; the E.U. does not yet have anything of a similar scale.19
By far the largest difference between the two powers, however, is defense spending. The U.S.A. famously spends more than $500 billion per year on defense, while the E.U. as a whole spends less than half what the U.S.A. does. Per capita, the difference is even larger: the U.S.A. comes in as the third-largest per-capita spender at just under $2,000 per person per year, while across the E.U. the spending averages just under $350 per person per year.20 This disparity likely arises from the history between the two: during the Cold War, the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union seemed poised, at all times, to turn Europe into a battlefield once more. As a result, the U.S.-backed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) poured more and more military resources into Europe. When the Soviet Union fell, NATO did not, and has left Europe with a strong military defense that is, by and large, funded by the U.S. taxpayer. The continued presence of U.S. personnel and matériel in Europe, then, helps to reduce the need for either European states or the European Union as a whole to seriously invest in their own military.
The ongoing presence of NATO is not the sole reason for less military spending in Europe than in the U.S.A.: another significant contributing factor is the cultural differences between the two. Taken as a whole, the U.S.A. is significantly more in favor of violence than the E.U., in a variety of ways. The most visible, of course, is their policies on guns: the Second Amendment has ensconced the right to ownership of weapons in U.S. law for centuries; the E.U. makes no such constitutional provision, and, in fact, has been working to limit gun access across the entire E.U.21 As a people, Europeans like guns less than Americans: there are three guns in private hands for every ten Europeans, while the figure in the U.S.A. is nine guns to every ten people.22 Even their response to gun violence differs massively, with a requirement for E.U. membership being a ban on the death penalty; compare this to the U.S.A., where in the 2016 election three states passed ballot measures that implemented or re-implemented capital punishment.2324 On punishment in general, the U.S.A. is harsher than the E.U., with nearly six times as many prisoners per 100,000 people. Even the most punishment-happy E.U. country – Lithuania, with 254 of every 100,000 people incarcerated – only imprisons people at a third of the rate of the U.S.A.25
This stands out as an area of heavy government involvement for a nation that generally prefers their leadership to have a light touch. As a whole, the people of the U.S.A. tend to be very individualistic, and regard their own work ethic and abilities as the primary, if not only, driving force behind their success or lack thereof in life.26 This stands in contrast to the peoples of the E.U., who generally see success in life as being determined by forces outside their control; in Germany, the strongest economy within the E.U., less than a third of the population agreed with the individualistic mindset of the U.S.A.27 In a similar vein, the origins of the European welfare state are fairly visible in the ideals of the E.U. population – Americans largely want to be left to achieve their goals alone, while Europeans would rather their governments “guarantee that no one is in need.”28
This is not to say that Americans and Europeans disagree on everything – the U.S.A. and the E.U. form the core of what is regarded as “the West,” pitted against the forces of the East – the former Soviet Union, and now, the growing power of China. For the people of the West, democracy is a core ideal, and the freedoms that come with it and help to ensure it are of great importance to the peoples of the U.S.A. and the E.U. both.29 Religious freedom is fairly important to both superpowers, but they differ significantly in where they come from that stance: Europe, long the bulwark of Christianity, has fallen from that position as their increasing wealth brings decreasing belief in god.30 The U.S.A., meanwhile, is considered “the great exception” – a country that is both wealthy and deeply religious; the bastion of Christianity, maintaining belief when the original stronghold fell.31
The U.S.A. is unified by more than just belief in the Bible. Perhaps the most important unifying factor for the country is the fact that the entire population shares a single language – only seven percent of the population does not speak English to some degree or another.32 Within the E.U., no such universal language exists – English is the most broadly-spoken language within the E.U., and only a third of the population can speak it.33 This, obviously, can make communication difficult across the E.U.: Europeans regard translation as an important part of life, if not an every-day component of it.34 For the average U.S. citizen, though, such a thought is unlikely to enter their mind – there are a variety of jokes told that riff on the concept of U.S. citizens telling tourists or immigrants to “speak American” when they hear a language other than English being used. Jingoism aside, having a single common language allows for other commonalities – like the existence of a single news network to cover the entire country. Though the U.S.A. does not have a single news network covering the country, it does have networks that provide nationwide coverage – CNN, ABC, and Fox all jockeying for ratings across the entire country. There is no pan-European news network, however; the closest analogue would be broadcast news that cycles through coverage in multiple languages.
The E.U. has more problems with unity than just the lack of a common language across the E.U.: it also lacks a cohesive culture. Within the U.S.A. there are different subcultures: each state has their own identity, and different regions also have theirs. But some things are universal: the nation comes together to watch the Super Bowl, to light off fireworks on the 4th of July, and to never forget 9/11.35 Europe has an answer to the first in the World Cup, but there is no European Independence Day, and no shared day of mourning.36 The U.S.A. has their share of heroes – Abraham Lincoln may be a bit controversial in the South, and Stonewall Jackson similarly so in the North, but George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Hamilton are fairly universal in their appeal. Though the Commission has tried to create a list of founding fathers of the E.U., for one reason or another they have not picked up the same amount of dramatic flair.37 Looking further back into history, each country has their own heroes, from Empress Maria Theresia for the Austrians to Napoleon for the French. But each of these heroes is a villain in another place: Maria Theresia was a religiously oppressive empress, and Napoleon did so much damage to Europe in his wars that he was sent to exile multiple times. There are no universal European heroes, as of yet, and with neither heroes nor language in common, the citizens of the E.U. can find it difficult, at times, to see anything truly keeping them together. This lack of a coherent identity is an ongoing problem faced by the leadership of the E.U., though hopefully they will find a way to address it before it pulls the E.U. apart at the seams.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the world has gone through a series of major changes. Fortunately, the age of unilateral rule by the U.S.A. was a short one, and new superpowers rose to counterbalance U.S. power. The E.U., as one of these counterbalancing powers, has the most in common with the U.S.A., but they are certainly not the same. Politically, the two have strong structural differences, from the further division of high-level power present in the E.U. to the relatively lesser powers of the states within the U.S.A.. The relationship between the two is interesting due to the split in power present in the E.U. – some foreign relations are handled at the E.U. level and others at the per-state level. Nonetheless, both are democratic organizations and are unified by their devotion to those ideals.
The U.S.A. has remained the dominant world superpower thanks to having a blend of both hard and soft power – the U.S. military is second to none, and the country remains the most powerful single economies in the world. The E.U., though lacking in any real amount of hard power, is a strong contender for the coveted spot of top global economy. The development of the Euro has brought the countries of the Eurozone closer together, though not without some bumps along the way.
Finally, the two superpowers are culturally very similar – both are, almost by definition, Western civilizations. Both value democracy highly, though the manners in which they do this vary – the people of the United States tend to be more individualistic than their counterparts in the European Union. More than just that divides them – the United States has a strong identity as a country, while the European Union is still struggling to establish such a concept of itself as a coherent whole. This is not expressed solely in the opinions of the people that make up the two superpowers: it is also eminently visible in the different degrees to which the two have centralized power. In sum, though the European Union and the United States of America have some key differences, they also have a great deal in common.


 European Commission: “Special Eurobarometer 386: Europeans and Their Languages“ http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_386_en.pdf Published 2012-06, accessed 2016-11-20
 FIFA: “2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Television Audience Report” http://resources.fifa.com/mm/document/affederation/tv/01/47/31/11/additionalkeyresults.pdf Accessed 2016-11-20
 Matthias Matthjis and R. Daniel Kelemen: “Europe Reborn: How to Save the European Union from Irrelevance” from January/February 2015 issue of Foreign Affairs
 Statistica: “TV viewership of the Super Bowl in the United States from 1990 to 2016 (in millions)” https://www.statista.com/statistics/216526/super-bowl-us-tv-viewership/ Accessed 2016-11-20
 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute: “SIPRI Military Expenditure Database” https://www.sipri.org/databases/milex Accessed 2016-11-20
 Tom Dyson and Theodore Konstadinides: “Understanding the Limitations of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy” http://www.e-ir.info/2013/09/26/understanding-the-limitations-of-the-eus-common-security-and-defence-policy-a-legal-perspective/ Published 2013-09-26, accessed 2016-11-15
Ballotpedia: “List of Political Parties in the United States.” https://ballotpedia.org/List_of_political_parties_in_the_United_States Accessed 2016-11-15
BBC News In Depth: “World Prison Populations” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/uk/06/prisons/html/nn2page1.stm Accessed 2016-11-20
BBC News: “Greece admits fudging euro entry” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4012869.stm Published 2004-11-15, accessed 2016-11-20
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union http://www.europarl.europa.eu/charter/pdf/text_en.pdf Accessed 2016-11-20
CNN Money: “Europe’s gun laws are about to get even tougher” http://money.cnn.com/2016/01/05/news/gun-control-europe-new-laws/ Published 2016-01-05, accessed 2016-11-20
Dae Woong Kang, Nick Ligthart, and Ashoka Mody:“The ECB and the Fed: A comparative narrative” http://voxeu.org/article/ecb-and-fed-comparative-narrative Published 2016-01-19, accessed 2016-11-20
EUR-Lex: “Directive 94/19/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 1994 on deposit-guarantee schemes” http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX:31994L0019 Accessed 2016-11-23
EUR-Lex: “Division of competences within the European Union” http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv%3Aai0020 Accessed 2016-11-20
Europa: “Budget” https://europa.eu/european-union/topics/budget_en Accessed 2016-11-15
Europa: “How is the E.U. funded?” https://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/money/revenue-income_en Accessed 2016-11-15
Europa: “The Founding Fathers of the EU” https://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/history/founding-fathers_en Accessed 2016-11-20
Fortune: “Global 500” http://beta.fortune.com/global500/ Accessed 2016-11-20
Fortune: “Top 10 Most Profitable Fortune 500 Companies in 2015” http://fortune.com/2016/06/08/fortune-500-most-profitable-companies-2016/ Accessed 2016-11-20
infoplease: “Powers of the Government” http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0877699.html Accessed 2016-11-20
International Monetary Fund: World Economic Outlook: “Statistical Appendix” http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2016/02/pdf/statapp.pdf Published October 2016, Accessed 2016-11-20
It’s Your Parliament .eu: “Groups.” http://www.itsyourparliament.eu/groups/ Accessed 2016-11-15
KennedyPearce Consulting: “London vs New York: Which is the world’s financial capital?” http://www.kennedypearce.com/worlds-financial-capital/ Accessed 2016-11-20
Pew Research: “5 ways Americans and Europeans are different” http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/19/5-ways-americans-and-europeans-are-different/ Published 2016-04-19, accessed 2016-11-20
Pew Research: “Support for Democratic Principles” http://www.pewglobal.org/2015/11/18/1-support-for-democratic-principles/ Published 2015-11-08, accessed 2016-11-20
Reuters: “Death penalty gains new support from voters in several U.S. states” http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-execution-idUSKBN1343C7 Published 2016-11-09, accessed 2016-11-20
Strasbourg l’européene: “Detailed explanations about the Institutions of the European Union.” http://en.strasbourg-europe.eu/detailed-explanations-about-the-institutions-of-the-european-union,3214,en.html Accessed 2016-11-15.
Timothy Garton Ash: “Europe as Not-America” from Free World
U.S. Census Bureau: “ Language Use in the United States: 2011” https://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/acs-22.pdf Published 2013-08, accessed 2016-11-20
USA.gov: “Branches of Government.” https://www.usa.gov/branches-of-government Accessed 2016-11-15
White House Office of Management and Budget: “The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2017” https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget Accessed 2016-11-15

  1. Strasbourg l’européene: Detailed explanations about the Institutions of the European Union 
  2. USA.gov: Branches of Government 
  3. Ballotpedia: List of Political Parties in the United States 
  4. It’s Your Parliament .eu: Groups 
  5. Matthjis and Kelemen, page 107 
  6. Dyson and Konstadinides, “Understanding the Limitations of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy” 
  7. Europa: How is the E.U. funded? 
  8. White House Office of Management and Budget: “The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2017” 
  9. Europa: “Budget” 
  10. EUR-Lex: Division of competences within the European Union 
  11. infoplease: Powers of the Government 
  12. International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook: Statistical Appendix 
  13. Fortune: Global 500 
  14. Fortune: Top 10 Most Profitable Fortune 500 Companies in 2015 
  15. KennedyPearce Consulting: London vs New York: Which is the world’s financial capital? 
  16. BBC News: Greece admits fudging euro entry 
  17. Kang, Ligthart, and Mody: “The ECB and the Fed: A comparative narrative” 
  18. Matthjis and Kelemen, page 104 
  19. EUR-Lex: Directive 94/19/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 1994 on deposit-guarantee schemes 
  20. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute: SIPRI Military Expenditure Database 
  21. CNN Money: Europe’s gun laws are about to get even tougher 
  22. Ash, page 74 
  23. Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union 
  24. Reuters: Death penalty gains new support from voters in several U.S. states 
  25. BBC News In Depth: World Prison Populations 
  26. Pew Research: 5 ways Americans and Europeans are different 
  27. Ibid. 
  28. Ash, page 74 
  29. Pew Research: Support for Democratic Principles 
  30. Pew Research: Generally, poorer nations tend to be religious; wealthy less so, except for U.S. 
  31. Ash, page 74 
  32. U.S. Census Bureau: Language Use in the United States: 2011 
  33. European Commission: Special Eurobarometer 386: Europeans and Their Languages, 19 
  34. Ibid., 9 
  35. Statistica: TV viewership of the Super Bowl in the United States from 1990 to 2016 (in millions) 
  36. FIFA: 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Television Audience Report 
  37. Europa: The Founding Fathers of the EU 

The Reforms of Maria Theresia and Joseph II: The Enlightenment in Austria

This is an essay I wrote for a class I took in the fall of 2016, titled “Austrian Cultural History.” I’ve decided to publish it here because… why not?
The Enlightenment took longer to arrive in the Holy Roman Empire than it did for the other superpowers of the time, but arrive it did. Thanks to the lack of a strong bourgeois class within the population of the Empire, however, Enlightenment did not spring up from below as it did in France. Instead, it was applied from the top down, by the reigning monarchs of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine: Maria Theresia and, later, Joseph II. Under those two rulers (arguably three, because Leopold II, the Emperor following Joseph II, seemed to have plans to continue the works of his predecessors before he died) the Holy Roman Empire felt numerous changes to bring it more in line with the Enlightened thinking of the day.
The Enlightenment brought numerous changes to Europe as a whole, but undoubtedly the furthest-reaching area in which those changes were made was the realm of civil rights. Under the Habsburgs, these changes were limited, as “Enlightened monarchs saw it as their duty to think for their subjects.”1 The largest change implemented in the Habsburg empire was the abolition of serfdom, a slow and complex process that occupied Maria Theresia and her son Joseph II during their respective reigns. Maria Theresia began the process, granting her peasant subjects many of the rights previously afforded only to free tenants. The peasantry was endowed with freedom of movement, the ability to marry without the explicit approval of their liege lord, and freedom to choose their own occupation – though what was granted on paper and what was granted in effect were different. Also notably absent from the list of rights granted to the peasants was freedom from personal service to their liege lord – it was Maria Theresia’s opinion that doing so would lead to the complete dissolution of the lord/subject relationship, eventually causing a complete slide into anarchy.2
Under Joseph II, the expansion of the rights of the peasantry continued – though, in his characteristic fashion, it was done too rapidly and wound up causing more problems than it solved. With the tax and urbanarial regulation of 1789, Joseph II converted the requirement of personal service to their liege lord into a monetary burden, a 30% tax intended to replicate the work accomplished by the traditional system under which two of every five working days were filled with working the lands of the liege lord.3 What he failed to account for was the fact that the agrarian areas in which this was to take effect did not work on a monetary economy like Vienna and the other cities of the empire, but almost entirely on barter. Prepared for argument from the liege lords, Joseph was surprised by the vehemence of the resistance offered by the peasants themselves – the very people his reform had been intended to help.4 Joseph II also brought about other civil rights reforms, beginning with decreasing the amount of censorship in public – though, it should be noted, he replaced it with strong disincentives for those producing works that didn’t match the utilitarian party line. He also enacted legal reform that meant the laws treated all, from the peasantry to the nobility, equally. Unlike his mother, he even opted to halt the use of capital punishment. In this regard he was once again more utilitarian than humanitarian: his Code of Substantive Criminal Law of 1787 replaced capital punishment with life sentences of hard labor, in order “to give the government the benefit of a wretched criminal’s toil.”5
The Enlightenment also brought with it an increasing concern for public health. While Joseph II focused on the construction of public hospitals, Maria Theresia focused more on altering the policies of her empire in order to effect change. Under her reign, vaccination came to the Holy Roman Empire – thanks in no small part to her willingness to have her own children vaccinated. Having used her own flesh and blood to prove the efficacy of the then-unpopular concept, she began to expand the use of vaccination further, going so far as to host a dinner at her Schönbrunn Palace for the first group of children to be vaccinated. She also made provisions for the increasing of medical knowledge, creating a law that made autopsies mandatory for all hospital deaths in the city of Graz – a mandate that produced one of the most thorough records in all of Europe.
For Joseph II, public health reform was an easy decision – not only was it the humanitarian thing to do, but it also met his utilitarian goals: “healthy subjects meant a healthy state.”6 Foremost of his projects was the construction of the Allgemeines Krankenhaus, and the accompanying  Guglhupf (née  Narrenturm), the first such construction the Empire had ever seen.7 Rather than regarding the poor, the ill, and the insane as a single group that should be avoided at all costs, he saw that their problems were distinct and should be treated separately. This focus on public health went further: he opened both the Parter and the Augarten to the public, ignoring the complaints of nobles regarding the lower class invasion of their formerly private rectums. were being invaded by the lower classes.8 He also ordered the cobbling of all the streets within the Viennese city proper, and instituted both a law requiring those new streets by wetted twice a day to prevent dust and a system of prisoner labor to provide such maintenance as the city needed.9
But once again, Joseph had his failings: in the regard of public health, it was his overzealous attempt to regulate the ways in which the Viennese could bury their dead. For the sake of efficiency, he created a system by which the bodies of the dead were put in mass graves, rather than taking the amount of space and effort that individual graves required. What was universally regarded as a step too far, however, was the reusable coffin – a wooden construct into which the body would be laid. The funeral (also regulated down from a miniature Baroque pageant, in the true Viennese style, to something as time-efficient as reasonably possible) would be carried out, and then the priest would release a mechanism, opening the bottom of the coffin and unceremoniously dropping the body therein into the grave below. This affront to the sensibilities of his subjects could not be borne, and after only four months he was forced to retract the decree that created the system of reusable coffins in the first place.10
Though Joseph II is rather famous for having attempted far grander reforms than his mother, there was one area in which he left her changes largely untouched: education. This is perhaps because education was the one area in which Maria Theresia’s reforms were on the same grand scale that Joseph himself preferred to work. Education was also the area that likely would have caused her the most personal anguish, being a large break from the way she herself was raised. Under Maria Theresia, the absolute control of the Austrian education system was finally wrested from the Jesuit Order of the Catholic Church and instead placed firmly under the auspices of the state. While the educational system as a whole was not secularized – Maria Theresia was a steadfast believer in the tenets of the Catholic Church, while Joseph II at least recognized the utility of religion in the daily lives of his subjects – the colleges were allowed to expand from the realm of theology, and the long-standing requirement that the students be Catholics themselves was removed. For the lower levels of education, Maria Theresia acted the caring grandmother, creating a school system based on the one used in Prussia that was mandatory from the age of 6 up until the students were 12 years old. She was quite vehement in ensuring that it would take effect, as well: those who resisted the new system were arrested. Perhaps she could have stewed less dissent if she had provided for the costs of the education, but the education was not free; though the seizure of the assets of the Jesuit Order had provided some income that was put towards the new system, this was not able to meet the full cost of the education system.11 Between the cost of textbooks and the cost of tuition itself, the newly implemented schools were none too popular with the parents of the freshly-minted students.
For Joseph, this system was apparently satisfactory. He left it almost entirely untouched, though he did reduce the stature of some of the smaller universities of the realm, judging those in Prague and Vienna to be sufficient to meet the needs of his grand bureaucracy.12 As in all things, he was a utilitarian, and intervened with the university programs to ensure that all their work was for practical purposes: “[Joseph] supported general education only to the extent that the material benefits for society were demonstrable.”13 The only large change he made came as part of a larger edict, by which the institutions of the imperial government as a whole changed their formal language from Latin (or, in some cases, the local language) to German, helping to consolidate the governance of the Empire.
Unlike in the field of education, in the realm of religion Joseph II was far more willing to create change than his mother. Under Maria Theresia, religious reform was so limited as to be nearly nonexistent. She argued that religious freedom was something that “no Catholic prince can permit without heavy responsibility,” and, by and large, wanted little to do with the regulation of the church.14 Her sole aim, with regard to the Church, was to ensure the “primacy of government control in Church-state relations.”15
Joseph II stands in contrast to her restraint towards ecclesiastical affairs. As his reign began, he issued the Patent of Tolerance, granting permission for Jews and Protestants to practice whichever religion they so chose.16 Barring certain architectural limitations, they were also permitted to construct places of worship for their religions. He was not, however, in favor of unbridled religion: even as he was allowing other to practice theirs, he began to limit the ways in which faith could be displayed. The regulations he produced, spanning everything from how long a sermon could last to how many candles were permitted at the altar, “occasionally assumed the character of pettiness.”1718 The aforementioned burial changes were a part of this crusade of efficiency, one of the most visibly unsuccessful aspects of it. But by far the largest of his religious reforms was his nationalization of roughly half of the 2,000 monasteries in Austria and the collection of some 60 million Gulden in taxes and seized assets.19 The resulting funds were placed in a Religious Fund (Religionsfond) that was used to fund the construction and maintenance of a wave of parish churches, striving for an ideal by which “no one should be more than an hour’s walk from his local church.”20
The core of Joseph’s religious reforms was the idea that Catholicism, and religion in general, was a tool of the state. There is even some evidence that he considered the foundation of a Church of Austria, taking religion from an area where it was regulated by the state to a realm in which it was directly controlled.21 As part of these efforts, he made numerous other changes to bring the Church to heel: marriage was made from an ecclesiastical into a civil procedure; the number of religious holidays recognized by the state was reduced; and joining monasteries was discouraged, in no small part by banning the taking of monastic vows before the age of 24.2223 His concept of ‘modernized Catholicism’ was not only a Catholicism obedient to the state, it was one that did as little as possible to interfere with the productivity of the populace, instead encouraging the subjects of the empire to work for the collective betterment of the state and her people.
There were other reforms, of course, though none quite so far-reaching as those mentioned above. No discussion of Maria Theresia’s changes would be complete without a mention of the “comprehensive reforms” of the Empire’s military that she was forced to make in her struggle to hold the throne.24 In order to support her new military machine, she also became responsible for the construction of a new centralized bureaucracy, “adapting ancient institutions to modern needs.”25 Many of the new institutions she created are still functional today, including “the Officers’ Military Academy at Wiener Neustadt and the ‘Theresianum’ Diplomatic College in Vienna.”26 In doing so, she increased the status of Vienna as a whole, making it even more than before the heart of the Empire.27
Of Joseph II’s reforms, many have been left unmentioned – he was rather prolific in that regard. Unlike his predecessors, who left the Baroque palaces of Vienna and Austria, he focused on the construction of public goods – hospitals, orphanages, barracks, and so on.28 He continued his mother’s expansions of the city of Vienna, not only cleaning the streets but also lighting them, and enforcing the clear labelling of streets and houses.29
Maria Theresia, known as the ‘daughter of one age and mother of another,’ marked the beginning of the Enlightenment in the Holy Roman Empire. Though she herself wasn’t fully in favor of the ideals of the era, she nonetheless made numerous changes to help modernize her realm, starting with the requisite military and bureaucratic reforms needed for her to remain on the throne, but then expanding to some civil rights reforms and the educational system for which she is still known today. Her son, Joseph II, was truly an Enlightened emperor – though one who was far less effective, in the long run, than she was, thanks to the overzealous nature of his numerous reforms. Nonetheless, between the two of them they were able to make a great deal of progress towards bringing Enlightened ideals to the Holy Roman Empire.


Kann, Robert A.: “A History of the Habsburg Empire: 1526-1918”
Lehne, Inge and Johnson, Lonnie: “Vienna- The Past in the Present: A Historical Survey”
Parsons, Nicholas: “Vienna: A Cultural History”
Rickett, Richard: “A Brief Survey of Austrian History”

  1. Lehne-Johnson, 70 
  2. Kann, 196 
  3. Kann, 198 
  4. Kann, 199 
  5. Kann, 180 
  6. Lehne-Johnson, 64 
  7. Parsons, 186-187 
  8. Lehne-Johnson, 64-66 
  9. Lehne-Johnson, 66-67 
  10. Lehne-Johnson, 67 
  11. Kann, 193 
  12. Kann, 194 
  13. Kann, 192 
  14. Parsons, 176 
  15. Kann, 187 
  16. Lehne-Johnson, 61 
  17. Rickett, 65 
  18. Lehne-Johnson, 63 
  19. Parsons, 185-186 
  20. Parsons, 186 
  21. Kann, 184 
  22. Kann, 180 
  23. Kann, 189 
  24. Kann, 160 
  25. Rickett, 63-64 
  26. Rickett, 63-64 
  27. Lehne-Johnson, 58 
  28. Lehne-Johnson, 67 
  29. Lehne-Johnson, 70 

Playlist of the Month: March 2017

Happy April Fool’s Day, the Worst Holiday.
Your Hand In Mine – Explosions In The Sky
Smoke Filled Room (Acoustic) – Mako
Half Light – BANNERS
Killer Queen – FIL BO RIVA
22 (OVER S∞∞N) – Bon Iver
All We Do – Oh Wonder
Afterthought – Close Talker
Ghosts – Blueneck
Real – Majik
Technicolour Beat – Oh Wonder
Lullaby – ö
Haze – Amber Run
Fickle Game – Amber Run
Friends (under the influence) – Majik
Oh Brother – Saint Raymond
Hands Held High – LINKIN PARK
On Hold – The xx
Replica – The xx
Performance – The xx
Saved – Khalid
Alps – Novo Amor & Ed Tullett
Brave For You – The xx
A Violent Noise – The xx
Dream – Imagine Dragons
White Lie – Amber Run
Are You Home? – Amber Run
Machine – Amber Run
In The Morning (Mura Masa Edit) – NAO
Wild (feat. Khai) – Kidswaste
Island – Amber Run
Something Just Like This – The Chainsmokers & Coldplay1
Hypnotised – Coldplay
Body High – Harrison Brome
Wastelands – Amber Run2
Allaround – Parcels
Visions (ft. Leu Leu Land) – Danrell & Alec King
Dante’s Creek – THEY.
Words – School of X

  1. This song popped up about two days after Chase pointed out that there wasn’t any Coldplay in my playlist at the moment. Chase, point out the lack of new Explosions in the Sky next, okay? 
  2. We’re talking about romanticism in my music history class at the moment, and I keep wanting to bring this song up, because “And I know you’ll fall in love again/ When you do, I hope you’ll find somebody/ Who you can love like I love you” is just ugh so beautifully romantic 

Playlist of the Month: February 2017

There are more links this time! I changed how I’m doing them, it was a whole thing, don’t ask.1
5AM – Amber Run
Your Hand In Mine – Explosions in the Sky
Smoke Filled Room (Acoustic) – Mako
Half Light – BANNERS
Gods in Heat – Tobacco
Killer Queen – FIL BO RIVA2
 22 (OVER S∞∞N) – Bon Iver
Neptune – Sleeping At Last
All We Do – Oh Wonder
Afterthought – CloseTalker
Ghosts – Blueneck
Real – Majik
Technicolour Beat – Oh Wonder
Play Dead – Tom Walker
Lullaby – ö
Stranger – Amber Run
No Answers – Amber Run
A Little While – Yellow Days
Haze – Amber Run
Beretta – Matt Black
Fickle Game – Amber Run
Friends (under the influence) – Majik
I’m At The Bottom of The Ocean – Soleil Soleil
Oh Brother – Saint Raymond3
Hands Held High – Linkin Park4
On Hold – The xx
Perfect – Amber Run
Replica – The xx5
Performance – The xx
Saved – Khalid
Alps – Novo Amor & Ed Tullett6
Brave for You – The xx
Wayfaring Stranger – alextbh
A Violent Noise – The xx
Smile – Imad Royal
Dream – Imagine Dragons
White Lie – Amber Run
Are You Home? – Amber Run7
Machine – Amber Run
 In The Morning (Mura Masa Edit) – NAO8
Wild (feat. Khai) – Kidswaste
Island – Amber Run

  1. The short version is I’m switching to iTunes links, since Amazon Music was fairly hit-or-miss, and I never actually use it myself beyond finding the links for these things. And I’m putting links on everything now, because it’s significantly easier with iTunes than with Amazon. 
  2. At some point I’m going to figure out the actual lyrics to this, because there’s one line that every time I hear it makes me doubt my understanding of the whole song. 
  3. This one is so fun to sing along to 
  4. Chase goes “y’know, they wrote this song about George Bush. Sucks that it’s relevant again.” 
  5. This album is so good, 10/10 would recommend 
  6. I really like this one but it’s hard to listen to while I’m out listening around because the slightest background noise and it’s just utterly inaudible. 
  7. I honestly haven’t listened to the whole thing yet, but so far this is one of the strongest contenders for being my favorite song off the album. 
  8. I’m a big fan of this one, as well. 

“What’s On My Phone,” or, “without these apps I would ACTUALLY DIE”

School has begun again in earnest, which means I’m suddenly remembering just how much I rely upon my devices for keeping me sane and, more importantly, organized. It’s something I’m apparently rather good at, and I think it’s pretty useful for just about everyone, so I figured I’d share some of the tools I use.1

Calendar (system default)

When you’re taking as many classes as I am,2 plus trying to cram in an extracurricular or two to stay ‘well-rounded,’ it can get a bit hard to remember where you’re supposed to be next. The single best piece of advice I can give you is to figure out how best to use the built-in calendar on your device. Connecting an iCloud or Google account to get it syncing across everything, and you’re golden.34

To-Do List (Things)

Following a well-organized calendar, I’d say the single most important thing to have is a good to-do list. Things is my app of choice for having a to-do list, but there’s a few other options out there – OmniFocus is the powerhouse, but it’s a good bit more expensive than the average college kid is willing to pay. I haven’t really looked into the other ones, but they should all work. The main point here is to have a to-do list. The human brain sucks at remembering things – we all think we’re good at it, and we are horribly wrong. Get into the habit of, when you think of something you have to do, putting it on the list. Doesn’t matter if it’s an app or just a page in your notebook – just get it out of your head and into something permanent.5

Mail (Airmail)

Email!6 It’s a thing, it’s basically mandatory for living in a first-world country, we can’t escape it. May as well make it fairly manageable. Apple’s Mail app is a pretty solid implementation of email, but it’s a bit lacking in integration with third party apps and customizability. Airmail is pretty great at both, and all the settings somehow do iCloud sync better than Apple’s stuff does. And, killer feature? Snoozes. Fairly common in mail apps these days, they make the whole ‘inbox zero’ thing way more manageable.

Writing (Ulysses, Drafts, and Day One)

I do a heck of a lot of writing, and I’ve found that markdown is one of the nicest ways to do it. It’s a very lightweight writing syntax – just type like normal, but if you want to italicize something, wrap it in single-asterisks, and if you want bold, do the same with double-asterisks. It’s got fancier features – links are incredibly easy, footnotes not too difficult, and lists make a lot of sense – but depending on what you’re planning to use it for, those may be all you need. So it makes sense that all the apps in this section are compatible with it.
For the majority of my writing, I use Ulysses. Their library of export themes includes fairly ready-to-use themes that make converting a paper from markdown into ‘ready to submit PDF’ just a couple of clicks, and the library organization makes my heart happy. And, with my writing style,7 the killer feature is footnotes – instead of Markdown’s default footnote syntax, I just type (fn) and it pulls up a nice overlay to write my footnote in. So delightfully easy.
Drafts is for lighter-weight writing – it’s a spin-off of the “don’t try to keep things in your head” system I mentioned under the To-Do List heading above. Not everything that I want to remember is a thing that needs to be done – sometimes it’s a scrap of an idea for a blog post or another piece of writing, or maybe it’s a nonsensical quote for my collection.8 Either way, being able to open up a new note and have it ready to type immediately is nice. That said, there’s very little organization to speak of, so for the sort of stuff I’m doing with Ulysses9 it really wouldn’t work.
Finally, Day One is a journaling app of such high quality that, I kid you not, it was one of the main factors in my deciding to switch to macOS (then OS X) after I graduated from high school. I try to write a summary of every day before I go to bed,10 and it’s nice to be able to flip back through all my old entries and see what I was thinking.11

News (Feedly, Instapaper, and Overcast)

None of my recommendations for news are algorithmically-powered – I have yet to find an algorithm that does a good job of figuring out the sort of news I want to read. So I stick with straight RSS. Feedly is the strong contender for RSS readers ever since the death of Google Reader,12 and while they provide a good API that means there’s a bit of an app ecosystem around them, I’ve found their default app (on iOS, and the web app for macOS) to be perfectly enough.
Now, as you’re reading your RSS feeds, you may come across something you want to read… but not right at this moment. Instapaper is a pretty good service for that – the app is very well-designed, and functions beautifully without internet access, so if you’ve got a cell-service-unfriendly commute, or just a limited data plan, I recommend it as a way to keep a bunch of articles ready to read.
Finally, podcasts seem to be all the rage these days. Apple’s built-in Podcasts app is… there. In case you want something that hasn’t been forgotten by the people who make it, Marco Arment’s Overcast is wonderful. He’s a big proponent of open web technologies, something I’m clearly13 in favor of, and Overcast as an app is the sort of app I’d like to make one day.14 Killer feature? Smart Speed – who has time to listen to a podcast at normal speed when you can crank it up to three times faster than normal? Overcast does that without making everyone sound like chipmunks using what I can only assume is some sort of deep audio wizardry.

Music (iTunes/Cesium)

If you’ve been around on my blog for any length of time, you’ve noticed that I post my playlist every month. As a musician, I’m not a big fan of streaming music – they still aren’t doing a great job of paying the artists, and yadda yadda you’ve heard it all before. I’m just an angry old man, shaking my cane at kids, telling them to get off my lawn with their new-fangled streaming services. I just stick with iTunes and actually buying songs for my music needs.
That said, the people designing the Music app on iOS clearly have no idea that people without Apple Music still exist, and the app is borderline hostile to users who don’t have a subscription. I got fed up with it after the last iOS update and took advantage of the ability to remove the built-in apps to replace it with Cesium, which I’d describe as “what the default Music app would be if Apple hadn’t launched Apple Music after iOS 7.”

I think that’s where I’m going to leave it – I’ve got a few more apps on my phone, obviously, but I think I’ve hit all the really useful ones, at least for the college kid trying to stay organized about the whole “oh god so many classes” thing. Good luck with the coming semester (or the rest of the quarter, if you’re one of Those Schools) and, I suppose, fire me a tweet or a message if you’ve got a suggestion of something else that really needs to be on this list.

  1. I’ll be linking to the iOS apps for most of these, but a couple are web services, and most of them have a macOS app of the same name. 
  2. I’m sitting at ‘1 credit above the 18-credit maximum,’ and working on getting signed up for an online class that’s about a 3-credit equivalent. Free time is something that happens to other people. 
  3. Hint: use the macOS Calendar app to set stuff up, it’s a bit easier to get the ‘custom repeat’ stuff to line up with what the class schedule actually looks like. 
  4. Second hint: BlackBoard Learn and, I assume, the equivalent pieces of software at other schools, have something hidden away in the settings that allows you to export an iCal feed of due dates; set that to import into your calendar for low-effort reminders of when things are due. 
  5. My organizational system is vaguely based on the Getting Things Done system, but it’s inexact because I’ve never actually read the GTD book. With Things, I have Areas set up for Home, Work, School, and Media. Tags within that keep track of what stuff is for what class. Setting the due date of assignments is quite nice, as I can have things sort by that or by class. 
  6. Or E-mail! if you prefer. 
  7. “The bastard child of Terry Pratchett and David Foster Wallace” 
  8. The photo book I put together at the end of my study abroad in Austria captioned all the photos with contextless quotes from my fellow students. 
  9. Notes and papers for classes, all of my blog posts, a manuscript or two… 
  10. Which, to be fair, sometimes consist of “I did a lot of things today, and so now I am very tired. Good night, future self.” 
  11. Plus it’s a great way to vent without spitting out a wall of sub-tweets. Journals are an underappreciated way of dealing with being mad at people. 
  12. Not that I’m still bitter or anything. 
  13. Proudly powered by WordPress! 
  14. Not literally a podcast-playing app, because that’s not a competition I want to get into, but the ideals behind the way he builds i- oh whatever, you know what I mean. 

Playlist of the Month: January 2017

How is the first month of 2017 already over? I’m still writing “2014” on papers!
5AM – Amber Run
Your Hand In Mine – Explosions in the Sky
Smoke Filled Room (Acoustic) – Mako
Sight – Sleeping At Last
Half Light – BANNERS
Big Jet Plane – Angus & Julia Stone
Better Man (Feat. Peter Gregson & Iskra String Quartet) – FYFE
Kusanagi – ODESZA
Gods in Heat – Tobacco
Killer Queen – FIL BO RIVA
 22 (OVER S∞∞N) – Bon Iver
White Ferrari (Vasta Remix) – Frank Ocean
Neptune – Sleeping At Last
Small Crimes – Nilüfer Yanya
All We Do – Oh Wonder
Afterthought – CloseTalker
Landslide – Oh Wonder
the mood – stefan
White Blood – Oh Wonder
Hypnos – Blueneck
Ghosts – Blueneck
Real – Majik
Snow – Sleeping At Last
Get Away – Saint Motel
Technicolour Beat – Oh Wonder
Move Magic – Julian Maverick
Falling – ursa major
ODESZA – Bloom (Live) – Day for Night
MNYMS – DENIAL – Day for Night
Play Dead – Tom Walker
Lullaby – ö
Stranger – Amber Run1
Let It Snow – Filous
No Answers – Amber Run
A Little While – Yellow Days
Haze – Amber Run
Beretta – Matt Black
Lonely Lullabies – Kweku Collins
Fickle Game – Amber Run
Friends (under the influence) – Majik2
I’m At The Bottom of The Ocean – Soleil Soleil3
Bright Lights – Vandelux
Oh Brother – Saint Raymond4
Hands Held High – Linkin Park5

  1. I’m very excited for when the full album comes out. 
  2. Pretend I put a link on here, because I’m in a wifi so slow as to not actually qualify as wifi, and I’m not willing to spend two hours waiting for Amazon pages to load so I can get them. 
  3. Ditto for the link on this one. 
  4. And again, insert your own link here. 
  5. This isn’t at all a new song but it’s one I felt like listening to, and so it’s back. 

Playlist of the Month: December 2016

Y’know, I mentioned at some point that it’d be fun to do some sort of analysis of my playlists over the course of the year. However, I’m sick, so I really don’t have the energy for that. Maybe next year.
5AM – Amber Run
Your Hand In Mine – Explosions in the Sky
Smoke Filled Room (Acoustic) – Mako
Sight – Sleeping At Last
Touch – Sleeping At Last
Half Light – BANNERS
Big Jet Plane – Angus & Julia Stone
Shadow and a Dancer – The Fray
Better Man (Feat. Peter Gregson & Iskra String Quartet) – FYFE
Kusanagi – ODESZA
Stay High – One Room
Gods in Heat – Tobacco
Haunt / Bed – The 1975
Killer Queen – FIL BO RIVA
Worth It – Moses Sumney
 22 (OVER S∞∞N) – Bon Iver
715 – CRΣΣKS – Bon Iver
White Ferrari (Vasta Remix) – Frank Ocean1
Neptune – Sleeping At Last
29 #Strafford APTS – Bon Iver
Sun – Sleeping At Last
Small Crimes – Niliüfer Yanya
Brooklyn Baby – The Code2
Hallelujah – Pentatonix
All We Do – Oh Wonder
Coventry Carol – Pentatonix
Coldest Winter – Pentatonix
Afterthought – CloseTalker
Landslide – Oh Wonder
the mood – stefan
White Blood – Oh Wonder
Heart Hope – Oh Wonder
Belong – Roosevelt
Say That You Want It – Abroad
Ivy (Air Zaïre Remix) – Frank Ocean
Ferns – Iris Temple
Down – Buster Moe
Open Up – Jack Eagle
Earth – Sleeping At Last
Six Feet Under (Jerry Folk Remix) – Billie Eilish
Menswear – The 1975
Hypnos – Blueneck
I Heard the Bells – Sleeping At Last
Ghosts – Blueneck3
What Child Is This – Sleeping At Last
Real – Majik4
Snow – Sleeping At Last
You Are Enough – Sleeping At Last
O Come, O Come Emmanuel – Sleeping At Last
Same World – YATES
O, Holy Night – Sleeping At Last
Get Away – Saint Motel
Mercury – Sleeping At Last
Water Flow – Klyne
Technicolour Beat – Oh Wonder
Move Magic – Julian Maverick
Other Gods – Blueneck
Plans – Oh Wonder
From Beyond – Blueneck
Rats in the Wall – Blueneck
Falling – ursa major
Southern – Sleeping At Last
ODESZA – Bloom (Live) – Day for Night
MNYMS – DENIAL – Day for Night
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Pentatonix
Slow Motion – Saint Motel
For Elise – Saint Motel5
White Iverson – Post Malone (Jake Miller Cover) – Jake Miller
Turn Off My Love – Xander Singh
Without You – Oh Wonder
Play Dead – Tom Walker
Waiting – Midnight Pool Party
Source – Tycho
Lullaby – ö
The Rain – Oh Wonder

  1. Chase keeps complaining about my choices of remixes and I keep ignoring him, and that’s how that goes 
  2. It’s like “I kinda want to punch this guy in the face for being like this” condensed into song form 
  3. I have multiple songs named “Ghosts” that I really like. Does this say something about my taste in music? 
  4. Probably one of my favorite ones on here, go listen. 
  5. I get the feeling I’m going to be hearing this one around the music department a lot when school starts back up.