Reading Blog: September 2022

Mastering the Grain Markets: How Profits Are Really Made (Elaine Kub; 2012 edition)

A post on Hacker News pushed me to impulse-buy this book. It turns out this isn’t the most recent edition, and you can find PDFs online.
Early in the Ukraine conflict, $WEAT and commodity market trades drew snark from progressive farm Twitter:

Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect that Shaped the American Frontier (Jeffrey A. Lockwood, 2004)

Readers of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other American pioneer stories know that the West was home to swarms of passenger pigeons and locusts.
Lockwood, an entomologist, starts with horrifying first-person accounts of a record-breaking 1875 swarm. Americans who traveled west risked their lives, but the rocky mountain locust became known for ruining homesteaders even after they had made it through. The bugs would contaminate water supplies and the chickens feeding on them became ‘inedible’.

  • Locusts and cicadas are distinguishable things. Locusts are a polyphenic phase of grasshoppers.
  • The IUCN formally declared the rocky mountain locust extinct just recently in 2014
  • Native Americans would harvest locusts from Great Salt Lake, and some of the glaciers indicate swarms have existed for centuries, but it’s still unclear how Native Americans’ fires, the first wave of European diseases, bison hunts, the passenger pigeon, etc. all interacted to make locust swarms so frequent in the mid-1800s.
  • ‘bulldozer’ comes from a term for plantation overseers, and later mobs which beat Black voters
  • Grasshopper Chapel in Minnesota:

UFOs Over Malaysia & Southeast Asia: An Islamic Perspective of a Global Enigma (Ahmad Jamaludin and Robert Bartholomew, 2022)

I was looking up books on Malaysia (ended up getting A Continent Erupts) and found this 90-page report on alien encounters. The book is effectively lists of reported sightings, broken down by seeing a UFO, seeing an alien, and then topics of local interest.
It’s neat to see reports outside of the American cultural umbrella, and the book acknowledges that regional differences raise questions about what the phenomena is. Their UFOs are quite similar (saucers, cigar shapes, bright lights), also start in the 1950s, and can only sometimes be explained by weather balloons and air force flights.
When aliens are spotted in Malaysia, they tend to be tiny (6 inches tall) and more humanoid than the greys of Roswell 👽 or monsters of Alien. There are multiple reports from the early 1970s of schoolboys spotting small UFOs and trying to capture their tiny pilots, often ending with a boy getting shot and fainting, leaving a small red mark. There were only one or two reports here where an adult corroborated the sighting. Schools and police were more likely to blame the kids for being somewhere they weren’t supposed to be.

Updates to Previous Reads

  • Re: Separate, I just read about Viola Desmond, an entrepreneur who was arrested in 1946 for challenging segregation policies in Nova Scotia.
  • Re: Smashing Statues, Chicago’s monument commission made a report after two years. Several statues in my neighborhood may stay in place with additional context. Others across the city will be removed or kept in storage. A particularly challenging area is the DuSable / Michigan Avenue bridge:



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