Book Corner 2019.07


Strangers Drowning: Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Urge to Help

by Larissa MacFarquhar

This book was put together in a creative way; it wasn’t just philosophy and it wasn’t just case studies, it was both, but interspersed chapter-by-chapter, sometimes multiple chapters of one followed by one chapter of the other, or vice versa.

MacFarquhar is fascinated by extreme altruists, or as she likes to call them, “do-gooders.”  She interviews a wide variety of them and lets them tell their stories, sometimes directly with their own words, sometimes through her.  In between, she ponders what we owe to others vs. ourselves, and how we each answer that question differently, and what we lose – as well as gain – when we put others’ needs above our own.  “Others” in all these contexts means those who are neither ourselves NOR our family members, nor even our friends, acquaintances, or neighbors – the do-gooders chronicled here are all dedicated to helping strangers.

Personal interest: One case study involved a family that adopted 22 children, hailing from none other than my home state, in Barre, Vermont.

Enjoy her interview here with Tyler Cowen:
View story at


Mudroom Floored


The mudroom has a floor now.  It’s vinyl.  I don’t like a faux wood look very much; but Xopher helped pick it out.  It was hard to find something not cheesy-looking, that we thought would look OK with the walls.  I’m not entirely sure we succeeded… but, it’ll be covered in mud soon enough.

The vinyl goes slightly up the walls for ease of lots of wet mopping.  That was one of Xopher’s few requests.

I got seriously complimented on my sweater today at the Hapless Bagel Store.  That makes my day, and makes up for them being so hapless.  It’s the Norwegian Fishmerman sweater.  It is pretty impressive looking.  It’s black and white, with just a touch of red at the edges.  But the black and white makes such a great contrast, it just makes the pattern totally … impactful.  Looks not handmade.

Noodle Rocks the Kitchen


Looks awful.  Tastes great.  This is an old Cooking Light recipe I’ve used for eons.  Instead of pork sausage, used turkey sausage, which dramatically increased my allowed WW serving size – that, and beans now being zero points on WW.  I had it over riced cauliflower (bought frozen) with a side of simple kale steamed with sea salt & a touch of olive oil.  “Tastes like mama’s manicotti.”  That’s an obscure movie reference.