Database Platform Comparisons for Laravel Feature Tests

TL;DR: MySQL significantly outperforms MariaDB in my automated test suite.

The Problem

This Twitter thread prompted me to do a bit of research on database platforms for Laravel automated tests.

I’ve recently been building an ecommerce app based on Laravel. Partway through development, we added geometry fields to a couple of tables in order to determine distances. I’ve been using this spatial package, so SQLite was not an option for my test suite.

As soon as I switched the testing database driver from SQLite to MariaDB, my tests immediately took an extra 12–13 seconds to run, regardless of whether I ran the entire test suite, a single file, or just one test.

This significantly lengthened the feedback loop when making changes to code and re-running tests.

So when I saw Jack Ellis mention that he uses MySQL for his test suite, it made me curious if he had the same issue.

He said that one of his test files runs 39 tests in < 2 seconds, so apparently it’s not been a problem for him.

Context

  • I’m using the LazilyRefreshDatabase trait added in Laravel 8.62.0 on my entire test suite
  • I’m using squashed migrations
  • Many of my tables have constrained foreign keys referencing other tables

Comparisons

I decided to do some digging; here are comparisons using four different platforms for the same test in my application.

MariaDB

I’ve been using MariaDB as the main database platform on my development machine for years. Currently I’m on version 10.6.4.

In-Memory SQLite Database

I temporarily disabled the geometry features and tried the in-memory SQLite database (DB_CONNECTION=:memory:); it performed much better for the same tests:

SQLite File Database

I then tried with an SQLite file (DB_CONNECTION=sqlite), and it performed about the same:

MySQL 8

I have an installation of MySQL 8 set up for one app that uses some specific MySQL 8 and I figured why not give that a try too.

Here are the results:

Summary

For some reason, MariaDB takes approximately 12–13 seconds to tear down and recreate the database before starting to run tests, but MySQL is much faster.

While testing MariaDB, I opened the raw data directory for the database, and noticed chunks of files being removed and recreated at a time, so perhaps the foreign key constraints are (part of) the culprit here.

I do have 77 databases with ~3800 tables in my MariaDB installation built up from various projects over the years. It seems unlikely, but theoretically possible, that the server size could be part of the problem too.

I think I’ll experiment with switching back to MySQL as my development platform of choice.

Have you run into this same issue? Have any tips or tricks? Let me know in the comments.

The Color of Compromise

by Jemar Tisby

Description

The Color of Compromise takes readers on a historical journey: from America’s early colonial days through slavery and the Civil War, covering the tragedy of Jim Crow laws and the victories of the Civil Rights era, to today’s Black Lives Matter movement. Author Jemar Tisby reveals the obvious—and the far more subtle—ways the American church has compromised what the Bible teaches about human dignity and equality.

Tisby uncovers the roots of sustained injustice in the American church, highlighting the cultural and institutional tables that need to be turned in order to bring about real and lasting progress between black and white people. Through a story-driven survey of American Christianity’s racial past, he exposes the concrete and chilling ways people of faith have actively worked against racial justice, as well as the deafening silence of the white evangelical majority. Tisby shows that while there has been progress in fighting racism, historically the majority of the American church has failed to speak out against this evil. This ongoing complicity is a stain upon the church, and sadly, it continues today.

Tisby does more than diagnose the problem, however. He charts a path forward with intriguing ideas that further the conversation as he challenges us to reverse these patterns and systems of complicity with bold, courageous, and immediate action. The Color of Compromise provides an accurate diagnosis for a racially divided American church and suggests creative ways to foster a more equitable and inclusive environment among God’s people.

My Thoughts

This was a fairly quick read. Eight of the eleven chapters are a historical overview of racism and slavery in the United States, highlighting the assumptions and actions of both the culture and the church.

The final two chapters examine how the church and Christians are responding to current events, and offers a number of both small and large practical actions that we can take to combat racism.

This is a must-read for anyone in the American church. It is challenging and convicting to understand that doing nothing is to continue being complicit in racial systems.

If you read nothing else, at least read these two quotes:

Black lives matter does not mean that only black lives matter; it means that black lives matter too. Given the racist patterns of devaluing black lives in America’s past, it is not obvious to many black people that everyone values black life.

— Location 3,084

[M]any evangelicals have distanced themselves from or even opposed both the Black Lives Matter organization and the phrase. But the American evangelical church has yet to form a movement as viable and potent that addresses the necessary concept that black lives do indeed matter.

— Location 3,101, emphasis added

Quotes

One of the challenges we face in discussions of racism today is that the conversation about race has shifted since the civil rights era. Legislation has rendered the most overt acts of racism legally punishable. Hate crimes of various forms still occur, but most American Christians would call these acts evil. Yet the legacy of racism persists, albeit in different forms.

— Location 2,993

Sociologists Michael Emerson and Christian Smith studied white evangelical ideas about race in their book Divided by Faith. To frame their study, they used the concept of a “racialized” society which they defined as a society “wherein race matters profoundly for differences in life experiences, life opportunities and social relationships.”

— Location 2,996

Emerson and Smith go on to explain that discrimination in a racialized society is increasingly covert, embedded in the normal operations of institutions, and it avoids direct racial terminology, making it invisible to most white people.

— Location 3,001

Black lives matter does not mean that only black lives matter; it means that black lives matter too. Given the racist patterns of devaluing black lives in America’s past, it is not obvious to many black people that everyone values black life.

— Location 3,084

[M]any evangelicals have distanced themselves from or even opposed both the Black Lives Matter organization and the phrase. But the American evangelical church has yet to form a movement as viable and potent that addresses the necessary concept that black lives do indeed matter.

— Location 3,101, emphasis added

Many Christians may agree with the principle that black lives matter, but they still wonder whether they should get involved with an organization that espouses beliefs contrary to his or her religious convictions. There is no single answer that will fit every person’s situation. … Ultimately, the organizations with which one chooses to affiliate in the cause of antiracism is a matter of conscience. The only wrong action is inaction.

— Locations 3,168–3,174

Christian complicity with racism in the twenty-first century looks different than complicity with racism in the past. It looks like Christians responding to black lives matter with the phrase all lives matter. It looks like Christians consistently supporting a president whose racism has been on display for decades. It looks like Christians telling black people and their allies that their attempts to bring up racial concerns are “divisive.” It looks like conversations on race that focus on individual relationships and are unwilling to discuss systemic solutions. Perhaps Christian complicity in racism has not changed much after all. Although the characters and the specifics are new, many of the same rationalizations for racism remain.

— Location 3,291

If the twenty-first century is to be different from the previous four centuries, then the American church must exercise even more creativity and effort to break down racial barriers than it took to erect them in the first place.

— Location 3,318

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Dune Series

Frank Herbert wrote Dune in 1965, beginning a series of other novels and books set in the same universe.

It’s science fiction, but doesn’t dive into deep technical aspects as much as some other series do. The first two books are set on the desert planet of Arrakis, which is the sole source of melange, a highly-prized spice in the universe.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series so far. It combines light technical detail, human relationships and social dynamics, and occasionally includes nuggets of wisdom like the quotes below.

Dune

Cover of Dune

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for….

When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.

A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.

Quotes

“When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movement becomes headlong—faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thought of obstacles and forget that a precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it’s too late.”

— Location 7,089

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Dune Messiah

Dune Messiah continues the story of Paul Atreides, better known—and feared—as the man christened Muad’Dib. As Emperor of the known universe, he possesses more power than a single man was ever meant to wield. Worshipped as a religious icon by the fanatical Fremen, Paul faces the enmity of the political houses he displaced when he assumed the throne—and a conspiracy conducted within his own sphere of influence.

And even as House Atreides begins to crumble around him from the machinations of his enemies, the true threat to Paul comes to his lover, Chani, and the unborn heir to his family’s dynasty…

Quotes

When a creature has developed into one thing, he will choose death rather than change into his opposite.

— Location 2,247

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The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

Description

Cover image of The Warmth of Other Suns - The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.

With stunning historical detail, Wilkerson tells this story through the lives of three unique individuals: Ida Mae Gladney, who in 1937 left sharecropping and prejudice in Mississippi for Chicago, where she achieved quiet blue-collar success and, in old age, voted for Barack Obama when he ran for an Illinois Senate seat; sharp and quick-tempered George Starling, who in 1945 fled Florida for Harlem, where he endangered his job fighting for civil rights, saw his family fall, and finally found peace in God; and Robert Foster, who left Louisiana in 1953 to pursue a medical career, the personal physician to Ray Charles as part of a glitteringly successful medical career, which allowed him to purchase a grand home where he often threw exuberant parties.

Wilkerson brilliantly captures their first treacherous and exhausting cross-country trips by car and train and their new lives in colonies that grew into ghettos, as well as how they changed these cities with southern food, faith, and culture and improved them with discipline, drive, and hard work. Both a riveting microcosm and a major assessment, The Warmth of Other Suns is a bold, remarkable, and riveting work, a superb account of an “unrecognized immigration” within our own land. Through the breadth of its narrative, the beauty of the writing, the depth of its research, and the fullness of the people and lives portrayed herein, this book is destined to become a classic.

My Thoughts

I thought this book was excellent. Far from a dry examination of events and causes, it began with some historical context and examples of life under Jim Crow laws in the South.

It picks up the stories of three specific individuals and follows them through life, starting with their decision to leave their homeland in the South and migrate to the North to have the freedom they were promised by their country.

The narrative jumps between the characters, but rather than keeping the chronological timeline strictly coherent, it tracks their life progress. For instance, the chapter describing when they left is set in three different decades.

One thing that really struck me is just how recently Jim Crow laws were enforced, resulting in—for all practical intents and purposes—the continuation of slavery.

Quotes

An invisible hand ruled their lives and the lives of all the colored people in Chickasaw County and the rest of Mississippi and the entire South for that matter. …[T]here was mostly fear and dependence—and hatred of that dependence—on both sides.

— Page 43

Across the South, someone was hanged or burned alive every four days from 1889 to 1929, according to the 1933 book The Tragedy of Lynching, for such alleged crimes as “stealing hogs, horse-stealing, poisoning mules, jumping labor contract, suspected of killing cattle, boastful remarks” or “trying to act like a white person.” Sixty-six were killed after being accused of “insult to a white person.” One was killed for stealing seventy-five cents.

— Page 53, emphasis added

Jim Crow had a way of turning everyone against one another, not just white against black or landed against lowly, but poor against poorer and black against black for an extra scrap of privilege.

— Page 63

The dance of the compliant sharecropper conceding to the big planter year in and year out made it seem as if the ritual actually made sense, that the sharecropper, having been given no choice, actually saw the tilted scales as fair. The sharecropper’s forced silence was part of the collusion that fed the mythology.

— Page 198

The South, totalitarian and unyielding, was at that very moment succeeding at what white Harlem leaders were so desperately trying to do, that is, controlling the movements of blacks by controlling the minds of whites.

— Page 288

Contrary to modern-day assumptions, for much of the history of the United States—from the Draft Riots of the 1860s to the violence over desegregation a century later—riots were often carried out by disaffected whites against groups perceived as threats to their survival. Thus riots would become to the North what lynchings were to the South, each a display of uncontained rage by put-upon people directed toward the scapegoats of their condition. Nearly every big northern city experienced one or more during the twentieth century.

— Page 314

The reality was that Jim Crow filtered through the economy, north and south, and pressed down on poor and working-class people of all races. The southern caste system that held down the wages of colored people also undercut the earning power of the whites around them, who could not command higher pay as long [as there were colored people willing to do the same jobs].

— Page 363

[T]he sociologist Gunnar Myrdal called [this] the Northern Paradox: In the North, Myrdal wrote, “almost everybody is against discrimination in general, but, at the same time, almost everybody practices discrimination in his own personal affairs”—that is, by not allowing blacks into unions or clubhouses, certain jobs, and white neighborhoods, indeed, avoiding social interaction overall. “It is the culmination of all these personal discriminations,” he continued, “which creates the color bar in the North, and, for the Negro, causes unusually severe unemployment, crowded housing conditions, crime and vice. About this social process, the ordinary white Northerner keeps sublimely ignorant and unconcerned.”

— Page 441

The hierarchy in the North “called for blacks to remain in their station,” Lieberson wrote, while immigrants were rewarded for “their ability to leave their old world traits” and become American as quickly as possible.

— Page 475

With the benefit of hindsight, the century between Reconstruction and the end of the Great Migration perhaps may be seen as a necessary stage of upheaval. It was a transition from an era when one race owned another; to an era when the dominant class gave up ownership but kept control over the people it once had owned, at all costs, using violence even; to the eventual acceptance of the servant caste into the mainstream.

— Page 608

Perhaps it is not a question of whether the migrants brought good or ill to the cities they fled to or were pushed or pulled to their destinations, but a question of how they summoned the courage to leave in the first place or how they found the will to press beyond the forces against them and the faith in a country that had rejected them for so long. By their actions, they did not dream the American Dream, they willed it into being by a definition of their own choosing. They did not ask to be accepted but declared themselves the Americans that perhaps few others recognized but that they had always been deep within their hearts.

— Page 608

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Shuttle, Houston: My Life in the Center Seat of Mission Control

Description

A compelling look inside the Space Shuttle missions that helped lay the groundwork for the Space Age, Shuttle, Houston explores the determined personalities, technological miracles, and eleventh-hour saves that have given us human spaceflight.

Relaying stories of missions (and their grueling training) in vivid detail, Paul Dye, NASA’s longest-serving Flight Director, examines the split-second decisions that the directors and astronauts were forced to make in a field where mistakes are unthinkable, and where errors led to the loss of national resources—and more importantly one’s crew. Dye’s stories from the heart of Mission Control explain the mysteries of flying the Shuttle—from the powerful fiery ascent to the majesty of on-orbit operations to the high-speed and critical re-entry and landing of a hundred-ton glider.

The Space Shuttles flew 135 missions. Astronauts conducted space walks, captured satellites, and docked with the Mir Space Station, bringing space into our everyday life, from GPS to satellite TV. Shuttle, Houston puts readers in his own seat at Mission Control, the hub that made humanity’s leap into a new frontier possible.

My Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Personally, I found the first chapter most interesting, as he described technical details of many of the major systems of the Shuttle.

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On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

Cover of On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

Description

The Founding Fathers tried to protect us from the threat they knew, the tyranny that overcame ancient democracy. Today, our political order faces new threats, not unlike the totalitarianism of the twentieth century. We are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience.

On Tyranny is a call to arms and a guide to resistance, with invaluable ideas for how we can preserve our freedoms in the uncertain years to come.

My Thoughts

This book is a fairly quick read (130 pages) with a lot of good reminders and lessons from the Twentieth Century.

I thought the first half was very good and the ending was good; the 50–80% range felt like he was stretching a bit to come up with an even 20.

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Highlights

Both fascism and communism were responses to globalization: to the real and perceived inequalities it created, and the apparent helplessness of the democracies in addressing them.

Page 12

You submit to tyranny when you renounce the difference between what you want to hear and what is actually the case.

Page 66

As observers of totalitarianism such as Victor Klemperer noticed, truth dies in four modes.

The first mode is the open hostility to verifiable reality, which takes the form of presenting inventions and lies as if they were facts.

The second mode is shamanistic incantation. As Klemperer noted, the fascist style depends upon “endless repetition,” designed to make the fictional plausible and the criminal desirable.

The next mode is magical thinking, or the open embrace of contradiction.

The final mode is misplaced faith. It involves the sort of self-deifying claims the president made when he said that “I alone can solve it” or “I am your voice.”

Pages 66–8

A Nazi leader outmaneuvers his opponents by manufacturing a general conviction that the present moment is exceptional, and then transforming that state of exception into a permanent emergency. Citizens then trade real freedom for fake safety.

Page 100

A nationalist encourages us to be our worst, and then tells us that we are the best.

A patriot, by contrast, wants the nation to live up to its ideals, which means asking us to be our best selves.

A patriot has universal values, standards by which he judges his nation, always wishing it well—and wishing that it would do better.

Page 114

History gives us the company of those who have done and suffered more than we have.

Page 125

Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation

Cover of Divided We Fall: America's Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation

This excellent book explores the reasons behind our current polarization, presents two believable scenarios where various states might secede from the Union, and offers suggestions on how to bring down the temperature of our civil discourse.

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Highlights

At the core of each narrative is the burning conviction that the other side doesn’t just want its opponents to lose political races, but rather wishes for them to exist in a state of permanent, dangerous (perhaps even deadly) subordination. And, really, if you’re steeped in your own side’s narrative, shouldn’t your opponent not just lose but also be cast down from American politics and culture?

Kindle location 233

American civil society is retreating, and as American civil society retreats, politics surges to take its place.

Kindle location 315

On Pluralism

America was built from the ground up to function as a pluralistic republic. It can flourish only as a pluralistic republic. …contrary to the beliefs of illiberal activists and intellectuals on the left and the right, America can exist only as a liberal, pluralistic republic. By “liberal,” I do not mean Democratic or progressive but rather the form of government that “conceive[s] humans as rights-bearing individuals who could fashion and pursue for themselves their own version of the good life.”

Kindle location 322–323

to embrace pluralism is to surrender the dream of domination. To embrace pluralism is to acknowledge that even the quest for domination is dangerous. It understands that human beings will not yield that which is most precious to them, even at the point of a gun. Embracing pluralism means embracing the lessons of history and understanding that not even our great nation is immune to the forces that have fractured unions older than ours. Our nation’s angriest culture warriors need to know the cost of their conflict. As they seek to crush their political and cultural enemies, they may destroy the nation they seek to rule.

Kindle location 385

To embrace pluralism, citizens truly need only to embrace two real limitations on their quest for ultimate ideological victory.

Kindle location 2,271

First, if you are a citizen of a pluralistic, liberal republic, you need to defend the rights of others that you would like to exercise yourself—even when others seek to use those rights to advance ideas you may dislike or even find repugnant.

Kindle location 2,272

Second, if you are a citizen of a pluralistic, liberal government, you should defend the rights of communities and associations to govern themselves according to their values and their beliefs—so long as they don’t violate the fundamental rights of their dissenting members.

Kindle location 2,279

Let’s start with the absolutely most basic building block of reconstructing a commitment to liberalism and pluralism. Let’s start with a term that conservatives have grown to hate and all too many progressives abuse and misunderstand. Let’s start with tolerance, properly understood.

Kindle location 2,309

Americans must be tolerant of dissent, even when they believe dissenters are offensive and wrong.

Kindle location 2,443

The political class exploits grace. The political class treats it as weakness. Thus, while parts of the public may long for mutual respect and a deescalation of partisan vitriol, even weary partisans don’t want to show weakness. The people who actually drive American politics and policy are committed to escalation, and as they escalate, they drive their committed followers into ever-greater frenzies.

Kindle location 2,601

On Centralization and Federalism

American centralization is a response both to a terrible failure of federalism and to the dramatic external, existential threats of the Axis powers and the Soviet Union.

Kindle location 2,654

In the case of America’s history of race discrimination, federalism enabled evil.

Kindle location 2,661

Federalism has become a tactic, not a principle. It’s a defense mechanism when you’re out of power and an annoyance when you’re in power.

Kindle location 2,774

On Our Attitudes Toward Others

Those who care the most often hate the most, and one of their chief methods of discrediting ideological allies with whom they compete is by portraying them as too tolerant of the hated political enemy. Kindness is perceived as weakness. Decency is treated as if it’s cowardice. Acts of grace are an unthinkable concession to evil.

Kindle location 3,186

The next two qualities, mercy and humility, are indispensable to our national life. Mercy is the quality we display when we are, in fact, right and our opponents are wrong. We treat them not with contempt but with compassion.

Kindle location 3,232

Humility reminds us that we are not perfect. Indeed, we are often wrong and will ourselves need mercy.

Kindle location 3,235

The Space Trilogy

by C.S. Lewis

The Space Trilogy is a series of science fiction by C. S. Lewis. Written in the 1940–40s, the science feels a bit quaint compared to recent science fiction, but the allegories hold true.

Out of the Silent Planet

Cover of Out of the Silent Planet

Out of the Silent Planet begins the adventures of the remarkable Dr. Ransom. Here, that estimable man is abducted by a megalomaniacal physicist and his accomplice and taken via spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra. The two men are in need of a human sacrifice, and Dr. Ransom would seem to fit the bill. Once on the planet, however, Ransom eludes his captors, risking his life and his chances of returning to Earth, becoming a stranger in a land that is enchanting in its difference from Earth and instructive in its similarity.

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Perelandra

Cover of Perelandra

This was my favorite book of the series.

Perelandra continues the adventures of the extraordinary Dr. Ransom. Pitted against the most destructive of human weaknesses, temptation, the great man must battle evil on a new planet—Perelandra—when it is invaded by a dark force. Will Perelandra succumb to this malevolent being, who strives to create a new world order and who must destroy an old and beautiful civilization to do so? Or will it throw off the yoke of corruption and achieve a spiritual perfection as yet unknown to man? The outcome of Dr. Ransom’s mighty struggle alone will determine the fate of this peace-loving planet.

Quotes

Ransom had been perceiving that the triple distinction of truth from myth and of both from fact was purely terrestrial—was part and parcel of that unhappy division between soul and body which resulted from the Fall. Even on Earth the sacraments existed as a permanent reminder that the division was neither wholesome nor final. The Incarnation had been the beginning of its disappearance.

—Page 177

There seems no plan because it is all plan: there seems no center because it is all center. Blessed be He!” “Yet this seeming also is the end and final cause for which He spreads out Time so long and Heaven so deep; lest if we never met the dark, and the road that leads no whither, and the question to which no answer is imaginable, we should have in our minds no likeness of the Abyss of the Father, into which if a creature drop down his thoughts for ever he shall hear no echo return to him. Blessed, blessed, blessed be He!”

—Page 277

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That Hideous Strength

Cover of That Hideous Strength

This book took me a little while to get into. It is so different from the first two books, at times I wondered if it’s actually even the same series. It’s definitely darker than the other two, likely because it was written right at the end of World War II.

In That Hideous Strength, the dark forces that have been repulsed in Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra are massed for an assault on the planet Earth itself. Word is on the wind that the mighty wizard Merlin has come back to the land of the living after many centuries, holding the key to ultimate power for the force that can find him and bend him to its will. A sinister technocratic organization that is gaining force throughout England, N.I.C.E. (the National Institute of Coordinated Experiments), secretly controlled by humanity’s mortal enemies, plans to use Merlin in their plot to “recondition” society. Dr. Ransom forms a countervailing group, Logres, in opposition, and the two groups struggle to a climactic resolution that brings the Space Trilogy to a magnificent, crashing close.

Quotes

Isn’t it absolutely essential to keep a fierce Left and a fierce Right, both on their toes and each terrified of the other? That’s how we get things done. Any opposition to the NICE is represented as a Left racket in the Right papers and a Right racket in the Left papers. If it’s properly done, you get each side outbidding the other in support of us—to refute the enemy slanders. Of course we’re nonpolitical. The real power always is.”

— Page 97

“Why you fool, it’s the educated reader who can be gulled. All our difficulty comes with the others. When did you meet a workman who believes the papers? He takes it for granted that they’re all propaganda and skips the leading articles.

— Page 97

But the educated public, the people who read the highbrow weeklies, don’t need reconditioning. They’re all right already. They’ll believe anything.”

— Page 98

“There’s such a thing as loyalty,” said Jane. MacPhee, who had been carefully shutting up the snuffbox, suddenly looked up with a hundred covenanters in his eyes. “There is, Ma’am,” he said. “As you get older you will learn that it is a virtue too important to be lavished on individual personalities.”

— Page 190

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A Year in the Wilderness: Bearing Witness in the Boundary Waters

by Amy and Dave Freeman

Description

Cover of A Year in the Wilderness: Bearing Witness in the Boundary Waters

Since its establishment as a federally protected wilderness in 1964, the Boundary Waters has become one of our nation’s most valuable—and most frequently visited—natural treasures. When Amy and Dave Freeman learned of toxic mining proposed within this area’s watershed, they decided to take action—by spending a year in the wilderness, and sharing their experience through video, photos, and blogs with an audience of hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens. This book tells the deeper story of their adventure in northern Minnesota: of loons whistling under a moonrise, of ice booming as it forms and cracks, of a moose and her calf swimming across a misty lake.

With the magic—and urgent message—that has rallied an international audience to the campaign to save the Boundary Waters, A Year in the Wilderness is a rousing cry of witness activism, and a stunning tribute to this singularly beautiful region.

My Thoughts

We purchased this book at Lake Superior Trading Post during a camping trip earlier this year.

The authors spent a year in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness documenting their experiences with hundreds of photographs, some video, and a few podcast episodes. The book contains dozens of the beautiful full-color photographs.

They camped at approximately 120 different sites, explored 500 lakes, rivers and streams, and traveled more than 2,000 miles by canoe, foot, ski, snowshoe and dog team.

They had a fairly large volunteer support team who brought in food and supplies, and they had a satellite phone to post updates, but otherwise they were cut off from civilization for a year.

They muse on the importance of solitude and retreat from the noise of daily life, and come to appreciate the beauties of the area more than ever.

We’ve been to the edge of the Boundary Waters but it’ll likely be a few years before we can really visit, and thanks to this book, I cannot wait.

This was my favorite book of the entire year.

Resources

Visit https://www.savetheboundarywaters.org/wildernessyear for more information.

Here’s a short video produced by some friends of the Freemans:

Bear Witness: A Year in the Wilderness

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Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale

Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale

Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale by Adam Minter is a fascinating look at what happens to people’s stuff when they no longer want or need it.

The first couple of chapters discuss people decluttering on their own or disposing of a deceased family member’s belongings, often by bringing in a service to go through the stuff and determine what can be sold or donated and what should simply be thrown away.

The second part of the book goes into the global economy of second-hand stuff. For example, all the Goodwill stores in one county take unsold clothing to a Goodwill “warehouse” where clothing is sold for a dollar or two per bag; people purchase truckloads of clothing, drive over the border, and resell it at enough of a profit to make a living.

Highlights

Between 1967 and 2017, the money that Americans spent annually on stuff—from sofas to cell phones—increased almost twentyfold.

Location 51

Garage sales aren’t where it’s at anymore. Half the stuff doesn’t sell because the prices are too high. Everyone thinks they’re on Antiques Roadshow.

Location 836

In the United States (and in Europe), most secondhand goods are donated rather than sold. As a result, most people lack a financial incentive to take care of their things. So instead of seeing the end of an object’s life as an opportunity to extract some last value from it (as people do with their cars), Americans view that object in philanthropic terms. It’ll help the poor; it’ll benefit the environment. For better or worse, both those reasons have proved to be little incentive to take care of stuff.

Location 1076

None of the cut-up fragments of sweatshirt through which Wilson is rummaging were used in India. Rather, they were likely made in South Asia, exported to the United States, and worn until they were donated to Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or some other thrift-based exporter. When they didn’t sell there, they were exported again, to Kandla most likely (or perhaps Mississauga, en route to Kandla), cut up, and exported again—this time to Star Wipers in Newark, Ohio. Each step of that journey makes perfect economic sense, even if the totality of it sounds ridiculous.

Location 2755

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