updates

    Weekly digest 4

    Not posted a weekly digest in a while. It’s going to be a short one anyway

    Reading

    Still reading This Life by Marten Hägglund.

    Listening

    I’ve been listening to a lot of dance classics recently, a genre I’ve always kind of liked but never really embraced. The Prodigy, Groove Armada, Daft Punk, and so on.

    Watching

    • Started the Fallout show (I’ve not played any of the games). Very stylish and well done, so far.
    • Watched the election debates and found them mostly boring. The BBC debate featuring all major parties showed just how indistinguishable Labour and Conversatives are at the moment, allowing Nigel Farage to easily attack both from the right. The only person who convincingly challenged the current Westminster consensus on immigration, foreign policy, and fiscal policy was Stephen Flynn of the SNP.

    Other stuff

    • My son’s room now has a floor, just need to construct the furniture and move him in.
    • Picked up a Moonlander keyboard second hand

    Weekly Digest 3

    Here’s what I’ve been giving my attention to this week

    • AI “art” and uncanniness. Doctorow forcefully argues that large language models do not infringe copyright, and there are better ways for artists to fight back.
    • The Stuff of (a Well-Lived) Life by L.M. Sacasas. I never miss a post from Sacasas, a tech critic with deep knowledge of the history of tech criticism. In this post, he uses Apple’s “Crush” ad to illustrate Borgmann’s “device paradigm”.
    • The Most Misunderstood Philosopher In The World by Abigail Thorn (Philosophy Tube). Gender and queer theorist Judith Butler is widely misrepresented and misunderstood by people who have not read their work but have an axe to grind. This video essay on their work was entertaining and educational, though I’m still not sure I fully understand.

    Reading

    Started reading This Life by Yale philosopher Marten Hägglund, and I’m excited by it. Its project is to ground spiritual meaning in life in secular terms, in which the timebound nature of our lives is an essential component meaningful existence — unlike the religious ideal of finding meaning in something eternal, the antithesis of this book — and works through the political implications of this “secular faith” via new readings of Marx. More to come on this later.

    Watching

    Watched Mad Max: Fury Road for the first time because I thought Furiosa looked like it might be fun to see during half-term. Enjoyed.

    Other stuff

    • Published a new crossword last weekend
    • Flooring arrived, just need some days to get it down now.
    • Weather has been pretty great two weekends in a row, so outdoor grilling season has begun.
    • Initial release of my micro.blog plugin for Neovim. Still a WIP but it works. Turns out just two days before I published the plugin, this guide to best practices was published, and my attempt certainly doesn’t follow a lot of this advice. Still, it’s given me some directions for how I can improve it.

    Weekly Digest 2

    • Reviving rural railways with Monocab. This transport technology looks really cool. I can’t see it coming the Britain any time soon (our network is still largely non-electrified), but with public ownership of the railways just around the corner according to Starmer, who knows.
    • A Lesson From the Gymnasium. I enjoyed this post from Greg Morris sharing some wisdom from Marcus Aurelius.
    • CNN disgraces itself over Gaza. Owen Jones continuing to expose the media over its coverage of the atrocity in Gaza.
    • Simple, non-commercial, open source notes. I saw this when it first came out but was reminded of it earlier and how great it is. For those who love plaintext note-taking solutions — a highly entertaining trip down a rabbit hole.

    Cooking

    • Vegan Lachmajou. One of my favourite recipes. Super quick, high protein, with simple ingredients. Enjoy with flatbread, hummous, and a salad of finely diced tomatoes, cucumber, and perhaps vegan feta.

    Up to much else?

    • I’ve been coding this week in my free time, so there’s not a lot of stuff here. I’ll be posting what I made soon.
    • Finished laying plywood upstairs. Next is to get down the underlay.
    • Did gardening for the first time. Dug out a space and put in a raised bed.
    • Crossword is nearly finished, hoping to publish soon.
    • Next week I’m running an Only Connect quiz at school.

    That’s all for this week, thanks for reading.

    Weekly Digest

    Trialing a new format.

    This week we have a bunch of lefty links.

    • The Forest and The Factory by Phil A. Neel and Nick Chavez. Long, occasionally whimsical essay on a question that is often overlooked in utopian post-capitalist imaginaries — how do things actually get produced? In particular — how are things produced at scale? Neel and Chavez identify as communists, but even if you don’t like that word there is much to be learned here for anyone interested in imaginaries like eco-socialism, degrowth, social ecology, solarpunk and so on. Link to Chavez’s website
    • Mother Trees and socialist forests: is the “wood-wide web” a fantasy? by Daniel Immerwahr. The idea that trees are altruistic and can share resources and information has gained a lot of traction recently, sometimes in eco/leftist discourse as part of a project to naturalise peace and cooperation. But I’ve always found it farfetched, and this article seems to agree.
    • We Live In An Age Of “Vulture Capitalism”. Interview with economics writer Grace Blakeley. Some interesting discussion about why “state” vs “market” is the wrong debate.

    Reading

    Roadside Picnic by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky. Gripping Soviet-era sci-fi novel that the Stalker film and S.T.A.L.K.E.R games are based on.

    Listening

    The Airborne Toxic Event by the band of the same name. I’d not listened to this band in years. Brilliant album, with the standout track Sometime Around Midnight being one of the best sad songs of the 00s.

    Watching

    • Watched Into The Congo with Ben Fogle this week. Fogle visits Congo-Brazzaville, and spends time with many interesting peoples and people, including Mbenjele hunter-gatherers, the fashion-loving Sapeurs, and stars of the absolutely bananas Congolese wrestling scene. I have a dear friend originally from Congo (hi if you’re reading!), so it was nice to learn a little more about his country.
    • Watched Britain’s Got Talent for the first time in over a decade. Saturday night family entertainment is a thing now, I guess.

    Up to much else?

    • We’ve been laying plywood underfloor upstairs in our house ready to hopefully get some proper flooring soon.
    • Final parents' evening of the year was on Thursday. It went fine, despite me being a bit worried about it.
    • Made a bit of progress toward my next crossword for mycrossword.co.uk. I’ve not set one for months, and they take me so long to construct.

    I now have an articles category for longer posts. If you’re not interested in short posts and photos, use this feed

    2023 in review

    A brief overview of my year

    Main events

    • My little boy turned 1 year old, so I had my first experience of doing a child’s birthday party.
    • Had holidays in Llandudno and Christchurch, Dorset.
    • Became an uncle for the first time. The family is growing, and everyone is full of joy.
    • Finally bought a new house after months of living with my parents for logistical reasons.
    • Began learning web development via the Odin Project.
    • Made a good friend at work, and reconnected with some old friends.
    • Participated in the teacher strikes this year.
    • Published several cryptic crosswords on mycrossword.co.uk. My crossword setting and solving improved a lot over the year. I ran a crossword club at school.
    • Survived an OFSTED inspection (outcome: “Good”)
    • Started this blog 🎉.

    Patterns and themes

    • My progress in learning web dev slowed once the new school year started — many factors involved here, including workload, parenthood, living situation
    • Started lifting weights in August. Things started to fall off a bit in December due to a spike in workload (many end-of-term exams to mark). However, I’m still keen to go; I’ll pick the habit back up next week
    • Stress levels have been very high throughout the year, primarily due to work, but of course also to do with staying with parents, moving house, and so on.
    • Latter part of the year have had a big focus on family and marriage. Our living situation, together with my workload and stress levels, have been challenging for us all.
    • Got ill quite a bit in the first half of the year, but haven’t had a sick day since school started in September.

    Favourites

    Didn’t have time for much culture this year, but the best book I read was Neuromancer.

    Looking ahead

    • Keep making progress in learning web development
    • Keep going to the gym
    • Keep focusing on the family

    Happy new year 🥳