Happy New Year!

10 minutes

Happy New Year everyone! Both Lunar and Sidereal. I hope everyones January’s were all good whilst I was away?

I’ve been back from Thailand for 11(?) days now. We returned slightly dazed at the end of Jan and then powered though Eve’s 40th birthday party last weekend. Which was amazing, and it was super nice to see so many friends all in one place. Then this time last week … I got sick. 2 days of shakes and shivers, painful blocked sinus and a high temperature. It went on all week. I’m still not 100% but at least I can breath again.

When I was working in business consulting I remember reading a study that said; the renewed vigor, refreshment, and heightened motivation one experiences after a holiday peaks at lunchtime on the first day back at work. lol. I’m sure you can all relate.

Since I’ve been back, I’ve been struggling. I haven’t managed to settle back into my normal routines. I wonder if there’s a fancy compound german word for ‘returning from being away and seeing ones life and surroundings with estranged eyes’.

In fact the longer I’ve been back the more dislocated from ‘what came before’ I feel. The desire for change is only getting stronger. Now I’m feeling better and more in the land of the living I have plans to purge my living environment (I may sell some books) and take some stuff to the local charity shops.

After a month away that included some time where we only had a few hours of power – let alone the internet – returning to the British news cycle, its media environment, 24/7 access to high speed internet and in some respects the culture at large hasn’t felt like a home coming. In a conversation with a friend the other day I said that what has previously passed for normal now seems like soured milk.

‘Sour Milk Culture’ as I’ve been thinking about It feels a little related to the Boiling the Frog apologue. But instead of the water slowly being heated and the frog boiling alive – nothing has been done. The milk has been left to sour, left to curdle unattended. Either no one has noticed or have become so used to it, that the sour milk is still going in the tea and the cereal. But step in from outside, out of the fresh crisp air, and it doesn’t pass the sniff test.

I said last year that the UK’s politicians “haunt the empty idea” that is Britain. Everything’s gone sour over here.

I’ve been lucky enough to have been in airports all over the world, and the worst one by far? Gatwick.

Arriving back into Terminal 2 the other day – one of the UK’s main international gateways – was emblematic of the Sour Milk metaphor. Peeling paint, buckets catching drips from a leaking roof, windows fixed with gaffa tape, shit hole toilets and broken travelators. “Welcome to. Brexit Britain”.

It’s not just the wider world that feels off but the Internet too. Since I’ve been back I’ve unsubscribed from Youtube channels, unsubbed from newsletters, taken myself off mailing lists, left several discords, unsubscribed from podcasts, taken apps off my phone, and reached inbox zero. Any virtual media that doesn’t, or hasn’t brought me joy … is out. Life is just too short.

Despite the uncharacteristic negativity in the above I actually feel really good and refreshed! I’m in a good place, and can’t wait to start the year finally! Gonna be a good one! Need to build on everything I achieved in 2023!

The more sour everything seems. The more motivated I feel to get on with life!

Experience.Computer

Whilst I was away, my interview with philosopher of intelligence dropped over on my Substack: Experience.Computer

Experience.Copmuter - Reza Negarestani cover

Reza Negarestani Experience.Computer

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Photo 365

032/365/2024

The Ministry Of My Own Labour

Because I’ve been so sick I haven’t managed to get as much done as I’d hopped back in Jan when I planned the first 12 weeks of the year out.

No matter, I’ll just have to work harder to make up for lost time!

On the Blog This Week

Terminal Access

Lot’s of good stuff in the last 6 weeks from friends, but here’s a small overview:

Huw wrote a very Your Attention Is Sovereign-esq essay called In Search of Lost Screentime over on his Substack (paywalled)

What is the quality of screentime? For me, it is not eternal, but it is endless, and without beginning, for that matter; the moments spent staring at it seem to be comprised not of defined periods with a beginning, a middle, and an end (the stuff of narrative, of meaning-making), but of moments sliced ever-more-fine, like a piece of garlic cut and cut again with a straight razor. The slivers dissolve in my hot fat; they have no meaning, only a fragrance of the data remains. 

Tobias over at his Bounding Box blog wrote about AI and Product Design:

Don’t forget your phone

I think it’s fair to say (and I’m correct) that the last good phone was the iPhone 5 and it’s been shit since; all the hardware worked, it had a good form, size and shape where the camera didn’t stick out and you didn’t need to carry around extra batteries. It was completely fine. It was so completely fine that Apple have now gone back and got rid of the annoying slippy-as-a-fish bevels and put back the 5’s rugged industrial edges so that you can actually feel and grip it with your fingers in the dark first thing in the morning. Now, I’m not being hyperbolic when I say I honestly don’t know what iPhone model we’re on now, what the other companies are doing and (other than parroting Apple marketing) what’s better since the 5 other than β€˜better battery, better screen, better camera.’

Matt’s AI powered clock Poem/1 went live on Kickstarter and is nearly funded with 17 days left to go.

Dipping the Stacks

Prefixing the World – by Jonathan Rowson and Perspectiva

To choose terminology is to commit to an architecture for thinking and deciding, and a sensibility for feeling and evaluating. Today, as the world teeters and everyone struggles to perceive context clearly, we have a sacred responsibility to get it right.

Musical Pitch is Not “High” or “Low”

In many parts of the world, pitches exist in other metaphorical spaces (e.g. thick/thin; big/small); metaphorical spaces related to mass (e.g. heavy/light); metaphorical kinship relations (e.g. grandmother/daughter), age metaphors (e.g. old voices/young voices); or very culturally specific senses (e.g. crocodile/those who follow crocodile).

The Making of UnMachine Minds – by Peco

If the education of our children shapes the future of society, then we can also deduce an unsettling truth: The more controlling a society, the more it will seek to control the development of its children.

You will be arrested, fined or imprisoned if you plant some staple crops without license

a tough regulatory regime awaits animal feed farmers and the entire animal feed value chain. The proposed bill will affect all the stages of animal feed chain from the basic level of growing the feed, processing it, and ensuring its quality, its storage and distribution of the feed.

There Is No Piracy Without Ownership – Aftermath

The dipshit executive class in charge of all these companies, and all these decisions, are all cut from the same executive cloth: they’re doing this because they’re far more interested in making short-term cash than they are in securing the long-term future of the companies they’re in charge of, and the industries (and mediums!) they’re a part of.

Reading

Since my last Weeknotes I’ve read 13 books between leaving for Thailand on the 6th of Jan and today.

I read 4 self-oh-god-I-need-to-sort-my-life-out-help-books:

  • What Works: A Comprehensive Framework to Change the Way We Approach Goal Setting by Tara McMullin
  • The Art of Gig, Volume 1: Foundations by Venkatesh G. Rao
  • The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months by Brian P. Moran + Michael Lennington
  • Working Identity, Updated Edition, With a New Preface: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career by Herminia Ibarra

Each was interesting and useful in its own way. Venkat’s book is full of great advice, and Working Identity was the book that hit home the most. Full of obvious and blatant home truths. All thats left to do now is put some of this all into action.

I *finally* started reading Banks’ Culture series and managed to get though the first 3 books on assorted paradise beaches around Thailand. I can’t belive I’ve waited this long to read them. The Player of Games is a fantastic novel – my favourite of the series so far. I understand Use of Weapons is considered his most ambitious novel, but I suspect complex literary structures are much more common in sci-fi books today than they were at the time of its publication? Anyways. This series RULES.

  • Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks
  • The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks
  • Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks

I also read two books about ‘the body’. The Alexander Technique book is the best of many books I’ve read on the subject and Moore’s Stanislavski book, whilst interesting and considered a foundational text, is no ‘Actor Prepares‘.

  • The Alexander Technique: A Skill for Life by Pedro De Alcantara
  • The Stanislavski System: The Professional Training of an Actor by Sonia Moore

I also read two non-fiction books about recent history.

  • Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America by Jeff Ryan
  • The Nineties by Chuck Klosterman

The Super Mario book is fascinating as it was published in 2011 so missed the commercial disaster that was the Wii U and yet the thesis of the book predicts the success of the Switch precisely.

The Nineties is nominally structured around 12 themed essays. But in reality, each chapter is just a massive long rambling collection of ideas full of diversions and foot notes, punctuated with random factiods. I love this style of writing. It feels very ‘pop’ compared to pithy and punchy writing so common online.

And I also read:

  • The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History by Thor Hanson
  • Prayers of the Cosmos: Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus by Neil Douglas-Klotz

The Seeds book, as you can imagine is … about seeds. It was interesting and a very breezy read really recommend it. Prayers of the Cosmos is a short book translating the Lords Prayer from the Aramaic rather than Greek. The book reveals all the poetic and mythic meanings that the language of Christ contains rather than the Greek to English translations we are most familiar with. Remarkable little book.

Music

Julian Lage – Nothing Happens Here

This live version of the lead title from (previously on the blog) Lage’s new EP is absolutely incredible. The amount of space in this performance! Whoever is playing clarinet too. wow

I’m going to get tickets to his up coming Barbican show I think.

Remember Kids:

A servant is not holy if she is not busy

St Zita

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One response to “Happy New Year!”

  1. […] My friend Lorna told me about Brecht’s term Verfremdungseffekt the other night, after bringing up my ‘sour milk‘ comment from the other week. […]

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