Tuesday 29 November, 2022

The Way In…

… to the Danish Architecture Centre in Copenhagen.

Quote of the Day

”I went to Vietnam to take the train. People have done stranger things to that country.”

  • Paul Theroux, 1975

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Lauridsen | O Magnum Mysterium | Nordic Chamber Choir


Eerily beautiful. I’ve often heard it in the background of radio broadcasts and wondered what it was. Now I know.

Long Read of the Day

 Gone Bad, Come to Life

Extraordinary (and revelatory) reflections by Justin E.H. Smith on fermentation, distillation, sobriety — and ‘bucket lists’. Sample:

Is any product of bourgeois consumer ideology more noxious than the “bucket list”? At just the moment a person should be adjusting their orientation, in conformity with their true nature, to focus exclusively on the horizon of mortality, they are rudely solicited one last time, before it’s really too late, for a final blow-out tour of the amusement parks and spectacles that still held out some plausible hope of providing satisfaction back in ignorant youth, when life could still be imagined to be made up of such things. “Travel is a meat thing”, William Gibson wrote, to which we might add that the quest for new experiences in general is really only fitting for those whose meat is still fresh.

But our economic order cannot accept this. Capitalism obscures from view first the meaning of life, which properly understood is a preparation for death, and then it obscures the meaning of death, which properly understood is the all-surrounding horizon of a mortal life. Instead it portrays life as an opportunity to go to amusement parks and accumulate novelty foam hats and so on, which is silly enough, but then, at the end of it all, it has the audacity to portray death itself as an event of life, at which you would do best to arrive with all the right “souvenirs” (what a word: memory congealed into artifact!), all the right photos of the Grand Canyon or your Kenyan safari or whatever stored for you in your personal space in the “cloud”… stored for whom, now? For what? I will not venture any dogmatic claims here about the existence or non-existence of an afterlife, whether conceived as infinite duration or as a state outside of time.

What I will say, with as much certainty as I have about anything, is that death is not an event of life, it is not something you pass through and then keep going, and it certainly is not going to matter to you, when you’re dead, if you ever rode a camel or not. It might matter whether you loved another person with all your heart, whether you attained any lucidity about your mortal condition or only lived like a puffed-up fool (you will certainly not be riding your camel through the eye of any needle); it will not matter whether you fed a watermelon to a hippopotamus.

Amazing philosopher, who always comes up with something unexpected.

Mastodon’s Moment

An interesting conversation about comparing Twitter and Mastodon between two experienced journalists — Julia Angwin and Adam Davidson, who has set up a Mastodon server for hacks.


Angwin: Can you talk more about how the platforms differ?

Davidson: I think the interface on Mastodon makes me behave differently. If I have a funny joke or a really powerful statement and I want lots of people to hear it, then Twitter’s way better for that right now. However, if something really provokes a big conversation, it’s actually fairly challenging to keep up with the conversation on Twitter. I find that when something gets hundreds of thousands of replies, it’s functionally impossible to even read all of them, let alone respond to all of them. My Twitter personality, like a lot of people’s, is more shouting.

Whereas on Mastodon, it’s actually much harder to go viral. There’s no algorithm promoting tweets. It’s just the people you follow. This is the order in which they come. It’s not really set up for that kind of, “Oh my god, everybody’s talking about this one post.” It is set up to foster conversation. I have something like 150,000 followers on Twitter, and I have something like 2,500 on Mastodon, but I have way more substantive conversations on Mastodon even though it’s a smaller audience. I think there’s both design choices that lead to this and also just the vibe of the place where even pointed disagreements are somehow more thoughtful and more respectful on Mastodon.

Interesting throughout. And squares with my impression of Mastodon.

My commonplace booklet

From Quentin’s blog:

Someone on Mastodon pointed out a useful thing today:

One mile per gallon is exactly the same thing as one furlong per pint.

So if anyone quotes their fuel consumption in furlongs-per-pint, you’ll now know what it means. Pleasingly, this works even in America.

Once you’ve impressed your friends at the pub with that one, you can point out that one mile per gallon is about 3 leagues per firkin.

This Blog is also available as a daily email. If you think that might suit you better, why not subscribe? One email a day, Monday through Friday, delivered to your inbox. It’s free, and you can always unsubscribe if you conclude your inbox is full enough already!