Tuesday 13 December, 2022


On Sunday evening, after I had put Monday’s edition to bed (as we used to say in the letterpress days), I went outside to get some logs and found that it was — unexpectedly — snowing. Suddenly, everything was muffled and eerily quiet. And, as always happens when it first snows, I found myself thinking of the closing pages of James Joyce’s great short story, The Dead, and of the wonderful movie that John Huston made of it.

In the story, Gabriel Conroy and his wife Gretta have returned from a convivial party to the posh Dublin hotel where they are staying. Before retiring to bed they have a sombre conversation about a young boy, Micheal Furey, who had been in love with Gretta many years ago and who had died heartbroken when she had gone to live elsewhere. Sobbing, Gretta throws herself onto the bed and lies face down until she falls asleep, leaving Gabriel pensive and ashamed of his earlier brusqueness.

This is how the story ends.

Quote of the Day

”If there’s one tweet that will tell you everything you need to know about Elon Musk, it’s this one from early this morning:

In five words, Musk manages to mock transgender and nonbinary people, signal his disdain for public-health officials, and send up a flare to far-right shitposters and trolls. The tweet is a cruel and senseless play on pronouns that also invokes the right’s fury toward Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, for what they believe is a government overreach in public-health policy throughout the pandemic and an obfuscation of the coronavirus’s origins.”

Musk is, like Trump before him, an Uber-troll. I’ve never used Twitter much and have been havering about deleting my account ever since Musk bought it. The only reason I haven’t is that I need to use my Twitter login to access Dave’s new feed-reader, Feedland, which is one of the best things to happen on the Web for years. Dave is aware of the problem — but thinks is a “lesser of two evils” choice. “Not loving FeedLand because it uses Twitter for identity”, he writes,

“is like not loving a friend because they had a baby with someone you don’t like. Or not loving NetNewsWire, for example, because it runs on Macs and iOS and Apple does crazy shit that fucks everything up. (I use Macs, lots of them, despite what I think of Apple.)”

I get it, so I will keep my Twitter account (but not post to it) until Dave decides to add another user-authentication method. Feedland is too good to lose.

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Bach – Oboe d’Amore Concerto in D BWV 1053 Cafe Zimmerman


Long Read of the Day

The Apocalyptic Vision of T. S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’

Fabulous long read by James Parker in The Atlantic. The best thing I’ve read on The Waste Land. It’s interesting that the two best essays I’ve read marking the centenary of the poem — this one and Anthony Lane’s have both been by journalists rather than literary critics.

This is how Parker’s essay opens…

Imagine, if you will, a poem that incorporates the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the blowing up of the Kerch Bridge, Grindr, ketamine, The Purge, Lana Del Rey, the next three COVID variants, and the feeling you get when you can’t remember your Hulu password. Imagine that this poem—which also mysteriously contains all of recorded literature—is written in a form so splintered, so jumpy, but so eerily holistic that it resembles either a new branch of particle physics or a new religion: a new account, at any rate, of the relationships that underpin reality.

Now imagine this poem making news, going viral, becoming the poem—hailed over here, reviled over there—such that everybody is obliged to react to it, and every poem yet unwritten is already, inevitably, altered by it. And now imagine that the author of this poem—the poet himself—is a haunted-looking commuter whom you half-recognize from the subway platform.

You’re getting close to The Waste Land.

Do read it.

My commonplace booklet

Raspberry Pi hires former spy gadget-maker who baked devices into surveillance ops

Nice story in The Register.

A former technical surveillance officer at the UK’s Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) – a team charged with tackling serious organized crime and terrorism across seven local police forces – has joined the Raspberry Pi Foundation and expressed his professional admiration for the organization’s single board computers when pressed into service on police business.

Toby Roberts, the former officer, has been revealed as the Foundation’s maker-in-residence – a gig devoted to baking Pis into all sorts of devices to assist pros and hobbyists alike do likewise…

If he offers you a piece of the Chocolate Pi, be suspicious.

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