- To conclude a thread from last week: I finished reseasoning the cast iron pan. It's been under my bed for a while, the victim of several botched attempts at a reseason, and when we were talking about maybe getting a new pan, CM asked whether I didn't just give it a proper go. It proved its worth pretty much immediately by making absolutely a+ naans to go with the curry we were making.
- Revolutions has finished, and I've just caught up. It's always an interesting opportunity for reflection when something that's been going across various periods of your life comes to a close. I've been listening to Revolutions since I listened through all of The History Of Rome in university and had a look around to see what the guy was doing now. The early episode I remember the clearest is the one about the Diggers, which sparked an interest in that kind of old English radicalism which has persisted to this day. I remember listening to the French Revolution episode about Talleyrand when I busted my knee falling down the stairs at the office, and the last episode of the Mexican Revolution while I was on the train home from a particularly brutal dumping. Revolutions has just been a quiet little drumbeat throughout the last ten years or so of my life. And it might be parasocial of me, but I like Mike Duncan. I like the little shoutouts to his family¹ in the early episodes of History Of Rome. I like the little 'formats' he gives to things—'zip, thud, the end'. I like that he got radicalised from reading so much about the Haitian Revolution. I've not been listening to any other podcast for nearly as long (since I stopped listening to the Bombcast). I will miss it, and I will miss him doing this style of show, but I'm cautiously optimistic about his next endeavour.
- I've started lifting again, again, and while my legs aren't thanking me for it I'm glad I am. It's one of those things that (unless you manage to injure yourself) is a real level-up in terms of life quality. I also did a BJJ intro session. I want to write something at some point about how I prefer grappling to striking, but for now, for this, suffice it to say that it was a really good time, and I'm going to get on that more often.
- I got a haircut, and while I was there someone in the barbers was talking about an event they were organising and I asked if he wanted us to mention it in Seagull. I feel like a few years ago I might not have initiated that conversation. It felt good!
- I tried going along to an ADHD group, and it was interesting to hear such a wide range of perspectives. There were folk of all kinds there, and a suprising number of older people, which I don't think I was expecting. The regular meetup is on an evening I'm busy but if I'm ever not I will try to go back.
- I set my goals for the year. I was trying to work out how to reconcile what felt to me like conflicting 'kinds' of goals, so I settled on 5 active goals (things I am working towards and actively putting effort into bringing about), 5 passive goals (significant things that will occur if I'm able to keep up the habits, systems, priorities etc that I have in place) and daily/weekly/monthly 'habits' (I think that's a bit of a misnomer, honestly—they're just there to give me a nudge and remind me of things I could be doing). As part of the re-organisation of my personal priorities etc, I also added an SOP section to my dashboard on Notion, which includes various admonitions that it's useful to remind myself of daily, like "No podcasts in the morning" and "Tired Adam is not allowed to make food decisions".
- We had Twelfth Night and took the Christmas tree down to the big pile of trees at the Level. It was a good tree, and we will miss it.
- We finally got around to framing and putting up some of the stuff we got for Christmas, including some maps of old Brighton!
- I saw a couple of old pals who I've not seen for years at a friend's housewarming party. Nothing makes me happier than seeing old friends I've not seen for a while, especially if they're doing well, and they were doing splendidly.
This week I wrote:
- about why I mostly disagree with people who say you should give up on reading the news
- about why podcasters should not be thought of as public intellectuals
- about what LLMs will do to the balance of power between wordcels and shape rotators
- about the government's posturing over maths education to 18
- about a book on masculinity which didn't deliver on its promise
I'm going to try not to hold myself to a super-strict publishing schedule but I have definitely identified that not having the time for writing is a sign my systems are out of alignment. Maybe this will end up with me wagging the dog and forcing myself to write, who knows, but in any case, I will be trying to put a bit more stuff up here.
I have been listening to this on repeat for the last few days. It is absolutely cracking. As I said earlier, I have a real affinity for and fascination with old English radicalism: the Diggers, the Levellers, and of course the Luddites, a group with which I have already expressed some sympathy. This album is really great stuff; bangers top to bottom, Over The Hills and The Triumph Of General Ludd being my favourites I think. It's got that thing that some of my favourite hymns have where individual snippets of it are just tremendously evocative:
Those engines of mischief were sentenced to die
By unanimous vote of the trade
There's so much in there! And:
Till full-fashioned work at the old-fashioned price
Is established by custom and law.
Full-fashioned work at the old-fashioned price. Extremely, extremely good stuff.
We got a TV license recently, so occasionally I will see snippets of things in-between watching whatever it is I'm navigating to. One such thing that popped up was The Third Man, which is renowned as one of the best films of all time, but which (because I don't really watch a lot of films, something I am trying to change) I hadn't seen. It is, in fact, one of the best films of all time! It manages to hit so many different marks, maintain a steady vibe while moving through a range of tones. The zither music throughout is ace as well. Really, really good stuff.
Outside of the aforementioned book on masculinity which didn't deliver on its promises:
- I finished Designing Your Life, which I will hopefully note up soon. A weird one for me which I found less useful as it went on? I think I had done the stuff in there in the reverse order they did. Still good for that, though.
- Working toward the end of Arkady Martine's A Desolation Called Peace. I finished the first one a few months back, and I think finishing this has just been a victim of busyness. There's a lot of good, detailed culture scifi here. I really hope that, unlike two other duologies I could name, this one doesn't end up with it being Space Zombies (though I did realise the other day that there's another sequel to Children of Time now, so hopefully that'll pull that back up).
- Ted Gioia, a newly-discovered favourite, on how Barnes and Noble turned itself around.
- I really liked BLDGBLOG's post for the new year, and his piece in the FT from earlier in the year about muon imaging.
- Something I was linked to from somewhere (I forget where) by Orwell about socialism and happiness. "I suggest that the real objective of Socialism is not happiness. Happiness hitherto has been a by-product, and for all we know it may always remain so. The real objective of Socialism is human brotherhood."
Butterfly Soup is, uh, butterfly soup for the soul. It's really nice and good and heartwarming and if you haven't played it it's only a couple of hours and features incredibly joyful and charming characters exploring their feelings and sexualities and playing baseball. The sequel came out a couple of months ago and we finally got around to playing it: I still prefer the first one, CM prefers the second one, but they are both really positive and uplifting and warm-hearted, and I'm going to run out of adjectives for that kind of thing, but they really are very special indeed.
Gosh, that was a long one! Plenty gets done in the first week of a new year eh! Let's keep that going 💪
¹ not in the David Guetta sense