The Status Page

I was clicking around, looking for something, when I came across this old post by Merlin Mann:

Lots of sites have status pages. I wish more people had them.

My friend, Leslie, used to do an excellent one that included updates on her beverages, hair, and stress level.  I manually update a stripped-down status that shows roughly how busy I am.

Yeah, status pages for people should be more popular, and I also wish they were a bit easier to make and maintain. It would be a nifty way to display information

Which was exactly the opposite of what I was looking for, which was an actual status page system, that perhaps tied into IFTTT (which is hard, as I think IFTTT charges services money for their integration).  I no longer wish to be an Extremely Online Person, but I would like to have an easily (or daily-automatically) updated status page showing my email load, general working condition, location and available hours.

I may just start a second blot.im instance and update a plaintext file every day.  But, of all the things microblogs and newsfeeds squashed, it’s kind of sad that you don’t see these personal, eccentric things much any more.

The thought was started by whereisfelix.today , a clever piece of coding I cannot approach or grasp, and the emulator projctr.io , which appears to be a lot less functional but you can’t get under the hood to see what they’re got unless you pay them seven Yanqui dollar.

 

PODCAST SUBSCRIPTION LIST 1NOV18

 

DRIVE YOUR PLOW OVER THE BONES OF THE DEAD

‘Don’t you have a torch?’ he asked. Of course I had one, but I wouldn’t be able to tell where it was until morning, in the daylight. It’s a feature of torches that they’re only visible in the daytime.

DRIVE YOUR PLOW OVER THE BONES OF THE DEAD, by Olga Tokarczuk as translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones.  It’s a crime story.  It’s also a study in isolation and mental illness.  And a masterclass in literary eccentricity.

He was a man of very few words, and as it was impossible to talk, one had to keep silent. It’s hard work talking to some people, most often males. I have a Theory about it. With age, many men come down with testosterone autism, the symptoms of which are a gradual decline in social intelligence and capacity for interpersonal communication, as well as a reduced ability to formulate thoughts. The Person beset by this Ailment becomes taciturn and appears to be lost in contemplation. He develops an interest in various Tools and machinery, and he’s drawn to the Second World War and the biographies of famous people, mainly politicians and villains. His capacity to read novels almost entirely vanishes; testosterone autism disturbs the character’s psychological understanding.

The protagonist’s narration is just fascinating, and a joy to read. She lives on a plateau, somewhere in southern Poland near the Czech border, shares with a few other hermit types and a lot of animals.  One night, one of those hermit types is found to have died. And the protagonist finds evidence suggesting it may not have been a simple death.

I don’t want to say a lot more about it, save that the mystery – and the deaths that follow – tangle up the supernatural with the ecological and the social and even the literary, without ever really breaking the spell of one estranged and lonely and ageing woman who is a head smarter than anyone else she knows dealing with loss and damage and distance and an unexplained death that nobody else seems to want to solve.

Everything was starting to crackle, I could sense a feverish vibration under the grass, under the layer of earth, as if vast, underground nerves, swollen with effort, were just about to burst. I was finding it hard to rid myself of the feeling that under it all lurked a strong, mindless will, as repulsive as the force that made the Frogs climb on top of each other and endlessly copulate in Oddball’s pond.

It is marvellous and kind of heartbreaking and another phenomenal choice from one of my favourite publishers, Fitzcarraldo.  There’s nothing else quite like it.

The fact that we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future is a terrible mistake in the programming of the world. It should be fixed at the first opportunity.

DRIVE YOUR PLOW OVER THE BONES OF THE DEAD, by Olga Tokarczuk (UK) (US)

 

Usual Hermitage Bullshit Notice

A note mostly to myself — like pretty much all the notes here — to mark that on Saturday at 1201am I turned off my social media. I have a private IG account for looking at nice pictures, and Twitter lists for news, but I’m not posting on or participating in the public internet for the next several months.  I tell people on my newsletter, all the time, to tune their internet connections until they are useful and fun.  The public internet stopped being fun for me some years ago, and I disconnect from it for half of each year at least.  I like newsletters, blogs and RSS, podcasts, email, messaging apps and complete thoughts.  The public network turned into something I don’t really enjoy or get anything out of.  I still have the autoposters that sling links to these posts on to social networks, because, fuck it, why not?  Maybe you followed one of those, read this, and thought for five seconds about what you get out of the public network.  Maybe you like things just the way they are. That’s fine.   Maybe you had another thought about how you could make your experience better. These are all just tools, and you can fiddle around with them any way you like.

Anyway.  I write in my journal here in the morning when I remember to.

Reading: DIGITAL TARKOVSKY, Metahaven (UK) (US)

 

Star Fear Halloween Summer

Back from London, where the weather was really disturbingly good.  Like, 25 Celsius in the middle of October good.  Very worrying. The rain came back the day after, but it was still 15, 16 degrees.  We’ve been feeling climate change for the last ten years, but Saturday should have scared the shit out of everybody.  More than when it hit 35 over the summer.

It didn’t, of course, and London was as littered with half-dressed Saturday night drunks as you’d expect.  Some places still had radiators and heat lamps on, “because it’s October,” despite the fact that we’ve had summers in previous years that were not as warm as last Saturday.  One year a frost in June killed all the seedlings the kid and I had planted and raised.

One of these days I’m going to buy a farm, convert a chunk of the land for solar and let the local permaculture people experiment with the rest.  I don’t want to go all Dark Mountain here, but if you haven’t noticed by now that we’re all in trouble, then I’m not waiting for you any more.

 

Recently read and loved: DRIVE YOUR PLOW OVER THE BONES OF THE DEAD, Olga Tokarczuk (UK) (US)

 

Recent Quotes 26sep18

When he was young and dreaming of the future, hadn’t he imagined an ideal profession which unfortunately doesn’t exist in real life? He hadn’t told anyone, and never uttered these words aloud, even to himself, but he would have liked to be a ‘mender of destinies’.

MAIGRET AND THE HEADLESS CORPSE, Georges Simenon

‘4′ 33″’ is not about silence at all, in fact, but the impossibility of it. This was something he discovered on visiting an anechoic chamber at Harvard University, supposedly a sensory deprivation experience, but during which he was aware of two droning sounds, high and low. These were, the duty engineer told him, the sounds of his nervous system and blood circulation respectively. And so the point of ‘4′ 33″’ is that it is the ultimate ambient piece: it consists of whatever sounds happen to fill the listening space while the musicians do not play – a passing car or overhead plane, perhaps, a shuffle, a cough or simply the sound of the venue’s central heating system. These sounds are now in the frame, just like the reflections of the observers of Rauschenberg’s black and white canvasses became their (albeit transient) subject matter.

MARS BY 1980, David Stubbs

‘My theory,’ Hole continued with an innocent smile, making him look like a boy trying to persuade his mother he should have an atomic bomb for Christmas, ‘is that…”

POLICE, Jo Nesbo

We no longer even make the mistake of the wild young ones, by claiming that our judgment is the last judgment or declaring that this is where the road ends.

THE WORLD GOES ON, Laszlo Krasznahorkai

 

Look At Some Furious Chickens

 

They didn’t get any greenery this morning and are cursing me.

We take in rescue chickens from farms every few years.  Once they reach an age when they don’t lay regularly, they tend to be turned into chicken feed.  They are, of course, not grateful.  And now I’m home alone for a few weeks. And these chickens hate me.  From the moment I take my first coffee into the back garden to wake up and clear my lungs, they are standing on their food containers and denouncing me from the bottom of the garden.  Two weeks of this.

Enjoy Mildred and Maud (thank my daughter for those names), the furious chickens of the Thames Delta.

Reading: THE 2020 COMMISSION REPORT ON THE NORTH KOREAN NUCLEAR ATTACKS ON THE UNITED STATES, Jeffrey Lewis (UK) (US)

The Blinded Man

THE BLINDED MAN is the first of the Intercrime crime novels by Arne Dahl, pseudonym of literary novelist, poet and critic Jan Arnald.  So popular are these novels that their TV adaptation is simply called ARNE DAHL.

If you’re into those novels that are absurdly polished exercises in structure, mechanics, all flawless tracks and joints and that great bell-like sound when all the parts of it suddenly come together, you’ll love this.  It is a glorious performance in Building A Book.

It was written in 1999, and is solidly within the original Nordic Noir space, being very much about Swedish society and politics.  It is… curious on the subject of women, and cannot quite decide whether it’s the detective protagonist who can solve every puzzle except women, or whether it thinks all women are unknowable aliens.

On the other hand, it has a large detective who performs a violent arrest on a moving van.

It’s the story of the killing of a big important man, and the last time a big important man was assassinated in Sweden the police and security services really fucked it up, so this time they’re assembling a crack team of Cops Who Don’t Follow The Rules to handle it. Yeah, I know.  Roll with it.  Arnald isn’t trying to change the world.  It’s a largely unapologetic yarn. With moments of chilly, distanced oddness.

Given that it was clearly made as a commercial move, the book feels remarkably uncynical. It’s really not afraid of being odd. Its voice is wry and bone-dry.  And, as noted, it’s quite the masterclass in building a machine.

It was wonderfully unputdownable.

THE BLINDED MAN, Arne Dahl (UK) (US)

 

Refuture

I was reading the excellent book MARS BY 1980 (UK) (US) in bed last night and this term just popped into my head as I was circling sleep. I had to do that thing where you repeat it in your head twenty times so that I’d remember it in the morning.  I have no idea what refuture or refuturing really means, except that “refuturing” connects it in my mind with “rewilding.”  The sense of creating new immediate futures and repopulating the futures space with something entirely divorced from the previous consensus futures.

Refuture.  Refuturing.  I don’t know.  I wanted to write it down before it went away.

Which I guess is what we do with ideas about the future anyway.

 

Plant Robot, Brain Fat

 

This is watermelon and pomegranate juice in a pint glass because I am fucking classy.  And because I’ve been on my arse in this chair since Jan 2 writing for 15 hours every day and the flab is accreting on me like… a good metaphor for flab accretion because it’s August and my brain is fried.  And probably also wearing a coat of cellulite.  Can you get brain cellulite?  Probably.  Anyway, I’m juicing every day, because my body is way out of whack and I have to be seen in public on September 22/23 at Thought Bubble, where I’m being interviewed on stage and then giving a closing keynote.  And it would be preferred if I didn’t have to sling a unicycle under my gut in order to be able to move around.

The worst of the heat has finally passed.  My office is always significantly hotter than the outdoors temperature, so, when the heatwave spiked… well, I left my phone too close to the laptop for five minutes and it went into heat emergency alert.  I had to abandon the office completely on Monday and Tuesday.  I generally do not function well in “extreme” heat, by which I mean extreme for England, where houses are built to retain heat over six-month-long winters, not dissipate heat when it goes over 33 C.

I just realised my wall calendar is still on the July sheet.  It’s been that kind of year.  Here we go again.

I just read TURNED ON by Kate Devlin, which is about the history and future of robosexology, and it’s really good:  (UK) (US)