October was another pleasantly busy month in Brooklyn. Really took advantage of the breadth of New York culture: I saw an opera at the Metropolitan Opera House, and then went to see prog-metal band Polyphia play guitar solos as fast as possible. At the latter, there were multiple mosh pits and the most packed audience I’ve ever encountered. It was my first ‘metal’ oriented concert, and the friendliness and openness of everyone who attended was remarkable.
I read five great books in a row but broke the streak by reading Charles Eisenstein. Still, it was nice to enjoy book after book, especially Feel Free, which completely validated the buzz around Zadie Smith.
Switching back to Instapaper and Feedbin from Readwise Reader
In meta-reading news, I had switched from a combination of Feedbin and Instapaper to Readwise Reader, but I just switched back. I’m still 100% rooting for Readwise - it’s extremely cool that they’re bootstrapped and they’re rolling out features and improvements so quickly. And there were certain features I’ll miss, like their PDF and YouTube reading interfaces.
But Readwise Reader’s interface gives me a feeling of an expansive, search-based collection. I found it really hard to get organized, because everything came down to search interfaces. As much as I like tagging and searching, I don’t think that those can be the only interfaces because they both lack discoverability. Part of why I absolutely adore tools like DEVONThink is that they represent organizational structure so well.
So, back to Feedbin and Instapaper for me. There was also a killer Instapaper feature I had been missing - “Send to Kindle”, which I use every night to read internet articles on a less glowy device.
Via University of Winds, Debbie Chachra’s Why I am Not a Maker resonated. I find myself really enjoying articles that challenge my beliefs and assumptions and this one did that well. The identity of the maker, which has been validated from all sides, even the why quote that I’ve counted as one of my favorites:
when you don’t create things, you become defined by your tastes rather than ability. your tastes only narrow & exclude people. so create.
But the identity of maker, for me, has at different times been an intrinsic motivation and an extrinsic one. Being prolific, as I think I have been and am still to some extent, is hard to stop or pause without feeling a loss of meaning. And when I spend time on activities that don’t create something in the conventional sense, it can be hard to fit them within the value system of ‘making.’ So, it was a good article.
I read How to Hide an Empire by Daniel Immerwahr last month and enjoyed his piece Beyond the Myth of Rural America in the New Yorker this month. This one confirmed my beliefs, in the hollowness of America’s rural fantasies.
On the hand, for something that surprised me and challenged one of my basic assumptions, did you know that in America, heating homes has more of an environmental impact than cooling them? I had long assumed the opposite. So, one less reason to fear the environmental cost of people living in mid and low-density southern cities.
But the main reason stands, that living in a dense city almost guarantees that you have a lower environmental impact than someone living in the suburbs, even if they have a solar roof and a Tesla and they reuse their grocery bags. If you want to preserve the wilderness, don’t live near it.
assorted update: i kept switching to and from DuckDuckGo and Neeva and Google Search, but since trying out Kagi it’s been consistently great. I rarely have to type
!g and get the Google results for something that I can’t find. Plus, the auto-summarize feature works really well and helps to evaluate whether long-winded articles are worth reading. Usually they aren’t, and it saves time.
Of course, what would really save time is if people didn’t write long-winded articles for SEO spam purposes and people would stop using AI to generate garbage content.
I’m also trying out Rewind, which is kind of terrifying but also pretty basically useful: for example, I couldn’t remember where I discovered the article about “not being a maker”, and it helped me find the source by searching my recorded history. But, again, terrifying. If lawyers say that the “e” in email stands for “evidence”, imagine if an employee was using Rewind while doing securities fraud. All the letters stand for evidence.
I’ve been listening to a lot of The Smile recently - Thom Yorke’s new band, which contains 40% of Radiohead. He’s a great songwriter and it’s an added bonus that because of Radiohead’s long and complicated history with the record industry, it’s one of the few popular albums you can just buy from the normal store. I really do not understand why so many musicians only sell their MP3s through Amazon.
Letterboxd has a feature that lets you see what percentage of a given director or actor’s films you’ve watched. It’s great and terrible for me as a completionist.
So, anyway, I’ve been watching all of the David Fincher movies (at 53%), and the latest were The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Se7en. No duds yet.
But more importantly: Shoresy. It’s the follow-up to Letterkenny, a spectacular Canadian comedy show that had four good seasons before becoming unwatchable. Shoresy amps up the representation of First Nations people, has a great soundtrack with lots of millenial hits (Mstrkrt), and doesn’t require you to know anything about hockey. Best show in a long while.