In which I write a letter

Dear Reader,

I hope this finds you well. I hope you’re living a pleasant life under quarantine, and that your biscuit tin is never empty.

Since your last letter, I completed another scene of Halo of Flies. It’s going fairly well, I’m building up a nice momentum that doesn’t feel too strenuous to maintain, and I’m enjoying the writing itself. I’ve always loved coming up with worlds for people to inhabit; I think that’s why fantasy has always appealed so strongly. I’ve been thinking about this world for so long that it’s good to have people to finally inhabit it. If I can maintain my current pace, I should have the first draft completed by the 22nd of June. Mark the date on your calendar and if I haven’t completed it by then, you’ve my permission to give me a good ticking off.

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In which I hesitate to write about politics

I hesitate to write about politics. It makes people (including me), fairly angry, a lot of the time, and when you have strong opinions about something, it doesn’t necessarily engender good thinking or good writing. You have to be much more careful to reign yourself  in and examine your assumptions. In the first draft of this I referred to a certain political appointee as a professional asshole, and while I think that’s true, I recognise that it’s an opinion. Opinions are like professionals assholes, in that politics is already rife with them. See? I did it again. I just can’t help myself.

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Real life Lord of the Flies

It’s easy to imagine that William Golding’s Lord of the Flies speaks to what really lies at the heart of the human temperament, and that really, all of us are a single disaster away from becoming animals again. It’s certainly what motives lots of the prepper mindset, and I should think, lots of capitalist thinking. Rutger Bergman says that might not be the case. He went on the hunt for a real life Lord of the Flies, and found one.

I’m fascinated by this kind of thing; you only have to look at human history to see that we’re capable of truly horrifying things. There are also examples of the opposite; I haven’t done any serious research, but it’s an interesting question. Is there a definable ‘human nature’ we can pin down, and if there is, is it good or bad? Or is that far too simplifying, and in reality, depending on the conditions humans have the potential to be either? I’m curious.

Defacing things with writing

“What I really want is someone rolling around in the text” by Sam Anderson


This one is old, but I discovered it today while trying to find an easy way to annotate things digitally – webpages, documents, everything. Anderson’s meditation on the joy of marginalia is bittersweet for me. I love the idea of writing things in books as I read them, but I have never been able to do it; either I find myself reading with nothing to say (surprising, you might say, for a writer) or I find myself completely stunted by a lurking perfectionism. It might seem neurotic in an absurd way to say that I haven’t written things in books in the past for fear of writing something stupid, but there it is. “Errors, mistakes, even slight… discrepancies,” says Perfectionism with disgust, sliding his glasses further up his crinkled nose, “are not to be tolerated.” And so I put the pencil down.

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The Markup – a new media outlet focusing on Big Tech

I discovered The Markup earlier today. They’re a thoughtful, ethical journalism non-profit, reporting on “how powerful institutions are using technology to change our society.”

Not only does The Markup promise not to expose you to third-party trackers, it also tries to collect as little personal information as possible and commits to never monetising the data they do collect. Points from me.

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All the streets of London

A gentleman called Davis Vilums has cycled every street in central London, and mapped the entire process. The result is a very cool time lapse, filling out all the streets and byways of London, as if by electricity. I dig it.

Even better is the ethos – it sounds like a fun way to explore your city and find every little nook and cranny. Not only did he get every single bit of central London in, but as he said, it made it feel like home. I’m convinced that this is one of the ways that you get to feel like you belong in a place – to be in it and get to know it, discover its idiosyncrasies and strange, out of the way places. Plus, I would definitely find it satisfying to tick off (colour in) all the roads and complete the map. I’d like to do something similar in Cardiff. I’d have to take the shoelace express, however, because I neither own une bicyclette nor do I have the aerobic fitness to ride one any distance.