Welcome to the Halfman newsletter, a vehicle for musings, half-baked arguments with oneself and a whole lotta love. Da dah ta dah duh.
I’m Jim and I will be your host for the next, roughly eight minutes of pure ecstasy that comes with this newsletter. If you’re looking for a through line, don’t.
Read These or Die
This time did not forget the Top10-Oct.
NoMoreCode: Coding kids and oh yeah, AI of course.
The Aesthetics of AI: Thinking about what AI feels like which is sort of gross and sad.
- I have a side hustle, doing idents for Australian radio which is at around 00:12:56
- The person doing traffic reports on the radio is not actually in a helicopter. For some insane reason, this shocked me when I heard it a while ago. I’ve just lost immense amounts of points with my readership.
- I went to the dentist, and whilst having my gums ravaged, she was listening to Jawbox in the background. That’s right, everyone’s favourite 90’s, post-hardcore band from DC. Someone, please explain.
Sure, you can build and manage and do what you can, but no one can seriously stop monkeys in general outside of mass extermination.
No matter what we come up with, the baboons will find a way to our food. Writing in Architectural Review earlier this year, Tim Dee shared my perspective, “the baboons are definitely – defiantly – winning these battles. But it’s our species’ fault. We have allowed these behaviors to arise: our urban way of living has shown the baboons theirs. Why shouldn’t they ape us? Worse than that, though, winning these battles might mean that the same animals will, ultimately, lose the war.”
Three words and phrases I can’t bring myself to writing
- The word “nexus”
- “Sacred joy”
- “Intentional Flourishing”
Not driving ambulances
“We’re not exactly driving ambulances are we?” (The bestest punkest boss ever)
This is right, we’re making software, probably most of you reading this. Now we have to remember where we stand in society and in the grand scheme of civilisation at large when we read someone saying their calendar app is going to change the world.
Monuments and Memory
The various socialist monuments scattered throughout what is now ex-Yugoslavia have been written about countless times and likely don’t need to be again. But one thing for sure is that they do need to be skated by this brave and dashing Italian skate crew who know exactly how monuments should be used. They rot unused on mountaintops, forgotten valleys and abandoned mining towns, but they linger, the cheap cement feeding the soil. But what is a monument, which is something I spent roughly five years of my life working on, beyond just a placeholder for memory, and often one that isn’t yours? Why not cross the philosophical gap and activate it in the present with a new use? Does this honour the original and less cared about topic or event more or less? Either way these dudes are interrogating this in a rad way.
The Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul is a place in, you guessed it, Kabul, Afghanistan, and you guessed again, now run by the Taliban. It’s had many lives, functions and owners, but remains there on a hill just outside of town. A sad, half empty place but one that still keeps on. This is just a terribly intriguing wander through it’s halls and memories and opinions of former fighters wrestling with now being desk-bound bureaucrats and administrators just trying to make the place work with that little they got.
Generative Graphic Design as a Thing
This Dan Catt guy was talking about “Generative Graphic Design.” He speaks thoughtfully about design and graphic design principles in general which is of course nice and all that. Possibly more interesting though is his intent and explaining the provenance of the ideas and work, specifically about coming from old Designer’s Republic album covers. And yeah, talking about process really well without getting too deep into the technical at all, and about composition as a visual tool which you never hear in generative art and design discussion. So how to design with “random” and different takes on different randoms. More than anything, he’s clearly enjoying it and so will you, it just makes you observe and think and appreciate visual design.
This is the point there you look back in yourself and tell yourself thank the gods that I didn’t become the famous person. The gratitude journal just overflows with proclamations of acknowledgment that you’re just the normal person and have the little problems that a person can’t really handle but pretends with stumbling competence to.
I’ve latched onto modernism not just out of aesthetic pleasure, but out desperation. I want, no, need to believe that it’s possible to live without all the clutter, mess and intrusive chaos that these little fuckers who live in my house hoist on me.
If you thought my morning rituals really revamped your life to the max, then you want to get with my content workflow:
- Have an idea
- Do nothing with idea
- Listen to lots of music, drink and muddle, sleepwalk actually through roughly a decade of life
- Remember idea approximately twelve years later
- Do nothing with idea again
- Write into the internet about steps 1 through 5
Yes, Cleveland, the Venice of the Midwest. Finally. Now if they could sort out all these canals freezing and then being swarmed with drunks, it’s totally going to happen.
Corridos is hitting the big time, although if you ask me, and I barely know Mexican music, Norteño should be more. That is because it is essentially polka. Accordions ffs. It actually comes from polka and the short lived Habsburg influence on 19th century Mexico.
Some seem to feel that, between no-code, generative coding and whatever AI thing comes out next Tuesday, there is now space for the novice programmer. That is some idea of the “citizen programmer” who can grasp enough to get something else to code it. Sounds like a product manager to me, but hey, I’m half on board with this as I’ve been playing around with a machine generating Python for Blender.
This Matt Rickard has some interesting ideas on generative, just in time interfaces, which will of course put me out of work permanently. Thanks Matt.
I’m a native English speaker, yet, like many of you, have to have the Subtitles: On. Why?
Is River, “a visual connection engine” a game or a visual search engine? Not sure, doesn’t matter. Is there a Death Metal Lettering option somehow? Yes. Of course there is. Personally, I was interested in how quickly I could get to islamic geometric patterning, and was only about four to five clicks. But as a visual designer sort of guy I could get so beautifully and wistfully lost in reference and connection here.
I have no idea how to really use Are.na but think I should but now need to after reading this contemplative response about what the site is. If only every product developer thought like this.
Medium do a cool thing, which is defaulting to not allowing AI LLMs to train on your writing. It’s definitely a good shot across the bow, or maybe it’s more like a Hail Mary pass or the three pointer from the half. You pick your metaphor. Question is, is this too late? Either way, it’s part of a growing move to default to human.
Nice, although slightly language biased if you ask me, but hey they’re relying on people adding stuff so it’s fine, catalogue of words that only exist in a variety of non-English languages.
Andorra is a place that generally only comes to mind every May during Eurovision. Wait, it’s where? That’s a country? They speak what? But sure enough the influencer hordes have found pasture there but the Andorrans are not going down like basically everyone in Genghis Khan’s way.
Bryan Caplan is what one might call an ultra-Libertarian which, well, I find sort of annoying, but mainly because he’s insightful a lot of the time and usually has references and data out the wazzoo to back up his ideas, which here go on to point out that anti-colonialism/de-coloniation usually results in ultra-nationalism and often a whole lot of people dying as well.
And to imagine I was called paranoid by someone for thinking giving your genetic data to a company, tied to your credit card and your identity was a bad idea. Well it’s happened. Get ready for all sorts of bad to happen I guess.
Tilting fonts is fairly pointless, but just plain dumb fun and looks like it could be a tool you could use but it isn’t really, but it’s the internet in all it’s glory, just dumb fun cool thing and that moves in your browser for it’s own sake. For the second month in a row Google have been bestowed laurels in my book weirdly.
Ted Gioi’s tiny glimpse of statistical analysis of plot elements in 305 British folk ballads is a thing that exists because the internet is somehow, sometimes just not all shit. The levels of bottomless nerdery on things very few people care about are being put out there all the time, long tail or not.
Halfman endorses: Tim Tams, Tim Dillon, Crypt Trip, the 1970’s in music in general, anyone who has the immense power to be the dude on the cover of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” for Halloween which I’ve been thinking about since 1997, Halloween in general but only for ex British colonies who actually sort of get it properly somehow, people I know opening bars, Inside Out, straight edge hardcore with autumn leaves
Ride. Shoot straight. Speak the truth. See you next month. Thanks.