This is the Halfman newsletter, brought to you by me, Jim. There may be some a lot of rambling. As always, sorry.

You may subscribe here or unsubscribe there. A boatload of the back issues are available here and you know, life is short, so you know, click, click, click.

I edit this A LOT. Should you be concerned at what it looked like before all of that? Likely. And you’re thinking this is random, well if you only knew.

Just remember not too long ago, 22 December, the solstice and shortest day of the year, which was replaced by Christmas, was a cause for celebration for a reason. Since the chances of you dying of plague, freezing to death or starvation were highest then and you made it, well break open the bubbly. Remember that. We all made it this far. And today we have Zamboni’s to soothe our souls, calm our worries and heal the planet.

Oh, and all you really need for Christmas, is an Open Source Christmas Cannon.

  1. Lunch is over. Multiple breakfasts instead are here to stay.
  2. Kebab graphics. I just made some, so will you in 2024.
  3. Know that if you’re writing stuff that isn’t well structured and a struggle to understand months or even years later what you meant, it’s fine, because at least you’re a human doing it and not some LLM.

Read or Die

Top10-Dec2023 is here for your holiday season and real time was spent putting this together. Ho, ho, ho.

I think that it might be an end of the year writing closet cleaning or something and for that I apologise. In fact, don’t click any of these links to things I read, but totally read the rest of this newsletter.

If you are in the mood for a rambling, quasi-philosophical self piss-take on “the craft” of “being creative” you may want to read Making things.

Notifications That Know You will save your life and the world. You’re welcome.

Jetpacks and Sacrifice to Keep the Dream Alive is the monthly and potentially repetitive bit about entrepreneurial sacrifice, but with a sort of nice ending.

So What Do We Do Now that the Future is Largely Disappointing at Best? is yet another design diatribe against those “designing the future” which I can finally put to bed, and likely is not very cohesive. But hey, we’re killing darlings here.


I’ve built this little backyard to my website, because every website should have a garden, a backyard, a basement, or any other wild space.”

(Fragment Scenario)

Cold Forest “The Troll”

Sure enough, the novella “Cold Forest” about the mishaps and adventures of a suburban black metal band who fail at being scary is in flight. It’s as ridiculous as it sounds. I hope.

The story is about malaise and mediocrity and how people seek extremes to get out of these. In this case of course these are so absolutely average and just sad that they can’t really even do that well. Is this a metaphor for the human condition or something? Maybe.

You can will read the first bit here.

Failure in 3D

Watch it on Vimeo now.

The point of me learning 3d (in my case Blender) is the failure. It is hard and I will get not much further beyond this fucking flaming sword. This will never be my job. Nobody will ever pay me to screw around with 3d stuff. Facts. However, did you make a flaming sword today? No you didn’t. When I stop and consider that I have a computer and free software that can just make cool ass things for no other reason than to make them and put in a newsletter, that in itself is worth it I think. I think after about 10 more years of this I could be a low paid junior VFX artist.

I knew going into this that it was a bad idea. I’m old. I might not look it, but I am and feel it. I don’t have long left really. And I’m doing kids shit that AI will soon, if not like in the next hour after that coffee I’m thinking about, wipe out like every other automation lawnmower, countless hours, if not years of learning and oohing and ahhing at the tech and the possibilities in seconds. It’s all pointless. But so is our very existence if you think about the accidental blip in the universe that we collectively are. This is not bad necessarily, because it’s about what meaning we give to it. My meaning is that I just think this shit is cool. You can create whatever lives in your head. And swords with runes and magic flames. So there.

Traditionally Punk

Shane MacGowan died. Recently, of course on the other side of Europe where I am, where there are approximately 4 people of even vaguely Irish extraction and they sure as fuck have nothing to do with the “Irish” pub, I listened to the Pogues tribute hour on the local student radio. And loved it. I hated them when all my friends, including my girlfriend at the time, were obsessed with them about a quarter century ago. But I get it now. This is punk as shit, yet traditional in a folkloric sense. If only this little place could muster something halfway as good I would be proud. But growing up in a town where St Patrick’s day is a day you take off from work to get drunk from dawn, and everyone is 1/16th from Galway or whatever, I always found it annoying. But I get it now somehow. The desire to have something that is there deep in you. Something that goes back not just years, but centuries. An attitude you can claim. A tragedy you choose and wear proudly on your sleeve. Also, booze when you’re deep in it, is super fun. And then you put on the Pogues to push away the hangover a littler further away. Fuck it, we all are just trying to keep on hanging on to something in a world trying to rip us apart.

History corner and more

You know how many history podcasts I have to listen to so the amount of admin I have to do which doesn’t even include my actual job doesn’t ruin everything? Why do I need to calm down this way? Oh, because shit already happened. It’s not a problem that’s going to plough itself into my inbox and up my ass.

As someone who once participated in and contributed to an international Computer Human Interactions (CHI) conference called “Death, Dying and the Digital” I like to think I know a thing or two about this stuff. But seeing things like Chptr is great but only until the company’s funding runs out.

There was a video game about slavery. This is sort of crazy in itself, and it has a difficult history in itself in that it had the best of intentions and even backing by black people, but it pissed off a lot of black people which is fair enough as it could also be traumatic. The design choice though that really jumped out at me was how the player as the enslaved person would be illiterate, and then just sees symbols they don’t understand. This was of course supposed to bring a sense of difficulty of the experience and empathy but recreating illiteracy as part of experience I think is such a terribly real detail to a horrible thing.

As a kid I loved Godzilla. I would watch him(?) stomp and destroy Japan on a weekly basis every Saturday afternoon on Channel 43. But he changed because of course we as people change. Our societies, tragedies and fear we express through awesome monsters apparently changes as well. There has been some writing and investigation as to why Godzilla, why the big monsters and their relation to nuclear war, pollution and our increasing tension with nature and an assumed backlash. This we all feel as the snows no longer come and our forests burn every year like never before. Anyhow, someone, bless them, went through the trouble of cataloguing those design changes Godzilla went through over the decades.

But history education, yes, it matters. And here is how a history professor is using and thinking about it in his teaching.

Oh yeah, someone of course is trying to build toolkits to recreate history. Not so sure about this. I want to see people doing stuff ages ago though and this doesn’t seem to be doing that quite yet so don’t know.


So just read this post immediately:
How can I get my boyfriend to stop digging his tunnel?

Then read and consider the idea of Tunnelling as Anti-pornography

Here is the thing though that I think all of us can appreciate. Tunnels are just kind of cool. Without them we wouldn’t have metal that makes things amongst other reasons. Every kid when I was growing up wanted to have a tunnel. This is why we built them out of couch cushions. We wanted and likely still want secrets and places to hide.

What do you know Jim about tunnels? I’ll tell you. I know a dude whose actual job is digging them. Well, being in charge of the people and massive machines digging them mostly underneath London at the moment. Man, what a cool job people say. Oh, and if you were wondering if most people digging the guts out of southern England were all from one village in Ireland you would be right.


I think about the strained relationships and yet to be resolved by products of the centuries old clashes of Roman Catholicism and Calvinism more than most for sure. But apples?

“There was an old tradition in Protestant northern Europe linking the grape, which flourished all through Latin Christendom, with the corruptions of the Catholic Church, while casting the apple as the wholesome fruit of Protestantism. “The desire of the Puritan, distant from help and struggling for bare existence, to add the Pippin to his slender list of comforts, and the sour ‘syder’ to cheer his heart and liver must be a fortunate circumstance,” a speaker told a meeting of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in 1885.”

(Michael Pollan)

Also this

This girl is painting a fairly good rendering of a bird with a brush(!) like she’s in some sunlit studio instead of on the side of a road. If this doesn’t cheer you up, I don’t know what will.

Sketches from our Future Robot Overlords

This is a pretty clever use of generative AI, and almost excusable really, mainly in how absurd it is.


With nothing to do with the holiday season, this newsletter started with swords and stories about trolls and ends with dragons. The thing is, that combo is better than anything you could wrap up and put under a tree and you know it.

Stack Exchange is a great resource I use all the time, but yet is deep and wide enough for me keep on uncovering hidden community forum gems like The Worldbuilding StackExchange with honest and really curious questions like:

How could I redesign my dragons to have 6 limbs and still be able to fly?

And then it’s full of other banger topics like:

  • How to find the region where gas giants can exist?
  • Is it possible for a planetary ring to exist beyond a planet’s Roche limit?
  • Possibility of anachronistic fossils due to time travel


I long ago wrote to myself in some text file or notebook awash in ideas soon to die, that Halfman should be the Black Sabbath of interaction design. Well, here we are maybe at their third, incredibly hungover jam session that ends in the pub.

Speaking of, I’m headed off to London Town, the Old Smoke for the holiday week and going to likely be head down in pubs and watching poverty and inequality from the safety of a double decker bus or bougie cafe so if you’re about let me know.

Happy all of that. See you next year.