This is the Halfman newsletter. Every damn month this thing. Free. Free. Free. Don’t expect much consistency, well thought through conclusions nor anything that will help your existential crisis or golf game. Expect instead half-baked wonder, random and hastily slapped together thought on design and technology.

You can subscribe here for free, and unsubscribe there which will trigger global events of unforeseen impact. I mean, you can click that unsubscribe link, but who knows.

Read this, for the love of God, please read this, comment somewhere or reply and validate my existence


Scents are Now In started off okay and then I think will have to be picked up again at some point in time.

The Amish approach to AI had a bunch of promise as a thing, but I ran out of time and couldn’t find any photos from that day my brother took me and wife down there to see Amish Country, and thinking back I think that was because I didn’t want to steal anyone’s soul down there.

The death of artificial depth?

One of the interesting things about AI image generation is what it means for how we used to fake things before, which means 3d. Traditionally, meaning in the past two decades or so, if you wanted to put something like a car or some land in some video footage or an image that you couldn’t otherwise shoot, you would have to do model, shade, render and composite it in 3d to make it look like a real thing. This is how computer graphics used to be thought of. You had the 2d option and you had the 3d option. Now, however, it’s just generated all at once. There is no calculated depth, or a machine creating depth or shading anything, it’s just sorting out what it should look like. Computers in theory no longer have to compute the physical mechanics of that jet flying around the skyscraper necessarily to make a picture out of it. Why this matters, I’m not sure yet.

But generating 2d things can still be awesome

Let’s say you have more than a passing obsession with arabesque (I hesitate to call them “Islamic” patterns because while largely synonymous and of the region of Islam, they are present in non-religious contexts as well) patterns like I do. And lets say you have more than a passing familiarity with open source Java-based graphical programming, well, you should check out the work of Ahmad Moussa who generally rules it and then you know, make your own.

How we view the past often sucks

Historical revisionism is about as old as even the idea of history which of course is as old as our civilisation, but it’s still annoying as fuck, especially with all the alt-right, misguided understanding of Sparta. If you cared so damn much about “western,” whatever that even really means, civilisation, you would quit valorising the dicks who destroyed Athens for shits and giggles thus setting the end to the whole damn lot of the Greek world which was relatively soon after overrun by the Romans. Boom. But The Most Nuanced Take You Will Ever Read About Sparta (and North Korea) takes things way further in examining it in the context of North Korea today.

If you were disappointed in how today’s kids look today, think about how the codpiece flopped.

I still can’t decide what my favourite song is

Apparently, my second favourite song and Anthony Bourdain’s favourite song are the same. Not sure what that says about me, but you can read how for a terribly honest, openly fallible and great humanist here, but it’s sort of a construed honour I’ll take this month.

I think I might hate Toto.

The type of football you don’t use your actual feet much like you do for skateboarding and what it means for my hometown

By the time you get this, you may have experienced the end of the (American) football season. I hail from a city that loves this stuff, yet is really bad at it, which if you ask me, pretty much sums up Cleveland in one go.

You’re wondering what Cleveland is like? It’s best typified by The perfect season Cleveland parade.

Disgruntled Cleveland Browns fans turn out to FirstEnergy Stadium on Saturday to voice their disappointment in the Browns, who became the second team in NFL history to post an 0–16 season. The “Perfect Season Parade 2.0” made one lap around the stadium, forming a zero, in frigid temperatures.

Football is sure misnamed, and full of all sorts of things which the cultured like to think they’re above. However, it is still a communal experience that can’t be generated by AI which is great. Believe it or not, I’m reminded of George Bellows who is most known for painting boxers. A former baseball hopeful who could have played for the Red Sox chose art instead, and was at the time and still sort of is the only artist to treat sports which is a fundamental human and generally collective experience with any respect.

Alas, no team sports equals skateboarding in sheer awesomeness and this homage to exploring the American Midwest “one DIY ramp at a time” with the book Midwest Shreds: Skating through America’s Heartland.

Fun Pro

So Apple came out with some magic googles which seem to mainly be a way to have lots of screens in apps in space in front of you. So imagine all the overwhelm of looking at all the screens in your life, but requiring a heavy thing on your head with googly eyes in the front and lacking any sense of fun.

I miss the bus. Especially the night bus. This is why I ride it as often as I can. It’s the ultimate leveller. Nobody is a winner on the bus. Yet we’re all comfortingly together on this heap of disappointment with wheels careening through the beer fuelled night. There’s no VR app for that.


Hurricane season isn’t until June apparently for our American readers, but you know as a public service and all that, let’s dig into them because reasons, namely hurricane parties as I first learned about in this book which I can not recommend enough. The idea is crazy at first but maybe not and basically the same as a cyclone party which I heard about from some guy on Mauritius one time. An unstoppable force of nature is coming to destroy everything and either we can’t escape or choose not to so let’s just party like it literally is our end of days.

Oh, and I was also not wondering until just now why hurricanes never cross the equator but happy I now know this.

Okay, I changed my mind. I think Vision Pro is cool if it could recreate being in a hurricane. This would be the new natural disaster, climate change horror genre of app that would launch my career for sure. I mean, terror and all that, but you take it off, and then a bunch of science says you will feel better because you realise you’re in your living room. All for $.99 of which I would get $.02 and could maybe buy some socks. But damn it would be cool.

The Poetry Machine You Need in Your Life Now

Back Matt’s thing. And by thing, I mean a new type of thing, an entirely whimsical poetry clock. I don’t even know if clock is a good word for it but that probably doesn’t matter. It uses the evil black boxes we all fear and loathe, yet is fanciful and beautiful. It won’t do your laundry or generate a shitty airbrush effect image of a bear driving a car for your Substack you think will make people read. It gives you a fucking poem. Remember those? That form of literature intended for introspection and slow thought which is probably what we actually need in tech right now? It wins. And so will you.

Driving sucks but not as bad as these potentially

What I don’t like about these self driving taxis the aforementioned Matt writes about here because he actually went in one unlike me is the same thing I don’t like about the Vision Pro and the Silicon Valley vision of an absolutely individualistic future. Whilst I admire the hands off-ism of you do you and all that, I firmly believe we don’t need more isolation and individualism at this point in history. This is especially the case with cities where all of us are or soon will be living. This is how busses and other public systems, transport and otherwise, in general die, which is also how cities as we know them will die. From isolation. So sure it probably does feel normal when you’re in one, but when this is the norm the aggregate experience won’t feel normal or at least our current version of normal is for a city.

Prompt Battle

Holy cow was Prompt Battle by Sebastian Schmieg fun.

I was anticipating the worst and went a.) to get out of the house after not doing that for three months and b.) curiosity. Because it sounded so annoying and I was happily wrong. It was AI prompting, but fun. You know fun. Like the opposite of reading this newsletter. Anyhow, it was a game show really and worked roughly like a freestyle rap battle where each contestant had to via crowd whooping and hollering voting win for the best prompted AI generated image. Fun. Finally, someone is doing something fun with this stuff.


If you were wondering if South Africa has done it again with bringing business establishments you wondered how you managed to live without to the world, rest assured dear reader, these geniuses already have trainer laundromats.

Likewise, one is apt to wonder, is Mehmet on the island or not? This site, this comment really on geography, place and meaning in the face of algorithmic temporality, has saved the fucking internet. Remember when websites were either art or just as likely sort of dumb and non-ironically frivolous telling you if it was raining or not? Well, my dude Mehmet is bringing it back.


“Nobody’s building monuments to the sellouts.” (Yasiin Bey AKA Mos Def)

Regional Brutal Honesty

I meet with the car insurance salesman once a year every early February. I’ve been doing this for roughly four years now. I could do this over the phone or something, but I’m tired and doing it in Slovenian is somehow easier in person. So I see this tired guy exactly once a year for roughly a half hour. I’ve determined it qualifies as a relationship, but obviously a rather weird one.

He asks me how it’s going, which is not customary in most situations here, especially with someone you see once a year for a half hour. “Meh,” I reply and shrug and then I ask him in return. He tells me, “Bad, I’m getting a divorce. You know, 18 years and just not happening…”

There is a level of honesty in central and eastern Europe that a lot of people can’t handle nor understand. This is why you usually don’t ask how someone is doing, because they’ll give you a real, painfully truthful and direct answer which you don’t want unless you actually like the person. So nobody asks. Which is kind of nice. Like having a relationship with someone once a year.


It’s been a rough month of loss, worry and despair for too many people I know and knew. Too many, in too short a time, for too few reasons to make it all make sense. Things are hard for everyone, and I’ll be the last person on earth to say it will be fine in the end, because sometimes it just won’t. But, it’s hard for everyone in their own way and that we all have in common and there is always someone out there who understands, and if they can’t do that, they’ll at least listen. If you can’t find that person, email me and I will be, we’re all friends here.

Halfman endorses: the Affinity Suite, Ghost CMS but not their robots.txt policy by any stretch, outlining, typing a lot of stuff into tons of different text documents to try and make sense of things which am still not convinced helps anything at all, IA Writer, not using YAML front matter, not having all your stuff in one system, beer.

Ride. Shoot straight. Speak the truth.

Thanks. - Jim