This is the Halfman newsletter. Every damn month this thing. Free. Free. Free. Don’t expect any consistent narrative, well thought through conclusions nor anything that will help your aching desire or existential crisis. Expect instead misconstrued reckons, serious randomness, a tad of design and if I can muster it a smidgen of rock n roll.
Late to the party again
If you’re wondering why I haven’t done anything more with Keanu, well, it’s because my half-thought design musings of course became mainly reality with Text-GPT-p5 albeit with a not so amazing interface like mine would be. Hilariously late to the game as always. Did I tell you about this new idea I have where people can connect and post messages to their network on the internet? It’s going to be amazing, but might be late on that one as well.
Dinosaurs come up more in my life than I can really even imagine at this point. Why? Well, awesome for one. Second, think that these things roamed the earth for about 165 million years just being badass and cool and we trouser wearing apes have been doing our bullshit for less than 1 million, and wonder does being “smarter” actually mean anything in the end of the day? In any case, we can seriously all agree, dinosaurs are just pretty damn cool no matter how old you are really, but seeing stuff like this pop-up on LinkedIn make me smile so much.
It seems somehow a banality, but I think that having a Black Metal band successfully cheer on the extinct Auvergne Tapir to the title National Ice Age Mammal of The Netherlands and consequently having a full room of kids with parents have a grunt-off to win a complementary fossil of a Pleistocene horse is as real as science communication can get.
That very week, the fun continued with a Sunday drenched in hours of Aperol Spritzes watching Prehistoric Planet which not only yet again rubs piles of salt into the 3d animation regret wound, but also sends you down the rabbit holes of looking up the size of triceratops’s brains but finding out some dinosaurs actually lived in snowy climates.
Kozik was awesome. Rest in Power.
Frank Kozik died. Although I despise the idea of celebrity, I do acknowledge the place proper artists and humanists deserve. Kozik was one of them. A true renaissance man, he paved the way for so much damn rock and roll in my life not only musically but aesthetically.
Finland was robbed
Eurovision is a thing that I can’t even begin to explain to someone who doesn’t live in Europe. I watch it dutifully every year and yes, Finland was clearly robbed, and every year I wonder when someone is going to realise that Israel and Australia are not in Europe and while we’re at it, by the way, it’s totally fine Azerbaijan is in Eurovision because it is sort of. A night of raucous pomp and camp with this oh so weird inclusive sort of nationalism but it’s fine and fun and all that sort of thing.
Speaking of Finland, here’s some amazing things about the country, in particular about higher education. If you do a PhD there they give you a sword. Okay, they won with that one already. But apparently when they finish school they also have to wear a jumpsuit in a colour corresponding to their area of study and get patches for all the parties they went to. Welcome to NATO Finland, we’re proud to have you.
Wasted years, brain, stomach
So there we were, you would imagine in a place and time where all would be good and right in the world for once. It was of course a beer and burger fest, but with a pleasantly overwhelming amount of metalheads wearing almost exclusively Iron Maiden shirts taking over. Speaking in what I heard to be at the very least Italian, German and Croatian, the bonds of fire and steel were strong that day. The slightly overpriced by volume craft beer ran like rivers and there was enough grilling for Valhalla. None other than the not even band anymore, but institution really, Iron Maiden were kicking off their European tour in of all places Ljubljana.
Sure enough what could quite possibly be their best song Wasted Years (“Somewhere in Time,” 1986) was not on the playlist, which makes obvious sense because I wasn’t there. I know what you’re wondering, “What could possibly be the correlation between these two things?” Well that is obvious. Having gained clairvoyant powers after decades of travelling through space and time, they knew that I would have a horrible bout of food poisoning and spend that night retching.
Despite countless hours of convulsing bowels, I had these sage words to ease my recovery:
Too much time on my hands
I got you on my mind
Can’t ease this pain, so easily
When you can’t find the words to say
It’s hard to make it through another day
And it makes me wanna cry
And throw my hands up to the sky
Don’t waste your time always searching for those wasted years
Face up, make your stand
And realize you’re living in the golden years
Not sure about you, but I haven’t had food poisoning in almost 8 years which is my new record. Not so lucky that day.
The Jim Kosem Short Story Explosion
It looks like someone actually liked where some of the writing was going with Autonomous Etiquette, which was pretty cool. It got me thinking though about the absurdity this technology shit is most of the time and been slowly developing a series (if you can call it that) tentatively called “Curb Your Innovation.” Here’s the first stab.
I was going to do it. I really was. I was going to just send the May Top 10 in a separate email. This would have blown minds sure, but would it be better? Do you Dear Reader click these damn links? If there is one person who actually replies and lets me know if it should be another email, you get to decide. So that’s right, two entirely free emails a month chock full of whatever this is.
Think of the milliseconds you’ll save not clicking that link yourself and then thank me later.
Three ways I would improve the Bachelor
I’ve not been asked many times to improve the format for reality shows, but when I do for the Bachelor which I’ve watched way too much lately, here’s what I would do.
- Every time the Bachelor says the word “journey,” remaining contestants receive electric shocks by severity to in which order they received the rose. For instance, the last one to receive the rose, theoretically the least safe, receives the highest voltage.
- Trial by combat with the Bachelor choosing combat pairs and weapons based on hair colour.
- Candidates have their tax records for the past 5 years read out with a brief summary by an IRS officer in front of the Bachelor
Three things I miss about lockdown
- Never feeling guilty about getting drunk before noon - Yup, you too, I know. Remember, how you wouldn’t leave the house for days, and you were down to the cooking rum which you needed to mix with vitamin powder to make drinkable on a Saturday morning? And remember how that was perfectly fine?
- The extreme lack of having to take my kids anywhere - Sure, here’s the part where I (too late actually) preface the comment with how my enduring love for my progeny supersedes everything and no effort is too large to see them smile, but fuck all that. My life is now, once again, due to this public wellbeing bullshit, that of a chauffeur. And I don’t like it one bit.
- Nature - Wait, why aren’t I going hiking anymore despite the Alps being a half hour away? Oh, I know, having to drive to practices of various sorts and birthday parties.
Jim’s Vulnerability Corner
As you open this newsletter I understand, you’re likely overwhelmed with feelings of awe at my earth-shattering levels of productivity. You are wondering how I find the time in between curing cancer, helping raise a family and brokering peace accords all before noon. That is normal. However I have a confession dear reader, and that is: I’m totally not that productive.
Degrowth is an interesting concept, albeit a bit simplistic for my liking, but the incessant dire warnings about unhampered growth is not so simple. If you look at what might already be happening it looks like populations levelling off and eventual decline make you wonder.
….given how much we have leveraged our land, companies, cities, states, and nations, decreasing populations may even dramatically reduce wealth and trigger a cascade of defaults. We saw this situation play out in Detroit, which lost 40 percent of its population over the last 60 years. Even if people can buy a house for a thousand dollars when the population collapses, those houses will have partially caved-in roofs, be stripped of wiring, and be devoid of power and running water. Our entire civilization has been built like a Ponzi scheme that requires constant growth. That scheme will eventually collapse.
When I was a child and I imagined my future life, there were definitely talking robots living in my house, helping with the chores and having sex with me.
Super Serious Forwards
Sam McPheeters was the singer of one my favourite bands Born Against and a terribly good writer, who years ago explored just what could go wrong with our technical takeover of how we view and augment the world. He does it again with the screed “The Screaming Ghosts Of The Insane” from his new newsletter, wondering how abusive and callous we humans could be with each with technology that can get very, very personal.
In “Should we be polite to chatbots?”, Cennydd Bowles digs into a question I’ve been wondering way too much about machines that pretend to be human in general.
Noah Smith pretty much nails it with not only looking at how “Nonprofits are Sapping the Progressive Project” in general, but also how design is enabling it.
That’s all I got. Thanks for not deleting this straight away.