You can subscribe here always for free, and unsubscribe there which is never a good idea if you know what’s good for you. Things happen to people that unsubscribe from this newsletter. I’m not saying what they are, but you know, things.

You might be wondering who the hell I am. I’m a dude from Cleveland who lives now for the second time in a nice and out of the way bit of Central Europe, who lived in London for ages. I’m supposed to be a designer, but would rather be twenty five years younger and a rock star or professional skateboarder. Those clearly didn’t work out, so here I am with this newsletter.

My journey might seem winning. I get that. But I’m not half as winning as you are because you’re still reading this newsletter.

Read this newsletter. Become a better person. Maybe.


Things I wrote you will read and then pass on to generations to come

The August Top 10 will rock your socks off. It’s short because summer. So even quicker and better. It will shave minutes off of your day assuming you read it.

As per Halfman newsletter tradition, I’m gifting you a total nonsense ramble but which at the beginning seriously was going to go somewhere - AC/DC and Me.

I know, you’ve gotten this far without reading any of my mental spitting about AI and thought you were going get lucky, but it’s only just beginning with The AI Feedback Apocalypse.


I know you’re wondering how I can help you 10x your online business. Well, keep on wondering because I’m post-10x. I’m negative 10x-ing. That’s right, this newsletter is Post-Profit AND Post-Hustle and I’m throwing even more effort and time into it. This is the new thing, you know, the public good. Don’t worry, I’ll pat myself on the fucking back bucko.

If you were wondering about the newsletter roadmap, it’s amazing. This newsletter will totally grow to include publishing, apparel and all sorts of shit you don’t need or want or believe in. Don’t worry.

Travel corner

In honour of summer and the endless dreams of it being way better than it ever actually is, and we as a civilisation throwing our hard earned money at trying to be somewhere where we don’t live which is supposed to be relaxing, travel of course is at the fore.

One particular Matt Lakeman on the internet has got it completely down though. He goes to Ukraine (during the war), Saudi Arabia, wherever is not on your typical Instagram post of feet in front of a seaside. His notion of travel isn’t so much escape, and certainly not travel as status signalling, but a seriously just slightly fucked up notion of why not go and see somewhere totally different that gets me no points and write about smoking habits in West Africa or how people have fun. In his latest on Mauritania, he goes all in.

The third hassle is that you have to buy a bunch of shit before getting on the train so you don’t die.

I was told about Paris Syndrome a while ago and was absolutely obsessed with it. Then forgot about, and then it shows up in the inbox and there is how wrong travel can go for some societies, especially those that don’t get to travel and so desperate to believe.

AI and the end of everything

This is how you know they’ve run out of ideas and the end is likely nigh:

And if you were wondering, yes indeed, vast resources, knowledge and manpower are being dedicated to replacing a smidgen of visual imagination rather than, you know, solving the world’s existential problems like we were promised. Now, I can appreciate the absurdity of this, trust me, I really can. But something seems not just insipid and uninspired, but malignant.

World building and moving

I used to think this thing was ridiculous but can’t keep from getting excited about it and it’s oddly infectious energy. Sure, I’m talking about The Line in Saudi Arabia. Yes why not? Why not start really thinking different and not relying on city plans from millennia ago. I mean, they have more money than God or probably a bunch of gods, so I guess why not.

In that vein, here is some proper geo-engineering madness. I mean, what could go wrong right?

Airships are amazing. Easily one of the chillest ways to travel, a bit slow but fuck it and most importantly does not require an airport to land. You can land vertically like a helicopter sort of anywhere.

This month in Norse Sorcery

Nithing Poles are something you don’t often hear about unless you’re a.) living 1000 years ago in Scandinavia, or b.) really into local curse methodologies. And people are still using them to curse other people, namely in 2006 in both Iceland and Norway against local politicians.

Speaking of Scandinavia…

I’ve been wondering this as much as anyone else, namely Why Earth’s happiest place makes the darkest music. One thing the article neglects to mention is one of my theories is that they have it so good up there that they need to create their own misery to make up for it. Which should have a name.

Never-Ending stories

There is still a thing about stories that won’t let go really, and Venkatesh Rao has some of his most readable stuff about stories, formulas and yup, AI of course. Because what else is there in the world these days.

These formulas typically move you from a state of high-anxiety paralyzed inaction or chaotic, overwrought thrashing, to deliberate but highly myopic action. They implicitly assume that lack of emotional regulation is the biggest immediate problem and attempt to get you into a better-regulated state by shrinking time horizons. And that deliberate action (and more subtly, deliberate inaction) is better than either frozen inaction or overwrought thrashing.
We’ve even started teaching these formulas to the artificial lives we are creating right now. When an AI model is overwhelmed by the complexity of the intention underlying a prompt, we instruct it to proceed “step-by-step.” The result is usually more coherent. I suspect we’ll find some analog of overcoming overwrought or paralyzing emotions to be the underlying mechanism.

Drawing out songs

Dirk is super rad, terribly nice, and believe it or not, I personally know this grammy winning drummer. Also, drumming is insane in general, especially for someone who has a hard time touching their nose while patting their head, much less having each appendage do a different thing at a different time.

The really interesting bit though is that he maps out the drum patterns. Sure, musical notation has been around forever, but the way he does it seems extremely freestyle.

I keep on getting spam from dead people

Way back when it was sort of scary really, despite the calls to action to click now and send all my bank details to some website or person chained to a desk in a troll farm. You see the name of someone perhaps years now dead and then for a split second you imagine they actually wrote it. But after a while this subsides and then it’s just sort of disturbingly annoying.

AI and the end of design sort of

One of the unintended great thing about all this AI taking over everything is that somehow, ironically and unintentionally logically of course, employers aren’t expecting designers to also be expert coders.

To those reading this who didn’t have the misfortune of being a designer between 2000–2023, there was a pervasive belief that to be able to design a thing wasn’t good enough and that it was compulsory for the designer who already made less money than the coders he was working with to also be able to do their job as well.

But this also means that they’re going to expect about 300x more from the coders that still have jobs in a couple of years. And design will have been automated. But at least they’re not going to expect us to code things.

Or maybe not.

Not sure I should trust a company that creates it’s own guardrails

Look at this slightly underhanded now that they’re running the show way that now that the cat is already out of the bag, there are ways to stop your work online from being scraped.

What AI can learn from crypto in terms of recognising belief systems

Some pretty good quotes about community (or herds really) and the often lack of wisdom of crowds.

I doubt you make your religious, nutritional, and political decisions based on who’s screaming the loudest on social media. You probably shouldn’t make your financial decisions that way, either.

It’s funny to see the AI crowd go the same way, almost play by play as blockchain did a couple of years ago. Insert quote about the Gartner Hype Cycle and then follow with something about the inefficiencies of booms, busts and then the sad but necessary calm of correction.

Monthly challenge

Try to use the word “ontological” in conversation. By conversation, I mean an actual conversation where you talk to a human being.


Halfman endorses: Sitting and staring at the sea, graphics software as some sort of construed self-validation vehicle, afro-beat, The Steppe, pate on toast, skateboarding, KCSM San Francisco, the Hammond organ, smoke machines, anyone who covers “Green Onions,” Big Daddy Kane, anyone wearing a Voivod shirt.

Just stopping taking notes would you? You’ll never remember to look at them and then one day you’ll just be dead.

Thanks for sticking around. Insert empty promise about next month’s newsletter having a distinct beginning, middle and end all while being terribly well edited and conclusive. I love you all.