What fresh hell is this?

A week in posts


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And on with the posts…

Remote intimacy

I've been listening a lot to this: a 3,350-Song Playlist of Music from Haruki Murakami’s Personal Record Collection (about). It's very listenable because it's in the right ballpark for music I'd like on in the background at home, lots of jazz, some classical and early rock/pop. But knowing there's a human intelligence behind it - a guiding sense of taste - makes it somehow slightly more intimate than an algorithm. And, while I've only read one of his books, it fits how he feels. The whole aesthetic hangs together. It's like you're round his house and he's playing you stuff. It's revealing.

I've also been listening to a James Baldwin version. Chez Baldwin - the music in his record collection. I don't know tons about Baldwin but his record selection makes me want to know more. My image of him is austere and intellectual, waspish, dry. But his records aren't like that. So much Diana Ross and Randy Crawford. It's funky and joyful.

This remote intimacy is a bit like Ben's point: part of the fun of Zooms at home and on the media is peeking behind the scenes at someone's life. Which is why it's annoying and funny when someone tries to fake it.


It wouldn't be January without me making a stupid plan to do a stupid weekly project that I'll regret before the end of this sentence. (And there it is.)

This year I've been inspired by Austin Kleon's magnificent collage habit and I've decided (why?!) to do Economist poems like this.

Which now I think about it isn't a collage. (Is it?) Should you be interested you will find them on instagram.

Stay at home, come on air

One of the things I've enjoyed about lockdown has been the 'casualisation' of news and media.

Technical issues, bad sound, wonky camerawork are laughed off and forgiven when everyone's struggling to even get on air. And the presenters seem more chatty, more willing to break the fourth wall, when everyone's broadcasting from their cupboard or from under a quilt.

I like that they've stopped pretending that there are no cameras and microphones involved. Conference organisers had a phase where they tried to hide the laptops too, but that seemed to pass eventually.

And it means that a wider, more diverse range of better people have started turning up on podcasts and online conferences. Because they don't have to travel. They don't have to take so much time off work. They don't have to arrange child care.

The sound gets slightly worse but the content gets hugely better. That's worth it.

Did COVID kill the climate?

I've spent quite a lot of the last four and half years thinking about how to get people to make a renewable, green energy choice. And I've not written much about it. 

That's mostly because I don't think I have loads of useful things to say. If I knew the answer I would tell you.

I do collect piles of potentially useful stuff though. Links, podcasts, readings, stray thoughts. So I'm going to try and be better at sharing those.

Here's one: David Runciman talks a lot about climate change and it's political interaction with COVID in this lecture. It's meaty, useful stuff. One spectre he raises, which hadn't occurred to me before, is Farage returning to activist politics as 'anti-green'. Anti wind farms, cycle lanes and green taxes. Pro motorists. (This is the relevant bit.)

He also points out how divided Western societies are: young people, broadly, are radically worried about climate change, old people, broadly, aren't. And "older voters decide elections". That's worth thinking about.