Christmas-ing

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As it turns out, Field Notes are useful and pretty nice.

I am approaching the end of my second Field Notes notebook. I got a three-pack back in September to see what all the fuss is about, and while they haven’t changed my life—that would be a lot to ask from a line of notebooks—I have come to appreciate them.

I will admit to being a bit put-off by what I find to be the somewhat gimmicky and overly precious nature of their special editions, but the plain staple-bound versions are quite nice. The paper is great for all of my pen/ink combinations, and the size is just right for carrying in my back pocket.

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Assuming we survive, we will be astounded when we look back on these times.

I was listening to the latest episode of Lawfare, in which Benjamin Wittes and his guests are talking about the just-announced plea agreement between the Robert Mueller’s office and Michael Cohen.

During the episode, the conversation turns to whether this will be the point at which the investigation finally turns the corner.

I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do think that when we reach that point and the blocks start to tumble—either with the office of the Special Counsel or with the Trump administration—they are going to fall quickly and spectacularly.

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Oh man… I think the clock is slow.

I don’t feel tardy…

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Here’s an idea:

  1. I receive an unwanted sales call on my phone.
  2. I open an app, which picks up the call.
  3. The app then connects the call to another, simultaneous unwanted sales call received by some other random user of the app.
  4. Both I and the other user are then disconnected from our respective calls.
  5. The callers are then disconnected from the app and left talking to one another in some black hole of endless, unproductive spam calls.

How do we make this happen?

I was listening to Thomas Dolby’s Angels & Heretics yesterday. I hadn’t listened to it in ages, and while it doesn’t close out as strongly as it opens, it is still a really good album.

On a side note, if all you have ever heard from Dolby is “She Blinded Me With Science”, you are really missing out. That’s a fun track to be sure, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

If you are looking for a good place to start, go with his 2006 live album The Sole Inhabitant.

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maintaining lines of connection – Snakes and Ladders:

But I never have stopped missing the friendships I used to experience through Twitter. For a while I tried chatting with people on micro.blog, but that didn’t work — which may be because I just don’t have the knack of social-media chatting any more, but also may be because people have learned certain discursive habits from Twitter and Facebook that they then bring to every other platform, and I don’t like those discursive habits. In any case, for now I’m just posting to micro.blog and not trying to converse. Maybe that will change. Or maybe I’ll move everything back to the blog. Time will tell.

My guess is that social media are dead to conversation and conversation on them cannot be revived. But if that’s true, how to “maintain lines of connection between friends, comrades and fellow-travellers” while “routing around the toxic internet”? That is indeed the question, and I don’t have a clue how it might be answered. I suspect that there is no answer: that it’s the toxic internet or hermetic life or, for those who are blessed, what Auden called “local understanding.” And if so, though I don’t want to be a hermit, I’d definitely prefer that to trying, yet again, to talk to strangers on social media.

I’d be interested to hear the details of what Jacobs means by the “certain discursive habits from Twitter and Facebook that they then bring to every other platform,” but I think he is pretty spot-on here.

I still engage in some amount of discussion on Facebook—almost entirely with my IRL friends and family. I rarely engage with any posts from organizations, or in discussion threads that have tons of comments and replies. What’s the point?

I mostly feel that while Twitter and Facebook have their uses, conversation is not one of them. I think this goes back to these platforms’ inherent need to promote the most knee-jerk, blood-boiling sort of content that generates anger and controversy.

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Dear GMail: I would expect that, if you allow me to check a box to set an end-date for an out-of-office auto-reply message, you would then stop sending the auto-reply to people once we have passed the end-date that I set. However, that never seems to be what actually happens.
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David Mendelsohn, “Is the Aeneid a Celebration of Empire—or a Critique?”:

Months later, when I was back home teaching Greek and Roman classics again, it occurred to me that the difficulties we have with Aeneas and his epic cease to be difficulties once you think of him not as a hero but as a type we’re all too familiar with: a survivor, a person so fractured by the horrors of the past that he can hold himself together only by an unnatural effort of will, someone who has so little of his history left that the only thing that gets him through the present is a numbed sense of duty to a barely discernible future that can justify every kind of deprivation. It would be hard to think of a more modern figure.

Or, indeed, a more modern story. What is the Aeneid about? It is about a tiny band of outcasts, the survivors of a terrible persecution. It is about how these survivors—clinging to a divine assurance that an unknown and faraway land will become their new home—arduously cross the seas, determined to refashion themselves as a new people, a nation of victors rather than victims. It is about how, when they finally get there, they find their new homeland inhabited by locals who have no intention of making way for them. It is about how this geopolitical tragedy generates new wars, wars that will, in turn, trigger further conflicts: bella horrida bella. It is about how such conflicts leave those involved in them morally unrecognizable, even to themselves. This is a story that both the Old and the New Worlds know too well; and Virgil was the first to tell it. Whatever it meant in the past, and however it discomfits the present, the Aeneid has, alas, always anticipated the future.

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Aside from the really good coffee it makes, I think one of the aspects I appreciate the most about my Aeropress is that, because it makes one cup at a time, it forces me to think about my consumption. It makes for a much different—and in the end, better, I think—experience than wandering through the kitchen and pouring myself a cup from the pot that is already sitting there brewed.
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