Now I see why streaming took away everything good.

My sometime newsletter is morphing into a blog. You can see current posts, and subscribe if you want, here.

“A Dutch supermarket chain introduced slow checkouts for people who enjoy chatting, helping many people, especially the elderly, deal with loneliness. The move has proven so successful that they installed the slow checkouts in 200 stores.”

– via Marginal Revolution

Why Not Mars?, a long takedown of the idea of putting humans on Mars, is the most entertaining piece of science/tech writing that I’ve read in years.

Streaming media can disappear with a snap of the fingers:

Specifically, many of the series WBD has decided to remove do not exist on physical media. There’s no Blu-ray, no DVD, no VHS tape in a dusty attic. If a massive conglomerate decided one of these shows was no longer profitable on their streaming services but also not worth the hassle to bundle and sell off elsewhere, it might well and truly be gone. In some cases, not even the people who made the show have their own copy.

If you love a movie, buy the DVD. If there is one.

I got a letter. When I set up my hello page, I decided to include my mailing address in the contact information. A person’s mailing address used to be easily available (in the phone book for example), but has come to be seen as much more private: “doxxing,” publishing someone’s home address online, is seen as a spiteful and dangerous act. But I went ahead. (In olden times, if you wanted to conceal your home address, you used a PO Box, which carried with it the suspicion that you were up to something illicit, or were paranoid.)

And someone here on sent me a letter! It was great. I especially appreciated the fact that both the letter and the envelope were typed, with the oddly personal touches that implies. I haven’t typed a letter in maybe 50 years, but I loved seeing the strikeouts; remembering that an exclamation point is period-backspace-single quote. On this typewriter, periods punched little holes in the paper, so holding it up to the light produced a starry-sky effect.
I don’t own a typewriter, so I’ll have to reply in writing. I look forward to it.

As usual I forgot to announce my last newsletter. It’s mostly about the Orthodox Church, with some reflections on what I’ve been doing and reading. And unlike those Substack newsletters that keep straining my budget, it’s free.

letter writers: Ireland has introduced a clever digital stamp system: On their app, you buy a “stamp” and they send you a 12-digit code that you write on the envelope where the stamp would be. The PO’s scanners do the rest. I wonder if the system will appear in the US?

“Let me get through this thing I don’t especially enjoy so I can do another thing just like it, which I won’t enjoy either.” From another fine micro-essay by @ayjay, on our pointless lust for speed.

“The Hubriscene” as the aptest name for our time.
(thanks @ReaderJohn)

A useful verb: to boogeyman. “if you have a completely partisan take on a contentious issue — as in, you do not believe there are any oversights in your side’s argument, no tradeoffs or complexities that might lead a decent person to a different stance — then you have probably been boogeymanned into those feelings to some extent.”

Watched and greatly enjoyed Three Thousand Years of Longing.

I just read that Truth Social runs on Mastodon.

Question for myself and a friend: are there still decent point & shoot cameras out there? I get the impression that, as phone cameras have gotten so good, the area between SLRs and phones has sort of been abandoned. Looking for something that will fit in a coat pocket and take good photos.

I read The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt. Very mixed reaction. It seemed to me more brilliant than, you know, good.

Covid enters the mainstream. This week I saw two signs that Covid is coming to be seen as one of life’s routine risks (for better or for worse). First, a notice from our county health department about the rampaging RSV which is making all the kiddos sick. One sentence said that symptoms are usually similar to “Colds, Flu, and Covid.” It was the first time I’d seen Covid referred to in this casual way. Then today I went for a dental appointment, armed with a mask, and saw a “Masks Optional” sign in the waiting room. A turning point for the medical system in these parts.

electronic surveillance by the “good guys”. I don’t think we’re being serious enough about an approaching surveillance dystopia.

I tried some Feldenkrais exercises to deal with back issues. I try a lot of alt-med things, mostly out of curiosity. This is the first one that I’ve tried that yielded impressive improvement, quickly. Ahhh…

High-end Robusta coffee? Interesting.

I just ordered the first book of my post-Amazon reading regime: Falk, The Light Ages. (Bookshop, which sent me to Biblio, which caused Better World to send me the book. Confusing, but the book is on its way.)

“But in a sense, these worries miss the point: In 2022, Twitter is small fry.” Depressing piece on video’s steady takeover of social media.

Waiting for the first “Quit Mastodon!” exhortation.

I appreciated this calming look at the upcoming elections. Forecast: not the end of the world as we know it, just more of the posturing and gridlock we’ve come to expect from government.

email minimalism. It’s odd, for a long time my policy was to save every email forever. Never know when you might want to look something up! That changed gradually over the years. Recently, HEY mail offered the option of setting a “recycle” trigger on mail: if you choose, it disappears after 30 days, 90 days, or two years. Now I find myself setting almost every email (usually by domain) to disappear after a month. Leave no trace! just announced a price increase from the absurdly low $5/year to a moderate $20/year. The announcement includes a strategy for Sticking It To The Man and staying on at the current price indefinitely. But I’m happy to pay the more reasonable one.