Watching movies #1

I have a backlog of movies I’ve “been meaning to watch” and I’m going to use my newfound filmmaking ambitions to consciously watch as many of them as possible. In that vein, let’s list a few:

In pursuit of silence, by Patrick Shen, is a documentary which tries to nail down the idea of silence and its place in our modern lives. The first half starts out building a mood – showing land and cityscapes, getting some quotes from people who’ve though about the topic – and the second half delves more into the science of it. John Cages 4’33 features prominently, but it’s the long pauses and silences which make the film.

All interviewees are presented with their own voiceover over footage when they’re not speaking, which gives a nice effect of inner thought. Sometimes what is said are platitudes, and the parts which deal with the science (health effects of noise pollution, for example) feel a bit tacked on – as if Shen didn’t want the film to become too abstract and added a rep from Virgin Airlines to speak about jet noise in order to ground the topic more – but all in all it’s a strong movie which caused me to still my breathing and speak quieter.

It brought home something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, which is how I totally suck at being by myself or unoccupied (to the point of causing me anxiety) and probably would benefit from taking up meditation or walks in the forrest.


Tura the teenager has gotten into horror movies – mostly fast paced zombie flicks – so we’re subjecting ourselves to the highs and lows of the genre. We put The Mist on (by Frank Darabont) but bailed after fifteen minutes – what a hot mess. Characters who change mood on a dime, poor dialogue, campy acting. I’d mistaken the movie for the 2017 series which apparently is better – and even though it’s supposed to end with a dramatic twist, no twist is worth sitting through this thing. Perhaps it was well received because it served the American audience an allegory for 9/11?

We switched to Monsters (by Gareth Edwards), and although the mood and world building is nice the setup is inexplicable – there are planes flying in the world, so why can’t Samantha just take a flight home to the States? And how come Andrew the photographer “has been waiting for this three years” just to “get a shot” when there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of footage of the monsters on the evening news? Towards the end it gets a bit too on the nose, but it’s well acted and worth a gander.

I read 30 days of night (by Steve Niles) not long after it came out, and now we watched the movie. Tura approved although it “wasn’t that scary” – plenty of gore, but as usual in horror plenty of stupid moves and last-stands which we could do without. I have a weak spot for movies which don’t mind killing pets or kids – bonus if a protagonist does it – so the movie has that going for it. Carter was well played, and the makeup and special effects were nice.

We finished the evening with The Shining (Stanley Kubrick / Diane Johnson) which Sara realized she hadn’t seen yet. It’s a brilliant movie still, and has lost none of it’s impact since I first saw it. Halloranns death is still senseless, and with the buildup of his arrival taking so long it’s the closest to comedy it comes. As I’m writing this Tura is going to bed and is complaining that the movie was too scary. Well, she shouldn’t have complained about the timidity of the previous scary movies I guess. Now let’s hope that she manages to fall asleep…

MateuszWatching movies #1

Making movies!

I took two months vacation this summer and spent most of the time in glorious idleness – swimming in the ocean, catching up on reading, drinking a lot of beer. In August we left for a short trip to Poland for a family reunion on my fathers side, and I got to drive in Poland for the first time – something I dreaded more than I care to admit.

The last week was spent filming and editing a short video for a competition. I’m better motivated to solve problems rather than fulfilling my own projects, so I threw myself at it with gusto – enlisting the help of Sara to write the script and Emma-Kara and Benjamin for acting. We shot it with no rehearsal in an hour and a half. I’m happy with how it turned out – I’m especially proud of the sound which was completely done in post – but looking at it now I can see a bunch of stuff I’d like to do better. I guess there’s a reason why there are so many people on movie sets.

So it appears that I’m now trying to become an “indie filmmaker”. I’m reading books on acting, writing and producing, watch masterclasses and youtubes of varying quality, and buying a shitload of equipment I’ll have to justify owning. A 7kg panning video tripod is nice, but do I actually need it? The obvious answer is yes, yes of course I need it because I’m an indie movie making person now.

As always when I’m into something, it turns into a slight obsession and with that I tend to spend money with abandon.

Right now I’m reading Syd Fields The definitive guide to screenwriting and it’s interesting to peek behind the curtains of Hollywood movie production. I’ve stumbled upon many of the terms before – character arc, plot points, act I II III – but never read much about it. Syd has some practical advice to give in the book, and I’m definitely watching movies with a more critical eye thanks to it. The book is littered with arbitrary and poor metaphors, and occasionally he contradicts himself from one sentence to the next, but it’s still a worthwhile read – especially to get a glimpse of how big studio scripts (and movies) come into being.

I’m going to try my hand at a few more competitions, using them as an external motivator and yardstick. I have no ambitions past entertaining myself and my friends, but it would be fun to see a few projects through to completion, and challenging oneself is always a learning experience – I mean, if you never jump into the deep end you won’t know how tall you are, right?

MateuszMaking movies!

Getting older, with people.


So, I’m 40 now: my time halfway served and I’m nowhere where I thought I’d be when I was a kid. I’m in a good place though; Irrespective of the current depression and the resulting mental miasma, I have a loving girlfriend, a job and my deadlifts are getting better. Also, just a this summer I experienced my first surprise party! Sara had pulled together family and friends – some I hadn’t seen in a long time – to show up at our allotment cabin and celebrate my birthday. It took me a while to process and I was honestly out of words, but it brightened my week and the urge I’d had previously to flee the city was gone.

As anyone with a birthday near a national holiday can affirm, childhood trauma of overseen birthdays is a thing – I still remember my birthday cake melting abandoned because the kindergarten teachers hurried us out to celebrate midsummer. So I wasn’t looking forward to the hosting a party anywhere near my actual birthday since it usually doesn’t work with peoples plans.

Sara managed to arrange a surprise and got all these people together to make me happy, and it feels nice to be reminded of that I’m not as alone as I sometimes feel. It feels real nice.

MateuszGetting older, with people.

Moving on from Facebook

I was never enthusiastic about Facebook to begin with, so there’s no sense of regret now that I’m exiting the platform. My text-file with site passwords is 978 lines long, so Facebook will join the ranks of all other forums and apps I’ve used over the years.

I’ve been online for 25 years by now, and when Facebook came along it was a platform much like another – a “find my classmates” with some added functions. So you get suggestions, you add people to it, and then you wake up one day and suddenly there are tons of people who have never known the Internet to be anything but websites like these. And even thought Facebook wasn’t all that innovative or new, it was at the right place at the right time to create a critical mass of users which has allowed it to ensconce itself in our browsers and cellphones – as well as in the public mind.


It’s become more difficult to get out since there’s no one service which can offer the same functions as Facebook, but out I’m going – if for no other reason than to rediscover what the web can still become beyond the walled gardens of the big five corporations. (Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft & Amazon).

I remember when Facebook announced that they were allowing personalized sub-domains, and I set the alarm to wake me at the hour so that I could register facebook.com/mateusz – much like having a low user number on Slashdot used to mean something, I figured that having my own url on Facebook would allow me to control the set and setting of my home on the platform. Over the years it’s become abundantly clear that it’s a dysfunctional home, and it’s time to vacate.

Eight years ago I was ruminating on what had become of Hotline & KDX, and if I can say it myself I quite like what I wrote (You can read the post here) so allow me a self-quote:

For a time I nourished the idea that I should be logged in somewhere at all times. By running my own server, I could be online and present at a place where others could see me, and often I would log in to servers or join an IRC channel just to be somewhere while I slept. Even though you are not conscious of your surroundings when you sleep, you still exist; And it felt important to think of myself as existing online, not only to me, but as a proof of the possibilities that the net embodied.

I’ve never changed my password to Facebook over the years. Ever since I signed up it was NotReallyInteresting. It’s time to do good on the flippancy with which I set up that password, and quit.

MateuszMoving on from Facebook

Thanks for having me!


Sara and I often listen to spoken word when going to bed. Laurie Andersons Heart of a Dog is a recurring theme, but mostly it’s podcasts: We’ve gone through P2 Fågel and Klassiska Podden a couple of times, and the weekly Quirks and Quarks is in rotation as well. I’ve been listening to Q&Q for a couple of years, and enjoy the formulaic setup of the show – brief interviews with interesting scientists and related professionals, all hosted by the affable Bob McDonald. Despite some jarring choices in sound design, it’s pleasant enough to fall asleep to and the segments short enough that you might learn something before drifting off – do lobsters feel pain? Is there a sugar conspiracy?

Because the show is so formulaic, I was curious what it would sound like if we’d only hear the welcome and thanks of guests on the show. The idea is that there is content even in this – by Bobs tempo, timbre and accentuation – and I’m curious to hear what non-listeners hear in the exchanges.

So here are all the guests introduced by Bob McDonald at Quirks and Quarks the first half of 2018. I’ve excluded segments where people aren’t introduced (cold opens and collages), and normalized the audio. There’s no noise reduction for the different sources, and I’ve kept the intervals between Bob and the guests as is – silence is another signal, after all.

Perhaps the idea is all nonsense, but I found it to be interesting nonsense nonetheless. This was a much quicker exercise than other found audio stuff I’ve done – like Appropriate Christmas – but at least I can check one experiment off my list of silly things to try.

MateuszThanks for having me!

On the pill again

The intervals between my depressive periods grows ever shorter – maybe my brains is getting bored with me. Whatever the reason, I’m back on the SSRI train. When I was younger I could always count on my downs to be followed by a few manic days of productivity, and so the trade-off seemed worthwhile. Now it’s just a flat greyness interspersed with lethargy and despair, so I’m medicating.

I’m in good company though. According to Socialstyrelsen (National board of health and welfare) there were 603603 people 20 years or older who bought at least one treatment of SSRI during 2017 (all medication stats are searcheable) and given a total population of 10 million, let’s assume that one in every ten adults are on antidepressants (this doesn’t take into account ADHD medication, anti-psychotic or sleeping aids – which adds another 1.1 million users for all age groups). Sign of our times, over-diagnosis or something in the water?

It’s a good thing that depression and other psychological problems are becoming less of a taboo and social stigma – I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it concurs with #metoo and reflections on toxic masculinity – but the flipside is that we’re becoming used to explaining away personality with pathology. What can be said to be my “real self” if it’s not an amalgamation of my traumas, quirks and mood? I have no problem with using drugs to change myself – better life through chemistry – but in the end it becomes similar to hedonism: There is no center towards which you’re aligning your ambitions except the one you choose, and that is endlessly malleable. “Let there be pleasure on Earth; let it begin with me”

Having said that, SSRI offers me a respite, and I’m looking forwards to taking a long vacation both metaphorically, but also literally, from work. I’ll finish up some projects at KKV before summer, celebrate my 40th birthday somehow, and then I’m off from all responsibilities and will hopefully relax for a few weeks.

MateuszOn the pill again

Hey its Mayday!

I don’t know how many years I’ve been walking in the May day parade – and nothing else but that parade – but today it was time again. We braced the cold and rain and walked for an hour or so with the Gothenburg LS (Syndicalist) demo. All was uneventful except at the beginning, where four nazis heckled us and promptly got beaten up – one of them so badly that he ended up at the hospital.

Despite the quick dispatch, it’s a depressing state of affairs: Five years ago nazis wouldn’t have dared to show their faces at a leftist demo, let alone provoke the SAC May day, but these times are different and now they’re bold enough to show up even here. Bloody depressing.

As usual we ended up at a rally point downtown, and as usual there was a mixed group of speakers, more or less prepared and audible in the park. Tura got an icecream and we went for food afterward. Good demo, good turnout, shitty weather.

MateuszHey its Mayday!

Walking like a cowboy

Occasionally you remember a pivotal point from your past and it stops you for a second – what if I’d stayed with my wife? What if I’d moved to Copenhagen for that job? What if I had finished my degree? — and if you look over your shoulder you imagine the thread of life which has led to this point, and there’s most often no way to unspool it, to make undone done decisions. So perhaps you start to chew over what you’ve done, and perhaps you regret obviously poor decisions, but mostly there’s a nostalgia for all the things that could have been. I could have been a kosmonaut, as it were.

There’s no control group for a sample size of one so there’s nothing but speculation and nostalgia guiding these thoughts, but humans are quite good at that so we might end up looking in the mirror wondering how all these years just happened to us. Occasionally you make an active decision which severs even the possibility of winding the thread back. You burn a bridge, you chose one partner over another, you punch your boss in his stupid face. Or as in my case, you get a vasectomy.


Mind you, there’s no sense of nostalgia on my part for my ability to have kids. I’ve never wanted children of my own, and the few times a lover would comment on being late I would promise myself that if it turned out to be a false alarm I would never again I let it come to that. I can only remember one instance in my life when I entertained the thought that having a kid might be good – I imagined having a daughter, teaching her how to knee assholes in the balls (a teaching moment à la Face/Off) — but the notion dissolved within seconds; it’s just not for me.

So I’m not sentimental about a life as a father that now will never be fulfilled, but deciding to go under the knife was more of a reminder of past decisions and an examination of how I’ve ended up where I am. And like so many other people, there’s a realisation that most choices I’ve done didn’t feel like such at the time – I’ve been surfing on mood, circumstance and the happenstance of meeting some people and not others. If I hadn’t run into a friend outside the grocer I wouldn’t have known about the job I’ve now had for going on four years; Had I known that HFF was an art school rather than a straight photography-one I probably wouldn’t have applied and never moved to Gothenburg. And pertinent to the issue at hand: If the biological lottery would have thrown the dice differently, I might have become a father at any point during my slutty years – the unperceived decision here would be the one to have unprotected sex.

Turning away from examining the past, looking towards the post-40 years of my life, what stays with me is that life is full of decisions to be made and that perhaps I should become more aware of those choices and actively make them rather than go with the flow. What do I want to be when I grow up?


On a more practical note, for those of you considering the procedure, here’s my experience:

I had my coin purse cut at two places, the vas pulled out, cut, cauterized and tied into a knot at the ends. It was preceded by two local anaesthetic injections not unlike those you get at the dentist. It numbs the skin, but does nothing for whatever pain you feel on the inside of your body – as a result there was pain like what you’d get if my fictitious kid had kneed you. It’s unpleasant, but not unbearable.

During the procedure I had a distinct feeling of dissociation. I remember thinking “boy am I glad it’s not me lying on a gurney getting my balls sliced”. Last minute panic maybe?

I got antibiotics to mitigate the risk of infection, but no prescription painkillers. With the assistance of my lovely girlfriend I got a cab home and spent the day on the couch with some frozen peas to numb the area, and some gin to numb my mind. I had hoped to go to work the next day, but resigned myself to shuffling around the apartment when I wasn’t on my back.

It’s been five days and I’m almost back to walking like a normal person, albeit a bit slower. I’m wearing tight underwear to avoid any dangling mishaps, and my usually beautiful scrotum is bruised and swelled, but there’s only an occasional dull pain.

All in all, it was far easier and less painful than I’d thought. Granted, there can always be mishaps and Internet forums are full of people who’ve had complications, but so far everything seems on track. My doc did say that my balls were relatively easy to navigate, which I imagine could affect the healing time and post-op complications. I’ll be back in the gym next weekend, although I’ll refrain from heavy lifts to begin with.

If you’re a guy and don’t want kids (or have enough of them already) do yourself and your lady friends a favour and get snipped. Compared to a woman tying her tubes or carrying the stress of an abortion (or god forbid, an unwanted child) it’s not that big a deal.

MateuszWalking like a cowboy

Taking back the net, one grouch at a time

Let’s start with a bad metaphor and see how far we can stretch it:

I’m in Bali with the family right now, and a couple of days ago we all got food poisoning at a restaurant and spent the next couple of days like so many broken McFlurry dispensers. We haven’t been back there since, and limit our dinners to places we’ve come to trust by trial and error. Now imagine if we’d banked all our money with that one restaurant at the beginning of our stay, and only had vouchers to eat there. We could use the vouchers somewhere else, but they’d be worth half the amount if they were worth anything, and if we ate at any one restaurant more than once, that first restaurant would buy them up and either close shop or have them serve their food.

I’m going to try to convince you that Google/Alphabet is that restaurant, and that occasional catastrophic diarrhea is what you put up with in order to eat at their table.

Tim O’Reilly of computer book publishing fame recently published his book WTF? and interspersed between the name-dropping and a light-Randian critique of ineffectual systems, there’s a genuine interest in understanding how things work, what problems those things are trying to solve, and how better to solve them.

A paragraph in the closing chapter might serve as an example:

Even when a dark future seems to be staring us in the face, though, we lack the courage to do what must be done. Despite our best efforts, most of the time we fail to respond to potentially catastrophic consequences of changes that are already well under way. And despite the lessons of history, we haven’t yet made the hard choices to fundamentally restructure our economy.
Instead, we argue over which of the failed recipes of the past we will try again. Political leaders and policy makers could learn a lot from Jeff Bezos.
[owner of Amazon]

My recurring question while reading was “who are these ‘we’ that you’re referring to?” It might be that Tim has a genuine belief that all humans are aware of the same problems and frame them similarly, but are too distracted by old ideas to see clearly, even though I don’t get that feeling from reading the book. But many of the conclusions in the book refer to a nebulous ‘we’ and misses the point that there really isn’t a ‘we’ more than as a species. Snakes in suits seems relevant here; some people have a really odd sense of what constitutes “success” or “progress.”

Uber is mentioned copiously and much is done of the gig-economy (Airbnb, Mechanical Turk, et al) as the next big thing. Not necessarily a good thing, but a thing which is rising on its own merits. By all means, let’s not throw the clone out with the amniotic fluid and let’s learn why some of these services (or ‘platforms’ which is the word of the day) offer which ‘we’ can harness for our own means. But let’s not forget that you have to decide who ‘we’ are that are doing this. We’re a multitude, and progress is a struggle of competing ideas, not merely a linear progression of inventions only hampered by incumbent powers.

Fred Turner put my thoughts together better than I can in an interview over at Logic:

About ten years back, I spent a lot of time inside Google. What I saw there was an interesting loop. It started with, “Don’t be evil.” So then the question became, “Okay, what’s good?” Well, information is good. Information empowers people. So providing information is good. Okay, great. Who provides information? Oh, right: Google provides information. So you end up in this loop where what’s good for people is what’s good for Google, and vice versa. And that is a challenging space to live in.

He continues:

So I think that engineers, at Facebook and other firms, have been a bit baffled when they’ve been told that the systems they’ve built—systems that are clearly working very well and whose effectiveness is measured by the profits they generate, so everything looks ethical and “good” in the Google sense—are corrupting the public sphere.

And this is where we come back to the original shitty metaphor: As long as financial profitability – or the anticipation thereof – is the metric by which a service platform can continue to operate, by virtue of the market that platform will dominate that sphere and gobble up other services which might serve the purpose better but might not be as profitable. It’s not that other services are not profitable, it’s them not being the most profitable – which should tell you that the point of the service isn’t the service, but the bottom line. And in the case of Google (and Facebook, and Twitter, and Apple, and…) the more services they offer the bigger their market share and value, and the more difficult it is to offer an alternative: In addition to market dominance stemming from huge stacks of money, their ever increasing user base fuels an ever larget market share, and on it goes. It’s a natural monopoly, and it’s not a good thing when there’s no public oversight or accountable governance.

This doesn’t even touch on the resulting negative consequences of one company hoarding all our data; corporate data mining, private censorship, arbitrary non-democratic rules, commercialization of our attention, fake news and propaganda, echo chamber discourse, stifling innovation and price dumping against competing services. All the entreprebro assholes disrupting stuff because it’s their God given (and VC driven) right, those are just the garnish on the shit sandwich we’re eating so that we can sync our calendars across devices and not have to input the destination into our GPS. Not that those things aren’t convenient, but in my view they’re not worth the the indigestion.

Tim uses some astrophysical metaphors as well:

When making sense of the future, think in terms of gravitational cores, not hard boundaries. Just as the sun’s gravity well reaches out beyond the orbit of Pluto and encompasses not just the planets in the ecliptic but comets and planetoids with eccentric orbits, so too the forces shaping the future all have a gravitational core and a gradually attenuating influence. And just as the solar system has multiple gravitational subsystems, where the draw of the local giant keeps its own satellites in tow while all still partake in the larger dance, these interpenetrating trends influence each other and converge.

So I’ll add my own:

How about viewing Google as a black hole. You’re in a stable orbit around it, and through clever engineering you manage to siphon off enough energy to keep your orbit and have some extra energy to spare. You’ll never end up like those suckers who fall in. But all those suckers who fell in increased the mass of the black hole gradually, and you didn’t even notice the moment when you passed the event horizon yourself. You still feel like you’re in a stable orbit, but for the outside world you’ve disappeared beyond the event horizon – and should they ever want to get in touch with you again, they have to go there to.

So there you have Google in a nutshell: You’re accelerating down a gravity well, shitting brown water, asking Echo for movie recommendations.

Here’s how this might get sorted: In fifty years time, many of those alive today will be dead. New young people, seeing the stupid shit we’re doing today, will come up with other solutions. Hopefully they will realize that you can’t be unfucked, and refuse to give up their data in the first place.

Another solution might be to require interoperability between all systems with more than n number of users and subsidize migration tools for services. But it’s easier just to wait for people to die and the relevancy of their data with them.

MateuszTaking back the net, one grouch at a time

All these letters, one after another

As a kid I read a lot, and kept up the habit until ten years ago. Or maybe I just felt as if I wasn’t reading as much – I’m not sure. The standards we hold ourselves to might be forgotten over time, but the feeling of success or failure recedes slower, so perhaps I’m just remembering that I didn’t read as much as I thought I ought. For the sake of the peace of my forgetful mind, here are the books I’ve read/listened to during 2017.

Olivier Bourdeaut: Waiting for Bojangles
Tom Godwin: The Survivors / Space prison
Charlie Jane Anders: All the birds in the Sky
Dorothy H. Crawford: Viruses – a Very Short Introduction
Alessandro Delfanti: Biohackers
Robert Charles Wilson: Spin
China Mieville: Embassytown
Andrew Groen: Empires of Eve
Tobias barkman: Jakten på en mördare 
Jack London: Lost face
Peter Watts: Blindsight
Åke Holmberg: Ture Sventon i Venedig
N. K. Jemisin: The Fifth Season
N. K. Jemisin: The Obelisk Gate
N. K. Jemisin: The Stone Sky
Tim O’Reilly: WTF?
Jeanette Winterson: Boating for Beginners
Ursula Le Guin: A Non-Euclidean View of California as a Cold Place to Be
Margaret Atwood: The Edible Woman
Rudy Rucker: The Ware Tetralogy
Karen Joy Fowler: Vi är alla helt utom oss

Terry Pratchett: The Colour of Magic
Terry Pratchett: The Light Fantastic
Terry Pratchett: Equal Rites
Terry Pratchett: Mort
Terry Pratchett: Sourcery
Terry Pratchett: Wyrd Sisters
Terry Pratchett: Pyramids
Terry Pratchett: Guards! Guards!
Terry Pratchett: Faust Eric
Terry Pratchett: Moving Pictures
Terry Pratchett: Reaper Man
Terry Pratchett: Witches Abroad
Terry Pratchett: Small Gods
Terry Pratchett: Lords and Ladies
Terry Pratchett: Men at Arms
Terry Pratchett: Soul Music

I’m not sure what the whole Pratchett bender is about, but it’s pleasant to revisit Ankh-Morpork. The later books in the Discworld series felt a bit too on-the-nose (Going Postal, for example) but the dialogue and characters are such a comfort that I’m eager to forgive it.

Of course, there are always more books I would like to read than what I get around to. Or, you know, “get around to” – it’s always a question of priorities. There’s a reason why I have seen all episodes of Game of Thrones but haven’t made a dent in the impressive collection of documentaries I’ve amassed over the years. “Conspicuous intellectual hoarding” is a thing. I have opened up an Austin book from one of those “must read 100 classics” lists, but not much more than that.

During 2017 I’ve subscribed to some magazines:
Guardian weekly
Nature
Make Magazine
Filter
ETC magazine
Fria tidningen
Göteborgs Fria tidning

The amount of paper I’ve browsed and tossed is bad for my conscience, but at least I’ve fulfilled some sort of “learning obligation.”

Books I’ve started and given up on for one reason or another:
Becky Chambers: A long way to a small, angry planet
Cixin Liu: The Three-body problem

Something I’ve noticed lately is that there’s a new category of poorly written books which I don’t recall stumbling upon just ten years ago; books which seem to have been written as if they’re movies. The characters are written with stage directions, their interactions might as well have emoticons in the margin for all the subtlety with which they’re written, and the story moves between scenes rather than settings. It’s dull reading; I’d rather wait until the movie gets made than spend reading a storyboard without pictures.

Some books fitting the description are “Ready Player One” (Ernest Cline) and “Seveneves” (Neal Stephenson) – Ernests book is his first, so I don’t have much to compare with, but I’ve read and reread a few Stephenson books and was extremely disappointed by this one. It read like a poorly strung together RSS-feed of tech blogs. If it hadn’t been a a Stephenson book I would have dropped it after fifty pages. I just couldn’t believe that he would publish a book so poorly written. I kept at it – groaning loudly every once in a while – with an expectation that the book was meta somehow. Like, in the last chapter there would be a reveal that the whole preceding text was “written as a school assignment by a teenager on the topic of ‘what happened before the moon blew up'”. It’s not surprising that both books have been optioned for movies, but I just don’t get why they’re books in the first place.

Perhaps a new years resolution worth pursuing next year would be to force myself to either read some of the books piling up on our shelves, or give them away for someone else to read. I’ve tried variations on this theme a couple of times: read a classic for every sci-fi pulp; write a summery of every book I read; only read female writers. But then I open up a website or a newspaper and come away with five new recommendations which I end up buying/borrowing/pirating and there goes the plan.

Oh well, never let failure stand in the way of making the same mistake twice: My new years resolution is to read five books I’ve owned longer than three years and publish a short summery/review on this here blog.

MateuszAll these letters, one after another