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w/e 2019-09-22

Hello, here are some things from this week.

It’s only been a few days but I’ve already forgotten which algorithm recommended Under Your Always Light by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson to me, but it was most welcome:

From the album f(I)ght, on Bandcamp, and Spotify. Well done, forgotten algorithm.

§   Early in the week I went to the opening of my friend Paul Regan’s joint exhibition of paintings in Mayfair, where the streets smelled of cigar smoke. I really like Paul’s paintings, and those of his co-exhibitor, Martin Fidler. Over the years he’s painted skips, construction sites, greenhouses, traffic cones, cars under covers, concreted-over front gardens, clothes airers… all everyday things that are easily ignored but which a painting gives you reason to look at in a new light.

Painting of some houses at night with scaffolding and some white plastic chairs stacked up
Woodville Road VIII by Paul Regan. Oil on canvas. 2016.

Which is what I was always getting at with my photos of wrapped buildings – something that’s a common sight but which is odd enough to be looked at again with fresh eyes.

It’s similar to that Magic of Meghan video by Dry Cleaning I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. A sequence of everyday views rendered unsettling or comic when displayed with this focus.

I think of this as “the British Mundane”. Things that will usually be left unrecorded and unremarked because they’re considered too dull to be worth noting.

To stretch this beyond the visual, I’d add the lyrics of Half Man Half Biscuit, the comedy of Victoria Wood and, inevitably, the writing of Alan Bennett. They all pick up on things that most people wouldn’t think worth commenting on, and twist them into interesting images, or lyrics, or jokes.

§   I’ve tweaked the body copy font size of my site to make the text bigger as it felt a little too small (also, I should probably get varifocal lenses). I think it reads better now, in blog posts, but perhaps looks a bit big in other places, and on mobile. But I don’t want lots of different font sizes. It’s OK. Always a work in progress. Your thoughts are always welcome.

[Update the next day: I’ve changed the font sizes back to what they were, except for things like these blog posts, which are more readable with bigger text. Ugh, tricky. It’s almost as if design and front-end development are fields that require skill and experience to be good at!]

BTW, add ?grid=1 to the end of any of my page’s URLs to see how beautifully everything lines up (apart from photos and videos, which usually throw everything below them off slightly).

§   In other recreational coding news, today I added support for generating KML files to my Foursquare/Swarm Feeds python script. Like the iCal files I wrote the script for, Foursquare used to generate KML files, but they stopped. Someone asked if I could add KML files and now I have.

§   On Friday I went to the Global Climate Strike event on Millbank in London. It was a bit odd, in that there were tens of thousands of people heading for a place but not marching anywhere. I was in a crowd walking towards Millbank, which is next to the Houses of Parliament, and the crowd got gradually denser and slower until it was inching forward towards… who knows what.

There were always some people very keen to force their way through, to get ahead of the slow crowd, and this effort seemed like a metaphor for our possible futures, but I’m not sure what the metaphor was. Either it demonstrates how the general population can adapt and make room for those whose needs are sometimes more urgent than everyone else’s, because we’re all helpful people. Or it shows that even when we’re all in the same boat, united in a common cause, there are always some selfish people who consider themselves more important and will try to force their way ahead to the disadvantage of everyone else. 🤔

Eventually I came across a gate into Victoria Tower Gardens and left the crowd on the street, and enjoyed the increased space available for aimless milling. I could hear the speakers speaking from who-knows-where. An exceedingly enthusiastic compère. Two women from Bolivia shouting about forest fires. A man telling us that all the people in power were terrified (uh-huh, sure) and he was angry and fighty enough that the woman sitting next to me on a concrete ledge got up and left with an, “Ugh, I’ve had enough!” She felt it was all too combative and would get us nowhere.

Anyway, I had a nice time. Lots of friendly faces, lots of young people, good weather, and I enjoyed taking photos of the back-side of placards:

Photo of the reverse of cardboard placards, one with a small Extinction Rebellion logo drawn on it
Extinction Rebellion on Flickr

Oh aren’t I so Generation X, all ironic and distancing, only photographing the reverse of placards and not engaging with etc etc.

§   This week I finished reading HHhH by Laurent Binet (translated by Sam Taylor) which my notes tell me that Rod recommended at some point. Thanks Rod, it was really good! I’ve a feeling it was also mentioned in Reality Hunger, which would make sense, as the book is a re-telling of the attempted assassination of Reinhard Heydrich and also of Binet’s struggle to tell the story accurately. Who knows how much of the latter is true. It’s a great, and easy, read on both accounts, the only downside being having to read about Nazis.

§   Most of those things above could have been their own blogposts and I kind of wish they were. But it’s only having the self-imposed Sunday deadline of weeknotes that makes me get round to writing them. Ideally I’d make room to write things like that as individual posts during the week. But I don’t, and I’d also miss out some little things that only seem worth capturing as asides in weeknotes posts. So here we are.

That’s all. Have a good week, despite everything.

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