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w/e 2023-11-13

Monday I got back from a long weekend in Edinburgh, visiting my sister, where I was very lucky with the weather – chilly but sunny blue-sky days – and very unlucky with the trains. The 5-ish hour journey each way ended up taking at least two hours longer in both directions, in both cases due to a train breaking down mid-journey, requiring a change of trains, and missing a connection at Crewe. Britain is falling apart.

I should get the cost of the tickets back (although I’m not sure how it works if it was a two-ticket journey and it was only the fault of the first ticket that resulted in the entire journey being late). But I always think compensation should be based on the price of a full single fare, not what you paid – because the current Delay Repay system means anyone who bought a cheaper ticket well in advance gets less compensation for the same delay as someone who bought at the last minute.

If I wait long enough I expect there’ll be another Cabinet reshuffles that I’ll get my turn as Minister for Transport.

§ Anyway, I had a lovely time in Edinburgh. Since my last visit the new tram system had finally got as far as Newhaven, so we were able to take that all the way out to Edinburgh Park, a newish office development that, even on a weekday, seemed strangely lacking in people. Interesting to see though.

A photo looking across a rectangular man-made mini lake in which a clear sky is reflected. On the other side are low office buildings with a tram passing in front of them.

We went to see Dream Scenario (Kristoffer Borgli, 2023) at the Cameo, which was fun. It’s a bit like someone had a silly idea for a Nicolas Cage (or John Malkovich) film but couldn’t come up with an ending. It was slightly spoilt by a single permanently green pixel just in front of our very close first-row seats, but I guess it didn’t get in the way any more than the movie’s Metaphor.

And I also caught up with Tom who had the silly idea of walking up Arthur’s Seat to see the sunrise on Sunday morning. Cold and dark, but worth getting up for. Once.

A photo looking across some rocks, North across Edinburgh, which is partially illuminated by the first rays of the sun. In the foreground a young man has his back to the camera, looking at the view, and wearing a silver jacket.
More pics in this album

§ I was pleased to figure out how to do that thing with the Noto Emoji font, generating a custom subset of it. This means that on (a) I don’t need to use the Google-hosted version of it and can host my own, smaller version, and (b) it means the emoji appear in Safari, which they’d stopped doing recently, which does seem to be a valid bug. (Firefox has a different bug.)

§ I watched some of this 2015 conversation between Richard Herring and Stewart Lee, mostly about This Morning with Richard Not Judy, and I liked this bit (1:07:56) where Lee talked about how different it was to be doing something like that in the late ’90s, compared to if it was in the age of social media:

We tried to do stuff that created a relationship with the audience and encourage them to write in and get involved in things, and sort of create the comedy themselves, and then we’d sort of roll with it.

Now, twenty years later, it would almost be unmanageable, because the amount of feedback you’d get from the internet and Twitter would be out of control. You couldn’t really do it. If you said to people now, “Why don’t you try and write the biggest swear word you can and hang it off a building,” so many people would do that it would be appalling!

I think it was in a weird window between the sort of post punk thing of, let’s involve the people, and yet, actually, pretty soon the technology existed to involve the people so thoroughly that it would have been unworkable, because they’d have been far too involved.

Even doing things on the internet, now, there’s a sweet-spot of success where you get enough attention and interaction to make something satisfying and interesting (for you and your audience), but not so much that it gets out of control.

§ I finished watching the only season of Dogs of Berlin on Netflix this week which was alright (if we ignore the usual dodgy “glamourising violent police who don’t play by the rules but get results” thing). It felt like there were just too many subplots for a lot of it, and trimming some of them and making the season shorter would have helped keep it more pacy, as it flagged a bit. But I was gripped by the final couple of episodes. As a way to practise listening to German it wasn’t great because most people were pretty hard to understand at all, like it was hard to be sure they were even talking German when they were.

I also watched some films on telly (MUBI, MUBI, iPlayer and Netflix):

§ Right, it’s Tuesday afternoon: better get started on whatever this week is.

§ P.S. Nearly forgot… I realised I was backing up about 100 GB of un-needed old website backups to Backblaze, so deleting them reduced the total to back up to about 433 GB, of which 42% has been uploaded. And 75% of the 1,500,000 files have been uploaded.

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