The Changelog – December 2022

Oh, December. You beautiful cozy lazy month. It is the month in which I delude that I can make 10000 different things, but, instead, I spend all my time reading and being with my family. Not a bad thing to do, don’t you agree?

December is also when winter begins. People see winter as a gloomy season, but I see it as the season of rest. If you look around, winter is when Nature goes to rest. Some animals go into hibernation, plants look dead, and sprouts and seeds lie sleeping under the snow. Winter is when Nature takes it slow.

So why do we feel the rush to make 10000 things in December? Why can we just enjoy our limited winter time?

Some Housekeeping

Before we move on, here are some random thoughts on this month’s events on this blog and with me in general.

On Twitter (continued)

I tend to avoid grand gestures and haughty announcements, so I’m not making one now. However, if you noticed that I’ve stopped posting on Twitter, you were correct.

Using Twitter has become ethically troubling. You may think it is an exaggeration, but I am not trying to give a universal truth, only my subjective view. Twitter makes me a worse human being. It undermines my character, feeds my pathos, and makes me like people less (and I like people). All this is besides being that toxic drug that challenges my attempts to mindfully use my time for better things. Using Twitter sustains this cycle of self and social destruction, so I am taking this opportunity to drastically reduce the amount of Twitter in my life.

As I said, this is not a grand announcement. I am still occasionally on Twitter, for once, because it is the only place where I can exchange some words with some dear friends. So, for now, I am removing the Twitter link in this blog, closing the DMs, and stopping posting original content and engaging with the platform.

On Mastodon (continued)

This month, at least for techie nerds like me, Mastodon reached critical mass. So, it has been a pleasurable experience so far.

Still, I think it is not a real solution to any real problem. If I can stop using Twitter, why should I start using something that fundamentally shares all its drawbacks?

Well, if there has to be something like that, I am glad Mastodon exists. It is definitely less addictive than the original. Still, most of the pleasuring experience is due to the reduced and “selected” user base. A quick look in the local and federated timelines already shows copies of the idiotic takes I saw on Twitter. So…

Reading

I am sure I will complete my 2022 reading challenge. Unfortunately, two significant slumps in August and November really destroyed my average. So I will stop two books short.

Nevertheless, I have many books half-read, and I am using this last week of December for the final spree.

The first and most important book I completed is The Quest of Character by Massimo Pigliucci.

I strongly admire Massimo, and I consider him one of my “spiritual” mentors. His books gave me a deeper understanding of myself and sparked my love for ancient philosophy. As a disclaimer, you should know that I am also a paid subscriber to his Substack, so my review may be slightly biased.

Nevertheless, The Quest for Character is a book that tries to answer a critical question: how can we get better leaders?

I am deeply interested in politics, and like many, I am increasingly concerned and depressed by the current state of the political landscape. This book resonated with my feelings but instead of just complaining, it used the perspective of philosophy to examine the connection between ethos and effective leadership.

My favorite part is also the one that put the book in motion. It tells the story of Socrates and Alcibiades and describes the implication of wisdom – or, to say it better, the lack of wisdom – for politics and successful leadership. It is an excellent historical portrait of those times, with many good parallels between the ancients and us.

Still, if you are looking for an easy answer on instilling wisdom into our politicians, you may be disappointed. In fact, as for all complex problems, there is no easy solution. In the end, the book shows how each of us carries an individual responsibility to shape the next generation of leaders. It may seem discouraging, but our actions and behaviors are ultimately the only things we can control. So, why be so surprised?

The book left me with some actionable insight, some new readings, and a bit of optimism. These are all the marks of a good book.

Watchlist

Given that Wednesday (2022) was one of the most streamed Netflix series ever, you may not be surprised that I watched it too. Not only: it is the main (and only) thing I watched this month. I started some other series, but, one thing and another, I never went much further with anything else.

Anyway, we were talking about Wednesday. Did I like it? Yes. I can see why it got the success it got. It is like a mash-up of all the successful films/series of the last 20 years into a lovely-paced set of 8 episodes. The bit of horror, the edgy main character, the school full of weirdos, the mysterious monster lurking in the dark, the supernatural elements, the witty snarky dialogues, etc. In some sense, a Generative AI could have produced this with the prompt, “give me the screenwriting for a successful Netflix series.”

I am not saying that to undermine the series. On the contrary, the mash-up is beautifully executed. All the above elements are picked just enough to make them noticeable but not too much to give you the sour taste of a “knockoff.” It is something that requires genuine talent.

If I have to say something negative, though, the main character, Wednesday, sometimes feels too much like a mary sue. You know, good at everything and treating everybody like shit while everybody keeps falling for her. The subtle character evolution could have been a little more emphasized. Nevertheless, it is just a tiny detail.

It is a solid recommendation, and I am already waiting for next season.

Music

Another month without a clear trend. I added 34 new albums to my tracking system. Listened to 840 tracks from 340 artists and 382 albums, with Billy Joel taking a surprising amount of the total.

Besides that, I dug a bit into game soundtracks, mainly thanks to the new Dwarf Fortress release. But we will talk about it in the next section.

Gaming

There are two games I want to talk about this month: Cult of the Lamb and Dwarf Fortress (for the release of the new 0.50 version).

Let’s start with Cult of the Lamb (2022), a lovely mix between a roguelike and a “cult simulator” developed by Massive Monster. If you remember last month’s changelog, you know this is the game I was reserving for my Steam Deck.

The game is really charming. It hits one of my favorite moods: creepute, that weird but fascinating mix between creepy and cute. To give you a better idea, a big part of my game was managing my cult full of cute animals with the occasional sacrifice and meal of “animal meat.”

The game is solid, and I had (still having, technically) great fun. The roguelike element is skillfully done, even if it is not particularly original. On the other hand, the “cult simulator” part is not especially deep. It doesn’t take long before checking all your followers and doing rituals become repetitive and uninspired. After a couple of hours, you start automating everything, get everything you need from the village and occasionally sacrifice one of the followers when needed. It becomes boring very fast.

Overall, even due to the exquisite art style, the game is a solid 8/10 (I wouldn’t say I like giving votes a lot, but sometimes a good score saves me hundreds of words).

The other big game of the month is Dwarf Fortress. Finally, after years of development, this masterpiece landed on Steam and itch.io in its renewed and modernized version.

I love Dwarf Fortress. I learned to play it on the classic version when trees were still just a single tile (now they are “3D” and spread over many z-levels). I played on the ASCII tileset and learned to read the fantastic stories hidden in a deceitful salad of random characters. I fell in love with those stories.

Because this is the real power of Dwarf Fortress: its complex, randomly generated world, full of lively characters with detailed personal histories and a web of relationships with each other, artifacts, creatures, and gods.

If you want to have an idea of the kind of things I am talking about, I can suggest watching some videos by Kruggsmash, the person who, more than anyone, mastered the art of Dwarf Fortress’ storytelling. In particular, looks for the “Monster Killers” series.

The new Steam release is a significant step forward. It finally breaks the DF’s UI wall, allowing new players to approach such a beautiful game. Moreover, it also gives the team the financial stability to improve the game even more (and, who knows, at a faster pace)!

To be honest, I played very little to the new version (being Windows-only and rarely using Windows). But I bought it anyway. It is my way of repaying all my playing time over the past years.

Strike the heart!

Conclusions

This is the end of the year! Last newsletter of 2022 (well, technically is the first of 2023, but I consider the time when I write). You may wonder, what about the yearly reviews? What about next year’s ambitions and goals?

I will dedicate a different article to those. So don’t worry (or worry, if you prefer).

January will be the perfect month to look forward to and plan for 2023. But, for now, I need to close this draft to finally come back to Winter Rest.

I need to extract all the warmth from this month while I can.

See you next time.

Other Interesting Things

  • 💻 Readwise Reader is out in public beta. We talked about it last month. You may want to check it out.
  • 🎬 Speaking of “The Quest for Character,” this is an excellent interview with Massimo Pigliucci about the book.
  • 📝 “Plato was not white” – This is a concise article. Still, I think it explains well why I cringe a lot while discussing Ancient Philosophy online. And why I do it very rarely.
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