Notwithstanding the Sud-European heatwave, I survived.
This is already a good result for July, per se. Hailstorms and high-speed winds scourged Northern Italy, while forest fires tormented Southern Italy. I, in the middle, only had to endure 45°C. If you look at this in perspective, it is not so bad.
However, surviving was not enough. While the world slowed down, burdened by the sluggish progression of an overheated July, I felt more in tune with myself.
It is not the first time I have felt relief in slowing down. It doesn’t matter if it is me or the outside world; the effect is the same.
The less you try, the emptier you get, the better you do. Wu wei, as they say.
NoteIf you just want the ChangeLog as a newsletter, you can subscribe here. (that’s what the cool guys do nowaday, right?)
New Blog Theme
If you are reading this on my website, you may have noticed that the website looks different. In fact, I released the first minimum viable version of my new handcrafted theme.
The goal was to reduce the complexity of the theme, remove Bootstrap, and learn something in the process. I succeeded in all three aspects: I am no designer, but I like the minimalistic aspect of the theme; the entire CSS is now less than 1 KB, and I learned many CSS best practices.
I am also documenting the process in a series of articles. Here is the first one.
I have many more ideas and improvements I want to make in the future. This is just the beginning. But it feels so good to “make” something again.
(I am extremely happy with the dark/light theme switcher.)
This month, I read only three books. But I’ll be happy to say only three for the rest of the year.
How to Say No: An Ancient Guide to the Art of Cynicism
It is another book in the Classical Wisdom for Modern Readers series. Here, the primary author and translator M.D. Usher compiles an anthology with various passages about Diogenes the Cynic from ancient authors.
Diogenes is a genuinely fascinating figure, the original rebel. It is a shame it is, at the same time, ignored and misunderstood by the modern general public.
Yes! No! But Wait…! By Tim Lott
It is another book about writing. Despite its brevity, it effectively highlights the unnecessary constraints of over-complicated story structure models. However, stories (I mean, plots, sorry) do have a structure, and knowing the main points of a plot can be truly beneficial.
The Greek Buddha by Christopher I. Beckwith
This book reconstructs the connection between early Buddhism and the Classical Greek philosopher Pyrrhus, the father of the Skeptic school. It is a highly informative book. However, it is too speculative for my taste. There are numerous logical “leaps of faith” that, even if well argued, remain “leaps of faith” nonetheless.
For instance, there is a section in which the author claims that the name of the “founder” of Daoism, Laozi, is merely a way for ancient Chinese to write Gutama, the name of the historical Buddha. The author presents a string of “we can imagine that” statements, which make sense individually, but as they accumulate, their strength diminishes. It seems like the author wants to extract Gutama from Laozi by selectively picking assumptions about the Ancient Chinese language. I don’t believe this aligns with the principles of good science.
Another busy month! I don’t know if I can review everything I watched this month.
The Bear (season 1)
The Bear is on everybody’s mouth. I only heard good things about it, so we decided to watch it, and… It is really good.
Season 1 comprises eight short episodes, each lasting about 30 minutes (which is good because you can more easily fit them into your schedule without committing to 1 full hour). But short episodes also mean a stronger impact. There is a lot of beauty and cinematographic virtuosity condensed into those 30 minutes.
Season 2 is already out, and everybody told me it is even better. I still have to watch it. It is planned for August.
Silo (season 1)
Apple TV+ is probably the streaming service where I’ve found the most quality. After Severance (probably my favorite series so far), Silo is another excellent addition to the Apple TV library.
Silo is based on the sci-fi dystopian Wool book series by Hugh Howey and tells the story of a future in which humans must live locked inside subterranean silos due to the toxicity of the Earth’s atmosphere.
While the setting suffers from being a bit too cliché, the story is enticing enough to not make its flaws evident.
Unfortunately, the adaptation had to make some cuts, and as a result, some things look “weird” and “dumb.” For instance, there is a pretty obvious problem with the silo’s design. The books offer reasons for this, and the characters, who are not idiots, acknowledge the design problem and argue about it. However, in the series, this is completely absent.
But other than this minor thing, I have to say it does a good job in the adaptation (especially in condensing the first book into a couple of episodes).
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
This is one of my favorite TOS movies (and also the only one I watched multiple times). The premise is a bit ridiculous: a probe is damaging Earth because it wants to talk with whales. But whales are extinct, so the Enterprise needs to go back in time to get a pair of whales to bring back to the future.
But precisely because of this ridiculous premise, the movie takes itself very little seriously. The result is a funny, enjoyable movie that never fails to entertain me.
Other Star Trek Movies
This month I also watched Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and Star Trek VII: Generations.
Star Trek V is not good. While the cinematography is greatly improved, the story falls flat. There is no pathos, and it resolves in an anticlimactic way.
Star Trek VI is better, and it closes the TOS movies series. Still, not one of my favorites.
Star Trek Generations (VII) is a movie designed to pass the torch from TOS to The Next Generation crew. It is not bad by any means, but I always find it unsatisfying.
The next one in the queue is Star Trek: First Contact. The first Star Trek movie I watched and one of my favorites.
I also watched The French Dispatch (2021). The film is a big cinematographic flex and is visually beautiful. I loved the constant reminders of one of my favorite movie epochs: the 40s and the 50s.
Still, the story is heavily postmodern, and the three episodes are hit-and-miss. I really liked the Nescaffier one, but I didn’t enjoy the middle one (I am sorry Timothée).
This month I went deep into Doom Metal. I have never been a big fan. But, somehow, this year, I started to listen more and more to the genre until I thought, “Wait. I think I like it.”
What I like about the genre is that it is very nuanced and varied, both at musical and lyrical levels. But I will never explain it better than a random comment I’ve found on Tildes. So I will copy it here:
It’s easy to dismiss doom metal bands as a bunch of pot-smoking wizards. Well, ok, most of them are pot-smoking wizards. But there’s a lot of diversity in musical sound and lyrical themes, including overlaps with other genres you may not expect.
Links with asterisks are music videos. They’re all on YouTube, but aren’t necessarily safe for work!
Starting with traditional doom, doom metal has branched out in many different directions.
- Traditional doom - in the vein of early doom bands, clean vocals (early Black Sabbath, Cirith Ungol, Reverend Bizarre*)
- Drone doom - doom with a heavy, droning sound (Earth, Sunn O))))
- Epic doom - epic fantasy lyrics with clean (often operatic) vocals (Candlemass*, Doomsword)
- Funeral doom - extremely slow, like a funeral dirge (Skepticism, Bell Witch)
- Stoner doom - heavy and bluesy, frequent drug themes (Sleep, Weedeater)
- Psychedelic doom - psychedelic rock, but slower and heavier (Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard*, Spaceslug)
- Doomgaze - shoegaze, but slower and heavier (True Widow, Jesu)
- Death/doom - doom metal with death vocals (Acid Witch*, Hooded Menace)
- Blackened doom - doom metal with black metal vocals (Woods of Ypres)
- Sludge doom - incorporating punk elements into doom (Acid Bath*, Eyehategod)
Read the rest of dave1234 comment here.
It’s 👾 Retro Summer ☀️, folks!
I started this as a joke on Mastodon and am now deep into it. I decided to replay or complete several random games from my past. So far, I’ve completed:
- Kirby’s Adventure (NES)
- Kirby’s Dreamland (GB)
- Super Mario Land 2 (GB)
And now I am well into The Legend of Zelda: Oracles of Ages.
As I wrote on Mastodon:
Finally, it is time to do what I really wanted to do: play The Legend of Zelda Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons. They are the first Zelda games I bought (I borrowed Link’s Awakening from a friend :D) and they have a special place in my heart.
They are a bit “forgotten”, after all, it was the Game Boy Color end of life (they were released the same year of the GBA), and probably people had already moved on. But I loved them so much.
I have giant retro-gaming backlog to crunch.
In this eventful-but-lazy July, I had found again the spark of interest. August, the even-more-lazy month, will be an excellent chance to focus on the flow of events and to find connections in the disconnecting.
Once again, I have no plan. Maybe spend some time at the beach? Or at the mountain? Who knows.
As usual, I’ll keep you updated.
Other Interesting Things
- 📝 Fast Machines, Slow Machines – Are modern computers slower than 20 years ago? On paper, not at all. But they feel slower, and, in practice, they are. Why? Because while computers got faster and faster, the operating system got full of crap.
- 📝 87% of classic games are out of print. That’s a problem for gaming history. – Video Game conservation is a topic dear to me. The study linked in this article shows that people in the emulator community are the real Archiver of this emerging art. Despite all the lies and opposition of videogame companies.