June was fine. I wish I could express more positive sentiments, but that’s how I feel. It was, however, a big step forward compared to May. Not because I resolved anything (on the contrary, my frustrations grew stronger) but rather because I put a certain emotional scar tissue around my problems so that they interfere less with my intentions.
June was also the month in which I was supposed to get the new car I ordered back in January. But no. No luck. I must continue with my old garbage-car for a bit (if she doesn’t fail me first).
On the other hand, thanks to the Gods of the Universe, we had a mild, rainy June. Much better than last year when I wrote:
(Ah, and June has been HOT. And in hot temperatures (40 °C now that I am writing), I simply do not work. At all. I work 10 minutes, and then I die in front of a fan for 20 minutes. And Summer just started! Yikes!)
I can survive at 31 °C with no difficulty.
But let’s not drag this introduction any longer. This month’s issue is packed with stuff (my web surfing was drastically reduced, so I had more time to actually enjoy some content), and unless I want a 5000-word article, it’s better to focus on the meat.
I am working on a new theme!
I am working on developing a new blog theme from scratch. It initially began as an effort to remove Bootstrap from this website (I have nothing against Bootstrap, but I believe it is overkill for my necessities). But it turned out to be a good chance to explore the new best practices in CSS and web design.
I intend to document the entire process through a series of blog posts. The first one is already complete; I just need to refine it further.
On Reddit’s Enshittification
June was the month of Reddit terminal enshittification. It was in the air, but their disgusting and bad-faith approach was too much for me. I didn’t even wait for the end of the month. I deleted everything and closed my account. Twenty days later, I am glad I did.
But they are not ready. Not only is ActivityPub for discussion forums ten times more confusing than microblogging (and we have already seen that microblogging is already too complicated for 90% of the population), but the software is really clunky and in a pre-alpha state.
This month, Mastodon’s insular instincts were inflamed by the imminent (?) joining of the new Meta’s social network into ActivityPub. So, the insular purists claimed that Mastodon’s server should preemptively defederate the new Meta creature. On (dis)trust.
This reinforced my view that Mastodon is a feudal structure, with feudal lords fighting for their religion. The only true advantage is that leaving is easy, and it is possible to build our personal feud (even if it’s not particularly worth it, imho).
Let’s be clear: I hate Meta and will not touch it with a 10-meter pole. And it is fair that Mastodon servers do whatever they want (after all, this is the great upside of federated protocols). But, personally, I’ll leave any instance that preemptively blocks Meta, and I will happily go on with my life. Nevertheless, this whole situation has left a bad taste in my mouth.
Okay, this is already too long, and we have A LOT of things to talk about. So, let’s start.
This month I crunched six books. Five of them were small, and then there was a 1000-page behemoth.
Blackwater IV, V, and VI
I already discussed it briefly in the previous issue, so I’ll just provide an overall comment: I liked it, but I didn’t love it. It’s a book series that moves incredibly quickly, with a lot of tell – which is necessary for a story spanning four decades. However, there is a constant sense of “implausibility” in how people behave and in the relationships between the characters.
The last book, then, is not really an end; just as the first wasn’t a beginning. The entire series is simply a slice of life, and as such, it often lacks a clear story arc. Nevertheless, it filled me with great melancholy, making it probably the saddest book of the series. A part of me wasn’t entirely satisfied. The series ends with more questions than answers. I followed these characters for so many (in-book) years that the last book begs the question, “What happens now?”
The Conquest of Happiness
This is a classic by Bertrand Russell, written at a time when philosophy was still true philosophy, and philosophers were interested in how to live—a time before the self-help gurus swooped in with easy questions, tarnishing the entire practical philosophy genre with the stain of money-grabbing marketing.
After almost 100 years, “The Conquest of Happiness” (published in 1930) remains modern and worth reading, surprisingly so. We haven’t changed much in 90 years, after all.
In one passage, for instance, Russell criticizes contemporary parents (remember, it is the year 1930) for not allowing their children to experience boredom. He argues that the cinema, the radio, and all the new modern activities provide excessive passive entertainment.
Oh, Bertrand… If only you could have seen the depth of this problem in 2030…
How to be Friends – Cicero
This book is part of a really cool book series by Princeton Press that modernly translates ancient greco-roman classics. Every book is divided by theme, and it may be a single opera or an anthology of selected texts.
How to be Friends is the first one I read, and it is a translation of Cicero’s De Amicitia written in 44 BC (9.957 HE) during Cicero’s “Philosophical Exile.”
Nothing to add here; it is a classic and, like The Conquest of Happiness, still valid nowadays.
Under the Dome
I have also finally completed the unnecessarily long 1,074 pages of Stephen King’s “Under the Dome”. It was not what I expected, and I am still a bit pissed. I have a rant in the Spoilery Section at the end of this article if you’d like.
Another month with a discrete activity on the film/series side.
Ted Lasso has been the heartwarming series of the last few years. It wasn’t always perfect, but never disappointing. It had the great power of making me laugh and feel good about the world. It was also one of the uncommon series that reinforced the idea that being a good person is worth it (note how many times in the media being nice and trusting ends up in tragedy).
The last season, though, was sub-par. I’ve found it confusing. Some story points felt forced, and others could have been avoided altogether (I am talking to you, Jack and Keeley 😒).
But the thing I realized after a while is how many damn things happened off-screen. I swear that every significant event happened off-screen with a temporal jump (I’ll list some examples in the Spoilery Section).
So, ultimately, it was a lost opportunity to end with a bang.
I love Arnold; he makes me happy. So, I binged Fubar as soon as possible. I am biased, but I think it was a nice, simple, basic, shark-jumpy series that I do not regret watching. An honest score would be 6/10, a bit more if you like old, clunky Arnold. :D
Super Mario Bros. The Movie
We finally watched Super Mario Bros. The Movie. It was simple but funny. 8-year-old me would have sh*t his pants for the happiness.
Simple story, packed with references. I spent all my time like the “Di Caprio pointing at things” meme. It was very funny and entertaining. Bowser rocks.
And Chris Pratt sucks.
Star Trek II and Star Trek III
I recently decided to rewatch all the Star Trek movies. Honestly, I have never seen some of them and thought it was about time.
So, after Star Trek I (that “screen saver” I watched months ago), I finally moved to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
Even though they are two separate movies, they work in tandem, and I believe they should be considered a single movie in two parts.
They are definitely an improvement over Star Trek I, with a better, more active story better suited for a full-size film.
And I loved Christopher Lloyd as the Klingon Commander Kruge.
My music habits are still stagnant, ending at 882 tracks. It happens when I am particularly unfocused.
I still have a great deal of recommendations. First of all, in June got released KGTWL’s PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation, an album that instantly destroyed my tracking system and player with its long-ass title.
The album was more controversial among professional critics but received high praise from people and user-centric reviews. While I agree that it may fall a bit flat, it instantly jumped into my personal top 10 for 2023. This is unsurprising, given that I adore the other KGTWL’s metal-ish album Infest the Rats’ Nest.
The other recommendation is a Bandcamp’s editorial list: Pagan Fires Burning: The New Wave of Dark Folk from the UK and Ireland . Bandcamp does a wonderful job with editorial content, including its radio show, and aiding in the discovery of amazing new music. I really encourage you to browse the website from time to time.
Yes. I am still into The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. I am taking my time (not too much time due to availability), and there is nothing better I would play. So, I’ll probably stick with TotK until the remake of Super Mario RPG, which is definitely one of my favorite games ever.
Other Interesting Things
- 🍪 How Cookie Clicker addiction saved my Ph.D. — This is a funny little article. While the details may or may not interest you, I like the moral: even the weirdest addiction can have a silver lining if you can see it.
- 🎨 Style your RSS feed — This is something I should try on this blog. You may be interested as well. Long live RSS.
And now we have officially crossed the 50% mark of 2023. It is time to thing about these first six month. Were they good? If not, it is a good time to mentally restart.
What are your plans for July?
Under the Dome
Great concept. Questionable execution. This could have been an interesting exploration of human character, answering the difficult question of how people transform when they are cut off from the rest of the world. It could have depicted a slow descent into the state of nature and provided a rich ethical exploration of individuals facing a desperate situation. It wasn’t too much to ask for, especially for a book that is a thousand fucking pages long.
Instead, it is just one of the flattest, most static, stereotypical, mono-dimensional casts of characters ever, doing the most stereotypical shit you can imagine, and ending in literally blazing the entire town in less than a week. What the actual fuck? It is so exaggerated and ridiculous that it was really hard to take it seriously. No growth. No change. Nothing.
And the end was nonsensical and disappointing. But, hey, it’s King, so I take it for granted. I knew the mystery would resolve - if we can call this a “resolution” - with an “it is like this because I say so” solution in the last 10 pages. That’s not the problem, believe me. The problem is everything else.
Nathan leaving West Ham? We don’t see it; it is implied. Richmond arriving second? We don’t see it; it is implied. The discussion Richmond’s team did before asking Nathan if he wanted to get back? We never see it. Rebecca and that boat guy boinging? Implied. The food fight between Rebecca and all the rich white guys? Off-screen. The ending? A never-ending stream of implied events. And I am definitely forgetting something.
Really! I am not crazy. Others have noted the same.