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Pete's October 2022 update
More like OcSNOWber!
Woke up to this on 6 October.
On the 5th it snowed a bit. That was exciting. Went to bed expecting a light dusting overnight and woke up to a proper blanket of snow. It was magical! And it kept snowing during the day, too. When we went out later in the day we saw lots of snowpeople.
The next day there were plenty of single carrots next to piles of melty snow.
Apparently it hasn’t snowed like that in about a decade so we feel very lucky to have been here when it did.
That was a month ago now. The weather hasn’t completely turned warm yet. Still some chilly nights (4˚ low this morning) and cooler days, but some lovely warm days and long hours of sunshine definitely make it feel like Winter is a distant memory.
And Nutmeg? She didn’t mind the snow, and is doing well and living her best life. (Which consists of beach, treats, and sleep. Several times per day.)
*New photos added to Nutmeg’s site.
Getting Stuff Done
Both at work and at home, this has been a month of finally getting things “shipped”.
I rehung the curtains, reclaimed a water tank, and built a stand to hold our marble tabletop. The original stand for the tabletop broke in shipping, and it’s taken this long — 15 months? — to get around to replacing it. Lots of these projects hanging around my to-do lists, with so many obstacles to overcome before I can actually do the thing that adds value.
Here’s a selfie from inside the watertank. I had to crawl inside to screw in the valves that closed up the pipe holes.
Part of the challenge with all of these projects has been researching and sourcing the right parts and tools for the job. I have more projects on the backlog that are in various states of waiting. But what it’s waiting for is me to figure it out or do something about it. I hate that.
I’ve felt like I’m the bottleneck on a bunch of work stuff, too. It’s been the most challenging few months of work in a long while. But finally this month we hit a bunch of milestones and that feeling of achievement and momentum is great!
I spent my rare day off doing taxes and recovering from mowing the lawn. 😆
But because it was a miserable day outside, and my body was aching, it was kind of relaxed and enjoyable. I had time and headspace to set up a bunch of systems to make it easier next time, too.
Revenue milestone: $500
I missed this milestone when it happened! A few months ago I hit the NZ$500 sales milestone for The Startup Guide. 🥳
It’s interesting to see that John Cleese is getting a new TV show on a ‘right-wing’ platform. I adore his comedy — not that I’ve really seen anything of his from this century — and I hope his new show is funny. I don’t think it’s a political move on his part. I think he just wants to make things, and knows that what he wants to create would be unwelcome on the BBC and other platforms.
There’s an incredible clip going around that shows comedian Ariel Elias getting heckled at a gig (it’s a political heckle #USA), making a fool of the heckler, and then someone hurls a beer can at her and it bursts on the stage wall behind her.
I don’t have much commentary on this clip, except to say that a) Ariel has a great comeback and b) holy crap! (Update: This clip led to Ariel getting her Late Night debut on Jimmy Kimmel. Nice!)
But I do have commentary on this next one, of Luke Kidgell, which shows an Australian gig with an American heckler. This clip stayed with me for a while. I suspect it’s problematic.
In the context of that gig, in that place, with that audience, I don’t expect anyone was offended. (Maybe the heckler, but I doubt they were in a state of mind to be offended about the particular place this went. They were maybe offended that the audience was laughing at them, if they were even aware enough for that.)
But I think it probably is offensive, objectively. It’s certainly not nice subject matter to joke about. If it were scripted, rather than riffing on a heckle, I’d probably consider it at least a bit cheap and maybe lazy subject matter. Even worse, does it rely on stereotype? Even worser, is it funny because there is truth to the stereotype? (Interesting thought: Is it punching down?? Global superpower; butt of jokes.)
Look at the body language at the end. The audience physically responded to the line. The laugh erupted from them. Some of them doubled over. The answer to the philosophical question of whether a joke can be both offensive and funny is right there.
The joke was obvious but unexpected. An audience member already went there, already introduced the punchline. You think Luke is going a different direction with it, about to make a reference to wholesome childlike innocence, but he jinks and scores.
It was unplanned. I don’t know if it was completely improvised — maybe he’s used that line before, and this seemed a good time to whip it out. But he had the presence of mind to deploy it, perfectly, on the fly.
When I was an improviser fooling around with standup comedy, my goal was to get to a place where I was comfortable enough on stage that I could improvise. Be in the moment, aware, and able to think and adapt. Mostly I was trying to remember the jokes I had written.
This final clip is not at all problematic. Remember the ice bucket challenge? Because of this version our household is using two words a lot more:
(I couldn’t embed it, but turn on your sound and go watch that 15 second clip. 🤣)
Chekhov’s Nightvision Goggles
Despite decades of theatre nerdery, I learned about Chekhov’s Gun from a webcomic. The playwright’s principle is that if you introduce a gun in Act 1, someone needs to fire it before the end of the play.
We watched the Argentinian movie Lighthouse of the Orcas last weekend. In Act 1 the grizzled ranger shows off some of his gadgets to the boy, to try to win his trust. Binoculars. Night vision goggles. Kid tries them on and we get to see what he sees: green shapes glowing out of the darkness.
In Act 3 the kid wanders off into the wilderness. The ranger grabs his stuff, jumps on his horse, and races off to find him as the sun is setting. “Aha!” thinks I. “That’s why they introduced the night vision goggles earlier. So it isn’t weird that he suddenly has fancy tech when he lives in a cabin without a toilet.”
Cut to: Sunrise. Ranger has been out on horseback all night. Now it’s light. He spots the body curled up on the beach. Boy is found. Chekhov shakes his head.
Read / Watch / Listen
[Watch: 80 seconds] This remix of Liz Truss into a rap is wonderful. So creative, and so much work must have gone into it. Lucky it came out early in the month while she was still PM…
[Skim: minutes] Lucy sent me this twitter thread about eel memes.
[Read: 15 minutes] A long read about how DRM (digital rights management) and copyright law have ruined the experience of technology. “If Cuecat's manufacturers had simply skinned their firmware with a thin scrim of DRM, they could have threatened Coupard and Rothwell with prison sentences. The developments in "IP" over the two decades since the Cuecat have conjured up a new body of de facto law that Jay Freeman calls felony contempt of business model.”
[Watch: 14 minutes] Speaking of business model innovation, the new thing in coffee machines is coffee balls (instead of coffee pods).
[Read: 5 minutes] I’m fascinated by AI art generation. This is a fascinating look at how the ambiguity of how the AI works/thinks makes the human ‘prompt engineers’ work/think in strange ways, too. Check this out:
“They noticed the model generating the phrase “Apoploe vesrreaitais” — and when they fed that back to DALL-E 2 as a prompt, it drew birds. Similarly, “Contarra ccetnxniams luryca tanniounons” gets it DALL-E 2 to draw bugs or pests. “Wa ch zod ahaakes rea” produces pictures of seafood. Why? How did the model generate this weird, internal new language? The scientists have no idea, though it seems like some stray artifact of the adversarial nature of the DALL-E 2’s text encoder.”
How amazing is that?
Reminder: Be productive in the next 48 hours or so before the post-US-midterm-elections doom-scrolling begins.
“Troubleshooting is both an art and a science: it requires both a methodical approach and creative leaps.” — Cory Doctorow