Weeknotes #52

in weeknotes

  • So on Wednesday the U.S. Capitol was stormed by a mob of right-wing extremists. It’s concerning to all liberal democracies that this group now seems to comprise a large percentage of the base of the Republican Party. I hope that Donald Trump is impeached and removed for his role in the entire debacle.

  • Why is it spelt ‘Capitol’? Well, according to Wikipedia, the name is an allusion to the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on Capitoline Hill and was used at the insistence of Thomas Jefferson.

  • The week was otherwise pretty uneventful here in Tokyo (Japan Times). A state of emergency was declared but given that it consists primarily of exhortations to stay at home, I’m not sure how effective it will be. I was frustrated to see that the Moderna vaccine isn’t expected to be authorised here until May (the Pfizer vaccine is further along and is likely to roll out in late February).

  • I got through some household cleaning over the weekend. If I were being better at being Japanese, these should have been done before New Year’s Day but at least it was still in the front half of January. The mould that builds up on our windowsills here is kind of crazy. I don’t remember this being an issue in Sydney. Was that because houses were better insulated? Because the climate made mould less of an issue? Because my parents did this kind of cleaning regularly and I, so wrapped up in the concerns of a teenager, just never noticed?

  • I’ve done precious little programming in 2021 and have been wondering whether I should instead spend more of my free time practising my Japanese. I do still have the vague intention to improve my fluency and I’ve been asking myself how that is going to happen without some dedicated study?

  • Matthew Yglesias wrote one of the best political essays I’ve read in some quite some time, ‘Making policy for a low-trust world’. The entire thing is definitely worth your time but the key takeaway is the observation that technocratic policy solutions are, on balance, worse than simple approaches that are easy to understand. The roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines seem like an excellent example but once you start looking around, you see it almost everywhere.

  • I finished season 2 of the Mandalorian. None of the episodes grabbed me in the same way as season 1’s the ‘Prisoner’ (although episode 15’s the ‘Believer’ is close). That said, Season 2’s finale definitely has better pacing than season 1’s so there is that.

  • I was thinking more about Tenet and how its various components relate to their counterparts in other spy movies. To that end, I spent a considerable amount of time listening to the soundtrack to Skyfall (Apple Music) and was struck by the ordering of the pieces on that album. Generally you expect something close to the order in which you hear the pieces in the film and while that’s mostly the case, there are a number of tracks where that’s not true. What explains it? I’m perplexed.

Michael Camilleri @pyrmont