Weeknotes #54

in weeknotes

  • It’s coming up on a year since I first wrote about COVID-19 in a weeknote. I was hit several times over the past week by feelings of melancholy as I contemplated having ‘lost’ a year. I said back in December that I wasn’t craving meeting other people and while that’s still true, I definitely miss going out.

  • COVID-19 cases in Tokyo continue to be about 1,000 per day. While that has come down from where it was, it’s still a lot higher than where it was back in early November. This tweet also explains that these raw numbers might not be that informative anyway. And a generally available vaccination sounds like it’s at least not happening before May, although that timeline has been disputed (Japan Times).

  • Emma and John have been playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe over the past couple of weeks and while John doesn’t really understand what to do, Emma has become noticeably more adept. Both kids still play with the auto-acceleration and smart-steering features turned on but Emma understands what she’s trying to do. So of course I bought another set of controllers so all four of us could play which we did on Sunday. It was glorious. Buying the Switch was worth it just for this.

  • Speaking of which, why don’t more games on the Switch have analogous features to Mario Kart’s auto-acceleration and smart-steering? I asked if there were other games like this and the answer seems to be basically no. Well, other than New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, which sounds like it might be what I want.

  • I read a lot of great articles this week. First, there was Ben Evans writing about speech and publishing

    The metaphors are appealing, though, because without them, we don’t really know what we think about speech online. It’s a lot easier to say ‘Twitter is a newspaper!’ or ‘get rid of the Nazis!’ than to work out what specifically we want Twitter to do. We spent hundreds of years evolving complex, mostly implicit, social and cultural norms, institutional structures and laws around speech, where speech exists in many different spheres, from a private phone call to a bar to a newspaper. Actual laws in which the government stops you saying things are pretty limited, both in scope and by country, but there are great thickets of custom, ethical standards, convention and peer pressure about what can get onto the front page of a newspaper, the window of a bookshop or the evening news, and indeed what you can and can’t say in a bar.

  • Second was Corey Robin writing back in 2017 about re-grading Republican politicians as they become worse over time:

    Ever since the 2016 presidential election, we’ve been warned against normalizing Trump. That fear of normalization misstates the problem, though. It’s never the immediate present, no matter how bad, that gets normalized — it’s the not-so-distant past. Because judgments of the American experiment obey a strict economy, in which every critique demands an outlay of creed and every censure of the present is paid for with a rehabilitation of the past, any rejection of the now requires a normalization of the then.

  • Third was Peter Beinart on Martin Luther King’s opposition to violence:

    He understood that unless your opposition to violence makes people in power uncomfortable, you’re probably not advocating non-violence at all.

  • I mentioned that we finished the Great British Sewing Bee last week but didn’t say much about series 4 (for reasons that are not interesting we watched it in the following order: 1, 6, 5, 2, 3 and 4). The best part of series 4 was the farewell speech contestant Rumana Lasker Dawood gave when was eliminated (Mail Online):

    I started sewing because I got fed up [with] people telling me how I should dress. There was a time when I started wearing a scarf that I was ashamed of the way I looked. For people who don’t know if they want to sew, I would encourage you to sew because it lets you feel beautiful. It lets you look beautiful.

    After discovering she has a website, I wrote to Rumana saying how affecting that speech had been and she wrote back this week to say thank you for the message. Sometimes the Internet is great.

  • The drums that begin Gorillaz’s ‘Clint Eastwood’ (Apple Music) are amazing, aren’t they?

Michael Camilleri @pyrmont