Weeknotes #56

in weeknotes

  • A week later and I’m no less frustrated at the pace of the vaccine rollout in Japan. The start of inoculations is now expected to start in mid-February rather than late February (The Mainichi) but I wish it had all begun last month.

  • On the topic of slow rollouts, Matt Yglesias had a provocative piece at the end of January arguing that the public (generally) has been too tolerant of respective governmental responses to COVID-19. It is unfortunately paywalled but the basic idea is that voters are complacent and as much as they say they’re dissatisfied with things, they don’t actually want radical change.

    But something that I think is a little underrated in pan-ideological Frustrated About The Virus Response circles is the extent to which the mass public doesn’t agree with us. The US seems to be doing better than Europe at vaccinations but worse at non-pharmaceutical interventions. But neither has done particularly well at either. And critically, none of the relevant electorates seem particularly upset about it. Aversion to change is triumphing over technological progress.

    I believe this is what kids call ‘right in the feels’. Or they did anyway. I had to look that up on Know Your Meme which probably means it’s no longer what the kids are saying since it’s 2021 and this meme began in 2010 so that a teenager that used it back then is in their mid-twenties.

  • I had thought I’d spend some time this year getting back into Japanese study. Instead, it’s already February and I’m still dividing my time between programming and reading. It’s perhaps appropriate that the project I worked on this week was my long-neglected library, Feedstock.

  • Feedstock is a library for creating RSS feeds from webpages. It’s really just a simpler way to use Nokogiri. You give Feedstock a URL and a list of rules explaining where the information you want is located on the page and it does the rest. I made it back in September 2019 and hadn’t need to touch it much since but needed to make some adjustments to get it to work with Zach Tellman’s list of essays. Once I’d done that, I got the itch to make it work on RSS feeds rather than just webpages. It now does that meaning I can retire Shakushi, an earlier attempt at a library that does something similar.

  • One of the other things I wanted to do this year was restart my intermittent fasting practice. I began again on Friday and have three successful days behind me! Haven’t seen much effect on my weight (which is now up to around 73kg) but fingers crossed.

  • Craig Mod wrote an essay about his membership program that is typically beautiful but the bit that leapt out to me was Mod’s use of the term ‘collimated light’. What a wonderful phrase.

  • On the topic of writing, I read two great pieces this week. The first was Tanner Greer’s devastating essay about the UN and Cambodia. For people who want to believe in liberal interventionism, it’s a bracing reminder of how badly that’s gone.

  • The second was a blog post from 2017 by Adam Wathan. In it, Wathan introduced the Tailwind CSS framework but Wathan doesn’t just say, ‘Hey, here’s my new thing—you use it like this’. He masterfully explains why you should use it. For those who know enough CSS not to be put off by the technical details, it’s worth reading as a tremendous example of written argumentation.

  • Eri and I started watching Netflix’s Erased which is confusingly not the movie nor the anime, both of which are also on Netflix in Japan. We’re only one episode in but I’m already feeling very positive.

  • Remember Air? I was listening to the 1998 album Moon Safari (Apple Music) and what a great record it is. It feels like they perfect downtempo chill-out music right before your ears.

Michael Camilleri @pyrmont