This is a really good defence of RSS as the basis of podcasting

If you’re involved with podcasting, you need to understand this. Without RSS, big companies can start locking up the medium. 

An interesting set of predictions for 2021. If the world shifts its focus from solving the COVID crisis to solving the climate crisis, we might just have a chance as a species.

What can we do to help that happen?

Parole by election

John Naughton on why the US election is consuming his brain, despite the fact he lives in the UK:

Maybe it’s because there’s a possibility that on November 3 something might change in the US, whereas we in the UK are stuck with the worst government in living memory for another four years. So we’re like long-term prisoners serving time and looking enviously over the wall at our fellow-prisoners in the US who might just be paroled on November 4.

This is bleak news: Guardian announces plans to cut 180 jobs. 70 are editorial jobs. Best wishes to my friends and former students working there.

Clare Foges:

Politics can either be a parlour game of ideological point-scoring or it can be the business of meaningful change. To be the latter our politicians must avoid the temptations of descending deeper into the culture wars.

What you need to know about Dominic Cummings

John Naughton:

I’ve been reading Cummings’s blog since long before anyone had ever heard of him. Here’s what I’ve concluded from it… 1. He’s a compulsive autodidact. Nothing wrong with that, but…

As you might imagine, the picture does not get prettier from there onwards. One of the fascinating things about Cummings is that his history and his thinking is there for anyone to read - even if it is rather mutable

Why a vaccine is unlikely in 2020

Don’t hold your breath for a COVID-19 vaccine in 2020:

It is only once researchers have taken the time to understand the context of results that they can start turning them into effective applications or treatments. The real cost of good research is therefore time.

Where is the coronavirus information campaign?

This is a good point in an otherwise rather run-of-the-mill “tutting at the tutters” piece:

It is strange that we are not being bombarded with adverts along the lines of the ‘Get Ready For Brexit’ campaign about what we should be doing and are instead reliant on – often inaccurate – memes being shared over social media.

This is certainly the case in my neck of the woods, and those confusing messages are leading to tension. The lack of clear, central advice means that people are starting to form pro- and anti-online mobs around the issue of driving somewhere to exercise or walk your dogs, for example.

Spectator: The ugliness of coronavirus shaming

A Tory rebellion for the self-employed?

10 Days That Changed Britain:

There is a growing Tory backbench rebellion on the lack of measures aimed at self-employed people. MPs expect Sunak to have to “go further” once again next week to protect the self-employed.

Good. Because we really have been hung out to dry so far.

Supermarket delivery is being overwhelmed

Lewis Dormer:

25% of UK shoppers polled by RetailX have reduced or completely stopped shopping ‘in person at physical stores’ while 5% report a temporary increase

Online grocery deliveries are now fully booked for over two weeks in many parts of the UK. If we’re expecting whole families with symptoms to self-isolate for a fortnight, they’re going to need find ways of upping availability of delivery slots.

This is an absolutely fantastic essay on how fragile the cultural works created on the web have become, through the lens of the late Clive James’s website: Internet Amnesia.

How much more vulnerable is all that creativity locked away in the big social platforms?

This post by Euan Semple, which is an expression of moral relativism (or adjacet to it, at least), feels both elementally true to me - but also a dangerous way to think about one of the things he mentions: Facebook.

It feels, at some level, that it lets the people in charge off the hook.


Podcasting the great outdoors - one of the ways I try to disconnect from work over the weekend.

Spotify is trying to become podcasting’s gatekeeper. We musn’t let them.

Whatever happened to Yahoo’s digital time capsule?

Marie Boran asks if everyone has forgotten about Yahoo’s digital time capsule?:

This was to be opened on the company’s 25th anniversary on March 2nd, 2020, but the webpage looks abandoned; according to the webpage countdown there is still a decade left until the capsule opens.

So much of 90s/00s digital culture is gone. Future historian will lament that we were so careless with the archive of the formative days of our digital culture.

The psychology behind Boris's war on the media

Nick Cohen on why Boris Johnson is so suspicious of the media:

I suspect there is a strong element of projection at play. It is because Johnson was a partisan columnist that he is an enemy of press freedom. He assumes all journalists are like him, and that they will twist, distort and censor accordingly.

Good insight that makes a lot of sense.

Rob Beschizza: Study: Facebook quitters report more life satisfaction, less depression and anxiety

Not a surprise. I nearly joked that it could prove to be the mental health equivalent of smoking - and then realised that was no joke.

Well, this reads like the opening of a horror novel: Inaccessible first-floor Wisbech property for sale for £100

Yes, please: A return to blogs (finally? sort of?)

If you haven’t been paying attention to just how massive the bushfire crisis is in Australia, this set of information and links will open your eyes.

And possibly your bowels.

Oooooh, Matron…

Operio collection by Dead Lotus Couture aims to put latex “in every wardrobe”.

Journalism's Facebook narrative

Dave Winer on journalism’s narrative around Facebook:

Saying online is dangerous is like saying the subway is dangerous. But if you live in New York, you probably want to take the subway. Driving is dangerous. Everything is. Life itself isn’t safe. It’s a mix. You have to learn to discern.

I did not know this:

Why Saying “Namaste” is Culturally Insensitive and NOT Just a Yoga Term.

Biorecycling plastics with enzymes

Carbios' new factory will use enzymes to biorecycle plastic:

In a matter of hours, the enzymes decompose the plastic into the material’s basic building blocks, called monomers, which can then be separated, purified, and used to make new plastic that’s identical to virgin material. Later this year, the company will begin construction on its first demonstration recycling plant.

This sort of innovation could change the whole debate about plastics. Exciting stuff, if it works.

The reason to study Latin

Report: Students Who Take Latin Have Better Chance Of Summoning Demon Later In Life::

“According to our data, children who studied Latin in grade school were far more likely to contact, summon, and then raise a damned soul from the underworld,” said classics department chair Emily Greenwood, adding that students who learned Latin tended to be more adept at chanting ancient incantations, opening up portals, and comprehending Demonic screams.

My old Latin master was also head of the school Christian Union. Makes you think… 🤔😂