Books, Bamboo and Big Ben

No Complaints #168

We had snow this week! My dog enjoyed eating it.


Things to read

“Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, for example, was not heralded as the gospel of modern philosophy it is considered now when the work was first published in the 1780s. In fact, Kant’s philosophical colleagues at the time complained about his impenetrable writing. Johann Shultz, professor of mathematics in Königsberg, wrote that Critique, ‘is even for the greatest part of the academic community just as much as if it were composed exclusively of hieroglyphics.’ He’s got a point.”
Sometimes, even famous people deserve rejection. Email to Pocket.

“‘Happiness,’ Cadfael thinks as he floats on the River Severn, ‘consists in small things, not in great. It is the small things we remember, when time and mortality close in.’ Ellis Peters’s Brother Cadfael series is one of those small, good things. You’d be remiss not to give it a place in your reading life.”
I could not agree more. Email to Pocket.

“In any hypothetical chart of the most popular presets ever, sounds from synthesiser company E-MU Systems would be up there. The excellent website Who Sampled Who notes that sounds from E-Mu’s 1984 wind-chimes birds and streams (loop garden) presets appear on a whopping 98 pop songs. That pesky chirping bird in 808 State’s 1989 acid house-era smash Pacific State is from this preset, as is the keyboard sound in Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda, 25 years later.”
Preset loops are everywhere in music — you’ll recognise all of these. Email to Pocket.

“While you’re coming to terms with the prospect of damaging lives, consider, also, your own motives. Vindictiveness is not a great place to be writing from; are you motivated by the drive to write a great book, or a wish to punish someone or absolve yourself from blame? There’s a danger that in score-settling, you’ll just write a bad book, lacking empathy and imagination. (I think of the first sentence of the author biography in the Penguin Classics editions of Turgenev’s fiction: Turgenev was born in 1818, in the Province of Orel, and suffered in his childhood from a tyrannical mother. Perhaps he did — I don’t know who wrote the bio — but I wonder what his mother would have said.) Before you Burn Those Bridges, I strongly suggest you get multiple opinions from uninvolved parties on whether or not publication is advisable. Don’t just tell these people about the piece — let them read it, in full.”
Interesting thoughts on how to manage the ethical implications of writing about other people’s stories. Email to Pocket.

“The final product was the result of years of tinkering. Freeman visited correctional food shows and ingredient shows and met with four different manufacturers to share his vision. He mixed spices together over and over again in his kitchen before finally arriving at the right combination for his seafood gumbo ramen. ‘It was like when Frankenstein woke up and he went, “It’s alive,” that’s just how I felt,’ he said.”
This man is on a mission to make sure incarcerated people eat better ramen. Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

10 Things That Scare Me is a great, short podcast. Start with Samin Nosrat’s episode.

+ I was on a podcast this week talking about why The Remains of the Day is the best film ever. Don’t @ me.


Things to watch

Such ye olde newsreel joy.

This woman beat the chimes of Big Ben in a race! Read all about her here.

I no longer watch the news, I just watch clips from The Day Today and everything makes a lot more sense now.


Compulsory medieval thingamabob

Under his eye.


The guest gif

See ya.