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2023 review

As with last year, I'm not feeling this but also it would annoy me to drop the habit. So here's a late, half-arsed review. At least I'll find out what I did.


This went pretty well in the first half of the year. I fixed some broken things in my Ghost installation and continued to produce posts at a slowish but steady rate. Looking back my favourites are probably Great big examples, on when a big example is better than a small one, and Haugeland on digitality, on an interesting paper about what makes digital things digital.

Other decent ones: Swallows and Amazons and objects, rectangles bad, Foot massage roller as expansion cue.

Then my interest in the notebook crashed when I restarted the newsletter. I still like this format and want to go back to it, but I need to spin up more writing energy than I currently have.


I suddenly had an urge to start up the old Substack newsletter again. The first three posts get pretty into the weeds on specific physics things I've been thinking about, then the most recent two, on Smolin's The Trouble with Physics and Mermin's Boojums all the way through, are more readable for someone who isn't me.

I'm enjoying writing these, but something is still a bit off with how I'm doing it. Monthly writing is not quite frequent enough to be habit-forming, so I normally sit down at the end of the month and I've forgotten how to do it. On the other hand, monthly is exactly the right schedule for accumulating new things to write about. It would be good if I got into posting on the notebook in between, or something, but haven't found a habit that works yet.


This is actually going well and I seem to be regaining my interest in a more stable way.

Early on in the year I had a phase of learning about causal inference (not exactly physics, but still goes under this category in my head). This didn't produce anything very concrete apart from a half-baked notebook post, but I did get more intuition for things that confused me before.

Then I was back to my usual qubit phase space stuff. It's slow going but I've had a few new ideas and feel like I'm at least moving forward.


Here's the list of everything I can remember:

  • Ransome – Pigeon Post, The Picts and the Martyrs, We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea
  • Wardale - In Search of Swallows and Amazons
  • Newport – Digital Minimalism
  • Bhatti et al - Docs for Developers
  • Bayles and Orland – Art and Fear
  • Price – Unmasking Autism
  • Abram – The Spell of the Sensuous
  • McCulloch – Because Internet
  • Fitzpatrick – Write Useful Books
  • Wight – Unsouled, Soulsmith
  • Tift – Already Free
  • Stratton-Porter – A Girl of the Limberlost
  • Enright – Gone-Away Lake, Return to Gone-Away
  • Crawford – Shop Class as Soulcraft
  • Duane – So You Want to Be a Wizard
  • Smolin –The Trouble with Physics
  • Bondi – Relativity and Common Sense
  • Awbery – Open Awareness
  • Hughes – Tom Brown's School Days

and parts of:

  • Mermin – Boojums All The Way Through
  • Pais – Subtle is the Lord
  • Lowes – The Road to Xanadu
  • Epstein – Visualizing Relativity
  • Kipling – Puck of Pook’s Hill
  • Deutsch – The Beginning of Infinity
  • Goffman – The Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life
  • McLuhan - Understanding Media

I guess the main themes this year are "reorienting to physics" and "old children's books".