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This is INFODUMP 44
And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids

Well this has been a week, hasn't it? Projecting forward from when I sent the letter out last weekend, I was terrified that I was going to be writing this edition under the shadow of four more years of Trump. That certainly doesn't look likely any more. And so now we have some light at the end of the tunnel. Despite all the shit that 2020 has thrown at us, we're heading into 2021 with a glimmer of hope; America is going to re-engage with the world (and with the Paris Climate Accord) and there's going to be a grown-up in charge. That's not going to fix everything, obviously, but a little bit of hope seems like just what we all need right now.

I suspect most of us didn't find it terribly easy to work this week. The combination of the US election dragging on all week, and England entering Lockdown 2 on Thursday seems to have raised anxiety levels and decimated the ability to concentrate. I've been getting by on maybe four hours sleep a night and have been glued to the news during most of my waking hours. At time of writing, Biden is ahead in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada and that should see him on track to become the next President. Which is a relief, because I don't know how the world would stand another four years of an idiotic, narcissistic racist in the White House.

I note as well that our own poundshop brown-shirt, Nigel Farage, is toadying around Washington right now; a useful reminder that the Brexit vote directly preceded and emboldened the Trump election in 2016 and that, even with Trump gone, we still have the calamitous results of that moment of national idiocy waiting to slap us in the face after Christmas.

Anyway... There are people who do political newsletters a lot better than I can, and this section is traditionally reserved for work news, of which there are bits and pieces...

Netflix had a big cull, a "Red Wedding", which has left my project there with no execs. It's tempting, when this happens, to curse one's luck, but really - who is having the worse time here; me, or the execs who just lost their jobs without warning in the midst of a pandemic? I've never quite figured out why Hollywood feels the need for these massacres; I guess it makes people feel powerful.

The more you watch Hollywood, the more it seems like they spend a lot of their time re-enacting scenes from The Godfather to make themselves feel cool. There's a story from a few years back of one of the major agencies, which was moving offices. They told the staff to go over to the new place and check it out; there would be a floor-plan laid out in the lobby showing everyone where their new desks/offices would be. A whole chunk of the agency dutifully wandered over to see where they would be sitting, only to find their names absent from the new plan. When they went back across the road to the old place, they found their belongings in the lobby and security ready to escort them out of the building. They had been fired without warning and this is how the news was broken to them. This story is told like it's something from The Knights Of The Round Table. What it actually is, is a tale of weak management; people too cowardly to fire someone in the room and who instead enact this ludicrous, and cruel, pageant in a pathetic attempt to deify themselves. It's Succession for dummies.

But anyway, the project is now in limbo and it might get snapped up by another Netflix exec, or it may end up elsewhere, or it may cease to exist altogether. For anyone who ever wondered why I work on so many different projects simultaneously, this is the answer; these things happen all too often and it's just no good for the soul to pour everything into one story when it can be so easily decimated.

The exec who brought the show into Netflix, and who now finds himself unemployed, is a good guy and he will find a position somewhere else pretty fast. Hopefully we can find something else to work on together, wherever he ends up. And so the world turns.

The Shadow Over Innsmouth is all but done, and this week I've been checking mixes and looking at marketing materials. It's all looking, and sounding, good, and we're still hoping for a November 19 release...

I finished Station Eleven, which was every bit the book everyone has said it was. I’m interested to read more of Emily St John Mandel’s work, but the pile of books I have to read is already increasing at an alarming rate. Back at the beginning of the first lockdown, I joined Goldsboro Books’ Book Of The Month club AND their science fiction and fantasy club, so I am now receiving books faster than I can read them. I love these clubs, though, for introducing me to books I probably would not have found on my own. I’ve moved on to Alex Pavesi’s “Eight Detectives” now.

I’m also dipping in and out of Joan Didion’s non-fiction collection “Slouching Towards Bethlehem”, after watching the documentary “The Centre Cannot Hold” on Netflix at the weekend. That documentary, made by her nephew Griffin Dunne, is not an easy watch but it is fascinating. I struggle to think of anyone whose non-fiction prose style I admire more than Didion’s.

I am still loving Sorted 3, despite a very brief and unfulfilling dalliance with an App called TickTick for one day this week. Sorted's ability to take all daily tasks and calendar events and auto-schedule them has been a Godsend. Although the feature I have been using most since Tuesday is the ability to pick up important tasks and throw them onto another day. I need to spend some time digging into Sorted and setting up projects properly in there, but I have a very good feeling about this app so far.

One of the reasons I haven't fully dug into Sorted yet is because I have taken to using Notion as a kind of virtual office. I have a "Today" page in Notion, which is comprised of a series of databases dealing with work projects, journals and the INFODUMP newsletter. On any given day, this present me with all the tasks across various jobs which need doing and I can then dive into a specific project on Notion, see what needs to be done and, in the case of something like the newsletter, even just get to work right within the Notion environment. That means that all Sorted has to tell me is that I'm doing an hour on Project X right now, and then I can jump into Notion for the specifics. This may seem like using two apps when one will do, but I think I prefer block out my day in a more general way, project by project, rather than having a long list of micro-tasks to deal with.

As far as my daily journal, scratch pad etc are concerned, I actually really like Notion usability for this stuff. It's pretty easy to move things in and out, so for example, when I'm done with the day's journal, it can be easily copied and pasted into Day One and into Zettlr for archiving.

Speaking of Zettlr, I am also still loving this as a markdown writing app (and the guy who created it was instantly available and super-helpful when I had a technical issue this week). I'm using Zettlr for any text files that need writing (pitches etc) and also for story ideas, which can then be explored and linked together with Obsidian. There's no Zettlr iteration for mobile devices, but I have been able to switch off the "create reference links" option in Ulysses and now that plays perfectly with both Zettlr and Obsidian.

This week, I am determined to get to grips with DEVONagent and with DEVONsphere, both of which I have had for some time and neither of which I really use properly.

Some light reading for you this week:

I became fascinated by this article in Wired, concerning the mystery of a nameless hitchhiker found dead in his tent

Some useful tips in How To Thrive When Everything Feels Terrible

The Atlantic picked an interesting list of comfort movies

For the brainiacs, Aeon published a piece on Hegel and the history of human nature

I also blew the cobwebs off of the INFODUMP blog and wrote this short piece on my relationship with social media.

That's your lot for this week. I'm away to stare at a bunch of numbers that never seem to move until someone tells me that Joe Biden is President...

Fuck it. Send.
Copyright © 2020 Julian Simpson Ltd, All rights reserved.

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