Isolated cells [186]

Greetings from the fireside...

The wine is open and the fire is lit.

How is your weekend looking?


Paris was a blast.

Supporting subscribers read and heard about my time at Grenoble Ecole de Management in Paris last week. But I still had two full days of lecturing and fun after that email hit. A few of you commented on the nudity in my opening image but I’ve no idea who she is.

I love Paris and the international contingency in the class made this visit all the more interesting. I enjoyed the Eurostar trip both ways and hope any changes in our borders maintain some kind of fluidity. But who am I kidding?

As soon as I was home I was back to London for a meeting with fellow Longplayer trustees. Got some exciting projects in the pipes (more below) including some audio based stuff.

A family member is about to qualify as a Humanist Celebrant. She asked me If I would like to help her practice arranging a funeral. My Funeral.

We sat down for a good few hours and I was interviewed as to what I might want. Weirdly I had completely forgotten that I wrote this blog post 10 years ago.

The post ties in pretty well with what I gave her as an option B.

Option A was that I’d quite like to be compressed into a diamond, have all the content I have ever created embedded within the diamond and then somehow dropped into a high Earth orbit.

It might sound infeasible but after mentioning the last point to a guy at my son’s school who works for the ESA building spacecraft he said… “I’ll have an ask around.”

On Thursday I popped into St Neots Museum to see the art of sk172. He paints on his kitchen floor with mostly found and recycled materials.

He names his inspirations as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jean Dubuffet but mainly draws on his continued struggle with mental health and the voices he sometimes hears. Occasionally the metadata hidden in his work hints towards the medications he was taking at the time of creating.

Stuck in a strange limbo he would like more people to know his work, to buy his work, or for it to appear on an LP cover. But due to an underlying paranoia he’d also like to be anonymous.

On other inspirations he told me…

“I like Hip-Hop and Jazz and the obscurity and experimentation that comes from those genres. I let the music come through me. Paintings featuring Jazz players with saxophones or trumpets appear quite regularly in my work. I paint like I'm listening to Jazz and the abstract sounds I hear traverse to the cardboard or canvas.

Also, my favourite author is Philip K. Dick so there's always an underlying Sci-Fi element going on. Sometimes I draw grids in the head to convey the mind and how it is heading in the direction of augmentation and manipulation as Sci-Fi now becomes reality.”

sk172 occasionally takes commissions and is always looking for places to exhibit. You can find some of his work on his Instagram.

Last night I popped into a meeting of the local amateur radio club.

They played a youtube video of a larger more formal meeting for those in the room that didn’t use or have the internet. The rest of the time I managed to find a pocket of passionate CB’ers who defied the snobbery some HAMS express and semi-openly talked about the ‘good old days’ when CB was illegal.

I doubt I will ever be as nerdy and knowledgable as these guys but I hope one day I might be as old.

One guy was trying to explain radio propagation to me and how I had picked the worst time to get back into radio. He explained that although we were at lowest point in a 10 year cycle it could only get better from here. He told me he was really looking forward to 2023 when things will start to pick up again. I did wonder if he might make it to 2023 and asked him how many cycles he had already experienced.

“As a radio operator?” He asked.. “Oh at least six.”

I’ll defiantly head back to the club. I learned so much in the short time I was there. And some of the attendees have more stories to tell than have days left.

On November the 15th in 1971 Intel released the World's first single chip microprocessor, the 4004. And yet here I am experimenting with technology from the 1800’s.

In a world where I can drop multimedia into a template and send it around the globe in the click of a button, I quite like the complicated simplicity of radio. I also like contemplating the long term solar effects on radio propagation. And that something, anything can only get better from here.


Diana smith paints with code.

I really want some of these fictional title movie scenes to grow into actual movies.

In the not too distant future we might be able to commission an AI to make these movies.

Although we still have a little way to go.


Tim Schwartz sent me pre-release download of his book ‘A Public Service - Whistleblowing, Disclosure and Anonymity’.

What an incredibly well researched and well timed book. I’d not be surprised if it sells out on day of release in Washington.

But it’s not just guidance for political disclosures. It shows any potential whistleblower how to safely gather information and communicate with journalists and lawyers. All the while protecting their identity and physical selves from any potential retaliation.

Here’s an illustration from the book.

It’s worth reading for lots of reasons. Even just to be reminded of how much of the tech that surrounds us is spying on our every move. Right down to the technology embedded into your home printer so each page can be tracked backed to that exact machine.

You can pre-order the book here.

Do you read Gia’s Apophenic Haze? It’s one of the few newsletters I read as soon as it hits my inbox. Metamodernism FTW.

I’m interested in the curation of a Longplayer library. A selection of books concerned with longterm thinking and deep time.

I was sent these titles from Michael Morris Co Director of Artangel.

  1. THE CLOCK OF THE LONG NOW - Stewart Brand

  2. NEW DARK AGE - James Bridle

  3. SLOW FOOD NATION - Caro Petrini / Alice Waters

  4. THE ORDER OF TIME - Carlo Rovelli

  5. THE DISPOSSESSED - Ursula le Guin

  6. HELLO WORLD - Hannah Fry

  7. THE PLANET REMADE - Oliver Morton


  9. THE SLOW FIX - Carl Honore

  10. WE ARE THE WEATHER - Jonathan Safran Foer

What are your thoughts? Could you add to this list?


The Field Noise podcast is fresh out. Only one episode and a promo. Worth a listen.

The City of Refuge podcast tells the story of a French community that openly rejected the Nazis and saved 5,000 refugees. Check out the 10 part podcast here.

Thanks to Geo for sharing this exhibition at the MoMA.


As reported in the subscriber email, last week’s experiment in Veganism was a resounding success. Even if Paris made it harder than it should be.

I felt so good in myself during a plant based diet that gorging myself on cheese at the end of the week immediately showed me the other side of things. So bloated, tired and sluggish I decided to dial down the animal products and up the other stuff.

In amongst the things I was worried that I might miss was my occasional flat white. I have now tried one with oat milk and one almond milk and the oat not only wins hands down, I prefer it to standard milk. Especially in places that serve questionable coffee.

On more than one occasion, lunchtime this week has looked a little like this…

A slapdash assembly of avocado, chilli, tomato, vegan cheese, roasted red pepper on either a bagel or rye bread. The spreadable vegan cheese was a pleasant surprise. It’s the first vegan cheese I’ve tasted. I’d defiantly have it again.


Could there be a more featured podcasting app than Backpack Studio for iOS? Probably not. And this week a new version of the beta app arrived. This one enables video creation so you can share your audio in an animated video slideshow with text.

The beta app was pretty buggy to start with but that’s why the beta testers have been sent it. To iron out all the bugs. It’s constantly evolving into what will be an amazing update when it finally hits the App Store.

The app currently in the store allows you to record, mix, and master audio in real time. But these new features will certainly put it even further ahead of the competition. Hypothetically you could also use the slideshow and text function to add subtitles but this would be manual and fiddly. MixCaptions is still the best bet for that. Although it’s expensive.


  • Paypal pulls out of Pornhub.

  • The Voyager Probes are the gifts that keep on giving.

  • You know when a hotel asks for your email address? Give them a Trashmail address and you can set it to expire.

  • Still waiting for those that attended my class to add themselves to the Documentally community map. You can too if you like.

  • Hypothosising on the internet going down. For ever.

  • In their words… Freedom House's programs support human rights and democracy advocates in their efforts to promote open government, defend human rights, strengthen civil society and facilitate the free flow of information and ideas. Check them out at

  • Not dead yet. A miniature deer pops up on a camera trap after it was thought to be extinct.

  • There’s growing evidence that the universe is connected by giant structures.

  • Those of you in the Wire group associated with this email dispatch will know how peeved I am regarding their lack of transparency. There are a few articles highlighting Wire’s move to secure more investment and as a result potentially ostracising those under more serious threat models. I fear there may be an exodus.

    I have had a room on Riot called Documentally for a long time and never used it. I might have a play there till I can find an alternative to Wire. Till then it’s still the most user friendly ‘secure’ messaging app even if it has just lost a sack of credibility with the new connection to the US.

  • On Thursday the 28th of November I will be at the British Library exploring culture change, technology and long term thinking. It’s an event organised by the Longplayer Project of which i’m a trustee. If you are free come and say Hi. I hear there will be drinks. Full details here. If you are quick you can use the code GOLD5 when booking to get a ticket for £5.


If you like what I do here please consider the $5/month or £55/year subscription to get all the content. If you do support you get a shout out as a bonus.

Next week is wide open. So i’ll be reading more books and getting more exercise.

I also hope to record a fat subscribers podcast on the basics of podcasting. I hope that is meta enough for you.

Have a great week and thanks for reading.

Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” ~ Mark Twain

Hope for the sake of it.

See you out there.


Like tears in rain [184]

Greetings from a small room...

Happy Blade Runner Day.

Thankyou for opening this email. You have so many and yet you are here.

And there has been a flurry of new people. Welcome.

I’d also like to thank a couple of old friends who are new supporting subscribers getting all emails and audio... @GiaGia and @JohnPopham. Check out Gia’s latest exhibition here... There’s some background to it here.

And John would be eternally grateful if you would check out his YouTube channel and subscribe.


I looked in my diary this week and was surprised to see the last time I went for a run appears to be the 19th September. Last year. That explains a lot.

We are nowhere near the December slowdown and I’ve been feeling bloated, awkward and overweight. I’m back in my old jeans. I love my old jeans but I preferred it when I could slide them off without undoing them. When a belt was a must till the waistline needed to be folded and I had to go out and buy newer, slimmer, un-lived in jeans.

So rather than punish my now heavy frame with a knee grinding run I thought I try cycling. Not on my Brompton though. The Brompton is for fun. For taking anywhere. Especially the pub. I needed something exercise focused. Something lean, simple and more stable at higher speeds. So I bought myself a road bike.

It takes a bit of getting used to. The last time I rode anything like this it was called a racer. First ride out was just over 9 miles in 38 mins. I’ll be sharing on Strava when I remember. I’m on there as ‘Documentally’ if you want to pity my progress.

The rest of the week was fireworks, the opera (Nutcracker) and ‘Trick or Treating’.

That was fun.

Although I may have traumatised a young kid who came to the door. I doubt he was expecting a hoodied middle aged dude in a respirator wrestling an angry dog who hates tiny zombies.


How was your Halloween?

Considering the size of the sensors I’m always amazed what is possible with phone photos today. Here is some fascinating insight into the current state of computational photography and what our devices do in order to get the shot. The article is also an advert for the app Halide which I haven’t used but have heard good things about.

This is pretty cool. Volume up.

I watched Joker this week. If you haven’t seen it but want to, don’t watch the trailer.

I watched it without expectations. I want to say I really enjoyed it, but it was so dark that feels like a weird thing to say. True but weird. It’s a movie that will stay with me. That I will watch again. Joaquin Phoenix is so good. So good.

There are no heroes here. Just darkness. And a grim retro reality that was beautifully sad and probably too real for some.


There’s a hill near me. Dotted with wind turbines and higher than anything else as far as the eye can see. Living in the flat lands, I try to drive up and over with the CB on. Just to see what might pop up. With the radio set to scan the channels, you can occasionally grab a snippet of conversation.

Earlier this week I was in the car with my 10 year and although it was a mile out of the way we headed home over the hill. For the minute we drove along the brow, the radio crackled into life with the voices of two elderly gentlemen. They were feint and faded in and then out again. All we got before we lost signal was this…

Old man: “….go well?”

Older man: “…….a lady. They gave me a lady.”

Old man: “Really‽”

Older man: Yes everything checked out but I realised I’m 82 years old and that’s the first time a lady has held my testicles.”

My lad asked what they were talking about. I was smiling and shrugged “A trip to the doctors I think.”

Here is a free font inspired by Greta Thunberg’s handwriting.

You can download it here.


If you are a paying subscriber you have access to the supporter only podcast feed where this week I talked about recording for video interviews and my excitement over the newly released Rode NTG5.

Another classic podcast from Jonathan Goldstein. Episode 27 of of Heavyweight entitled ‘Scott’ and the story could be explained in a sentence. I much prefer it as this undulating narrative arc filled with lovely moments.

I have binged the Science Vs podcast this week. At least six episodes if not more. If you have never heard it try this… Science Vs Exercise.

I learn something new in every episode.

What you up to tomorrow?

Do any of you even have a CB or HAM Radio?


A family member once told me of their relief when the doctor reassured them that they were not going to bleed out through their urethra.

Like me all that’d happened was they’d eaten a whole jar of beetroot in a day.

It’s an interesting experiment should you partake. Of course I chose Halloween.

Revolutionise the way you eat eggs.


Lots of ‘things’ this week.

As I mentioned, I bought a bike on eBay. Ebay made me do it.

I saw a notification at breakfast telling me that a bike i’d looked at was nearly up so with seconds to go I put in a bid much lower than the ‘buy it now’ price. I only did it for the adrenalin. There were a few bidding on it and it was still climbing as I hit the button.

I know I’m looking for a bike but I didn’t expect to get this one. I hadn’t looked at the size or where it was.

Luckily it’s the perfect size and was only 40 mins drive away. So for at the price of a meal out, I’m now the proud owner of a single speed Dolan FXE AL.

I’m really enjoying it. I’ve also shed a little weight. Although that might be the five days off alcohol. [I’m making up for it now Cheers!]

For those into bikes it has… Alpina Carbon forks / Aplina headset / Miche Primato Advanced Chainset 49t - 170mm / 18t Shimano freewheel / Halo Areorace track wheelset / Continental Grand Prix 4 seasons tires / Shimano 105 brakes / SRAM S900 Carbon Brake levers / Look Keo 2 Max Pedals which I swapped out / an Alipna seatpost with Charge seat and at time of purchase two water bottle cages. I’ve since swapped one out for this folding bike lock.

And after not enough research on pedals I bought these on

They look and feel great but wow are they sharp. If I do suffer a shin scrape i’ll expect those studs to get to the bone.

My friend Geo Geller and I are planning ways of protecting his 20+ TB documentary archive. He has photos, videos and audio precariously stored on a tower of hard drives. If lost, stolen or corrupted this will mean the loss of the majority of his life’s work.

Ideally I’d like to buy this 2 bay NAS with two of these 10 gig drives in. And for maximum security i’d need two of them. But they are £675 each set up which is a bit much for me to splash out before the end of the year. If you know of any really affordable secure data storage options please let me know.

I’m looking at Wasabi for cloud storage of some archival footage. But attaching the NAS to a computer and using Backblaze is probably a cheaper option. If Backblaze can keep operating at those prices. Seems too cheap to be sustainable.

The arrival of a new phone triggers the hand-me-down cascade as everyone else in the family also gets to update their phone. God knows how long till everything thing is working as it should do. Even though I did the phone to phone transfer there is a lot of re-downloading, encrypted conversation backup and re-entry of two factor security codes.

Obviously a new phone means a new phone case. Nothing complicated. Just something that will hopefully protect it. Lost count of how man times I dropped my iPhoneX.

It’s too early to let you know my thoughts but so far i’m happy. I’ll share some photos into the subscriber email next week.


  • Whenever I want to feel better about my own shoddy internet connection I read about the state of fiber roll out in the US.

  • Modern slavery on the open web.

  • If you are a journalist reporting on some the darker stories around the world check out the They can not only assist you in doing more ethical and thorough reporting of trauma, they can also help you manage the effects when working in those environments.


Thanks for reading. There are some Amazon links in the above text. If you click on them to buy something I may (haven’t for many months) get a voucher.

Also… I think if you hit ‘like’ on this email it does something to an algorithm which might get me noticed by those that occasionally feature Substack writers.

If like me you think the like button messes with our brain chemistry then scream an angry “Nooooo!” when you hit it.

All of this is optional.

Let’s see what happens.

I’ll be sending next weeks email from Paris.

"Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies. We were rolling drunk on petroleum." ~ Kurt Vonnegut

Dance more,

See you out there.


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