Hey there, merely being-ers. Are you merely being? I'm merely being.
I'm Nat Bennett, and you're reading Mere Being, a newsletter about nothing. It's the newsletter I send once a month to remind you, hey! I'm here! I'm me!
Someday, maybe we will work together. That's what this letter is for. Creating & maintaining that someday.
What have I been working on? Mostly work, and being sick. Lots going on at work that I hope to be able to talk about more soon – but the main thing for me has been updating the application's styling to look better on mobile. It's been fun – lots of learning about the newer parts of the CSS spec, how positioning interacts with the z-axis and so on.
The being sick, though, man– I'd been running too hot and too hard for a couple of weeks and getting sick and having no choice but to sit down and stop going places was almost a relief. Well it was– now it's getting into the third week of a distinctly wet, cthonic kind of cough, and I am rather less relieved.
I think the introvert/extrovert spectrum is mostly hokum, but I do live a "two wolves inside of me" kind of life, where one wolf needs to be alone and one wolf needs to be busy and around people. A lot of my life is wolf wrangling. It's hard to get both wolves happy at the same time. Usually one wolf is a little overextended and the other wolf is a little antsy, and then they switch places for a bit.
Still thinking about the next newsletter. I'm still keeping up ish on the Neovim Newsletter. I need to start thinking about assembling what I've learned and written into some kind of linkable artifact. It's not that I'm bored of the project exactly but I'd like to put the project down for a while and move on to other things.
Maybe I should build a nice website? Where a kind of guide to Neovim configuration can live. I'd like to practice my Tailwind skills some more by laying out a very normal kind of media site. Using Elixir would probably be overkill but that'd be rather nice too, honestly. I haven't been using it at work and I miss it.
Mostly what I miss is not having to think about where to put a particular bit of logic. I can put it near the the edge of the system, doing a calculation right inline where the result is going to be displayed, and then it's a simple matter of extracting a method if I decide it's behavior that really "ought" to live somewhere else, lest it become entangled in a place that's difficult to test.
Whereas with the stack we use at work – Go and Elm – if I put a helper into the frontend to calculate some secondary attribute of the data based on what I got back from the backend, and then it gets a little more complicated and I start thinking hey maybe I should really do this on the server, well, then it's a whole thing to change it to Go and change the API and change the consumer of the API. I dunno, maybe it's not a problem? It's simple enough honestly to write little tests for the data functions and I do that all the time.
Anyway – it's about time to be wrapping up the Neovim letter. I'd like to get that settled, then decide whether I'm going to bring back Simpler Machines (and its comparatively substantial subscriber list!) any time soon.
Our friends the idiot robots
Chat-GPT with DALL3 is here and it turns out that's the interface I was waiting for to get really really into it. A sampling of my... I'm not going to call them "creations." Let's say, results. I have not created these things, but I have proximately caused them.
I got this book, Gâteau, that I've been craving for a while. It's a cookbook with a thesis, which is approximately, "You should make more cakes."
(Plus some things about the practical virtues of French caking – they largely bake things that are much simpler than Americans expect when they hear "French pastry.")
It's got me thinking again about that idea I've had for a few years now where I write a short newsletter that's oriented around doing regular little dinner parties. The newsletter is an excuse to throw parties, the parties are a way to write a newsletter. It would be fun to spend the winter making – maybe every other week? – ten or so cakes out of this book.
We've been watching Downton Abbey. A friend of ours pitched it as "low stakes" which is both true most of the time ("who gets to button Lord Grantham's cufflinks??") and also hilarious ("ah yes, the famously low stakes of World War I")
They do all the standard soap opera tropes, but with a budget and time for the actors to work, so it's great fun– really excellent television. Without spoiling anything, there's a moment in Season 2, Episode 7 where I shouted, "Oh come on!" and since then I've been shouting at the television screen like it's a football game, interspersed with narrating the characters interior monologue like it's MST3K.
Also– MILF Manor. It's – I don't know how to explain it. It's not good and there's something deeply unsavory about watching it – no one deserves to be crying for real on television – but it's got a kind of cultural car crash quality to it. Who are these people who made it? What were they thinking? What kind of society produces such a thing?
In the future I can see this kind of thing being generated entirely by AI. The recycled kind of tropey plots are the point. The point of TV is it delivers manufactured gossip. Now that we live in an industrialized, atomized society, we need far more gossip than our natural lives could produce. TV gives us industrial-scale gossip, at much lower cost to ourselves. The point of reality TV is that it delivers this gossip at a high rate of speed for a low cost. In the future, all of our gossip will be manufactured by computer.