Wake Up and Fight

Woodie Guthrie’s New Years Resolutions, 1942.

I had a dream the other night that an acquaintance of mine who used to have a blog did a negative review of my innocuous New Years post. In the dream he went on about how putting up that picture of a pupusa just wasn’t “serious.”

This is, of course, a silly anxiety dream. There’s no way this person would ever have complained about any of my posts let alone that one. But this dream crystalized two writing fears of mine: offending people and going off-topic. These fears lead to writer’s block and timid writing. They can also cause you to lose contact with the muses entirely.

To regain some of that muse contact I lost over the pandemic I feel like I need to let go of these fears even if I lose a few readers in the process. Which is itself a ridiculous fear since, if I were chasing clicks, I would have given up long ago.

Almost all of the “urban homesteading” blogs like this one disappeared years ago. That’s the result of many factors. One is the rise of social media, as capital found a way to monetize posting and shift the fruits of that monetization away from creators and towards large companies like Meta (gag) and all the others: Twitter, TikTok, YouTube etc. I’m sorry to say that I bought into the optimism about the internet in the 90s, that we’d all have blogs and disrupt Big Media. That turned out to be a dystopian joke. Now all we have are uncle Bob’s Qanon rants.

Another change happened during the last few years. Concern over “fake news” caused Google to tweak their algorithm such that results from large institutional sources such as The Washington Post, The New York Times etc. are favored over humble blogs like this one. In the golden age of blogging I could expect traffic from posts on niche topics. Now that search traffic has dried up.

And, yet, I still find this blog worthwhile even if traffic has greatly diminished. Root Simple functions both as a diary of sorts and as a way to explore new concepts and ideas. I hope that un-censoring myself will help me get back in touch with the muses. I think that the letting go of the fear of going off topic will actually be the biggest step. Wish me luck and I thank you all for sticking with us over the years.

Weekend Linkages: Christmas!

Well, this certainly does sound like an…unusual Christmas party

Christmas gift ideas from medieval manuscripts

A sensible seeming Twitter thread on where we’re at Covid-wise

Takeover: when the Young Lords took over a hospital in the Bronx

Caffè Shakerato (Italian-Style Shaken Iced Coffee) Recipe

Sonoma County farm strikes black truffle gold after 9 years of waiting

Some very cool trains

Protein Synthesis: an Epic on the Cellular Level!

A Nobel prize winning biochemist explains protein synthesis via a dance and music psychedelic freak out session? Yes, that really happened in the 1971 educational cult film classic Protein Synthesis: an Epic on the Cellular Level!

The film is introduced by Paul Berg, who won the Nobel prize for chemistry in 1980 for his work in recombinant DNA. A staff member with a sense of humor alerted me to this movie while I was a grad student at UCSD. I even got to meet one of Berg’s students who said that he was an amazing teacher always looking for creative ways to visualize science. The director and band leader, Robert Alan Weiss, later married Initiator Factor Two. You can read more background on the film here. And a special thanks goes out to the UCSD library for posting a high quality copy.

Obviously it’s well past time for a Covid-19 and/or vaccine remix of this film since both the virus and the mRNA vaccines work by hijacking the very same protein synthesis mechanism depicted by Berg, Weiss and company.