Now

tl;dr this site now has a /now page where you can keep track of what I’m up to right now.


Back in the old days – I mean the old old days – there was this wonderful command called finger where you could look up information about users on a UNIX system1. It would tell you some personal information about the user, like their name and their phone number. But my favourite part about this command was that it would also return the contents of the user’s plan file.

.plan was supposed to be to tell people what you were working on that day, but people eventually turned started using it for other forms of expression. I guess it was an early form of microblogging2.

Looking at the blogs I still read in 2019, there’s a lot of “here are a list of curated links to cool things on the internet” and there’s a lot of “here is an article I have written so I can include it as a ‘publication’ on my linkedin profile”. But there’s not much in terms of personal writing. I never get a real sense of what the person writing the blog is doing, what they’re working on, what they’re reading, what’s bothering them (And before you say “isn’t that what Twitter is for?” I’d ask have you actually seen Twitter these days?) (And don’t get me started on Facebook).

The idea behind a ‘now’ page is to bring back some of that same .plan feeling. From Derek Sivers’s nownownow.com:

Besides answering the common question, “What are you up to these days?”, those who have a now page say it’s a good reminder of their priorities. By publicly showing what you are focused on now, it helps you say no to other requests.

So if you want to see what I’m up to now, you can just go to lowbrowculture.com/now.


  1. I realise the command wasn’t limited to just UNIX systems, but let’s just keep it simple, shall we?
  2. For a great example of someone using the .plan file and watching its use morph over time, check out the John Carmack .plan Archive

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: The Final Rodeo →

I wasn’t fully taken with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (On my letterboxd ranking of Tarantino films, it’s second from bottom), but Priscilla Page makes a pretty great argument for the film, explaining a lot of the smaller details that idiots like me might have missed, such as:

… their front gate opening to him like the pearly gates of heaven as Maurice Jarre’s “Miss Lily Langtry” plays. (When this song plays in The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, the title card reads: “Maybe this isn’t the way it was…it’s the way it should have been.”)

An Elite Athlete's Training Plan →

You don’t necessarily have to train long for this, just smart. This is true for nearly any endurance event, whether it’s a 5K or 100 miles or everyday life. You have to be creative. You have to steal time from the edges of your day, teach yourself to eat on the fly, learn to function on suboptimal sleep, and keep going even when you want to lie down and cry. In other words, just like parenthood.

I’m not an elite athlete, but I am father to two children under 4 and it definitely confirm what this lady is saying - being a parent makes you very good at two things: ruthlessly prioritising and getting comfortable existing at the edges of what most people would consider ‘tolerable living’. I haven’t had an unbroken night of sleep in almost four years. When I finish something for myself, even something as simple as reading a book, it’s because I slowly slowly chipped away at it and it feels like a major accomplishment.

Anyway, this lady’s whole article is terrific and is worth reading.

An Important Update From Chef →

After the previous update by Barry Crist effectively saying “suck it up, losers”, Chef have announced that they would not be renewing their contract with ICE and CBP. More importantly though, it sounds as though they’ll be bringing a moral element to their business decisions from now on. This can only be a good thing.

Five Books →

Ever since the death of The Oyster Review, I’ve been pretty suck for a good source of book recommendations. The Algorithm is good at many things but recommending things that depend on personal tastes and interests is not one of them. Five Books seems like it might be a good replacement though1. It bypasses The Algorithm and asks real live human experts to recommend, as the name implies, five books on a given topic. For example, 5 Sci-Fi books on the future of Europe, or 5 books on The Art of Living.


  1. Come to think of it, could Five Books actually be related to The Oyster Review? “five books” was one of their original features too.

Come to the Edge

Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It’s too high!
COME TO THE EDGE!
And they came,
And he pushed,
And they flew.

– Christopher Logue

In Praise of Food Dad, Nigel Slater →

Ruby Tandoh gets it. Nigel Slater’s Real Food completely changed my relationship to cooking and I have a special place in my heart for his writing.

How to Read More Books in the Golden Age of Content

Okay look, this video kind of goes a little “maybe the real books we read were the friends we made along the way” at the end, but it’s got a wonderful (if slightly obvious/well-trod) set of central messages: make time for more reading and you’ll read more; there’s no ‘canon’, just read widely; enjoy it.

But the thing that really blew my mind was how these enormous, gorgeous book stores are thriving in the 21st Century. Ateneo Gran Splendid was only opened in the year 2000. And the thing I noticed was how they aren’t just places to buy books - they have cafes and bars and patisseries to help you enjoy your time in the space, not just get in and get out as fast as you can.

5 Star Phonies →

In the past few years, I’ve basically given up trusting Amazon reviews. If I’m in the market to buy something, I’ll look for reviews by actual people I trust. thewirecutter hasn’t been 100% successful for me1, but it’s still a lot better than trusting Amazon.


  1. a few people in my office bought their top recommendation for exercise headphones and we saw 100% failure rate within a couple of uses, and saw plenty of people in the comments section reporting the same thing.