Hello again

(Hello! You’re receiving this because at some point you signed up for a newsletter written by me, Jim Ray.)

Near the start of this epoch, way back in March, my friend Ethan Marcotte, the Respondfather himself, wrote a very nice piece about rebuilding his personal website. It’s about the centering nature of work, how it served as a worry stone in a time where there was, indeed, much to worry about. This idea coincided with a longstanding gripe of my own — directed solely at myself — that I’d given up having my own space online and had become beholden to a few big tech platforms.

So over the summer I rebooted an old domain I’d been hanging on to, downloaded most of my old posts from various places, and knocked together a site with Hugo and Netlify, just to test things out. It’s been one of the few things I have full control over right now, which is nice, all things considered. Yesterday, I `git merge`d a design I’d been chipping away at for a while so I can stop being embarrassed about the homely state of affairs. Here it is:


(Feedback is always welcome.)

Having a blog to update feels like a throwback to another era and I have to say, I quite like it. The format is one I’ve stolen from my favorite blogs — links with some commentary, the occasional longer post. There are feeds if you’d prefer to subscribe to those. My plan is to use this newsletter as something like a digest of what’s on the site, once a week or so, so there’s no need to subscribe to both the email and the feed — the choice is yours! I hope you’ll stick around in whatever format you prefer and maybe even tell a friend or two.

Salutations and closings are fraught right now, so: I truly hope you are staying safe and healthy and able to enjoy the holidays, if that’s your thing, or at least looking forward to the end of this … year.

Be well and be kind,


The Digest

The # links to my site for further commentary

A wonderful, long-overdue profile of Ken Layne, the desert oracle.

A poignant piece about families and loss and American Airlines.

You don’t want Mike Isaac covering you — on the disaster of Cyberpunk 2077. #

Stanford hospital screwed up which of their staff would get the vaccine and it’s an indictment of the sad state of healthcare, labor, and government. #

I linked to this post about Simon Willison adding search to his Datasette project mostly because I wanted an excuse to talk about how great Datasette is and why it gives me hope in time when it feels like so much of our data is out of our control. #

JAMstack is a silly name but a cool framework (in the loosest sense of the word) for building websites. Cloudflare is building a platform to make it easy. #

You should subscribe to my friend Anna’s science newsletter.

Key pieces of our national infrastructure were attacked by Russia and it doesn’t seem to have broken through the news of the pandemic and ongoing Trump theatrics. #

Trump’s true believers lost tens of millions of dollars betting he’d win — even after the election. #

I unabashedly love this series in The Times about what’s on celebrity bookshelves.

I remain incensed that the wealthiest nation on earth has so badly handled the pandemic.

Substack, the blogging/newsletter platform that powers this very email, launched a newsreader-like app. #

Covid has exposed a lot of the seams of the world, including the terrible approach to building cities we’ve taken since the turn of the century.

I love what The Tiny News Collective is setting up to accomplish. #

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