Starting a Weekly Digest Newsletter

I’m starting a Weekly Digest newsletter tomorrow. The first issue is ready to go. This is a reboot of an idea I had in the middle of last year, but it petered out at the start of August. I’ve decided to start doing it again, but this time as a Twitter Revue email newsletter as well as the blog post. Email newsletters are the new hot thing. What goes around comes around! The blog version will be posted on my site (with RSS feed available), Medium, and LinkedIn. That might change when I see where people are reading it – if anywhere!

I plan to publish a new edition every Saturday. That’s a guarantee – there will only be one email on the Revue Newsletter feed each week. I won’t be spamming anyone who subscribes with loads of emails. 

Each issue will have links and comments (where appropriate) on the things I’ve found interesting in the previous week. The content will be drawn from across news & current affairs, science, technology, any music, films, books I’ve discovered, and more topics that will be included when they pass in front of my radar and I think they are worth including. This first issue has a section of some COVID-19 articles that are worth reading. Hopefully at some point this year there will be no need for that section!. There will also be occasional longer opinion pieces that I will use to talk about subjects in more detail. When I think they are worthwhile.
Hopefully, this Weekly Digest will be useful to some people. It’ll be helpful for me as a way of marshalling my thoughts on topics, as I discovered when doing the blog only version in 2020.

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Favourite Books from 2020

I read 25 books in 2020. Here are my favourites. In no particular order. 

Tools and Weapons book cover
Tools and Weapons
How To Argue With A Racist book cover
How To Argue With A Racist
Entanglement book cover
The Pursuit of William Abbey book cover
The Pursuit Of William Abbey
Beyond Weird book cover
Beyond Weird
We Need New Stories book cover
We Need New Stories
Sweet Harmony book cover
Sweet Harmony

Favourite Podcasts from 2020

Here are the podcasts that I enjoyed the most in 2020.

Sean Carroll's Mindscape Podcast Artwork
Sean Carroll's Mindscape
Curious Cases podcast artwork
The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry
No Such Thing As A Fish podcast artwork
No Such Thing As A Fish
Accidental Tech Podcast artwork
Accidental Tech Podcast
BBC Inside Science podcast artwork
BBC Inside Science
Chemistry in its Element podcast artwork
Chemistry in its Element
Stephen Fry's Seven Deadly Sins Podcast artwork
Stephen Fry's 7 Deadly Sins

Favourite Tracks From 2020

There was a lot of good music released in 2020. The Apple Music playlist embedded below has a list of my favourite 20. I was going to cut it down to a top 10. But it was too hard. So it is a top 20!

Favourite Films from 2020

The pandemic scuppered One Film Per Week in 2020. It was on track until the 29th of February when I saw Pixar’s Onward in the cinema. It was the 11th film I’d seen in a cinema in 2020. Then I did a personal lockdown before it was official. I wasn’t back in the cinema until the 29th of August to see TENET. My final 20202 cinema trip was on the 14th of September to see The Broken Hearts Gallery. Making a total of 13 films seen in the cinema during 2020. Hopefully, vaccination will allow 2021 cinema-going to get back to normal.

From the 13 films seen I’ve picked a top 5 for the year. I think that these 5 would have been on, or very close to a top 10 list.

Little Women film poster
Little Women
Seberg Film poster
Birds Of Prey film poster
Birds Of Prey
Emma film poster
The Broken Hearts Gallery film poster
The Broken Hearts Gallery

2020 Walking Stats

I took 1,937,711 steps in 2020. This equated to 1,086 miles walked in total. Surprisingly these figures were very similar to the 2019 totals. The 2020 data is presented in chart and table forms below.

Steps Taken in 2020
Steps Taken in 2020
Miles Walked in 2020
Miles Walked in 2020
Steps and Miles walked in monthly table
Steps taken and miles walked per month

The return of American fascism

Fascinating article by Sarah Churchwell in The New Statesman on the history of American dalliances with fascism in art and in reality. Some excepts below. But read the whole thing. Its a marvellous piece of writing. 

In June 2020, as millions of Americans protested against systemic racial injustice following the murder of George Floyd – a killing described by many as a modern lynching – the proposal that some military bases be renamed after someone other than white supremacists prompted a tirade from Trump. He tweeted that they were “Monumental and very Powerful Bases”, “Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations” that “have become part of a Great American Heritage”, a “history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom” – in brazen denial of the fact that they had started a war over slavery and lost. Thus for “Winning, Victory, and Freedom”, we must read “losing, defeat, and slavery”, while remembering the importance of the big lie to the Nazi propaganda machine.

Sarah Churchwell

In the 2020 presidential election the cult of the leader has also, for the first time in American history, been codified in the official ­platform of the Republican Party, which promises only to “continue to enthusiastically support the president’s America-first agenda” regardless of what that agenda might be. The Republicans’ current stated allegiance is not to the United States of America, but only to their own “modern Caesar”: in Trump they trust.

Sarah Churchwell

Interesting Stuff – Week 31 2020

Phishing Icon


The Observer had a good series of articles on Facebook and how it influences politics and culture. 

The Guardian reported on proposals to tax over-40’s more to pay for social care in later life. My initial thoughts on this are positive. It seems like a good idea to me. Works in Germany and Japan according to the article. Doesn’t add to burden on younger people, who already have a raw deal with rent and mortgage costs.

Universities have been in silent trouble for a while. COVID-19 may be the tipping point for many. This article in Nature is a good synopsis of the crisis.

Doesn’t look like remote work will end anytime soon in the big tech companies. Google said their staff will be working from home until at least June 2021, as reported by Ars Technica. The same article also outlines long term plans by Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Microsoft to extend remote working. Apple followed them this week. As AppleInsider detailed.

This is fabulous. During the lockdown, an amateur woodworker from Belgium built an electric guitar from scratch using a thick wooden shelf he had to hand. This 26-minute video summarises the build. Well worth 26 minutes of your time.


More information about the Twitter security breach came to light this week. Ars Technica reports on how the attackers used spear-phishing techniques to get access. 

But it turns out that the hackers were teenage amateurs, rather than some sophisticated or state-backed outfit. They have all been arrested and charged. Wired has the details.

On the topic of spear-phishing: it often uses social engineering techniques to get access to peoples data. Here is a short video that shows how easy it is for scammers to get your info over the phone.

Following the poor Intel results last week, and the announcement of more delays to their 7 nm fabrication process, the company announced some changes in senior roles. One notable one was the appointment of Irish engineer Ann Kelleher to lead the processor division.


We will probably never know how life started on Earth. Deep time and plate tectonics recycling the Earth’s crust will have destroyed the evidence. But it was likely via pre-biotic self-organising chemical reactions. New research  summarised in Chemistry World last week shows evidence of some self-replicating molecules showing metabolism. Remarkable stuff. 

It’s been a busy few weeks for Mars exploration. NASA successfully launched its Perseverance rover this week. It follows in the trail of missions from both the UAE and China. Hopefully, they will all get into orbit and land successfully.


This is intriguing. Algoriddim djay Pro AI – Neural Mix music app for iPad. It can extract individual vocal, melody or drum tracks from songs. And allow you to mix in different ones from other sones. Using an AI-based algorithm. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with the DRM protected Apple Music I have. But for non-DRM protected tracks, it is is pretty impressive.

Interesting Stuff – Week 30 2020

Sci-Fi doodles


Neotext – a new Sci-Fi fiction publisher launched this week. Their website has both new short stories, and essays about Sci-Fi and concepts from Sci-Fi. This essay by Adam Roberts on how he defines Sci-Fi is excellent.


A New York Times article with inside details of the group that got access to Twitter admin tools and used it to steal valuable and sought after twitter user names to sell. And how one of the group then sent after popular bitcoins companies and then influential Twitter users to scam Bitcoin from people. It looks like 30+ (twitter updated their estimate) of the users also had their Twitter data downloaded. That has everything in it. Not good.

Intel announced this week that they will miss their targets for their next-generation processors. Before that TSMC disclosed that they were moving to risk estimates for their 3nm chip fabrication processes next year, with full production at this smaller scale targeted for 2020. Remarkable! Apple Insider has details. Apple’s iPhone and iPad chips are made by TSMC using Apple’s designs. Mac’s due this year will also use Apple Silicon fabricated by TSMC.

A selection of essays on the topic of AI and how it will shape our future. Written by leading pundits and experts. Published by The Rockefeller Foundation.

The NHS England COVID-19 contact tracing app has been a shambles from day 1. Sky News has the sorry tale.

The UK National Cybersecurity Centre website has some great information on it. This article on Identity and Access Management is a good starting point if you are looking into the topic.


Apple committed this week to make its supply chain 100% carbon neutral by 2030. Excellent. Where Apple leads, others follow. 

They also published their 2020 Environmental Progress Report.


Tim Hartford, who presents the BBC More or Less radio show and podcast, announced that his latest book will be published in September. It is a layperson’s guide to how statistics and other numerical data is used and abused in everyday life. It’s called How To Make The World Add Up! I’ve preordered it on Apple Books!

I love what Crash Course is doing on YouTube. This week I discovered that they had lined up with Arizona State University to offer a selection of courses. Including this one on Algebra. Bloody marvellous.