Eleven years ago this month I started making sourdough bread. I still make two loaves every Sunday I am home. I love everything about it, the process, the feel, the smell, the taste.


This week I added grated extra sharp cheddar to the dough. The kitchen smelled really good when the bread came out of the oven. :-)


Today’s bread has grated cheddar mixed into the dough. The house smells amazing.

Amateurs + AI

The night was cut short when I woke up after three and a half hours of sleep. I read for a while, wrote down a few ideas for Rain Music, and had coffee early, at 0440. At 0700 I left the house to walk.

The act of making music, clothes, art, or even food has a very different, and possibly more beneficial effect on us than simply consuming those things. And yet for a very long time, the attitude of the state toward teaching and funding the arts has been in direct opposition to fostering creativity among the general population. It can often seem that those in power don’t want us to enjoy making things for ourselves -they’d prefer to establish a cultural hierarchy that devalues our amateur efforts and encourages consumption rather than creation. This might sound like I believe there is some vast conspiracy at work, which I don’t, but the situation we find ourselves in is effectively the same as if there were one. The way we are taught about music, and the way it’s socially and economically positioned, affect whether it’s integrated (or not) into our lives, and even what kind of music might come into existence in the future. Capitalism tends toward the creation of passive consumers, and in many was this tendency is counterproductive.

So wrote David Byrne in his book How Music Works.

An Amateur, from the Latin word Amator meaning Lover, is someone who loves to do something that they don’t get paid for. I am an amateur bread baker. Making my own bread for about ten years has given me a greater appreciation for a very well crafted bread from a professional bakery. A professional loaf. Making bread once a week allows me to understand the craft and intelligence that goes into making bread every day. I can marvel at a soft crumb and crunchy crust made with locally sourced flour. I am no longer a passive bread consumer. I am a enthusiastic amateur.

In my mind the above David Byrne quote connects to a podcast I listened to this morning.

But Tchaikovsky’s latest book, “Children of Memory,” ostensibly about crows, read as something very different to me: the best fictional representation I’ve read of what it is like to interact with, and perhaps even be, an artificial intelligence system like ChatGPT.
The Ezra Klein Show: Is A.I. Actually Creative? Are We? on Apple Podcasts


🐈‍💨 is my new emoji proposal for ChatGPT, based on the (already widely mentioned) French pronunciation “chat: j’ai pété” = “cat: I farted”.

It seems to me that a capitalist society doesn’t want to raise smart people, it wants to raise consumers. In a few years AI may well create all of the art, music, and books the consumer could want, and nobody will have to pay royalties to the pesky artists. The biggest galleries/record-companies/publishers will have their own AI and the smaller ones will rent time on available AIs. They will be able to produce unbelievable amounts of content… Perhaps the movie Matrix was right… only, instead of human batteries creating energy for the AI there will be human consumers of AI created content. In the podcast Adrian Tchaikovsky mentions a cartoon of two panels. The first panel shows how humans envisioned the future: a human sits and paints while a robot works. The second panel shows reality: the robot gets to paint and the human works.

I have been thinking about the discussion of personhood for AI. How typically self-centered for our species that a number of humans are already discussing personhood for AI, when systems like ChatGPT were designed to appear as human as possible, while not recognizing alien (to us) intelligences like octopuses or forests.

Bread or Cake

I’m a fan of some of Ireland’s political policies eg they have stopped Subway calling their bread ‘bread’ due to the amount of sugar in it. They instead require it to be called CAKE!
Detritus 680 – Music of Sound

Bread is flour, water, and salt. That’s it. Okay, you can also add love!

A Piece of Bread

After reading A Small Death in Lisbon, which I liked a lot but also found to be rather violent and stressful, I read Murder on the Vine by Camilla Trinchieri, because I knew it would be easy and fun. I learned the Italian expression to be a piece of bread, said about a good person. As a bread baker I endorse this saying, which has so many layers. Bread can be crusty and hard on the outside but soft and squishy on the inside. Bread can be sour and delicious at the same time. Bread lasts a long time and can be eaten with almost anything. It can be depended on.

10 Italian Food Idioms on Bread – Words of Nona:

Essere buono come il pane (to be as good as bread): this idiom is used to describe a caring, loving person with a good heart. Few things are as nice to eat as a well baked piece of bread still warm from the oven; if a person is as good as that, it’s really the best you can get. Another idiom with an equivalent meaning is essere un pezzo di pane (to be a piece of bread).

Speaking of bread, there is a bakery around the corner that is tiny and mighty, the smallest bakery I have ever seen. And yet, far better than most… delicious Pain au Chocolat, great olive sourdough bread, fantastic focaccia, with tomatoes and cheese, or with potato pieces and gorgonzola, or with romesco sauce… A neighborhood that contains a place such as this IS a good neighborhood, just as a person who is a piece of bread is a good person. It’s as simple as that.