Picocosmographia by William Van Hecke

This is the shelf of items and moments I have written thoughts about. You can also see the shelf of everything or the shelves of items by year finished.


Our land has been purified with salt and sake.


Sold the “gaming” club chair we’ve been hoping for over a year to find a new home for. Gave away dozens of Copics, tubes of acrylic paint, bottles of Dr. Martin’s ink, watercolors, oil pastels, et cetera. Contemplated wholesomeness.

What’s Our Problem?

Author: Tim Urban
Finished: 2023-03-26
Started: 2019-09
Status: Read

I agree with most of the points in the book, but spent most of the book frustrated by how the points were made. Given the argument of the whole text, I expected more nuance, complexity, and compassion throughout.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Author: Douglas Adams
Finished: 2023-03-26
Started: 2023-01-10
Status: Read

Rereading this series along with my cousin Steve, after last reading it together in 1992. The theme that emerges for me as an adult reader is the absurd contrast between the overwhelming grandiosity of reality and the idiotic banality of life in it. The book itself is wry and hip, while no character is more than incidentally admirable; from clueless Earthlings to vastly powerful extra-dimensional beings.


Eating at Mendocino Farms with neighbors yesterday; recital and pizza at the park today. Eventful and exciting kid times. Wrist getting much worse. Heart being dumb. USCIS paperwork. Gaming out Tokyo solar power scenarios.


Sent 15 consecutive money transfers to the builder in Japan.


Turning crisis into tropical opportunity. Koikeya chips, Onna no Sono no Hoshi, Toki Asako. Wrist brace and a heap of ibuprofen.


Visited the office and felt its immensity all over again. Took an important phone call that felt symmetrical with one from seven years ago. Got a house timeline and made some major move plans.

韋国日記 10

Finished: 2023-03-15
Started: 2023-02-13
Status: Read

Ikoku Nikki is quickly becoming an emblem of what I want manga to be. Each character is treated with love. Each scene is handled with grace. The entire stack of books exudes poetry and warmth. The message is delivered again and again: the world is hard and absolutely worth it.


First in-person work engagement in three years was wine at the top of a windswept, tree-littered mountain. Tonight’s texture: giving the only like to a calm discussion of the heartfelt comical manga 女の園の星 receiving the Japan Media Arts Festival social impact award.


Revised my translation of Kimi wa Boku no Mono, probably the most pivotal single song of my life. A reasonable palate cleanse after 45 minutes of Everything Everywhere All At Once, which is going to take some trying to get through. And such a cleanse is needed, as I hope to rest reasonably well before my first in-person work function in over three years.


Revamped one of the earliest songs on Dramatickers, Pan Mitsu. I still have vague memories of initially working on this: probably on the night shift at ShopKo HQ, wishing I was back in Tokyo, and struggling with the linguistic resources available to me at the time.

If Loud Aliens Explain Human Earliness, Quiet Aliens Are Also Rare

Author: Robin Hanson, et alii
Finished: 2023-03-13T00:00:11-07:00
Started: 2023-03-11
Status: Read

Mostly glad I read this paper behind the popular grabby aliens model in order to find elements which my disagreement with generates ideas for a fiction project I’m pursuing. Most centrally — I sure do philosophically dislike the principle of mediocrity, and I don’t at all buy that expanding into the galaxy ends up looking like a worthwhile thing to do for advanced civilizations.


Consolidated the identity of my blog, Heta no Yokozuki Sekai 5, into my newsletter, Microcosmographia, since they had gradually become the same thing. The HnS name had a long history across LiveJournal, Vox, Movable Type, Wordpress, and Hugo.


The story idea “ADCE” came to me while playing with the kids and trying to endure illness. Captured as much of it as I could.


The Garden of Eden translated by Dov Greenwood

A translator’s only choice is to have faith in their target language, and thankfully, English is deserving of that faith, its pastiche of root languages lending dozens of options for vocabulary and sentence structure.


Got a Shortcut working to create Picocosmographia entries in one step.


Read a lot of AI doom from Erik Hoel and David Chapman.

A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry: The Nitpicks of Power

Author: Bret Devereaux
Finished: 2023-02-04
Started: 2023-01
Status: Read

This series developed quite a bit my understanding of wanting stories to feel grounded in reality and like they are made of consequences.

The Biggest Ideas in the Universe — Space, Time and Motion

Author: Sean Carroll
Finished: 2023-01-13
Started: 2022-12-05
Status: Read

For decades I’ve been reading physics books that purport to explain the nature of the universe without including inscrutable equations, but that end up requiring the reader to trust that the math undeniably and elegantly leads to this or that conclusion. It came gradually clear that in order to feel the significance of what we know, one really needs to understand the math at least somewhat, not just stories about the math and the people who discovered it. This book is the first of a promised trilogy from Sean Carroll, who was already one of my favorite science explainers. I appreciate his willingness to at least sometimes start from the most fundamental principles of what we know rather than defaulting to telling the historical sequence of who discovered what when and then who later found something more fundamental. The idea of the series is to cater to people who want to make the effort to understand the math, but don’t plan to study it at an academic or professional level. That’s me! After reading this I feel a dramatically deeper understanding of what is going on in the universe than any physics book has ever given me, and understanding the universe is one of my elementary particles of meaning.


Got a new system running that merges my old “Shelf” project, which was easily in its tenth incarnation, most recently as a rickety Python apparatus; and Picocosmographia, this microblogging setup in Hugo. I will mainly write about books and other long-form works, but can also share the occasional bare thought.

The Weird of the White Wolf

Author: Michael Moorcock
Finished: 2022-12-30
Started: 2022-12
Status: Read

Felt the crustiness more prominently in this volume of some of the oldest Elric stories. The iconic imagery, esoteric mythos, and personal significance offset the grim nihilism. It does feel like delving to the primal roots of Elden Ring, Shin Megami Tensei, and of course a thousand D&D campaigns.

The Fortress of the Pearl

Author: Michael Moorcock
Finished: 2022-12
Started: 2022-11
Status: Read

Came back to my almost lifelong aspirations to get into Moorcock, ignited probably around 1989 when I saw my brother’s copy of The Cornelius Chronicles. I had tried once during a college librarygoing stint in 2003, then again upon visiting the prodigious Moorcock section at Powell’s in 2004, and then once again while making my way through Matthew Colville’s back catalog of videos about the history of gaming and geekery in 2021. The new Elric Saga omnibus editions are precisely what I needed to navigate the absurd tangle of titles and revisions. The story itself, being chronologically early but written much later, was refreshingly mature and thoughtful while still having the same surreally hip fantasy aesthetic. The Dream Realms in particular, and Elric’s passage through them, seem to be well-crafted allegories for common thought traps and how to avoid them.

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy

Author: Becky Chambers
Finished: 2022-11
Started: 2022-10-26
Status: Read

I needed something comfortable after the harrowing trek through Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past. This science-feelings story seemed to build upon the argument Graeber puts forth in The Dawn of Everything — namely that human societies are wildly weird and flexible, with no single correct or natural configuration. Reading that primed me to be more willing to believe in the post-gluttony solarpunk utopia it presents, though heck if I know how we might get there peacefully.


Made Picocosmographia. The idea was inspired by sben’s blurt!, and assembled from an apparatus of Shortcuts, Ulysses, Working Copy, Gitlab, Netlify, and Hugo, all on an iPad in bed while sitting up with a kiddo suffering from night terrors.

A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry: Bread, How Did They Make It?

Author: Bret Devereaux
Finished: 2020
Started: 2020
Status: Read

I believe this was my introduction to ACoUP and its delightful blend of accessibility and academic rigor. This marked a renewed interest for me in getting to know the people of history.