Pete Ashton's new newsletter of news


The never ending task of figuring out how best to get my ideas onto the internet and send them to you continues, and this here is the first stab at the latest attempt. In short, it's a roundup of what I've put online in the last couple of weeks and whatever other bits and bobs I feel the need to communicate. Hope you enjoy it!

Status update

Since writing the big autistic burnout post in February (and thanks for the lovely emails, some of which I haven't replied to and I feel really bad about that) I struggled through March and was eventually signed off work with chronic fatigue syndrome in April. The big discovery from this enforced rest was I've actually been suffering from a massive amounts of stress which has effectively sprained my brain and it's going to take a long time to reprogram it.

The good news is things are slowly getting better and, most importantly, I'm very aware of what's going on, unlike similar periods in my 20s, 30s and 40s. I may write about this later as it might be useful to others, but for now I'm just making notes and taking it easy.

Art archiving

While I've been off work, and frankly so very bored, I've been attempting to make sense of the gigabytes of stuff I've stored on Dropbox and various hard drives from the last 20 years, with a focus on slowly updating and revising the Art Pete website. Given I've made no new work since 2021 I've decided to consider that period a coherent whole and flesh out the site with the benefit of hindsight. It's a massive job and I'm in no rush but it's a nice thing to tinker with now and then. I'll link to any major updates in this newsletter.

This month I've mostly been working on the "prelude" stuff before I met Karen Newman and joined Birmingham Open Media, so most of the entries from 2006 to 2013 have been cleaned up. I've also started filling in some gaping holes: for example, there's a new entry for the Created in Birmingham blog where some of you probably first came across my writing.

On the blog

I've written a couple of posts on 72 Pete which I didn't automatically send out to you newsletter subscribers because it just feels kinda weird still? Also I always spot massive typos after I hit publish and I can edit what's in your inbox. So for now I'm publishing web-first and then putting them in the newsletter a few days later.

Peely, twenty years on
This autumn it’ll be the twentieth anniversary of John Peel’s death.
This autumn it'll be the twentieth anniversary of John Peel's death. I thought about that when Steve Albini died this month, thinking it would have a similar effect on me, but of course it didn't because they were different people. Albini made great music, but Peel spoke to me late at night. But still, fucking Albini, taken too soon, fucking Peely, taken too soon.

I don't think many of the younger people know who John Peel was or why he was important. And I actually think that's OK. Peel was not building a personal legacy (like Albini did, whether he liked it or not). Peel's job, his importance, was transient. He was in your headphones, playing you music and telling you about it, and then he was gone. Sure, you can download recordings on those shows, but they miss the point. John Peel could only matter when I was listening to him live on the radio. Once he was no longer doing that it was over. I take comfort in this, because it shows it really really matters.

My prodigious blogging from those glorious pre-Twitter years has fallen victim to site revamps, corrupt backups and general incompetence, but the Internet Archive saved most of it (there wasn't as much internet back then so they have plenty of room for dumb blogs) and I found myself looking up what I wrote at the tender age of 32 when John Peel left us. I think it stands up.

Read on...
Thoughts on Furiosa
There’s something nihilistic about George Miller’s fifth Mad Max movie and it’s got me thinking…
I went to see Furiosa in the cinema this evening. I don't go to the cinema much these days, partly due to the cost (tickets tonight were £18.50, which feels like a lot) but mostly because the cinema doesn't have a pause button and I really struggle to get through a 2+ hour movie without needing a piss. But Fury Road really benefitted from the big screen and big speakers so I dehydrated all afternoon, endured the adverts (seriously, adverts at that price?) and settled in.

Usually I'd go to see a film like this with my peers, say Tom or Jez, 50-something chaps whose formative years were spent consuming the same trash media as myself. But they no longer live in Birmingham and I found myself in the cinema with three friends who are in their 30s. Which didn't seem like a big deal until we came to chat about it on the train home.

Furiosa is a distinctly old fashioned film. It feels a lot like the original Mad Max, or at least I think it does as I haven't that one for a good couple of decades. I'll probably be watching it this week. It's notable that Fury Road didn't make me want to revisit 70s and 80s low-budget action cinema – it was more of a self-contained, self-referential capsule. Furiosa feels like it's referencing loads of stuff, and none of it recent.

Read on...

I've also written about ten thousand words that haven't made it onto the website because, as mentioned above, the stress has broken my brain. But there's some good stuff in there which I hope to pare down to sanity at some point.

I've started linkblogging again at and I'm enjoying it a lot. Linkblogging – pointing at cool stuff on the internet with a bit of commentary – is probably my favourite type of online activity and I really resented when the corporate social media platforms co-opted that activity. But now I'm completely off all social media (including Mastodon) I'm giving it another go.

Here's four links from the last week.

Milky Way photographer of the year 2024

By now you've probably seen a fair few long exposure panoramic shots of Milky Way galaxy stretching across some desert sky and might expect to see more of the same here. You will not see more of the same. Incredible stuff. (via)

20th Anniversary remasters of A Night At The Hip-Hopera and Yoshimi Battles The Hip-Hop Robots

If you were downloading mp3s during the height of the copyright infringing mashup boom you’ll know these albums, perfectly merging hip-hop vocals with Queen and The Flaming Lips. I love these albums so much they’re where my brain goes whenever I hear the intro to the originals. Modern masterpieces that you’ll never hear on Spotify.

Plugin Beachball Success

While updating my art website I recalled seeing Jon Satrom’s “prepared desktop” performance in 2011, and it being quite the transformative moment for me as he takes a seemingly normal MacBook, tries to fix something on it, and descends into a surreal nightmare of glitch.

This is a recording and documentation of a performance at a keynote event a year later and it’s so very good.

For tech CEOs, the dystopia is the point

A concise explanation of why these billionaire weirdos keep trying to build the torment nexus from the classic sci-fi novel Don't Create the Torment Nexus.

What’s the common denominator of Elon Musk’s cybertruck Blade Runner pitch/dystopia and Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse pitch/dystopia? That the presumed user or owner of the product is the protagonist! If you buy a cybertruck, you’ll keep yourself safe from a world on the brink, from replicants, whatever. If you’re in the metaverse, you can be like the guy from Ready Player One; a hero going on all kinds of adventures even if the world at large is collapsing outside the VR helmet — it’s a useful dystopia for marketing what is otherwise an antisocial and cumbersome technology.


Go to for much more.

Meanwhile in composting...

I continue to run The Aerobic Digest, my composting and soil health newsletter, and have recently moved it from Substack (boo!) and folded it into 72 Pete, so everything is hosted by me now and all my subscribers are in one database. Yay!

While this does contain a lot of nerdy composting stuff, I like to start each issue with a diary of what I've been up to on the allotment, so if you enjoy me writing about random whatevers, you may enjoy the first half of them.

There were two issues in May:

The Aerobic Digest 12: Thermo-messo-whatnow?
In this issue, understanding the thermic phases, recording the sounds made by the bugs in the compost heap, and three songs about worms.
The Aerobic Digest 13: Stay out of the sun
A big move of the heaps into the shade begins, and a curious piece of plastic is found.

Rabbit news

Wally and Lavender are well.

That's everything for this issue. I reckon these will come out every two-to-four weeks, depending?

Hope you're doing OK.

Pete Ashton