Friday, August 27 2021

Quote of the Day

This entire process is controlled entirely by AI who are only programmed to maximize profit. The content doesn’t matter at any point in all of this. No one is plotting the ideological endpoint of the colonization of your attention. No one even knows what you’re looking at.

The algorithm doesn’t understand if posts are political or comedic or left or right or fake or real. It literally just doesn’t know. The only thing it understands is how long people are looking at the screen because that’s where the money comes from and the only thing it was told to do was generate profit. It’s doing it’s job according to the parameters of success we laid out…

We programmed them to be customer obsessed because profit supposedly indicates value, but when you’re being a person instead of a customer, it thinks it’s failing. When you’re engaging in a politics that isn’t as profitable and addictive and online and reductive it feels like its failing and it wants the customer to come back. So the algorithmic solution to this is to turn every aspect of being a person into a customer behavior. Your feelings, your friendship, your love, your politics, your thought, every…fucking everything.

The internet isn’t just entertainment. It’s where we learn our politics, enact relationships, experience friendship, express our fears and our hopes, and that’s customer behavior and it’s being streamlined. Our souls are being streamlined into profitable groups as much as possible. It’s altering us. It’s more complicated than addition. It’s your soul.

*exasperated sigh*

What do you want me to say, bitch?

We programmed the AI to be customer obsessed. So it wants us to behave as customers. Which means consuming reliably, predictably, constantly through their medium. But the medium is also inviting us to be people on it. To engage in politics, in learning, in thought, in feeling and friendship and love. In being.

So–our souls are being streamlined into recommendation holes.

Your soul.

CJ THE X, BO BURNHAM VS. JEFF BEZOS – VIDEO ESSAY

My brain is exploding today

I have too much in it and everything in it is threatening to tip out or mix together and absolutely be forgotten and lost forever. Let’s de-tangle all this and get it out, huh?

Breathe. Ok.


Keyboards keyboards keyboards

Yesterday after 4 days of furious note taking on my computer, my hands started to do the thing they haven’t done for years; my fingers got aching and tingly, so did my palms and the backs of my hands. Do I slam down on the keys too hard? Clearly so. As my plan is to write novels, this is a problem I need to fix now.

So I did some keyboard research, and this is what I found:

  • Keyboards in general are designed for people with regular to large sized hands. At a length of 6.5 inches, my hands are definitely smaller than regular.
  • Hence, ergonomic keyboards often have small-handed people reaching to hit all the keys, which kind of negates a lot of the ergonomic part. Reports on Reddit by small handed people note that some of the most celebrated ergonomic keyboards (the Moonlander, ErgoDox, and Kinesis Advantage 2) did not work for them.
  • Orthogonal keys are keys on a keyboard that are stacked in a straight line instead of staggered like on a regular keyboard. So, for example, Q-A-Z keys are in a straight line above and below each other. I feel like this could possibly help, but I’d have to order a whole keyboard to try it out.
  • There are really not a lot of ergo options for small-handed people.

But I did find a Reddit post with some options, and they seem to be:

Which are all really so far down into custom build-your-own keyboard kits that they are Daunting. For a less DIY solution, the Microsoft Sculpt was a suggestion. But it doesn’t have low-force keys, and I think that is what I need to stop the tingling in my fingers that pretty directly seems to come from pounding my keys all the way down into the floor of the keyboard for hours.

My husband handed me a Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition he had lying around, and I’m typing on that now. It took a bit to get used to over my Apple Magic Keyboard–they are very different animals. Not having to “bottom out” the keys and needing to use only about 60% of the force seem to be helping the tingly sensation in my fingers, but my hands are still sore. These are also linear mechanical keys, and not having any feedback from the key to know I’ve pressed it just far enough to get a letter to appear onscreen is bizarre, and I feel like I’m using a good bit of brainpower trying to regulate my keystrokes. But I don’t have to look down at the keyboard quite as much. Though my hands are all over it. BUT I am using more fingers than I do on my Mac keyboard, possibly because it takes so much force to slam those babies down.

So this will be a less than fun experiment to find what works, and while I’m not looking forward to it, it is necessary.


All the thoughts I’ve thought and words I’ve written and things I’ve watched about Inside, and I only had the barest clue what it was really about

Honestly there are so many whirlpools of thought careening around my head after watching CJ The X’s video essay Bo Burnham vs Jeff Bezos that I am still processing and don’t really have a ton I can articulate yet. Here’s a snapshot:

  • I’m old
  • I’m OLD
  • It’s interesting how intellectually I really started to buy into the idea of building a platform and monetizing but unconsciously could never motivate myself to even take the first step toward actually doing that
  • I’m really glad I never had kids because between this and climate change what have we done omg
  • Is it interesting that the rise of the internet and corporations turning us into transhumance cyborgs for profit pretty much sort of happened at the same time as climate change? Or is that just capitalism hollowing out every single cell of all life everywhere?
  • I need to watch this 16 more times, because I do not gut-level get it, but I’m pretty sure I heart-level get it. And I’m pretty sure that if I want to appeal to the people I want to appeal to in my writing, fully getting it would help
  • ….am I a little sad that I will never be a transhuman cyborg?

My social media plan, revised

Ok so after watching Bo Burnham vs. Jeff Bezos, I’ve re-thought my social media strategy. To say the least. I was contemplating doing little 5 minute essay like things on YouTube about interesting, little-known historical figures as a platform to gather in an audience who might also be interested by my novel which will have little-known history in it. As a way to show people some work of mine while trudging through the novel trenches and not having anything to show to an audience for years.

Nope. That is now not the plan.

The realization is that I don’t really like posting on social media (right now). I don’t feel like I am making any sort of meaningful connection through it, not even with friends and family I’ve known the balance of my life OFF of social media. What I like doing is making these crazy blog posts where I can empty out my brain of all the information I collect like a magpie with shinies and to be able to reflect on some things that I have stumbled upon and enjoy them and make some connections. I really like the fact that there are no comments and that I’m not “interacting” and feel free to say what I think without having to justify any of it to anyone. And I really like the fact that those who don’t care or agree with me can just not be in this little space on the internet.

I’m going to make a Twitter account which will be nothing more than posting links to new entries, so that people can find me on the social media and can chose to click and read the post or not. When I have things to announce, I’ll announce them there.

Eventually I’d like to have a Patreon for any sort of fan interaction. No algorithm, no AI, a closed community of people interacting because they want to. Maybe it’s not the best, but feels more right than performing my life for profit.


My working plan, revised

I also had the thought today–seriously, it’s taken me 3 hours to unwind and layout a morning worth of thoughts that were just collectively melting my brain trying to keep a hold of them–that working in back-to-back sprints might be a little too intense for me. Especially because this Uninhabitable Earth book is maybe the most depressing book I’ve ever read about how we are all no-fixing-it screwed and we just keep getting more screwed every single minute. I’m finding myself completely wiped out after 2-3 hours of reading and note-taking.

But I’m working in sprints, so why do they need to be back-to-back? I want to try 1 sprint every hour of the work day instead. I should still get the same amount of work done, but I’ll be able to process more and relax my tingly (still, even with this fancy gamer keyboard) fingers & hands, and get some of the other things in life done that also plague me. I’d start today, but I had to stay up late watching the video so I slept in then I had to finish the video and whoops there’s my morning gone and then all the info overload and now it’s 2:30, and I’ll be lucky to get 2 sprints in today, because there’s some other things I was going to do this week that I haven’t even started.

So I guess, bye! See you next week….

Monday, August 23 2021

Quote of the Day

You can make time for things that matter, or you can make time for more email.

Joe Pinsker, “The Best Time-Management Advice Is Depressing But Liberating“, The Atlantic

Big badda boom

I was talking with a friend’s parents over lunch this weekend, and they were interested in my novel. We got to talking about “ways to keep people inside,” and volcanoes were mentioned. That would be a very effective way of keeping people inside for a few weeks. I’ve added another research topic to the list.


There really is no such thing as an original thought

The Cognitive Dissonance of America: Writing Through the Terror of Trumpland

Brian Castleberry has come to the exact conclusions I have come to, and is using those conclusions to write a novel, just like I am.

These issues have only further formalized my understanding of what part fiction (the literary genre—not the sort of political fictions I’ve been talking about) can play in this struggle over reality and power. I’ve grown more aware of how people are predominantly shaped by narratives and often by misconceptions, and that we almost always act out of a sense that we’re doing the right thing, no matter how vile. Analyzing the fault lines between what a character thinks they’re doing and the real effect they’re having on others has become central to my process. I’ve come to see history as the missing piece in our culture: we’ve been marketed into a bubble of the present, with only little flashes of nostalgia standing in for history. I feel like fiction has a responsibility, wherever it can, to connect past and present—and to help readers see where progress or its lack have been papered over by political narratives.


I like easy

Hence, Sourdough Brownies.


Fascinating!

Democracy is sentimental: Reason and facts cannot be the basis of political debates and civic life. Love and laughter are the heart of the matter

This essay is almost too much for my brain in some parts–though that could be because my brain is going in a million directions today–but it’s got some amazing gems that I kind of feel define my views on life. Or I would like them to. I would definitely like to find out more, when I’m not about to dive into the middle of a huge project.

If I put a truth serum in your drink, then I have caused you to speak truthfully but I did not convince you to do so using rational persuasion. I circumvented your consent and thus failed to treat you as an agent. Threats of violence, propaganda and advertisements cause us to feel or think things as a way to change our behaviour without giving any reasons for doing so. Feminists used language in unexpected and idiosyncratic ways, and in doing so were able to change how people felt about certain behaviours, rather than convincing them to care through rational persuasion (on their terms). It was to treat their politics like poetry.

Audre Lorde has likewise praised the poetic form as a medium for communicating genuine political insights beyond the confines of public reason. For Lorde, poetry exists outside what can be explained, yet it can communicate genuine political and ethical truths. Poetry can be a valid source of knowledge about ourselves, others and the world, even though what one ‘learns’ from reading a poem might not be fully expressible via reason-based explanation.

According to Fichte, a human’s ‘vocation’ or purpose was not ‘merely to know, but to act’. He believed that self-consciousness or the self was necessarily embodied: its only reality is through action, rather than as an object of reflection or a collection of experiences. Since selves are fully embodied, they are propelled in part by their instinctual nature, or what he referred to as our ‘necessary’ feelings. Fichte thought that humans were driven by their natural feelings into a perpetual striving toward unity or perfection that they would never individually achieve but could ever further approximate as a species.

For Fichte, a self cannot transmit knowledge to another self, because all self-conscious beings must develop knowledge from their feelings. Knowledge was something one does when one develops one’s necessary feelings into publicly communicative insights; knowledge is the process rather than the result. Being in community with others causes us to have feelings and ideas that we then use to develop into knowledge, which means that humans must live alongside other humans in order to know anything.

Fichte understands human embodiment and finitude as a call to action. So long as we can feel and exist in a community with others, then we can learn and continue becoming better versions of ourselves. To think that we could find the truth that would cease our strivings and settle our worries is to deny the necessary limitations of human existence. Though we cannot know whether what we feel is ‘really’ true (because all we know must come from feelings), we contribute to the collective progression of humanity towards perfection through following where our feelings lead us.

It’s time to give up the idea that ‘truth’ is the almighty stop-gap for justification and the hope that reasons will win out if we just find the right ones. Politically transformative work should aim to cause feelings and experiences in one’s adversaries that invite further investigation and reflection. Science, the environment, racial justice – all of these things matter because we care about them. As Nietzsche once mused, the head is merely the intestine of the heart.

Perhaps, then, political disagreements should be approached more like a work of art than a ‘rational’ deliberation, where the success conditions have been set beforehand.

Elizabeth Cantalamessa

Research art

Kim Stanley Robinson: Remembering climate change…a message from the year 2071

This could be helpful for novel research.

Wednesday, July 21 2021

Quote of the Day

It was then that I realized:

Everything comes back to the nervous system.

It all comes down to stress.

What I’m doing with this horse is trauma healing.

The most profound thing I learned in this process is that trauma healing does not start with our minds.

Shelby didn’t have negative thoughts, in the way I understood them anyway.

I couldn’t have a rational conversation with him.

I couldn’t tell him he was safe because that convo didn’t exist in words.

But when we were both present in our biology we were able to communicate on an embodied level.

When it comes to YOUR inner horse (yes, you have one — we all do), you have to speak its language.

Shelby wasn’t able to tell me his story – his life before we met.

I didn’t have a story to work with, to help him process, but I had evidence of trauma that I could help him release on an embodied level.

Sukie Baxter, Put down the checklist and pick up your wand, e-mail newsletter

A little bit of everything all of the time

I cleaned out my e-mail! Not only do I feel great about that, but now I have a slew of links from newletters I was hanging on to because they could have something interesting in them. Here we go….


The Pygmalion Effect: Proving Them Right

Instead, Clever Hans had learned to detect subtle yet consistent nonverbal cues. When someone asked a question, Clever Hans responded to their body language with a degree of accuracy many poker players would envy. For example, when someone asked Clever Hans to make a calculation, he would begin tapping his hoof. Once he reached the correct answer, the questioner would show involuntary signs. Pfungst found that many people tilted their head at this point. Clever Hans would recognize this behavior and stop.

When blinkered or when the questioner did not know the answer, the horse didn’t have a clue. When he couldn’t see the cues, he had no answer. People believed the horse understood them, so they effectively made it possible. Subtle cues in our behavior influence what other people are capable of. The horse was obviously unusually smart, but no one would have known if he hadn’t been given the opportunity to display it. Which raises the question: what unimagined things could we all be capable of if someone simply expected them?

The Pygmalion effect suggests our reality is negotiable and can be manipulated by others—on purpose or by accident. What we achieve, how we think, how we act, and how we perceive our capabilities can be influenced by the expectations of those around us.

Interesting. Is this the part of systemic racism we don’t tend to see and have the worst time quantifying and changing? If you believe someone is capable, wouldn’t you give them every opportunity you could to live up to that potential? But if you don’t believe they are capable, then why expend the resources? Man, people are the worst.


I’m Not Scared to Reenter Society. I’m Just Not Sure I Want To.

I was kind of interested in this article because I have for years been having trouble establishing routines, and I just about got the trick of it during the end of the pandemic. But now with appointments and relationships to tend and nurture, I seem to be losing the thread a bit. But then I started reading the actual article and it seems to just be a reinforcement of that fiction vs YA meme.


How equality slipped away: For 97 per cent of human history, all people had about the same power and access to goods. How did inequality ratchet up?

Since the elites are massively outnumbered, the origins and stability of unequal divisions of the cake are puzzling, especially once we realise that this is a very recent aspect of our social existence. Our particular species of humans has been around for about 300,000 years and, best as we can tell, for about 290,000 of those years we lived materially poorer but much more equal lives. For most of our life as a species, most communities lived as mobile foragers, shifting camps when local resources became scarce, but probably sticking to a regular pattern over a defined territory.

Farming and storage make inequality possible, perhaps even likely, because they tend to undermine sharing norms, establish property rights and the coercion of labour, amplify intercommunal violence, and lead to increases in social scale.

First, let’s consider storage, sharing and property. For mobile foragers, sharing is insurance. Hunting especially is very chancy, requiring both luck and skill, so it’s adaptive to share if you succeed today, on condition that others share with you when you fail. Targeting plants and small animals is more of a sure bet, though in some forager communities even these are shared, as the social rewards of generosity are important, and the social costs of refusing are high since the intimacy of forager camps makes success hard to conceal.

Storage, however, tends to erode sharing. Storing, like sharing, is a way of managing risk, and farmers are more likely to store than to share. Variation in supply within the community is likely to flow from variation in commitment and effort, not differences in luck. Local bad luck – unfavourable weather, a plague of pests – will probably affect everyone in a community, which makes sharing a poor form of insurance. It’s to my advantage to share with you, if my good years are your bad ones, and vice versa (so long, of course, as you return the favour). Not so if we’re both having it tough at the same time, as we have no surplus to share; and not so if we both have good years together, as then we don’t need one another.

Crop farming is also arduous and time-consuming. The returns are low, per hour worked, and no one has ever thought subsistence farmers made affluent societies. Land must be cleared, weeded, protected, improved, sometimes watered. These efforts must be maintained for years, not just months. It would simply be a bad idea for people to commit to these efforts without something like property rights. …

Storage opens the door to coerced labour. Sedentary collectors sometimes keep slaves, but mobile foragers don’t. Foraging, even when it’s not large-game hunting, depends on high levels of autonomy and skill. Foragers spend their time alone, or in groups of three or four, half a day’s walk from camp. Autonomous, small-party searching is essential to the efficient use of territory. As a consequence, the economic challenge of coercive supervision of mobile foraging is insurmountable since you’d need as many guards as slaves.

A farmer’s food supply isn’t as balanced and healthy as forager foods. But there’s certainly more food. An increase in community size matters, for many of the social mechanisms that keep alphas in check in forager communities are scale-dependent. They depend on intimacy and trust.

Bottom line: egalitarian, cooperative human communities are possible. Widespread sharing and consensus decision-making aren’t contrary to ‘human nature’ (whatever that is). Indeed, for most of human history we lived in such societies. But such societies are not inherently stable. These social practices depend on active defence. That active defence failed, given the social technologies available, as societies increased in scale and economic complexity. 

Kim Sterelny

I don’t know if I like this emerging pattern of information about predator and prey that seems to be dropping into my life, but here we are. I have been thinking about what an egalitarian society would actually really look like, so maybe that can’t be considered without solving the predator / prey problem.


Heat Waves and Drought in the Western U.S.

A list of media covering the climate change weather in the West, collated by Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.


Social Media Is Killing Discourse Because It’s Too Much Like TV

This is an older article, and we now know that social media is even more insidious than just the normal not exploitative reasons. But this quote struck me:

Neil Postman provided some clues about this in his illuminating 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show BusinessThe media scholar at New York University saw then how television transformed public discourse into an exchange of volatile emotions that are usually mistaken by pollsters as opinion. One of the scariest outcomes of this transition, Postman wrote, is that television essentially turns all news into disinformation. “Disinformation does not mean false information. It means misleading information—misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information—information that creates the illusion of knowing something but which in fact leads one away from knowing … The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining.” (Emphasis added.) And, Postman argued, when news is constructed as a form of entertainment, it inevitably loses its function for a healthy democracy. “I am saying something far more serious than that we are being deprived of authentic information. I am saying we are losing our sense of what it means to be well informed. Ignorance is always correctable. But what shall we do if we take ignorance to be knowledge?”


The clever folds that kept letters secret

I feel like this article might be useful someday. Or it won’t.


Sixty years of climate change warnings: the signs that were missed (and ignored)

This is long and I’ll want to read it some day that is not today.

Monday, July 19 2021

Quote of the Day

And do you know what? I truly don’t care which of them is right so long as it fixes everything. I don’t have an…an ideology. I don’t know the right terms to discuss these things. I don’t know the science behind any of it. I’m sure I sound silly right now. But I just want everyone to get along, and to be well taken care of. That’s it. I want everybody to be happy, and I do not care how we get there.

Becky Chambers, The Galaxy, And The Ground Within

Essay+

Even though I was of course convinced on Wednesday that my rough draft was perfect and possibly divinely inspired, three days later I thought about a new section I could add that might make it “better.” Anyway, I thought about Daryl Davis and how his actions could back up my conclusion nicely.

And then this article “Recognising our common humanity might not be enough to prevent hatred” could make the whole premise of my essay blow up in my face, so maybe I should give that a read. Or, you know, not.


I swear to God

I was asked about praying today by a friend, if you can pray and not believe in a god. My soon-to-be chaplain friend mentioned this book, and it seems super interesting: Anne Lamott Distills Prayer Into ‘Help, Thanks, Wow’.


I want to try new things that sound tasty

Sourdough Zucchini Bread

Vegan coconut cream berry parfaits


Chestnuts–another nice thing America apparently can’t have

What it Takes to Bring Back the Near Mythical American Chestnut Trees

Mature American chestnuts have been virtually extinct for decades. The tree’s demise started with something called ink disease in the early 1800s, which steadily killed chestnut in the southern portion of its range. The final blow happened at the turn of the 20th century when a disease called chestnut blight swept through Eastern forests.

The disappearance of the chestnut launched a profound change in the structure and composition of eastern forests.

The good news is that there is an effort to try to restore American chestnut trees. I guess they taste the best? I’ve never tasted any kind of chestnuts before.

If I want to try any sort of chestnuts, here are some options:

Urban Foraging: Chestnuts

Buy Fresh Chestnuts Online

Friday, July 16 2021

Quote of the Day

Roveg was nothing if not a champion of playing one’s own tune, but there were some areas in which individuality stopped being a virtue and became more of a game of chance.

Becky Chambers, The Galaxy, and the Ground Within

Really, it’s Friday, I don’t have much

I haven’t been delving into all the things the last couple days. So here’s a few things that looked interesting-ish.

Umberto Eco Makes a List of the 14 Common Features of Fascism – Who doesn’t love some Umberto Eco wisdom?

Steam Deck – Nifty

Dr. King’s policy was, if you are nonviolent, if you suffer, your opponent will see your suffering and will be moved to change his heart. That’s very good. He only made one fallacious assumption. In order for nonviolence to work, your opponent must have a conscience. The United States has none.

Kwame Ture

Man, I am struggling with this fact, a very lot. This goes back to my conversation about predators and prey, and realizing there are some people that have 0 interest in the lives of other humans. Can common ground wrestle with this?

What Everyone Gets Wrong About “Critical Race Theory” – I didn’t really know what CRT was exactly either, and this video brings out some of the finer points about both the pseudo political arguments around the idea and the actual arguments within the CRT academic community.

Authoritarian Neoliberalism and the Shadow of Democracy – I bet if you made a big chart listing out actual policies moderate Democrats and Republicans would support, they would be pretty darn similar.

Carl Sagan Predicted the Mess 2021 Would be 25 Years Ago – yikes.

Should You Abandon Social Media?

  • OMG, stop attacking _ poor _ cows. “What people are seeing in the American West is not over-grazing; it’s improper grazing. It mostly has to do with allowing the cattle to be too dispersed and not tightly managing them, or moving them frequently enough. In 1800, there were 70 million bison on the land. Our whole global ecosystem evolved with these enormous herds.” <—- THAT
  • But everything else Hank is saying here ABSOLUTELY YES. “…is to say what actions make this better. Not ‘how do we stop doing this’ but ‘how do we do it differently.'”

Wednesday, July 14 2021

Quote of the Day

If you think letting [spoiler] die is a failure–but all the times you supported him are meaningless–then no wonder it always hurts. Instead, if you think of how lucky you both were to be able to help each other when you were together, well, it looks a lot nicer, doesn’t it?

Brandon Sanderson, Rhythm of War

Information Sminformation

Facts Don’t Win Fights: Here’s How to Cut Through Confirmation Bias | Tali Sharot | Big Think

I’m working on an essay inspired by starting to research my novel and having a number of ideas come together. This subject is one of the main points in it, so when YouTube randomly surfed it up to me (seriously, does their algorithm log my keystrokes somehow?!) I thought it would be a good watch.

Information doesn’t take into account what makes us human, which is our emotions, our desires, our motives, and our prior beliefs.

Tali Sharot

So this is a study that was conducted at UCLA where what they wanted to do was convince parents to vaccinate their kids. And some of the parents didn’t want to vaccinate their kids because they were afraid of the link with autism. So they had two approaches. First they said, “Well, the link with autism is actually not real. Here’s all the data suggesting there isn’t a link between vaccines and autism.” And it didn’t really work that well. But instead they used another approach. So instead of going that way they used another approach, which was: let’s not talk about autism. We don’t necessarily need to talk about autism to convince you to vaccinate your kids. Instead they said, “Well, look, these vaccines protect kids from deadly diseases, from the measles.” And they showed them pictures of what the measles are. Because in this argument about vaccines, people actually forgot what the vaccines are for, what are they protecting us from. And they highlighted that and didn’t necessarily go on to talk about autism. And that had a much better outcome…So the lesson here is we need to find the common motive.

Tali Sharot

And just for contrast, the far less scientific but just as truthful observation about confirmation bias: Trust in media is a matter of ‘factpinion’

To that end, allow me to state unequivocally that the level of trust the American people have in the news media has never been higher. In fact, a vast majority of people believe journalists are both smart and exceptionally attractive.

The lyin’ AP’s alleged study also found that people are more likely to rely on news that “cites expert sources or documents.” No problem.

According to a survey I just wrote in crayon on the inside cover of a book next to the chair I’m sitting in, a full 97 percent of Americans describe the news media as “Most. Trustworthy. Ever.” Equally impressive, a full 103 percent of respondents say this survey was the most accurate they have ever taken and “you should believe it because it’s really, really true — seriously.”

(The survey had a margin of error of “+/- kiss my butt.”)

So there you have it — the lyin’ AP’s egregious act of yellow journalism has been fully debunked, at least in my factpinion.

So go ahead and trust the news media.

Or don’t trust the news media.

The truth is that in a world replete with information, people are finding whatever truths they want to believe.

And that renders trust a bygone emotion. At least according to my survey.

Rex Huppke, Chicago Tribune

Gaming is a thing you can do for fun

Microsoft Calls For An End To ‘Git Gud’

It was probably about four years ago that one of gaming’s most tiresome, festering corners was at its peak. The “Git Gud” crowd furiously policed the internet, looking for any and all signs of gaming weakness, and swifty punished it with pile-ons and abhorrently personal abuse. As Dark Souls III was at its peak of popularity, and every other game was attempting to ride in FromSoftware’s wake, along came Cuphead, and we entered a perfect storm of gamer douchebaggery.

I experienced the frankly baffling force of this fury on plenty of occasions, but never more than when I published an article on jaunty Kotaku tribute site Rock Paper ShotgunCalling for a button that allowed players to skip boss fights, this rather innocent suggestion that the whole of a game should be accessible to those who’d bought it was met with all manner of suggestions of how I should kill myself, how I was proof of the demise of games journalism, and of course how I must “git gud.” In other words, it was a coordinated torrent of panic from scared little boys whose only source of pride was being threatened by my suggestion.

John Walker, Kotaku

I don’t know that Microsoft deciding to take what sounds like a completely uncontroversial stance is exactly news, but as a person that loves games way more for the stories and way less for how fast I can press buttons in the right order, it’s at least a refreshing angle. There’re plenty of games I would have liked to finish to see where the story went that I simply can’t. BattleBlock Theater was a hilarious game I was fully enjoying until the levels just got too twitchy and my old person hand-eye coordination just wasn’t up to snuff after a good 20 levels, so I never got to learn what happened. Cheat codes for all!

Also the fact that this game exists is both amazing and ridiculous. It looks so satisfying I might need to buy it: PowerWash Simulator


I told you so

I hate lawns. Not necessarily in some park settings, but in yards I think they are the worst. Very few people get out a blanket and sit on the lawn behind (or in front of) their house. Why would you do that when for a bazillion times less water, lawn equipment, and upkeep you could make a lovely patio in-between some trees and/or under a canopy or pergola with nice comfy lounge chairs, tables for holding drinks and snacks, and even some raised beds or potted plants if you are feeling ambitious. Then you could enjoy your outdoors, instead of alternating between staring at it from inside the house, mowing it, or forgetting it even exists (until it’s time to mow it again). You could grow fragrant herb gardens instead, or even vegetable gardens! Plant a million native wildflowers and attract all the pollinators (of the insect and bird varieties). Plant amazingly beautiful decorative grasses. Plant trees to give you shade and birds and squirrels and the sound of the wind rustling through their leaves in spring and summer. Trellis vines of jasmine and morning glories and passion vines and make arches of colorful, wonderful smelling joy. Plant fucking anything other than a boring useless ugly time-and-money sucking lawn.

Seriously, lawns are the worst.

And I am vindicated! Yards with less grass and more plants help fight climate change

Hostetler said manicured lawns are “better than cement . . .(but) ecologically horrible.” Cutting the grass, he explained, rereleases the carbon that was stored in the clippings and halts the growth of other plants that may be coming in. The emissions from mowers, fertilizers, water and other types of lawn care further offset environmental gains.


Meme

Is me.

Tuesday, July 6 2021

Quote of the Day

“It was war,” Rlain said.

“Is that an excuse?” she asked.

“An explanation,” Teft said.

“One used to explain too much,” Syl said, wrapping her arms around herself and growing smaller than usual. “It’s war, you say. Nothing to be done about it. You act like it’s as inevitable as the sun and storms. But it’s not. You don’t have to kill each other.”

Brandon Sanderson, Rhythm of War

Teeheehee

I mean. Not wrong!

Billionaires might be voted off the planet metaphorically, but really they are still stuck here

I find this oddly comforting.

This thread is great, and makes perfect sense that the rich can’t all just go on a cruise to Fhloston Paradise while we stay here and fight over water, because SF is still make believe, even if media often feels more real than life.

What I do wonder is….do they get that? The billionaires?


It’s not all about people like you…

Still loving what Brandon Sanderson is doing with representation in this latest novel:

But feel your own body changing you into someone else, and not be able to stop it?

Every human being lived with a terrible terror, and they all ignored it. Their own bodies mutated, and elongated, and started bleeding, and became all wrong. Nobody talked about it? Nobody was scared of it? What was wrong with them?

Rhythm of War

He’s talking about what these experiences feel like, not making them the staging horse of his story. How to write about characters with all different circumstances when you’re not a member of their community: don’t make it the focus of your story. Make it the experience of your characters. 


…and not everyone is like you

My trip last weekend brought me a number of thoughts, and one of them was this: there are people who don’t want to learn anything new about the world, and who aren’t interested in understanding what life is like for others. They still want to learn new things, but they select things to learn that just elaborate on the details of what they know to be true per their already-formulated worldview.

I’ve been surrounding myself with people who are truly interested in finding out new things about how the world works for so long that I forgot the other kind was even out there. How can you be completely uninterested in the way people other than you move through, experience, and participate in the world?

(I mean, there’s an obvious answer: because their worldview changing means their identity needs to change with that, and most people have a literal death-grip on their identity. I say that knowing the thing but being completely unable to identify with it.)

But I find it…..terrifying? I want to write to change minds. But for there to even be the smallest chance of that, someone has to be willing to pick up the book and open it first. I’ve never really stopped to think that maybe no one will ever read my work. That’s not quite right. I have, but in the context of them not liking it, or it not being something they are interested in, or it not resonating. I haven’t thought about that in the context of, you might challenge my preconceived notions a little, so hard pass. Those are the people I need to speak to! Or want to speak to? But are they?

How do you wake up Sleeping Beauty in the age of doomsday preppers and enthusiastic consent?


What is there time left for? Seriously.

We’re Screwed. How to unscrew. By Jessica Wildfire

And yet, look at what’s going on. We’re in the middle of another global surge in a pandemic, with a virus that continues to mutate. It’s 118 degrees in the Arctic circle. Entire towns are going up in smoke. Amidst all this, your boss is telling you it’s time to get back to the office. Gotta keep cranking out those sprockets. Gotta keep Karen happy. Gotta keep saving for that retirement, even if money is worthless by then.

I like how Jessica writes about individual and collective action. I don’t agree with the stop eating beef argument. But that’s all really beside the point. I’ve been listening to Bo Burnham on repeat for weeks, and while he doesn’t at all sugar coat it (“20,000 years of this, 7 more to go“), reading Jessica’s article really makes me wonder: I want to write a novel to share my view, to make people think, to maybe change some minds. Is there honestly time for that? If it takes 2 years to write 1 novel–is that too late? Will we have space for anything beyond survival to think about by then? How long until no one’s even going to be able to read my magnum opus e-book? What are we content makers all doing, actually? Arts and crafts on the Titanic?

So do I dig deep into solar punk and churn out as many visions of a workable future as I can, hoping a couple of them are more useful than SF visions of luxury space liners that have billionaires convinced some select few can just go live on Mars when The End Comes? Do I do nothing except learn to farm and hunt and trap because civilization is going to collapse in 10 years? Do I forget changing anyone’s anything and go work for a climate change non-profit or something?

Of course there’s no right answer. But I need to pick something and stick to it, right? Existential crises are really a lot less existential these days….