Monday, September 20 2021

Quote of the Day

You need a new hobby, Rachel. Something other than nasty little men with visions of world domination. 

Kim Harrison, Pale Demon

Omega-3 fats are really really great

So my nutritionist says. And mine seem to be low. I eat seafood, but apparently not enough. I was cooking with walnut oil for a while, because that is supposed to be a good source of omega-3s. But there are types, my friends. There are types.

Why The Omega-3s In Walnuts Are Not The Same As The Ones In Fish And Algae

And I just bought a whole new bottle of walnut oil. Sigh.

Downgraded humans

This phrase is astounding.

The result of all this is what Harris calls “human downgrading”: A decade of evidence now suggests that digital tech is eroding our attention, which is eroding our moral attention, which is eroding our empathy.

 Sigal Samuel, It’s hard to be a moral person. Technology is making it harder.,

There aren’t exactly any big surprises in this article, but I’ve noticed the lack of empathy out in the Real World, not just online. It’s…interesting knowing it is partly technology to blame.

Starting to find the ways

I stumbled over the idea of solarpunk a number of years ago, and it intrigued me because while I had loved cyberpunk in the 90s, watching the present turn into the future of cyberpunk was a lot less fun in reality than in novels. I was annoyed that sci-fi wasn’t moving beyond cyberpunk to the next vision for most of the 2000s. A couple years ago I heard of solarpunk, and realized that finally, we had.

I know I want to write about hope mostly because I’m sick of despair. Also despair is about as motivating as a traffic jam. We need to be moved to act, I feel, not moved to give up. But that was just me appreciating the idea of solarpunk, not really trying to be in it to write about it.

Now I’m trying to be in it to write about it. And I found these things:

From Afrofuturism to ecotopia: A climate-fiction glossary

Is Becky Chambers the Ultimate Hope for Science Fiction?

The more we talk about tea, the more Chambers and I realize we’re circling a fundamental truth about the genre: Tea—cross-cultural and civilizing; steeped in historical trade; revealing, in the leaves it leaves behind, of possible futures—might be the most science-fictional of all beverages. Long before Star Trek’s Captain Picard asked for “tea, Earl Grey, hot,” the Infinite Improbability Drive in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was being powered, Douglas Adams wrote, by “a fresh cup of really hot tea.” More recently, there’s Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta, about a tea master in a water-scarce dystopia, and novellas like The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard. Ann Leckie made tea, its rituals and its trade, central to her Imperial Radch books, one of the more important trilogies in modern times. Even Yoda, in swampy exile, enjoys steaming mugs of things. As does Baby Yoda, his serene sippingmemorialized in a thousand memes.

Dreamforge: A Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

A few of what I’m sure will be many more….

Tuesday, September 7 2021

Quote of the Day

If you have made it this far, you are a brave reader.

David Wallace-Wells, The Uninhabitable Earth


If a man attacks you, would you rather have the man next to you step up and defend you, or would you rather that the first man never attacked?

I’ve been thinking about this a bit after a scene in the book I was reading. My instant thought to the guy jumping in front of the gal when she was threatened was pretty warm and fuzzy. It made me like the character more. But wouldn’t it be better that no one at all leaps to violence? Society and gender roles are the absolute worst.

You could wear a little witch

Autumn Witches Resin Bracelet

It’s so cute!

I’m so glad the billionaire and his investors are going to Save Us All With Equality

The City of Telosa

What could go wrong? I mean, if it works out, great. I have doubts. Many of them circling around the fact that this billionaire Really Wants Everyone To Know How Awesome He Is For Making America Great Again! I’m quite sure he will at the very least require a statue built to him, because we all need to know who this is really about.

I am terrible. I’d love to live there, if it were real, and if it weren’t Yet Another Way for rich people to abscond from society with all the cool stuff.

Maybe this is the prescription everyone needs

In Brussels, Doctors Are Literally Prescribing People Trips to Museums to Help Them Cope With Pandemic-Related Stress

Half of me wants to be sympathetic to people with Real Problems that actually need Dealing With during the pandemic. The other half would like to take this opportunity to whine. To whine about how I have serially managed to accomplish 0 things in my life beyond making sure I have food and shelter and am relatively empathic towards others. Climate change is coming, the world is an unjust colonizer capitalist hellscape, and really the only things I’ve proven myself good at are listening, home baking, errands, and reading fast. What the f am I actually doing with my life? It would have been nice if someone had just told me that getting into college was the last accolade I would ever, ever get. Maybe then I wouldn’t have taken that accomplishment as some sort of stepping stone toward fulfilling my potential, and 25 years later I wouldn’t feel like I’ve let down myself and everyone I’ve ever met!

Maybe a museum isn’t quite enough.

I could bake! Once Covid is less awful

I had no idea King Arthur had an outpost running classes in the PNW.

Baking School Class Calendar

That’s something to look forward to, anyhow.

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.


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….

Wednesday, August 25 2021

Quote of the Day

The zoos are already natural history museums, the children’s books already out of date.



A video popped up on my YouTube feed about Arcosanti, an experimental town north of Phoenix.

America’s Experimental City – Arcosanti

It’s rather fascinating to watch what happens when the idea of utopia as conceptualized by a single person manifests itself into the real world. In this case, only about a quarter of the original plan was built, and only a handful of people live there instead of the thousands planned for. The Italian architect who envisioned this place was a master and also accused of sexual assault. Some people who live there now consider the place done as-is, while others want to continue to build toward the original vision. The community makes money by crafting and selling bronze bells worldwide, and the now-elderly first generation is trying to figure out how to hand down this legacy to a bunch of over-educated white millennials who brought WiFi and VR.

Earthship irony

The previous video led me to another about Earthships, houses built out of trash in a community in northern New Mexico.

Earthships – America’s Off-Grid Desert Community

The house designs are brilliant in their sustainability and livability with all the comforts of modern convenances. I mean, I don’t think they generate enough power to, say, mine for Bitcoin 24/7, and there was mention that baths instead of showers require some water budgeting, but they are still pretty impressive.

The ironic part is that they call the houses Earthships because they are self-sustaining, like a spaceship. But most visions of self-sustaining spaceships contain families and communities. These houses are built for loners who clearly are contemptuous of society and eschew community–one woman who let the crew in to see her house had never had a single visitor to her house before.

I love the sustainability, but people need people. You can claim to be a hermit all you want, but your life is still possible because a network of people–from doctors to car line workers to people who make solar panels to grocery store workers who stock the food the Earthship people don’t grow–do the work to make it happen. Opting out of that completely feels dishonest and disrespectful.

Sadly, life costs money

And only a tiny percentage of people are getting paid enough to live.

Paycheck-To-Paycheck Nation: Why Even Americans With Higher Income Struggle With Bills

:angry emoji face:

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.


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.

Monday, August 16 2021

Quote of the Day

Corporation, n. An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.

Money, n. A blessing that is of no advantage to us except when we part with it.

Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

Did we need to study this?

Deep machine learning study finds that body shape is associated with income

The only thing I can conclude from this study is that the researchers were all tall, slim, and very attractive.

This is what we should be spending AI cycles on

Computer Models Of Civilization Offer Routes To Ending Global Warming

Each of these models starts with data about current sources of greenhouse emissions. They include cars and buses, auto rickshaws, airplanes, power plants, home furnaces and rice paddies. The models also include assumptions about international trade, prices, and the costs of new technologies.

Then the scientists force their virtual worlds to change course, by introducing limits on greenhouse emissions. The models then try to satisfy that requirement in the most cost-effective way, as long as it’s technologically feasible and doesn’t run up against limits like the supply of land or other natural resources.

The good news is that the models found a way to meet that target, at least in scenarios where world governments were inclined to cooperate in meeting their Paris commitments. In fact, according to Keywan Riahi, at the International Institute for Applied Systems, in Austria, they found multiple paths to zero carbon.

Excited for this

‘Reservation Dogs’ Is a Slice-of-Life Triumph From Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi: TV Review

Native cast, directors, and writers, shot on a reservation. I’m excited to watch this!

Property values are all

How homeownership can bring out the worst in you

This is really gross. If I had a house, the light rail could go through my backyard. The shelter could be in the house over. People need care, not ROI.

And homeowners across the nation are finding themselves the villains in many stories: opposing a homeless shelter in DC, blocking Covid-19 testing centers in Connecticut and New Jersey, attempting to shut down a homeless shelter in New York, blocking a light rail train in Maryland, and delaying a 100 percent affordable housing project in the Bay Area.

Homeownership is supposed to mean security, opportunity, and a sense of investment in your community. But often, the pressure of tying your family’s financial security to one asset incentivizes homeowners to behave selfishly and antisocially, opposing important public works that could provide significant public benefits.

Only buy the cow chips

Check Out Our Ingredient List

I got cookies from this local chain, and noticed that I didn’t feel so great after eating them. So I looked up the ingredients. It looks like their original Cow Chip cookies, which are chocolate chip cookies, are made from excellent Real Food ingredients. But the other flavors….what the heck is going on there?? They barely qualify as food. Lesson learned.

Tuesday, July 27 2021

Quote of the Day

Anyway, it became very fashionable very quickly to perform cultural purity for others, and that fashion became dogma, and dogma became law, and tada! Here we are.

Becky Chambers, The Galaxy, and the Ground Within

Not bad, but too incremental

These new Washington laws went into effect on Sunday

I get that the wheels of democracy aren’t the fastest, but we need big action on some stuff here. At least there is action, which is more than I can say for most places.

I really put this up there because I had a thought while reading about the changes to law enforcement. Something about how kicking in people’s doors might feel like a rational thing to do since we see it happen at least once on every procedural show episode on TV and in movies. Lives are on the line! The killer kills his victim in five days AND ITS DAY FIVE RIGHT NOW AHHHHHHHHH SMASH!!!!!

The plot line in a show often requires a time constraint to keep people interested. Real life is not a plot device.

Anyway, my thought: for every stupidly over the top violent piece of media that gets made normalizing brutality, a piece of media should be made un-normalizing it. I should write a bunch of happy fluffy things.

Or possibly watch the updated My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and write stuff like that.

A story

While I was visiting an old friend this weekend, I brought up my dad who is being white-assumed for the first time in his life. When a group of white people say racist things in front of him, he gets to make the fun decision to speak up and mention that they are disparaging him and should stop it or not. (I’ve dealt with this a lot. Badly, I might add.)

My friend replied: That’s awesome! His super power is making people uncomfortable.

That was a kick in the preconceptions, for sure. I love everything about this.

The end.

Oh my aching lists


I’ve become good about not buying paper books, actually. But whenever I see a book I want, online or in a bookstore, I add it to my Amazon purchase lists. Which look like this:

Craft Theory Books: 68

Digital Arting Books: 11

Foodish Books: 34

Genre Books <3: 145

Graphic Novels: 40

Lit Books: 68

Nonfic Books: 190

Traditional Arting Books: 31

Which is well below 6k, but still feels like there’s pretty much no way I can read all those in my lifetime, and I just keep adding more.

It also reminds me that I need more time to read. I read a lot at night before falling asleep, which is when I read SFF books. I don’t want to be reading weighty nonfiction books about how awful the world is before trying to sleep. I need more book time!

Processes are so much work

So I wrote this essay thing about two weeks ago now, and I have no idea what to do with it. Which is a predicament that worries me, that perhaps I am somehow self-sabotaging by not figuring out how to get this piece into the world.

I could revise it, I have an idea for a new bit to add, but I think because of how personal it is I am constitutionally incapable of knowing how it lands on a brain that I don’t live in. I need some outside feedback from a person who either knows me very little or not at all.

Huh. It makes me wonder if there is like a Wattpad for nonfiction. I don’t know much about nonfiction. Maybe that is where I am falling down, this is out of my wheelhouse just enough to make me uncertain.

Oh. People do post essays on Wattpad. That’s interesting! But not good if I want to trad publish it. Back to the drawing board.

Oh! This is a thing I can research! Why didn’t I think of this?! OF COURSE I CAN RESEARCH THE THING HA HA HA HA

13.38: How to Find and Use Alpha Readers


Why didn’t I think of Fiverr?? This is a great idea!

Also I found Aigner Loren Wilson while searching for information and she just seems great and I don’t want to lose her website: Byline or By Crook

Now motivated to add that extra bit and hire an alpha reader!

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


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.'”