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….

Thursday, August 26 2021

Quote of the Day

For those of you who believe a free market is the best way to ensure people work hard and get what they deserve, it’s not a free market if a dude owns the market.

Amazon has created jobs, made our lives more convenient, made a lot of people money, saved a lot of people money. Now with Prime video they’re financing films. They made Audible so you can hear books and they made the Kindle in case you still remember how to read them. They own Twitch so by extension the entire streaming industry. They’re breaking into the prescription drug industry. The bought Whole Foods so they can revolutionize grocery shopping next.

And of course in all of Amazon’s services they’re recording every second that you’re interacting with their software so they can use that data to optimize the usefulness of their product for you. They’re extracting every moment of your relationship with every single product that they create. And they’re using that data to make your experience the best it could possibly be. And the only thing they ask for in return is their unquestioned dominance over all commerce.

CJ the X, Bo Burnham vs. Jeff Bezos – Video Essay

I haven’t even finished it, and it’s already amazing. Go watch it.


If I had a clone, her job would be to read all the books I want to get to and can’t

We Asked, You Answered: Your 50 Favorite Sci-Fi And Fantasy Books Of The Past Decade

So many of these books are on my list, and all of them look amazing.


There are so many people I want to be like when I grow up

My Le Guin Year: Craft Lessons From a Master

Ursula K. LeGuin is definitely one of them.

Wednesday, August 18 2021

Quote of the Day

Why, when a protagonist faces the world, does she need to win, lose, or draw? This is a Western idea of conflict…What if she understands herself as a part of that world, that world as a part of herself? What if she simply continues to live?

Matthew Salesses, Craft in the Real World

Have been feeling under the weather, so a quick post

I’ve gotten Craft in the Real World from the library, and I love it, but I recognize it’s too advanced for me right now. I think I mostly understand the concepts, but I just don’t have enough experience transforming theory into craft to apply any of this to my writing.

So what I will do is keep reading this book. A half an hour a day, over and over, until everything does make sense and I can apply it, because it’s really really really important to the writer I want to be.

And speaking of that writer, I’m feeling really discouraged at ever having a finished piece to show the world. I have to believe that working on it a little bit (or a lot) every work day will get me there. Even if it doesn’t feel that way. Especially when it doesn’t feel that way.

These sound tasty: Blueberry Cookies

Lastly, a very excellent video essay about Bo Burnham and white liberals: Bo Burnham’s Inside and “White Liberal Performative Art” | Video Essay (Black Media Breakdown #12) by F.D Signifier.

And I say that because I do–sometimes to my detriment, sometimes in a way that brings me into conflict with some of my friends–I greatly empathize with what white people are going through right now in terms of this awakening to the reality of the world around them. And, just because of my morbid curiosity I am super interested in seeing how this will continue to effect their art and music and everything else. Especially if it means getting art that is not just a less-seasoned version of the stuff I’ve been seeing and growing up with my whole life. To me, Inside is like the perfect distillation of all those things.

Seriously just go watch it.

Wednesday, July 28 2021

Quote of the Day

Now that’s a great line, “Can I interest you in everything / all of the time”, because everything all of the time is nothing. And without God, without a moral framework–and you cannot have a moral framework without God, I know some of you think you can, but you can’t, believe me…

Andrew Klavan, YouTube, “Conservative Reacts to Bo Burnham’s ‘Inside’

And from the comments section of the video:

People fascinate me.


Sign me up

It’s a slow day today for me; somehow I didn’t research a bunch. Back at it tomorrow!

Thursday, July 15 2021

Quote of the Day

“If he kills us,” Tien said, “he’s simply dropped us off at a place we were going anyway. We shouldn’t hasten it, and it is sad. But see, he can’t take our moment, our Connection, Kaladin. And those are the things that really matter.”

Brandon Sanderson, Rhythm of War

Malaise

The inevitable I-just-finished-a-draft malaise has set in. Whenever I finish the first draft of a project-thing, I am always exhausted the day after. But yay, first finished thing in…years. I know that what I should really do now is put it away for a bit so I can come back to it and see that it’s not nearly so shiny as I think it is now, and then start making it ultra shiny.

Instead, I’ve been looking at details about submitting a personal essay, because I’ve never written one before. Here are some useful links I’ve found about that.

re: Do I Submit Using My Real Name or My Pen Name?

Erika Krouse’s Ranking of 500-ish Literary Magazines for Short Fiction (lots of these markets take essays too)

Submission strategies (nothing I haven’t heard before, but it’s been a long while, so reading it again is worthwhile)

Just think, soon I’ll have the joys of writing a cover letter.


Subgenes r00l

Explore 60 New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Stories by Subgenres

I really like how Goodreads divided these, it’ll help me narrow down where my novel will fit. But there are so many new books. I am already so behind!


I might have a serious Inside problem

The other reason it’s a malaise day could be that I was up until almost 1 am last night watching Inside react videos on YouTube.

FIRST REACTION/LISTEN TO Bo Burnham – Welcome to the Internet (from “INSIDE”)

TOO GOOD!! | Bo Burnham – Welcome To The Internet (from INSIDE) REACTION!!!

I STRONGLY RECOMMEND: Bo Burnham – INSIDE (Review)

All Eyes On Me – Reaction – Bo Burnham – Reaction

Our Freaking Minds Are Blown! Welcome To The Internet – Bo Burnham (from “inside” Album) (Reaction)

Is This True? “White Woman’s Instagram” Bo Burnham (from “Inside” album) Reaction

Our First Time Hearing Bo Burnham “All Eyes On Me” Reaction

FIRST TIME hearing BO BURNHAM – ALL EYES ON ME (From ‘Inside’ the Album) REACTION!!!

Welcome to the Internet – Bo Burnham (from “INSIDE” on NETFLIX) | #EpiccTV Reaction

White Woman’s Instagram — Bo Burnham (from “INSIDE” on Netflix) | #EpiccTV Reaction

All Eyes On Me – Bo Burnham (from “INSIDE” on NETFLIX)

During my bleary midnight hour I realized two things:

  1. I always write better when I am obsessed with music that is so good my only response is to try to also create something amazing. I was very productive during Tori Amos’ high producing years (from Little Earthquakes to Scarlet’s Walk). So I need to find lots of music that inspires me at the moment I am currently in. And to keep listening to and watching Inside until my brain melts.
  2. Watching people react to art that makes me want to art is also inspiring. It’s this kind of weird upward spiral of energy around “yes see how amazing this is, we are all touched and amazed in the same wonderful way by this thing” and “oh gods and goddesses, this is what I want when people read my work, this moment of being touched, of pausing to think, of connection, of pushing someone’s worldview just enough to awe and inspire.”

It’s a beautiful day to stay Inside.

Wednesday, July 7 2021

Quote of the Day

Overse added, “Just remember you’re not alone here.”

I never know what to say to that. I am actually alone in my head, and that’s where 90 plus percent of my problems are.

Martha Wells, Network Effect

Oh look, my Internet’s back! This will likely be a short post because it was out from about 9 am until 3:30 pm.


Tears are a good reaction

I can’t stop watching Bo Burnham’s Inside reaction videos. Special props to people who let their vulnerability be on camera.


Ok let’s get on this hope train!

After thinking really hard yesterday about What Am I Even Doing, I first had the thought that if it really doesn’t matter what I do, I might as well do Something. It’s better than angsting with no end in sight.

Then I was given this quote by a friend, and that helped:

The purpose of our lives may not be to produce something wonderful or to become rich or famous or renowned for wisdom; the purpose may just be to express our own sincerity doing completely whatever it is we do.

Darlene Cohen

And then I thought, why don’t I just focus on looking up solutions instead of watching and reading things that put such a fine point upon the malaise of our rapidly accelerating dystopia. That might be a help.

THEN I thought, oh wait, the working theme for my novel is: how to live through the end of the world. And all this mental sludge of grappling with doing exactly that is actually really helpful in thinking up ways to show my theme. Neat!

But really, focus on solutions. To that end, YouTube (their algorithm is possibly in my brain and it’s more than a little scary) surfed me up this:

3 Climate Change Solutions that could actually happen

Once again I’m tired of this whole we have to be vegan to save the planet BS (the way we farm is shitty, whether it’s a plant or an animal, and fixing that is what actually needs to happen), but I was there for the other solutions. In fact, I was super there for the website they were talking about in the video that is a collection of climate change solutions that when put together would stop climate change?

Project Drawdown

Wait, we’ve solved this shit already?

Climate Change Solutions Resources

Oh fuck seriously we’ve solved this shit already

All we really need to do is motivate people to action. And that, in theory, is what good art is supposed to do! Feeling hopeful already.


Together is way better

In a Divided Country, Communal Living Redefines Togetherness

Maybe I’ve been thinking about how important being settled in a community is to me within the past couple years because I don’t want to be on my own surrounded by strangers when civilization crumbles. Which, hopefully, won’t actually happen. Because hope!

Thursday, July 1 2021

Quote of the Day

Blood alone moves the wheels of history.

Ernest Arrellano III, “AN UNFORTUNATE MASTERPICE | BO BURNHAM: INSIDE A COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW AND BREAKDOWN“, TheThirdErnest YouTube channel

I found a new video essay on Bo Burnham’s Inside (oh shit, am I going to have to write an essay about Inside eventually?) and it was a delight. Here are some of the thoughts it kicked up in me:

Where Ernest talks about “How The World Works,” he describes part of the song using the quote above. There’s something in the way he phrased it that called to mind a bit of the book This Land Is Their Land. When describing the Algonquian peoples, the author notes that pre-colonization there were not great cities in the Eastern woodland like Cahokia. In comparison their villages were primitive. The historian notes that the difference is because of the abundance in the Northeast. Cahokia was built because the city’s rulers had control of limited food, and forced their people to build this impressive city for them. This couldn’t happen in the Northeast because if a leader tried to force someone to do something they didn’t agree with, a family could just leave. There was plenty of fish, enough hunting, and lots of foragable plants for people to support themselves. So they didn’t build any impressive monuments, but they were happy. (I don’t honestly remember what initial spark these two pieces gave me; I’m hoping someday it’ll come back to me. Ernest calls Socko’s vision of how the world works very “realistic,” and maybe I thought, but that doesn’t have to be reality. Maybe?)

Ernest devoted a whole section of his essay to the lighting, editing and directing of the special. Which was really interesting to listen to, as I appreciate those aspects but don’t know much about the craft. From his photographer’s perspective, he talked about how the lighting informed certain scenes. Makes me think about writing and what the writer chooses to show and chooses to remain in shadow, or let the reader fill in. I think that’s a thing writers don’t often think about enough. Not just word choice to describe a scene, but what in the scene to describe to set the scene. Ernest points out how Bo in the video for Content “provided movement and provided energy to the frame, to the scene, without the camera moving.”

I really liked how different Ernest’s interpretation of “Welcome To The Internet” was from mine. I took it as saying corporations and other powerful entities shaped the Web 2.0 very carefully as a tool to manipulate and extract from people. He took it more as humans are the ones who created this world of the Internet from the ground up, and this is the world we wanted, because we made it and it’s awful. Quote: “And what he’s talking about is like the Internet was never designed for this. It was most definitely not designed to be this. It was designed around you. It’s only this because of the users. The users demanded a different kind of Internet. The Internet is just like the Wild West of random content…And that made me feel like when I heard it for the first time. Like I have no–I have no escape from this. So now that you know what the Internet was supposed to be, what it was designed for, like now you’ve sunk too far. And welcome. You are now in our world. You’re now in our world because we created a world and you demanded that we turn it into what we turned it into. So welcome. You can never escape now.”

There’s a thing I get caught up on, when I think about being an artist and saving the world. First off: that’s a tall order. Secondly, the jury seems to be out on whether that’s an artist’s job or not. I have seen one writer tell new writers that firemen are heroes and writers are not: writing won’t save anyone, so get over that. I’ve also seen lots of arguments to the contrary. My personal opinion is that re-framing societal stories can lead to change, but that doesn’t really feel attainable as one lone writer. But Ernest had a lovely view: “He’s jokingly saying like I’m gonna save the world through comedy. He’s making a joke out of it like it’s not really saving lives or it’s not really anywhere near as important as people make it out to be. But in my opinion, that’s what makes it a hit, because it is that important. At the end of the day it really is that important. His job is important. He is saving the world literally with comedy. Maybe not the entire world, but the world of one person, you know?” He reminds me that art can’t pull someone out of a burning building or solve racism, but it can save the interior world of one person. And if you save or change the minds of enough singular people, then collectively, they can save the world with their new perspectives. That’s what art does. That’s what I need to do.


Men v Women

On 6/30/21:

There’s quite a bit to say there, right? I also think that people smarter and more informed than me will likely say something. I found a couple of articles with Twitter quotes of random people on the Internet also making the connection, and this really harrowing article:

Bill Cosby Is Free And Britney Spears Is Not, Because Women’s Trauma Is Still Ignored

Just this week, hundreds of people spoke publicly about how excruciatingly painful it was to have their IUD fitted, despite doctors assuring them that it shouldn’t hurt. It was in response to a Times column in which Caitlin Moran argued that we should all have access to painkillers when having a coil put in. Women spoke about passing out, screaming, crying and fainting from the pain, and yet medical professionals are content to do the procedure without supplying any sort of analgesic. So not even accounts of physical agony are being taken seriously. It’s the same reason it takes a decade for people with endometriosis to get an accurate diagnosis; because when we are in pain, we’re dismissed, belittled, and accused of exaggerating.

Kate Leaver

I don’t…..how do you engage with this shit? But we’re gonna. We have to. No, I don’t know how yet, but I want to work on that.


Tough love, but more Buddhist and maybe helpful

A friend who knows I am about to have a weekend of difficult conversations sent me a link with some ideas to ponder:

Tough compassion — here’s what it is and why you need to practice it

Tough compassion is gaining traction because the rosy version is proving so unequal to the present moment, which has been defined by human failures to meet challenges posed by the pandemic, widespread inequality and climate change. 

Of course, there will always be a “soft” side to compassion. It’s always crucial to learn how to be a calm sounding board or comfort grieving loved ones. But warm and fuzzy compassion has little power to sway relatives who spout conspiracies, stop close friends from radicalizing online or counter leaders who tout equality while harvesting the fruits of privilege.

In the Buddhist contemplative tradition, the goal of true compassion is to find ways to promote the least suffering for everyone. In this broader framing, nodding along with someone’s bigotry, bullying, or falsehoods for the sake of preserving that relationship is the opposite of compassion. It interferes with peace-building on a societal level, even though it might seem on the surface like a nonviolent act.

Elizabeth Svoboda

Hmmm. Now I feel like I have to figure this out. Which I do, so that’s probably good.


People and their interesting little people minds

Reddit thread: “How the World Works” (Individual song discussion)

I am really interested in how people engage with this song because I want a kind of barometer for where the public in general is at with these facts, this demonstration. And this Reddit thread does not disappoint. I don’t really have time to dissect it today, but it’s super interesting how people bring their worldviews right on in. Some people believe it’s perfect, some people think neither Bo nor Socko are all right or all wrong. There were a lot of questions, which were answered in good faith, which was nice to see. There was a whole intriguing side convo about whether or not Socko is analogous to a POC or a proletariat worker (“it’s a white sock”).

Reading the responses makes me think that we need to get our fact vs opinion vs belief terms re-defined tout suite. It’s such a huge impediment to honest communication.


Washington re-opening

My state is re-opened officially today. I think there are still some Covid precautions in place, but they are very light. This is stressful. I wonder if my stress is really about taking off my Covid masks or if it’s about getting “back to normal.” The first time I heard that phrase it was from a psychiatrist telling me how she could help me after my divorce. I found it chilling then, and I find it chilling now. Normal is not a synonym for okay.

Re-defining terms again!


Second Day Porridge

I have learnings! I took out the nasamp I made yesterday from the fridge to find it the consistency of very thick mashed potatoes. What I learned is that you can’t add boiling water and improve the texture to something more porridge-like. Throwing it in the microwave with the extra water also does not help! I had little dough-ball-bits floating in a sea of corn-flavored water.

So I just took big pieces of the porridge and started making balls, then flattening them, then frying them in butter. Fried mush tasted much better than doughy corn water.

This is going to be a VERY long journey.


Links from the July Tor newsletter

I don’t have time to engage with these, but I don’t want to forget them.

8 SFF Books That Reimagine Literary Classics

Looking for Body Positivity and Fat Protagonists in YA Fantasy

Five SF Travel Methods That Offer an Alternative to Starships


One last thing before we go!

I went to share the James Baldwin vs Willian F. Buckley debate with a friend and found an hour long version. Don’t want to loose that!

Wednesday, June 30 2021

Quote of the Day

The word “uza” meant something that didn’t quite translate to Aelander. It meant solidarity. It meant unity. But something more than that—it meant that the people banded together in a community had a moral duty to each other, to serve one another.

C. L. Polk, Soulstar

Sticky keys

Perhaps trying to find a whole new working concept of keyboard isn’t the way to approach my typing woes. My main problem right now is that I lock my head in place while working at the computer so I can see both the screen and my keyboard at once. It’s very much not a natural position, and after a few hours my neck is v v unhappy. Let’s just tackle that.

I found a thread that had an interesting idea:

What is the best way to create tactile bumps on your keyboard?

When the stickers are different shapes, your fingers may be able to tell the difference…

Do any of them feel like a Tilde or an Up Arrow?

Here is how they do it in Korea: https://lovingkorean.com/2014/02/26/typing-hangul-korean-alphabet-keyboard-stickers/

joeytwiddle

My problem seems to be that I can’t keep from trying to stare at the keyboard, even though I’ve tried a million times over the last 36 years to stop looking and touch type correctly. I am a three-finger typist usually, which means my hands are all over the keyboard. I absolutely must have memorized the key locations by now…I can type without looking for short spurts. But because I can’t do the home row thing, inevitably I need to reset my hand positions. Maybe putting tactile feedback on the keys will keep me always knowing where my hands are and I don’t have to look down to reset. I tend to move my head around more when I’m not focused on the keyboard so much, and it helps with the neck aching dramatically.

So I looked at stickers and at membranes that overlay the whole keyboard. I was convinced that the overlay wasn’t the way to go. But these stickers from Keybodo seem promising….


The End of the World

I thought of this quote the other day while brainstorming on my novel, but I couldn’t remember it exactly. Here it is so I can find it again:

Writers like Bastani or Morton have interesting things to say about climate change. But what I notice reading Indigenous authors is that a lot of it has been said already. At a time when many people are wondering “What are we gonna do if our homes flood and we have to move?” or “What sort of communities are we gonna be living in when ecological disaster strikes?”, a lot of Indigenous people are already there!

Lower Brule Sioux writer and professor Nick Estes has said that a lot of Indigenous folks are already living in a post-apocalyptic world, because climate change is only possible because of colonialism.

Abigail Thorn, “Climate Grief“, Philosophy Tube YouTube channel

She’s got a lot of references listed in the YouTube description, should I want to read more about it. This quote hit me hard when I first watched the video a few years ago. Even if climate change wasn’t a thing that was happening, Native Tribes would still be living in a post-apocalyptic world due to colonialism. Their way of life changed so drastically that even carrying on traditions, in my opinion, doesn’t change the fact that one world ended and another came into being.


Hazelnuts

Speaking of colonialism….OMG why is sourcing Native American food so freakin hard?! Most of the hazelnuts we buy today are either imported, because most commercial hazelnuts are grown Elsewhere, or are grown in Oregon, from English hazelnut trees or trees that are a hybrid of English and American hazelnuts. Why? 6 million links later, I finally found the answer: capitalism.

But the company has to buy over 90 percent of its hazelnuts from Europe, because, ever since colonial times, stateside attempts to grow enough hazelnuts to rival European production have failed miserably.

North America has its own hazelnut variety – Corylus Americana. It tastes as good as its European cousin, but is just one-quarter the size, with a thick shell that stays tightly in its husk when mature, compared to European nuts that fall on the ground, says Tom Molnar, associate professor in the Department of Plant biology and Pathology at Rutgers University. Taken together, its characteristics mean that not only do American hazelnut trees produce less than their European relatives, the meat is harder to harvest.

Marsha Johnston, “The Great American Hazelnut Hunt“, Modern Farmer

So….

I….

It’s…..

*sigh*

No one questions that we’ve spent centuries trying to get English hazelnut trees to grow here when there are already Native American hazelnut trees that grow just great? But the American variety “can’t” be grown commercially because the English version has a higher yield and are easier to process. Someone at some point could just decide to not make quite as money as it would be theoretically possible to make growing English varieties and grow American hazelnuts anyway. Instead we’ve spent many hundreds of years putting in a ton of man-hours trying to get the English trees to grow, trying to keep them from succumbing to a disease that American hazelnuts aren’t susceptible to, trying to get viable hybrids, studying their genetics to figure out which gene is the resistant gene, and killing thousands of trees doing all this experimentation.

Going through this process makes me realize how much we hate ourselves. How much we want to take everything that is native or inherent to this land that is our nation and erase it or transform it into some Frankensteined creation so that an individual can put their name on it and claim they invented it. It’s completely infuriating. Pretending that America didn’t exist until some Europeans showed up and spread their European shit all over it and re-named it just…..augh! So. Sick. Of. It. We could have done better. Can’t we at least try to do better now?


First Porridge

On the less angsty side of this Eat Like Your Ancestors project, I tried to make Cranberry Nasamp (from a Wampanoag recipe, but since they lived on the other side of the Narragansett Bay from the Narragansetts, I think it’s close enough. I made it using masa harina I bought from Masienda. And, um. I didn’t exactly feel excited to be cooking the things of my ancestors.

That would most likely be because I’ve never cooked porridge or grits before. Seriously. I had no idea how it was supposed to look or taste. Or how long to cook it for. Also the masa harina is definitely too fine for this, because it kept trying to make itself into dough instead of porridge. This is going to be a learning curve. Maybe I should buy some heirloom hominy and grind that up in my food processor for a coarser meal instead?

I mean, it tasted ok and my body seemed pleased about it, so yay? Lots more experimentation before I’m rhapsodizing about it, apparently.


OMG, you thought I was done talking about Inside for a minute, didn’t you

Nope! Not done. Now that I’ve seen some reaction videos, I’ve been getting bored by them because they aren’t really engaging with the piece (yes, I know, reaction videos are Not That Deep), but deep is my thing, so this morning I started looking for some video essays.

YouTube surfed up this essay “Bo Burnham: Inside is the best comedy special, whatever that means” by Alec Kubas-Meyer on his channel The Week I Review. It’s an hour long ramble. Not a bad ramble overall, but at about 25 minutes in, I realized I was really just waiting to see if Alec was going to engage with “How the World Works,” and yay! He did. So let’s look at that bit called “I agree with Socko (an actual critique)”.

First note: A ha, a lot of the commentary around this song seems to be happening on TikTok, which would be why I haven’t seen much.

Ok. I’ve typed out some bits of the video to examine.

The TikTok showed only latter with the caption: “where’s the lie.” And, actually, I want to make a small but important critique here because when I was watching the special I was immediately reminded of a broader discourse thing that I don’t know the name of and honestly I’m not politically pure enough to to make, but oh well.

So Socko initially presents as an incredibly reasonable and factually accurate puppet with a statement that the version of history we’ve been taught is just false and that the world is built with blood and genocide and exploitation. Great. But then he moves into conspiracy. The FBI killed MLK. And lefty talking points that a lot of people knee-jerk reject, like private property’s inherently theft.

I believe that Bo Burnham thinks that the history that we are taught in schools is bad. I don’t believe that he believes that every single politician and cop is working to protect the interests of the pedophilic corporate elite. But he puts those two things in the same verse of a song. And depending on the beliefs that you bring into the show, you will hear it in radically different ways…..

That said, this doesn’t really matter, because it isn’t really the point of the bit. What at first seems to be a critique of oppression quickly reveals itself to be a demonstration of it. The literal puppeteer asks what to do, and the puppet becomes frustrated at being forced to “teach” basic humanity to a rich white guy. But as things become more pointed, the puppeteer becomes angry. And literally figuratively pummels them into submission, threatening them with the void that they exist in any time he doesn’t see fit to offer them a platform. And when the puppet has calmed down and accepted their place, well, the puppeteer forces them off anyway because of course he does.

And this all feeds into a pretty constant theme in Burnham’s work throughout his career about his place in the world, and now his place in a moment with increasing unrest and public division epitomized by one of the show’s first lines: what can a white guy do while still getting paid and being the center of attention.

I’m not in the this for the money, but we can’t pretend like my self-centered YouTube channel on which I pretend to review things so that I can talk about myself is not a function of my self-centeredness. And I am super aware of it and can pretend that makes it okay but as Burnham says: self-awareness does not absolve anybody of anything.

And yet.

Why shut up when I can just not do that. Us straight white men have collectively had the floor for hundreds of years but what about me?? And my guess is that on some level you’re bothered by what I just said while also being conflicted because like you’re a lot of fucking minutes into this, so you have clearly accepted the idea that this particular white guy must have something worth saying at least some of the time. Sucks, right?

I’m going to do this by listing my reactions in order:

  1. OMG, don’t hit Google and collect ten thousand articles and papers and other proofs that everything that Socko says is true and post them all triumphantly. DO NOT DO THAT. Not the posting, not the looking, leave it. LEAVE IT.
  2. Oh that’s so interesting. Alec is guessing what he thinks the artist does or doesn’t believe. Why would he do that, and what is he basing that guess on? The inside of other people’s brains is weird and fascinating. I’m guessing Alec is guessing off of what sounds reasonable to him that other people might believe.
  3. (Of course, he’s wrong, Bo obviously knows the truth about capitalism because Bo is a super smart cookie.)
  4. Well, ok, I can see dividing the bit, the first half being the tell bit, the second half being the show bit. But take them together and you get the hauntingly genius showing of the white people power move that presents for example like this: POC will protest about a thing and The (white) Discourse (TM) says: Oh yes, that’s a terrible thing we somehow never noticed. But do you have to protest about it like that? Sitting through the (racist) anthem is so disrespectful. We’re going to talk about the unAmerican-ness of that exact action, and the ungratefulness of that POC, and how we used to like and support POC but now we just can’t, and we’re going to never, never, never ever talk about the thing. But oh the riots! If only they wouldn’t riot and just protest peacefully while dealing with the terror of people like them randomly getting killed over a broken taillight or wearing a hoodie or doing everything they are told to do. I can’t condone the riots. Just look at how awful those 93% peaceful riots were.
  5. Deep breath.
  6. “…and that the world is built with blood and genocide and exploitation. Great.” Oof. Phrasing.
  7. Super aware is good. Yes, no that doesn’t make anything inherently okay, but then you engage with these ideas and…..
  8. WOW
  9. WOW
  10. ….
  11. I think Socko can take this one: Why do you rich fucking white people insist on seeing every socio-political conflict through the myopic lens of your own self-actualization? This isn’t about you!

And I think that’s really the thing, the thing just stops all conversation or engagement before it starts. People make it about them as an individual and not them as a tiny piece of a societal story that we are all caught up in. It’s not just the racism that’s the problem in the society story, it’s the individualism, too! And strong attachment to the one feeds the life of the other. That’s what needs getting over.

Monday, June 28 2021

Quote of the Day

Beauty was out there, all around. To create art was not to capture it, but to participate in it.

Brandon Sanderson, Words of Radiance

How to converse

I’m about to go on a short trip, and will spend much of the time talking with people that have very different views and opinions than me. Opinions that I would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of my lungs. So, how do I have a conversation? I can avoid talking about things, but I know from experience they will be brought up anyhow. I don’t want to just smile and nod and appear to agree, because I DON’T AGREE. I really, really, really don’t want to get into an argument that will get lots of sound bites parroted at me, that will require me to have encyclopedic knowledge that will be discounted as fake facts anyhow. It’s too much energy to expend when the result will dig everyone further into their own trenches, only now with anger and bad blood.

I’ve considered asking questions. But that will just lead me on frustrating logic loops that go nowhere, and might give the impression that I am interested in “learning the truth.” After a phone conversation that somehow ended up on immigrants and things I very much don’t agree with were said, and I let the moment slip by, confounded, I had an idea. What if my response is: “Wow, that’s really mean.” Because these statements are mean. They are not nice or charitable. That, is, of course, my opinion, but then I am speaking my truth without inviting an argument that lately everyone seems to just be waiting to have.

It’s my best thought. I’ll report back if it works out. if I’m brave enough to try it.


It’s always Bo Burnham day lately

It’s nice knowing I’m not the only one.

Ranking Bo Burnham INSIDE songs by how life ruining they are

And if you haven’t seen the Bo Burnham special maybe you think I’m being dramatic.

No. No my friend, I am not being dramatic, these songs are just that good.

If you enjoy feeling existential dread—because you know we all like feeling existential dread, right—this is the special for you.

Hannah Baylis

Tomatoes are not native to New England

The answer to a question I looked up online this morning, and found this gem: Why the tomato was feared in Europe for over 200 years

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Quote of the Day

Sometimes, a hypocrite is nothing more than a man who is in the process of changing.

Brandon Sanderson, Oathbringer

Still Can’t Get Away from Inside

Why Bo Burnham’s INSIDE Is So Good: 3. Four Act Story Structure

Shit, does Inside have a story structure? And do I need to map it out? I don’t think I’m up to it today, but I might in the future.


More About Native Narragansett / Algonquin Food

I keep digging around after more information, possibly after I don’t really need more. A list of what they ate in general links:

I’ve been on a journey with this research. The initial excitement has worn off, I’ve pushed through the frustration of finding out how hard and uncertain this endeavor might be, and the fruitlessness of trying to re-create something impossible on my own. I’m now feeling like I want to jump into action, to synthesize some of this information and to figure out where I can realistically start, and what compromises are best.


Roller Beetle Time

As a reminder: I’m on Stage 2 (Beetle Juice) of unlocking the GW2 roller beetle mount, and I need to get a move on with that. When games resemble work because of their ridiculous complexity!