Monday, September 27 2021

Quote of the Day

Behind me Loveland Castle was whole again, albeit a dumpy little building falling apart–one man’s dream of nobility crumbling from neglect. Noble ideas tended to do that when left alone.

Kim Harrison, Ever After

You disappoint me, technology

While I had my doubts about lab-grown meat (how could it possibly have the same micronutrients? also organs and bones are are super good for us), It still sounded like a reasonable alternative for part of the time, at least. Except, I guess it’s not really an alternative at all.

Lab-grown meat is supposed to be inevitable. The science tells a different story.


A trick that might work

So a few months ago, I bought heirloom masa harina to use as a substitute for cornmeal. It didn’t actually work all that great, because the masa harina is ground super fine. So I bought some posole to grind into cornmeal for the coarser texture. Which I haven’t tried yet–basically I want the nixtimalization but I also want tasty cornbread and jonnycakes.

Since my nutritionist has suggested that I do a gluten-free trial for 2 weeks, this has come back around again. And I think this time I have a new, better, strategy, based on recipes like this one:

Masa Harina Cornbread

I can buy regular heirloom cornmeal from the East Coast, then mix it in with the masa harina. This feels like it will go much better than the 1:1 swap I was attempting.

Of course, a lot of these recipes have some added wheat flour, but maybe if I find a 100% cornmeal recipe and switch out half for masa harina that will go better. But I’m eager to try and see what the results are.


Being inspired

I’ve found a couple of solarpunk references that I’m going to be exploring this week, just digging into the genre and getting a feel for its conventions. I found this article with lots of references:

Solarpunk Is Not About Pretty Aesthetics. It’s About the End of Capitalism

I also found this YouTube video, which will lead me to lots of interesting ideas:

Why This Gives Me Hope for the Future (ft. @Saint Andrewism)

Thanks to Our Changing Climate for crediting art and resources in his video, that makes my job much easier.

Solarpunk seems to be having a little bit of a moment, which is exciting!

Monday, August 30 2021

Quote of the Day

Mouth, meet brain. Brain, meet mouth. You guys should get to know each other a little better.

Lauren Shippen, The Infinite Noise

If you live in Washington

It’s the perfect time to go to Bow Hill and get strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries. I can’t tell you what to do, but it seems to me like acquiring tasty berries is always a good thing.


A little more keyboards in my life

After getting my husband to watch me fumble my sad way through some online typing tests, we started to realize the problem with my typing pain was less with my fingers striking the keys and more with the ways I was bending my wrists to reach the keyboard.

(If you are curious, we figured out that if I type like I am on a laptop and trying to avoid a non-existent touchpad, my wrists are beautifully unbent.)

It’s looking like a split keyboard is the way to go for me. Which is hilarious, because I’ve been trying to learn how to touch type since 1986 and it’s still a work in progress. I love this Dygma Raise keyboard but the price is….abhorrent? outrageous? logic-defying? Not good.


The End.

That’s all I have for today. I’m finding that reading The Uninhabitable Earth for novel research is maxing my brain out for learning and pondering new things.

It’s also really fucking depressing, so I need a very big mental well to contain all that in without just being a nihilistic mess. So that’s fun.

Thursday, August 5 2021

Quote of the Day

Love is what we have to save if we’re gonna save the world.

Legion, Season 2 Episode 8

Amalgam

Speaking of Legion, here’s a YouTube compilation of all the Jon Hamm narrator scenes in Season 2.

I’ve gotten to the delicious parts where The Shadow King is outside of David, and he’s an amazing character (thanks for being amazing, Navid Negahban). Having thoughts about the hero, and how his fight is always the most important fight. As in, all the non-main characters have to drop all their fights and help the hero fight his fight. Because it’s always the one imperiling the most people.

So yeah, I’ve been thinking about Melanie, and how brilliantly Syd is contrast against Melanie in season 2, the one who will stand by Her Man no matter what, the one who knows where that ends up. Find a dream of your own ladies, and stand by it, because Your Man already has and will….


Burn, baby

I’m researching wildfires in the Western US. I haven’t had a chance to read through the links I’ve found, but here’s list of the ones I want to explore:

Reading List – Native Use Of Fire; compiled by Dale Swedberg

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Possible future for Western wildfires: Decade-long burst, followed by gradual decline

The future of wildfires: A cultural struggle to learn to live with fire

Wildfire: Climate, Settlement, Forests, Fire Management

Fires, Forests, and the Future: A Crisis Raging Out Of Control?

The Future of wildland fire management in a world of rapid change and great uncertainty: Overview of a futures research project

US wildfire potential: a historical view and future projection using high-resolution climate data

Wildfires and Climate Change

‘Too late to stop it’: California’s future hinges on managing megafires

That’s good for now…I’m sure as I read I’ll get more ideas on what aspects I want to narrow down on. Worldbuilding is fun!


More data needed

I’ve been worrying in my brain over a conversation I had about defunding the police. It was specifically related to predator / prey, and was a good conversation. But it has left me thinking about a corollary idea, if crime in general is up because of defunding the police or because of the state of the economy and desperation?

The measured consensus seems to be: we don’t know.

Stop Blaming Crime Rates on Defunding the Police

What many of those who conflate defunding the police with rising crime rates miss is how wrong, even dangerous, glib causalities about crime are. It’s too simple to say that crime is on the rise because of X. But one thing is clear to the experts. “National crime policy is usually where we overreact and do more harm than good,” Wright explains. “The times we reduce crime is when local officials know what they need for their communities.” Kubrin notes that it’s much too early to tell what’s causing the spike in murders, but it’s unlikely that there’s a single reason. “Crime is multidimensional,” she says, pointing to a variety of factors such as “gangs, drug policies, socio-economic factors, and police community relations” that exist in various measures in different communities. 


AC is gross but I guess I need it

I’ve been lethargic for the last couple weeks, as we’ve had to keep the AC running constantly. Living in an apartment, going outdoors feels like a chore, or at least something I need to make space for and devote time to. But spending a lot of time without the windows open makes me feel….sluggish. Not depressed, just listless and not as motivated as usual. I wondered if there was some sort of connection between being in AC and an altered mental state.

Turns out there is: people do much better in AC than suffering in the heat. So maybe it’s not the AC at all?


This might be my jam

I discovered a thing on the Internet is apparently sleepcore. From what little I can tell, this is an aesthetic of Things That Induce Feelings of Sleepytime. Cozy seems part of it, but it seems really more like decorating spaces as the ultimate invitation to lay down your weary head. I am not against this!


Update on masa harina

While I love the taste of the masa harina, it’s been wreaking havoc in these new recipes I’ve been trying. Mostly it seems because they call for cornmeal. The masa harina is ground very very fine, and I think it’s sucking up way more liquid than what a rougher cornmeal would. The batters and doughs I’ve made with it have been very dry, and the resulting baked goods are often dryer too.

I’ve bought some dried posole (hominy) and I’m considering trying to grind it into cornmeal in my food processor, and see if these recipes go any better. If only they just nixtamilized cornmeal life would be so much easier…..

The Internet seems to think using a food processor or blender to make homemade cornmeal (often from popcorn–yuck?) works just fine, but if I plan on doing it a lot, get a mill. Ok then!

Tuesday, August 3 2021

Quote of the Day

War was ugly, exhausting, and above all else, tedious–an odd thing to say about a situation in which there were more explosions and adrenaline than you knew what to do with. But for all the strategizing, for all the narrow escapes and near misses, when you boiled it down, war was nothing more than an argument in which no one had landed on a better solution than killing each other. The suffering, at some point, became commonplace.

Becky Chambers, The Galaxy, And The Ground Within

I’m feeling awful today, but I have a few items that have come up, and I wanted to get them down.


Traditional Irish food

After about a month worth of no IBS attacks, I had a monster one today. This got me thinking more about my Eat Like Your Ancestors project, and how I really haven’t been doing that as much and should get back to it. I looked up my great-grandfather’s date of birth. I don’t know when he immigrated to the US from Ireland, but he was born close to 1900, so I figured that was close enough.

I researched foods eaten in Ireland from 1500-1900, and found this perfect book: Feast and Famine: Food and Nutrition in Ireland 1500-1920. Regrettably, my library doesn’t have the book and it’s really expensive on Amazon. Well, it’s out there if other resources don’t come through.

Other links I found but didn’t have enough energy to explore further:

Food in Early Ireland

What the Irish Ate Before Potatoes

Food Timeline FAQs: Irish food history & traditions

A Non-Famine History of Ireland?


Metformin

I have lots of friends on metformin who have reactions to it, and I randomly decided to look up what about metformin makes it such a gastrointestinal nightmare.

Metabolism, the Microbiome, Berberine and Metformin

Huh. Metformin has antibiotic properties. Some of the things I read said it might help dysbiosis over time, but yeah while that’s getting cleaned up, lots of sad bathroom time. Also that pre- and probiotics help quite a bit when taking metformin. Interesting.


Mmmmm

Don’t these Blueberry Sourdough Muffins sound tasty? Too bad I feel like crap and don’t want to eat much of anything today and didn’t end up baking them.


How exciting life in 2000 will be

What Will Future Homes Look Like? Filmed in the 1960’s – Narrated by Walter Cronkite

What is the future of the single family home? Architect Philip Johnson: “This idea that you should plop little houses around on tracts will go, I think. There’s no–it’s a totally wrong use of land. Everybody has a little bit of lawn on four sides of his house. Nobody has any privacy. No one has a garden of their own. No one, no architect builds houses now, it’s all done by builders and developers and they build them all alike, as you know, they call them ticky-tacky houses in the song. But there’s no future to that, because the cost of servicing the house is growing by such leaps and bounds that the taxes on that house can nowhere near pay for the services the town has to put there with their water, sewage, roads. So the house is a thing of the twentieth century.”

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

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

Monday, July 12 2021

Quote of the Day

What kind of emulsifier could you use with people, to make them mix?

Brandon Sanderson, Rhythm of War

Cherries like candy

I’m not a cherry expert as for most of my life I haven’t been a fan. But a friend introduced me to Rainier cherries a few years ago, and every year I look forward to grabbing a bunch when they are in season.

Following the whole Eat Like Your Ancestors plan (which I’m taking more as an interesting experiment and much less like these are the only things I can eat ever), I found out that black cherries are native to New England. Ok! Then I began to wonder what the difference is between black cherries and Rainier cherries. A lot, as it turns out.

Sweet cherries are thought to have come from the region between the Black and Caspian seas, and cultivation is believed to have begun with the Greeks. Colonists brought sweet cherries to the New World, and they arrived in the Pacific Northwest in 1847 when Henderson Luelling traveled from Iowa to Oregon with nearly 1,000 trees and shrubs. His younger brother, Seth, later developed the Bing, named for his Chinese workers’ foreman, Ah Bing.

Rainier cherries by Adriana Janovich in Washington State Magazine

They are a cross between yet more transplants. And they are also ~20% sugar. Well, that would be why they are so tasty.

And digging into this a bit more, native New England cherries, which are called ‘black cherries,’ are not the black cherries one finds at the supermarket (of course they aren’t, because this is never easy). The native ones are actually closer to the chokecherry than the sweet or sour cherries we eat today.

I don’t know what to do with this information. This cherry tree is not native to the PNW, where I live now, and I don’t think anyone is growing them to sell cherries (though the wood is prized, so they might be grown for that). Apparently sour (tart) cherries are the kind mostly grown in New England today, and they at least have much higher nutrient contents than sweet cherries. Apparently they were brought over in the 1600s, so that would still be most of 400 years. So I guess try some tart cherries this summer?


Are we feeling safe?

Now that I am vaccinated and feeling mildly more safe–I’m watching you, variants–I’m considering joining a writer’s group. Talking shop is super fun. I miss the company of other writers working with the same struggles I do. Being around strangers for hours at a time, though…..ugh. Maybe looking for online groups is better. At least for now.


Predator / prey

I had a long conversation with a friend about predators and prey. The human kind–sociopaths and psychopaths who prey on the empathetic just because they can. My friend, who has in general had very different life experiences from mine, sees human predators as an unchangeable fact of humanity. That in any human society at any level and in any configuration, predators will rise up and be predatory. I don’t necessarily disagree, it’s just not a thought I’ve ever thought, so I’ve been thinking about it a bit since. We talked about how to handle them; i.e., methods to keep predators from ruining any type of society empathetic people can think up by their need to prey on others. Basically we came up with exiling them to their own island so they can just live in the shark tank of their own making. Or turning their predator instincts to work for the community by impressing upon them how much they need community to survive (predators don’t farm or cook or build or create or do any of the things they like to take advantage of or own). Sherri Tepper’s Gate to Women’s Country solution very much came to mind.

What there wasn’t much talk about, for various reasons, that I thought of later: what makes someone a predator? circumstance or genes or training? what are the behaviors that make up a predator? everyone must have both predator and prey tendencies, so what makes predator tendencies be identified with so strongly in some but not others? isn’t empathy a teachable skill? and if it is, isn’t predation? are they opposites? and if they are, what is their Jungian reconciliation? how does all this apply to characters in general and antagonists in particular (or does it)? how useful is this duality as a lens?

Monday, July 5 2021

Quote of the Day

“If there is one thing I can guarantee you about humankind, Last Listener, it is this: Provide them with a sword, and they will find a way to impale themselves upon it.”

Brandon Sanderson, Rhythm of War

A food new to me

When I told a friend about my nasamp misadventures, the result I described reminded her of West African Fufu. That is something I will try in the future!


Houses are homes not commodities

YouTube surfed me up this excellent video about the current housing mess, and how to solve it. The how to solve it part was genuinely great, as it’s a problem humans have solved before! I know, right?! There are even actionable next steps that are being worked on by real life people. I had hope, and it was great.

Speaking of housing, if you are like me and are fighting with the rent vs buy decision at this exact moment in time, don’t. Don’t struggle, and don’t buy. There’s a strong chance that things are going to be Less Crazy in about 14 months.

Also speaking of housing and how everyone should have it, Community Solutions is so far the most effective solution to housing the homeless that I’ve seen in America. It’s effectiveness lies in the fact that they’ve realized there is no one grand policy solution. But there are solutions when you look at each person’s individual situation and get them the exact help they need.

It occurs to me that living in true community, in a healthy society, means a Jungian individuation situation between the individual and the collective. A union of those opposites.


Our real-world Fifth Season

While there are places that just catch fire every summer / fall, if you live near those places (as I now do), you have the joys of smoke season. Washington has developed a tool that they are calling a Smoke Forecast, because the steady destruction of our planet is now as commonplace and predictable as weather. It’s fine.


It’s all opposites today

I stumbled on this little document put out by King County: NAVIGATING TWO TRUTHS FOR “RE-OPENING” – WE’VE MADE TREMENDOUS PROGRESS AND WE ALSO STILL HAVE COVID-19 SPREADING

Which, I’m still have trouble with. My husband looked at me today as we were going out and asked me if I wanted to wear a mask. I literally had no answer. So we wore them out of confusion.

I was at the dentist in the Before Times, and I had a small cavity on one of my teeth. Before I let them just drill and fill, as they are so apt to do, I did a little research. I found that…more responsible dentists will track a small cavity and see if it gets bigger or stays the same. Some cavities are active cavities, getting bigger and bigger and worse and worse, and need to be filled. But others don’t. They are called arrested cavities. So the next time I went in, I was asked if I wanted to fill that cavity. I, in turn, asked if it had gotten any bigger. And I wasn’t able to get a straight answer. I was told that the decision was mine, and I needed to tell them what I wanted to do.

This is where I am at with wearing a mask. We’re being told that there are still risks, but not what they are. We are being told the metrics of a re-opening, but not what informed those metrics. How do I make a reasonable decision with inadequate information? Those two truths are not going away in the near future, but now we have to personally manage all the risk. It feels like another way of pushing a problem on to the consumer to save the bottom line.


Is Democracy Possible In Fear?

Stumbled across this: Democracy needs discomfort and distrust is a political virtue

I had no time before leaving on a trip to do more than read this headline and save the link. Just the headline was enough to make me think, though.

The trip wasn’t as full of hard conversations as I thought it would be, but it was absolutely a masterclass in fear. I visited very, very well-off people who live in their personal compound. There was an extensive alarm system, a gate. Extra independent alarms on a few windows not tied into the alarm system. In going out for dinner the house was closed up tight and the alarms set. The general assumption of every stranger in general and particular was that they were out to take advantage of them. I’ve never lived around this kind of fear. It’s not the same fear as my grandmother–she was afraid of bodily injury. Or things she didn’t understand, or being in the world in general. But these very rich people are terrified of losing their riches. Other fears sort of compound on that base fear, fear that people will come and hurt them….but that’s also somehow tied in to being hurt because they are rich. Are things like Fox News whipping up fear, or are they actually a true reflection of the fear that was already there?

And then this thought: Can there be democracy if people live in fear of losing their security? Or don’t have security at all? What crazy decisions are made out of fear?

I mean, I guess the ones we are living in. If we know that are living in a society that can’t save us, everyone is forced to look out for their own interests first. I think everyone in America is pretty clear that the government as it functions today isn’t going to make sure everyone is okay. Perhaps the Republican ideology is the response to that fact–that the chosen ones who can game the rigged system and take all they can get then have to hunker down and hope it doesn’t get taken from you. And the Democrat ideology in response to the lack of security is to try to make alliances and coalitions to support each other in a social safety net of basic human rights. Which I guess makes a moderate ideology something like acknowledging the rights of all others and oneself to take all you can and hunker down and hope it doesn’t get taken from you.

This might be simplistic. Or, you know, not.


There absolutely be dragons

MAP OF THE INTERNET 2021 – Halcyon Maps

I could spend hours looking at this, especially because I know barely a quarter of the sites mentioned.


Blogging to write

So far all this blogging still hasn’t led to me making a formal piece of writing, so I’m not sure if it’s working or not. But it has barely been a month, so I suppose some time is needed. I was passed this reflection on an interview by a friend: Notes on Quentin Tarantino’s Writing Routine.

It seems that even dreaming up a million ways to give people bloody ends on screen requires ritual and consistency.

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.