Monday, July 9 2021

Quote of the Day

Charlotte was coming to believe that arrogance was a quality not just correlated with but a manifestation of stupidity, a result of stupidity.

Kim Stanley Robinson, New York 2140

I’m trying an experiment today, one where instead of trying to stuff a whole bunch of things in my day and only getting to some of them, I’m going to Work. I sat down at my desk at 9, and I’m going to keep working on my novel until 5–with a short break here for this blog. I guess we’ll see how that goes…..



Those are amazing. Of course I use a chiclet keyboard and they won’t fit. But if I didn’t, these would be for me.


Lately I’ve been finding that when I read my phone for 20 minutes or more, my eyes start to sting and water. It’s not great. But this happens mostly in bed, in the mornings when I wake up. I had a suspicion, and I think the problem is actually that I haven’t been drinking enough. Back to making sure I drink like 6 bottles of water or more a day.

Working in the reality of today

Can we save the planet by shrinking the economy? The “degrowth” movement to fight the climate crisis offers a romantic, utopian vision. But it’s not a policy agenda.

This is a really great article and it’s a really, really great point. They point out that degrowth is very first world centered–if we stop buying a ton of things manufactured in developing economies, we gut those economies and their citizens start having very bad outcomes.

Even if emissions in rich countries go to zero very soon, climate change is set to worsen as poorer countries increase their own emissions.

That will, of course, have deeply negative climate impacts. But the alternative is a nonstarter — should the world really prioritize curbing emissions and economic growth if it meant suppressing the growth of those countries?

Degrowthers see no dilemma here. What Hickel envisions is global movement in two directions: Poor countries could develop up to a certain level of prosperity and then stop; rich countries could develop down to that level and then stop. Thus, climate catastrophe could be averted, all while making the world’s poor more prosperous.

“Rich countries urgently need to reduce their excess energy and resource use to sustainable levels so our sisters and brothers in the global South can live well too,” Hickel put it. “We live on an abundant planet and we can all flourish on it together, but to do so we have to share it more fairly, and build economies that are designed around meeting human needs rather than around perpetual growth.”

From a climate change perspective, though, there’s a problem. First, it means that degrowth would do nothing about the bulk of emissions, which are occurring in developing countries.

Second, the global economy is more interconnected than Hickel implies. When Covid-19 hit, poor countries were devastated not just by the virus but by the aftershocks of virus-induced slowdowns in consumption in rich countries

There’s some genuine appeal to the idea of an end to “consumerism,” but the pandemic offered a taste of how a sudden drop in rich-world consumption would actually affect the developing world. Covid-19 dramatically curtailed Western imports and tourism for a time. The consequences in poor countries were devastating. Hunger rose, and child mortality followed.

They also talk about how degrowth didn’t really start out as a climate solution, but a holistic proposal.

I have lemons

So I might try this delicious looking recipe: The Pasta Queen’s “Lemon Temptress Pasta”

I am builder of worlds!

I am looking for world building resources, and I found this interesting worksheet and resource list from M. D. Presley.

Worldbuilding Resources

New ContraPoints video!

Hurray Natalie! Envy is great. I really enjoyed it, thinking about how we cloak simple envy in justice and morality to assuage our own guilt or uncomfortableness over having the feeling, and use those to justify truly awful actions.

As a general rule, the more radical a political community claims to be, the more likely it is to be a community of resentment. Self-styled radicals will tell you, “Superficial surface reforms do not interest us. The problem must be critiqued at its root.” And the root turns out to be this universal, all-encompassing evil, right? Society itself, the system, the machine.

A resentment ideologue always imagines himself engaged in a kind of Satanic revolt against an omnipotent, omnipresent enemy…And nothing short of total revolution counts as any sort of victory whatsoever. “We have to dismantle the entire system! Burn it all down!”

I guess it’s pedestrian to point out that this is the revolutionary utopian equivalent of Christians awaiting the Last Judgement. Our Kingdom is coming comrades!

Often the appeal of utopian ideology is similar to religion. It’s not about health care, higher wages, relief from police violence: these are actual goals that could be demanded, worked for, and achieved. Utopian ideology instead promises relief from some general malaise, “alienation.” And so ironically it can have the same opiate effect that Marx ascribed to religion. But release from the general anguish of human existence is not a political goal. There’s been many revolutions in the last few centuries and so far zero utopias.

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


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.