Dec 18

Tech distortion

This is a good take on something I’d thought about in other terms.

Many tech and media-savvy people live in a bubble. They believe implicitly that their experiences encompass the majority of humans, but in reality it’s a small minority.

Here’s an example.

The last IT department I worked in had about two dozen people in it. I use “IT department” because that is usually full of pretty tech-savvy people, and this one was no exception.

However even in this bastion of tech-savvy people, only a few of them had a Facebook account. I don’t think anyone had a Twitter account. Most of them — save one app addict — didn’t really use any apps on their phones that I ever saw (and I spent a lot of time with many of them).

Obviously many people use Facebook and Twitter, of course. But not in the ways and not in the contexts that I suspect many of the media elite use it, and are expecting others to use those platforms.

They are all looking for views and customers in a place that’s easy to determine if you’ve found them, meanwhile ignoring the 90% of your possible customer base — like me and all of my co-workers — who aren’t into that sort of brain hijacking.

Dec 17

Rush ya

The most dangerous thing to happen in a long while is happening now.

And that would be Russia’s economy cratering.

Yes, Russians in general are used to hardship as many of them have lived through so much of it. But with some taste of prosperity now being wrenched from them, this will create a backlash much different from the type exhibited when conditions go from bad to worse.

It will put Putin in a tough spot.

And putting someone with several thousand nuclear warheads and the means to deliver them in a tough spot is not, you know, ideal.

Dec 16

Advice for us all

Oh, shut up, hipster cockbag.

No one gives a shit that you’re so cool that you don’t even like what everyone else – all those Babbits braying about things they actually like, and not ironically – enjoys and has fun bonding over and dissecting.

If you don’t like something, don’t fucking watch it. Don’t read it.

It don’t need to be a Salon column.

Advice I could also heed more often: sometimes it’s better to just. Shut. Up.

Dec 15


The first time I remember disagreeing fundamentally with my family is the PATCO strike in 1981.

I was six.

I didn’t yet have the political vocabulary or even much understanding of the strike itself. I was precocious, of course, far more than most even very intelligent kids, but not some sort of superhero.

I just remember thinking that if that many people were willing to walk off the job and risk their livelihoods, there must be some meat of substance to their claims. Of course I had no working experience and no real way to identify how much merit their action had, but it seemed in its extremity to warrant some sort of attention.

What I thought was no more sophisticated than that. (And yes, I was paying attention to politics to some extent at that age; I could read fairly well at ~3 and could type at ~4, and started reading newspapers around ~5, and National Geographic from cover to cover with nearly-full understanding at ~6. As I said, I was precocious.)

But as my family – in particular my father and grandfather – ranted and raved about how evil and terrible the strikers were, and how they were loathsome liberals and everything that was wrong with America, it just didn’t seem right to me. As I said, I didn’t really understand why I thought that. I had no idea of class analysis, or even any understanding that I was in fact poor, but just that it seemed wrong to fire 11,000 people because they wanted better working conditions.

That wasn’t my first hint that I was really different from my family, but it’s one I remember pretty well.

Dec 15


There is a very high chance if any of the lit crit types describes a writer’s sentences as shimmer_me_timbers_macro_mei_mei“shimmering,” I won’t like their works.

Even though when I was callow and far more arrogant I used to read more for this sort of “shimmery sentence” experience than for plot, these days I far prefer plot.

As I can craft those allegedly “shimmering” sentences myself, I just don’t think they are that difficult or remarkable.

Plot is much more difficult. At least having a cogent, intelligent and comprehensible one that hews somewhat close to verisimilitude.

This is why very few literary novels have even a semblance of a plot that a two-year-old couldn’t have thought up, and even outside of the literary sphere decent plots are pretty damn rare.

I just wish more writers could do both. The only one I’ve seen come close recently is Jeff VanDerMeer with his Southern Reach trilogy.

Close, but not quite there. The writing is really good. Expressive without being showy. But the plot tapers off toward the end.

That trilogy is still worth reading, though. The “biologist” character is one of my favorites from any novels I’ve read in the past few years.

Dec 13


I’m going to step into a minefield here, but as usual I don’t really give a fuck.

This is a good example of taking something out of its cultural context.

The song does sound rape-y today – to us. And I agree with Amanda that any reason a woman says no is a good reason.

However, it was widely understood at the time the song was released (as a commenter also points out) that the woman in the piece was saying “no” but meaning yes.

Again – please read this carefully (and before you comment, read it again) – this song existed in a completely different cultural context, where many of our assumptions were not present, and where many completely different ones were present.

Here’s how we hear the song today: the woman is about to be raped, OMG!

Here’s how people in 1943 (accurately) heard and understood the song: the woman really, really wants to fuck and is looking for every excuse imaginable to do so without social penalty. Yep, even the part about, “Hey, what’s in this drink?” At the time, being “drunk” (aka “not really drunk”) was seen as valid excuse for all sorts of allegedly licentious behavior on the part of a woman, and women were permitted socially to use that as a reason for why they’d “fallen.”

If you listen to the original and how it is sung this is completely, completely clear. It would take a damn idiot to think anything else. But alas, there are many of those around.

I am surprised when even “educated” people like Amanda Marcotte cannot accurately evaluate historical context and understand how much that can change over time.

Again, I am not endorsing the song. Speaking as a person today, I listen to this song and cringe. But then I recognize that I am a creature of my time, so of course I do. Decent people today if there is even a hint of reluctance stop immediately. But again – understand just how much cultural context has changed.

Can people not step outside of themselves for one moment in time? Is that just not possible? I guess not.

If people like Marcotte and 90% of the commenters cannot do this, what fucking good is all this education I’ve been told is paramount? For most people, it appears to not do even one little bit of good.

Dec 13

50 mil

It’d be interesting to come back to earth in 50 million years after humans are long extinct and life in all its diversity has had some chance to recover.

What would be here then? Would cats and dogs, being so widespread now, evolve into myriad forms on every continent to fill ecological niches where we’ve caused animals to go extinct?

Would avians one again evolve fill ecological niches as they did after the dinosaur extinction 65 million years ago?

Maybe oxygen would increase greatly  due to lack of human influence and we’d have dragonflies with meter-long wingspans once more.

Dec 13


I could not agree more with Daisy here. This often bothers me, that we hold people who lived fishing-art-150, 100, 200 years ago to the same standards we hold people to today – despite the fact that they grew up in vastly different social milieus.

I think a lot of you young folks have NO IDEA what we grew up with in the past, especially if we came from the Midwest or South.  I imagine those of you growing up with highly educated parents or on the coasts, didn’t have to deal with backward rednecks (I am a redneck myself, so I am permitted to use this word), but I did, and John Lennon did.  We were products of our place and time.  If you do not understand the influence of socialization on humans and culture, your radicalism and organizing efforts will suffer, so please get a clue.

As most of you already know, I also grew up a redneck, doing redneck things – fishing, hunting, roaming around with BB guns and regular guns. I am in many ways still a redneck and a Southerner and always will be one, no matter my political beliefs, my support of feminism, etc.

A person can do one of two things with their past: pretend it doesn’t exist, and suffer from that mental denial as the past never really goes away – not really – or they can interrogate it and integrate the best parts of it into life and attempt to eliminate the most negative bits.

Saying that someone who lived in 1700 anywhere in Europe was racist? Good job, fucking genius, as nearly anyone alive in Europe then was racist. Congratulations on your insight.

That said, it doesn’t invalidate their contributions, their thoughts or their existence. Obviously. Applying social standards and the trends of today to someone born long ago is historical obliviousness.

Mainly I just can’t take these leftist “purity balls” were you demonstrate you are into all the latest chic radicalism while willfully ignoring anything that will actually progress the world.

Activism as performance art and cliquish glee club is some bullshit, is all I’m saying.

Dec 12

I hate dumbasses

Here’s why.

While the apocalyptic predictions for the end of the world were completely overblow, the Y2K problem was very real.

It was only because millions of programmers the world over spent billions of person-hours mitigating any potential problems that there was no widespread chaos on Y2K.

Here were likely results without any Y2K mitigation:

  • Banks would have likely had many problems due to most still at the time (and even today!) running on very old mainframes. Fancy logging in to see $0 or negative million dollars in your account on Jan 1, 2000? No? Then be glad Y2K mitigation efforts occurred.
  • Many nuclear (and other) power plants required mitigation. While the likelihood of causing some sort of meltdown or major disaster was small, with nuclear you know, wayyy better safe than sorry.
  • Much of the power grid in general relied on computer systems susceptible to the Y2K bug. Like having power in the middle of winter? Thank a Y2K mitigation programmer.
  • Many airlines relied on scheduling systems and software once again on very old computer systems. While widespread crashes were unlikely, having millions of flight schedules discombobulated by computer glitches might be a bit of a problem, don’t you think?

I could go on, but there’s no educating the uneducable.

As in IT, if you are doing your job successfully no one thinks you are doing anything. The systems just run and no one’s the wiser, or even cognizant of all the effort to make that happen.

Perhaps we should have just done nothing on Y2K to shut these fucknuggets up. I hate them so hard it hurts.