Nov 10

Humanity and its uses

It’s no mistake that in authoritarian regimes, studies of the humanities are sharply curtailed or eliminated altogether while science and technology (so-called “practical” education) is increased or at least not reduced.

While the US does not quite yet meet the definition of an autocracy, it is subject to unrelenting and ever-increasing corporate control that is acting as a de facto autocracy. This not-quite-conspiracy of large corporations does not quite have the same imperatives as an authoritarian regime but exercises nearly the same control in reality.

As an aside, I think that’s one of the few original ideas I’ve ever had – that as corporate control has increased,  LGBT oppression has decreased as a direct result since corporations simply do not care about this for the most part one way or the other – and in fact, fully-integrated LGBT people make better consumers.

So that is all to say that it’s no real surprise that corporations and their rulers do not care much at all for the humanities – the study thereof is dangerous to them. It directly threatens their power base by showing alternatives both imagined and actual, and allows those who study in the field to think their way out of corporate bastilles.

As universities are captured by more and more administrators from the business world, this will only increase. Expect to see much more humanities departments annihilated in the next few decades; I would not be surprised if in 30 years only one in 20 American universities has any faculty in any humanities area at all.

Nov 08


Someone’s gon’ have to conduct an intervention here. Can’t stop watching the Anna Kendrick music video, especially the part where she smiles at the end and walks out the door.

Nov 08

Anna K

I was looking for something completely different, and clicked on this only because I saw Anna Kendrick’s name. (I really like her because she’s extremely smart and an underrated actress. And oh yeah, that infectious mirthful smile of hers doesn’t hurt.)

The song’s not great – though it’s growing on me — but the video is excellent. It’s fun, tells a story and has lots of Anna K. No way to go wrong there.

Go here for an HD version since idiotic YouTube doesn’t allow embedding it.

Nov 08

Chromed out

I’ve been using the browser Chrome at work a little, just to see if my bad impression of it was correct.

And it’s terrible.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s fast if you do very little – which I guess is the use case for most people – but if you try to do anything intensive with it, it totally chokes.

In other words, it’s very much made for the “average user” who maybe has 2-3 tabs open and doesn’t do much in the way of real work or power use.

Sometimes in Firefox I have 2-5 windows open with 30-40 tabs in each one. And yes, I am using all of them and do need them all open and know what’s in each window and tab.

Just because you can’t do something doesn’t mean that I can’t. Don’t assume that my use case is yours.

And if you try opening 2-3 Chrome windows with 20-30 tabs in each one, that piece of shit is like using Windows 95 on a 386sx with 4MB of RAM way back when. It crawls so slowly it might be going backwards in time.

So, yes, Chrome is great browser if you need to do very little. Too bad Firefox is going the same direction.

Nov 07


This is a good example of why diversity matters; if there were more women in the tech industry, you can bet there’d be phones of appropriate size.

And for yet another reason, too – more and more children these days have smart phones, and they have small hands as well.

Increasingly, on the latest versions of the kinds of phones I want to use, I cannot type one-handed. I cannot take a picture one-handed. I can barely scroll one-handed—not very well, though. I can’t unlock my phone one-handed. I can’t even turn on my phone one-handed as my fingers cannot securely wrap around the phone while I push a button with a finger.

What’s odd is how companies are content to ignore such a large market. When someone tells me how efficient business is, I point to bullshit like this and say, “Yeah, you really believe that?”

But I think only think tank idiots who’ve never worked in a real corporation can subscribe to that fable of efficiency.

Studies consistently show that women make more purchasing decisions than men. And due to the sexist structure of our society, who do you think most often purchases phones for kids in addition to phones for themselves?

Hey, can someone give me $200 million? I’d rock this market. And that’s about how much I think it’d take to get something started.

Nov 07


One of the things that I really liked about Sony’s marketing stunt for Carrie is that it shows that when people should be running away really fast, they do not. Most of them take out their phones these days and start snapping photos or recording video.

This article covers the same territory about people’s true reactions.

I wonder if this is how people have always reacted, how much race and class matter, and if people now feel more “virtualized” due to not feeling it’s a real experience unless it is recorded?

Nov 06


I’ve posted this before, but not an HD version as I couldn’t find one at the time. This is just such a damn fun song and video. And the gothified Lisa Mitchell at the end of the video looks like a completely different person.

I can just imagine the record company exec’s response to this. “Ok, Lisa, we’d like you to make a nice, light and fun pop song we can play on the radio.”

And then the exec hearing this where the first line is, “Once again I leave my grave….”

But it is a nice, fun song. Just one about death and revenants and ravens eating your decaying corpse and shit.

Nov 06


I like Kate Miller-Heidke’s older, lighter stuff very much, but I really enjoy her newer, more cerebral material as well. Both are very good, but very different. She’s a smart woman, and it shows.

Nov 06

Starry skies in a rambling post

Not that I’m recommending people put themselves in situations like this on purpose, but you never feel so alive as when you’ve just cheated death.

The most effervescently alive I’ve ever felt is lying on a strange drop zone in the middle of the night after a jump, starry sky above me, parachute strewn in the grass behind me. It wasn’t even a hairy jump, that one. It was just a beautiful night and the plane ride had been a wild one.

Leaping out of the plane on a dark, cool night from the din and disquiet of a military aircraft into the utter dark silence of a drop zone is such a transition that it should be jarring – but it’s not. It’s like a rebirth.

As calm as it is, as still, the ground is still approaching. You have to get ready. Feet in the right place, let your rucksack go. Crash. Anything broken? Stars above, ground below. That night it felt like I was fizzing up into the universe, becoming a living Van Gogh.

I’ve lived my whole life doing things people told me I could not possibly do.

“What, him? Oh no, not Mike, he’s too geeky to date that woman.”

“Oh, not Mike, he’s too weak to join the Army. He’ll never make it.*”

“That guy, become a paratrooper? Yeah, right.”

And that’s only the first 20 years. You get the point.

I’ve always loved the Alanis Morrisette lyric, “I recommend biting off more than you can chew to anyone.”

Damn good advice.

If you aren’t biting off more than you can chew of life, why are you still living? What’s the damn point?

*My own father, by the way.

Nov 04

Some tips

When I am by myself especially, I often tip quite large amounts. I don’t want to be seen as some sort of saint or for people to come groveling after me – I just know how crap service jobs are, and I just feel really fortunate that I can tip 40% on a haircut.

Another $10 is not much to me, but when you’re scraping bottom it’s a hell of a difference. I know. I remember.

And yeah, I did have a computer in my family as a kid. My dad was a mechanic, and traded labor for many things people didn’t want anymore. We ended up getting a lot of fairly decent if outdated items that way. In that, I was very lucky, even before my grandparents started to help us out and my life got much better. And it meant we almost always had transportation as my father, whatever his flaws, could fix damn near anything. I once watched him repair a lawnmower McGyver-style with a clothespin and a piece of water hose.

But I remember this being in the fridge and nothing else, for at least a week: two slices of white bread.

And I remember doing this: searching for change in the couch so that we could afford to get some gas to travel to town so that my grandmother could give us some groceries. (My mom was too proud to admit she had absolutely no money.)

And I remember my parents fighting all the time about money.

My mom was a waitress for a long time. I also remember her talking about her nice customers, the ones that gave her a big tip even though she’d a shitty day and might’ve taken it out on them a little. And how much difference that made.

I want to be that guy. I hope I am that guy. I will be that guy as long as I have more than I need.