A title, because there should be one.

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This is a test of the thumb-writing communication medium.

So far the thumb-os have driven me crazy. I may have to break down and begin using the aids. No, never! The thumbing aids are created by marketing people for hypothetical Consumers who don’t want to be confronted by anything so confrontational as being allowed to use a vocabulary that contains many jokes for oneself as well as the occasional obscurity. I just want to be able to type fast on a black rectangle with a keyboard that’s too small for thumbs if I hold it one way and too wide—but still too short—if I hold it the other way.

And that, I say in my best Gump, is what I have to say about that.

A Good Day in Feed

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I read blogs much more than I write mine, so I fire up Akregator once or twice a day and cast a net into the RSS sea. I waited until late yesterday before hauling up that net, and brought up the kind of haul that depresses the global price of fish dinners and omega-3 commodities.

A new post by Charlie Brooker! Yay! — Brooker is the source of some of the best media commentary on TV (his Screen-, News-, and Gameswipe series) and science fiction and horror TV (Black Mirror) of any one person from the land-of-rocks-on-well-tended-green-hills.

This followed two interesting posts on the more practical aspects of keeping oneself alive through the food hole: Ferrett Steinmetz’s “I’m going to eat goop for a solid week, and probably not die”, about homemade food-substitute-drink; and Stina Leicht’s “The Little Picture Versus The Big Picture”, about the problem of factory farming, which is becoming more than a matter of feel-good, affluent, pseudo-activism. Either way, it is now easy, cheap, and healthy to stop eating meat—and less of an overt political statement—than it has ever been.

Charlie Stross is writing a doorstop, and his mind is managing not to be distracted too much by politics: The Myth of Heroism.

Flash fiction for Terrible Minds: Ideas, We Breathe

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This week’s challenge: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/04/18/flash-fiction-challenge-pick-an-opening-line-and-go/

I chose J. C. Hemphill’s line, which made Chuck’s fave list.

Ideas, We Breathe

I met a man made of smoke today. We talked for an hour, he and his friend and I, at Catteré, a cafe in the Third. The smoke from my cigarettes kept him aloft above his seat. Passers-by said hello to our little group; the residents of the Third know my companions well but were only being polite to me. A few might remember my face for a nauseous moment when I’m in front of them, but I’m as nameless in myself as the man of the smoke and the forge, Ogun Petr, is bodiless. Continue reading

Let’s Dump Wednesday

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What room is there for five days of work and two days of weekend? We’re supposed to have at least two lives anyway, balancing work, life, school, and play. For any stage of life, we’re supposed to pick two, but seven divides by nothing but one. Seven days is completely arbitrary, a token of change from one calendar to another. That change in late Rome happened during a time when astronomy was suffering from a hiatus of official interest. It was also a time when six days of non-stop physical labor punctuated by one of devotion to a deadly dull religion was an improvement. Nuts to that.

Should we add a day or subtract one? Should we expand the week to nine to provide a potential to make thirds? That question might hinge most on how long our weekends should be, and how much of the week to work. Three days on and three days off is attractive from the point-of-view of a shift worker. Shift-working might go away, but the equality of week and weekend is what intrigues me. A three-day-weekend is long enough to provide rest without being so long as to ensure forgetfulness. Four days is just too long. Six days, total, still allows for two-day thirds, giving workplaces the ability to work even more schedules together (even four-days on, two-days off) without having to figure out whether to insert or remove that extra, prime-making day.

All of these alternatives mean more free time than we have now. My vote is for six.

So given my desire to contract rather than extend, what’s the most useless day, dedicated to a forgotten entity, that we can get rid of? Wednesday, of course. It’s holy for practically no one and represents nothing but the drudgery of the dead expanse of the middle of the five-day work week. Let’s dump Wednesday.

Liberalism Needs Leftism

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Liberalism, classic 19th century liberalism, is being promoted by scientifically-minded Republicans as a way to pull their party back from its strange precipice of millenarian, racist insanity. The best parts of conservatism itself, an historically-aware aversion to risk, has been scuttling around under other labels for most of the past 50 years. Terms like “moderate”, however, have given over to “sane”, then to “former”. For those trying to resurrect the best of both conservatism and liberalism among the Fox Generation, leftism has become the third wheel they can distinguish themselves from, usually with cheap insults.

The problem is that like liberalism and conservatism, leftism also plays a vital role, and for the past thirty years that role has also fallen to ruin.

Leftism, at its best, organizes society against injustice, fighting the visible wrongs that society allows. At its worst leftism prosecutes a radical Jacobin urge toward revenge. At best, liberalism reforms onerous rules for individuals and applies those rules more equally in society as a whole. At worst, liberalism becomes a coöpted structure of rhetorical justifications propping up the authoritarian rule of establishment elites, the “most equal” individuals. Conservatism, at its best, argues for trying out new reforms in limited ways, risking as it were only a hidden corner of the upholstery. At its worst, conservatism throws itself wholeheartedly into radical, reactionary oppression of anything not aligned exactly with the long-established institutions of the ruling regime.

The worst of all three go together in a mutually supporting soup of discursive shit: the worst of liberalism uses caricatures of radical leftists and reactionary conservatism to label itself the responsible “third way”. In return the worst of conservatism and leftism portray liberals as venal if not explicitly corrupt and uncaring of What Really Matters. All three isms have their place and their dangers. Any public figure who cannot express the urge toward the best parts of all three impulses should be actively frustrated in their attempts to gain and exercise power.

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The Next Red Wedding(s)

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Not only does George Martin kill beloved characters and deny his heroes any real traction upon history, but he builds up the most sympathetic characters, tears them back down to the ground, and gives them permission to do terrible, stupid, destructive things. In doing this he links our favorite puppies back to the despicable characters of both yore and five-minutes-ago.

I predict another couple rounds of reaction shot videos this season. As books the story remains firmly in the tragic fantasy genre, but on the screen the story will do best if it slips into psychothriller and horror.

Land of Unknown Knowns

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Errol Morris made the rounds last week to plug his documentary, The Unknown Known, about Donald Rumsfeld. In Rumsfeld’s famous press-conference response, Rumsfeld talked about known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns. From what I can remember, Rumsfeld didn’t mention the fourth combination, the unknown known. Errol Morris uses this fourth combination as the title for the doc, and goes into the background in a post on NYTimes.com.

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