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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Unstable Nature

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When I was young and we would walk on the beach of the Oregon Coast, I was told to never, ever turn my back on the sea. It wasn’t a rigid rule, despite the vehemence with which it was given. The rule was more of a guideline; imagine having any kind of fun at the beach trying to keep a constant watch for tsunami or rogue waves. Instead, the idea was to never take geography for granted. Keep an eye out in every direction.

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Fortune

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This is the first speculative fiction story I’ve really worked on to the finish. It’s not where it needs to be, and there’s something embarrassing about working on horror, but it’s time to exorcise it completely. I’ve been herding the little bits of it around for too long and while it more or less hangs together, it isn’t what I would call good. I need to get better at both the drafting and the herding, so I want to empty this out of queue entirely to allow myself to focus on finishing other drafting and herding projects that are stacking up behind it.

Fortune

By Andrew Hilmer

Our first offering to the god was a scavenger I caught digging through the recycling. He didn’t struggle much as my wife Jan and I dragged him down to the basement, but when I pulled the sheet off the living clay of the enormous head he screamed and fought. In the dim light of the lookout windows our god’s eyes opened wide, its lips parted and a flood of tentacles and chains with hooks flooded over its teeth to tear the offering from our grasp. The meal was pulled in, denim and shoes and stink and all. The god chewed and licked its lips clean with a glistening clay tongue. Its eyelids slapped when it blinked. Finally its jaws and lips rested in a slight smile and its eyes closed. Jan and I went upstairs.

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So, my laptop sleeps with Linux now.

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And they’re very happy, but after two years together the transition’s been a bit awkward.

The BIOS update came just over a year ago, but I’d long since given up checking the drivers and updates page. I’ve gotten so used to not being able to sleep the thing that it’s going to be a little odd having a real laptop again. I would have preferred the kernel hackers to do a workaround rather than just yelling at Lenovo and passing the buck back to the people who created the bug. That’s the problem with intractable institutions: it’s often tempting to stop fighting and just work around them.

Who’s Shaming My Demographic?

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Michael Dunn was convicted of attempted murder the other day. This was taken as a recapitulation of the Zimmerman acquittal by a number of notables, including Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jessica Williams and the writers of The Daily Show. The actual murder went unpunished, after all, and the value of a person’s life and equality before the law remains a relatively unserious concept. Continue reading

Godwin’s Stagnation

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Economic crises are brewing in a number of countries like Brazil, India, Indonesia, Iran, South Africa, Turkey, and Ukraine. They are all having trouble maintaining reasonable price levels on imports. Natural gas in Ukraine, for example, is one issue that has been pressing their civil society past its tipping-point. Because much of the private investment in these countries is denominated in foreign currency, devaluation doesn’t serve to unwind those investments and developing countries get both ends of a bad dynamic: a withdrawal of investment causes both local economic stagnation and wage-lagging inflation. For normal people it’s no different than deflation: their wages fall relative to the prices they pay for everything.

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A Computational Mask for Editing

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Can it be that it is only the little words together like a song that is heard only when sung but looks on the page like many other little words unneeded and dribbling and gasping for derision? My little mind hears another little mind who can’t hear the thought, so we think that because we and they don’t hear the song there is no song to sing? Little word songs of poems of dialect, my dialect, the writer unthinking, and dialect of in with so of little words to sing of the writer must sing them. Little unneeded ors and its that that and over and still to be cut and cornered to come back to inside and over for cision and cession for of and over to come up again to be unheard and seen and slashed and cut and never sung.

Lickspittles of the World, Pat Buchanon has Good News!

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You have a despotic strongman to unite underneath! Or for the Shakespearean-impaired let that read “Authoritarian followers of the world, Pat Buchanan is dropping you off for playtime with your new ‘uncle’.”

TPM link for the weak of stomach. The original post on Townhall.com, “Is Putin One of Us?”.

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Long Sentences, Big Comments, and Slow-Growing Stories

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Long sentences exist because of the spoken word, not in spite of it. Short sentences are conversational but only because they follow, usually for no reason, the convention that we speak amongst ourselves only at the sufferance of each other. Conversation waits with limited patience for its turn to speak, patience thinning as the wait lengthens. In conversation, long sentences inspire interruption. Continue reading