Archive for the ‘Mental Training’ Category

A Letter from Dad: "Can Pushing Make the Line Go Faster?"

Thursday, September 19th, 2019

When I was 17, I had one friend with an Autism brother1. He would sometimes bring him with us on our local sojourns, one of which was to sit on a bench at the tiny park and just watch traffic go by.

We would sometimes make up names for people who walked/drove past: "Oh, look at the nose on this guy! That's Bozo Redondo." "Hair check, hair check! This crazy lady has a swivel head and can't hold still; Miss Sheveled.2 "

Frank was usually silent, but very alert and always in observation mode. I think that's where we/I learned to always be aware of our surroundings/environment. Watch and listen to make sense of the world. I am not sure where he was on the Autism spectrum; whereas now someone hyper-alert makes me nervous ("what? where is it? calm down!") back then it seemed to be a calming thing. We relaxed in to our seat on the bench and did not want to miss anything in the moment: just speculating/naming/watching the world go by....3

If you have many years of acute observation, travel, elements of culture, and can be calm enough to observe, one becomes adept at what humans have always done to interpret their world: categorization/labeling.

Of course, this is prohibited. It is "frowned upon" (etymology?)4 to make any kind of observation about a person/place/thing.5 Some cultures/genders/groups are especially prohibited. Jokes are also taboo; there are daily news stories about someone being fired/shamed/black listed due to some remark or joke.

Yes, I was fired from a radio job for making an obvious joke about females back in the NOW days. But that's another story for another day (and you've probably heard it)6.

Throughout my life, I've had people tell me "you can't say that!" "that's not fair!"7 "you don't know that person!" "we need to help that ___ and that's not helping!" One's observations are empirical, untestable, and always suspect. Nature or nurture...why would you say something like that? Were you toilet trained at gunpoint? What were you thinking...or were you? You need to see a Psychiatrist!

Anyway Frank, his brother, and I went to a concert at the Claremont Colleges (Pomona, which later sent me a thin two paragraph denial letter the same day a fat envelope arrived from Stanford) one night. I think it was John Lee Hooker?

We were standing in line ("on line" if you are from New York) and when they opened the doors, Frank kept muttering "Can pushing make the line go faster?" as the crowd was tightening/jamming to the doorway. It was the only time I saw him get upset.

As the crowd continued to surge towards the door, he started to escalate and got louder..."Can pushing make the line go faster?" "CAN PUSHING MAKE THE LINE GO FASTER?" "No! Can't!"

His brother pushed us out of the crowd. We ended up sitting on a lawn next to the tiny place and listening from there. We had space and were able to turn down vision mode and turn audio up to eleven.

Frank started a meme with his observation. It applies to many things in life and I sometimes use it to this day--fifty years later8. The next time you are out and about and in observation mode ask yourself: Can pushing make the line go faster?" and look around.

Whatcha doin?

-t

p.s. "1872, Darwin Emotions ix. 223 A man who joined us, and who could not conceive what we were doing, when asked to listen, frowned much."

* * *

  1. I'd edit this to autistic brother, but I'm not sure the implied embodiment isn't intentional --if some afflictions are more central to a person's self-expression than others, you'd expect autism to be rather in the "central" group, wouldn't you? []
  2. I find the particular talent for appellatin' so delightful I couldn't tell you. As a kiddo I always drew my dad with a mohawk, when I drew him, 'cause he was so cool, see. I don't think he ever actually had a mohawk (other than a plastic one on his motorcycle helmet), but I'll probably always represent him that way, in my head. []
  3. When's the last time you saw teenagers engaging in anything like this most natural and otherwise timeless behavior? Watching the world go by on the phone isn't quite the same thing at all, is it. []
  4. I'm not sure that this rather un-idiomatic idiom even has an etymology distinct from sufficient insufferables muttering their irrelevant displeasure, but in the few tepid attempts I've made to find out, I've come away shorn of my good intentions by the sheer mass of similar mutterings. []
  5. I think he's a little over-sensitive to the emissions of various mulae. Then again, I refuse to live where he does largely on the basis of not wanting anything to do with the mulae, or at least on the basis of having a reasonable expectation that I can tell them to fuck off without some long-tail stream of personal inconvenience to myself. []
  6. Well technically this letter came in yesterday, and today's a new day, and the story's most definitely worth repeating, so here you go, drudged up from my archives:

    "KAYS, Hays Kansas. I was the morning announcer in my first
    job. KAYS was the only station in Fort Hays, Kansas (it was a
    radio-TV station where I also learned how to direct TV and was
    occasional weekend weatherman).

    Short jokes and funny stuff were a big deal in the 1970s and I used to
    try to throw in remarks, etc. This was conservative mid-america, so
    had to be careful of course.

    I told some risque stuff now and then and the station did what many
    midwest stations did by banning certain records (I remember "Tonight's
    the Night" by Rod Stewart being expressly forbidden. I got in trouble
    for playing the Isley Brothers once too).

    Anyway, I got called in to the manager's office, suspended for a week,
    docked pay, and then had to go back to the manager's office and
    apologize to the Kansas President of the National Organization of
    Women (NOW) because of a what I said talking with a news man.

    In those days, the "top of the hour" 00 to 05 on the hour, every hour,
    was news, farm report (barrows and gilts! I had no idea what those
    were when reporting prices...sorghum included!), and weather. Then
    the reporter would "throw" it back to the announcer with a "kicker"
    story--something funny or unsual or light news.

    He finished with a story about the first woman astronaut having just
    launched. So I said,

    "This is great! We have a woman astronaut, a female priest was just
    ordained, women are doing great things...I just don't think they
    should be allowed to vote!"

    Bam, right in to a record.

    Phones lit up, secretary comes in and says "Why are all these people
    calling the station?" etc.

    I just kept repeating to everyone, "it's a joke! it's not serious,
    it's a joke!" But almost got me fired from my first job.

    ...so there's my contribution to Woman's Month." []

  7. I really hope I didn't add to this pile of insanity as a child, but I shamefully have my doubts. []
  8. I actually remember Dad asking if pushing makes the line go faster throughout my childhood; waiting to get into the Del Mar County Fair, approaching Spike & Mike's "Sick n' Twisted" Festival of Animation, boarding my first plane to Europe.... []

Localbitcoins cracked corn, and I don't care.

Sunday, August 25th, 2019

On June 1st, localbitcoins silently switched off the ability to select "cash in person" as a bitcoin trade option on its site. Unsurprisingly, it "temporarily disabled" its forum at the same time. I know this, or at least, I knew it as quickly as I did, because various members of the WoT I built there over the years wrote to me to decry the fact and point out that they were still available for cash trades; I've only to say the word.

I've been trading on localbitcoins for about five years. I've used it on four continents and in more than thrice as many countries. If you looked at my profile, you wouldn't know any of the foregoing. Why? That's implicit in the word used above. I don't give a shit about some dorks and their wanna-be website, or about what they think are good criteria for trading. That's *my* call, and the kinds of people I want to trade with in the first place are also the kinds of people who rely on their own damned research. That means absolute bullshit in the vein of "verified accounts" is more of an anti-signal than a real one. Always has been, always will be. The very idea that a third party, not in my WoT, with unknown incentives1 can do the work of verifying someone for me, is antithetical to Bitcoin itself. What do I care how many trades some anonymous randos (for all we know, and likely so, bots, or as close to bots as humans get) say a trader under my consideration has done? Why would I take some website's word on the matter, even if I were interested in the foregoing; why wouldn't I talk to those randos myself?

And therein lies perhaps the most damning aspect of the use of sites like localbitcoins as the maintainers themselves would propose it be used --just like every other such layer of obfuscation, it attempts to separate you, the user, from what is a potential member of you WoT. It attempts to exploit your natural disinclination to talk to people you do not know, to automate and opiate the uncomfortable, so all you have to do is click here or there, compare one and two. I would very much like to live in a world where everyone already knows, consciously, that giving in to such a thing is tantamount to selling oneself in the worst way --that is, selling one's willingness and ability to think, to decide-- but I know I don't. It's too goddamned tempting to walk the "easy" route and let someone else do the dirty work of uncomfortable interaction for you. But you're giving up control, and while it's easy now it'll be a damned sight harder later, when you're older, when you need the fruits of your control that much more, and you haven't the ability to wrest it back.

So no, I'm not especially concerned that localbitcoins is handing itself and its users over to the forces of evil2 The people who will be negatively affected are either attempting to "be involved with bitcoin" in ways that directly oppose what bitcoin is, or else belong to that sad group that was however slowly attempting to figure out how it ought to be used, correctly. They built relationships, but kept them on-site. They traded when they absolutely needed it, but didn't trade for the sake of WoT-building. They acted, in one way or another, out of hesitancy and avoidance of their duty, which is to be responsible for their connections.

The necessary corollary being, of course, that making strong, exhaustive connections isn't optional! That state wherein you need an intermediary to tell you when you may and may not access "your" money, and how, and how much, and you can rot on your couch ordering ramen to your doorstep and making friends/masturbatory fodder on okcupid is called Unified Silly Dosidoe banking. Bitcoin isn't it, and it doesn't matter how many "regulatory agencies", "trading platforms", "websites", or ads masquerading as media try to proclaim otherwise.

Do your work, use tools as a human uses tools. Anything else is slavery.

  1. We can imagine their incentive is to part me from at least some portion of my money, and that their hope is I'm the sort of fool towards whom this sort of incentive works. []
  2. If turning off the one desirable trade option without notice while denying easy access to discussion thereof isn't enough for you, consider Jeremias Kangas and family took the further step of confiscating all coin in wallets not verified to The Great Old Ones' satisfaction on August 1st. []

Blistering Choice

Friday, May 10th, 2019

The very thought of the development of the specific psychopathies over time is enough to make me sick. Imagine the movement through a lifetime of a worm, acquiring in slow succession now antennae, now carbuncles, now splotches and hairs, complicated feet and feet for the feet themselves, ever multiplying in sickening mathematical complexity until there's nothing in particular that can be focused upon. All you can do as an observer is zoom in or zoom out, and every movement is edged in razors.

At first it was a sweet dream. There was something so simple, so round, about the correctness of things, about the possibility even of correctness. Only being able to imagine that there was some difference between paths, that there was meaning in action just as there was meaning in inaction, was revolutionary. It was the answer to all problems, and the light in all tunnels.

But there is no choice as to scope or context. For loving what is right you are not able to prefer it sometimes, or in some places. There is only where it leads you, of its own accord, by some laws you'll never know, by some laws that cannot be known. There is no guarantee that the entirety of life will be spent any other way than being compelled to love the correctness of the clutching of a sponge. And in truth, why should it really be any different? Whether something is large or small, simple or complex, whether it takes a great deal to comprehend or even see it or it appears as though a speck, a blip on the map of an existence, what does it matter to someone devoted to the thing itself?

And yet it can. And yet it can, terribly. It can matter to the extent that nothing else does, and the correct sponge holding becomes as a hateful fact, a thing utterly loathed and dreadful to think about, idol and paragon of everything wrong and unhappy. The silence and space around small things is too much to stomach, too much to mouth, even. It encroaches and grows and mocks, leaving the observer stultified and saddened, without material for anything at all. With no material, themselves, in or out. A shell, if you could call it that, for there's not all that much defining the borders after a while. Just a sort of gas that moves around, maybe, for unclear reasons, and to unclear ends.

You do not get to choose. The shape of what a dream looks like is a trap inasmuch as it contains any detail. The slightest detail at all is a lie, is a shackle waiting to ensnare the dreamer somewhere along the way, killing both their movement through the dream and their ability to wake up. Why should precision be quite so deadly? Supposedly specificity is a great boon, is a prime tool towards the development or manifestation of anything, anything at all. And yet, what can really be manifested in the presence of specificity? Only the hollow, aching death of the thing that was actually planned for.

Not knowing isn't better. Not caring is the only thing. But why would one dream if one didn't care? What's to dream about if you care about nothing? To dream of nothing itself, maybe, like a monk. Like a monk who sits, a dipole in the atmosphere, producing nothing.

It is in the network of rot of all of this that the insects appear, all fat, horribly articulated bellies and iridescent wings. What better place for such creatures to infest than a tangled nest of grief and contradiction. What experience, exactly, is one supposed to have from within an itching mess that can't be seen out of? The experience of prurience with blindness, the constant removal of one's own skin, the constant irritation to grow more calluses where the old ones were painfully scratched away.

Guts I've Lost

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

Who knows, perhaps they'll be the guts someone else gains. In any case, I charmed some pix off the doctor and I find the general population lacking in gore disclosure; let's see what an emergency appendectomy looks like, mm?

When I was little I regarded the concept of surgery as so abhorrent, I resolved I'd simply off myself if a situation requiring it were ever to arise later in life. As it happens, my appendix microperforated this past December 1st and the presiding whitecoats prescribed total eviction. I didn't have such a bad time, all things considered.

appendectomy-1

Pre-op was the worst, attended as it was by the visceral agony of the insubordinate tissue's sequelae. There was also a botched visit to an initial ER that sent me home with suspected stomach infection and a basket of meds that made just about everything feel just slightly worse. The hours before surgery included a dozen or so failed IV placement attempts and administration of a high-viscosity analgesic whose effects were arguably worth the sudden desire to gnaw my arm off and throw it at the poor nurses, experienced during the infusion.

Such unpleasantries were offset by the palpable precision of my surgeon, clinician, and ultrasound doctor, who managed a clear response to a very cloudy presentation fast enough to prevent rupture. Ultimate redemption arrived with the jolly anesthesiologist, who recommended himself to my confidence convincingly and then told me I was about to love him outright for the delivery of that there hypodermic of fentanyl. He was right, and he promised to give me back to the boss later on, which he did.

Much bloody mess was probed, as you can see.

appendectomy-2

The offending tubule's mugshot.

appendectomy-3

The procedure was laparoscopic, leaving me with two half-inch scars and a very mildly rearranged bellybutton. All was secured with dermabond glue --no external stitches to fuck with.

appendectomy-4

I stayed at the hospital a few days until my doctors were happy with my bloodwork; the appendix had left a good amount of untenable disguststuffs here and there, and we had to wait a little for my immune system to prove it could handle things. Three days of ambulatory ER visits followed for the sake of supporting antibiotics.

Here's my last IV line being taken out, exactly a week after symptoms had started.

appendectomy-5

I was forbidden to lift anything for a couple of weeks, and from the gym for about a month, which in retrospect seems like the hardest hit of the affair. On returning after the new year, I found I'd lost 10kg on my barbell squat and a good 20 on seated abductions, both hard-earned over a longer course of time than my recovery. I'm still clawing them back.

Let the childish or uninitiated mind take comfort, though; a little slice and dice is, assuming one's lucky enough to have the professionals and endlessly patient, doting visitors I had, not such a big deal as all that.

Perambulating MP: Pretense vs. Pretense

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

spyvsspy

The only potential "winner" is you.

So it happened this morning, as it fairly often does, that my reading of a Trilema article1 set off what I can only call The Churning, a distinct psychophysical sensation involving more or less every organ which threatens to culminate in a nervous fit if the inspiring material is not further examined and personally atypical considerations are not ingested.2 That sentence aside, allow me to specify3 two precursors:

I.

The "for women" part is provided by weakass sauce like some minor plot token pointing out to the hero that since his lordship, who knows quite a lot about male antecessors older than his greatfather, nevertheless knows exactly nothing about any women in the same line, even should they be younger than his grandmother, therefore it (the plot token) could in fact very well be the very grandmother in question.

The pretense involved, if it wasn't thickly laid out enough and it could take further belabouring, being that women are equally important to men, and equally meaningful and therefore notable, but "unfair arrangements" make men remembered and women forgotten.

II.

Pro tip : just because whichever god is stuck fucking the same Geea to make people, dun mean neither that people are all god's children, nor that there is or can be such a thing as "the goddess". The gods are all different, and earth is no goddess.

I brought these to breakfast, intent on using without abusing my unfathomably fabulous access to the very font of such allergens and their alleviations: the author. What follows is my distillation; inadequate as it may be for severe or obscure cases, I hope it offers some degree of support where it may.

I.

The emboldened passage led me on first pass to wonder whence and wherefore came the notion that women aren't equally important, meaningful, or notable to men. I suspected retreat into the concept of "non-equality", as in "no two things are equal" or such. Not the case; analysis of the problem here begins with the quantitative, hinted at in the preceding paragraph: "who knows quite a lot about male antecessors older than his greatfather." The set of this (or any given spring chicken's) antecessors is easily brushed aside as "big", or even "very big", but these are unexamined and unspecific.

If we take a loose approximation of man's time on this earth, say 100,000 years, and suppose every generation is about 20, we're left with 5,000 generations. In terms of individuals, then, we're left with no less than 25000, as every one was borne of two, one man and one woman, without exception. To get an idea of the size of the number of individuals, we'll move from base two to base ten and notice4 that 25000 ~= 101500, a number with 1500 digits. Divide it by two and you'll have, quantitatively anyway, two exact halves with fifteen hundred digits each. Exactly as many men as women, a minor miracle existing nearly nowhere, certainly rarely amongst things touched by the hand of man. Two particularly well made cups might be identical to three or maybe four digits; two CPUs perhaps twelve, at the cost of billions in fixed capital. There is no such thing known to man's industry or artifice as fifteen hundred digit equality, perfect and unyielding, exactly exact forever. In any case, the war was won by barely similar machinery.

The statement of fact that foremothers and forefathers are exactly equally sized, despite their incredible abundance, passes unremarked upon by the friendly fiend. The problem rather raises from MacDonald's proposal those two groups be equally important, meaningful, or notable. Yet why is it Anondos "knows quite a lot about male antecessors"? I proposed it was because those male antecessors did something. What else is there to know about someone, anyway? MacDonald might've countered, as I did (indeed, myself!), that it is inherent in feminine nature to keep quiet about doing, and to just do, whereas men are inclined to fabulate, to insist they've done what they've not, or to make the knowledge that they'd done something the focal point of the doing. This may even be true, yet what difference does it make? If indeed that's the female nature, then that's the female nature --nature no doubt is naturally happy in its nature. If it isn't, someone's lying, but in any case, there is not nor can there be such a thing as objective meaning. That, after all, is the one lesson of human inquiry.

What, then, is meaningful? What does MP's "...and equally meaningful and therefore notable" actually say? I proposed that if the trumpeting of deeds trumps the deeds themselves for meaning, let us all retire from doing and join for instance the Power Rangers or whoever else. At which point I was ready to receive the crux, staring out at me from the very beginning of the sentence I'd objected to5!

The pretense. MP describes the author's pretense. Of course the Power Rangers are the meaningful party to them, and of course MacDonald proposes some unknown females are nevertheless meaningful to his character, as part of the traperdition of placating the talkers and dreamers of the world by idly pretending that they're just as much a part of that world as the doers. I asked MP why he thought MacDonald dunnit. "He thinks that's how you write fantasy. But it's cheap fantasy, cardboard fantasy." Don't you find?

II.

What then of goddesses? Why would gods be talked about as though their possibility were unquestionable, and goddesses rejected as a very conceptual possibility? I was asked to produce a god. I chose Zeus6, and when asked "what is the thing about Zeus?", offered a beard and lightning bolts. Yet it turns out the ancient Greeks codified mythology as a tool, just as well-oiled and ready to be used as the fractions I'd been fumbling over in I. above, and there's a lot more to it than aesthetic tokens and mundane symbology.

The correct answer is: Zeus said "...and if you don't like it you can all grab a ring and I will grab the other side and throw you all across the sky." Cronos ate his children. Athena struck at her father's skull with her lance from inside 'til he had her birthed just to stop the pain. Diana kept her ass hidden from they who wanted to see it. Gods do, and the doing defines the godhead; Gaia7 "just is".

"So are there goddesses or not?" I asked. "What about Athena, what about Thetis, Diana?" "They did. They have tits, they're still male."

At this point it might occur to you, as it did to me, that MP's use of language --"goddess" vs "do-nothing", "men" vs "the only parties to actual activity"-- can only be fairly described as a pretense of its own. Why not state it plainly, the lazy and idiotic are therefore not as good?

It's pretense vs. pretense, and even if you don't favor the method, I doubt you can argue it's not wildly instructive for the audience.

* * *

  1. MP proposes said article's title is incomprehensible, but I have the answer key. Neener. []
  2. It is, to be sure, a blessed illness, and I know of no better, and certainly no swifter, way to learn or grow than by tending to it; text that never makes one feel sick is as so much government cheese, irradiated of culture and shelf-stabilizing unto one's death. []
  3. Specifying is, woefully, rather personally atypical. []
  4. I'd like to note for my own self-immolation that none of the reasoning herein contained blossomed forth from my own brainpan. Part of the The Churning's cure is the revelation of the number and size of one's holes in knowledge and dams to facility. Never ever believe anyone who proposes you "don't need" or "just aren't meant for" or etc, math. Innumeracy will suck your life away, guaranteed. []
  5. No shit, actually intelligent people order what they say by importance; imagining an opener is decorative is bound to fuck you up. []
  6. And quickly regretted it, asking to change to "a less complex? one" for the sake of lower outlier example potential. My request was denied. []
  7. Geea in MP's original. []

Who's responsible for this?!

Friday, November 16th, 2018

What is any particular being responsible for? The greater difficulty of this question results from a fundamental misunderstanding of what responsibility means in the first place. Typically it's confused with guilt, inasmuch as a question as to irresponsibility is likely to arise only when shit has somewhere met a fan, and a culprit or scapegoat is sought. But being responsible doesn't necessarily mean having fucked something up. Rather, it is the state --quite without qualitative consideration-- of being he who answers.

For himself, for a sequence of events, for other people, for acts of god, whatever it may be. A person can be responsible for anything, so long as they can answer for that thing, which means delivering rationale capable of fully satisfying any and every reasonable question about said thing. The old trope of someone being told they're "not responsible for the entire world" speaks then not to the emotional pressure of feeling guilty or having urges to help others, but to the factual impossibility of being actually answerable for every other human being, to all the other human beings.

It follows that being responsible, then, isn't something that can be jotted into a schedule just-so; there's no seat-of-the-pants way to be answerable as the state itself is defined by constancy. Yes, and forethought, but forethought without follow-through of internalization and continual perception and reaction is exactly the substance of so many protestations against irresponsibility by the well-intentioned. Setting aside some time for a thing is eminently not the same as overseeing it. Just ask the last couple of generations of kids that spent their childhoods attending "family time" and who otherwise lack any actual family worth the mention.

It also follows that responsibility isn't something that can be levied on someone; the onus to be responsible, yes, but in actual fact only an agent may be responsible, and only by actually being so. There's absolutely no space for subjectivity or interpretation; one is responsible or not, and whether they were told or begged to be so or whether nobody even knew is entirely incidental.

Responsibility is a state, and I'm hard-pressed for an example of someone who could demonstrably turn it on and off, switching as convenient. Sure, some selection is required in the bag; one must pick who and what they'll answer for. Maybe one's even stuck with the responsibility for something they'd rather never consider again. This is also part and parcel of the concept, however. Dropping something when it becomes unpleasant, when one's ability seems to falter, letting it slip one's mind, even, are tantamount to irresponsibility. That's not even a bad thing, in itself, either! Remember: there's no qualitative aspect involved, here. It's just a state. Sometimes being irresponsible is the right thing.

In any case, though, constancy is an absolute requirement. "I'll take the responsibility" may never be something said after the fact, but only before it. A lack of understanding as to whether it could happen again, as to whether the doohickeys involved were green or red or fat or old, necessarily denotes irresponsibility, no matter whether one tried, or how hard, or how great they are, or anything else.

At least, that's how I feel about it.

Ingenohl, the Anti-Chucker

Friday, November 9th, 2018

Friedrich von Ingenohl, that is. Ever heard of him? Me neither, 'til I served dinner tonight and after the third bite of Orange Chicken it was "So let me ask you this." ("Ask me.") "How did World War I start?". We won't belabor the precious few paragraphs that followed, accepted more or less as they were after several years of violent dissociation from ninth grade social studies and the occasional quasi-conscious polish. Of specific interest is those paragraphs' reward, the following cascade: 1) Germany decided it lost the war because of traitorous elements among its own people; 2) reality decided that Germany lost the war because it failed at sea; 3) the very sailors witness to this failure eventually had enough and threw their silly hats into the ring of the revolution that spawned the Weimar Republic. Freidrich von Ingenohl sits at the center of this sequence, having thoroughly embodied the failure at sea responsible for Germany's loss of WWI, and arguably therefore WW2, and arguably thence-and-hence-forth.

Ingenohl received his post as commander-in-chief of the German Navy in 1913 after nearly forty years of dicking about with the same outfit in East Asia. His inheritance was a capable fleet not at all subject to the "inferior materiel problem" that might vaguely rattle around between the ears of poor sods originally educated in the same sad schooling system as I. No, Ingenohl's navy was stacked with excellent battleships and submarines, and he brought several dozen to fuck up England's northeast coast in December of 1914, including a few very heavy dreadnoughts. Some of these he left as massive reinforcements stationed a little closer to home, "just in case". Despite an arguably superior naval force and despite the considerable advantage of being able to sit in port while England's ships were obliged to patrol, Ingenohl was nervous. Possibly he contracted it from the Kaiser, who'd warned him to avoid unnecessary losses, whatever that means. In any case, Ingenohl was nervous, and he went to war with it.

His underling Admiral Hipper took a few of the ships close to shore, where they damaged a few ports and several hundred port-dwellers. The weather was on the Germans' side --the fog gave the land batteries an extra challenge-- and England had a slow start rousing ships for defense. Eventually she sent a submarine, and Hipper fled. George Warrender1, Vice-Admiral of the Royal Navy, gave chase with a motley, but small, assortment. The shitty weather and report of a single enemy ship spotted prompted Warrender to send a mere six battleships towards the lurking behemoth of Ingenohl's reserve force. Shots were fired; at least three of the British ships were hit; one in particular managed to fire a torpedo from its flailing wreckage; it was not really quite dawn yet; Ingenohl was nervous. There was smoke and noise and hey maybe the entire fucking Royal Navy is nigh and Kaiser said "careful"! So he left.

He'd've blown Warrender's business to smithereens with ease, but he left. With the exception of naval minister Alfred von Tirpitz, who had already been throwing fits about Ingenohl and protested that he'd had the fate of Germany in his hand at that moment, nobody seems to have been conscious of the meaning of this abject failure. Men stuck sitting around the docks and dinghies Ingenohl oversaw apparently took a confused sort of umbrage; but the official lines, in and out of Germany, forgot and forgave Ingenohl in some magic admixture that prevents his psychological disorder from being studied as much as it deserves.

stashio

Pretty good moustache, tho'.

  1. Was his name all he needed for his military resume?! I mean.... []

Feminine Exceptionalism

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

The following is a[n attempt at] translation of the Trilema piece Exceptionalismul femenin.

You've doubtlessly come across at least one side or another of these strategies/social psychopathologies in day to day life (depending on where you've found yourself, on the outside or the inside of the disease), even if it didn't seem in the respective moment that they'd make up part of a structured and describable whole, just as not everyone who trips over a mastodon bone sticking halfway out of the ground will start to reconstruct the entire animal with its habitat and everything. Excusable, but man've we got work to do, and man'll it be tough.

Feminine exceptionalism begins, as the name suggests, with an exception. "Sure, smoking's not allowed here, but can't I smoke?" "Sure, it's written on the card not to tell anyone the PIN, the bank sent letters to remind you not to tell anyone the PIN, on the ATM screen there's an advertisement to not tell anyone the PIN, but you'll tell me, won't you?" The list, in principle, is neverending, but in practice it always reduces to a very simple pattern. The rule is X, surely it's so, but the girl doesn't consider it to be the case that it applies to her.

She doesn't contest that in truth the rule exists, she doesn't contest either that it's a good and necessary rule. In fact, any discussion of whether the rule is good or bad doesn't interest her at all; on the contrary, such a discussion would detract from the real point of interest for her. She doesn't contest either that she makes up part of the category of applicability of the rule. On the contrary, for feminine exceptionalism to function, a valid, useful rule whose applicability she falls within is absolutely necessary.

Why? Here we arrive at the true psychological reason for the whole operation: the girl suffers from a problem of self-esteem. She feels, she considers, or she was taught to believe herself to be inferior. Eventually all three. Inferior not just to the other men, and not just to the other women, but even to she herself, to her own "potential".

To combat this psychological sequela, she feels it necessary to prop up her existence with special treatment. Every valid and applicable rule which is broken offers her a bubble of oxygen: maybe she's not a piece of shit, because hey, in that moment she's that special.

The poor form of asking to smoke somewhere the owner doesn't, of the same species and class of asking for vegetable oil when the table's having butter doesn't interest her, because she is not in fact well-mannered, but on the contrary, she still carries under her nails the filth of the existence of the low to (about) the middle class which blessed her with the stretch-marks and soul-marks of which we speak.

And of course, like any psychological problem of the transactional class, this complaint exhibits two specific particularities. Firstly, it is progressive. If yesterday she's been allowed to smoke though smoking's not allowed, it's no longer sufficient today, it no longer produces an effect, so she'll smoke two, four, eight, sixty cigarettes. Until the end, the stimuli have to progress geometrically in order for the receptors to be stimulated in arithmetic progression.

If yesterday you've waited on her five minutes, today you'll have to wait half an hour, and tomorrow we'll be forced to go to another city instead of the cafe we'd planned on, for no other reason than that the girl doesn't feel so great. In the head.

And secondly it is, like any transaction, prone to disproportionate reactions. If the girl has negotiated in her mind that for today proof of the fact that she isn't a piece of shit will be manifested through letting her drive the car, and you don't let her drive, for whatever reason, no matter the reason, like for instance that the car's fallen in a lake, or it's been stolen overnight, wasps have made a nest in there or whatever else, the girl's head is going to explode, and she'll bawl on about how could you say that she's a good for nothing piece of shit.

Which, honestly, she is, preferably to be shat onto a cart headed somewhere in the direction of a hospital for nervous disorders, where who knows, with attentive care and the help of experts, something else might be done with her.

The Best Things in Eulora are Grimy

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

Well, thing. There's just one Grimy Toolkit in game so far, so far as I know, or at any rate it was only released last week. So far as I...look, intelligence in this game is about as easy to come by as talented thieves and honest politicians. Suffice it to say there was an auction for a thing the purpose and value of which were not publicly known, and I won1.

grimy
Looks about as indistinct as you'd expect from a bitter husk of a tool utterly bereft of even the crudest of instructions and entirely intent on obscuring its utility from the feebly throbbing folds of its owner's tortured mind, no? And the "grimy" apellation doesn't really suggest anything other than that the kit belongs in this decidedly downcast world, home of disgusting goop, penance clogs, petrified feelings, and so forth. At first I thought it was a gold panning device. But the sea is wide, and I'd have no idea what to do once I got there; so let's stay in the relative warmth and safety of "town", that unwelcoming bald spot in the grass populated by quivering humanoid boxes, and fuck around with this thing.

Initial observations: like certain items2 it can be equipped in either hand. Unlike many tools3, it is not a container. That latter bit means using the thing won't be as easy as putting something else in there and pressing a magic button. But if other tools that are equipped in a hand are any guide, the Grimy Toolkit'll need some sort of written command to work, just like the mining tools are used via /explore. I was loathe to try that very same command with the new toolkit equipped given the distant memory of someone's magic bag breaking under that operation. Eulora is a harsh mistress apparently unhappy to be explored by items that don't meet very strict slag-on-a-stick criteria.

What else is there? Uselessly, /sit and /stand came to mind (I tried anyway). Eulorum has a list!. But it's mostly procedural stuff for moving around. There's gotta be a file with an actually complete list of these somewhere though, right? And the command that makes use of this new thing'll have to be in there, so let's dig4. Going straight to dev/EuloraV(ersion) seems a safe bet since that's where juicy stuff like configure lives. Grep it for /sit, no dice, move on. I'm sure plenty of folks would've speedily deduced their way to the right file, but I've been hittin' the Crumbly Rock a lot lately as shinohai said and it took me a few minutes of diddling around in directories to find a pretty obvious suspect: cmdusers.cpp in /src/client. Lovely, alphabetized list, certainly some commands I've never seen before.

The novel ones were tried (I even proposed marriage to Heina as I moved down the list...alas, I was rebuffed). The novel ones told me pretty much nothing. Until /repair. "You do not seem to have the right equipment for this kind of work," it said, a suspiciously specific error amidst "Invalid work command"s and unresponsive spittles of syntax. If the toolkit itself isn't the right equipment for repairing though, what would be? Well sometimes crafting requires the player to wear certain items, like a Chair for the Head...so that and all other such equipment I had in stock was tried on in every permutation possible. Same error message. But there are other wearable pieces of equipment I don't have, or at least, their blueprints are around. Before commissioning the tinkerers to make me a full set of everything they knew about, I made the one thing I had the blueprint and all the ingredients for: an Early Technicolor Dreamcoat. It happens to call for 24 two-leaf clovers, which would've been a bitch if I didn't have a glut from earlier sacrificing activity. There's little I love more in Eulora than sacrificing, as it yields either hard-to-find harvestable resources or certain potions that grant skills5, along with special tokens that go for half a million ECU each. But about that toolkit....

Once the dreamcoat was ready (it doesn't look so technicolored, which I guess is why it's the "early" version), I put it on, tried /repair again and got...a new error message! Which was slightly encouraging, even if by this point I was imagining myself stuck with the same unusable item in a year's time. "This item is already perfectly dysfunctional." I was trying it on my altar, which is the tool used for sacrifice. Mostly because wouldn't that be awesome, a way to extend the life of that rather rare6 font of unfair advantages? My altar has a healthy durability left yet though; what about another container-tool with such low durability it has no clicks left in it? Coat still on, I gave a decrepit Worn Old Screens7 a try, and behold! They regained about 12k durability points.

The repairing process uses the McGuyver skill, and I've yet to determine if higher or lower ranking is ideal for durability points repaired versus Grimy Toolkit decay. I'll be holding that determination for the day when my altar is broken enough to be saved. And on that day, you'll most likely also see me gloating, for the toolkit won will recoup its costs at auction in a mere twenty clicks, not counting whatever items I might loot in bonuses. Everything from there is upside, and this in a land where upsides are usually either infinitesimal, illusionary, or both.

***

  1. For 10MN ECU, ten bitcents. []
  2. Pickaxes, adzes, hoes, and magic bags. []
  3. Bandar toolkits, craft tables, worn old screens, samovars, turning wheels, and grotesque altars. []
  4. Stuff like this really makes Eulora shine, I think; whereas pretty much every other game I've played would depend somewhat on players not digging around like this, and even attempt to penalize those that did, Eulora outright encourages it. For all I know this was actually imagined as the way to get the mystery demystified []
  5. This is how the mining and lumberjack skills were found this year, via imbibing The Good Hammer and A Butch Man's Buttered Scones, respectively. []
  6. Public records suggest I have one of three extant, with the other two belonging to Daniel P. Barron. The same fella has some blueprints to make more, but I alone have one of the key ingredients, and we haven't managed to reach any sort of arrangement, so miserly has the trade made us. []
  7. A tool for shredding recipes to yield maculature, among other things. []

What is a supermarket?

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

"Oh, their produce is sub par, and a lot of what they carry is probably gmo."

"You shouldn't shop there because it hurts local store owners' business."

"The only reason their prices are so low is that they exploit workers in poorfagistan."

These all being legitimate arguments, I've recently discovered (through my own failure, that no-speed-limit highway to getting a sense of how much you don't know, especially among the set of things you thought you did) that they don't describe the fundamental problem of the supermarket, which is at best tenuously related to what it does. The problem of the supermarket is what it is. So what is it?

Go, enlist google, enlist "dictionaries", which will happily dish out a buffet of useless synonyms and descriptions of how such a thing is internally organized, all beneath a billowing canopy of ads. Eat it and you'll end up full of shit, the present state of the vast majority of people, who imagine they know what the words they use mean. Here's some pepto-bismol, handed down to me from on high back when I decided I'd rather do just about anything than stay at that corprophagic party:

A definition consists of the proximate genus and its specific difference within the same.

Some fair proportion of my waking hours consists of guessing games; what things mean, as per the above conundrum, what the correct response to some hypothetical or other might be. I hate and love them just about equally, and the question "do you give up?" is always there, looming, like a sort of Everest with its face all curled, just waiting to call the climb I'm trying "cute". Let me tell you, I walked with the question of what the fuck a supermarket is for at least five miles, traversed along streets studded with shops which might've qualified for the definition, but maybe not...what about them, I wondered, could make them a supermarket? Some of them even had the word "supermarket" in the names plastered on their fronts, and for fuck's sake, they didn't meet the criteria I was searching for. Maddening, it was. And if you live amongst the commercial detritus of the west, I gather you'd have a similar experience in the attempt of a definiton, unless of course you've had the wisdom and foresight to really think about your environs and the places you patronize. Who'm I to say, maybe I'm only representing the feeble, contorted Derpidity over here. Hats off to you if you've got it. But if you don't:

A supermarket is that store which broke modern yet virgin ground solely for the purpose of creating the store.

This might seem insufficient at the outset, but think about it: that corner shop that calls itself "Corner Supermarket" might have it in its name, but the place already existed, as a warehouse or apartment construction, and was merely converted into a shop. A mega appliances outlet on Broadway might have all the fluourescent, bargain-screaming trappings of a supermarket as we've come to know it, but it's a working part of a pre-existing commercial street, it has a history that consists of something beyond the first bulldozer and an adjacent meadow-turned-parking-lot.

The fact that its products might not be of a similar quality to those found at a shop trying its earnest to serve you with the genuine article is important, to be sure. But a more fundamental consideration here is that the supermarket, even outside of the question of its internal quality, creates an external hellhole around itself and all that it touches. The land on which it's built and in a frightening circumference is outright vershtookt; atolls of asphalt, man-made hills, retaining walls, and of course, post-apocalyptic traffic with its attendant smog, frustration, and dis-ease.

In contrast, here's a shot of the internals of a local coffee shop1, that being a place for buying coffee rather than a *$ shoved into your town's newest stripmall (why's it a "stipmall"? Hint: it's not because it occupies a "strip".):

Mmm

This place, discovered on the same five-mile walk described above, is an absolute wonder. This guy's coffee is so good, last time I bought a half-kilo and walked out with it pedestrians on the road stopped me to inquire where I'd gotten coffee that smelled -that great-. And it wasn't even brewed yet. Every time I have a pot of this going in my place, its aroma is the first thing out of the mouths of my guests, a la "Oh my god, that coffee smells wonderful!".

So what's the story of this place? It's on an old corner of a very old street, probably in former years a butchery or clothing store, what's it matter other than that some guy who wanted to make a living selling coffee bought or rented a place, rather than imagining he's part of some new "shopping experience" that's so full of crap it's gotta quarantine itself in a kilometer of six meter high sodium lamps and utterly depressed saplings.

***

  1. For the interested locals, Cafezenda, Cabildo 199 []