Antithetical Seeds


Is it, then, some challenge of art, because in truth explaining what seems important enough to justify the sentiment is far more complicated than the moment otherwise seems to warrant: Of course the plate of birdseed has been moved to the dripline, that it might collect the water falling off the roof.

People are people. Humans are human. When truth being stranger than fiction starts to seem an insult is approximately the point at which one can no longer ignore the nagging, garbled question about how human imperfection seems so inhumanly, perfectly antithetical, as if an act of will.

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Life, the Universe, and Coffee


#yesreally | (#sigh)

To what degree is it significant that today is when a perfectly obvious fact finally occurred to me: My coffee pot is right-handed.

I mean, yeah, to the one, duh.

To the other, though: Really?

I wonder how much they saved by not putting numbers on the other side.

Ignominy in Transition


In the moment of learning that Edgar Ray Killen has died, what, precisely, should I feel? To the one, a small bit of evil has just left the world. To the other, what, he was an old man of infamous name, and is it really worth the investment of feeling anything? Edgar Ray Killen is dead at age ninety-two.

And life goes on, for the living.

Decades of Drudgery


#resist

Detail of 'Lucifer', by Franz von Stuck, 1890.

The lede tells me that one of America’s most widely read right-wing journalists said something nasty about someone who went and said something spectacular in his own right, but I find myself wondering how anyone, even conservatives, still pay attention to the journalist who is essentially criticizing his commercial competition.

The most part of accepting that professional wrestling is not real combat comes down to just that, accepting the obvious. The hardest part about supermarket tabloid gossip was always the idea that anyone might believe it. Twenty-some years have Republicans denigrated themselves for a horde of alleged journalists whose apparent basis for competition has something to do with finding ways to pitch more extreme alternatives to a worryingly hungry audience.

What portion of what is happening, and how we got here, has to do with words like, “unwell”?

And to what degree does is it relevant, or is any notion of apropos merely a matter of aesthetic priorities, that over two decades after the widely-read conservative firebomb journalist accidentally helped a cartoonist win a Pulitzer …―

An established muckraker questions the psychiatric health of a competitor and market heir, and something goes here about the Pulitzer joke and nearly bringing down a presidency, and here we are all these years later and still drowning in rape culture because … I mean, say what we will about Republicans and conservatives and all that, but the rest of the nation has been finding ways to enable them. And yeah, yeah, yeah, I didn’t vote for them, either, but it is also true that we’re Americans, and we just don’t go lining them up in front of the ditch, so we should probably consider that somewhere in between we still simply haven’t done enough to forestall such spectacles as two excremental puckers fighting for headlines because that is the priority.

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Image note: Detail of Lucifer, by Franz von Stuck, 1890.

Notes on Interface


[#antisocialmedia]

View of NTT Docomo tower from Shinjuku Gyoen, 26 March 2017. (Detail of photo by bd)

Okay, so, here’s the thing:

▸ The software feature that you want me to use requires that I select a photo.

▸ There are hundreds of photos in the uploaded library.

▸ Therefore, I am only allowed to see twelve photos at a time, in reverse chronological order.

▸ If the photo I would use happens to be, oh, way the hell down the list, that I must simply keep clicking and clicking in order to ask you to please show me more of my photos, that I might eventually select one to use for the software feature you really, really seem to want me to use, since, you know, you won’t shut up about it, I’m probably not going to bother, and would you please, then, shut up about it?

↳ Because your interface really, really sucks. The most obvious question in the world is why you would refuse to simply open the entire album. These pathways are deliberate; you do not accidentally design such an inefficient method, as the extraneity is by definition extraneous unless, of course, it is not actually extraneity. That is to say, there must necessarily be something you get out of it, but it would seem really, really obscure. (Hint for the gallery: To wonder why a publicly traded company would show off its incompetence or inefficiency is to look at it wrongly; the idea of efficiency on which such an outlook depends is consumer oriented. The wasted clicks make some other point.)

Anyway, yeah. It’s pretty stupid. Just sayin’.

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Image note: NTT Docomo tower, from Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo, 26 March 2017. (Photo by bd)

Ptomaine or (sigh) Not Ptomaine


[#justchecking]

Detail of frame from "Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor", episode 9, 'They Met One Day, Unexpectedly ...'. L-R, Kiko Kayanuma, July, and Suou Pavlichenko discuss the profitability of a cat café versus more mundane work as a book editor, and Mao (lower right) hides in Suou's satchel.

There is something I need to understand:

(1) Open can of cat food, remove small amount, serve to cat.

(2) Place can of cat food under hot water dispenser, fill empty space with hot water.

(3) Seal container inside plastic bag.

(4) Put cat food in refrigerator.

Okay, now: Why?

Are you actually trying to, like, kill the cat? I mean, you know. Just checking.

Priorities and Practicality


Detail of 'Relativity' by M.C. Escher, 1953.

Paula M. Fitzgibbons explains:

It’s possible my daughter’s condition is unavoidable—that she was born with a fear of death imprinted on her genes. There is plenty of precedent in my family, with an unbroken line of anxiety-ridden women stretching back to my great-great grandmother, who made a harrowing journey from Ireland to the United States. Researchers do believe there’s a genetic component to anxiety, but for a time, I believed my daughter was additionally cursed by epigenetics, or the idea that our experiences can write themselves into our children’s DNA. I’ve since abandoned the idea—the science of epigenetics is still sketchy, and I don’t have the time or mental energy to devote to an unproven concept when our problem is more immediate. My daughter’s anxiety is interrupting her daily life and nightly sleep.”

It seems almost petty to point out, but given the stakes I think it very important to acknowledge we witness, in this passage, the temptation of pseudoscience, and the practical gravity drawing one away from such shiny and dangerous notions. While the epigenetics of fear are, indeed, mind-boggling, the point is that virtually nothing about the concept is sound, yet. Or, as Lisa Simpson once said, “You don’t control the birds. You will, someday, but not now.” That mice verge on the Lamarckian when conditioned in a context of mortal fear and the torture to inspire it is a far cry from what’s going on with human beings; and while it’s true I haven’t followed this question so closely over the last few years, it’s also one of those subjects we would have heard something about if someone achieved any sort of definitive answer about anything. There are myriad reasons to be tempted by epigenetics in these aspects, but behavioral epigenetics does not at this time a sound science make.

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Fitzgibbons, Paula M. “Watching My Daughter Develop the Same Anxiety I Struggle With”. The Cut. 12 September 2017.