This Really Shouldn’t Need Explaining


Celty learns about EBE conspiracies; detail of frame from Durarara!! episode 6, "Active Interest".

There is a household discussion that has to do with why I never watch television in the living room. The problem with this discussion, of course, is that the answer to the question is essentially verboten: It is impossible to watch television in the living room.

There is, indeed, a television in the living room, and the problem is not so much the arrangement of the kitchen such that there is a lot of noise from the one into the other. Rather, it is that nobody is allowed to watch television in that room without having conversations about something else: How much cheese there is, or going to the grocery store tomorrow afternoon, or, hey, maybe we should buy a new television; I can’t remember the other six topics, but it really is like a television show or movie in and of itself.

If I managed to watch five minutes of the show, I couldn’t tell you what happened. In all the years I have known multiple people to behave this way, talking over a television program about something irrelevant and nonessential, then waiting quite literally a matter of seconds to do it again, it has never really made sense. Sometimes you can rewind and replay the same segment in front of them multiple times, and it starts to feel as if they actually resent that you are watching television, would very much like you to stop, consider themselves too polite to actually say so, and thus have no alternative save annoying you until you turn off the program and leave.

And that is what it is, but in the end, yes, that is why I watch television downstairs. The answer, when I actually encounter the question of why I don’t watch television in the living room is to look at the only person in the house who asks me that and say―

“Because you won’t let me. Because if you are home and awake, and I am watching television in this room, you absolutely must speak to me now about whatever you can think of in the moment, even if it’s a matter weeks away having precisely nothing to do with me. Because I have just rewound the same fifteen seconds of this show, several times, in order to hear what they’re saying, and every time I restart the video you start talking again. Because when I tried turning up the volume just to see what happened, you actually talked louder in order to be heard. Because I can take a hint, a’ight?”

―and you just don’t go talking to people like that.

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Groovy Mysteries and the Price of Tea at Arcturus


Why do people so desperately need mysteries?

Still, that is not the right question; one can easily see the potential for offense, but there is also a threshold at which it does not matter because someone, somewhere, will be offended by the merest whiff that their humanity is somehow imperfect. But if the comparative question arises that the gas bill is considerably less this year than it was last, and what we really want to know is why, how is it that the most obvious factors—weather and temperature, devices used, and unit cost, just for starters—must necessarily remain mysterious?

There comes a point at which one is frustrated at the lack of actual information about a chart and carefully-devised statistics that hide one particular bit of data: How much does the gas cost per measured salable unit? If we are paying X per Y volume, apparently both X and Y must remain mysterious as we discuss why the gas bill is lower this year than the same period last.

Wait, wait, wait: Must? Who says, “must”?

Either the gas company or the consumer; it is unclear which. Because in the moment when one exclaims, “Why is the one thing we don’t get, here, the cost per unit?” of course the answer is going to be, “I don’t know, it’s probably in all the other pages.” That is, the pages not simply thrown in the recycle bin without reading, but also determinedly torn up for security purposes.

The question remains: What is the proper question? That much, to be certain, remains mysterious.

Trump and Dumber


#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

I think at some point it is fair if we just take a moment to observe and, inevitably, resent the fact that the godforsaken #trumpswindle is somehow tied into the otherwise inexplicable fact that Dumb and Dumber To actually exists.

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Maddow, Rachel. “With new players, details Trump Russia probe seems far from over”. The Rachel Maddow Show. msnbc. 9 March 2018.

On Function, Aesthetics, and Screw the Goddamn Birds


This is something I don’t understand about basic function: Why move the birdseed away from the door nearest the feeder and hide it in the back of the closet?

Or did I miss a note, somewhere, that we are finished feeding birds?

The only thing that makes sense is that there really isn’t any other place to “put it away”, and all things must be put away, especially if that means not simply putting them somewhere not simply inconvenient, but also deliberately disruptive, to function.

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.

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)