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    1. When we ask newlyweds to think back on what they wanted most for their big day — and we’ve interviewed hundreds of them over the years — the most common response is, “For it not to feel like a wedding!”

      Bleak imo

    1. The logics of inside and outside, or offline and online, will have us trapped in what Asha Achuthan refers to as an “aporea” that opens up between the finitude of the biological limits of women’s bodies, and the purpose of technology to enter it and act on it.2

      So – not actually citing Achuthan, just through Shah. The effect is to give you the impression of the author's having Done The Reading more than to illuminate something within the structure of the thing your reading

    2. Freedom from violence and manipulation is unlikely to be handed out by owners of social media platforms or law, for women and queers were never the imagined inheritors of internet freedom. Every act of security to protect myself online only reinforces my outside-ness, because the responsibility to be safe has always been mine.

      Average internet safety approach normative around "and if you didn't then it was your fault" standards designed for One Type

    3. we are “free” to have a voice and speech online, but not flesh;

      Ceding "online" to the platforms from the get-go

    4. Just as we are constituted by biomes,3 so too are we by volumes of data, ours and from the planet and things on it, that pour into and out of data centers.

      I hate this. Data as preexisting, not something created, captured

  2. Jan 2023
    1. And that would have been to speak of the constitution of all our roots – the Greek-Roman, the Judaic and the Christian. In our past, we have both Venus and the crucifix, the Bible and Nordic mythology, which we remember with Christmas trees, or with the many festivals of St Lucy, St Nicolas and Santa Claus. Europe is a continent that was able to fuse many identities, and yet not confuse them.That is precisely how I see its future. As for religion: be careful. Many people who no longer go to church end up falling prey to supersitition. And many who are non-practising still carry around a little saint card with a picture of Padre Pio in their wallets!"

      Relevant to that Pentiment thing

    1. only works with an internet connection

      What, so the thing you're saying will constitute the next "Web" is important because it doesn't require you to be connected?

    2. people love to dunk on these videos because they’re primarily made by young women who are just simply talking about their day and the internet is giant machine that turns harassment against women into advertising revenue. But, also, most of these videos can’t actually show what these people do because of security reasons and, also, it’s sort of boring visually, so most adult daycare videos are just people eating at the company canteen and making various smoothies and lattes.

      On the one hand I'm not sure I want to keep subscribing to this re: the pretty embarrassing abdication of responsibility above ("Guys, you don't get it, there's no point saying it's bad, it's so popular") but then this chunk is so dead-on and the kind of thing where you feel relieved Someone Said It... 🤔

    3. Everything on the internet is dumb and shameful until it’s not.

      Cf. exploitation of employees misclassified as independent contractors. It stopped being "shameful" once "the gig economy" got shameless about it, but it didn't stop being wrong**.

    4. There are a lot of people excited about this stuff and there is a similar amount of people who are terrified of what it could do to us. And a whole bunch more who have never used any of these tools and have no idea where to begin, but once it’s easy enough, won’t even think twice.

      And one big reason they won't think twice is that the class of commentators who might have thought otherwise decided that if it's "fun or good business" we're entitled to turn off our moral imaginations, so why keep talking about the bad stuff? Cool cool cool.

    5. the fact it’s becoming open source just as quickly, to me, means we’re not going to wake up one day and find out it all just disappeared.

      The implied contrapositives here are so weird. Like, okay, so criticism would be warranted if you thought that criticism... could make it disappear?

    6. If you wanted to, you could train an instance of Stable Diffusion solely with your own original artwork or photography and turn it into a (probably pretty bad) virtual clone of yourself.

      You could fine-tune it on your own stuff, but without the vast corpus of supposedly-fair-use scraped material training checkpointed as a starting point, it wouldn't do anything useful at all.

    7. In my Discord server a few weeks ago, I was chatting with a couple readers who were a little frustrated that I wasn’t condemning generative-A.I. technology more thoroughly. That I was keeping a somewhat open or at least ambivalent mind about it. And I told them that the minute Stable Diffusion was released last August, I thought we had crossed a threshold of which there was no return.

      "There is no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening." If contemplation has become unpleasant, better deem it inevitable to forestall further responsibility.

    1. This philosophical commitment to technological determinism may also at times be mingled with a quasi-religious faith in the envisioned techno-upotian future. The quasi-religious form can be particularly pernicious since it understands resistance to be heretical and immoral. Painting with a decidedly broad brush, the Enlightenment, in this reading, did not, as it turns out, vanquish Religion, driving it far from the pure realms of Science and Technology. In fact, to the degree that the radical Enlightenment’s assault on religious faith was successful, it empowered the religion of technology. To put this another way, the notions of Providence, the Kingdom of God, and Grace were transmuted into Progress, Utopia, and Technology respectively. If the Kingdom of God had been understood as a transcendent goal achieved with the aid of divine grace within the context of the providentially ordered unfolding of human history, it became a Utopian vision, a heaven on earth, achieved by the ministrations Science and Technology within the context of Progress, an inexorable force driving history toward its Utopian consummation. It’s worth noting that stories of technological inevitability tend to flourish in contexts were the cultural ground has been prepared by linear and teleological understandings of history. Of course, narratives of inevitability most often arise from a far more banal source: self-interest, usually of the crassly commercial variety. All assertions of inevitability have agendas, and narratives of technological inevitability provide convenient cover for tech companies to secure their desired ends, minimize resistance, and convince consumers that they are buying into a necessary, if not necessarily desirable future.

      when he's right he's right

    1. Honestly, they make this blog worth using. For me. I feel like the design should be for you; the semantic structure is for me.

      This is interesting! I feel like nice semantic HTML is something I do as civic responsibility, almost – but ridiculous design is for me.

    1. The first day we just showed them how to link.[3] This was actually plenty. I think this could have gone on for three weeks alone.

      I did programming algorithm-puzzles-first. I should have spent more time, later, getting into HTML, really luxuriating in the linkage. Three weeks of links: but of course!

    2. They don’t get railroaded into solving mazes.

      :)

    3. I Believe (The Nicolas Cage Speech) A speech I like to give—my beliefs wrt Nicolas Cage. This is a speech I like to give my students about my beliefs with regard to Nicolas Cage, to clear up any misunderstanding. Please contact my office if you would like me to give this speech at your school or at a civic meeting.

      I've never gone through the archives, and this banger, not a month after the archives begin! Glorious

    1. But because #corecore videos are being created by Gen Z and not millennials, their videos aren’t boring, egotistical snapshots of their actual lives, but, instead, mildly dystopian fragments of the different kinds of media they consume

      🙄 thirsty

    1. maybe technology is more of a magical substance than it is a great medicine for society. A realization that cannot come quick enough now that our ideals about social media have been dispelled by the absence of the interpersonal advances we were promised. No, it was all just a trick of getting messages from here to there, not a new form of living.

      Maybe, to exist, a new form of living needs a new X as well as a new gizmo. What are the Xes we fail to name in our gizmo-based futurisms?

    1. They write:In the subfield of computer vision, researchers at Meta have demonstrated that images produced by AI models can be identified as AI- generated if they are trained on “radioactive data”—that is, images that have been imperceptibly altered to slightly distort the training process. This detection is possible even when as little as 1% of a model’s training data is radioactive and even when the visual outputs of the model look virtually identical to normal images. It may be possible to build language models that produce more detectable outputs by similarly training them on radioactive data; however, this possibility has not been extensively explored, and the approach may ultimately not work.No one is sure exactly how (or if) this would work; it’s much easier to alter an image imperceptibly than it is text. But the basic idea would be to “require proliferators to engage in secretive posting of large amounts of content online,” they write, in hopes that models trained on it would produce text that could be traced back to those “radioactive” posts. If by now you’re thinking “that’s bonkers,” you’re not alone. Among other things, the authors note, this nuke-the-web plan “raises strong ethical concerns regarding the authority of any government or company to deliberately reshape the internet so drastically.” And even if someone did go to those lengths, they write, “it is unclear whether this retraining would result in more detectable outputs, and thus detectable influence operations.”

      The beauty of this, though, is that the ethical concerns are marginal: you can't cheat an honest man. If this material is put out there without particular license, and it happens to be slurped down by exactly the unethical actors who view themselves as having a right to everything the light touches, then shall I feel bad for them?

    1. I often have to restrain myself from sprinting back to my apartment with endless ideas and caffeinated enthusiasm in tow. I usually burst into the apartment and start ranting at my fiancé: Did you hear about the Fall of Constantinople and how the Ottoman Empire dragged their boats onto land and lifted them over the hills to then drop them into the Golden Horn???

      Deeply, deeply relatable

    1. 4 Omne quod tibi applicitum fuerit accipe: et in dolore sustine, et in humilitate tua patientiam habe: 4 Take all that shall be brought upon thee: and in thy sorrow endure, and in thy humiliation keep patience. 5 quoniam in igne probatur aurum et argentum, homines vero receptibiles in camino humiliationis. 5 For gold and silver are tried in the fire, but acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation.

      Refiner's fire: humiliation

    1. Yes, there is death in this business of whaling—a speechlessly quick chaotic bundling of a man into Eternity. But what then? Methinks we have hugely mistaken this matter of Life and Death. Methinks that what they call my shadow here on earth is my true substance. Methinks that in looking at things spiritual, we are too much like oysters observing the sun through the water, and thinking that thick water the thinnest of air. Methinks my body is but the lees of my better being. In fact take my body who will, take it I say, it is not me. And therefore three cheers for Nantucket; and come a stove boat and stove body when they will, for stave my soul, Jove himself cannot.

      Stave my soul, ████ himself cannot

    1. In what census of living creatures, the dead of mankind are included; why it is that a universal proverb says of them, that they tell no tales, though containing more secrets than the Goodwin Sands; how it is that to his name who yesterday departed for the other world, we prefix so significant and infidel a word, and yet do not thus entitle him, if he but embarks for the remotest Indies of this living earth; why the Life Insurance Companies pay death-forfeitures upon immortals; in what eternal, unstirring paralysis, and deadly, hopeless trance, yet lies antique Adam who died sixty round centuries ago; how it is that we still refuse to be comforted for those who we nevertheless maintain are dwelling in unspeakable bliss; why all the living so strive to hush all the dead; wherefore but the rumor of a knocking in a tomb will terrify a whole city. All these things are not without their meanings. But Faith, like a jackal, feeds among the tombs, and even from these dead doubts she gathers her most vital hope.

      The mystery of death and faith

    1. Although members of the Black working class—particularly in their more industrially organized sections—are more likely to have substantive left-wing views than virtually any group in America, they have been paradoxically unreceptive to attacks on the centrist party establishment from the left, at least among older cohorts. To say “Bernie is crazy” is to say, with almost perfect economy, “he does not make sense from where I sit in the world.” It is the same logic by which political conservatives can be militant union members if they have a sense of their collective power at work, or obversely how radical academics so often behave like petty baronets. Such orientations are not amenable to rhetoric or argument alone, as none of our orientations are.

      This feels cheap. They can't have a different theory of change? They must be unreasoned, absorbing their environment? Come on.

    2. Because the Black working class remains somewhat more socially organized through churches, public employment, extended family networks, and civic associations—and in a distinct way that links its members to the machinery of the Democratic Party—Sanders’s message and his organizing efforts could not take root, particularly among the older voters for whom longstanding forms of organization remain more meaningful.

      Doesn't that say more about the organizing efforts, though?

    3. As Alex Pareene observed last month in the New Republic, Joe Biden’s promise of a fifteen-dollar minimum wage might mean little to a given voter if everyone around thinks Biden is a pedophile and a crook, while Trump is a working-class hero. The former’s nattering about higher wages will seem duplicitous no matter how many times the campaign slogans are reiterated. But the situation is even more straightforward than this example suggests: if your experience of the world bears no residue of popular power, and no residue of that power having brought about any improvements in the quality of your and your neighbors’ lives, it is natural that such promises sound fraudulent.
    1. For those contemplating a 2024 Bernie Sanders run, the question of the legacy the campaign leaves behind seems of even greater importance than what it accomplishes, let alone whether it will allow Bernie to ascend to the presidency. Only in that case will we see a true test of constitutional loyalty for capital, and only then can we gauge money’s alignment with liberal democracy.

      🙄

    2. Putnam was right, but for the wrong reasons: associationalism matters for democracy, but it hardly matters to capital — and might even threaten it.
    3. Clearly, the internet only becomes comprehensible in the world of the lonely bowler. Online culture thrives on the atomization that the neoliberal offensive has inflicted on society — there is now ample research showing positive correlation between declining civic commitment and broadband access. At the same time, the internet accelerates and entrenches social atomization. The exit and entry costs of this new, simulated civil society are extremely low, and the stigma of leaving a Facebook group or a Twitter subculture is incomparable to being forced to move out of a neighborhood because a worker scabbed during a strike.

      Association too cheap

    4. Militias like the Proud Boys and the boogaloo movement instead thrive as “individualized commandos,” as Adam Tooze put it, far removed from the veterans that populated the Freikorps or the Black and Tans in the early 1920s. These were highly disciplined formations with direct experience of combat, not lumpen loners who drove out to protect car dealerships.
    5. Instead of mass membership organizations, voluntary associations increasingly turned to a nonprofit model to organize advocacy in Washington. The shift to the nonprofit drastically changed the composition of these advocacy groups. Instead of relying on dues-paying members, they reached out to wealthy donors to fill their coffers. In a United States in which the government was increasingly giving up its redistributive role, this move created a natural constituency from new welfare recipients. The logic was self-evident: associations that practically operated as businesses but did not want to fulfill their tax obligations to the state saw an opportunity in the nonprofit model. The American political scientist Theda Skocpol casts them as “advocates without members”: nonprofit organizations functioning as the lawyers of a mute defendant.
    6. The Tories — the first mass party in European history — now receive more donations from dead members than from living ones
    7. Parties also remain the paradigmatic victim of Putnam’s disengagement. As fortresses built between individuals and their states, these institutions secured people’s hold on the state throughout the twentieth century. The Austrian social democratic party in the 1930s hosted a theater club, a child welfare committee, a cremation society, a cycling club, workers’ radio and athletic clubs, and even a rabbit breeders’ association.

      holy shit what a vibe

    8. Since the 1980s, citizens have been actively ejected from associations through anti-union legislation or globalized labor markets. At the same time, passive alternatives to union and party power — cheap credit, self-help, cryptocurrency, online forums — have multiplied. The result is an increasingly capsular world
    9. The transfer of social services from the community to the state level, the argument ran, would threaten citizens’ self-reliance. Putnam was skeptical: both strong (Scandinavia) and weak (United States) welfare states had seen a decline in civic capacity.
    10. At the end of 1951’s The Origins of Totalitarianism, Arendt postulated that a new form of loneliness had overtaken Westerners in the twentieth century, leading them to join new secular cults to remedy their perdition. “What prepares men for totalitarian domination in the non-totalitarian world,” she claimed, “is the fact that loneliness, once a borderline experience usually suffered in certain marginal social conditions like old age, has become an everyday experience.”
    1. In early American folklore, the plant’s flowering time signaled pioneers that the ground had thawed enough in spring for the burial of the winter’s dead.

      metal

    1. The funny thing about Twitter’s feed algorithms is that they were designed to amplify the content that triggered the most reaction, those emotionally sticky posts. This is why boring but informative content never has a chance against that which prompts fury.

      Emotionally sticky

    1. When you write, attempt to weave a spell. If this is not your intention, do not write.

      There are so many sour little things I would like to say about this

    2. Do not waste the little span allotted to you producing only work intended for the moment rather than for posterity.

      The hubris is going to burn my retinas

    3. If you attempt always to descend to the lowest common denominator, you will never hit bottom, but you will certainly end up losing the interest of better readers.

      Notice what a filtering function this applies on your having to risk an audience who might disagree with the content of what you have to say, orthogonally to its presentation

    4. 25. A writer who disdains the semicolon is a fool. In fact, hostility to this most delicate and lyrical of punctuation marks is a sure sign of a deformed soul and a savage sensibility. Conscious life is not a brute concatenation of discrete units of experience; it is often fluid, resistant to strict divisions and impermeable partitions, punctuated by moments of transition that are neither exactly terminal nor exactly continuous in character. Meaning, moreover, is often held together by elusive connections, ambiguous shifts of reference, mysterious coherences. And art should use whatever instruments it has at its disposal to express these ambiguous eventualities and perplexing alternations. To master the semicolon is to master prose. To master the semicolon is to master language’s miraculous capacity for capturing the shape of reality.

      directly following the admonition about not lapsing into inadvertent parody

    5. Otherwise, you will lapse into inadvertent parody.

      I wish there were someone reading this with me so I could make intense eye contact at this sentence

    6. 23. If you were told in school that Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea is a specimen of good writing, disabuse yourself of this folly. It is in fact an excruciating specimen of bad schoolboy prose, written by a man who by that point had, alas, been too often drunk, too often concussed, and too often praised.

      David... You don't need to be this takey... The piece does not need it...

    7. Learn to detest all of these things and you will be a better writer for having done so.

      [citation needed]

    8. in the name of the efficient, the practical, the mechanical,

      Oh so now we're just repeating ourselves

    9. 8. All these vapidly doctrinaire injunctions—urging you to write only plain declarative sentences stripped of modifiers and composed solely of words familiar to the average ten-year-old and demanding that you always prefer charcoal-gray to sumptuous purple—are expressions of everything spiritually deadening about late modernity and its banausic values.

      So I had to look up "banausic". Its etymology is, appropriately, one of scorn for the one who works with their hands. Am I better off for his having chosen that word and my having had to look it up? Is the value of this sentence so great that this was warranted? I don't believe in catering too much to a reader, but you begin to see who does and does not imagine themselves entitled – and on what little grounds! – to the reader's effort.

    10. 16. The same book advises: “Write with nouns and verbs, not with adjectives and adverbs.” That is moronic. Better not to write at all than attempt to heed so obscene a piece of puritanical nonsense. Write with every kind of word that serves your ends.

      Do you see how he isn't actually making an argument here? To abjure adjectives and adverbs is "puritanical"? Based on what?

    11. 15. Strunk and White’s Elements of Style decrees: “Keep related words together.” This is vacuous. Awkward ruptures of sense are obviously to be avoided. Taken as a principle, however, this little axiom is not only bad advice; it is a renunciation of language as such. As any decent student of linguistics knows, one of the chief differences between actual linguistic meaning (on the one hand) and mere ostensive noises and gestures (on the other) is the former’s reliance upon structural rather than spatial proximities. The capacity to qualify a predicative phrase by the interpolation of a subordinate clause (for example) is one of those precious attainments that distinguish us from baboons.

      Perhaps he'd be less indignant if Strunk and White had caveated with a "If you want readers accustomed to contemporary speech and prose to maintain their focus on what you're writing,"? Or am I a baboon to think it?

    12. The causal dialectic between agency and patiency, to use the scholastic terms, is intrinsic to finitude.

      Oh for heaven's sake

    13. Orwell also decrees: “If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.” No great writer in the history of any tongue has ever observed this rule, and no aspiring writer should follow it. The correct counsel would be “If a word is so excessive as to mar the effect of a sentence, remove it; but never remove a word simply because it is possible to do so.”

      Use of semicolon redolent of era before it had grown up as a punctuation mark.

    14. “Never use a long word when a short one will do.” This is an idiotic maxim, one that concentrates almost every kind of philistinism in itself. What he should have written was “Never prefer a short word because it is short or a long word because it is long, but always use the word that to your mind best combines sense, felicity, connotation, wit, and sound, without worrying about whether your readers are likely to recognize it.”

      Is this so much more elegant that its less perfect clarity must be excused? A mid-sentence five-item list?

    15. Never squander an opportunity for verbal cleverness.

      It is not necessary to list this to make clear that you believe in it

    16. f you show off by being punctiliously precise

      What is "punctiliously precise" supposed to mean that "punctilious" wouldn't?

    17. I call this the “ultracrepidarian rule,” simply because an editor once tried unsuccessfully to dissuade me from writing about a certain “polemicist who stumbles across unseen disciplinary boundaries in an ultracrepidarian stupor.” The editor lost that argument because there is absolutely no other word in the English language that so exactly means what I wanted to say.

      Advisability of the means separate from advisability of the intent, of course...

    18. had I but world enough and time

      And of course I adore this little clause and may thereby be identified as a partisan

    19. he or she should confine the performance to a single manual, played with two fingers

      What is the semicolon to word ratio of this piece, though

    20. a formula, that is, for producing writers whose voices are utterly anonymous in their monotonous ordinariness.

      Does the flowery prose lend itself better to differentiation? Certainly it has its own average, generic

    21. Every great national prose, in just about any tongue, reaches its high meridian only by way of a prolonged and constant negotiation of just this tension between beauty and sublimity—between the decorative and the august, or between the splendid and the lucid.

      I can only entertain the notions of "high meridians" of "great national prose" at a bit more of an ironic distance than Bentley Hart seems to take on here

    22. anfractuous

      twisting, full of curves

    1. European music, in other words, had not yet become overinstitutionalized and overcredentialed, as ours has been since the middle of the last century. In Vienna, we are reminded by Mr. Walsh, Mozart worked from 1781 as a freelance musician. Beethoven, too, survived on publishers’ commissions and charitable sponsorship. If they had been born two centuries later, both would have been appointed to endowed professorships, paid handsome salaries, feted by arts organizations, further subsidized with prestige prizes, and never heard from again.

      Even if we set aside "grown sclerotic by government funding", is this going to acknowledge the shifting role of art music vs. the growing Everything Else?

      ETA: no

    1. After the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 established the necessity for all Christians to attend confession, presumably so they could be told to stop doing weaving magic, there were suddenly way more texts which enumerated the possible sins which could be confessed. Most of these new works on the subjects had a least one chapter dedicated to talking about how bad it was to talk trash to your friends.[4] It was around this time that we also see a big rise in the number of hell mouths depicted in both visual art and mystery plays.[5] These were meant to remind the audience that unregulated mouths were the road to hell.

      Huh. Mouths = Hell

    2. when reading up on women and washing for the book I was treated to this incredible passage about what goes on as women do the laundry: “The washing is rinsed, twisted, and beaten in the wash-house where the tongues are quite as active as the washer-woman’s beetles; it is the seat of feminine justice with little mercy for the men-folk. Soaped from head to foot, soaped again, and rinsed down, they go through some bad times

      The seat of feminine justice with little mercy for the men-folk

    1. I suspect this tendency is connected to how creators in Hollywood fail to think beyond appetites as the only arcs. The characters’ goals begin and end with personal satiation independent of, or in opposition to, social ties. Any domestic acts of care attached to enabling another person’s life, or own’s own, is typically depicted as the thankless, unpaid, gendered drudgery at the expense of those involved. No wonder “main character syndrome” has become a coping mechanism for a society with few models of relation. Care work is understood primarily in the context of burden, or presented as a cosplay through which right wing fantasies about women are realized.

      Hm: contemporary narratives that step outside "main character syndrome" ?

    2. In reifying the domestic sphere above the public one for women, Trad denies the abuse that occurs in the former setting and primes us to blame the victims of abuse in the latter.
    3. One could draw comparisons between how Ada became Maria’s with how many children from Africa, Asia, and Latin America find themselves “adopted” by white families (the vast majority of international adoptions are of children with living parents). For me, at least, the film required just enough suspension of belief to enjoy it without being too aware of the parallel.

      If this is a parallel whose construction requires thinking of nonwhite children as animals, that's... kind of messed-up IMO

    1. whatever they do will happen regardless of the consent given by folks who think they can federate content but restrict where it goes.

      Every so often in this “retrospective” the attitude of “you can’t really think something is so bad if you didn’t technically stop me from doing it”

    2. folks commented and criticised things that didn’t match reality, or only confirmed their preconceived notions

      🙄

    3. I still don’t think that anything I did would make any of this easier for bad actors or worse for the community

      🤦‍♀️

    4. While talking to more folks, I was introduced to the #nobot hashtag that accounts use to indicate they don’t want to have anything to do with any bots, which I made to behave like the noindex flag, and I added #nosearch in case folks wanted to be more fine-grained with this.

      “added”. Like if you don’t say Rumplestiltskin’s name you’ve signed on for him to take your firstborn

    5. I learned that a) there are folks that would continue to to use the noindex flag to not get indexed by Google, but they’d be fine being part of a “scoped to a user’s timeline and no one else” type of search (I too fell into this category at the time)

      I mean, okay, cool, but I personally am fine with popping up in generic search engines and am not happy about my stuff being folded into more app specific UI. In the absence of specific communications, you get to decide whether to be careful about consent or to care about the utility of what you’re building, and, well….

    1. One could say, only half in jest, that The Lord of the Rings is a medievalist's revenge on the unacknowledged and undesired ancestors of medieval Europe's civilization. The literal genocide of the orcs with which the book concludes is in a sense of secondary importance to the cultural genocide that their creation signified in the first place. For the very fact that such a creation was at all possible is a sobering testimony to the completeness of European intellectual hegemony over the world, and its successful re-writing of history.

      Shaped by older fears, but you can't make sense of it without its connection to later colonialism, genocide, oppression

    2. They are, in short, simply the homologs of the great colonial massacres.

      The implausibly mythic character plausible: massacre

    3. To begin with, there is the denial of history and geographical rootedness to the orcs—almost, one could say, the denial of time and space. The density of detail and cross-referencing which give Middle-Earth its solidity and reality are deliberately withheld from the orcs in keeping with their ontological shallowness. Certainly, there are no genealogical tables, no accounts of culture and history, no etymological speculations about their languages, no maps of their territory. The orcs are defined simply by negation, as the antipode to white culture and civilization. There is an illuminating contrast here with the “goblins” of TH, who have a national territory (“Mount Gram”) (TH, 17), leaders (“the king Golfimbul” [TH, 17], “Bolg of the North” [TH, 279]), “cities, colonies and strongholds”, and a capital, “the great mountain Gundabad of the North” (TH, 279–80). But because of the symbolic significance the orcs were to acquire for Tolkien, all of this vanishes by the time of LTR: we hear of “anthills” rather than cities, neither Mount Gram nor Gundabad can be found on the Middle-Earth maps, and the orcs are no longer described as a sovereign (if odious) people but are merely the slaves of Sauron and Saruman. The conceptual shift is comparable to the change in the description of black Africans necessitated by the rise of the Slave Trade; a revisionist historiography developed in which the Ancient World's knowledge of Nubia and Egypt would be erased and Africa and its inhabitants re-created

      The broad brush is necessary to paint over detail to prepare for atrocity

    4. What Tolkien has done in creating LTR, then, is to draw on a potent complex of images and fears that, though particularly prominent in the early part of this century, goes back much further and deeper in the structures of the “political unconscious”82 of the white bourgeois Western psyche. This, in part, is what accounts for the “naturalness” of the narrative even in its supernaturalness. The bizarre situations of LTR strike no discordant note with us because, at a deep level, they are completely familiar. For he is painting a picture we have already seen innumerable times before: white civilization besieged by dark barbarity.

      its grounding in myth also being what gets us this

    5. Significantly, the eventual defeat of the black racial danger posed by Sauron and the orcs is symbolized both by the fact that the Shirechildren born in the victorious year 1420 have “a rich golden hair that had before been rare among hobbits” [RK, 375]—a token of Aryanization—and by the long list of children Frodo foresees for Sam and Rose [RK, 382]. The race has been saved.

      ...ew

    6. The fear of “race-mixing,” as we have seen, manifests itself both in LTR's degraded men—the “gangrels,” the “squint-eyed and sallow-faced” “half-orcs” who threaten the (racially-pure) Shire (RK, 335, 350, 352)—and in its ominously uplifted orcs—the “half-orcs and goblin-men that the foul craft of Saruman has bred, [who] will not quail at the sun” (TT, 180). The decay of Gondor is accounted for partly by the mixing of their blood with that of lesser men (RK, 165) and partly through the simple failure to reproduce. Faramir warns: “The Enemy increases and we decrease. We are a failing people, a springless autumn. . . . Childless lords sat in aged halls musing on heraldry”

      racialized decline

    7. And all the allegedly different races of humanoid beings of Middle-Earth are in effect really human. “Laterally,” in the Shemitic second tier, this is conceded in Tolkien's statement in LTR that “Hobbits are relatives of ours” (FR, 21).67 But even more importantly, it is inadvertently admitted by the revelation that interbreeding (the traditional sign of speciesmembership) is possible “vertically,” between tiers. More than one elf-human combination is mentioned, giving rise, as earlier noted, to humans of noble blood, and Tolkien admits that: “Elves and Men are evidently in biological terms one race, or they could not breed and produce fertile offspring.”68 Correspondingly, among the first harbingers in the Shire itself of the threat from Mordor are a “squinteyed ill-favored” Southerner and a “swarthy Bree-lander” who Frodo and company meet at the Bree inn (FR, 213, 219), and these later turn out to be “half-orcs and goblin-men” (TT, 180). It is the discrete existence of this biological/racial dimension of blackness that underpins “swarthiness” as a signifier of evil. If blackness were merely symbolic for Tolkien (as it largely is in the case of the Black Riders, who are simply fallen white men: thus, with the vision given by the Ring, Frodo perceives they have “white faces” [FR, 263]), then physical intermixture would not have the significance it does—it would, in fact, be an impossibility. But if the orcs are really human, then it makes complete sense that Treebeard should be horrified at what is, in effect, race-mixing, miscegenation. “That would be a black evil!” he exclaims (TT, 96), with the authentic outrage of any Southern segregationist, Afrikaner, or Nazi. The threat the orcs pose is therefore also that of racial pollution.

      Soylent Fantasy Races is made of people

    8. In addition, there is the following revealing passage in Tolkien's private correspondence, from a letter about a (subsequently abandoned) film script of LTR: The Orcs are definitely stated to be corruptions of the “human” form seen in Elves and Men. They are (or were) squat, broad, flat-nosed, sallowskinned, with wide mouths and slant eyes: in fact degraded and repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types.63 So this is how Tolkien envisaged the orcs: repulsive and degraded Mongols! To my mind, this establishes beyond any reasonable doubt the essentially human nature of the orcs, and explodes completely the pretense that no earthly implications can be drawn from their Middle-Earthly characterization. The opposition of a symbolic and a racial blackness is, in a sense misleading, because, for Tolkien's characters, it can be said, ontology recapitulates physiology.

      Orcs: "corruptions of the 'human' form"

    9. One author has suggested that the Siege of Minas Tirith itself has an exact correspondence to the actual Siege of Constantinople, tracing similarities in geography, political history, characters, siege machinery, and naval involvement.54 “Muslim tradition . . . has much to say, in history and legend, about the decisive [716–17 A.D.] struggle under the walls of Constantinople . . . it was their failure to conquer Constantinople which saved the Byzantine Empire, and with it Western Christendom, from sharing the fate of Iran and Central Asia.”55 LTR commemorates this victory.

      This is interesting but I'll also bet contested

    10. For the multitudinous orcs fighting alongside the Southrons and Easterlings, who embody this threat, are not just black; they are also Oriental. More than once they are described as “swart and slant-eyed” (TI, 20, 67). In addition, they usually carry “scimitars” (FR, 417, 427; TI, 20). One of the few Orkish words actually cited in LTR is sharku, “old man” (the source of Saruman's nickname “Sharkey” [RK, 367–68]). T. A. Shippey identifies this as being derived from the Arabic shaikh, without, however, seeming to see anything noteworthy in what is surely a remarkable revelation of the evil orcs' linguistic heritage.53 The greater technological development of the West's assailants, mentioned above (the use of gunpowder, catapults, etc.), can also be seen as a grudging and poisoned (given Tolkien's technophobia) admission of the superiority in learning of Islamic civilization to Dark-Ages Europe.

      Cues in orcs' depiction, language, use of technology

    11. Christian Europe against the Saracens, then, and all the other Asiatic invaders (Mongols, Turks, etc.): this is an absolutely central structuring opposition of LTR, which, unlike the pastoral/industrial conflict, has not received the critical attention it deserves. Tolkien himself would write that a Christian is “hemmed in a hostile world.”

      Anti-Saracen defensive mindset

    12. Finally, a semi-serious case could be made that the orcs' class identity is demonstrated simply by the fact that they are the only ones who seem, in the sleepless mills of Mordor, to do any work in Middle-Earth.

      Some kind of case might be made for the hobbits, but the ones we see are a bit patrician, aren't they

    13. In a book where language reveals one's culture, worldview, and moral and social standing, the orcs, as more than one commentator has pointed out, speak Cockney, exchanging “Ars!” and “Garns!” (RK, 247–48).37 Thus Tolkien has decided that the linguistic equivalent of the evil and ugly “Black Speech” is the language of the working class.

      I wonder how transparent that is to English readers

    14. This brings us to what will be our central focus: the orcs. It is here that the most unassailable case for a Biblical inspiration exists. Black, utterly evil, lacking culture and history, the bottom link of Tolkien's great chain of being, the orcs are unquestionably the descendants of Ham. Superficially, their blackness would seem to identify them as African, but this is only part of a far more complicated truth.30 What Tolkien has created in the orcs is, I suggest, the ultimate composite “Wild” Other to the defining Self of white, Christian, class-structured Western civilization. The orcs incarnate in their diabolically black bodies an unholy trinity: the threatening subordinate class within, the Islamic peril to the East, and the restless multitudes of the colonized South.

      Orcs as: badly classed, heretically rooted, threateningly Southern

    15. Correspondingly, the admixture of elvish blood has an uplifting effect on its recipients. Thus Elrond of Rivendell, king-to-be Aragorn, and the Prince of Dol Amroth, are all partly elvish, and this manifests itself in their greater nobility, courage, wisdom, ability to withstand temptation, etc. Throughout LTR, blood—elvish at one end, orkish at the other—invariably tells.

      Someone probably has a nitty objection to this based on the Silmarillion

    16. Not only is their transcendental (white) beauty (which characterizes all elves) stressed on every occasion they are introduced, but it is also made clear throughout LTR that they represent the unattainable aesthetic ideal of all the second-tier races, i.e., aesthetic standards are not discontinuous from one race to the next

      ... you know, now that you mention it, even child-Maya had thought that was weird

    17. We had the three-tiered racial hierarchy of Middle-Earth, with the elves as founders of culture and civilization, bringing the Promethean light into the darkness; men, hobbits, and dwarves as bearers of a culture that ultimately derives from the elves; and the orcs as the threatening forces who wish to destroy that culture. Moreover, the elegiac tone that pervades much of LTR arises from this sense that the high culture of the past is gradually disappearing—though with Aragorn enthroned as king, a holding-operation can be maintained for a while—as the elves leave Middle-Earth for the West and the new Age of Men dawns. But the correspondences go much deeper. In the Aryan Myth, the Aryans were a white race “which had descended from the mountains of Asia to colonize and populate the West.”20 In LTR, the elves come from across the sea to Middle-Earth. In the Aryan Myth, there is an intimate connection between language, race, and culture, with Indo-European being viewed as the superior “Japhetic” language family which is tied by blood to the Aryan race. (The full significance of this to LTR will be explored at the end.) In LTR, the elves are the original creators of language and culture: Treebeard says they woke the trees up, taught them to speak, and gave everything their names (TT, 85, 90). Their language is the “Ancient Tongue” (FR, 119), which is culturally and aesthetically superior to all the other languages of Middle-Earth. As such, it is unlikely to be fully mastered by those of the middle level, who are forced, like Frodo (FR, 121, 307–13), to marvel at its beauties from the outside.

      Elves: progenitors of culture in some particular details common to the Aryan myth

    18. But the point is that this extrapolation of the argument is not even necessary, for the simple reason that Middle-Earth is in fact our world. (The term itself is just a translation of Middle English middelerde/Old English Middangeard: “the inhabited lands of Men between the seas.”)7 Tolkien says this explicitly: Middle-earth is our world. I have (of course) placed the action in a purely imaginary (though not wholly impossible) period of antiquity, in which the shape of the continental masses was different.

      Don't start with the veil of "but this is fantasy"

    1. There is a great and grand tradition of using the sheath of humor  to make you comfortable before removing it to reveal the sharp edge designed to Wake You The Fuck Up. See Johnathan Swift, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Eddie Izzard, and a whole bunch of other people trying to engage with any extremely difficult topic in a public sphere. A lot of men still don't get the whole Woman Thing we insist on bringing up over and aain. A lot of straights still don't understand the damage caused by willful denial of other orientations. They don't even think to question the assumptions behind the term 'straight'. A lot of whites still can't see that when I care about Me and My Kind? I care about yours, too. That's why I'm screaming. That's why we all are.

      "That's why I'm screaming." Sharp

    1. Ursula le Guin put a great deal of thought into the race of her protagonist in A Wizard of Earthsea, she outlined the geography of the world and the peoples therein, and she is generally respected for creating a detailed and internally consistent magic system that formed the core of the narrative of the stories; but when she sat down to write the book she unthinkingly reproduced the gender conventions of the genre even though she’s a feminist.

      I don't think you know it was "unthinkingly".

    1. I do want to see static racial bonuses back though, since now we are referring to different races as species there is no excuse to not acknowledge biological differences between two different "species."

      Amazing. "Acknowledge" for... completely non-real fantasy content

    1. What was it like to be alive then, when—as Marshall Berman titles his book about modernism, quoting Marx—all that is solid was melting into air? Having lived through a pandemic unlike any seen in the last century, we might have a better sense of how to begin answering that question than when I first started asking it of my students as I was learning how to teach them ten years—and another world—ago.
    2. A hundred years later, one of the things we have all become less mystical—or at least less mystified—about is the fact that the politics of many of the Anglo-American modernists were, broadly speaking, atrocious, ranging from aristocratically apolitical to self-indulgently libertarian to outright fascist.
    1. Whatever the solution, Wetherell looks at the retweet very differently than he once did — a lesson that he thinks has broader implications. “I remember specifically one day thinking of that phrase: We put power in the hands of people,” he said. “But now, what if you just say it slightly differently: Oh no, we put power into the hands of people.”

      This is…pretty dumb. “Power” here arguably meaning “the power to select text and copy into a new tweet with one click”

    2. Earlier this year, WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, limited the number of people to which a message could be forwarded to five at a time, in response to quick-spreading rumors and disinformation. “The forward limit significantly reduced forwarded messages around the world,” WhatsApp said in a blog post. “We'll continue to listen to user feedback about their experience, and over time, look for new ways of addressing viral content.”

      problem: how this kind of measure doesn’t align with ad incentives

    3. A full rollback of the share and retweet buttons is unrealistic, and Wetherell doesn’t believe it’s a good idea. Were these buttons universally disabled, he said, people could pay users with large audiences to get their message out, giving them disproportionate power

      Cue them doing this anyway now

    4. The retweet button propelled Gamergate, according to an analysis by the technologist and blogger Andy Baio. In his study of 316,669 Gamergate tweets sent over 72 hours, 217,384 were retweets, or about 69%.

      I wish I had comparative data to e.g. #metoo, not to “be fair to the retweet”, but because I suspect the most id-driven waves benefit more than more considered pleas

    5. Jason Goldman, the head of product when Wetherell built the retweet, said it’s a key source of Twitter’s problems today. “The biggest problem is the quote retweet,” Goldman told BuzzFeed News. “Quote retweet allows for the dunk. It’s the dunk mechanism.”

      frustrating that this is now seen as a kooky whiner’s view and not the view of the guy who got to see the experiment from the inside

    1. Looking further back, there’s also Night of the Demon (which was also released in shorter former as Curse of the Demon), a 1957 occult mystery about an American academic investigating a colleague’s mysterious death in England. This is high on the “Gorey Illustration” scale, I think. Martin Scorsese named it one of the scariest movies of all time; I would not personally agree, but it is pretty good.

      excellent paragraph

    1. Exit is not a benign withdrawal. It imposes costs on those left behind, and the freedom of Exiteers substantially depends on the unfree labor of others. In 1623, wracked with sickness, the poet John Donne wrote that “No man is an island entire of itself . . . any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.” This interdependency is precisely what elite libertarianism finds intolerable. Its ultimate aim is to ensure that the sovereign individual never has to ask for whom the bell tolls, because, pace Donne, it will never toll for him.

      ++

    2. The political economist Albert O. Hirschman famously characterized the choice that is faced by people within declining institutions as being between “voice” and “exit.”

      This seems useful/important and also like I have it in >2 open tabs already

    3. Our feral ethos was best demonstrated by the production process. A deal had been struck with the printer that produced the Financial Times. They would use our publication to do test runs on rolls of the FT’s distinctive pink paper, for which we got a cheap rate. The resulting resemblance made for good times on the Tube, as the banker reading over your shoulder, expecting something about interest rates, found himself confronted with headlines like angel, virus: cyberspace breakdown(s) or (my personal favorite) alt.zombie.golf.the.earth.

      Oh hell yeah

    1. But if you consider the implications of San Francisco’s new policy—that is, medical coverage being part and parcel of becoming a person—then metaphysics is thrown to the winds. If you take seriously the idea that a person cannot be himself without the intervention of modern technology, then you have lost the notion of a self altogether.

      I wonder if she would have felt differently about this if her depression hadn't been resistant to treatment. My self is very conditional on the intervention of modern technology; my flourishing without glasses would be... minimal. And, too, a mental health story there.

    1. The day after that the police arrived. We did not call them to be clear it was another neighbor who felt threatened. Apparently they had seen the guy waving a machete around and spouting off in our direction. Four police cars pulled up outside his house and he ran inside yelling back at them from out the window. He has rifles inside he said.Jesus Christ I thought am I going to have to side with the guy who wants to kill me against the cops now just out of political principle? Leave that guy alone you fucking cops!

      It takes a second reading his work for the eyeballs to adjust to the style of punctuation, but I can hear the voice of a storyteller I know in it.

    1. Have you read Tyson Yunkaporta? Rūta: Yeah I was in a Kinship learning journey with him.

      I don't have an actual value judgment here, but it reads like someone writing a parody of something

    1. And it’s true that the internet has changed some things: mostly, it’s helped break apart the cohesive working-class communities that produce a strong left, and turned them into vague swarms of monads.

      why do I read things that don't feel the need to at least drop a link to someone arguing this

    2. a waste byproduct of the perfectly ordinary, centuries-old global circulation of fuel, capital, and Islam.

      😳🚩

    3. Online is not where people meaningfully express themselves; that still happens in the remaining scraps of the nonnetworked world.

      seems like it hinges on an aggressive assertion of the ways people socialize not being meaningful

    4. The internet has enabled us to live, for the first time, entirely apart from other people.

      Somewhere the ghost of an anchoress is blinking, thinking can you believe this shit

    1. When the philosopher G. E. Moore, one of Wittgenstein’s friends in Cambridge, could not waive the degree requirements to award him a B.A., Wittgenstein was livid. “If I am not worth your making an exception for me even in some STUPID details then I may as well go to HELL directly,” he wrote to Moore, “and if I am worth it and you don’t do it then—by God—you might go there.”

      Wittgenstein: nuclear-tier drama queen.

    1. The conception of the body politic isn’t something that actually meant anything to the life of the average medieval person, who was, you know, a peasant. It is a story that rich people told to other rich people and it didn’t involve them. The concept that there was a king somewhere certainly existed, but it was unlikely to influence their lives one way or another. They were busy doing all the actual useful work that kept society going rather than wanking on about the meaning of whoever the fuck was ruling them. This is a concept by the ruling class, for the ruling class, kept alive then as now by a sycophantic group of client writers.

      is there merit or obfuscation in selling your myths to a broader swath, class-wise

    2. Similarly the Habsburgs made it to the throne because initially they were a relatively poor and weak family from what is now Switzerland. Whilst they had managed to build their territory in to what is now Austria, they were considered a non-threat when they came to the imperial throne in 1440. That is why they had eager papal backing when they did. Everyone thought it would be easy to push the Habsburgs around and, um sorry for the spoiler here, but it turns out that was a bad call too.

      Habsburgs were initially chosen because they didn't seem like a threat

    1. Plenty of medieval sources are happy to equate what we now see as queer sex with straight sodomy or even solo sex. Articles 12 and 13 of the Penitential of Theodore for example, (shout out to penitentials and the dildos therein) tells priests to assign penances to sinners thusly:

      Penalty of masturbation == penalty of lesbian sex

    1. As a result, in the late Antique period and it was generally considered a career plan to say you had actually won a papal election and then live in one of Rome’s graveyards saying you were the real Pope and that your access to the bones of a lot of dead saints was proof. It was a very big goth rich kid vibe.

      What is the locked tomb manifestation of this, please

    1. When you can no longer grow your own wood or cut your own turf to heat your own parlour, you are made that little bit more dependent on the matrix of government, technology and commerce that has sought to transmute self-sufficiency into bondage since the time of the Luddites.

      "self-sufficiency"

    2. In the past, the act of sitting staring into the smoky fire with family or neighbours was the genesis of the folk tale and folk song which tied the culture together.

      And a nexus of bronchitis but that's less poetic sounding

    3. with little significant impact on “air quality” — or at least, no impact comparable to that which Ireland’s “Celtic Tiger” modernisation has had. Suddenly, though, the media is full of scientists armed with studies demonstrating how getting a fire going in your cottage in winter will lead to cancer and lung disease on a widespread scale.

      Weird how the scientists don't agree with you that the impact isn't significant, huh

      Sure would be nice if you had a citation in there, huh

    1. the end-to-end principle, that any two people who want to talk to each other should be allowed to do so, without interference from the people who operate their communications infrastructure.

      this is very intuitive in the 1:1 case, but boy it seems like we shouldn't be silently extrapolating to n:n

    1. In a discussion of political debate, he argues that the press, in becoming professionalized and prioritizing the objective dissemination of information, had declined relative to the more opinion-driven, even yellow journalism of the late nineteenth century. It’s an argument of a piece with his constant return to the ethic of small proprietorship as a countervailing force to centralized power.

      small proprietorship, huh?

    2. He opposed the Vietnam War and was at first heartened by the student movement, but then he came to believe that the “trouble with the new left . . . lay precisely in its ignorance of the earlier history of the left, as a result of which it proceeded to recapitulate the most unattractive features of that history: rampant sectarianism, an obsession with ideological purity, sentimentalization of outcast groups.”

      welp

    1. So as a schematic one might think of different Christmases overlaying each other:An “Franco-German-European Christmas”, freighted with cultural and historical weight. Let us call that the“politico-sentimental Christmas”. And there is an “Anglo-American Christmas” fashioned by 19th-century bourgeois culture and 20th-century mass commercialism and mass production - “organized Fordist Christmas”, which now extends through its supply chains around the world And, by the late 20th century, we have “global Christmas”. The majority of people celebrating Christmas today may not even be in the North Atlantic world, its original cradle. Christmas is now a global commercial event.

      Hm. Sure a political-religious Christmas was in there somewhere? Still useful

    1. Converting the transportation system from fossil fuels to electricity is essential to addressing climate change. But automakers’ focus on large, battery-powered SUVs and trucks reinforces a destructive American desire to drive something bigger, faster, and heavier than everyone else.

      This piece seems to argue that it is more true that the preference for dangerous size proceeds from automakers’ choices and marketing than that that preference determines the automakers’ tactics, with a big fat citation needed

    2. Is the electric F-150 Lightning “better” than the conventional F-150 if its added weight and size deepen the country’s road-safety crisis?

      Are the arguments for its being better addressed?

    1. To that end, Shukitt-Hale recounts a study where her team treated cells with different compounds found in walnuts, another high-antioxidant food. These components had metabolic effects, but at some point the doses became toxic to the cells. When the researchers put actual walnut oil on the cells, though, things were different. Even at levels at which the individual components were toxic, the walnut oil wasn’t.

      Antioxidants in a whole food context, sort of, but it’s interesting that something as refined as oil still showed this

    1. It is no coincidence that some of the loudest proponents of Machine Environmentalism were also fanatical supporters of the covid biosecurity state.

      At least he makes it easy for me

    2. our world of megacities and glowing screens off even further from the real world.

      Ah, the pastoralist's declaration of the "real"

    3. Whatever we think our politics are - and they are likely to be the least important thing about us - we have no idea what to do about the coming end of the brief age of abundance, and the reappearance, armed and dangerous, of what we could get away with denying for a few decades: limits. Those who point these limits out - and who point out, especially, that the very existence of industrial modernity might be the root cause of the problems we currently face - can expect to be smacked down with the worst insults our culture can conjure.

      Hm. This sounds sort of right, but "limits" seems like only one way of expressing things...

    1. On this issue, if on no other, I tend towards the Elon Musk worldview: you’re free to express your views here without being censored or cancelled or deleted for wrongthink.

      🙄

    1. We must work out, if only for our own peace of mind, what we think about the breakdown of forms, the widening gyre, the solidity melting ever faster into air. We have to work it out so that we know where we stand, and what we will not stand for. Where the lines are, and whether to cross them and what we will do if one day the times come for us as we sit beneath the walnut tree, armed with a vaccine passport and the latest official upending of reality, and demand a public pledge of loyalty.

      If I dug up my high school notebooks I bet I could muster the melodrama necessary to run this grift. Geez

    1. Acid graphics, sometimes referred to as Y2K grunge, are the next stage of the Y2K revival that began last year. This trend features grimy textures, chrome metallics, broken grids and amorphous shapes.

      :chefkiss:

    2. The more time that we spend in online spaces rather than physical ones, the less clear the boundaries between the two can appear. And in 2023, graphic designers are shattering that boundary completely by working digital illustrations into real-life photography.

      Love it, more of this, let's get some CSS animations going in there too

    3. But in 2023, surrealism is getting an unexpected pairing with 80s airbrush techniques, as soft retro filters are overlaid onto strange, chimeric imagery.

      I want to understand better how these are produced. Is it done smooth with grain added?

    4. In 2023, risograph printing is being reimagined for digital, abstract graphics. Its grainy textures add depth and noise to minimalist shapes.

      In 2023, everyone with an ipad has seen those instagram illustration tutorials

    1. This doesn’t mean we need a world where nobody talks to anyone we disagree with — instead of thick walls, we need semipermeable membranes. And a fragmented internet, where people can try out multiple spaces and move from forum to forum, is perfect for providing those membranes. Disagreement in society is necessary for progress, but it’s most constructive when it’s mediated by bonds of trust and affinity and semi-privacy. Our boundaries will always rub up against each other, but we need some boundaries.

      This part is all correct of course

    2. And the internet works when you can exit — when you can move to a different town if you don’t like the mayor or the local culture.

      Yes, the metaphor of people being run out of town definitely doesn’t invoke anything troubling

    3. What these rising apps and platforms all share is fragmentation. Whether it’s intentional self-sorting into like-minded or community-moderated groups, or the natural fragmentation that comes from a bunch of different people watching their own algorithmically curated video feeds, these apps all have a way of separating people based on who they want to talk to and what they want to be exposed to.

      holy God the irresponsibility of shrugging your shoulders so hard at our social associations being algorithmically determined that you call it “natural”

    4. First, there’s TikTok and YouTube; although these do have some comment features, overall they’re far more similar to television, radio, and traditional one-way push media, with content driven by algorithms instead of user sharing.

      😶

    5. the hive mind’s constant demands for us to agree with more people than we ever evolved to agree with.

      always fun to see hive mind invocations. who are we saying are insects today, Noah

    6. The look and functionality of the original is simple to replicate,

      lmao

    7. They tinkered at the edges of the platform, but never touched their killer feature, the quote-tweet, which Twitter’s head of product called “the dunk mechanism.” Because dunks were the business model — if you don’t believe me, you can check out the many research papers showing that toxicity and outrage drive Twitter engagement.

      excellent sequence of links

    8. Community moderation works. This was the overwhelming lesson of the early internet. It works because it mirrors the social interaction of real life, where social groups exclude people who don’t fit in. And it works because it distributes the task of policing the internet to a vast number of volunteers, who provide the free labor of keeping forums fun, because to them maintaining a community is a labor of love.

      the resoluteness of an “economics blogger” not to cite the material conditions or look a little harder at that Labor of Love idea

    9. By 2019 you could get mobbed by angry librarians, or Saturday Night Live fans, or history professors. The only defense against an angry mob was to get your own angry mob. Twitter felt like a prison, and in prison you need a gang to survive.Why did this happen to the centralized internet when it hadn’t happened to the decentralized internet of previous decades?

      citation needed. who has written about the kinds of mobbiness seen in usenet or php forums or…?

    10. the occasional economics blogger who comes off as ideologically tolerant enough to be admitted to both right-wing and left-wing groups

      🙄🙄🙄

    1. The audience effect is precisely what it sounds like: When we’re working on something that will soon go before an audience, we work far harder than if we’re doing work that’s for our eyes only.For decades, psychologists have documented the audience effect in studies: If you have experimental subjects write out an explanation for other people, for example, it’ll be far longer and clearer and more comprehensive than if you ask them to write it merely for themselves. I’ve interviewed many teachers who’ve noticed the same thing: The essays that students write for their professors (a captive and inaorganic audience) are lifeless and dull compared to the witty, persuasive text the kids will pour out in online forums.

      This has been extremely meaningful for me. Maybe it'd be worth exploring the tension between this and the writing-fundamentally-for-my-own-self-and-my-own-values

  3. Dec 2022
    1. The clipped syntax, jagged lines, the fixation on ordinary, even banal objects and actions, the wry, world-weary narratorial voice: This is the default register of most poetry written in the past half century, including that written by poets who may not have read a single line of Eliot.

      Here we must note the shift to lyrics (like, I don't listen to Kendrick Lamar, but I Know Of Kendrick Lamar in the same way I know of a lot of poets I haven't read)

    2. To an Eliot detractor like C.S. Lewis, this grotesque simile — comparing the evening sky to an anesthetized human body — was a moment of rupture, a discarding of the entire established tradition of poetic diction and imagery, and the implicit reverence that undergirded both.

      So this has now unified the idea of "plants by name" with "the entire established tradition of poetic diction and imagery"

    3. We can write verse, if not about the perceived transcendent order in the universe, then about the feelings of unease within ourselves; we can even draw our images from the detritus of consumer civilization — an empty plastic bottle, an iPhone with a cracked screen.

      Poisoning the well to say everything that isn't a flower is a piece of trash.

    4. Here are lines — not especially memorable or distinguished ones, but serviceable enough — taken at random from the second volume of Robert Southey’s “Minor Poems” (1823):Aye Charles! I knew that this would fix thine eye,/This woodbine wreathing round the broken porch,/Its leaves just withering, yet one autumn flower/Still fresh and fragrant; and yon holly-hock/That thro’ the creeping weeds and nettles tall/Peers taller, and uplifts its column’d stem/Bright with the broad rose-blossoms.Admit it: Your eyes, so far from being fixed, are already glazing over.

      I'd glaze over at anything if you removed all the paragraph breaks!

      Also, 1823 – wouldn't it still have been more normal to have someone read this aloud?

    1. Every sentence in that AI generated content came from a human brain. It was merely collected and organized, without proper credit or citation, into a marketable product. The writers who did the actual work? Who cares about them?

      Overstatement doesn’t help

    2. People discussed how this could be used for world building (based on the excerpts above, I’m thinking the answer to that is “not effectively”), for writing newsletter entries, for taking care of scenes you were having trouble with or were simply bored of and wanted to get past in your manuscript. In other words, every single author in those comments was excited about the new ways they were going to defraud their readers.

      “Defraud”, huh?

    3. Just two weeks later, an author on TikTok showed up on my FYP extolling the virtues of AI writing software. It was boosting her word count so much faster. Helping her break her writing block. And there was absolutely no thought, at least, in the video, as to the impact or ethics of using AI generated content in your published work.

      how long was the video

    1. But more frequently than ever, I had to admit, the new music I put on just seems to wash over me. Yes, I’m getting older, and the vast majority of people tend to lose interest in new music as they age. Yes, my listening habits are not as disciplined as they used to be, now that my smartphone is always arm’s-length away. Regardless, the fact remains: Popular acts that are doing relatively well often come out sounding like background music. Like music to type to.

      Complaint since the 1800s, I think...

    2. In talking about this, I found myself worrying about how the lack of money and resources for the expanding class of musicians who need day jobs in order to survive might affect the quality of the music they make. One of the only constants in the history of pop music is listeners worrying that pop music is getting worse, of course, but how would you know if the wolf is here, after many generations of people crying about it? Does it not stand to reason that, as the funds dwindle and the infrastructure fractures for many musicians, so, too, would the quality of their product?

      This seems extra hard to evaluate because much of the tech has expanded and got more accessible... which then means there's a disproportionate effect for the parts that haven't

    1. Scientists are trying to figure out how long it takes reinforced concrete to degrade because of carbonation. The average result for a standard structure is 100 years, Allais said. “When you consider that reinforced concrete was invented around 100 years ago,” she went on, “you get this amazing image that the concrete all around the world is beginning to fail.”

      May the Lord have mercy on us

    1. Greenstein points out that a huge portion of what looks like Job praising God throughout the text may be meant as the opposite: Job sarcastically riffing on existing Bible passages, using God’s words to point out how much He has to answer for. Most importantly, Greenstein argues, there’s something revolutionary in the mysterious final words Job lobs at God, something that was buried in mistranslation. In the professor’s eyes, various words were misunderstood, and the “dust and ashes” phrase was intended as a direct quote from a source no less venerable than Abraham, in the Genesis story of Sodom and Gomorrah. In that one, Abraham has the audacity to argue with God on behalf of the people whom He will smite; however, Abraham is deferential, referring to himself, a mortal human, as afar v’eyfer—dust and ashes. It is the only other time the phrase appears in the Hebrew Bible. Advertisement Advertisement Advertisement So, Greenstein says, Job’s final words to God should be read as follows: Advertisement That is why I am fed up:I take pity on “dust and ashes” [humanity]! Remember, for this statement, God praises Job’s honesty. The deity does not give any logic for mortal suffering. Indeed, He denounces Job’s friends who say there is any logic that a human could understand. God is not praising Job’s ability to suffer and repent. He’s praising him for speaking the truth about how awful life is.
    2. The most vexing part of Job’s story—after his servants and children die, after the boils, after the debates—comes when Job challenges God to explain Himself in the mode of an ancient Near Eastern lawsuit. The deity appears and, though He declines to explain why He does anything (He prefers to boast of His vast power and inscrutable planning), He praises Job for speaking “in honesty” and condemns the Scripture-quoting pals for not doing the same. Advertisement Advertisement Job then utters a few enigmatic lines of Hebrew that scholars have struggled to translate for millennia: “al kayn em’as / v’nikham’ti al afar v’eyfer.” The King James Version gives those lines as “Wherefore I abhor myself / and repent in dust and ashes.” Historically, most other versions stab at something similar—though, as we will see, modern scholarship suggests some very different alternatives. Whatever Job says, it seems to work: In an abrupt epilogue, we see Job restored to his former comfort and glory. Many analysts think the happy ending was added to an initial core text that lacked such comfort. But even if you accept it as part of the story, it’s unsettlingly cryptic. We are not told why Job is rewarded, whether his reward was divinely given, or what scars the episode has left upon him. We are merely told that he’s materially back to something resembling what he had before.
    1. Religions may have syncretic elements to their beliefs or history, but adherents of so-labeled systems often frown on applying the label, especially adherents who belong to "revealed" religious systems, such as the Abrahamic religions, or any system that exhibits an exclusivist approach. Such adherents sometimes see syncretism as a betrayal of their pure truth. By this reasoning, adding an incompatible belief corrupts the original religion, rendering it no longer true. Indeed, critics of a syncretistic trend may use the word or its variants as a disparaging epithet, as a charge implying that those who seek to incorporate a new view, belief, or practice into a religious system pervert the original faith. Non-exclusivist systems of belief, on the other hand, may feel quite free to incorporate other traditions into their own.

      What does traditionalism look like in non-exclusivist contexts? There's probably a cool comparison to be made between Roman and Jewish outlooks here?

    1. My friend Becca said the website is a way to “honor this space as a being.” I liked the idea that a website could be a way of honoring something, almost like a kind of shrine, or just saying “this is significant.” You give something a name and suddenly you feel “wow, now that it has a name, it can be so many things. Maybe I’ll buy a domain name.” [Laughs]

      What does it mean to make a website about something?

    1. Just thinking about explaining to a layman the client-server model, HTTP, CORS, URLs pointing to disk, JS syntax in an unstructured editor, &c, makes my head hurt.

      I'm not sure all of these are equally painful and necessary.

    1. Now, if a name is going to be easily changeable forever, please do make it descriptive. I’d much rather maintain code where the variables look like numCols and numRows than i and j. (Just, for the love of God, if you change the meaning, also change the name). But if a name is going to serve as, in any sense, an identifier, something that will point at a big complicated thing from many places far away, make it an opaque identifier. You get similar advice in database schema design — if your user’s email address can change, don’t use their email address as a foreign key in your database. Use a number or a random string instead. Something immutable.
    2. I’m probably being overdramatic there, but I hope my point is clear. “Descriptive” names don’t create transparency, they create the illusion of transparency. If you see that something has the name OrderStatusService, you will instinctively assume you know what it is and does, and you will probably be wrong.

      OrderStatusManager

    1. a failure on the part of the thought leaders in the web development community to properly communicate and advocate for the hypermedia approach. Hypermedia was a great idea! It still is!

      it still is!

    1. I agree that staying on Twitter to engage in battles with trolls isn’t “resistance.” But building community and mobilizing resources are.

      It can be resistance to something else, maybe, but to the power structure that controls your reach and influence there?

    2. Twitter hashtags have been used to help organize, mobilize and amplify the biggest peaceful resistance movements on the planet — movements that, by the numbers, have dwarfed white supremacist rallies and the raging crowd at the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

      and also.... ethics in game journalism.

    3. Twitter is probably the only global digital platform where elite institutions and powerful individuals share space with marginalized people, including the working and lower classes.

      I wonder how true this is – like, yes, in theory, but in practice?

    1. I will only point out that there area number of kinder possibilities that my criticshave disdained to imagine: that my wife maydo this work because she wants to and likes to;that she may find some use and some meaningin it; that she may not work for nothing.

      This is the difficulty of the political being personal: Wendell, don't you imagine that not every secretarial relationship is as egalitarian and ideal as yours? You weren't writing about Mrs. Berry, you were writing about the superiority of the category of Wife to the category of Word Processor...

    2. I don't think that the governmentand the conservation organizations alone willever make us a conserving society. "Why do Ineed a centralized computer system to alert meto environmental crises? That I live every hourof every day in an environmental crisis I knowfrom all my senses. Why then is not my first dutyto reduce, so far as I can, my own consumption?

      Individual vs. systemic theories of change... though I can't say that I really buy that that BBS was getting much done

    3. Thehistory of the exploitation of the Appalachiancoal fields is long, and it is available to readers.I do not see how anyone can read it and plugin any appliance with a clear conscience.

      Damn, I am so pro-electrification. But of course I can think that because the externalities of hydropower are – though meaningful! – so far below those of coal. I want to read more writing wrestling with this.

    4. Wendell Berry provides writers enslaved by thecomputer with a handy alternative: Wife - alow-tech energy-saving device. Drop a pile ofhandwritten notes on Wife and you get back afinished manuscript, edited while it was typed.What computer can do that? Wife meets all ofBerry's uncompromising standards for techno-logical innovation: she's cheap, repairable nearhome, and good for the family structure. Best ofall, Wife is politically correct because she breaksa writer's "direct dependence on strip-minedcoal."History teaches us that Wife can also be usedto beat rugs and wash clothes by hand, thuseliminating the need for the vacuum cleaner andwashing machine, two more nasty machines thatthreaten the act of writing.

      Gordon coming in with 🔥🔥🔥bars🔥🔥🔥

    5. To make myself as plain as I can, I should givemy standards for technological innovation in myown work. They are as follows:The new tool should be cheaper than the oneit replaces.2 It should be at least as small in scale as theone it replaces.3 It should do work that is clearly and demon-strably better than the one it replaces.4 It should use less energy than the one itreplaces.5 If possible, it should use some form of solarenergy, such as that of the body.6 It should be repairable by a person of ordi-nary intelligence, provided that he or she hasthe necessary tools.7 It should be purchasable and repairable as nearto home as possible.S It should come from a small, privatelyowned shop or store that will take it back formaintenance and repair.9 It should not replace or disrupt anythinggood that already exists, and this includesfamily and community relationships.

      This is a good list, but I wonder if you can find examples of tech that came to meet these standards only after an introduction period.

      "Cheaper" is hard to evaluate when you've got a global supply chain with a lot of externalities.

      Size is straightforwrad.

      "Clearly and demonstrably better" work – I hope it includes the user's ergonomics?

      Less energy really needs lifespan analysis

      Energy source: good

      Repairable by ordinary intelligence: this is fascinating because it also points to how the creep of some kinds of tools give the more-intelligent power over the less-intelligent

      Purchasable/repairable near to home: oof.

      Maintenance and repair: I wish we had more relationships with a lot of providers like that.

      The ninth is difficult because... well, the world is always changing even if we don't like it. There will always be tradeoffs. We should make them awarely.

    6. I do not see why I should not beas scientific about this as the next fellow: whensomebody has used a computer to write work thatis demonstrably better than Dante's, and when thisbetter is demonstrably attributable to the use ofa computer, then I will speak of computers witha more respectful tone of voice, though I still willnot buy one.

      This is so fun

    7. I do not see that com-puters are bringing us one step nearer to any-thing that does matter to me: peace, economicjustice, ecological health, political honesty, familyand community stability, good work.

      What a list!

    1. Technically, spooky means ghostly or spectral, two words that relate to liminality. To me, spookiness is a suggestion. It leaves the door open to the possibility of life beyond death, of a world that’s much bigger than what we know.

      Like a big supernatural "What if things don't work the way we think they do? What if my understanding is small, partial, and flawed?" is unsettling even in the absence of immediate personal risk

    1. An appeal to FSC is based on history, philosophy, and political science.

      Too flattering, I think. Often people are making FSC arguments pulled entirely out of their own asses in the same way that FSR and SD arguments can be.

    2. Ultimately FSC is utilitarian — we use it to debate how we ought to act collectively for the healthiest society and the optimal pursuit of knowledge.

      This isn't quite right. Many prefer to debate FSC along utilitarian lines, but some people look at inalienable "god-given" rights and construct a different framework of values around them that extends beyond FSR discussion. A parallel might be: the Supreme Court may have yanked away the constitutional right to an abortion, but one might believe a constitution that doesn't have even that much in the way of guarantees of bodily autonomy is a pretty shit constitution just in theory, before even getting to the utilitarian analysis.

    1. the Mastodon alternative of a thousand petty fiefdoms, where you can be scolded from one direction or another, or banned, or thrown off and all of your DMs are going to be read by your feudal Mastodon lord—that seems to me to totally miss the appeal of centralization, the appeal of just entering the slipstream with 100,000 other freaks to see what there is on the internet today.

      This is so fascinating to me.

      A. The repeating evocation of "fiefdom" and "feudal lord", no less connotative for being completely incoherent if you think about it for five seconds

      B. How do you square the idea that the good thing about Twitter is that you can get the attention of powerful people, or that somebody can clown on Grover Norquist, with the idea that How Dare The Peasants Scold Me.

      C. Nobody really learned the lesson from Uber's godmode coming out at that party, did they. Facebook engineers stalking romantic interests. Being more able to talk about a relevant "market cap" does not give you more privacy!

      D. Wanting a shared internet, a single slipstream ... This is a bad thing to want! But deserves to be unpacked.

    2. Even Mastodon is meant to be this place where the ill they’re curing is the incivility, the lack of reasoned and intelligent and compassionate discussion on Twitter. It just makes you think, “Do they actually know why all of us were logging into Twitter for so many years?”

      It is more imaginable to this person that Mastodon boosters genuinely didn't understand Twitter at all than that they might not be centering the Twitter user.

    3. My sense, just based on my own anecdotal experience and people in my communities and friend groups, is that Twitter was losing some of the—I’m not quite sure what the right phrase is—that Twitter was no longer quite as essential in 2021 or 2022 as it had been or as it felt five or six years earlier. I can speak for myself in particular. There was a time a few years ago when it just sort of became clear that there were diminishing returns to giving so much of your career and your life to a platform that just really wasn’t compensating you for it and frankly was just making you angry all the time for no reason.

      How much of this is you and yours getting older, though?

    1. It will start with a focus of giving cash and equity grants to engineering teams working on social media and private communication protocols, bitcoin, and a web-only mobile OS.

      I wonder if the spritely folks can get in on this

    2. there are many competing projects: @bluesky is one with the AT Protocol, Mastodon another, Matrix yet another…and there will be many more.

      Mastodon and Matrix don't try to be what he's laying out here and that's good

    3. Trusting any one individual with this comes with compromises, not to mention being way too heavy a burden for the individual. It has to be something akin to what bitcoin has shown to be possible.

      jfc

    4. Companies can build many profitable services that complement rather than lock down how we access this massive collection of conversation.

      If that were more profitable than that's what they would have done :)

    5. For proof, look at both the web and email. The biggest problem with these models however is that the discovery mechanisms are far too proprietary and fixed instead of open or extendable.

      The web's "discovery mechanisms" are fixed?

    6. But instead of a company or government building and controlling these solely, people should be able to build and choose from algorithms that best match their criteria, or not have to use any at all.

      Hyper-individualization of a problem that in 2022 you'd have to be a fool to believe is individual in nature. (I don't think he's a fool)

    7. I don’t believe a centralized system can do content moderation globally.

      Well, we have that in common.

    8. The internet is trending towards a world were storage is “free” and infinite, which places all the actual value on how to discover and see content.

      Oh, those scare quotes. From the guy who knows how much a company like Twitter spends on infra? No one can indefinitely assume a cost they can't recoup...

    9. There are significant issues with this stance of course, but starting with this principle will allow for far better solutions than we have today

      Who will find it better, who will find it worse...

    10. Doing so complicates important context, learning, and enforcement of illegal activity.

      This sentence is strained because it of course makes enforcement of a good deal of law that prohibits illegal activity impossible, but that's less palatable.

    11. Moderation is best implemented by algorithmic choice.

      "Best" also fun. Toward what end? What are the kinds of moderation you can and cannot manage with "algorithmic choice"? Certainly can't handle CSE.

    12. Only the original author may remove content they produce.

      If someone posts revenge porn, they're the author of the post. So it stays up? No, he doesn't mean this. It just sounds good.

    13. Social media must be resilient to corporate and government control.

      "must" is rhetorically fun here, because I think "should" would be more accurate. "Must" for what? Government control: they resisted enough genuine bad government action that we can assign some credibility, but...

    1. People refer to themselves and others as Connectors and Mavens the way previous generations would have called each other a Fezziwig or a Scrooge.

      …do they? Ew.

    2. Non-fiction, especially the sub-genre called Smart Thinking (a worse name I cannot imagine) is the main staple of the modern common reader. The common reader became a reality as money created audiences. As Virginia Woolf said, the common reader “is guided by an instinct to create for himself, out of whatever odds and ends he can come by, some kind of whole.” That used to mean a wide exploration of the classics; it is now more likely to mean a broad reading of popularised social science. We have no modern Dickens in fiction: Sally Rooney comes closest, perhaps. But we do have Malcolm Gladwell.

      Woolf and her ilk were horrified by The Great Masses and I wonder how much of that there is here. How many people - not a percentage! - ever read the classics as described and do now?

    1. Our new neighbor is a classic 5-over-1: retail on the ground floor, topped with several stories of apartments one wouldn’t want to be able to afford.

      This tells you a lot really quickly about the material comfort assumed by the kind of person here considered to be the default, "one"

    2. Forgiving, romantic, shadowy orange gave way to cold, all-seeing bluish white.

      I don't think it was romantic. I think it was ugly and made things look dirty. Neither of our positions is particularly justified.

    3. At the local level, increasingly stringent design standards imposed by ever-more-cumbersome community approval processes compelled developers to copy designs that had already been rubber-stamped elsewhere (hence that same fake teak and stucco in identical boxy buildings across the country).

      Not gonna scream! Good job editors!

    4. Somehow the building’s plane feels flatter than it is, despite the profusion of arbitrary outcroppings and angular balconies.

      If this piece :) doesn't mention :) that those outcroppings are required by zoning that wasn't there a hundred years ago :) I'm gonna scream