Thursday, August 31, 2023

Friday Links!

Happy Friday, everyone!

From C. Lee, and they're back: Americans at high risk advised to wear masks as new Covid variant detected. This is a terrific read (and hopefully it's not paywalled for you): The Dark History Oppenheimer Didn't Show. Bizarre: We Got Our Hands on an HK G11, the Space-Age Rifle That Never Was. This is a double-edged sword in so many ways: We Fired the Army’s New Rifle and Machine Gun. It Was a Heavy-Metal Experience. An excellent visualization: Visualizing $156 Trillion in U.S. Assets, by Generation. This is quite useful: Kakeibo: The Japanese art of saving moneyd/kakeibo-the-japanese-art-of-saving-money

I'm looking forward to the astonishing range of products in Japanese vending machines (hard pass on the horse meat, though): Japanese Vending Machine

From Ken P., and it's an interesting look at college demographics in California: These charts show which Californians go to the most selective colleges. A pleasantly dated video about the pogo: Debbie Harry Demonstrates the Punk Pogo Dance for a U.S. Audience (1978). Hmm: Taylor Swift on the syllabus? Her songbook is now required reading for some college courses. A fascinating argument: New JWST data confirms, worsens the Hubble tension. This is incredibly concerning (and not much of a surprise); The Secret Weapon Hackers Can Use to Dox Nearly Anyone in America for $15


One of my concerns about going to Japan (even though I'm looking forward to it, too) is related to how I orient myself to the world.

I orient myself in the world through routine, particularly in the morning. I get up at the same time. I have a glass of tea. I write. I have the same breakfast.

This might sound deeply boring, and it might well be, but it gives me a familiar foundation for the day, which I find deeply comforting. 

If I travel in the U.S., I can establish that routine no matter where I am, which makes travel much less stressful for me. 

In Japan, though, it's going to be different.

There are no analogues to some of the things I eat here, particularly when it comes to breakfast. And I might well be having a different breakfast every day, depending on where we are. As I type that, I know how ridiculous it sounds, to say it's disorienting. For someone who finds comfort in routine, though, it's difficult. 

That repetition has also helped my stomach greatly, and I have far fewer problems with it than I used to. This will be an interesting two weeks from that standpoint as well.

It's not like we're going for a month. I'll adjust. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Knowing that makes the uncertainty I feel much more tolerable.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023


I forgot to mention yesterday that two blocks after I saw the truck I wrote about, I saw a Suzuki Swift pickup truck at an intersection. 

It was incredible, like you mashed up the size of a Honda Civic from 2010 with the shape of a pickup truck. A pickup truck in that size is so fantastically pointless I can't even think of a use case. 

Here's what it looked like: Suzuki Swift pickup mod.

I feel like a Suzuki Swift pickup as I get older. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

A Colorful Local Character

I saw this truck on my way back from downtown today:

If that photo is too small to read, please note "DOWN WITH THE THICKNESS" in the mid-right, along with a buxom silhouette), and a smaller sticker in the bottom right reading "You Just Lost the Game."

I understand that we all have physical preferences when it comes to women. What's interesting, though, is that there's apparently a class of men who feel the need to announce this preference on their vehicles. Perhaps this is a form of sexual advertising, not unlike a male peacock's tail fathers (a Fisherian Walkaway, if you will, which is my new favorite phrase).

The "You Just Lost the Game" sticker is also intriguing, but only if you don't Google the phrase. I did, unfortunately, and the explanation was far less interesting than the possibilities.

Monday, August 28, 2023

You'd Think I'd Have Gotten a Treat, But All I Got Were Eggs

The first draft of This Doesn't Feel Like The Future was completed today.  136 days. 78,641 words. 

It seems like I should be celebrating writing a book, but I haven't written one yet. I've only done about 10% of the work. Editing and rewriting is the other 90%.

Still, though, you have to do the first 10% to get to the other 90%.

I went to the grocery store to buy eggs for Eli 22.0, because he likes to make eggs for breakfast, and I felt like I should get at least a little something for myself, but anything I want I can't eat anymore, so I passed. 

I'll start working on the second draft in about a month. When that's done, I'll have a draft that's at least readable. It will resemble a book, even though it won't be one yet.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Friday Links!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

From Ken Piper, and this is an excellent read: ‘We were once paid $50 to quit’: new wave heroes Devo on boos, Bowie and retiring after 50 years. This is tantalizing: Physicists Identify a Strange New Form of Superconductivity. Just like people: Meta, OpenAI, Anthropic and Cohere A.I. models all make stuff up — here’s which is worst. This is absolutely fascinating: A Brain Implant Helped Stroke Survivors Regain Movement. This is actually quite amazing (I'm a left arm guy, myself): Left or right arm: Choosing where to get vaccinated matters, study suggests. Here's why.

From C. Lee, and this is a fantastic video: What did the Vikings eat? I'd never considered this before: In Colonial Williamsburg, Thieving Rats Save History. Now I wish I was ultrarich: All the Quiet Money Can Buy Talking to the professional soundproofers for the ultrarich. Talk about being bled dry (and HP has been the worst for decades): Requiring ink to scan a document—yet another insult from the printer industry. This doesn't seem good at all: Researchers Find Thousands of Microplastic Particles in Human Heart Tissue

From Wally, and it's in the most old-school format you could imagine, but it's searchable there's a ton of information: Disk Prices. I mean, buyer obviously beware? ‘Bored Apes’ investors sue Sotheby’s, Paris Hilton and others as NFT prices collapse


It's been quite a week. I haven't had a good night's sleep since last Saturday. It feels like a long time. 

Whenever this happens, I always approach it as some mysterious, chance event, even though there are known drivers, and it almost always turns out to be an old reason, not a new one. 

For one, I need to go to bed between 10-10:30. I don't know why, exactly, and some nights I read for quite a while after I'm in bed, but I need to be there at that time. If it's later, I never seem to sleep well, and staying up late tends to wreck my sleep for several days.

I stayed up until midnight a few nights ago, although I think I already wasn't sleeping well. 

More importantly, I have a problem with the Internet, and with my phone. It's great to be able to look up anything you wonder about. I can look up scrimshaw and Fisherian Walkaways and the electoral vote count in 1920 whenever it strikes me.

I thought that was great, at first, but now I realize it's actually a huge problem, because it enables me to extend every thought in my head with additional information. That puts so much information in play that it becomes noise, and that knocks me off balance.

It's the same problem when I consume news. I can consume quite a lot, at a high level of detail, and it all seems important, but it's impossible to store and use that much information. Ninety percent of the political news I consume is irrelevant within days, but in the meantime, it's churned up my mind.

I remembered all this last night when it was midnight and I'd been in bed for an hour and a half. Less media consumption. Don't look up every single thing that pops into your head. Have a layer of calm around you.

We'll see how many days it takes to work.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

It's Not Just Windows and Poison, Apparently

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the infamous Wagner Group, was on a plane to Moscow when it "crashed." It was also apparently missing a wing, which likely means there was either an explosive on board or (depending on who you believe) the Russian Air Force shot it down.

Both are plausible.

It's still stunning that he decided to march on Moscow and very nearly made it, and even more stunning that he thought he was untouchable going forward, when the list of "mysterious deaths" during Putin's regime is staggeringly high.

A feeling of invincibility is a hell of a drug, as the saying goes.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

A Quick Update

This is a day with too much (to do) and too little (time), but This Doesn't Feel Like the Future hit 70,000 words yesterday and looks like it's on pace to be completed by the time we leave for Japan. To do that, I need to start writing 1,000 words a day, which should be manageable.

First drafts are strange, but it's hard to describe how they're strange. You have a rough idea of the plot and the characters, but you don't know either very well, so there are plenty of wild goose chases and storylines that get abandoned later on. Minor characters write themselves into being major characters, and major characters turn out to be less interesting than you thought and become minor characters. It's chaos. 

I don't think this book will take seven years like the first one. Then again, I didn't think the first one would take seven years, either.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Madden 24 Video

If you want to see what the next-gen version of Madden 24 looks like on PC, here's a video of a CPU vs. CPU game:
Madden 24.

Madden's been crap for a decade, at least, but this video, incredibly, looks solid.

If you want to know how well a team sports title is animated, just look at the feet. Do runners plant their feet? How do they change direction? How do they back up? That will usually tell you everything you need to know, and this year, the feet look solid. 

I should add that you can look at the hands, too. Do balls bounce off the hands, or are they caught in a semi-realistic manner? When players use their hands to control or push off from another player, what do those interactions look like? Again, the hands look solid. 

I don't know about the lighting. The game supports HDR on PC, but you also have to have a monitor that supports it, and I don't think this user had one. 

It's still Madden, so buyer beware, obviously. It does look like they cleaned some things up this year, though.


When you're eating at a Mexican food restaurant across from a snow cone trailer, and the restaurant has a wait, you might do things in an unusual order. I've never had a snow cone before dinner, but it seemed like the thing to do.

We ordered our snow cones, and when it came time to pay, I put my credit card forward immediately. 

"Dad, let me treat," Eli 22.0 said.

"I know what's going on here," I said. "If you get the snow cones, I have to buy dinner. Not today, my friend."

"Damn it," he said, laughing.

We walked off with our snow cones and he gave me a fist bump. "Game recognizes game," he said.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Friday Links!

A beautiful week here. Have a great weekend, everyone.

From David Gloier, and it's bizarre: ‘Large’ creature — with 20 arms — found lurking in Antarctic sea. It’s a new species. This is great news: A new gray wolf pack is found 200 miles south of California's nearest-known pack. McMansions in China: See Inside a Ghost Town of Abandoned Mansions in China.

From Chris M., and this is fantastic (for orthopedists): The Greatest Pogo Stick the World Has Ever Seen.

From C. Lee, and this is deeply concerning: Innocent pregnant woman jailed amid faulty facial recognition trend. It seems like this never ends: How an unpatched Microsoft Exchange 0-day likely caused one of the UK’s biggest hacks ever. This is fascinating: Everyone Was Wrong About Antipsychotics. An excellent read: The Mysteries of Japan-Only Phones. This is parody in real-life at this point: Florida schools plan to use only excerpts from Shakespeare to avoid ‘raunchiness’. It's incredible how many countries we import food from: Top U.S. Food Imports by Origin Country. Very clever: Baldur’s Gate 3 Has the Nerdiest Licensing Agreement Ever


Eli 22.0 was having an issue.

He went to the dentist, and all was fine. His insurance company, however, wouldn't pay the claim for a routine cleaning. 

After much puzzling, I figured out his dentist had submitted the insurance claim under my member number, not his.

"Summary: they dumb," Eli said.

"That's the too long didn't read version," I said.

"So you're trying to use a hip acronym, but you say every word, which makes it totally unhip," he said, laughing.

"Pretty much," I said. "Remember, I was at the forefront of streetwear, too."

"You were absolutely not," he said.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023


I went swimming today.

After I finished, I went into the locker room. The high school team has their own locker room inside the larger, public space. Their door was open and I heard four boys talking.

They were comparing a singer to an autistic person, and one of the boys was doing an imitation of an extremely autistic person trying to speak. All four of them thought this was hilarious.

I know teenagers are generally idiots. I certainly was. It was discouraging, though, to be reminded of how many people lack empathy for anything that doesn't directly affect them. 

If one of them had an autistic sibling, that "joke" would never have been made. It's as if they feel they have a license to make fun of anything beyond their own limited experience.

This school makes a genuine attempt to inclusive of persons with disabilities, too, but it seemingly had no impact on them. They've separated the whole world into "better" and "worse," and because they put themselves in the "better" category, they'll make fun of anyone they consider "worse."

Humanity. Like Pogo said, We have met the enemy and he is us.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

A Sizable Man

I was in the garage when the trash truck came by this morning. I decided to wait so I could just pull the containers back into the garage when they were done.

We have a trash pickup system where there's a standard trash truck, along with powered trash carts. The carts pick up the trash containers from each house (in our neighborhood, we put them outside the garage) and drive them back to the main truck.

That's how it usually works, anyway.

Today, a guy walked up the driveway pulling a regular trash bin and a recycling bin behind him. He wasn't Andre the Giant, but he was a big, big dude, without an ounce of fat on him. He casually walked up to my trash bin, lifted it, and poured the trash into the bin he brought with him. 

These bins are huge, but they're also awkwardly-shaped, so I can't imagine anyone picking one up, let alone when they're full of trash. He did it like it was nothing. Then he did the same with the recycling and went on his way.

I wouldn't have been surprised if he walked down to the street and bench pressed the trash truck.

Monday, August 14, 2023


I saw the Perseid meteor shower Saturday night.

I've mentioned several times over the years that Michigan is the perfect place for all kinds of beautiful astronomical phenomena (Northern lights! Aurora borealis! Meteor showers!), but I've never see any of it because it's always cloudy.

Not Saturday night, though. 

There's an observatory only twenty minutes from Grand Rapids (who knew?). It's in the relative middle of nowhere, and it's dark. Really dark. It's the kind of dark you never see when you live in a city, even a small one.

Plus, outside the city, it's still. The stillness is a presence you feel, and after hearing big trucks and motorcycles and lawn mowers and leaf blowers all day, it was a relief.

I took Eli 10.0 to see a meteor shower once. It might have been this one, and I know I wrote about it, but we just sat on the car and leaned back on the windshield in the darkest place I could find near Austin. We both thought we saw a few meteors, but it might have been more wishful thinking than anything.

Saturday night, though, I saw five.

It doesn't sound like many, I know, but four were spectacular, with long trails across the sky lasting for several seconds. There were hundreds of people watching, and the collective "ooh" was fantastic.

Plus, I saw the Starlink satellites for the first time, and if you haven't seen them, they're mind-blowing. Thirty or so rows of satellites, two by two, brighter than any star, proceeding in a long, almost vertical arc across the sky. They seemed close, too, because of their brightness.

That's what it looked like to the naked eye, anyway.

It was all incredibly beautiful, and even though hundreds of people were there, no one was being an ass, which made it even better. Everyone just spread out their blankets or sat in lawn chairs and looked up at the sky. 

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, and it's fantastically inventive: An Animated Figure Battles Mathematics

Ken Piper is riding in a fundraiser for ALS treatment and research, and if you'd like to donate, you can do it here: 2023 Napa Valley Ride to Defeat ALS

From C. Lee, and it's an important read: Looking for Eileen: how George Orwell wrote his wife out of his story. A courageous writer: Seiichi Morimura, 'The Devil's Gluttony' author, dies at 90 after pneumonia case. An interesting theory: A Japanese Company Bans Late-Night Work. A Baby Boom Soon Follows. Long overdue: This Government Program Will Help Support Dementia Patients and Their Caregivers

From Wally, and it's bizarre: Chilling Breakthrough: The Science Behind a Real-Life “Freeze Ray” Technology for the Air Force. A follow-up video after last week's link: Stolen Lincoln Town Car stars in wacky GTA-like airborne crash. This is going to start happening all the time: Author discovers AI-generated counterfeit books written in her name on Amazon. Not again: Here We Go Again: AI Developers Are Buying Gaming GPUs in Bulk. Potentially amazing: PCI Express explores PC tech that will run on light. A fantastic read: To Create His Geometric Artwork, M.C. Escher Had to Learn Math the Hard Way

More links from Ken P. First, buyer/user beware: We just lost 3TB of data on a SanDisk Extreme SSD. Florida, trying to become Mississippi: Florida effectively bans AP Psychology for gender, sex content: College Board. This is an excellent read: Does the Linguistic Theory at the Center of the Film ‘Arrival’ Have Any Merit? These both look spectacular: Don’t Miss: Perseid Meteor Shower and a Rare Super Blue Moon. A fascinating read: Why Are UFOs Still Blurry? A Conversation With David Brin


I received a text from "USPS" yesterday. 

I don't receive texts from USPS, but this one notified me that they'd attempted a delivery but had incomplete address information. I needed to correct the address, and they included a link that went to a totally authentic-looking USPS website (I would find out later that it's an exact copy, with some scammage added in).

The redelivery was going to cost thirty cents, and it asked me for credit card information.

I started to wonder, obviously, when I saw that, and I started doing research. 

Impressively, the link included in the text, if put into the browser on a different device, went to a real USPS site. The scam site, though, was a duplicate, with the exception of the credit card info field. There was even a tracking number in the correct format (USPS has a 22-digit tracking number, incredibly).

Like I said, it was all very impressive. 

There were a couple of moments in the text where it seemed off, but only very slightly. It didn't seem unreasonable at all. It seemed more authentic than plenty of real texts I've received. 

Of course, it's a scam. USPS doesn't charge a redelivery fee. The scammers, though, made it for such a small amount that many people will put in their credit card info just to move on, even if they don't exactly remember what package is being referenced. It would be very, very easy to get scammed.

Staying away from all this crap can be exhausting. No matter how many people work on creating secure systems, the number of bad actors researching ways to break those systems is exponentially higher.

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Halls of Torment

No, I'm not talking about golf. 

Halls of Torment is a direct descendant of Vampire Survivors, and it's quite similar, but it has more developed progression and objectives, and it feels more polished in general. If you played Vampire Survivors and enjoyed it, this is your kind of game, and even though it's in Early Access, there's a ton of content. 

It's also considerably less wacky than Vampire Survivors, which is the only negative. Still, though, it's highly entertaining. 

It's on sale right now ($3.99), so it's not much of a risk, either. Here's the link: Halls of Torment.


Tuesday, August 08, 2023

Real Men

The extremely nice woman across the street (a good friend, mother of Eli 22.0s best friend) mentioned a conversation she had with someone yesterday. 

The conversation was with a man in his late 60s, who was bemoaning the plight of boys in today's society. She was curious, so she asked a few more questions, and he finally said that boys and young today didn't know what a "real man" was. 

I've been thinking about the term "real man" ever since. 

First off, I'm sure I'm not one. I don't even think I could precisely define the term. 

Also, everyone I've known who self-identified as a "real man" has been, without exception, a bullying asshole. 

I believe people who use the term associate it with being in charge and being in control. What I find interesting, though, is how character isn't really part of it at all. 

No character required. 

I also think it's interesting that in some countries people would associate "real men" with honorable men, but not in this country, unfortunately.

I feel like not having enough real men was never the problem. Our problem was always having too many.

Monday, August 07, 2023


It's a lot.

Seeing Oppenheimer (three hours) followed twenty minutes later by Barbie (two hours) is quite an experience. Too much of an experience, some might say. 

Each movie is bleak in its own way, and surprisingly, each is about an extremely serious subject. Oppenheimer's bleakness is self-explanatory, but Barbie deals with the consequences of the patriarchy in a very personal, uncomfortable way, despite its broad level of satire and comedy. It's surprisingly dark in an entirely subversive way, while Oppenheimer is dark in a surprisingly conventional way.

Eli 22.0 liked Oppenheimer more than I did, while I liked Barbie more than he did. We even had some of the same objections, but to the opposite movie.

Both films are absolutely worth seeing, but not consecutively. It's great fun, in concept, but much less fun actually doing it that way.

Thursday, August 03, 2023

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, a fantastic explanation of Large Language Models: A jargon-free explanation of how AI large language models work

It's almost beyond parody at this point, really: Tom the Dancing Bug: Florida's new African American history curriculum

This is tremendously disturbing, and I've seen it more than once: ‘Everything you’ve been told is a lie!’ Inside the wellness-to-fascism pipeline.

From C. Lee, and if you have a Zen 2 processor, keep reading: AMD 'Zenbleed' Bug Leaks Data From Zen 2 Ryzen, EPYC CPUs: Most Patches Coming Q4. An interesting read: Goodbye to Graphics: How GPUs Came to Dominate Compute and AI. This is excellent: Pluralistic: The surprising truth about data-driven dictatorships. This is tremendously concerning: Researchers find deliberate backdoor in police radio encryption algorithm. Another one bites the dust: Borax is the new Tide Pods, and poison control experts are facepalming. This is fantastic: How Edward Hopper Storyboarded ‘Nighthawks’. Another tremendous post from The Digital Antiquarian: Diablo. This is excellent: Blue Archive Symphony (Blue Archive OST Orchestral Cover Album).

From Wally, and it's a bar fight in a western, only with cats and a crow: Badass crow makes cats fight. This is fantastic: Military Food Plated with Michelin Precision.


Yesterday, I saw a little girl riding her bike. 

She was very young, probably five or six years old. Her bike was purple and had spotless white handlebar grips. Coming out of the grips were ribbons, and the ribbons were covered in silver glitter. The back of her helmet had glitter on it, too. 

The bike was immaculate, like she washed it down after every ride so there wouldn't be a speck of dust. She sailed down the sidewalk, living her best life, with a wide smile. 

She reminded me of one of my favorite songs:
Diamond in the back, sunroof top
Diggin' the scene with a gangsta lean

William DeVaughn would have approved. 

This morning, Eli 22.0 was driving us to the golf course and I saw an F-150 beside us. Well, I heard it first, because it had custom tailpipes so it would be as loud as possible. You know, Dude Who Must Always Be The Center Of Attention. 

The truck was lime green. 

"So let me get this straight," I said to Eli. "This guy spends thousands of dollars to customize his truck, then picks a color that makes it look like a slab of Jell-O?"

It was immaculate, though.

Wednesday, August 02, 2023

A Brief Political Post

Reading the indictment (the recent one, to clarify, since there are so many), it's clear that what was attempted on January 6 was nothing less than a coup. A real coup to overthrow a fairly-held Presidential election using military force, if necessary, to control protests. 

Let that sink in for a minute. 

This isn't a third-world nation, but the thugs attempting this were using third-world tactics. They all knew the election was legitimately lost, but that wasn't even an asterisk in their thinking. They didn't care that it was legitimate. Democracy meant absolutely nothing to them, and neither did the Constitution. 

Whatever prison sentences get handed out won't be long enough.

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

This Doesn't Feel Like the Future and Also Japan

I'll hit 60,000 words by the weekend, so I'm about 75% done with the first draft. If I time it correctly, it will be done right at the end of August. 

Why the end of August? Because in September, Eli 22.0 and I are going to Japan.

He's asked me occasionally over the years where I'd go if I could choose anywhere, and my answer has always been Japan and Norway. 

I know why I want to go to Japan: a deep love of gaming and gaming history and extreme politeness. No mystery there.

Norway? I have no idea, except it seems like everyone (even prisoners) is treated humanely. 

Eli said he was giving me a "reverse graduation present," which is very on-brand for him. That present it a trip to Japan, where we can see Nintendo World, the Murakami museum, a Nippon Professional Baseball game (go Yakult Swallows!), and about a thousand other things, including staying at a capsule hotel.

That's the thing about Eli. When you're with him, no fields lie fallow. 

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