Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Dunderhead [duhn-der-hed]

I just published tomorrow's post today, so enjoy the double-dip and I'll see you on Friday with the links post, unless I post it five minutes from now, which seems like a distinct possibility based on recent behavior.

Coherence (part two)

Okay, this is the real coherence story I was sidetracked from yesterday. 

To be fair, the sidetracking was entirely done by myself.

I don't watch dating shows, but I see lots of promos, and lots of people who have had "work" done on their faces. I see plenty of woman in my small town who've had work done, too. Men have cosmetic surgery, as well, so it's not just women. 

There's been something bothering me for decades about plastic surgery, but I could never explain it until now.

I see so many people in their fifties and sixties whose faces have lost coherence. 

One feature doesn't quite fit with another. One is too big in proportion to others, or too lifted, or too stretched, or something. People who haven't had plastic surgery never look like this. Their faces might be attractive or unattractive, but their faces make sense.

With cosmetic surgery, though, in many cases it seems like some degree of coherence is lost. So I look at a person and don't understand their face anymore. 

I'm sure there's plenty of excellent cosmetic surgery I never notice, because it still looks natural, but I see so many seemingly-wealthy people (presumably going to expensive surgeons) whose faces turn into a kind of puzzle. Plus, they all start to blend together, which is even more odd. There's a "look" that's desirable, and everyone tries to achieve it, but all it does is take away their uniqueness.

I understand why people have it done--we all want to be young forever--but it seems like such a high cost.


I did a search on old posts for "coherence" to make sure I hadn't mentioned this before.

I hadn't (and I'll write about it tomorrow), but I was reminded of the singles funniest quote from an athlete I've ever heard. 

This was Jerome James, aka "Big Snacks," who could best be described as "durable," a big man who had a 9-year NBA career in spite of never averaging over 5.4 points a game or 4.1 rebounds. He was 7'1", though, and like Abe Lemons used to say, "Fast guys get tired, but tall guys never get short."

By the way, his career salary total in the NBA was 44.7 million. This is why you want your children to be 7'1" and play basketball.

Jerome was a colorful local character, to put it mildly. Once his coach accused him of being selfish, to which Jerome replied, "I don't even know what he is talking about. I just worry about Jerome."

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Holiday Cheer

My sister gave me a Charlie Brown Christmas tree twenty-five years ago or so. 

We always brought it out during the holidays and put it on the kitchen counter. Now, with no reason to buy a big tree anymore, it's become the sole tree in the house. 

Here's what it looks like: 

I think you can enlarge the picture by clicking on it and see everything in greater detail. And yes, that is Rudolph the Headless Reindeer beside it. One must have traditions. Evan the Inappropriate Elf is also on display.

The switch stopped working on the Charlie Brown tree, which meant I couldn't turn the lights on, so I took it to an electronics repair store. I expected to walk into a building where nothing had moved since 1950, including the dust, but instead I walked into a thoroughly modern lighting store that was spotlessly clean. 

I told the fellow behind the counter what had happened, expecting him to tell me to come back in a month. Bad timing, since I wouldn't have the tree during the holidays, but it couldn't be helped. Instead, he just unscrewed the switch, looked at the wires, and poked around in a box for another switch, which he put on right there. 

Ten minutes. Twelve dollars. Home for the holidays.

I asked him what was the oldest piece of equipment he'd ever worked on, and he said something from the 1880's. He specifically named it, too, but I had no idea what he was talking about. Also, quite a few things from the 1920s, chandeliers in particular. 

It would be fascinating to see a culture's evolution through its lighting. 

Monday, December 04, 2023


It's only December 4 and I'm already sick of Christmas. 

Maybe it's just because I'm an old grouch, but it seems like holiday hype has continually amped up over the last decade. Not just commercially, but also with the number of people spending huge amounts of money for ornate yard displays. 

I don't remember trees being sold before Thanksgiving, either (but I saw them this year). I don't know how anyone can keep a tree reasonably fresh for more than two weeks, let alone a month. It's basically kindling by then.

Eli 22.4 is coming home on December 24, which will be great. For everything else, though, I think I could give it a pass.

I miss the days when it was just Charlie Brown and Rudolph and a tree. Oh, and the Grinch. 

Maybe I was using the Grinch as a manual. That could be the problem. 

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, and it's absolutely wonderful, it's Ingenious maker builds underwater maze to entertain his brilliant pet octopus (video).

From Wally, and maybe it's time for a junket: U.S. airlines lose 2 million suitcases a year. Where do they all go? Instead of, you know, providing assistance: NYC is Building Anti-Homeless Streets… Tip of the iceberg (or spear): Sports Illustrated Published Articles by Fake, AI-Generated Writers

From Kevin Womack, and it's a thoughtful deep dive into the future of publishing: Brandon Sanderson's Doom And Gloom Predictions!

From C. Lee, and it's not encouraging: World on pace to blow past Paris climate targets, UN says. I'd be happy to have one up here: ‘You can walk around in a T-shirt’: how Norway brought heat pumps in from the cold. I mean, it's a fair question: Does Australia exist? Well, that depends on which search engine you ask … An excellent read: Omicron, Now 2 Years Old, Is Not Done With Us Yet. A terrific point: Why We’re Still Breathing Dirty Indoor Air. An epic takedown: The Great American Novel That Wasn’t. From the impeccable Digital Antiquarian: Putting the “J” in the RPG, Part 1: Dorakue! I'm a fan, generally (of ramen, not inflation): Cost-of-living crisis fuels global appetite for instant ramen. This is a wonderful read: Life Lessons with Momofuku: Patron Saint of Instant Noodles and Late Bloomers

Ghibli to Study By

This is tremendously soothing: Studio Ghibli Deep Sleep Piano Collection.

If you want to relax instead of stress, I highly recommend it.

Fast Track

There's been a great meme about Henry Kissinger for years now.

Henry Kissinger has finally entered hell. Given his resume, he should be fast-tracked for a management position.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Mystery Reader

I've been trying to figure this out and I'm going crazy.

An e-mailer lives in Grand Rapids and is friends with Jeff P. I've emailed with you multiple times, and remember the emails, but I can't remember the email address, and I can't find it to email you. Instead of remembering your name, I associate your name with your handle on the Qt3 forums. 

Stuck and stuck.

When you read this, please get in touch with me. Thanks.

Bethesda Creates a Dating Profile

Oh, poor Bethesda: Bethesda responding to negative Starfield reviews on Steam

Here's an example:
In response to one user that called Starfield's story "generic" and the gameplay "boring", one member of Bethesda's customer support staff replied with a post highlighting everything players can experience in the game.

"You can fly, you can shoot, you can mine, you can loot!" it wrote. "Starfield is an RPG with hundreds of hours of quests to complete and characters to meet. Most quests will also vary on your character's skills and decisions, massively changing the outcome of your playthrough."

Bethesda is sending out big online dating vibes here.

Many of you have been fortunate enough to avoid online dating, but there's one particularly annoying type. You send them a nice message saying you appreciate their interest, but it's not a good fit romantically, and they respond with a thousand word response telling you why you're wrong. I never received one of these messages, but my female friends said they get them frequently. 

In short, Bethesda is mansplaining why people who didn't like the game are wrong.

Come on, B. Don't take it so personally. Criticism is hard for everyone. Just keep reading profiles and eventually you'll find your match. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

At Risk

Let's talk abut powder monkeys.

During the Age of Sail, gunpowder was stored in the ship's hold as long as possible to reduce the chances of an explosion on desk. Powder monkeys ferried gunpowder from the ship's hold to the artillery guns. 

Powder monkeys, according to Wikipedia, were usually boys aged 12 to 14, desirable because of their smaller size and higher maneuverability. 

As you can imagine, powder monkeys usually didn't last long enough in their job to be promoted. 

I think we've all felt like a powder monkey at some point in our lives. For me, it was the first eighteen months after Gloria's accident. Every single task felt so consequential, and I had no experience with grieving or the bureaucracy of death. I was acutely aware of my limited competency.

It's not just personal events that can make us feel like power monkeys, though. Today's media contributes to that feeling as well. The way American media makes its money is to convince us that the U.S. is a powder monkey, at risk to explode any second. Instead of selling information, they sell noise. It's why companies don't care if AI-generated content is garbage or nonsensical. It allows them to generate exponentially more noise, and that's all they're trying to do. 

No wonder we all feel like we're carrying gunpowder around.

Monday, November 27, 2023


I felt bad for Eli 22.3 because he wasn't getting a Thanksgiving dinner. I thought.

Even with only four Americans in his college, though, the dining staff came through. They emailed all four and said they wanted to cook a Thanksgiving dinner for them, but didn't know what dishes to include, so would they please send ideas?

Amazing, thoughtful, and kind.

He sent me a picture of the spread:

I see turkey, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, stuffing, potatoes, green bean casserole, and brussel sprouts, among other things.

What makes Oxford special, from the way Eli describes it, is that it's special everywhere. I can't think of a better example.

I was asked over for Thanksgiving, and I had a lovely meal and day as well. We were both lucky this year.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Friday Links on Thanksgiving!

Following the new tradition started in 2022 (I think), Friday Links are up today for anyone who is dying of boredom on Thanksgiving. I'll be off on Friday and return Monday.

I'm leading off with C. Lee, because he has consistently sent a slew of intelligent, interesting links every week for as long as I can remember. Leading off, an alarming trend: Facing Financial Ruin as Costs Soar for Elder Care. Related: ‘I Wish I Had Known That No One Was Going to Help Me’. This sounds like a fascinating book: Balkan Cyberia: Cold War Computing, Bulgarian Modernization, and the Information Age Behind the Iron Curtain by Victor Petrov. This is tantalizing research (particularly the explanation): ‘Tetris’ may help reduce flashbacks to traumatic events.It seems obvious: Best way to prevent cervical cancers: Immunize boys against HPV, too. More remarkable research: Crispr gene editing shown to permanently lower high cholesterol. Argggh: It’s Still Easy for Anyone to Become You at Experian. If only this had come out before September! Visiting Real Life Locations From Haruki Murakami Novels in Tokyo. We never got lost, thanks to Eli 22.3: New indie game The Exit 8 may make us never want to enter another Japanese subway station again

This is bizarrely fascinating: Mortician uses a dummy to show every step a body goes through at a funeral home. There are some real classics here: The Biggest Roadside Attractions in the Midwest.

From Wally, and it's kitchen sink DEFCON 1 this week: U.S. plumber bracing for 'Brown Friday' after Thanksgiving. An interesting pivot: Judge overseeing Idaho murders case bars media cameras, citing "intense focus" on suspect — but the court will livestream. This is a fantastic read: A juice company dumped orange peels in a national park. Here's what it looks like now.

Pour One Out For the Victims

It seems to be a trend: Jim Irsay cites status as 'white billionaire' for 2014 arrest.

My favorite new aggrieved class: billionaires. Everything's stacked against them, it seems. They're really suffering from all the oppression.

Billionaires are a policy mistake. Elon Musk is essentially a 16-year-old edgelord at a mall food court. Do we want someone like him having a disproportionate impact on society and public policy? 


It's That Time Of Year

You know it's late November in Michigan when I'm spending an inordinate amount of time looking at rechargeable heated slippers on Amazon. 

Which all seem like garbage, by the way.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Sea of Stars

I mentioned this game a few weeks ago, and wound up finishing it yesterday.

It's wonderful. What a terrific experience.

It also does one thing better than any game I've ever played, which is traversal. It's never been so much fun to run around, because there are all kinds of interesting spaces to squeeze into and stuff to climb on. The traversal isn't hard--you really can't fail--but it's consistently entertaining in a way I've never experienced before.

It's also logical. There are puzzles and obstacles to figure out, but none of the answers are obscure or obtuse. If you just consider your environment and think, you can solve every one, which I appreciate, because looking at a guide every five minutes is tedious.

There are apparently several endings that you can get after the first if you keep playing (including the "true" ending), but I was happy with the first ending and stopped there. It's suspenseful, and there's a twist at the very end that made me laugh out loud because I was so delighted. 

It's all inordinately clever and entertaining without being taxing, and it's consistently fun. 

If you're interested, it's on all the usual platforms, plus it's on Game Pass.

Monday, November 20, 2023


I haven't written anything about the Israeli-Palestinian situation because I wasn't smart enough.

I'm still not, but I've noticed something other people aren't commenting on.

Ninety percent of the word count about the crisis is bent on establishing the truth. Did this happen? Did that happen? Who's lying? This is, seemingly, a critical element before any peace proposal can be put forth. 

This often works in conventional situations. In this situation, though, very few things can be determined as absolutely true. 

We know Hamas attacked Israel and over 1,000 Israelis have died. We know Hamas took hostages. We also know Israel attacked Palestine in response and over 10,000 Palestinians have died. 

Those three statements are agreed on by everyone, as far as I know. They are beyond dispute.

What else can we say is true and beyond dispute? Almost nothing. It depends on the perspective and the "side" of the person reporting the information, as well as the perspective and side of their sources. How you interpret that information depends on your perspective and side as well.

I wish someone would ask how to craft a policy for peace in the Middle East starting with the notion that the truth is beyond determination and is irrelevant. If you start with that basic premise, where does it lead you? What kind of proposal gets produced?

Maybe that would lead us somewhere. Nothing else seems to lead anywhere.

That's a cheery start to the week. I'll try to be more festive tomorrow.

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