It’s Not Over

Until all votes are counted.
Until all votes are recounted.
Until all votes are recounted by hand.
Until the lawsuits are filed.
Until the lawsuits are appealed at the State Supreme Courts.
Until the lawsuits are appealed at the Supreme Court.
Until the states certify the results.
Until the electors vote.
Until the electors maybe vote faithlessly.
Until Joe is sworn in on the 20th.

And it won’t matter after that because, proof be damned, it was a massive fraud perpetrated upon us.

A Kraken of Shit

To the surprise of no one (well, normal people), “The Kraken”, authored by an ex-member of the “Elite Strike-Force Team”, turned out to be a “truly awful” and unmistakably QAnon-laced lawsuit full of basic formatting, spelling, and grammatical errors that would “drive a proofreader to drink.”

From a must-read via PLG:

This is all batshit crazy. It is as stupid an elections lawsuit as I’ve ever seen. And there’s no guarantee that it’s the worst case we’re going to see, because even though their legal arguments are being dismissed with extreme prejudice, when it comes to the political/propaganda aims of the litigants—this stuff works. Once the true believers are on board, it’s hard to get them off.

[…] The Kraken is the stupidest election fraud lawsuit in history today. But who knows what next week will bring.

– Mike Dunford, “The ‘Kraken’ Lawsuit Was Released And It’s Way Dumber Than You Realize”, The Bulwark (💾)

Amazing. It’s almost as if The Best People don’t really care about the substance of the lawsuits1 but want to seen as filing them in the courts of “activist” judges who swat them away, quite unfairly of course, for the sophomoric and baseless crocks of shit they are. Conservative, Republican, Trump-appointed activist judges, that is.

  1. And as if they ‘wrote’ it using a 1999 version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking. ↩︎

“Where are the Turks?”

Bilal Göregen (YouTube, Instagram) is the Turkish street musician in my favorite video of 2020.

He sounds like a very positive, gracious, and sweet human being on this KnowYourMeme interview1 which features this delightful nugget (emphasis mine):

Q: How has the response been from your previous fans and followers that were around before the meme? Also, have you received any interesting or wholesome messages from fans since your meme went viral that you can share with us?

A: When I read the comments section after my video went viral, I see that my Turkish followers still do not understand the meme, and they ask questions like, “Is the channel stolen? Why are there so many foreigners here? Where are the Turks?

Assorted Bilal things: Here’s a ten-hour version of his viral hit. And here’s him making a lot of Indian people very happy. And lest I forget, this is the original Finnish folk song he’s covering:

  1. Which TIL has an editorials section… ↩︎

Highly Informed Outrage

A lovely Techbro aside from the ongoing #shitkraken.

Greg Stenstrom, another poll watcher, said that in Delaware County, 47 USB cards were missing.

As a computer scientist, an American and a patriot, it doesn’t matter who those votes were for. It was shocking to me that that could even happen,” he said.

“There is no cure for this, no remedy for this. I don’t believe as a citizen and an observer to this, anyone can certify this with a good conscience.”

– Harriet Alexander, “‘Your election is a sham’: Giuliani tells Pennsylvania ‘I know crooks really well’ as he appears in Gettysburg”, The Independent

(Emphasis mine.) Indeed, Gregory. When USB cards go missing, one needs formal training in Algorithms, Data Structures, the Theories of Computation and Complexity, Formal Logic (of course), and more, to express appropriate outrage at an election that’s fraudulent only in your head and only because your guy didn’t win.

The Continuing Saga of an A+ Elite Strike-Force Team Saving Our Imperiled Democracy

Will tag updates as I read them with amusement and disbelief. Armando Ianucci must be weeping right now. All emphases are mine.

In a court filing signed by Rudy Giuliani and Marc Scaringi1 — the two remaining attorneys on the case after everyone else quit — the campaign asked for the judge to hand over Pennsylvania’s electors.

[…] “You’re asking this court to invalidate more than 6.8 million votes, thereby disenfranchising every single voter in the commonwealth,” Brann said at the hearing. “Can you tell me how this result can possibly be justified?”

– Jacob Shamsian, “Rudy Giuliani straight up asked a federal judge to ignore Pennsylvania voters and declare Trump won the state.”, Business Insider India

And:

Before Tuesday, Rudy Giuliani last registered an appearance in the U.S. federal judiciary in 1992, and in the view of many legal observers, it showed. The former mayor of New York flubbed basic concepts of law and, in at least one instance, displayed a poor command of the English language.

Giuliani confessed that he did not know the word “opacity,” applying the Bizarro World definition that it “probably means you can see.”

“It means you can’t,” U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann corrected2.

[…] When pressed by the judge on what standard of scrutiny should be applied to Pennsylvania government’s action, Giuliani replied: “The normal one.”

– Adam Klasfield, “When Applying ‘Normal’ Scrutiny, Rudy Giuliani’s Court Appearance Was a Total Flop”, Law & Crime

And because IANAL, some helpful context:

At one point, he even appeared ignorant of the concept of strict scrutiny, a basic and fundamental concept for a practicing lawyer to know when arguing a case on Fourteenth Amendment grounds. Imagine if you were lying in an operating room, about to go under general anesthesia, and heard your surgeon ask, “Hey, what are all these knives for?” Now you are in general orbit around whatever planet on which the former New York mayor happens to be residing.

– Matt Ford, “The Unpardonable Sins of Lindsey Graham”, The New Republic

Onward:

At one point he referred to president-elect Joe Biden as a “crook” and chastised the press for reporting that he has no evidence of fraud. Mr Giuliani has offered no evidence in court of fraud.

[…] He compared election observers being corralled away from the votes counts to a moment in the movie in which the eponymous character asks a witness in court how many fingers he is holding up, claiming that they could not see a thing.

[…] As what appeared to be hair dye dripped down both sides of his face

[…] Ellis described the assembled lawyers as “an elite strike-force team” working on behalf of the president.

– Oliver O’Connell, “Giuliani quotes ‘My Cousin Vinny’ as he sets out conspiracy theories at bizarre press conference”, The Independent

And finally:

President Donald Trump’s campaign says it’s dropping its Michigan election lawsuit because it succeeded in halting certification of election results in Detroit and surrounding Wayne County, despite the outcome already having been certified in favor of President-elect Joe Biden.

– Eric Larson and David Voreacos, “Trump Campaign Drops Michigan Election Suit, Claims Victory”, Bloomberg

An “Absolutely Brilliant” Elite Mercurial Powerhouse Leader of the Best Legal Team3 one could assemble given the seriousness of the charges against our democratic systems, folks. So unbelievably competent, Snopes had to publish an entry about his performance in court 💯


Update 20 Nov 2020.

But his attorneys have repeatedly made elementary errors in those high-profile cases: misspelling “poll watcher” as “pole watcher,” forgetting the name of the presiding judge during a hearing, inadvertently filing a Michigan lawsuit before an obscure court in Washington and having to refile complaints after erasing entire arguments they’re using to challenge results.

“The sloppiness just serves to underscore the lack of seriousness with which these claims are being brought,” said Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine.

[…] “I know crimes. I can smell them,” Giuliani said as streaks of sweat and what appeared to be hair dye ran down the sides of his face. “You don’t have to smell this one. I can prove it to you 18 different ways.”

[…] “Part of the reason he doesn’t have good lawyers is he doesn’t have good claims to bring.”

– Colleen Long, Jill Colvin, and Alanna Durkin Richer, Trump’s lawsuits plagued by spelling errors: ‘I’ve never seen an election lawyer handle a case as poorly as Giuliani has’, The Independent

Huh.


Update 21 Nov 2020

The painful monologue screeched to a halt whenever Rudy hit the guardrails of judicial questioning. Asked the most important question in nearly any election lawsuit, what standard of review should apply, he was caught completely off guard. For non-lawyers, it’s hard to explain just how appalling this is. Standard of review is the sort of thing that every first-year law student learns. But rather than agreeing with the judge that the case demanded “strict scrutiny,” or arguing that it called for rational basis review, he simply advocated for “the normal one.” If legal Twitter had a voice in that moment, the scream would have been heard around the world.

[…] But what Rudy did next crossed a line: he lied. He didn’t spin, argue, or put his best take on the evidence, he flat-out lied to a judge in open court.

[…] Actually, Rudy’s first lie came before he ever set foot in the Pennsylvania courthouse. On Tuesday morning, Rudy petitioned to represent the Trump campaign, which is a routine step for lawyers appearing out of state. If you aren’t licensed to practice in a court, you have to request permission to argue. Sadly, Rudy couldn’t complete this two-page form without committing perjury. Rudy claimed to be licensed in the District of Columbia, where in fact he’s currently suspended for not paying his dues.

– Albert Fox Cahn, “It’s Time to Take Away Rudy’s Law License”, The Daily Beast

Update 25 Nov 2020

The only place maybe worse is Michigan, and particularly the city of Detroit. The city of Detroit probably had more voters than it had citizens. I’m exaggerating a bit, but all you have to do is look at statistical data and you can see that the fraud was rampant and out of control.

– Ian Schwartz, “Giuliani: We’re Pursuing a Supreme Court Challenge Due To ‘Misconduct Of The Election’”, RealClearPolitics

Update 26 Nov 2020

It keeps getting more divorced from reality.

I think we may actually have won Virginia, but that’s another battle,” Mr Giuliani said.

The comments were made during a meeting of Republican state lawmakers in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on Wednesday.

Mr Biden defeated Mr Trump in Virginia by 451,138 votes.

– Graig Graziosi, “Giuliani thinks Trump ‘may have won Virginia’ despite Biden winning state by nearly half a million votes”, The Independent

As for Pennsylvania, where the plaintiff literally phoned it in at Gettysburg:

Despite having told a federal judge that theirs was “not a fraud case”, the 76-year-old former mayor of New York introduced a series of Pennsylvania residents to complain about fraud, to cheers and whoops, and the occasional audible sharp intake of breath from the staunchly pro-Trump crowd.

[…] On Monday Pennsylvania certified the vote, meaning that the process is concluded. Mr Biden won the state by 80,555 votes.

[…] He claimed that 682,770 mail-in ballots entered in Allegheny County and Philadelphia were “not observed by any single Republican.”

They could have been from the same person,” he said. “There could have been multiples, there was no name on them”.

There’s more, of course.

“The mail-in ballots that were received were not inspected at all by any Republicans. They were hidden from Republicans,” he said.

He said he “couldn’t be entirely sure,” though.

And arithmetic, compounded with the passage of time can lead to undemocratic effects:

He expressed surprise, once again, that when he went to sleep Mr Trump was in the lead but that lead evaporated.

What are the odds that they all switched, overnight? They switched, by the next day.

The lead evaporated because more Democrats than Republicans voted by mail, and as their votes were slowly counted, the pendulum swung in Mr Biden’s favour.

– Harriet Alexander, “‘Your election is a sham’: Giuliani tells Pennsylvania ‘I know crooks really well’ as he appears in Gettysburg”, The Independent
  1. "The day before a major argument in Pennsylvania, three lawyers for Trump withdrew and were replaced in part by Marc Scaringi, an attorney and talk show host who wrote a blog post after the election referring to ‘President-elect Joe Biden.’ Scaringi himself had told listeners on his radio show days after the election that ‘there are really no bombshells’ about to drop ‘that will derail a Biden presidency,’ and noting that several of the lawsuits ‘don’t seem to have much evidence to substantiate their claims.’ - The Independent ↩︎

  2. “Big words, your honor,” Giuliani said. ↩︎

  3. Screenshot is from the Facebook page of a True Believer. This person and the commenter are not trying to be funny. They cannot be, even if they tried. “Believe me.” ↩︎

An 18,000-year Old Pupper

This is Dogor 🐾, an 18,000-year old puppy preserved in Siberian permafrost. His name means “friend.” He was discovered as a lump of frozen mud near Yakutsk and lies at a private museum.

Dogor left the wilderness as a lump of soil and ice, but scientists could make out the head and paws of what they believed at first to be a young wolf.

Fyodorov told The Washington Post that he carefully cleaned off dirt and debris to reveal near-intact fur — “extremely rare for animals of that time period.”

“It’s an amazing feeling, to see, touch and feel the history of earth,” he said.

– Hannah Knowles and Kayla Epstein, “Ice preserved a tiny puppy in near-perfect condition for 18,000 years. Scientists are fascinated.”, The Washington Post

Other researchers, affiliated with the Centre for Paleogenetics in Stockholm (Twitter), think he could be “part of the evolutionary bridge that turned a fierce wild animal into man’s best friend.”

Testing on a rib bone has revealed the animal’s age: about two months, said Stanton, a postdoctoral scholar who has been working for more than a year on a broader attempt to answer lingering questions about canine history.

The analysis also put Dogor’s short life at a particularly interesting period of time, right around when many wolf lineages were going extinct and dogs are thought to have emerged. Exactly how and when they evolved from wolves is unclear; one recent study estimates between 20,000 to 40,000 years ago.

Idiots Out Walking Around - II

Informed Choice Iowa is a group that “unites Iowans seeking to preserve their medical freedoms.” They are “pro-science” folk that count ‘“ex-vaxxers”, “selective vaxxers”, “non-vaxxers”, and “vaxxers”’ among their members. I’m guessing that this list doesn’t include a single practicing physician.

And here’s them celebrating their freedoms, by which they mean a blatant disregard for the science they claim to love and the Iowans they claim to serve. Need confirmation but I hear that eating at least two tubes of toothpaste is on the agenda for their next idiot congregation.

Here’s a local news story about this superspreader event.

Raj on Hell’s Kitchen

Tapped this YouTube suggestion on a lazy Sunday. This man pushed my capacities for sympathy and empathy to their breaking points in this 20-minute highlight reel. I don’t know what to type here other than quote the very first sentence of his Fandom wiki page:

Raj is widely regarded as one of the worst and most useless chefs in Hell’s Kitchen history.

I don’t watch the show and don’t have a full context. But the most charitable assessment I can offer after sitting through the highlight reel below is this: The man is wired very, very differently, which I suppose makes for engaging (cruel?) television 🤷‍♂️

Sleeping Octopus

You could almost just narrate the body changes and narrate the dream. So here she’s asleep. She sees a crab and her color starts to change a little bit then she turns all dark. Octopuses will do that when they leave the bottom. This is a camouflage like she’s just subdued a crab and now she’s going to sit there and eat it and she doesn’t want anyone to notice her. It’s a very unusual behavior to see the color come and go on her mantle like that. I mean, just to be able to see all the different color patterns just flashing one after another… you don’t usually see that when an animal’s sleeping which really is fascinating.

But yeah if she’s dreaming that’s the dream.

David Scheel

Resolution versus Magnification

Was looking for a portable iPhone microscope and came by this one on Amazon. Doubted the “50x-1000x magnification” claim and landed on this video by Oliver Kim (here’s his channel on YouTube) on how to make sense of that feature.

The key idea here is to think of a microscope as a device that resolves hitherto unseen things. It’s simply not just a magnifier of small things our eyes cannot resolve. This is the difference between the 2x optical zoom on your iPhone versus the 10x you can slide it up to.

So I don’t doubt that the product on Amazon can do 50x, which is fine for my needs. I just don’t believe that the upper bound (1000x) can provide anything useful.

Naughty Letter Frequencies in English

Here’s a community-maintained "List of Dirty, Naughty, Obscene, and Otherwise Bad Words" across various languages on Github. I was curious about a naïve frequency distribution of consonants across the English-language corpus (NSFW, obviously) and wrote a small script. Here are the results:

Letter Count
t 211
s 208
n 193
r 186
l 167
g 147
c 124
b 121
p 116
h 97
d 91
m 91
k 72
y 70
f 48
w 41
v 29
j 21
x 19
z 7
q 5

Not sure what I’m going to do with this information but here it is. 🤬

Fred Rogers and his Children

Mentioned this to NB. Saving here for later.

On this event:

Yes, at seventy years old and 143 pounds, Mister Rogers still fights, and indeed, early this year, when television handed him its highest honor, he responded by telling television—gently, of course—to just shut up for once, and television listened. He had already won his third Daytime Emmy, and now he went onstage to accept Emmy’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and there, in front of all the soap-opera stars and talk-show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms, he made his small bow and said into the microphone, “All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are….Ten seconds of silence.” And then he lifted his wrist, and looked at the audience, and looked at his watch, and said softly, “I’ll watch the time,” and there was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn’t kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked…and so they did. One second, two seconds, three seconds…and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier, and Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said[^another], “May God be with you” to all his vanquished children.

– Tom Junod, “Can You Say… Hero?12

I often wonder what people like him would think of our times.

  1. This is the article the movie is based on. ↩︎

  2. Cached Yes, at seventy years old and 143 pounds, Mister Rogers still fights, and indeed, early this year, when television handed him its highest honor, he responded by telling television—gently, of course—to just shut up for once, and television listened. ↩︎

Staying Out of It

And then I explain to him how naïve we were, that the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe.

– Elie Wiesel, Nobel Acceptance Speech, December 10, 1986

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

– Desmond Tutu (quoted in Unexpected News: Reading the Bible with Third World Eyes, 1984)

I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal1.

– Martin Luther King, Jr., Sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, April 30, 1967

  1. Found out this doesn’t really appear in Inferno. ↩︎

“The Fountain” by Darren Aronofsky and Kent Williams

I love the movie and was surprised to find out that there was a graphic novel that preceded it. A work of original and breathtaking beauty like the movie and its soundtrack. Kent Williams’ style and vision took a bit to get used to. Wonderful stuff.

Aronofsky notes in the book that the movie almost didn’t happen due to budgetary concerns, and that he reworked it to make it a “lean, mean indie film.” I wonder if that explains the beautiful macrophotography they used for SFX.

Here it is on ThriftBooks.

Ottoman Food

I found out I am to thank the Ottomans for a lot of my favorite things to eat and drink:

  • Baklava (which dates back two thousand years, to the Assyrian Empire)
  • Coffee made the Right Way™
  • The modern kebab
  • Shawarma
  • Sherbet
  • Dolma (stuffed food) and Sarma (wrapped food)
  • An ancestor of the hummus: a chickpea spread flavored with cinnamon, pine nuts, and currants. Consumed with bread and popular in the 15th century
  • Ayran: My absolute favorite thing to drink on a hot day. Couldn’t find many differences between ayran and the laban I grew up drinking.

Generative Pre-trained Deepak

Headed over to “Wisdom of Chopra” to get myself a slice of Deepak’s #cosmiconscious insight.

Took that and had GPT-2 use it as a seed for more wisdom. Behold:

The invisible is the foundation of total belongingness: When we feel like we belong and are at home, we are happy, healthy and in good spirits. Without our sense of belonging, we feel anxious, sad, depressed, disengaged, and negative.

In the struggle to locate our identity, we can limit our awareness of who we are. We become prisoners of our own identities, which is usually the result of trying to fulfill our parents’ or society’s expectations of us.

It takes wisdom and intelligence to become an invisible expert, and this is not only to create a safe space for self-knowledge, but also to create safe spaces for others to be able to be themselves.

Imagine all the different spiritual and emotional benefits when we do not see or know about another’s stories, feelings, anxieties or challenges.

Imagine how freeing it would be for a Buddhist monk or a leader to have all their body, thoughts and speech remain invisible to everyone, including themselves.

How liberating would it be to know your gifts and be free from the burden of being in constant search of knowledge or validation, simply knowing that you are a gift to yourself and the world, and you matter to you.

As the Torah tells us: “You have been born for such a time as this” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We have been given the gift of life to explore our true identities, free of expectations and limitations, to finally reach out into the unknown to create the power and joy of the divine within.

In a world that seems to be in constant change and evolution, it is easy to feel alone and afraid. Yet we are never alone, and it is always safe to be true to ourselves.

There is power in transforming into the master of our own universe. In the words of the Buddha: “The job of a bodhisattva is not to be a creator, but to create a creator.”

In the depths of our souls, the divine resonates with us, nudging us to release our inner monologue of fear and the unconscious power it holds over us. Each and every one of us has within us the potential to embody divine love and compassion for ourselves and all of creation, and in the embodiment of this divine potential, we ignite our own personal power.

Gather the courage to become the master of our own universe and to discover the true magic that dwells within.

Aum Shanti 🙏

The Blue Ringed Octopus

Some absolutely marvelous photos of a Southen Blue-Ringed Octopus by @SammyGlennDives

Like she’s dancing!


Would love to find out what kind of protective gear the photographer had on. But it seems like the octopuses are very shy and will attack only when provoked, which is when their rings become more intense 🐙 The salivary venom1, synthesized by bacteria and not the octopus itself, doesn’t have an antidote and is only used to hunt and defend. It’s either injected via the beak, or is sprayed as a mist, paralysing the prey in either case for the final kill (presumably involving more beak.)

Here’s a little more. Love the intro. They truly are so alien and so, so beautiful 😍

  1. Always have to look it up: Poison is passive, venom is active. ↩︎

Disposable Software

The software industry is currently going through the “disposable plastic” crisis the physical world went through in the mid-20th century (and is still paying down the debt for). You can run software from 1980 or 2005 on a modern desktop without too much hassle, but anything between there and 2-3 years ago? Black hole of fad frameworks and brittle dependencies. Computer Archaeology is going to become a full-time job.

Source

On Good Commit Messages

On the developer side, what I hope people are doing is trying to make, not just good code, but these days we’ve been very good about having explanations for the code. So commit messages to me are almost as important as the code change itself. Sometimes the code change is so obvious that no message is really required, but that is very very rare. And so one of the things I hope developers are thinking about, the people who are actually writing code, is not just the code itself, but explaining why the code does something, and why some change was needed. Because that then in turn helps the managerial side of the equation, where if you can explain your code to me, I will trust the code.

A lot of open source in general is about communication. And part of it is the commit messages, part of it is just the email going back and forth. Communicating what you’re trying to do or communicating why something doesn’t work for you is really important.

– Linus Torvalds, in conversation with Dirk Hohndel (emphasis mine)

This is pretty much what mine look like. For my personal stuff, I get so lazy, I use a list of developer excuses to generate a commit log that looks like this 🤦‍♀️

I hereby swear to read this document and make writing good commit messages a habit ✋🚀

On Masks

Bill Burr on The Joe Rogan Experience:

BURR: I don’t want to start this bullshit. I’m not gonna sit here with no medical degree, listening to you with no medical degree, with an American flag behind you smoking a cigar, acting like we know what’s up, better than the CDC. All I do, is I watch the news once every two weeks - I’m like, “Mask or no mask? Still mask? Alright, mask!” That’s all I give a fuck about. I don’t care. I just love how wearing a mask became like this fucking like soft thing that you were doing… like being courteous…”

ROGAN: It’s for bitches1.

BURR: Why is it for bitches? That’s just so stupid.

ROGAN: (Fakes weak cough)

BURR: Oh God you’re so tough with your fucking open nose and throat and your five o’clock shadow. This is a man right here! A man doesn’t wear a mask.

Rogan’s immediate response somehow reminded me of the “infantile phallocentric Nietzscheanism that is destroying modern human culture” from one of my favorite articles.

  1. Here’s something of a guide to his podcasts. ↩︎

Getting Naticked

Rex Parker:

A long time ago, I was solving this puzzle and got stuck at an unguessable (to me) crossing: N. C. WYETH crossing NATICK at the “N” — I knew WYETH but forgot his initials, and NATICK… is a suburb of Boston that I had no hope of knowing. It was clued as someplace the Boston Marathon runs through (???). Anyway, NATICK — the more obscure name in that crossing — became shorthand for an unguessable cross, esp. where the cross involves two proper nouns, neither of which is exceedingly well known. NATICK took hold as crossword slang, and the term can now be both noun (“I had a NATICK in the SW corner…”) or verb (“I got NATICKED by 50A / 34D!”)

Here’s the Urban Dictionary entry. Learned that that “crosswordese” is a thing. Been doing the NYT Crosswords fairly regularly over the past few years and that page has a lot of useful, vowel-y ‘bridge’ words and phrases (e.g. AGRA, ESAU, ISAO, OMOO, DEUSIRAE.)

Always be leveraging

On tech culture’s obsession with quantifying and optimizing every single moment of one’s existence1:

I hate this framing. It is pressuring, dehumanizing as it contextualizes human endeavor in transactional terms, usually in a market.

I know this goes against the ethos of high-tech, but humans don’t have an imperative to be as productive as possible. They don’t have to make the most use of their time. They don’t have to get as efficient as they could. These are metrics that work fine for our machines, our code. But humans are not machines. Sure, we shepherd the machines, and sure sometimes we are in rivalrous dynamics that increasing efficiency has a payoff, but it is never the goal in itself.

The real “currency” we have, if we are using the term in the sense of denoting essentialness, is our humanness, our mortality, our psyches, our connection with other people and seemingly mundane but meaningful parts of our lives. I mean, look how many of us started baking their breads and enjoying it. It is not a wise use of the “currency of time”, but it is part of life very well spent, as our internal reward mechanisms have been telling us.

@acituan on HackerNews, commenting on this article

  1. With corroboration via sophomoric interpretations of stoicism and objectivism, all aimed at summoning this latent, dispassionate übermensch whose sole purpose is to “leverage” and deliver value. ↩︎

That ’70s Typeface

Spent a few frustrated hours over the years trying to identify this typeface I’d see on restaurant menus, photocopied class handouts, movie titles (even Indian ones from the early 80s), and a lot of books. I now know what it is and am quite happy the mystery’s resolved.

It’s Souvenir! Designed in 1914, super-popular/overused in the 70s, and much derided by designers in later decades (“A terrible typeface. A sort of ‘Saturday Night Fever’ typeface wearing tight white flared pants.”)

The Official Response

WOOLEY. What if the Prime Minister insists we help them?
SIR APPLEBY. Then we follow the four-stage strategy.
WOOLEY. What’s that?
SIR WHARTON. Standard Foreign Office response in a time of crisis.
SIR WHARTON. In stage one we say nothing is going to happen.
SIR APPLEBY. Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.
SIR WHARTON. In stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there’s nothing we can do.
SIR APPLEBY. Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it’s too late now.

A political manual for the ages.

Gender Roles

Sofia Tolstoy, at 19, after the first of their thirteen children:

I am left alone morning, afternoon and night. I am to gratify his pleasure and nurse his child, I am a piece of household furniture. I am a woman. I try to suppress all human feelings. When the machine is working properly it heats the milk, knits a blanket, makes little requests and bustles about trying not to think — and life is tolerable. But the moment I am alone and allow myself to think, everything seems insufferable.

At 25:

I am so often alone with my thoughts that the need to write in my diary comes quite naturally […] Now I am well again and not pregnant — it terrifies me how often I have been in that condition. He said that for him being young meant “I can achieve anything.” For me […] reason tells me that there is nothing I either want or can do beyond nursing, eating, drinking, sleeping, and loving and caring for my husband and babies, all of which I know is happiness of a kind, but why do I feel so woeful all the time, and weep as I did yesterday? I am writing this now with the pleasantly exciting sense that nobody will ever read it, so I can be quite frank with myself […].

And:

I have served a genius for almost forty years. Hundreds of times I have felt my intellectual energy stir within me and all sorts of desires - a longing for education, a love of music and the art. And time and again I have crushed and smothered these longings. Everyone asks, “But why should a worthless woman like you need an intellectual or artistic life?” To this question I can only reply: “I don’t know, but eternally suppressing it to serve a genius is a great misfortune.”

Here’s more about her life and her diaries.