Syndicated Sunday 12June2022

Intro

I’m back from summer vacation. It was terrific. I feel rested, rejuvenated, and ready to go. Mostly. On Tuesday I woke up with a cold. I presume it’s a cold instead of the other thing because Jennifer had it before me and she tested negative for covid and for the flu. It’s a little annoying, but *shrugs* whattayagonnado?

Art & Illustration

Books & Reading

Book ReviewHow to Eat the Future: The consultancy-futurism Jane McGonigal offers in Imaginable is part of the problem it is meant to fix by Cameron Kunzelman.

I was a big fan of Jane McGonigal’s Reality Is Broken when it came out in 2010. I am less of a fan today. C. Thi Nguyen offers a compelling critique of gamification in “How Twitter Gamifies Communication,” a suitable companion piece to the review of her new book by Kunzelman. And while Kunzelman is critical, it the kind of criticism that makes me want to read Imaginable. My gut instinct is that McGonigal’s new book will be scarcely different than the scores of other corporate forecasting books regularly published.

Cartoons & Comics

Columns & Essays

Currently Reading

  • We Can’t All Be Astronauts by Tim Clare – I started Tim Clare’s “100 Day Writing Challenge” last year (I don’t do it every day) and really connected with his style of teaching (a melange of self-deprecation, self-care, and unpretentious erudition). His memoir is about a young man desperately yearning to be a successful writer, but coming to grips with the reality that his path is not going to unfold as imagines, no matter how fervently he wishes. Through this journey he copes with severe depression, spiraling self-doubt, and finding the first steps toward self-acceptance.

Health

Horoscope

Movies

Music

News

  • NOAA National Hurricane Center – I set my browsers to open pre-set pages upon opening. It’s that time of year to add the NHC page to track hurricane activity.
  • Wonkette – I love the cursing and share their love of Molly Ivins.
  • Popular Information – independent investigative journalism.
  • WikiNews – Wikipedia has a news page. It can be kind of hit or miss, but I always use it when I’m following a breaking news story.

Obituary

Scholarly Article of the Week

We’ll call this one scholarship-adjacent. Long introduction into the life and thinking of Magnus Hirschfield.

“Years before the Weimar Republic’s well-chronicled freedoms, the 1904 non-fiction study Berlin’s Third Sex depicted an astonishingly diverse subculture of sexual outlaws in the German capital. James J. Conway introduces a foundational text of queer identity that finds Magnus Hirschfeld — the “Einstein of Sex” — deploying both sentiment and science to move hearts and minds among a broad readership.”

Spirituality

Writing & Creativity

Coda

That’s it for this week. With any luck I’ll have a story up on Tuesday.

Summer Break

I added some vacation days to last week’s long Memorial Day weekend and ended up with a 17 day stretch of summer break. Yay! (Actually, I was at work for two of those days, but they’re behind me now.)

Today I’m working in the garden, and tomorrow I’m heading to the beach. In between I might hang out on the hammock, or lie on the couch and read a book. I made some progress on the non-fiction fairy project yesterday, and started baking a new story. It’s amazing how much being away from work improves my attitude. (Although, quick aside, some major changes at the job actually give me a sense of real hope for the first time in years. The future looks, if not bright, at least well lit.)

One thing I will NOT be doing is spending much time staring at screens.

June’s full moon story is complete and just needs to be edited before I post it on June 14.

Syndicated Sunday will return on June 19. Hope your June is starting out well!

Mood

Most protest music is rightfully angry or devastated or poignant or didactic. I love the following for it’s chillaxed reminder that no matter how mellow you’re feeling, it’s a good day to fight the system. This is currently my morning anthem.

I woke up feeling great
The birds are in the trees
They’re singing me a melody
La la la la fuck the police

My head is on straight
My heart is in peace
My soul is incredibly
Ready to change history

It’s a good day
To fight the system
(To fight the system)
It’s a good, good, good day, yes,
A good, good, good day

We’re never gonna stop
We’re gonna make it count
When when one of is tired out
The other one will hold down

We’re gonna spread the love
We’re gonna spread it ‘round
We’re all over in the city now
And way down in the underground

It’s a good day
To fight the system
(To fight the system)
It’s a good, good, good day, yes,
A good, good, good day

My Summer Without a Home

As a child I always presumed we were middle class just as I presumed most of America was middle class. The life I lived wasn’t that different from what I saw on TV. We lived in a house. I had a backyard. We exchanged presents at Christmas, occasionally visited fast food restaurants, and drove our own car instead of taking the bus.

Only as an adult can I look back and see we were blue-collar working poor. Yes, we had a house and a car and money for fast food and Christmas gifts, but my parents lived month to month, and had little to no savings.

For my entire adult life I always told myself that while we might have been borderline poor we weren’t so poor that we were houseless.

This is one of those times where the mind plays tricks. A life experience gets categorized and locked in one category and it takes some nudge or insight to reveal that it belongs in another category as well.

I turned eleven in 1976. That was also the year my father lost his job at the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas. It never occurred to me as odd that I didn’t know what my father did, and I felt special when I learned in third grade that in case of a nuclear attack Amarillo would be one of the first cities hit. This is because Pantex was a facility for building nuclear weapons.

I think, though I’m not certain, that Pantex went through a series of layoffs in the mid-1970s as the US transitioned to a post-Vietnam defense budget, and Pantex shifted from building bombs to disassembling them. Whatever the story, my father was out of a job in the spring of 1976.

At the end of the school year we (mother, father, me, and younger brother) moved from Amarillo, Texas to Lewisville, Texas (home of the Fighting Farmers!). There we stayed with a family that had once lived across the street from us in Amarillo.

As a child this struck me as strange, but I accepted what I was told. We were doing it as a cost-saving measure, and it was for the summer, and it would be fun!

I didn’t even realize my parents had stayed in touch with the family after they had moved. They had two children, a boy a little bit older than me, and a girl a little bit younger. We had played together when we lived across the street from each other.

That summer had its good points. The four kids got to camp out in a tent in the back yard, we made homemade ice cream, lots of play time. And bad points, the job search was clearly wearing on my parents, we overstayed our welcome, and the kids started bickering.

It is only this year I realized, oh yeah, that was a period of houselessness. We were a working-class family that had no savings and when hit with the financial blow of job loss, we moved across the state and counted on the generosity of friends. I’ve always thought of this as ‘the summer we stayed with the B–‘s’, not ‘the summer we were houseless’.

That summer, however, pretty much destroyed whatever friendship there was between the two families. It took longer to find a job than my father expected. The kids started squabbling. Two families living together under one roof led to lots of strain and stress on everybody’s relationships.

Around the time school started in the fall things came to a head when I started bawling over a relatively minor conflict with the older boy. We packed up and moved to an apartment in Farmer’s Branch.

This memory got churned to the top of my consciousness recently as I contemplated my relationship with financial precarity. I have deep, deep anxiety about money, and I bet it’s probably because I come from a family where money was scarce.

I don’t mention it among my current social circle, but I’m often gobsmacked when I hear about the difference between their “middle-class” childhood, and my “middle-class” childhood. The idea of attending a summer camp was never mentioned when I was a child, and there was no presumption I would attend college. The presumption was I’d join the military when it was time for me to move out. We didn’t do summer vacations. There were no road trips to the Grand Canyon or Disney.

I suppose this is also a story of tremendous luck. There were no major health issues in the family to deprive us of what financial stability we did have. No accidents or disasters. The worst of the financial stress was mostly hidden from the kids, and we got new clothes and school supplies every year. We made it through a lot better than many people in similar situations. So well, in fact, that it’s only now I realize how precarious our financial life really was.

Syndicated Sunday 22May22

Intro

I’ve spent this week reminding myself that what I have is pretty great. I’m focusing on what is instead of what isn’t. Additionally, a particularly exhausting work thing wrapped up on Monday, and I’m only working four full days, and two half days over the next 21 days. Right not, right here, the future looks pretty good.

Art & Illustration

  • Eric Joyner has been combining robots and doughnuts for two decades now. I’m a sucker for his robot paintings. One of his most recent even includes another favorite — the creature from the black lagoon. He has lots of affordable prints available at imagekind.

Books & Reading

Cartoons & Comics

Excerpt from Searching by Robert James Russell at The Rumpus:

Excerpt from Searching by Robert James Russell at The Rumpus

Cartoon/Comics Blogging

Columns & Essays

Currently Reading

  • Weather by Jenny Offill. Offill doesn’t name the source, but I recognized it immediately. (It’s Bruce Sterling.)

“I think of the time Sylvia interviewed that famous futurist. She asked him what was coming next, and he repeated his best-known prediction: Old people, in big cities, afraid of the sky.”

Health

Horoscope

Louise Erdrich writes: Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning.

You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up.

And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.

—Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum

Music

News

I assume you already have your preferred news source(s). Here are news sources I use to supplement my news diet.

  • Wonkette – I love the cursing and share their love of Molly Ivins.
  • Popular Information – independent investigative journalism.
  • WikiNews – Wikipedia has a news page. It can be kind of hit or miss, but I always use it when I’m following a breaking news story.

Politics

Spirituality

“Most of all, one needs to be mindful of appropriating and diluting traditional Asian practices. Moreover, as I found in my research, some digital religious practices resonate with the good life, and some are just a hedonic treadmill entangling users further in their desires.”

Wikipedia Post of the Week

  • The Book of Nut (original title: The Fundamentals of the Course of the Stars) is a collection of ancient Egyptian astronomical texts, also covering various mythological subjects. These texts focus on the cycles of the stars of the decans, the movements of the moon, the sun, and the planets, on the sundials, and related matters.

Writing & Creativity

  • I’ve been working my way through Tim Clare’s 100 Day Writing Challenge. I don’t do it every day, but I like the exercises. Clare’s sensibility about creativity and identity resonates with me.

Coda

And that’s all for this week. I think I’m starting get the hang of it. I have lots of categories, but if I don’t have something particularly interesting for that category that week, I skip it. Similiarly with the cartoons. If there isn’t a new cartoon over the past week, I’ll skip the entry.

I hope this week’s a good one, and right now I’m off to tend to the yard.

Peevish

One of the many series I’ve run in 20+ years of blogging was Pet Peeve Wednesday. After a dozen or so it petered out. I’m just not as peevish as I thought! Still, pretty peevish.

Here are some current peeves:

  • Email newsletters! Bah. I know I’m a decrepit old internet fogie, but just blog fercriminysake. Especially if you’re not using a newsletter to monetize your content. I have enough clutter in my email already. Give me a choice between email and RSS. And, if you’re monetizing your content… well, ok. I get that. There are actually a couple of newsletters I pay for and they’re worth it.
  • Gmail. Why isn’t it easier to make folders? I mean, I know how to make labels, and skip the inbox and all that, but it seems like it could be way more functional. I suppose it is “free”. I still miss Eudora.
  • Saying girls instead of women. Girls are female children. Adult females are women.
  • “Reading” audio books. That’s not reading, it’s listening. Listening to books is great! But you are not reading a book, you are listening to it.
  • Wear a helmet. Dear onewheeler people, I know your coolness is beyond measure. Still, wear a helmet. A friend of mine literally broke his neck (he’s ok now) because the wheel simply stopped randomly.
  • Unexpected serenade. We’ve just sat down for dinner at a restaurant and I’m looking forward to delightful conversation with my friends when someone steps up to a mic and starts serenading us with Tom Petty covers. If I had known, I’d’ve gone somewhere else. If I’m there for the music, then I don’t expect a conversation. If I’m there for the conversation, I don’t want surprise music.
  • Loud restaurants. A corollary to the above. Is conversing at dinner no longer a thing? Why am I shouting at the waiter? Why is the waiter shouting at me? Am I old? I suppose.
  • Coworkers coming to work sick. One of my coworkers spent all last week coughing and sneezing and not wearing a mask and running around close-talking to everyone. Since he first showed up sick at least FOUR people have also been out sick. Jumping Jehoshaphat dude, stay home if you’re sick. To you it may be a minor inconvenience, but you’re spreading it to people who will take it home, and you don’t know their home situation. Use your fucking sick time and stop sharing your virus.

There are so many more, but that’s today’s collection.

Syndicated Sunday 15May2022

Intro

Hello, welcome to this week’s link round-up. Tonight is a lunar eclipse around these parts, and I’ll probably step outside to watch. Should be a beautiful night.

I’m still tweaking the categories. Not sure what to call the spirituality section. Spiritual hygiene? I like the word ‘extramundane’ but it’s probably not a particularly well-known term (and at least one online dictionary defines it as ‘extraterrestial’ which is not the meaning I’m shooting for).

Art & Illustration

  • Austin Kleon – There are times when Austin Kleon’s cheery optimism is exactly what I need. Other times he feels a little too self-helpy and naive. I do love the peeks into his notebooks, and hope that if I follow him long enough I’ll adopt elements of his notebook practice.
  • Colossal – One of my favorite art sites. Always worth checking out.
  • Juxtapoz – Another favorite art site. One of the few magazines I subscribe to.
Louis Fratino

Books & Reading

Cartoons & Comics

Columns & Essays

Extramundane & Immaterial (divination, spirituality, metaphysics, religion, faith, sacred)

  • Tara Brach – I only started listening to Tara Brach within the last year. When I do a guided meditation, it’s usually one of hers.

Gardening

Horoscope

Humor

Movies

  • I use JustWatch to see on which platform a movie is streaming.

Music

News

I assume you already have your preferred news source(s). Here are news sources I use to supplement my news diet.

  • Wonkette – I love the cursing and share their love of Molly Ivins.
  • Popular Information – independent investigative journalism.
  • WikiNews – Wikipedia has a news page. It can be kind of hit or miss, but I always use it when I’m following a big breaking news story.

Politics

Will they or won’t they? Members of Congress using subpoenas against other members of Congress is likely to end up in court. “Enforcing unprecedented subpoenas for GOP lawmakers turns on complex legal precedent going back centuries.” Or, it may not…

“Yet there is a catch. Because speech or debate provides legislators with immunity from both civil and criminal lawsuits, the clause prevents courts from hearing certain types of cases. And even when immunity does not apply directly, the clause may grant members with protections against the introduction of evidence or having to testify about certain actions if they relate to a legitimate legislative purpose.”

Scholarly Article of the Week

Archaeology and Animal Persons: Toward a Prehistory of Human Animal Relations” by Erica Hill.

ABSTRACT: The discipline of archaeology has long engaged with animals in a utilitarian mode, constructing animals as objects to be hunted, manipulated, domesticated, and consumed. Only recently, in tandem with the rising interest in animals in the humanities and the development of interdisciplinary animal studies research, has archaeology begun to systematically engage with animals as subjects. This article describes some of the ways in which archaeologists are reconstructing human engagements with animals in the past, focusing on relational modes of interaction documented in many hunting and gathering societies. Among the most productive lines of evidence for human animal relations in the past are animal burials and structured deposits of animal bones. These archaeological features provide material evidence for relational ontologies in which animals, like humans, were vested with sentience and agency.

Wikipedia Post of the Week

Coda

Internet/blogging stalwart Jason Kottke is taking a sabbatical. He left this link list to occupy your time while he is away. Perhaps some of them might make it into your own rotation.

The Kid Should See ThisThe Morning NewsWaxyColossalCurious About EverythingOpen CultureDrawing LinksClive Thompson @ MediumCup of JoswissmissStorythingsthings magazinePresent & CorrectSpoon & TamagoDense DiscoveryAustin KleonNextDraftTressie McMillan CottomPoetry Is Not a LuxuryA Thing or TwoThe Honest BrokerInterconnectedThe WhippetCraig ModWhy is this interesting?SidebarThe PreparedLife Is So BeautifulFave 5SentiersThe Fox Is Black, and Scrapbook Chronicles.

Arbitrary Blogging Mission Accomplished

Yay! This is post 100 of 100 for my arbitrarily assigned 100 Days of Blogging. Thank all of you who have followed along. I sincerely appreciate you taking time out of your day to check in on this tiny corner of the internet.

My gift to you for playing along is the following mantra. Print it out, write it down, tape it next to your monitor, next to a mirror, tack it to a corkboard, scrawl it on a whiteboard, use a magnet to attach it to the fridge. It is your mantra to recite to yourself.

Today I choose not to criticize myself. I am enough.

This isn’t the end of blogging, just the end of the daily challenge. I have lots more to post. Thanks for sticking around.

(100 Days of Blogging: Post 100 of 100)