Thank you, Incomparable

Leonard Nimoy's passing has crossed nearly every cultural circle that I roll in. My actor friends, my musician friends, my nerdy friends, and my church friends. Every one of them has something to say about Nimoy-- and while I'll typically scroll quickly over the discussion threads on the social medias, I've caught enough of them to get a sense of the scope of the significance of Nimoy's death.

So, I decided, against my better judgment, really, to go ahead and listen to The Incomparable No. 236: Lived Long and Prospered..

And because it's The Incomparable, it was entertaining, tasteful, respectful and a delight to listen to.

And after Jason Snell signs off, the program ends with a recording of Nimoy's voiceover from the end of Star Trek II. This is when the lump caught in my throat. This is when I mourned.

The episode was a fitting tribute to Nimoy's legacy in every way.

Thank you, Incomparable.

Texts for my daughter.

We took Gaia to see Harvey at the Milwaukee Rep this weekend. We'd been teasing her by trying to get her to figure out where we were going. Before we went I sent her this text.

image.jpg

She was unfamiliar so this was not a good clue. But it set the stage for my favorite moment: the reveal of the painting during the play.

I watched her face light up with uncomfortable delight.

It was funny, she said. "But it was also scary"

The Prop folks at the Rep's production carried the show as far as I'm concerned. The painting was exactly right and the set was incredible.

The gallery doesn't do the craft service on this show justice.

Fake Internet Judge Judge

So yesterday, Gaia asks: Dehdeh, is Judge John Hodgman a real judge?

Me: No. He is a fake internet judge.

Gaia: What is the difference?

Me: Judge John Hodgman gets to use common sense and his sense of right and wrong as his guide. Real judges use giant rule books written by corporations and old white men.

Fake Internet Judge Judge

So yesterday, Gaia asks: Dehdeh, is Judge John Hodgman a real judge?

Me: No. He is a fake internet judge.

Gaia: What is the difference?

Me: Judge John Hodgman gets to use common sense and his sense of right and wrong as his guide. Real judges use giant rule books written by corporations and old white men.

Bad Marketing is still bad marketing.

Bad Marketing Ideas from History

The idea that there is a magical, silver bullet "audience" out there for your product is complete and utter horseshit and anyone trying to sell it to you is the modern day snake oil peddler. Google, MSN, Yahoo! I'm looking at you.

I just finished reading a white paper which "reveals" that internet advertising numbers are padded and that you may be only reaching 20-percent of the amount of people that Google, Yahoo, or whoever, is selling.

If only 50% of your target audience is identifiable by a cookie because the rest are being blocked or the cookie expires - and only one out of every three of those cookies you serve to is actually a unique user – then less than 20% of your audience is actually being reached.

Of course, the white paper from which I cut and pasted this quote does the typical assward thinking that all internet marketers fall for: It assumes that such an audience ever existed.

Of course, that's because the both the authors and the audience of this white paper are both desperate for the same thing: A magic formula that makes it easy for them to sell their shitty products to fat and stupid people.

There is no "market segment" that you can magically buy that will make your shitty product a good one. Please stop trying. You are wrecking it for everyone.

See Not the Fifth Light of DST

An update in which I argue that Daylight Savings Time is an Instrument of War.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Jean Luc Picard is tortured by O'Brien until he finally admits that he sees five fingers when O'Brien only holds up four.

I don't think it is unreasonable stretch to apply this same paradigm to Daylight Savings time.

DST is an idea born from one of America's most beloved charlatan narcissists Benjamin Franklin, who invented the concept as a means of scorning the French while simultaneously keeping French women as mistresses. And technically, he didn't really mean it. There was no such thing as standardized time in 1784, so really, Franklin was just being a dick.

Turns out, DST was actually invented by a New Zeland shift-worker who couldn't get enough time off to pursue his passion of bug-hunting. DST was invented again by a guy who felt like it just wasn't ok for Londoners to sleep as they choose, and besides, dusk really fucked up his golf game.

The first fullscale implementation of the deployment (and therefor rationing) of time was a product of deluding the masses to fuel the war machines.

Germany, Austria and Hungary were the first to adopt a time shift as a way of tricking people into using less coal during World War One. And because you can't coordinate having your soldiers kill other soldiers if both sides are using different clocks, Britain and her allies adopted a similar measure shortly thereafter. And the United States joined up in 1918.

If you're looking for a thought technology that rattles the pubic and keeps them stupid, there are few that are as effective, I think, as telling people that their natural chronobiology is wrong. Suddenly, you're tearing people away from their biological connection to nature for no other reason than it suits the war machine.

And there's plenty of evidence that keeping people stupid is exactly what DST accomplishes. The National Institute of Health suggested in 2001 that pubic health officials "should probably consider issuing warnings both about the effects of sleep loss" due to "Forced changes in the circadian patterns resulting from DST."

But what do we do about it.

I am afraid there is only one solution that I can think of, and Timothy Leary thought of it first. We are, I think, stuck with DST as a society. And in that case, the only possible recourse we have is civil disobedience. In this case, I suggest when you go to fall back this autumn, you set your clock back to Fuck-You:30.

Stay strong, my friends. Believe in your heart that you are right. You see only four lights. You see only four lights.

Card Battle Colleseum

Gaia and I have been playing Card Wars a lot on the iPad these days. It's an game based on the eponymous episode of Adventure Time-- it's clearly a parody of collectable card-battle games. It's also a beautiful homage to collectable card-battle games. Also, it's based on an episode of a pretty great cartoon series.

Betty and I all bummed out because there's no 2-player mode. We'd like to play each other. So we did what kids for generations have done. We grabbed some 3 x 5 notecards, a stack of D&D dice and some pencils and rolled up our own characters.

Here are some rules.

Character Cards

Here are our cards from our first couple of battles:

Rolling up some fighters

  • Characters get HP based on a roll of 4d6 and discard the lowest die.
  • Characters get an Armor Class based on a roll of 1d12.
  • A character's Attack level is determined with a roll of a 1d12, and this table determines what dice are used to determine the amount of damage a character deals.
    • 1-4 = 1d4
    • 5-6 = 1d5
    • 7-8 = 1d8
    • 9-10 = 1d10
    • 11-12 = 1d12
  • Each Character gets one healing surge, which can be used in place of an attack, determined with a 1d8 roll.
  • Gaia and I then give the character a name and draw a little portrait of the character.

Basic Gameplay

Basic Gameplay is essentially a simplified version of the standard D20 system battle.

Two characters take turns attacking each other, and each player rolls 1d20 to determine initiative. The player with the highest roll goes first.

The player whose turn it is has two choices. They can attack or they can heal.

Attack

The attacking character rolls 1d20. If the die is equal to or the victim's Armor Class, the attack is successful, and the attacker can roll damage with the die according to the character's attack level. The victim subtracts the total damage from their hit points. When a character's HP is reaches zero, they are out. Characters with zero hit points cannot use their healing surge.

Healing

Instead of attacking, the player can opt to use his healing surge, which returns a 1d8 roll of their health.

Victory

The winner is the last character standing.

Odometer retemodO

I'll confess.

I have a thing for palendromic odometer numbers. I love glancing down at my odometer and seeing a number that is the same forward as it is backward. The problem: I never seem to catch them. I predict there arrival, I get distracted by the task of driving, and the next time I check my odometer, the magic number that is the same backwards as it is forwards has passed me by.

This odometer reading is *almost* a palendrome.  

This odometer reading is *almost* a palendrome.  

I am then confronted by two feelings.

  1. I am sad and disapointed to miss such magesty as a number that is the same backwards as it is fowards in my odometer.
  2. I am quickly inspired as I consdier how long it will be until I come to the next palendromic odometer reading.

The Scott Walker cookie baller

When Wisconsin's governor Scott Walker sits on his throne of lies, I am sure he weilds this "cookie baller" as his scepter.

image.jpg

Much like Walker, this cookie baller does nothing it said it was going to do and what it does do is surprisingly ineffective. Furthermore, even the people who sold it to us don't want it back.

Good thing I stopped saying inflammatory things about politics.

Squelching the bloom

The education nonprofit inBloom collects and mines student data under the guise of revolutionizing personalized learning, but its critics question whether governments should have control of over 400 data points per student.

I am curious as to why I feel this is different than what Google/Facebook et. al do with data. I suspect the answer has to do with the fact that public education is not an 'opt-in' situation for parents and students. While Google and Facebook make us a value proposition in exchange for our data, I'm not sure what my child's teachers (or my child for that matter) are getting value back from the private interests who are reselling and researching from that data.

InBloom would certainly argue that the school district administration is getting value from the data exchange, but I'm not convinved that my child or her teacher is nessessarily getting any "trickle down" from that value. (And besides, it's not like trickle down works for anything other than rehtoric and pee.)

So the question: To whom does data collected in public trust belong?

I'm starting to feel a post-privacy world needs some sort of doctrine of public trust regards to data and data mining -- a sort of hippocratic oath for data collectors and advertising companies. The "Don't be Evil" mission of public enterprise seems to be whats missing here.

image.jpg

Reading and Stuff

I've been reading a lot of fiction that I wouldn't have otherwise discovered lately thanks to BookBub. It's a daily email service that sends you a link to a selection of the deeply discounted and free ebooks that are out there on that day. I get the mail every day and when I signed up I selected which genres and types of books I wanted to know about.

Since I started in December, I've grabbed copies of at least a dozen new books to read on my iPad, and I am always grabbing more.

Many of them are one-off self published stuff, and yes, you can tell. But many of them are full-blown traditionally published works. Yesterday, for example, [Diana Gibraldron's Outlander] was on sale for 99-cents. I didn't buy it, because I"m pretty sure there's a paper copy in my office if I really wanted to read Outlander. But I don't. So wait, is this an endorsement of the Book Bub service or a condemnation? Even I can't tell anymore.

One book I have read and enjoyed is A Question of Will: Book One of The Aliomenti Saga. I have a soft spot in my heart for indy-published fiction, I guess.

This is a picture of some soda. It doesn't have anything to do with reading indie books.  

This is a picture of some soda. It doesn't have anything to do with reading indie books.  

Internetting

I have been Interneting for a long time. I remember when the internet used to go all quiet except for sysadmins over the holiday breaks from school. I mean, I'm no rasterweb, but if you dig around in some of the Usenet and Gopher archives, you might find some stuff I've written. Olhohof BBS, anyone?

But the internet isn't a fun, cutting edge thing anymore. It's this corporate icky litigation factory of deferred liability. Yeah. I guess you're really not anyone on the internet anymore unless you've been caught in a torrent honeypot.

But the point

The point of it all though, still exists. Cheap, de-centralized publishing platforms let the creators within us out. Put our words in the hands of the Everyman. And it's making The Man crazy.

Back at it, oh Silly Internet.  

Back at it, oh Silly Internet.  

In Memory of Tyler

Many of us lost a good friend yesterday. I remember Ty, and what is remembered, lives.
To his memory, I offer this:

 

In Memory of Tyler

 

The D&D Games that will never be played and the Pink Floyd songs that will never be the same remind us of the struggle and the pain that accompany talent and an almost limitless potential.

Escape comes too soon, my friend.

It was one of those sticky hot days of summer when you were young that I held you on my lap to make sure you could breathe. The air was thick on the island and we brought you water to drink and hid your shaking body in the cool shade of the willow trees along the river. I was one of your many friends who held you that day.

If only we could have done it for you one more time.

Remember when you were young, you shown like the sun. Shine on, you crazy diamond.

 

 

 

 

 

A tale of two camps

Tomorrow, at some point, I will have to wash the blood-red mud from my boots that collected as I wandered through the Penokee Hills this weekend.

I brought my Mother-in-law and her friend up to the LCO Harvest Camp on Saturday, August 10, 2013. We had two stops in mind. The first was the Harvest Camp itself. The second was to try to see, first hand, what the impact commercial mining interests are having on the land up there. It is a tale of two camps, really. Two different approaches to working the land.

The LCO Harvest Camp

It was my second time visiting the camp; I am not a local. I am not native to Iron County in any sense of the word. I’m a guy who believes in the healing power of nature. Both times I’ve stepped into the Harvest Camp I have been greeted warmly, offered dinner, and showed great hospitality. I meet people for the first time and I know that I am among friends.

Harvest Camp

The campers have made homes away from home in the woods, and are harvesting its bounty while doing healing work to the land and to our culture. Around every corner is a welcoming sight: a row of squash, a collection of firewood. A wigwam built just in case someone decides to stay overnight even though they didn’t bring any gear.

Tour

The Harvest Camps trails and pathways are sculpted using natural methods; putting the lay of the land and the method of ingress at balance with each other.

Campway

My daughter made fast friends with other kids at the camp.She learned how to identify at least six different types of edible plants growing in the camp itself. She and another little girl parked down the hill for some time and raided the raspberry bushes. My mother-in-law wanted to stay and talk politics and swap protest stories with the other folks at the camp. I wanted to wander off into the woods and see what there was to see.

Flags

We came to the camp as protesters, and we left it as human beings. There is magic in the camp; magic in its bounty and in it’s people. There is magic in the whispering winds and the lightening strikes and the pile of discarded cooking materials that the campers have cleaned out of the public lands and put on display.

There is a magic in this camp that comes from the union of people, tree, flora and fauna.

The site of the ongoing mining

A mile up the road is a site of another kind. Visitors are not welcomed with warmth and compassion, but by a gate bound with a lock and chain. Although both lands are public, this site is fenced and the only greeting a visitor receives from is a callous yellow sign demanding that visitors to this parcel of not ride motor vehicles, and do not stay overnight.

There is no face to great you. No name to welcome you. No friend to see that you are well. On this site, there is Only the cold hard path of destruction wrought with the carelessness that only a corporation can.

While we were on our hike our little family van was cased several times by men driving black trucks. We found walking sticks to help us up the incline and around the muddy trenches that have been carved in the side of the hills by heavy machinery. The path is lined with synthetic riprap and optic orange fences. At certain points the riprap funnels runoff into a couple of hay bales that do not seem to be doing much in the way preventing erosion.

Pathhole

As we walked, the mud grew thicker and the pathway became more torn up. The woods here is different. Not less beautiful, (industrial trenches notwithstanding), but different. Here, the woods is somber. Is it hurting?

And even still, life grows here. The aformentioned hay bales have sprouted, as if succumbing to the land’s great fertility. Mushrooms and toadstools take advantage of the disruption in the forest floor to grow quick and die young.

Toad Stool

I spotted a small prayer bag dangling from a tree. The ribbon was made from raffia and the bag was made of cotton. It contained wishes for healing, no doubt. It was certainly left as a gift from the human campers down the road. I stopped and silently added my own wish for an end to this unbalanced and unnessesary destruction of our natural resources.

Prayer Flag

My thoughts were interrupted when I hear a man yawn in the woods. I can’t be sure, but I am convinced I hear the sound of someone stifle a yawn and then a branch shake. I spun around to look at where I think the sound came from. I looked deeply into the woods. I did not see anyone. I looked deeper. Still nothing. But I am convinced there was someone there. We were being watched.

Turning back  At that point, I decided was time to return to our car. The path had become mostly impassable for foot traffic without doing some serious off-roading and I’m not sure I wanted to startle the sleepy spy over in the trees by accidentally treading on him.

It is a far, far better thing I do now

A tale of two camps. One seeks to build communion with the land and the other seeks to take resources from it. One camp seeks to healing the rifts that separate flora from fauna, and the other seeks to dividing and conquer both.

Come to the land. Listen to it. See if with your own eyes. There is beauty there. It is public land. It is open to you. You owe it to yourself to set foot on the Penokee’s sacred soil and feel her sing beneath you feet as you hike.