High School, Forever

Seems a little odd that brands (D&D and MTG) built on escapist fantasy would circle back around high school, doesn’t it? When I look up on Twitter the people who create such things, one of the thoughts that doesn’t pop into my mind is, “This looks like a person who was happy and socially successful in high school.” Besides the nerd brands, we have a vast swath of similar Harry Potter fans who are in their 30s, yet still write fan fiction about a wizard high school. What I’ve realized from interacting with these sections of millennial fandom is that…

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Kindle Vella is Live

And I have a book available there: There are 11 episodes available now (there will be 38 total for this run), and the first three are available for free. Since I know many of the people who read this blog are authors or artists themselves, let me run through a few things about Vella, now that is live: First, there is a dissonance between what established authors are already trying to do with the platform, and what the platform was designed/intended to do. Vella is supposed to be a serial fiction platform, not a straight book-reading platform. There are 11…

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Service Guarantees Citizenship

There are only two things people seem to take away from Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein: Power Armor and “Service Guarantees Citizenship” (unless you are James Cameron, in which “bug hunt” is also a takeaway). For those who focus on the latter, Starship Troopers might as well be Heinlein’s only work, which is not so much an indictment of the readers as it is an acknowledgment of the power of that idea compared to Heinlein’s other ideas (which were often quite liberal, by the way). This has led many people (mostly older people to whom the prescription does not apply,…

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Unplugging

Last week my internet went out for a couple of days. Also lost was the internet on my phone – apparently, it piggy-backs on the Comcast backbone and that went down over the entire region because (get this) somebody crashed their car into the fiber line. As an aside, that is an example of the actual fragility of the internet; while the system as a whole is quite robust, an individual’s ability to use the system is fragile. When the lights are off, so is the internet. With the internet off I lost lots of services, including strangely my Adobe…

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Thinking Backwards (in Bodybuilding)

Check out this video by popular fitness youtuber Jeff Nippard. If you don’t want to watch the entire 18 minutes, I’ll summarize below as well as point out the big flaw in what Jeff is trying to explore here: he’s thinking backwards, assuming reality must match some “study,” rather than evaluating obvious outcomes. What Jeff is exploring here is the connection between “how hard you train” vs “gains.” Throughout the video, there is a basic assumption, based on “research” that the connection between “hard training” and hypertrophy occurs due to some linear equation – reps slowing down, etc. etc. It’s…

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The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas – Compact Analysis

I’ve seen some posting on “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” Ultra-compact analysis: 1. Le Guin asks YOU to imagine a Utopia with whatever in it YOU think would make people happy 2. This Utopia will have all those pleasures (including sinful ones) with NO DOWNSIDES. 3. You don’t believe it, obviously. 4. She creates a negative condition that magically eliminates the downsides: constant neglect and abuse of a single innocent child. 5. Most people in Omelas end up accepting this, despite not liking it. 6. Post-hoc rationalizations are given – the child can’t really be saved because of…

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Covid Baby

“Covid Baby” is a term my wife used recently to describe our daughter. She just turned two, and since it’s been more than a year of “two weeks to flatten the curve,” she’s lived a life that that is very different from my son when he was the same age. We noticed this when we recently travelled to Texas. She won’t sit for long at a table in a restaurant without getting bored and wanting to get up and move, even if she has toys. She doesn’t know what to do at a supermarket or a mall. She doesn’t like…

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Show Trial

I’m writing this before the Chauvin verdict comes in, because there is a real question, and one that may not even be answerable: Is it a criminal trial, or is it a political trial – a show trial? This is one of those points in time where politics penetrates both culture and civics. At least for the actors outside the courtroom, the trial is not about “justice” in a particular case, which is what our criminal court system is supposed to decide in the lower courts, but rather a competition between “friend” and “enemy.” Chauvin represents a member of the…

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Blind Spots on the Right

Again, “left” and “right” are outdated, but quickly get to the point – friends and enemies. The American right has a huge blind spot, and that is the near-religious support of certain elements of the state, specifically the military and enforcement wings of the state, even when these elements are acting against their interests. I pointed this out in “Republican Bugmen” – that the republican bugman is still obsessed with state solutions to personal problems, just with a different focus – and it ruffled a few feathers. The defense of these parts of the state is a natural reaction, due…

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