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Lee!

Trying to get better at commissions (i.e. requesting them), so… here is Lee, by the amazing Dross.

I love the colors (I always have trouble coloring Lee) and goopy twisty elephant-trunk tentacles and Lee’s big dumb toothy smile and also I really need to start, like. Posting this story somewhere…

2020-05-27T08:35:06+10:0027th May, 2020|Tags: art, luciverse|

Walk (don’t drive).

The city that banned cars.

I confess that after growing up in the suburbs, I had an aversion to inner city living for a long time. Until we moved, about five years ago, into a medium-density housing complex not right in the centre of town, but in a fairly well-developed part about ten minutes drive away. Being able to walk to basically everything—restaurants, shops, post office—was, uh. Eye-opening. I also stopped driving to work; just literally woke up one morning and decided to catch the bus, despite not having done so since I was in school. I’ve literally not driven to work since and, when the weather is agreeable1 I walk home; it’s about an hour and, with the exception of a short stretch next to a main road, is very pleasant.

Obviously there are reasons not everyone can go carless, and I do still drive, mostly on weekends.2 But… yeah. Cars. Fuck ‘em.

  1. And the air is breathable… []
  2. Our city is very spread out, and errands like going to the aquarium store are… not super conducive to public transport. []
2020-05-12T08:39:06+10:0025th May, 2020|Tags: culture|

Centrist bias.

Meanwhile, a quarter-century covering national politics has convinced me that the more pervasive force shaping coverage of Washington and elections is what might be thought of as centrist bias, flowing from reporters and sources alike. It is a headwind for Warren, Sanders, the “squad” on Capitol Hill, even for Trump. This bias is marked by an instinctual suspicion of anything suggesting ideological zealotry, an admiration for difference-splitting, a conviction that politics should be a tidier and more rational process than it usually is.

A confession: I’ve got it. A pretty strong bout, actually.

I am not terribly self-conscious about my predispositions to see politics and governance a certain way. These wouldn’t be my predispositions if I didn’t think they had something going for them. But the recognition of bias imposes an obligation to push against default thinking and explore the possibility that it is wrong.

Here’s the main reason it might be wrong: The most consequential history is usually not driven by the center.

John F. Harris has a moment of reflection (almost).

This entire post is like that “no, it is the children who are wrong” meme come to life…

2020-05-12T08:39:06+10:0024th May, 2020|Tags: newsphobia, politics|

Nixbiquitous.

What if Linux took over the world and basically no-one noticed?

The obvious answer is, of course, that the vast majority of *NIX-based systems most people use are propriety, i.e. they’re Android and Mac-/iOS, meaning the *NIX community itself generally doesn’t “count” them. And the place where most “traditional” *NIX-type OSes are used, i.e. server infrastructure, is generally fairly inscrutable to non-technical types. But the reality is still the reality, and it’s actually Windows that’s the weirdly different hold-out operating system in the ecosystem.

2020-01-29T09:44:20+11:0023rd May, 2020|Tags: tech|

Small art.

Mass media is, of course, produced by the rich and the privileged. It bears the stamp of their worldview (the odiously sentimental material about the family having to pull together to support the dad’s tech start-up in Pixar’s Inside Out comes to mind) and the clean, unadventurously crowd-pleasing aesthetics which are the typical result of the focus grouping process. To some people, the slickness of that production—the glossy cover of an official behind-the-scenes art book, the breathtakingly realistic but eerily lifeless CGI of Disney’s recent spate of live-action remakes—has become synonymous with art itself as an idea. Even as they earnestly discuss the necessity of representation and the pain of its absence, they learn not to seek out or accept it unless it’s handed to them from on high by one of perhaps four recognizable branded corporate entities.

The sad irony is that the representation so many are so hungry for already exists. Outside the tiny, blinding spotlight of corporate media, there is an entire world of small, independent media made by marginalized creators and outsider artists of all kinds and reflecting their unique and idiosyncratic worldviews.

Gretchen Felker-Martin on small art.

I have been trying, not always successfully, to consume more “small art”1 and would strongly encourage everyone else to do so, too…

  1. Or, at least, less mass-produced corporate entertainment product. []
2020-05-12T08:39:06+10:0023rd May, 2020|Tags: culture, pop culture|

It’s not “just the internet”…

Very likely the first case of someone convicted for intentionally triggering an epileptic seizure over the internet.

2020-01-29T09:18:36+11:0022nd May, 2020|Tags: cw: harassment, social media|

Laconophilia.

The Spartans, popular wisdom tells us, were history’s greatest warriors; in fact, they lost battles frequently and decisively. We are told they dominated Greece; they barely managed to scrape a victory in the Peloponnesian Wars with wagonloads of Persian gold, and then squandered their hegemony in a single year. We hear they murdered weak or deformed children, though one of their most famous kings had a club foot. They preferred death to surrender, as the legend of the Battle of Thermopylae is supposed to show—even though 120 of them surrendered to the Athenians at Sphacteria in 425 B.C.E. They purportedly eschewed decadent wealth and luxury, even though rampant inequality contributed to oliganthropia, the manpower shortage that eventually collapsed Spartan military might. They are assumed to have scorned personal glory and lived only for service to the city-state, despite the fact that famous Spartans commissioned poetry, statues, and even festivals in their own honor and deliberately built cults of personality. They all went through the brutal agōgē regimen of warrior training, starting from age seven—but the kings who led their armies almost never endured this trial. They are remembered for keeping Greece free from foreign influence, but in fact they allied with, and took money from, the very Persians they fought at Thermopylae.

Myke Cole on the Spartan myth.

Tl;dr the lionization of “Sparta” has nothing to do with the actual Spartans (who were kinda not very impressive) and everything to do with fascism and ethno-nationalism.

The article also taught me the terms “tacticool”, which describes the fetishisation of military (i.e. tactical) aesthetics by civilians, and “moron label”, a riff on molon labe (“come take it”).

2020-01-29T08:46:28+11:0021st May, 2020|Tags: culture|